Sabrina awoke from an uncomfortable sleep. A nearby rustle of clothing alerted her to the presence of the dark-suited gentleman who had been her lone source of human companionship for the past several hours. She raised her head from the little pillow and strained blearily to see past the black silk material that once covered her eyes but now rested haphazardly across her face. The midnight darkness continued to cloak her vision and she snorted impatiently.
Frustration over her current circumstances gnawed at the beautiful doctor and despite every warning the gentleman had given to the contrary, Sabrina tugged against the firm restraints that held her tightly in place. “Okay, enough!” she complained loudly. “I can’t take any more of this.”
“I am sorry that this experience is such an unpleasant one for you,” the man’s polished voice intoned. He struggled to conceal his irritation. “It will be over soon.” The pleasant demeanor he had affected for the past several hours was becoming more and more difficult to maintain.
He had gone into this particular assignment with enthusiasm. How difficult could it be to handle one woman? One such beautiful woman?
“Not soon enough.” Sabrina DeLane glared at the man. Though she knew he was only doing his job, she could not curb her impatience with the impassive flight attendant. “How much longer before we land?” She defiantly unfastened her seat belt and fidgeted restlessly in place.
“Two and a half more hours,” the attendant said patiently. He did not have to check his watch to know the answer to her query. His attractive passenger had posed that same question every hour on the hour.
“You will be happy to know that the captain has just signaled that you may remove your seatbelt.” He looked pointedly down at Sabrina’s lap, where the already unfastened belt lay. “We are past all the turbulence. So if you would like to walk around and stretch your legs, please do so.”
Perhaps a stroll about the empty first class compartment would help to relieve some of her excess energy, Sabrina thought. She rose and stretched lithely; oblivious to the grudging stare of appreciation the male flight attendant sent her way. Anything had to be better than remaining in her seat for even a single minute more.
The darkness of the night and the hours of solitude spent in first class had done little more than to stir up thoughts she was, frankly, tired of contemplating. In her mind, Sabrina had gone over and over her heated encounter with Stefan. No matter from how many angles she attempted to approach her cousin’s point of view, Sabrina was still convinced that he was in the wrong.
Uncomfortably situated behind his desk, Marcus Taggert plodded through the stack of official forms that had accumulated there during the previous week. He had been at it for several hours and was gradually making headway.
Perhaps his progress might have been greater if he hadn’t insisted upon using the squad room’s lone holdover from times past – an old manual Olivetti typewriter. The hesitant clickety-clack of the typewriter’s keys as well as the occasional muttered expletive never ceased to provide a quiet chuckle for his fellow officers, though wisely none ever chose to comment aloud.
Marcus sat hunched over the old typewriter. His fingers hovered over the keys uncertainly and he checked their positioning before executing each halting strike. Everything about his body language indicated that he was extremely ill at ease using the old Olivetti; yet given the chance, Taggert sang its praises to his fellow officers in glowing terms.
He did not like all the paperwork associated with being an officer of the law. But Marcus considered it a small price to pay for the opportunity to do work that made a difference.
A shadow fell across the PC-20815B that he was trying to fill out. “Another smash-and-grab?”
Officer Taggert tore his attention away from his fingers just long enough to greet his boss, Commissioner Mac Scorpio. “Yeah, a little antique shop over on Elm,” he replied. “The perp got away with a couple hundred dollars worth of merchandise.”
“What does that make? Four now?”
“Well,” Mac nodded, “keep an eye on the pawn shops. I’m betting whoever stole that stuff is just dumb enough to try and fence it.” The Commissioner shuffled through the stack of finished forms on Marcus’ desk. “I’ll just take these,” he said. “I’ve got a meeting with the D.A.’s office in a few minutes. We might as well go over these cases while I’m there.”
“I’m surprised you caught up with District Attorney Schulz.” Marcus carefully kept his voice unrevealing. “That guy is never anywhere long enough to meet with him.”
“I’m meeting with the Assistant District Attorney.” Mac’s voice was equally unrevealing. “Dara was kind enough to step in for her boss.”
Mac watched his detective shake his head. “What?” The police commissioner was suddenly curious about the nature of the detective’s thoughts.
“You’ve got it bad for Dara Jensen, don’t you?”
