Sunday, November 29, 2009

Chapter Thirteen

She jolted upright, slamming her hand down to stop the inconsiderate buzz that had woken her. Her heart drummed loudly against her chest. A dream, it was just a dream Mac. She pressed her palm against her cheek, Jesus it was burning. Just like the dream, he was burning, all over her. She slammed her eyes shut as the tingle on her arms spread all the way down to her toes. She was not doing this. She was not having naughty dreams about the man she now worked for.

It was just the Chinese, ok the Chinese and the kiss. She pulled back the covers and sprung out of bed, it was time for Jon’s morning run. She loved running so, so far so good. This might not be that bad, they seemed to at least have the common denominator of exercise.

She tugged on her three-quarter yoga pants and lifted her sports bra over her head before jamming on her sneakers. Tying back her hair from her face she reached into the draw and pulled out her small revolver, clicked the safety on and adjusted the holster around her shoulders. She grabbed her phone and took a deep breath as the apartment outside her door was coming to life.

This, was Day One.


Jon turned his hip popping painfully as he swivelled to get a better look at her. [i]Christ, not like you haven't seen a woman before, asshole.[/i] He turned back to lacing his shoe. "Mornin'," he said gruffly. He tried to sleep the night before, but the silk of her hair ended up tangled in his sheets and across his chest in a half dozen different scenarios through the night. He never should have touched her. Wanting and tasting was always a fine line that could be crosses if he wasn't careful.

He tried to logically work out what the hell it was about this woman that had him all in a twist, she was gorgeous, had a great body but it wasn’t like he’d not seen that all before.

She smiled as he finished getting ready for his run. She turned and looked out to the city skyline that stretched out before her like a postcard. The morning was a band of purples and reds as the sun came up on the city that never sleeps. “Great morning for it." She stretched her arms out high above her head to loosen herself up.

He looked up at her, from his own deep stretch. Her dark hair, pulled back and not a lick of makeup--as fresh faced as a teen, until you looked into her eyes. Her eyes were no nonsense and filled with too much life experience. He watched as she deliberately shut him out with a pair of Ray Bans. "Nothing I like better than a fall morning run. A little glass in your lungs is better than coffee."

She chuckled , their eyes catching but hers were shielded thankfully. "They do say that, but if you're like me you want both. I'm greedy" she flashed him a wide smile. She felt her body ease, he seemed un phased by the night before, just acting as he called it. She had to make sure that she followed suit, as delicious as he was, he was off-limits here.

He stuffed his own shades on. "Well, then we'll run around the east end and stop at Dunkin' before we head back. It's a perfect three miles. You know, I don't want to hurt you the first day out with me." His mouth quirked.

She let the laugh rumble in her throat before giving him a playful slap on the back "Three? C’mon you can do better than that?" She usually ran five on a good day, eight for training when she was in the marines. “Your legs tell me you run more than three miles.” Crap, too late. She’d already said it.

"Alright, alright," he laughed. "Just trying to go easy on you. I usually do five every morning. Seven when I do the trails outside my Jersey house." When the doors opened, he headed out the front door at a fast walk."Desk jockey's get out of the habit," he said as he went into a light jog around the corner.

She fell into step easily with him since they were around the same height, their strides were similar. "Well not this desk jockey, I run five most days at the gym usually, the beach if I'm lucky and I jump through hoops for my Hitler, my gym dictator a few nights a week. Don't keep these tight thighs otherwise with what I eat." she said slapping her thigh as they jogged down the pavement littered with a few early business workers carrying their Starbucks.

His cock twitched at the slap. Christ, he didn't need to think about how tight her damn thighs were, he could already tell through the skin tight yoga pants she wore. Weren’t they supposed to be free flowing for fuck's sake? "Sounds like your trainer and mine went to the same school of torture and human debasement." He lengthened his stride as they blazed through their first mile. He glanced at his watch,noticing it was a personal best for a mile. Under six minutes. He shook his head, letting his breath in through his nose as the cold air hit him like ice in his lungs.

"I think it's a pre-requisite. I swear to god, one day I want just be able to kick his ass," she chuckled. She glanced around, making sure all angles were clear, behind, in front and from the side. She had to be ready for anything, and her hand two seconds off her gun.

She puffed out her breath, and snuck a look at him running beside her. His lean athletic form, complimented with amazing biceps that now were glistening with sweat. It was then she tasted the salt on her lips. And it wasn't hers. Good fuck. Someone up there hated her. His sweat? Are you kidding me?

"So tonight we have some dinner right?" she panted as they edged a corner.

He nodded, "Democrat function tonight. Black tie, so you'll have to wear one of those fancy dresses you tucked away when you moved," he cleared his throat, "you know, moved in." He grinned at her. "I'm wearing black Versace if that helps you make a selection." His eyes tripped over her clenching ass muscles as she widened her stride to go around the corner. His gaze travelled back up, the bump under her jacket wasn't her flesh. It sure as hell wasn't the curve of her rather delectable breasts." His eyes focused straight ahead as he saw it thump against her body. Gun. His stride faltered as he fell back for a moment, before catching up.

He'd had guards on and off for more than half his life, but they'd always been muscle, not hardware.

Mackenzie hadn't worn a dress in months. Hell, she couldn’t actually remember the last time she had. Her mind derailed for a second remembering exactly what would be required of her that night. More Chinese kisses. She swallowed hard and forced a smile "Sure, I’ve got something.” They kept running. "Jon, how did we meet? You know for story purposes and how long have we dated... if anyone asks?" she said as they slowed at the next corner.

Blinking out of the gun thoughts, he sucked in a lungful of October air and slowed to a jog with her. "Well, I've been divorced for awhile now, but we should probably still be in the honeymoon phase, if you will, but long enough that I'd have you move in so...say six months?"

Ahh the honeymoon phase, still in that slightly giddy playful place. She closed her eyes and caught her breath for a second. She could do it, no she had to do it. One false move could land them both in danger so there was no choice here. "Sounds fine, I'll let you lead on that if anyone asks..." The sweat on her body was starting to chill as they slowed down. It wasn't that she didn’t want to touch him at all. It was if she did, she wasn't sure how to stop it.

Her ponytail slid over her shoulder and he looked straight ahead again. He knew it was stupid, but long silky hair made him nuts. "And maybe we met at one of the Philly Soul Foundation functions. I've been off tour and that's pretty much the only thing I've been doing lately."

Football, dammit. She knew she’d be exposed to it eventually, she just wasn’t sure she was prepared for, having avoided it most of her life. Since Brian. “I used to be involved in that arena, so I’m up on most of the lingo.”

He'd wondered if football was the reason why she'd said no, but now he knew that wasn't it. She hadn't wanted to go out with him. Then again, not every woman was enamoured by the so called glamour of his life. He smiled without teeth, his temples aching something fierce. He'd just need to get over the attraction, thought that was going to be hard when the public personas were going to be obvious lovers.

The doors of Dunkin Donuts soon came into view and they came to a stop outside. She put her hands on her knees and caught her breath. She tried to shake the guilt creeping back up her neck. She popped her knuckles and looked over at him, at that moment knew she could never let him become another Brian.

“You’re paying,” she said with a wink.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Chapter Twelve

MacKenzie unpacked her things in the other room before grabbing a bottle of lotion, a book and a couple of personal things to place on his bedside table before she did the same with the closet. Sliding some of his shirts aside she hung a couple of her dresses up. She hardly wore dresses but she knew with these dinners coming up she would have to. She fingered the midnight blue silk shirt that was hanging there and wondered for a minute if it smelled like the Irish spring she’d smelt when she’d walked past him. She sighed and decided she should go and play house. She was damn hungry anyway. She walked back out to where he was self involved in pulling out the Chinese onto plates. "Done with the sulking?"

He looked up from the array of plates he'd put on the kitchen table. Without a word he gathered silverware and poured from the Pinot Grigio he kept in the house most often, filling half a glass for each of them. "I've been alone for awhile now, MacKenzie. I didn't mean to snap." He sat down, looked her in the eye and swallowed every sizzling bit of pride that was trying to climb out of his gut.

