Dara Jensen edged toward wakefulness when the steady heartbeat beneath her ear became rapid and erratic. Her eyes fluttered open and she realized that in sleep her body had draped itself in its familiar position across Marcus' chest.

Marcus was plainly in the midst of a nightmare. His head tossed fitfully form side to side and Dara could make out random phrases from the bits and pieces he muttered aloud. She was not surprised to hear the word ‘father' repeat in nearly each utterance from her ex-lover's mouth. After all that Marcus had learned and experienced over the past days, it was hardly surprising that Mike Corbin would weigh heavily on his mind.

“Marcus.” Dara prodded the sleeping man gently. “Wake up.”

It took several minutes of vigorous shaking before Dara was able to rouse Marcus from his sleep. His eyes flew open with a snap and he stared blindly up at Dara.

“You were having a nightmare about your father,” Dara guessed.

None too gently Marcus shrugged Dara's body off his own. “No, I wasn't.”

“You kept calling Mike's name.”

Marcus sat up on the side of the bed. He kept his back to Dara, but she had no difficulty deciphering the angry set of his body. “Let it go, Dara,” he growled.

Dara had a moment of blinding insight. This was the reason that Florence Taggert had frantically summoned her to Marcus' side. The older woman knew that her son was deeply troubled by the events of the past days yet would not share his concerns with anyone.

“You can talk to me, Marcus.”

“Why? Nothing is going to change by talking.”

“Maybe you will feel better.” Dara waited patiently in the quiet of the bedroom. “Just tell me what you really want.”

The young woman's warm, gentle hand upon his shoulder took all the fight out of Marcus Taggert. He knew Dara well enough to acknowledge that she would not let the matter drop until he answered her honestly.

Marcus' shoulders slumped and he cradled his head within his hands. “I want to get away from the thoughts inside my head,” he whispered. “Just for awhile.”


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