Chapter 34

Mac Scorpio was impressed. “You've done a good job in my absence, Marcus. Should I be worried?”

Taggert appreciated the praise, but hastened to reassure his employer that under no circumstances was he gunning for the job of Police Commissioner of Port Charles. For one thing, Marcus had no desire to be stuck behind a desk only to surface during press conferences and special circumstances. For another, he loved his own job and all that it entailed. He was a policeman. It had been his dream from childhood. Having the chance to realize that dream anew every day . . . well, it almost did not seem fair.

“No way, Commissioner. I will leave dealing with the politicians to you.”

Mac just nodded. Dealing with the bureaucracy was one aspect of the Commissioner's job that he would gladly sacrifice. “So,” he hinted broadly, “ is that the last report?”

“Yep.” Taggert took a long look at his friend and boss. Mac was doing a terrible job of disguising his desire to get out of the station. He had taken quick looks at his wristwatch every few minutes since the beginning of Taggert's report. Mac had also kept his responses to a bare minimum. Marcus had the distinct impression that there was some other place that Mac Scorpio badly wanted to be. Perversely, Marcus decided to detain him awhile.

“So, Mac,” the tall, fit detective drawled innocently, “now that work is out of the way, tell me . . . how were Georgie and Maxie?”

The beleaguered police commissioner gritted his teeth before pasting on a patient smile. “The girls were just great.” His answer was terse as he locked his file cabinet and began to head toward the door.

Marcus waited until he had almost reached the threshold. “They have probably grown a lot.”

“Yes,” Mac confirmed, “they have.” He turned back and his face softened. “Maxie looks so grown that I could not believe it when I first saw her. I must have,” his chest swelled with pride, “taken at least two hundred photos.” Mac seized the opportunity that presented itself before him. “And if I hurry now, I can drop them off to be developed.”

Before Taggert realized it, Mac Scorpio had made his escape.

“Claude!” Luke Spencer's voice boomed from the back office of his jazz club, Luke's Place. “You're fired.”

The longsuffering dreadlocked bartender blew out his cheeks in frustration. He really did not have time for Luke's daily firing. Between supervising the latest liquor delivery and preparing for the upcoming night's crowd, Claude had his hands full.

“Did you hear me, Claude?”

Claude continued with his paperwork. From the corner of his eye, however, he watched his sometime frenetic employer rush toward the bar where he stood working.

“How many times have I told you,” Luke yelled, waving a sheaf of envelopes under his employee's nose, “never let the mailman leave these things for me!”

“As many times as I have told you that you can't just decide that you don't want to accept your bills.” Claude recited the dialogue by rote.

“Yeah, well . . . ” Luke grabbed a bottle of alcohol from the boxes Claude was attempting to inventory. “You are still fired.”

The bartender muttered underneath his breath, “I should really be so lucky.”

Luke grinned as he returned to his desk in the back room. His day wouldn't be complete if he did not get under Claude's dusky skin a little bit. The guy was a little too unflappable.

Absently he placed the bottle of twelve-year-old scotch on the corner of his desk, only to see it lifted immediately by his peeved bartender.

“One day, Luke . . .” Claude threatened vaguely. “But until then,” his expression brightened, “I'll just compensate myself with some of these.” He grabbed a handful of shiny stones from the pile on Luke's desk.

Luke watched the bartender leave the room with a renewed bounce in his step. “Those aren't diamonds, you knucklehead!” he yelled in disgust. “They're, they're . . . ” He couldn't remember the exact name for them. But whatever they were called, they had arrived by padded envelope in the morning's mail.

Dropping heavily into the rolling chair behind his desk, Luke took a closer look at the padded yellow bag in question. It was unmarked except for Luke's name and address and a colorful assortment of western postage stamps. He shrugged and flipped the little bag over. The back was totally unmarked. What was the significance of the little stones it held?

One thing Luke was certain of was that the small stones were not worth money. If there was anything he had learned to recognize, it was jewels. Some of his more shady escapades revolved around jewels – usually stolen. It was those shady exploits that prevented him from simply sweeping the handful of stones into the garbage can. Too many times Luke had seen what appeared to be nothing become quite a lot.