"I'm sorry." He picked up his fork and waved her to the table. "Dig in."

She nodded and sat down on the high back dining chair opposite him. She lifted the glass to her lips, "Apology accepted," she speared some chicken and waved it in the air. "I understand the alone thing, I've been living alone for quite awhile now too so if I get too relaxed let me know. I'm easy Jon," she nearly choked on her words. "Well you know what I mean."

He couldn't stop the laugh. Easy wasn't exactly the word he'd associate with her. Part of him wished she was...that he could just spend the weekend with her in his bed and get her out of his system, but she wasn't interested and now she was an employee. He had a feeling he'd be taking a lot of showers. "Yeah, well I have a maid for a reason. I'm not the neatest guy, but I'm not a slob either." He twirled noodles onto his fork and stared at the brown sauce dripping from it for a minute. "I'm not an easy guy," his lips twitched, "but just ignore me when I get snarky." He looked up and smiled as he tucked the lot of it into his mouth.

She smiled back and fought the urge to wipe away the little drop of sauce at the corner of his mouth. “I’ll remember that.” There was still so much to talk about, this wasn’t just a flatmate situation. “I think we do need some ground rules,” she took another long gulp of wine. “About what happens outside this house, versus what happens inside.”

"Groping outside, naked inside, right?" He said without a trace of guile.

She brought her glass back to her lips, holy crap. Don’t joke about that. She’d already weighed it up in her head, and it was a tempting proposition but her duty had to speak first. “Well…” She chuckled and continued, “All joking aside, I don’t mind in public if we… well… behave like a couple.”

"I hope you act better than that, MacKenzie. I know it'll be a hardship for you to have to bear my affections in public, but you'll have to pretend it doesn't." And maybe that was what fascinated him most about her. She didn't want him. He was so used to women tripping over themselves and anyone in the way to get to him. Not this woman. "People know I'm a touchy feely sort with those I'm involved with, so I'll have to keep to the standard in that regard."

He rolled his glass in his palm. "Women are meant to be touched, and I like to touch," he said quietly.

Was he kidding? A hardship for her to bear his affections? Maybe she was better at hiding her attraction than she thought. Which wasn’t a bad thing in this situation, it called for it. MacKenzie was sure it would be short lived, after living with someone, surely he’d have some annoying habit that would drive her mad.

She hoped.

Damn, she bet he touched real good too. He really didn’t have an idea did he? She was afraid it would be too easy to pretend, too easy that she’d want more. “We’re going to need to practice this all you know? Otherwise it will looked forced. And they pick up on that sort of thing.” She scooped the noodles into her mouth.

Jon stiffened, the easy smile slipping away. He stood and refilled both their glasses, jamming the bottle stopper back into the neck before putting it back into the wine fridge. "Looks like you'll be getting a goodnight kiss at the door after all." He looked over his shoulder. "Don't worry, I'll brush away the garlic before you get a taste."

She chuckled nervously "Looks like it," she tried to remember the last man she kissed like she meant it, and couldn't even drum it up quickly in her mind. Shit. What would he taste like? Wine and Sin? Oh god, this was going to be a disaster.

He pressed his knuckles onto the table. Her cool reserve was melting away and if he didn't know better, she was even nervous. Maybe he wasn't so repulsive to her? "Well, I didn't get to the garlic shrimp yet," he said and before he could stop himself he leaned in. He heard her quick intake of breath, using it to his advantage he angled, pressing his lips to hers.

Thank god for the back of the chair or she would have flipped back onto the floor out of shock. Her heart drummed hard against her ribs, holy shit. The kiss was like a small gunshot, simple, effective and just as deadly. His lips were softer than she ever expected, and he tasted like chow mein and wine. Her toes curled, and she couldn’t jam down the small moan that escaped her throat.

His fingers dipped into her hair, cupping the back of her head as he pulled her out of the chair into his arms. They were similar in height with her heeled boots versus his stocking feet. Part of him wanted to push for more, to show her that when she'd said no, it was a mistake. But the rest of him wanted to savor. There was only one first kiss. Even if it was make-believe.

He slid his arm around her waist, keeping his other hand right there in her hair, cupping her face as he tasted her. Leaving the kiss simple, he just brushed his lips over hers, swallowing the little moan she'd let free. He leaned back, their lips hovering for a moment before he went back for just one more taste. The tip of his tongue slid across her lower lip just before he stepped back, breaking the connection.

Her eyes fluttered back open at the loss of contact on her mouth, she was securely in his arms and one hand was hovering just about his belt line ready to slide on up into that chest she’d been thinking about. And the other, was sliding down over the curve of his ass.

Oh shit.

“Um...not bad….” For the lack of a better thing to say. She pulled back and her arms shook as she picked up her wine and took a very big mouthful. “Yup, that’ll work… just fine.” She slammed the glass back down on the table. “I think that will work.”

He hid the smile and grabbed one of the bowls with the garlic shrimp and vegetables in it and a pair of chopsticks. "I have to make a few calls." The satisfaction in his face would show. His poker face was currently being over ridden by the semi-hard on he was sporting. "Not bad yourself," he called over his shoulder and headed for the living room.

What in the hell? She’d signed up for guard duty not blow your brains off and leave you horny as hell, kiss duty. She jammed in another mouthful of Chinese, anything to get rid of his taste was still swirling around in her mouth. She was in big trouble, no scratch that. Massive trouble.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Chapter Eleven

“Looks good to me Mac, you sure you’re up to this?” David handed back the papers to her.

She took them and tucked them in her briefcase, “It’ll keep me out of trouble for awhile, I should be asking you if you’re up to handling the office while I’m offsite,” she grinned snapping the clasps shut. One thing Mackenzie hadn’t told David was the tiny little matter that she found Jon attractive. He would have told her to send someone else, but she wouldn’t have it, this was her job and she’d make damn sure that she’d do a good one. Attraction or not. The fact that they had chemistry would only aid the situation, make it easier to be around each other. Least that’s what she kept telling herself.

“Well if I know you, and I think I do. You won’t be far away to kick my ass if anything goes wrong. Just be careful, and ring me at anytime if you need me,” David said seriously folding his arms.

She bent down to her safe and cranked the combination until the steel door popped open. “Damn right, I will kick your ass” she was going to hate this, away from her work, her life. “I don’t expect anything to actually happen but you just never know,” she plucked out a large case which held three guns, three different sized ones for three different situations. She’d already started the applications for her to carry a gun around the presidential candidates and was waiting for appropriate clearance from the Secret Service.

“When was the last time you used?”

She reached in further and pulled out the ammunition as well as a small bag of other gadgets she was going to need. “About a month ago at the range, I generally brush up every once and awhile. I’ll head back there this week."

“Good ok. Well just be careful Mac I’m serious, I know you think you’re indestructible at times but just remember that you’re not,” he warned. She smiled and slammed the safe shut twirling the dial. I hope Jon doesn’t freak out with all this stuff.

“Call me tomorrow after you are settled in there. You’re moving in tonight? Right?”

She nodded and packed her large sports bag with everything she would need away from the office, equipment, laptop, files, and her life as she knew it. “Yeah, can’t really afford not to, I don’t know if he realizes that but he soon will...Oh shit!” She quickly threw him a text that she’d be there in two hours, gym, food and then his house.

“Ok see you later Mac,” David slipped out of her office. She secured her bags and grabbed everything she needed making her way to the car. Still so much to do, and think about but she knew that she’d never think straight if she didn’t go and run her six miles for the day.

As she pounded on the treadmill with Nickelback blasting through her iPod earphones, her mind drifted. [i]Just have to be positive, make this easy as possible for him, it’s a huge change of lifestyle, for both of us. And he was easy to get on with wasn’t he?

An hour later she’d showered, thrown on some jeans and a black tight turtleneck and was driving to his apartment in Soho, fully equipped with a bag of assorted Chinese boxes and her life from her apartment. She rubbed her tummy as she pulled in to his complex, well here goes nothing.

