Mac Scorpio stepped down out of his Jeep and stretched. The morning air was crisp, the silence unbroken. He reached back into the Jeep and retrieved a greasy white bag filled with still-warm hash brown potatoes. Bringing the fast food items was a regular part of Mac’s Saturday morning routine with the girls. Maxie and Georgie never seemed to tire of the hash browns; or, thankfully, their Saturday tradition with Mac.
The Port Charles Police Commissioner was fiercely devoted to the young daughters of Felicia Jones. Mac and Felicia were longtime friends and one-time lovers. Georgie and Maxie were like daughters to the Commissioner.
“I was beginning to get worried about you,” Felicia remarked. “I had just picked up the phone to try and call you, but then I heard your keys in the door.”
Mac peered around Felicia. The kitchen table was set for breakfast but Georgie and Maxie were nowhere to be seen. “I am a little later than usual,” Mac admitted, “but obviously it is no big deal. The girls aren’t down yet,” he pointed out.
“I decided to let them sleep a few moments longer this morning. They had a late night.” Felicia took the greasy hash browns from Mac and put them inside the oven to keep warm. “One of your neighbors invited them to a cookout for her son and a few of his friends.”
“It must have ended pretty late,” Mac marveled. “I have never known anything to keep Maxie from hot hash browns!”
Felicia could hear her young daughters begin to stir upstairs. She began to mix the batter for their favorite banana pancakes. “Yes, it did end pretty late. That’s why,” she stated casually, “I was surprised to see that your jeep wasn’t parked in the driveway when we passed by.” She abandoned all pretense of disinterest. “You weren’t at the precinct. The scanner was quiet last night. So, Mac…where were you at that time of night?”
Mac was saved from responding by the smell of charring paper. "Uh, Felicia," he warned as the greasy bag of hash browns began to smoke, "I think maybe you'd better check the oven first."
Nikolas Cassadine emerged from his suite of rooms dressed in a pair of black slacks and dark green turtleneck sweater. A heavy wool jacket lay draped across his arm. His somber clothing, perhaps indicative of the young man’s demeanor, did nothing to disguise his dark good looks. Nikolas’ soulful eyes and classical profile were the dreams of many a young woman.
“Kolya!” The exuberant voice of Nikolas’ younger brother rang out in the shadowy hallway behind him. “I was just on my way to see you,” Andresj’ informed him. The younger Cassadine eyed his older brother from head to foot. “I’d hoped that you might join Emily and me for brunch. But it is obvious that you already have plans.”
“I am meeting Elizabeth,” Nikolas explained.
“How is Elizabeth?” Andresj’ asked politely. He did not know Elizabeth Weber very well. In the wake of Lucky Spencer’s death, she was always reserved and cautious. Andresj’ supposed that there was another side to the young woman that those closer to her were privy to, but he had never witnessed it.
“She misses Lucky,” Nikolas responded simply.
“I am sorry. For you both.” Andresj’ acknowledged the grief that Nikolas rarely spoke of. “But it is good that you can share your grief.” Andresj’ reached out and gave Nikolas a soft pat on the shoulder. “Must I quote Macbeth to you, big brother?” Andresj’ teased gently. “Act four, scene three…”
Nikolas smiled fondly. He recognized his younger brother’s reference immediately, having been thoroughly schooled in the complete works of Shakespeare by the age of nine. “Father would be impressed. I do believe that he has despaired over your lack of proper reverence for the works of Master Shakespeare.”
Andresj’ snorted. “Perhaps if ‘The Master’ were not so verbose, I could remain awake long enough to enjoy him. Still, Papa has our cousin Grigori to thank for my recent enthusiasm. Grisha kindly informed me that women have no emotional defense against a gentleman quoting Shakespeare.”
Nikolas covered his eyes as though in pain. “Andresj’…”
“Don’t worry, Kolya. Papa’s training is untarnished.” The younger man grinned wolfishly. “But Grigori’s advice is still good to know.”
Maxie and Georgie’s nonstop chatter ended Felicia’s hope for answers about Mac’s private life. But as the little family unit settled down into a familiar routine, Mac realized that the conversation between he and Felicia was only postponed. He had known her for too long a time to believe that Felicia’s curiosity about his affairs would go ignored.
“Your mom tells me that you guys were out pretty late last night.” Mac took a sip of vivid blue juice and grimaced. Each week the girls were allowed to select one aspect of their shared breakfast. This week they had finally agreed upon a sugary fruit drink that nearly set Mac’s teeth on edge.