With that knowledge in mind, Luke gently guided the small pile back into the padded bag and taped the flap. In tiny numbers almost too small to see, he jotted the date across one corner. He placed the envelope into his safe and promptly forgot about it.

As usual, traffic on the Old Commerce Road was sparse. At one time it had been the main thoroughfare for the motorists of Port Charles. These days, however, the only people who regularly traversed the once popular roadway were either quite wealthy or quite influential.

Mac supposed that as Police Commissioner of Port Charles he fell under the latter heading. Her certainly did not qualify among the very wealthy who resided in the town. Despite owning the Outback restaurant, Mac's bank account was very normal.

He imagined that it was the same for Dara Jensen. She owned a house about halfway down Commerce Road. As a fellow civil servant, Mac did not believe that Dara would have had the opportunity to amass much wealth – no matter how thrifty she had been.

Although her spacious home on Commerce Road seemed to indicate a financial status far above the norm, Mac had often thought that Dara's one-time relationship with Justus Ward went a long way toward explaining her presence there on what was commonly called “Millionaire's Row.” It had been right about that time that she had appeared before the housing board of the Commerce area. That Edward Quartermaine was a major player on that particular board seemed to indicate a direct correlation to the fact that Dara was so easily approved for ownership of the only house up for sale on Commerce Road.

It was not a theory Mac Scorpio was eager to discuss with the proud Assistant District Attorney. Aside from the implication that she was somehow not qualified to achieve such a feat on her own, there was the tricky subject of her failed relationship with Justus Ward. Mac was not sure he was truly ready to hear about her feelings for some other guy. At least, not while the feelings between them were so new.

His mind jumped back to the last time he had traveled that particular road.

With a gentle squeeze he transmitted his satisfaction to the beautiful young woman riding beside him.

He knew better. But as he rode down Commerce Road on the way to Dara's home, Mac simply savored the feel of her soft hand resting within his. How many times as Police Commissioner had he gone to the local high schools and told young people to keep both hands on the wheel while driving? ‘Ignore those raging hormones', he'd joked. Now here he was breaking one of his cardinal rules.

The atmosphere was rife with sexual tension between them. All evening it had been like a tangible thing, a magnetic field slowly drawing them closer to one another. The attraction had existed for quite some time, but unlike the past, this night neither he nor Dara seemed inclined to fight against it.

Mac's throat was dry as he pulled smoothly into the curved driveway which fronted her home. Reluctantly he released her hand in order to walk around the vehicle and assist Dara from the car. He was partially motivated by chivalry, but mainly driven by a desire to take the next step in their evening of discovery.

Wordlessly, Mac followed Dara as she moved to the front door. Keys in hand, she stood before the closed door for what seemed to Mac an eternity. His hands rested familiarly on her luscious hips as he waited in silence for her signal. The temptation to lightly brush his blatant arousal against her and therefore influence her decision was overwhelming.

The sound of the metal key scraping the lock was music to his ears. The door swung inward, and Dara led him into the darkness of her home. But not before backing up and grinding lightly against him.

What followed was magical. Mac felt his body harden at the memory of their lovemaking that night.

With a sense of surprise Mac found himself standing before Dara's door. He did not recall pulling up onto her driveway or walking up to her door. Mac took a deep breath and rang the doorbell.

Almost instantly, the door swung open and Dara stood ill-at-ease before him. “Hello,” she greeted him almost shyly.

“Hello.” When it seemed that she would make no move to invite him in, Mac took the opportunity to savor her beauty.

The silence stretched out awhile before Dara spoke again. Her voice was formal and polite. “Won't you come in?”

How had things become so awkward, Mac wondered as he stepped just inside the house and allowed Dara to close the door behind him. They certainly weren't that night. The police commissioner stiffened in realization. Perhaps that was the answer.

“I'm glad you came.” She shifted nervously. “We need to talk.”

“No,” Mac said, turning and causing Dara's eyes to grow wide. “Maybe that's our problem.” He stepped forward and with his body pressed Dara against the heavy oaken door. One male thigh insinuated itself between hers and rubbed sensuously against her. “We talk too much.”

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*General Hospital and its characters are not mine. I make no profit from this. The characters Andresj' Cassadine, and Diane Jennings are my creation.*