She struggled to the door with all her bags, and rapped on the door. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, all about business. When the door swung open she grinned, "Honey I'm Home."

"Jesus, Kenzie," Jon opened the door wider. "Give me something would you?" He reached for one of the bags.

She pulled back "I'm fine just stand aside and I'll dump all this down," she leaned away from him to steady her weight.

He crossed his arms over his chest as a duffle bag swung gently to the floor followed by Chinese takeout. The thump of a bag well past bulging that was probably clothes and a garment bag which he took from over her arm. "Good grief woman, are you moving in tonight?"

Did he just call her Kenzie again? She shook it off and dusted her arms and thighs off with her hands and looked up him "No, that's me on a good day," she laughed when his brow quirked. "Yes Jon, if that's ok. I figured there was no point prolonging the inevitable. I thought this way," she looked around the immaculate apartment. "That I was going to catch you off guard in your robe and slippers reading the latest issue of playboy."

"They have good articles," he said dryly and hung the dress bag in his hall closet. He couldn't say he was ready for this. He thought he'd have a few days to digest the thought of a woman in his space again, let alone this woman. But this--now? Without even...He swallowed. Okay. He could do this. She swung around with her laptop bag still on her shoulder, pulling the material of her turtleneck tight to her chest. He clenched his jaw and forced his eyes to her face. Her hair was loose and still damp. Had she just gotten out of the shower? Good fuck, don't go there, Jonny. He lifted the largest bag, hefting it before he turned away to the back of his apartment. "I'll show you the room you'll be using."

He wasn't ready for this for God's sake. She followed him, that elusive scent followed her down the hallway as he turned into Steph's room. "It's my daughter's room, but she's not the frilly sort." He turned back to her, disconcerted when they met eye-to-eye. "Figured it was better than the boy's room," he said and dropped the bag on his daughter's bed. How many levels of sick was it to put a woman that you were so attracted to, into your daughter's bedroom? Like it was going to stop him from picturing her naked? Fuck. "Why don't you settled yourself and I'll get the food prepped," he said and got out of the room. He couldn't be there any longer. Not with her smell permeating the room.

She dumped her other bags at the foot of the bed. The room was done in light pastels but as Jon said not frilly, the stack of CDS by the stereo and makeup and jewellery neatly stacked on the dresser gave away the teenage palate. "Thanks, this is great...uh…" She stood and bit on the end of her thumb nail not sure how to approach the next thing. "I guess this is going to come into the whole how we will do this, but it will probably pay for me to put some things in your room when I unpack... on the bedside table, in the closet...." god. For a brief moment she wondered if this was the right thing to do. You can do this Kenzie, shit Mac... your names Mac. Damn it.

"To make it real...." she added waiting to see how he'd react. She’d already seen how much she’d ruffled his feathers with her unannounced arrival.

His throat went dry as he stopped at the threshold. He gripped the doorjamb, answering with a nod. It was one thing to have her in his home, in his space, but in his room? He looked over his shoulder. "I'll," he cleared his throat, "I'll just show you my room." He knew that if he was going to fake this with any amount of realism she was right, but no one would be back here with them. "I don't see why we need to go this far." He heard the swift clomp of her heels behind him. "It's only going to be you and I here."

She stopped and folded her arms, the faded charcoal t-shirt he wore just rode above that ass, she was now faced with. God damn it. "Well, you have maids right? Staff? they talk... you may not think that but they do," her tone dropped softer as he met her eyes. "Look I know this is hard. But honestly I wouldn't suggest it if I didn't think it was imperative to the operation," his mussed cinnamon hair framed his face, and his aqua eyes fell flat.

He swore and popped his door open, the door stopper catching hard as it hit the wall. Fucking gossip. He'd worked hard to ignore it most of his life, but now he had to work with it. Just freakin' great. "Do what you need to do," he said shortly. He pointed to the bathroom off the corner of his room and then the wide king sized bed. "I sleep on the left side." He met her eyes for a moment, sarcasm dripping. "I dress to the left too," at her icy response he smirked. "Just want to make sure you have all the facts." And walked out.

She sighed, this couldn’t be easy. He was independent and in control of everything, she knew this had to be a kick in ass for him. He’d have to get over it, for his own good and safety. It was all part of the deal. She stood back and marvelled at the endless wall of glass that looked out to the twinkling city lights. It was something out of a movie scene, as she sat on the edge of his Californian King. This had to work, it was going to work. The clang of china from the kitchen snapped her back from her little daydream. Oh well, better go and see Mr Pissy pants. Gotta start somewhere.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chapter Ten

Jon winced and turned to her. "Does it matter?"

Heat crept up his neck. She was professional, but it was pretty obvious that she wasn't exactly happy about the proposition. Maybe a little time had given her a different perspective. She'd be spending a lot of time with him unless she used one of her employees. The thought rankled.

She lifted herself from the chair and strode over to where the coffee Claire had made. Pouring herself a cup and mixing in the cream she brought it to her lips and sipped. "Not to the end result, but before I even agree to this. What's changed your mind, from the thought of having a woman protect you?" She'd figured he wasn't actually a sexist, but she'd have some fun with it.

He'd worked with women all his life. He had a strong willed mother, ex-wife and daughter. He knew how capable they were. Hell, he'd do anything for any one of them...even his ex-wife. But the thought of a woman, even one with the impressive background MacKenzie had, protecting him rubbed him wrong. To willingly put her in danger so he could...what? Go out, do the things he'd scheduled three--sometimes four months ago? To even walk in the same room as their future president. And he had to make sure that he trusted this woman to do that. He wasn't sure he could.

"I'm sure you're more than capable..." he trailed off.

She rested the cup down on the end of the table and dusted her palms together. His eye had caught a piece of art on her wall that her Dad had bought her one year for Christmas. She walked up behind him and stood next to him observing the art as he was. "It's not just a matter of whether I'm capable, it’s a matter of whether you can trust me to be." She wanted the job.

As much as anything, the money and reputation to her company would be worth it. A small part of her wanted to finish the job, she opened it...she knew what he was up against and she could handle it. But the question was could he handle what he was getting into with her? He had to, or it would never work. In one sharp movement, she grabbed his arm, twisted it behind his back and wrapped her leg around his disabling any movement he could possibly make. Pressing her whole body into him, she inhaled the deep scent of spice as she leaned in even closer.

"Can you trust me? I know you are used to protecting women, but you've got to let me protect you.”

He struggled automatically, until she pressed her entire body length against him and settled him forcefully into the wall. Her strength was a surprise, but the effective immobilization stung. He was reasonably versed in self defence thanks to a life time of martial arts in his household, but even Dorothea at her strongest couldn't pin him for more than a second against a wall.

Not to mention those pins usually dissolved into playtime of the rambunctious kind. There was no play here. Even if his cock jumped at her breath in his ear, the rest was serious and humbling. He didn't fucking like to be humbled. "Back off, I get it," he growled.

She backed off, the warmth of his body shaking her a bit. Her heart raced widly in her chest, christ. Was she making a mistake wanting to do this? When clearly there was some attraction. She'd just have to compartentalize it and move on with the job. “Sorry, I would of done it last night but I don't believe in inflicting pain on the intoxicated.” She smiled and slipped back into her chair. “Sit. Let's talk like adults about this.” She gestured for the chair.

He rolled his shoulder, but there was no pain...well, other than the ass kicking his pride was taking today. Good Fuck. Too keyed up he walked back to her desk and leaned down, his fingers splayed over a blizzard of papers. "I get it MacKenzie. You are more than qualified for this position, but do you realize what you'll have to endure, going out with me?"

He stood and sighed, pacing again. "I'll give you my ex-wife's number so you can see just what kind of crap she had to deal with." He turned back to her, his arms crossed again. "You can't lunge at every woman that tries to get to me, you understand that right?"

This time she couldn't help but laugh. "I'm not going to lunge at every woman that tries to get to you Jon. I know better than that." She studied him the length of him, from his long fingers that were tapping up a strom on her desk, to the cinnamon spike of his hair. She sighed. "It's not going to be easy, for both of us at first. But we'll adjust. Sure there will be teething problems. And yes I'm going to have to live in your pocket. You're going to hate that, I know you are. But we seem to be two of a kind in a way," she mused.

