The Preparation, 7

It was almost 10 in the morning and Micheal still hadn't returned home . Dara had gotten a message from him late the previous night apologizing for his need to remain with his children, who were of course distraught. She had reassured him about his decision despite her wish to be selfish and demand his presence for her own comfort. Was she wrong to know even a moment's resentment that her husband didn't realize how shaken she was?

Dara had never been easily frightened. But her fear, in light of all that happened, was completely justified. The world as they knew it was about to end. No one would survive. Her heart began to race. Not because of thoughts of her fate, but of everyone in her life she cared about. Michael, Ellen, Jack McCoy, Max ...

Dear sweet Max. The genial bodyguard kept her company through most of the night, sitting quietly across from her or murmuring soft reassurances when the weight of the silence grew too heavy. At one point, Max shared the story of how he had come to be in Sonny's employ. Dara already knew bits and pieces of the story, but Max told the tale complete with uncanny vocal imitations of her husband's growl, Jason's physical tics and Carly's strident voice.

He was asleep now. Dara was glad that he'd managed to find even a little respite from his thoughts. Lord knows she hadn't. Somewhere around midnight Dara had stopped reflecting on all the people in her life and began thinking about her regrets. She was surprised to find that the greatest of these had nothing to do with her aborted career. All her dreams regarding her law career evaporated the moment she a greed to a relationship with Port Charles' resident mob boss, Michael Corinthos. Because of that decision, Dara lost the opportunity to become a District Attorney or Supreme Court Justice. She would never argue the reversal of a capital punishment verdict or know what it was to go head to head against Jack McCoy.

Those things bothered her far less than she expected. What Dara found herself regretting was the week she passed on an opportunity to go zip-lining through the rainforests of Peru with her college roommates. She'd chosen instead to stay behind and review for an upcoming exam whose answers she already knew backward and forward.

She regretted never following through on her desire to stand before the Western Wall so that she could reaffirm her faith and give thanks for all she'd been given. A fellow student had once spoken reverently of the experience, marveling at how simultaneously infinite and tiny the universe seemed when he began to pray.

She regretted that she'd never had children.

Like most young women, Dara had held out for the childhood fairytale romance – a perfect man, a perfect life, a perfect love. When she met and surrendered to her feelings for mobster Michael Corinthos, Dara realized that she would never truly possess any of the three things she dreamed of.

And so she had put off having children.

Dara had never managed to convince herself that the time would ever be right to bring a child into Michael Corinthos' dangerous, complicated world. The children he'd fathered before marrying her were proof enough of her fears. One had been shot in the head (and survived), another temporarily presumed dead after a car bomb exploded in his vehicle.

Dara's mind skittered away from the troubling thoughts when Max suddenly leapt to his feet. A split second later she heard the hum of the private elevator outside. Dara realized that despite all Michael's complaints, Max was really a very good guard. It explained why her husband allowed him keep watch over Dara.

When the penthouse door opened, Dara slipped past the big guard and rushed into her husband's arms. She held him tightly for a few minutes, just grateful that he was alive and safe. Sonny murmured reassurances in both English and Spanish , words which at that moment meant nothing to Dara. The only thing that mattered was his presence.

"How are your kids?" Dara finally asked.

Sonny dismissed Max with an impatient wave. "Upside down," he replied. "Carly, too. I spent most of the night trying to keep her from losing it in front of the kids."

"So you didn't get any sleep?"

“No. Did you?”

"I dozed a little. I was waiting for you," Dara admitted. "But I wasn't alone. Max kept me company."

“I'm glad. Come on.” Sonny grasped Dara's hand and lead her to the kitchen. He was usually very territorial about his kitchen but he'd once explained that in times of great stress Dara's mere presence was calming to him. “I know that you haven't eaten.”

"You're going to eat something, too?"

Sonny nodded. "Yeah."

Dara slid onto the stool her husband dragged near the kitchen island. She watched him create a pair of fluffy omelettes whose smell made her mouth water. Her hunger surprised Dara. "Thank you. This smells wonderful." She accepted the plated omelette. "I haven't had much of an appetite."

"Carly and the kids hadn't eaten either. That's why I didn't get back here earlier," Sonny explained. "I was cooking them breakfast." He pulled a matching stool so close beside hers that their clothes brushed with every movement.

They ate in silence. Neither had the urge to talk. Reality would intrude soon enough. Radio waves, telephone wires, and whatever digital transmission remained were overwhelmed with more and more discussions about the disaster that was to come. "It's pretty rough out there," Sonny informed Dara. "Pendajos throwing rocks at the windows here, trying to get into the penthouse."

Dara was shocked. Had all that been going on while she and Max were dozing last night? "Did any of your guys get hurt?"

"No. But it's taking more and more of their time dealing with it. ” Sonny cleared away their plates. Dara watched as he washed them and then put them neatly away. “We're too visible and there's too much glass and hidden corners to defend," he explained. "I'm gonna need you to pack a few things. Just enough for a couple of days. Maybe a week or two. It's not safe to stay here right now."

Dara couldn't imagine any place safer than the Harborview Towers with its reinforced glass and pistol-bearing guards. Well, she corrected herself, there was Wyndemere. But that was a whole other conversation. "What is safer than here, Michael?"

An uncomfortable expression darted across Sonny's face. Dara would have missed it if she hadn't been staring right at him in confusion. “Carly's place,” he responded. “We're gonna move in with her and the kids."

 

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