Was she guilty of overstepping her bounds? She had only meant to prevent Stefan from risking the precious relationship he had with Andresj’. Sabrina sometimes wondered if her dear cousin even realized what a wonderful thing that relationship was.
She returned to her seat and stared blankly out into the night. It was commonly accepted among the family that the young doctor enjoyed a relationship akin to that of big sister to Stefan’s younger son. Nonetheless, Sabrina was still only a cousin to Andresj’. She was not his aunt, like Alexis. She was not even one of the ‘favored’ relatives who bore the Cassadine name.
‘By your own choice,’ a tiny voice reminded Sabrina. As the only daughter born to the legal union of Victor Cassadine and Celeste Perrault, Sabrina was fully entitled to bear the Cassadine name. Her resentment over the family’s ostracism of her father for marrying ‘outside his class’ would not allow her to fully embrace her heritage. Sabrina never ceased to marvel at the distorted irony that her paternal grandparents objected to Victor marrying Celeste not because of her skin color, but because she was not of royal blood. Had she been even a simple tribal Princess, Celeste would have been greeted with open arms.
From the moment Sabrina understood why her beloved ‘Papa’ was treated coldly by the others of his family, she set about to distance herself from the Cassadine name and legacy. She denied herself the money and status that the family name automatically bestowed and chose instead to earn whatever personal wealth and accolades she might receive.
And she had earned quite a bit thus far in her life. Though the family was divided on opinions regarding her stance regarding the Cassadine name, none could argue with the success Sabrina had achieved for herself.
Why she was so driven was simple. Sabrina loved her father dearly. Victor was her idol, setting a standard that no man in her life had ever come close to meeting. Save Stefan. From adolescence Sabrina looked at her older cousin with stars in her eyes. To her youthful gaze, Stefan’s perfection was second only to her Papa’s. The older Cassadine youth was polished and gentle and possessed a self-deprecating wit. And from the moment the two cousins were introduced, Stefan became Sabrina’s protector and her friend. He smoothed over feathers ruffled by her unbridled tongue and patiently indulged her reckless spirit.
Perhaps all those things explained just why the heated exchange pierced her so. Genuine rebukes from Stefan were rare things where Sabrina was concerned. Of course there were the obligatory comments when Sabrina and Alexis engaged in their frequent skirmishes. And there were the constant longsuffering corrections when Sabrina indulged in some outrageous behavior or another. Those things were par for the course and an accepted part of their family dynamic.
But Stefan’s cold reminder . . . Sabrina had not expected it.
“You’ve got it bad for Dara Jensen, don’t you?”
It was finally out in the open. Marcus watched as the Commissioner struggled to keep the surprise off his face. The handsome bald detective shrugged his shoulders. “It’s pretty obvious,” he said. “At least to me, it is.”
“In my office.”
Marcus rose and followed Mac Scorpio into his office. Nonchalantly he leaned back against the closed door and met his boss’ gaze.
“What did you just mean by that?” Mac asked quietly.
“Mac,” Marcus paused to gather his thoughts, “ I have been watching you and Dara for the past couple of months. I think I knew that you guys were attracted to one another even before you did.” He considered the words he would utter next. “Recognizing the signs in Dara wasn’t all that hard for me to do. I have been where you are,” Marcus reminded the Commissioner.
The handsome Aussie did not bother to deny Taggert’s claims. Aside from being a valued employee, Marcus Taggert was also Mac Scorpio’s close friend. “Yeah,” Mac admitted reluctantly, “there is something happening between Dara and me.”
Marcus gave a sudden brilliant smile. “It is about time! Mac, you and Dara are good for one another.”
So much for their attempt at discretion, the police commissioner mused. “Does everybody know?”
“Nobody here knows anything,” Marcus replied. “But it won’t be long before they do. I hate to tell you this, Commissioner, but you are pretty lousy at hiding your feelings for the Assistant District Attorney.”
The little smirk on Taggert’s face made Mac wonder just how much of what the detective told him was prudent advice and how much was his friend’s attempt to mess with his mind.
In the end, Mac realized that Marcus’ motives did not matter. If he had noticed the growing closeness between Mac and Dara, it would only be a matter of time before others did as well.
*General Hospital and its characters are not mine. I make no profit from this. The characters Andresj' Cassadine, and Diane Jennings are my creation.*