He snorted. "Are you sure you'll be able to pretend you're my girlfriend? I suppose you're a good actress with your line of work anyway." Her eyebrows shot up and he waved the statement away. "Why don't you come over tonight after work and we'll figure out the logistics. I'll inform my staff that you'll be given clearance."

"As long as I don't need to go get a makeover," she said sarcastically back popping her tongue into her cheek before he laughed. "Sure, that sounds like an idea. I'll need to size up the place for a few things. Plus check out my room.” She closed her eyes for a nano second as the reality of what she was doing sunk in. She'd had other personal security jobs sure, but none where she had to pretend to be someone's girlfriend. And she had to pull this off as one whiff of this escaping to the Bloods, both her and Jon's life would be on the line. It was a tall order but this is the stuff she dreamt of as a kid. She'd even imagined in her early days of being a celebrity escort, but back then it was more imagining it was George Clooney or someone like that.

In all the times she did imagine being on the end of George Clooney there had been one thing missing. The spark that ignited every time she touched him, or he touched her. Like it did with Jon. She'd trust herself to put that aside and focus on the business she could do that. Too much would be at risk. Least the public flirting wouldn't look fake, right?

There was tons of stuff to organize; her life was about to change for the next month or so, or however long this took. Her life as she knew it would change. She'd have to work from his apartment, she couldn’t be seen near the offices. It was going to drive her batshit trusting David, and to run everything by voice or video conference. She had to live in his house, be friends with who he was friends with.

It was like an instant boyfriend, without the emotional attachments. On one hand, it scared the crap out of her. Bu the other had her looking forward to hanging out with him as she was sure they had common interests. She wanted to make this as easy for him as possible as well so she'd try and fit into with whatever mould he had for her.

"What I will need between now and then, is a list of everyone you have contact with. Who they are, how often you contact them and what for." She saw the look in his eyes before she delivered the next blow. "And the one thing you have to promise me right here and now. Is, that we have no secrets. You have to be fully honest with me at all times.”

He felt the twinge in his spine, the need to get the hell out of there. He wasn't sure he could go all in with someone again, even if it was pretend. "I won't keep you in the dark about anything that pertains to this arrangement, but there are some things you'll just have to take on faith, MacKenzie. I don't trust new people easily, so I can only promise to do my best."

She blew out her breath. "Thank you, that's all I ask if we want to make it work. I want to make it work. For you. So you have my trust as well in all this. Anything that happens in the privacy of your own home. Stays there.”

He nodded curtly. "Write up your paperwork and just text me or call to give me a head's up when you'll be arriving." He walked to the door, didn't turn around when he swallowed hard. "I don't want my family to know. They matter above all else, MacKenzie, please understand that."

"I hope you're a helluva actress to pull this off."

She understood that more than anyone. Family came first. And he was a family man. She needed to talk to him about the kids. But that would come tonight. Along with everything else. The words actress rung in her head. Shit, holy crap she really was going to have to be the rock star’s girlfriend. "I will be. Don't you worry. It's my job just like it’s yours to act a show. And I understand about the family, we'll talk more on that tonight. I'll pick up Chinese if you don't mind."

He nodded again. "I'm not picky anything with spice and veggies, I'm good." He slipped out the door before he could reveal anything else. God, he hoped he could do this. How could she not know how attracted to her, he was? And how was he supposed to turn it the fuck off? He gave a half smile to his receptionist and fled.

She sat at her desk and watched him disappear maybe she’d been too harsh on him? She hadn’t meant to come across so brash but he had to know what he was in for. This wasn’t just some roommate moving in. This was going to up heave his life, both of theirs in a huge way. She picked up her coffee and shook her mouse, starting to clear her schedule for the next month or so. She flicked David an IM to come and see her when he was free. Could she pull this one off? Only time would tell.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Chapter Nine

Jon walked up and down her block, three times before he managed enough spit to swallow his pride and walk in her door. The small, antique gold plaque told him she was on the first floor of the building, along with another agency of some sort. Taking a deep breath, he walked up the stairs.

Dammit, after trying every way to get around this security issue he’d come to only one resort. No fucking way he was having an entourage, or a guy escorting him everywhere at Obama’s functions. It had been made perfectly clear by Obama’s security that unless Jon had personal security, he was a threat being there.

Mackenzie was his only option if he wanted to continue to do the Democratic stomps. It twisted right down to his gut to think about having to ask her when he clearly blew her off.

He couldn't stop the smile when the frosted glass front of the door screamed noir PI movies, with the crisp black lettering: Coopers Private Investigation & Security Agency. Kenzie's name was smaller and still yet more formal underneath it advising of her licensed status. He was actually going to walk into a PI's office to ask this woman to watch his ass.

He seriously needed to be committed, he thought as he opened the door.

A desk took up the majority of the main space. A simple seating area in leather took up the rest of the room with a fan of magazines and all sorts of green sprouting from every corner. The receptionist desk was littered with green plants in various stages of bloom and a pretty blonde had a phone to her ear. She was a little starchy in a mild pink suit that reminded him of the movie Legally Blonde that his daughter made him sit through.

She hung up the phone and he smiled. "Hello, I was wondering if Ms. Cooper was in."

She pushed her mouse to the screen, and looked over to the diary. "Sorry sir, she's out at the moment with a client but her next hour is free, she's due back any minute. Is she expecting you?"

He smiled, taking his ball cap and sunglasses off. "I think she'll see me. She brought me a contract to look at yesterday." It wasn't exactly the whole truth, but pretty damn close. "Do you think I could wait for her?"

She glanced at the couple of people waiting and nodded "Not a problem" she stood up and walked to the far door and held it open "Just wait inside here, she won't be too long."

He had to hand it to her, she didn't blink even though he saw the recognition in her wide blue eyes. Kenzie certainly had a professional staff. "I appreciate it," he bumped up his smile into charming instead of polite.

"There's a pot of coffee in the corner there, I always put it on at this time of day for her. So please help yourself," she smiled and clicked the door shut behind him.

"That'd be great, thanks." He headed for the pot and smiled appreciatively as the high end blend wafted his way. He almost wished it was Folgers or something to fit with the front door. He didn't bother with any sugar or cream, needing the quick jolt of heat and caffeine that only black coffee could provide. Sipping at the mug, he turned around the room.

She seemed to like the traditional heavy end desks, both at reception and the super sized one in her office. She'd situated it right near the window, maximizing space and light. It was totally covered in files and ditto paper with a busy fax spitting out information behind her chair on yet another desk.

Volumes of books were crammed in the shelves that reminded him of a lawyer’s office more than...well. He supposed she dealt with the law even more than a lawyer and a cop. His eyes scanned titles that spoke of laws, paternity, and even a few different states mixed in. One bookcase seemed to boast a frenzy of electronics that he couldn't even begin to decipher.

A large safe was tucked in the corner, reminding him that her job was indeed in the security end of things. It was a gun safe. He'd been around guns most of his life, though he'd grown out of the fascination with them before he'd hit thirty. Too many near misses and stupidity came with that kind of weapon in his lifestyle.

The only thing that had any semblance of a feminine flair was a single stained glass window that lit the battered hardwood floor with gold’s and greens, reds and blues. An explosion of plants framed the window with some hanging, some in racks and some with stands all showcasing one pot that had to be half the size of Kenzie's massive desk. It was filled with greens and flowers and pretty glass bulbs that seemed to stick out of the dirt. He stepped closer. Damn, there was water in the little balls. "Pretty cool," he said out loud and filed that away. He had far too many women in his life and finding little presents was tough.

He walked across the room, to the personal shelves tucked off in another corner behind her desk. Framed faces in a variety of stages of Kenzie's life crammed the shelves. Mugging smiles, sappy grins at Christmas and a smug flipping finger in front of a cake with so many candles it resembled a bonfire.