“Lance’s mom threw a cookout to celebrate his birthday next week.” When Mac raised a curious brow, Maxie explained. “She knew Lance wouldn’t want to spend his birthday at home with his family.” The young woman made a face, as though her explanation should have already been apparent to Mac. “Duh!”
“I wish I had stayed home,” Georgie grumbled. “They only invited me because of Maxie. And she spent the whole evening making great big cow eyes at Lance.” Georgie made a face. “Maxie’s in loooove!”
Mac interrupted before an argument could ensue. “Georgie, don’t tease your sister,” he chided. “Let’s finish up with our breakfast,” he ordered. “When we’ve finished clearing up the kitchen, I want to have a talk with you guys.”
From the corner of his eye, Mac saw Felicia’s head swivel sharply toward him. Undoubtedly she would think that Mac’s upcoming disclosure had been brought about by her pointed questions. But the simple truth was that Dara had finally consented to ‘go public’ about their fledgling relationship. As far as Mac was concerned, it was more than time.
“What’s going on, Uncle Mac?” Maxie asked.
The uncertainty in her tone did not surprise him. Mac always thought that Maxie never quite believed that he would not disappoint her in the same way her father Frisco had done. “It’s not bad news,” he reassured Maxie. “In fact, I think it is pretty great.”
“Master Andresj?” Mrs. Landsbury interrupted the two Cassadine brothers’ quiet conversation. “Your guests have arrived.”
Emily Quartermaine stepped inside the conservatory. She spotted Nikolas standing silently behind his younger brother. “Nikolas!”
The two young people moved to embrace one another. It had been some time since they’d spent any time together. Back when Emily, Nikolas, Elizabeth and Lucky had been an inseparable little group of friends, Emily’s younger age had been inconsequential. But upon Lucky’s tragic death, a seeming chasm had formed among the survivors of their little band. Elizabeth’s grief, which she wore like a shroud, and Nikolas’ distance made it difficult for Emily to feel as close to her friends as before.
Emily ended the embrace and stepped back. She beckoned Diane Jennings closer. “I hope you don’t mind,” she murmured. “I brought Diane Jennings along with me. She’s been hoping to spend some time with Andresj’. She has so many stories to share.”
“Welcome to my family’s home.” Nikolas took charge of the situation when it seemed as though his younger brother was at a loss for words. “Please make yourself comfortable.” Nikolas reached for the intercom. “I will have Mrs. Landsbury provide us with refreshment.”
Diane hesitated. “We don’t want to interrupt your plans. You look as though you were on your way out.”
“I do have plans shortly.” Nikolas’ smile was intended to put Diane’s reservations to rest. “But there is no reason that I cannot remain a few moments and enjoy your company.” It occurred to him that though Diane had helped bring to light the truth of his younger brother’s paternity, no one really knew much about her. Except their father, no doubt.
Nikolas intended to remain with the little group until Stefan returned to Spoon Island from General Hospital.
Felicia held herself apart from the little group seated on the couch. She pretended to tidy up the last of the breakfast dishes as she listened in on their conversation.
As Mac chatted idly with Georgie and Maxie, Felicia fought against the sinking sensation that she already knew the gist of what Mac was about to share. He would announce that he was involved with someone. Felicia suspected for some weeks now that Mac had found a new relationship. There was a renewed enthusiasm about the man that had not been present in quite some time. It was not difficult to narrow down the cause of Mac’s sudden happiness. What Felicia did not know was the identity of the woman.
“Mom,” Georgie called out impatiently, “come and sit down so Uncle Mac can say what he has to say.”
“Of course.” Felicia pasted on a bright smile and took a seat beside Maxie. “Go ahead, Mac.”
“I have been seeing someone.” He looked over the three women in his life. “It’s Dara Jensen.”
Georgie leaned forward and looked over at her sister. “See, Maxie, I told ya,” she taunted.
Mac was momentarily nonplussed. “You knew that Dara and I were dating?”
“I didn’t know,” Georgie replied. “But remember a couple of weeks ago when we came by the Outback to pick up some of your special mushroom burgers and Cajun fries? I saw you and Miss Jensen standing by your office. And you were making the same goofy eyes at her that Maxie was making at Lance last night.”
Felicia joined in her family’s laughter, but she was not amused. Mac’s pronouncement left her disturbed and confused. She liked Dara Jensen. The Assistant District Attorney was a wonderful woman and a good friend.
It dawned on Felicia that her mixed emotions were not about Dara Jensen at all. Although she had not felt any romantic feelings for Mac in several years, the thought of Mac with any another woman bothered her greatly.