Desperate Pretense

Every detail of the previous night replayed itself with vivid clarity in his mind. The softness of her skin, the sweetness of her mouth, the tiny sounds she made in her throat… Sonny remembered it all.

They were in bed in the small bedroom on the west side of the house. It was originally intended as a child’s bedroom but had never been used. Sonny's kids were long past that stage when they moved into the spacious house. Carly had reluctantly assigned the room to Dara when Sonny announced tersely that the lawyer would be moving in.

"For a minute there, I thought you were gonna forget that this room isn't soundproofed.” Sonny nipped at his wife's lower lip.

"If I had," Dara replied, “it would have been your fault." She slid a hand between their damp bodies and gave him a playful squeeze. “You know I'm sensitive there!”

“You shouldn't taste so good.”

Morning came all too quickly. Sonny made omelettes – artichoke, spinach and feta cheese for Dara and a simple ham and cheese omelette for his son Michael. Michael was the only one of Sonny's children to make Dara feel welcome. From the beginning Michael made it his business to faithfully share breakfast and quiet conversation with his father and Dara.

The others all wandered into the kitchen long after the trio finished eating and cleaning the breakfast dishes. They grabbed the tray of sandwiches Sonny left for them in the refrigerator and now sat on the living room floor managing to laugh about…something.

Sonny's right hand man, Jason Morgan, sat on the couch silently watching. When the news of the upcoming disaster was revealed, the hitman had occasionally traveled back and forth from the penthouse he shared with Elizabeth Webber and her boys so that he could check in on Sonny and reassure Carly.

If not for his kids, Sonny would have just taken Dara somewhere they could face the end of the world together. As long as Jason was there to take his place, Sonny doubted that Carly would look back. Still, despite the proverbial sword hanging over their heads, Carly's initial panic had lessened and, to her credit, she had stepped up for the kids.

That consideration did not extend to his current wife, Sonny noted. Carly made it painfully obvious that Dara's presence in her home was a personal insult. After a terse exchange with Sonny, she no longer went out of her way to insult Dara. Instead, Carly pointedly excluded the other woman from virtually any interaction with her or Sonny’s kids.

Sonny glanced guiltily toward the far side of the room where Dara sat apart from all the others, quietly writing. In light of the uncomfortable atmosphere at the house, it had become a major part of her daily routine. Sonny had asked her, early on, just what it was she wrote with such concentration. Dara smiled and offered him the sheet of paper on which she was currently writing. "It's my thoughts on the legal system. What works, what can be better… Who knows? Maybe some future civilization might find it and want to use it to frame their own constitution."

Dara stopped writing and glanced over at him as though she'd heard his thoughts. Sonny's gaze roved over her features, committing them even further to memory. He strode across the room and pulled Dara to her feet. "Come on," he announced abruptly. His voice sounded rusty, even to his own ears.

They traveled in silence back to the bedroom they shared. In truth, Sonny admitted, they only shared stolen moments late at night when the rest of the household had gone to bed and weren't in need of his comfort and reassurance.

"I've told you how Mike was never there for me and my mother. The gambling, the women, they were all more important than being there for his family." Sonny paused. “I swore that my kids would never feel that way about me."

"I know how you love your kids, Michael. I love that about you," Dara nodded.

"They've got to come first. But it doesn't change how important you are to me." Sonny reached out and took both of Dara’s hands in his. "I know it hasn't been easy being here. Putting up with Carly’s bullshit and my kids’ attitudes. But I am grateful that you’ve been here by my side. You deserve so much more than you've gotten."

Sonny held Dara's gaze intently. "A better man would put your needs above his.” The mobster shook his head, stopping Dara’s inevitable protest. “We both know I have never been a better man.” Pause. “Til now.”

The puzzlement on Dara's face quickly turned to fear as she felt a sharp prick on the side of her neck. Sonny softly urged the beautiful lawyer not to panic, but his plea did not seem to register with the struggling woman.

"She's out," Jason Morgan said a minute later. He made the announcement without emotion, as though it was an every day occurrence for him to sedate his employer’s wife. Jason wrapped his arms about Dara's slumping body and eased her gently onto the bed.

The silent hitman checked Dara’s breathing and vital signs with such efficiency that Sonny was forced to recall the other man's life prior to the closed head injury that forever altered Jason’s personality. Jason Quartermaine had been a smiling, upstanding citizen. That Jason had been on a lifelong path to becoming a doctor like his parents.

“Sonny? You still want me to do this?”

All of Sonny's resolve began to crumble as he looked down on the woman he had never expected to share his life. “Yeah.” Sonny cast his friend (and second-in-command) a pain-filled glance. The hint of sorrow and compassion in Jason's brilliant blue eyes was nearly Sonny’s undoing. “Do it now while I can still let her go.”

Sonny leaned down and kissed Dara's mouth and closed eyes. “I love you, Counselor,” he murmured. “Never believe that I would want to be anywhere else but with you when the world ends."



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