He snorted, putting the picture down, his knuckle bumping into a small frame that wasn't quite out front. He picked it up and a much younger Kenzie stared back at him, her lips smacking a guy that couldn’t be over twenty. His eyes were crinkled and laughing as his beefy arm wrapped around her neck and waist.

Mackenzie raced up the stairs, her heels pounding on the wood back up to her office. She breathed out when she came to the landing swinging the door open. Slung over one shoulder her bag, filled with documents she’d now have to file and process. And the other, two foot long subway sandwiches. One again was to be used for bribery. Claire was so much better at filing and doing all that stupid work. Ok ok, so not better. Mac just loathed the manual work that the job entailed at times.

MacKenzie breezed through the reception area, Claire was busy on the phone but snapped up when she saw her come in, and waving her arms around frantically. She raised her eyebrow at her and followed her rapid pointing to the door of her office. She walked up and paused looking through the crack. To her surprise she caught the back end of Jon holding one of her photo frames.

She studied him a bit longer than she intended to instead of going right on it. What was he doing here? A small grin curled in her lips as she wondered if he'd changed his mind and needed her after all. The dark wash jeans curved around his ass so perfectly. What was with that? She always had to look. The blades in his back were prominent through the tight black long sleeve tee he had on. The man worked out, gorgeous shape into a trim waist. Josh would be proud. She snapped back to reality when Claire coughed and gave her a look. She chuckled and shook her head. Swinging open the door fully she stepped in.

"Enjoying the slide show?"

Jon turned away, frame still in hand. The business woman that greeted him left him off balance. Her dark hair was twisted up and away from her face, leaving her sea colored eyes unframed. A slick, decidedly feminine suit nipped in at her waist and the simple white shirt under it looked a little wilted, like she'd been sitting forever. He could see the restlessness in her face and the wariness at his visit. He put the frame down and rounded her desk. "Here," he grabbed the huge deli package and caught a whiff of Italian dressings and meat. "You didn't need to feed me, though." He said with what he hoped was a charming, lopsided grin.

She laughed, "Thanks, it was actually bribery for my staff but tell anyone I do that and I may have to kill you." She sank down in her leather swivel and slammed her leather satchel down. She took the package and pulled out a long wrapped parcel. "I'm starving, I've not eaten since six so please excuse me," she unravelled the paper and took a huge bite of the pastrami cheese and mayo rich roll. "So what do I owe this visit Jon, I know it’s not the free coffee,” she smiled nodding to the coffee at the end of the table.

Leave it to MacKenzie to get right to it. He set his hat down on her desk, crossing his arms over his chest as he dug his fingertips into his aching tricep against the cooling weather. "I'm not terribly good at eating crow, MacKenzie, but I'm here." He wanted to stare at the floor, over her shoulder, anything but her eyes. But it was her eyes he focused on. Pride slamming in his throat

"I'd like to discuss some options."

She finished the second mouthful of her sandwich and couldn't help but be intrigued. He's thinking about it now huh? Didn't seem so bad now did it? She leaned back in her chair and crossed her legs meeting those aquamarine eyes that countless probably women had orgasmed over. The tenseness in his jaw, she could see. He hated this, a man like Jon wasn't used to admitting that he was wrong she'd bet. "I'm listening," she said seriously.

The delight to make him squirm in his seat, she could get off on. He was going to have to work for this one.

"I spoke to a few people last night," try a dozen, "and I'm not in love with any of my options." He couldn't just stand there and have her watch him like that. Her eyes were nearly glittering with the crow he was munching on and it left a bad taste. She didn't want to have anything to do with him, and now he had to all but coerce her into helping him. Christ. But he'd eat that fucking crow if it meant that his family was safe.

He paced along the carpet just inside her door. "I've spoken to the police and a few people I trust and all of them want me under 24/7 guard with a detail that would rival fucking Madonna and all the Brittany's combined." He turned to her. "I'm not going to live my life that way." He clenched his jaw. "You're my best option."

She sat for a few moments listening to him tapping the end of her boot against the brass draw handle of her desk. "You're best option? Or your last?" she asked a bit too quickly off the tongue.

She knew she was his best option, especially for what he required in the upcoming events he had to attend. He couldn’t afford to have an entourage but she wasn't in the habit of jumping into bed with a client in a personal security job unless she had their full confidence.

Otherwise this was never going to work.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Chapter Eight

Mac pulled up to the scene and jammed on her handbrake. She grabbed her satchel and tucked it under her arm, reachedf for the tray of coffees and bag of donuts and stepped out of the car slamming the door. The swarm of media was spilling out onto the pavement, christ it was like a circus. The silent lights of the ambulance flashed, thank god it was stationary. He had to be ok.

She balanced the trays and made her way through the crowds over to the police cordon was, and where two officers guarded the entrance way to the studio. Perfect. Joe Gregio and Tony McNorton who she knew from her days at the precinct were standing watch. “Hey boys” she grinned waving the coffees like a waitress in front of them. Time for some bribery.

Joe who was six foot seven crossed his arms. “Cooper what do you want?”

“Hey Mac.” Tony grinned reaching for a coffee off her tray but she pulled it back.

“Uh uh, I need to get in there and talk to a client I was working for.” She flashed them a big grin. “So can you let me in?”

“Cooper we haven’t got that sort of clearance.” That was bullshit, and she knew it.

“Come on Joe, I need to see him it’s important.” Ok so she wanted to see if he was ok, he was in something that was way over his head. Sure he’d probably have strange groupies, but she was sure none would have tried to mow him down.

He rolled his eyes and plucked the coffee from the tray and held his hand out, “Gimme the loot.”

She laughed and handed the bag to them. “Thanks guys, knew I could count on you.”

“Don’t draw attention to yourself, NOTHING!” Joe warned rummaging thorugh the bag.

“Yeah, yeah,” she spun around and swung open the door in time for a air splitting wolf whistle behind her.

“Looking good!” Tony bellowed.

“Quit looking at my ass!” She turned around where she was met by Jon, and a familiar tall dark haired man. “Hell,” she exclaimed looking at Jon who looked a little worse for wear.

"What are you doing here, McKenzie?" Jon looked over her shoulder at the cops obviously oggling her then back to her shielded eyes. He frowned at his own reflection and the annoying white gauze square taped to his temple and scalp.

She tugged off her glasses, tucking them into her jacket pocket. "I saw it on the news and the minute I did, I knew why." She nodded to the guy, "Are you both ok?" She asked seriously, pointing to his head. Christ, he could of been seriously hurt. She knew now more than ever she'd done the right thing coming down.

He waved her concern away. "I'm fine, I'm fine." He took her hand and pulled her inside the dark studio. "Richie Sambora, this is McKenzie." He sighed. "I used Miss Cooper for some personal inquiries on the Soul issue we talked about."

Richie nodded and held out a hand. "Call me Richie. I was outside when the car tried to use Jonny for target practice."

Jon winced. "Dammit, Richie." He watched Kenzie's eyes go flat and hard.

She gripped Richie's hand and shook it forcefully. "Pleased to meet you Richie".

Richie motioned for everyone to go down the hall. "Why don't we go back here where we can talk. Miss Cooper can tell us what's on her mind."

Jon nodded. "Yeah, the shot the paramedic gave me is starting to take effect."

"Sounds good." She followed them down the hall, taking notice that Jon was in sweat pants and a tight tee-shirt that was stained with sweat and drops of blood. "I hope you don't take this lightly, any one of you could of been seriously injured out there today, hell killed."

Richie nodded, instantly contrite. "Of course we know that, Darlin’. If we didn't joke about the crazy things that happen in our lives we'd have been six feet under long ago."

Jon shrugged. "We've been in worse situations."

She blinked, worse situations my ass. Jesus, what the hell kind of stuff did they get into that could be worse?

Her eyes narrowed at Jon. "What one of your groupies come after you with an AK-47?"

Jon sat down. "There was no gun, McKenzie." His head head lowered as the Darvocet swam through his veins. "Jesus, the media must have gone nuts with that story already."

"Yes they have, that's how I found out." She placed her satchel down and squeezed into a chair. Jon's blue eyes were cloudy and his whole body was slouched forward. They had no idea what sort of people they were dealing with here. She'd seen it on the force, and it wasn't pretty. "Well, I came down to see you and also make you an offer." She folded her arms and leaned back.

Jon looked up, closing his eyes for a second. Damn, I wish I'd said no to the drug for the aches and pains. "What kind of offer?"

"In my experience, these things just don't go away overnight if you ignore them. I've had dealings with gangs when I worked on the force, and once they start to make waves, there is usually only one way it ends."

Jon's eyes widened. "What? They want to kill me for not hiring the kid?"

She shook her head, "hard to say but they may be using this opportunity to send a message to others. It's been done before. You, your family and," she looked over at Richie. "Are at risk." She leaned forward and clasped her hands, "so that's why I'm offering my services as an undercover bodyguard, just until we see how this plays out."

"What?" He swallowed against the surge of nausea and dizziness as the drug settled against his empty belly. "I'm not going to have a troop of people following me around. I'm not one of the Brittany's and I refuse to become one."

"Jonny, listen to her, man." Richie clamped a hand on Jon's shoulder. "She might have a point."

The certainity and confidence she was used to seeing in those eyes, was so not there. She crouched down in front of him, so thier eyes met. "I'm professional as they come, and there's just one of me."

Jon shook his head. "I've never needed that kind of protection before and I'm not going to start now."

Richie frowned, leaned back on the half wall that divided the rooms.

“Jon, listen to me. I'm not proposing you get an entourage. I know that's the last thing you need right now. Especially in all your dealings on the political scene right now. I'm offering you one on one protection here." He didn't hold her gaze for long, the drugs making him distracted. "I'm fully trained here, ex marine, cop you name it. I can do it. You're in good hands."

"I'm not having some chick protect me," the drugs leaving his good sense far behind. Jon tried to shut his mouth, but it was too late.

At her closed off face, he tried to backtrack. "Wait, Kenzie."

"No, you've made your point. I didn't take you for a chavenist Jon," she ignored the fact he'd called her Kenzie, she so didn't need to go down that path right now.

"It's fine Jon. If you want to become a target. Who am I to stop you?" She wanted to shake him, but knew she couldn't push it.

"Did they say anything to you from the car? Yell anything?"

Jon sighed. He knew he'd fucked up, but he couldn't pull it back. He wouldn't pull it back at this point. He couldn't have this woman protect him. He was all for women's rights in every avenue, but he couldn't have this woman around him 24/7 after she'd pulverized his balls just a few days prior. Call him prideful, call him studpid. He'd find another way. He cleared his throat. “Think about your actions, Rich Man,” he said quietly.

"Look, guys. No one's going to win any side of this argument. Why don't we all sleep on it and look at it tomorrow with some perspective." Richie nodded at Jon. "And when Jon can think like a human, not someone high on Darvocet."

Mac nodded "Right, good idea." She rubbed her face with her hands. Richie was right, Jon wasn't in the clearest of mind frame now and hell if he was on Darvocet he certainly wouldn't be. She couldn't force the issue with him and now wasn't the time. The way he'd disregarded it so easily still had her pissed. Like she couldn't handle it. And that was something she was used to from her life in this man-orientated career but she expected more from him. God knows why. She glanced back over her shoulder at him, rubbing his temples and looking though he was about to drop she sighed collecting her case.

"You're right Richie. I'm not needed here," she slapped her business card down on the table. "Call me when they start to threaten the lives of your kids." Damn, she hadn't meant that to come out of her mouth. She spun on her heel pausing at the door, her fingers curling around it. She wanted to say more. She wanted to tell him that she cared, but what was the use. He was just another stubborn male.

"Good day Richie, nice to meet you."

"McKenzie--" She turned around to him, but he just shut his mouth and swallowed. "Thank you for taking the time to come down and..." he trailed off. "Just thanks." Her green eyes seemed to grow sad just before she turned back around.

MacKenzie kept walking and didn't look back until the crisp city air hit her face. Part of her wanted to go back in there and throttle Jon for being so casual about the situation but she had to realize he probably wasn't thinking straight and he was a man who didn't take too kindly to be told what he needed. Well if he has any sense he'll at least get his own security on it, I just hope they don't waste too much time as god knows when those kids would strike again. She waved to Joe and Tony before returning to her car and popping the door open.

As much as she could deny it all she wanted. There was something different than him just being a client. Maybe she just saw herself in him too much, drived determined and knowing what he wanted. That was probably it. She roared her iginition into life and pulled back out into the deep downtown traffic, and made route for the beach giving one last thought to the man she left back in the studio praying he'd see some sense tommorrow. That's all you can do Mac, can't force your help on others.

Richie palmed the card and stuffed it in his jeans pocket. "C'mon Jon. I'll get you home.”

He snagged his jacket and shook the pocket for his keys. "Jon, why don't you call Mike to have someone check in on Dot and the kids."

Jon's belly quivered and the nausea threatened to spew. God, not his kids. “Why don't you just let me call my driver, I'll go stay with Dot and the kid--"

"I don't think that's a good idea, Jon. Not until you know more."

Jon sighed, the need to go to his family and to fix everything was overwhelming, but he knew Richie was right. Until he knew more, it was just good conscious to stay away from them and not lead them to his family.

"All right, let's just get out of here." Richie pushed Jon gently ahead of him and outside to where a police cruiser was stationed.

"I'm here to take Mr. Bon Jovi home," said the officer.

Jon looked back at Richie. "You get yourself home. We've all had a long night. Nothing's going to happen with one fo New York's finest taking me home."

"If you're sure."

"I'm positive."

"Ok, call me if you need me."

Jon nodded and rested his hand on his shoulder. "I will, thanks man."

Richie went to go and turned, "you were right about one thing though Jon."

Jon raised his eyebrow, "oh?"

"She's hot."

Jon half snorted, "go home old man."

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Chapter Seven

“Here’s your messages MacKenzie.” Claire handed her a pile of pink post-it notes as she walked back into her office.

“Thanks Claire, listen go have some lunch while it’s quiet I can grab the phone if it rings. It’s a gorgeous day out there,” she dumped her bag down on the corner chair in her office. She reached up and tied her hair back from her face before sliding into her chair, shaking her mouse to bring her laptop back into life.

She kept her eyes on the screen as she unwrapped the chicken BLT sandwich she’d picked up, took a bite and attempted her email. Lunchtime Yoga sessions were always a good way to relax her mind, hell they were a nice compliment to Josh’s sadistic gym sessions and didn't leave her wishing for death. That was always a bonus. She jumped when her phone beeped, “son of a bitch, always lunchtime.”

She grabbed the phone and held it to her ear, licking her finger free of stray mayonnaise. “Hello MacKenzie Cooper,” she took a swig of her water and leaned back in her chair.

“How’s my favourite girl doing?”

She grinned and relaxed. “I’m doing good, how are you doing Dad?” Her father often randomly called her at work, just to say hi or to tell her stupid little things. Her parents had moved from New York five years ago down to Florida to retire, well her father would never retire as much as he wouldn’t admit it. Practicing medicine was always what he did, and loved. He was officially retired but he still worked part time in the clinic near where they lived, as a General practitioner.

“Oh you know, just the usual been a little busier with the clinic since Frank went on holiday but it's keeping me out of trouble. How about you? My favourite hard assed daughter, keeping out of mischief?”

“Dad I’m your only hard assed daughter, and yes it’s been a little slow, just the usual PI stuff coming through a few high profile cases but that’s all. How’s Mom?” Admittedly Mac was her Daddy’s girl. Her mother had never approved of her going into the marines or the force. She was much more traditional when it came to woman’s careers. She’d got over it all the same, and she still had a great relationship with her Mom as well. It helped that they lived in Florida.

“You know your mother, off organising social events at the Country club is taking up time but she’s in her element with all those woman.”

“God, I couldn’t stand it,” she shivered remembering last summer when she went down to see her parents and was dragged to her mother's social committees. Her mother loved what she did so Mac had to be supportive, but by the end of it she had thought of fifty-five ways she could poke herself with a needle in the eye.

“I know, not my scene either but you know your mom in her social planning element so it works… so no boys on the scene?” He asked hopefully.

MacKenzie snorted, every single time he’d ask it. “No Dad, like I have time.” She looked up when David burst into her office waving frantically at the TV in the corner of her office. She cupped the phone, “what’s up?” she picked up her remote and flicked on the TV.

The image that flicked onto the screen made her raise her brow, Jon. “Ah Dad, can I call you back something’s come up.” She disconnected the call and stood.

“What the hell?” A chaos of people gathered outside a building with Jon shielded in the background.

“Today at lunchtime a hit and run attempt was made on the front man of Bon Jovi, Jon Bon Jovi narrowly missed an attempted outside some downtown studios where band mate Richie Sambora is recording his next solo effort. It’s not clear whether the attempt was aimed at Bon Jovi, or Sambora, or if it was simply a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“Aww hell,” she raked her fingers through her hair.

The screen flashed over to Jon who was clearly uncomfortable, shunning the reporters that swarmed around him like bees. His sunglasses shielded his face, and he didn't answer one question that was flying at him as they disappeared into the studios.

“That’s why.” David said folding his arms nodding.

“Hit and run? God, that seems a little ridiculous on a rockstar doesn't it?” She chewed on the back of her thumb as her mind worked overtime.

“Weren't you looking into some gang business for him?”

She met David's stare and popped her brow. “God, you don't think they'd...shit!” She expected that Jon could hear from the gang again, after he'd dopped the kid. But never expected this extreme behaviour. Christ, least he wasn't hurt, from what she could tell. She reached over and punched a few buttons on her phone.

“Hi Craig, it’s Mac. I need a huge favor. I need everything that you can get for me on The Bloods, the leader Black Watch and anything relating to their affliates, and hits they’ve planned or made over the past and I need it as soon as possible...Thanks, I won’t forget this.” She hung up and motioned to David to turn off the TV.

“God damn it. You know more about gangs than me. He must of kicked the kid off the team who was the gang leaders brother….is he in ongoing danger?” she asked.

Mackenzie already knew the answer but she wanted to hear it from others to confirm.

“Well in my experience on the force and you’d know it too Mac, if they can’t get to him they’ll try other avenues through family, friends anything they can do to send the message, and with someone as high profile as Jon, it's a perfect opportunity to send that message loud and clear for the world to see not to mess with them.”

“Right.” Damn, this wasn’t good. Especially with his upcoming schedules around the political scene. This was NOT good. What if they used him to send OTHER messages? Shit.

“Well he’s got security right? I mean he’s a rock star. I’m sure it’s not that unheard of.” David asked shifting to her fax which had started beeping. “God this was quick. How’d you get shit out of them so damn fast? Takes me hours even for urgent stuff!” He pulled the pages off the fax.

She chuckled. “They’re scared of me, have no idea why.”

David shook his head. “No nothing to do with storming in there and threatening his balls?”

“Ok ok maybe so, gimme,” she said clicking her fingers out at him. She began to scan the police reports of attempted hits on people that were never proven to be the bloods, but they were under high suspicion for them. “Shit, look at all this.” She walked back to her desk laying each page out.

“Not the friendly folk you take to a Sunday picnic?” David joked.

“I know he’ll have body guards but hell, it’s not a good look on the political scene… and I don’t know he doesn’t seem like the type to like having a minder.” She rubbed her lip with the pad of her index finger, “I wonder…..” She trailed off into thought.

“Offering him your services?” David asked “Nice big job, but you up to it? Living his lifestyle? Being out there amongst all that action again?”

“Its not about me, it’s about his safety and those around him. It makes perfect sense if he’d agree to it, unless he has a girlfriend it may not work.” But why would he ask me out to a football game if he didn’t right? She’d not taken a huge personal security job since when she’d had to fill in as the “nanny”, for a family under threat from some corporate mafia.

“You up to that? Living twenty four seven with him?” David asked seriously.

“If that’s what has to be done, it has to be done… he has kids as well David. Until we get to the bottom of this and what they actually want from him I think he needs something.” Maybe I should go and see him? She looked back to the blank TV screen and for a second wondered how he was feeling after all this. He needed to know at least what he was up against, it was only fair. As a respected client she owed it to him.

“David find out for me where this is, I’m going to go down in thirty minutes.” She clicked open the folder on her laptop for contracts for personal security. She had to at least recommend and offer this job. Hell, the money she could do with and she wasn’t stupid. Jon was someone that was very influential and a good word from him in his inner circle could prove very illustrious for her business.

She printed off the relevant documentation he’d need to make an informed decision, and even more screeds of paper were flying off the fax as she packed it all into her brief case. She shrugged on her jacket, cinching it at the middle and checked herself over. She left armed with her briefcase, and her sandwich as she flew past David who held out the location of the studio.

“You are a gem.” She plucked it out of his hands and barrelled down the stairs.

“Go get em Mac,” he called after her. Let's hope she could make it down there in record time, before Jon left.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Chapter Six

Jon tied his sneakers, stretching as he prepared for his daily run. It seemed easier to just run over to the studio since it was in SoHo and getting a cabbie to come down Mercer was a lesson in futility. His driver…well, he understood the need for him when he did his city visits, but it seemed overly indulgent for just a quick trip. Besides, three miles out and back was just a little more than he usually did for a circuit off tour anyway.

He headed out, with a warm up being the stairs to his the lobby. Waving to George, he headed down Mercer, lengthening his stride as he felt the evening out of his heart rate as he entered the zone. He’d programmed his iPod for the run, throwing a few advanced albums on to change things up. He’d been exercising like a demon for the last few days. Intellectually he knew it was right to let Wes go for the good of the team, but the actual stripping of the contract had hit him low. The look on the kid’s face, according to Jerry made him feel like he’d just taken away hope to one of his own kids.

He knew Weston Blake was just trying to find a better life, but he couldn’t do it. Not at the expense of the families and the other players he was responsible for. He wanted to revitalize Philly, not draw the gangs deeper in with family ties. As he hit the street that Richie's studio was on he slowed to a jog, letting his muscles come to a rest. Using the brick building he stretched out his calf muscles and uncapped the bottle he’d gripped the entire way. He took a swig as he followed the sounds of Richie’s voice down the hall. Tech-speak flew between Was and Richie as they belabored the strength of the last recording versus the one they’d laid last night. “Jesus, bickering like a bunch of girls in here.”

Richie turned to Jon. “Coming back for seconds?” He tossed a handtowel in Jon's direction.

“You know me, can't keep my nose out of it.” Jon swiped the sweat from his brow.

“Bored Jonny?” Richie teased him.

“I wish,” he took another swig of his water. "Too much going on. But of course, no music. So I had to come and be nosy.”

Richie chuckled and slapped his shoulder. “Just in time, I was going to give this new track a burn.” He nodded to the booth where Jon happily took up residence.

Richie started out with "Flame" and the hooks were amazing. Richie'd been growing as a producer and writer for the last five years, so much so that Jon just thanked every God known to man, that he was loyal. He didn't need him to write with. If Jovi wanted to put together an album every five years, they could and Richie would be more than fine working on special projects and solo efforts. People were chomping at the bit to work with him, even with his uncomfortably public mistakes people knew there was solid wisdom and talent lurking in Richie's laughing eyes. He knew how to make people feel at ease, more so than he did. Richie was under contract with his management company, but the day his friend didn't look happy to work with him, was the day he'd be free.

He was worried about Richie though. He'd never seen his friend more creative and more unsure of himself in his life. He usually knew what was solid and what wasn't. He knew what to trash and what to polish. This Richie was distracted. The natural talent didn't have anywhere else to go but out of his fingertips, but he knew Richie needed to focus.

They discussed different techniques and Jon offered his opinion, as he always did. It was good to see his friend back in his creative zone. After a few more songs, he stood and stretched. "All right, I have another three miles to get in before it gets dark out there."

"Good, because you're smellin' up the booth, asshole." Was shot back. "Besides, we need to get another few tracks down before we lose the studio space."

Richie stood, walking him out. "Thanks for coming down to check things out."

Jon nodded. "Hey, I'm always ready to stick my nose in where it don't belong, you know that."

The screech of tires had him spinning around as a large, squared off sedan headed straight for him. It hopped the curb and barreled right for him. Like a deer in headlights, he totally froze.


He heard Richie's yell around the rushing in his head as the cark jerked back away and he stumbled back into the wall rapping his head against brick as he curled into a fall as his wife had taught him. His hip slammed into cement as a kid hung out the window with a red paisley bandana low on his eyes.

The rest of his face, unremarkable as his lips pulled away into a perfect smile. “You think about your actions, Rich Man.”

The old school Chevy roared away and around the corner. It couldn’t have been more than a few seconds in total for the whole of the incident and yet, it seemed to have gone in slow motion. He winced as heat shot up his body.


"Yeah!" Jon called back and assessed the damages. Christ, he'd hit the ground hard. "I'm fine."

Richie crawled over to him, his blood chilling when he saw blood against the wall. "You're head, man."

Jon hissed, his fingers going to the lump that was already forming. "Just a knock." Jesus, had they actually been aiming at him?

"Maybe you'd better lie back." Richie said and crouched walked his way over to Jon.

"I've taken a bigger beating at training camp, than this." Jon griped and sat up. He rested his forearms on his knees and winced. "I might have bruised a rib, but that's about it."

"What the fuck, Jonny?"

"Hell if I know." Jon muttered.

"What did that kid say out the window?"

Jon sighed. "Something about thinking about my actions." He stood as the sirens blazed from around the corner. His hand immediately went to his lower back. "Ah fuck. Just what my back needed," he laughed.

Richie shook his head and reached up for Jon's hand.

"C'mon old man," Jon said and dragged him up off the ground.

Jon scrubbed his hands over his face. "I hope to God, I'm wrong but the kid was wearing gang colors."

"Yeah, I saw." Richie said and instinctively met her halfway. He rubbed her arms. "Are you sure you're all right?"

Jon squinted as squad cards came into view. “Aw fuck.”

There was a commotion behind them of doors slamming and feet pounding.

"Paparazzi coming in," Richie said and pushed ahead of him. "Here," he thrusted a music pad into his hands and held the other one up as flashbulbs flared. "Hell."

"Fucking vultures," Jon muttered and flipped open a few pages so he had more than just his face covered.

Jon watched as the cops corded off the area, pushing the rubber neckers back as much as they could. He closed his eyes, rubbing his temple where the worst of the pain zinged through him. There was always the chance that he was a target because of his money, but that didn't feel right. It felt like it was something more. Especially with the ominous threat to think about his actions.

There really wasn't any other option except for it to be retaliaition for terminating Weston Blake's contract with the Philadelphia Soul. He sighed, wincing as one of the enterprising camera guys had managed to circumvent the crowd, to snap a picture of his bloodied face. "Fucking great." He lifted the pad higher.

"Mr. Bon Jovi!" A cop called from the sidelines.

Jon nodded and strode ahead, Richie came up the back as they were all herded toward the ambulance.

"Why don't you come over here and get looked at, sir." A paramedic motioned him over, but Jon just shook his head. "I'm fine."

"Your face is bleeding."

Jon frowned and touched his temple, coming back with blood stained fingers. "Hell."

He turned his back to the familiar logo of the local news in Manhattan as the medic motioned for Jon and Richie to hop into the back.

"We'll get you out of camera range for at least a few minutes." A uniformed cop, said from the belly of the ambulance.

Jon nodded. "Good idea."

The cop held out his hand. "I'm Officer Johannsen, what can you tell me?"

Jon sighed. He explained the car as best as he could, Richie filling in the difference as they both came up with a relatively solid description of the car.

The officer nodded, writing things down. "And you're sure he said, 'Think about your actions, Rich Man,' Mr. Bon Jovi?"

Jon nodded. "That's about all I got." He laughed without humor. "I was sort of diving for my life."

"Okay, why don't you let Mark give you a once over and make sure the cut on your head is okay."

Jon sighed. "I have kids, I know when a knock is something serious and when it's just that whole it looks worse than it is, sort of thing."

"Good, then you'll be an easy patient and let me take a look," Mark said and replaced the cop at his elbow.

"What else did you see Mr Bon Jovi, anything about what the kid was wearing?”

“Red bandana.”

"Excellent," Officer Johannsen looked down. "And there was only one?”

He hissed as Mark pressed packing down against his head. "No, there was a guy out the window and the driver." Christ, hadn't he just said all this? His head felt like someone was ramming a pipe through it.

The officer nodded. "All right, that's good." He tapped the page. "I have a feeling I know who it is, I wish I didn't, but I've popped these guys a few times." He shifted to the doors. "Thank you for your help."

Richie's shoulders tensed. The reality of their situation was bad enough, but she was the one to ask his best friend if he was all right. Jesus. "Jonny, let's get inside before we're on every channel."

"Too late," Jon said and clambered out. But he followed them inside. Now what the fuck was he supposed to do?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Chapter Five

Jon rounded into the studio downtown and grinned when one of his longest friends came into view. “How ya doin’, Rich.”

Richie slapped his arm. “I’m balls deep in the studio instead of a woman. What’s that tell you?”

“Mine’s red tape and locker rooms. I think you win,” he laughed and followed him inside. The last few years had drawn them closer than ever before. It was funny how an arrest, a pair of divorces and a custody battle could form a bond that transcended twenty-five years of employer/employee strife. He and Richie had always been close, but they’d always had differing opinions on what music and business meant. The Have a Nice Day album had broken through the walls there. Letting go of the gloss of the everyman and finding the five of them had connected them.

He’d never known quite how important it was to Richie that the band songs be their songs. Letting the public into their inner circle of pain had been a gamble. He liked to keep people out of his head, letting just a slice of him flavor the songs. The last two albums had been personal in a way he wasn’t sure he’d have had the balls to go for if Richie hadn’t pressed him. He’d been arrogant enough to believe a good song was good enough. He wasn’t sure why he’d been stupid for so long. “I needed to see a familiar face.”

“Well my ugly mug will do, huh?” Richie motioned for Jon to sit as he dropped into the control board’s swivel chair. “What’s up?”

“Eh, I gotta cut a new kid from the roster already.” He leaned back in the overstuffed leather club chair kicking his feet out. “This kid has so much raw talent, I just know we can mold him into a great quarterback. I hate leaving so much on Matt’s shoulders all the time, you know?”

Richie swung around to face Jon. “They why the hell did you let him go?”

Jon stretched his arm over his head and drilled his fingers into his hair. “Fucking gang shit, man. I just can’t jeopardize everything, even for this kid.”

“Maybe he’s trying to get out of the life. It’d be a good way to do it. A lot of NFL guys have done the same thing, you know that.”

“Yeah, but their big brother doesn’t run the south Philly sector of the Bloods.”

Richie swore. He wasn’t as invested in the team as Jon was, but he had a soft spot for the players and the families that filled the Wachovia during the season. The Bloods was beyond petty school shit. That was serious. “Jesus, Jonny.”

“I know. I’m just starting to clean up Philly with all our programs. I can’t undermine all of that for one kid. No matter how good he is.” He bumped his head back against the cushioning. He’d been making the hard decisions for most of his life, but this one just hurt. He liked the damn kid. “Take my mind off this stupid shit. And Ms Cooper. Tell me what’s been going on in Samboraland.”

Richie laughed. “Was is working with me again. We’re about four solid songs into the record at this point with a dozen other contenders tossed in the mix.”

Jon leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. “Yeah?” He nodded toward the soundboard. “Give me something.”

“You sure, man?” At Jon’s bland look, Richie laughed. “All right, All right. Just don’t want to talk shop if you’re in businessman mode.”

“Hell, you know the damn suit comes off just like your pants for a pretty blonde.”

Richie’s laugh filled the control room. “Here’s my current favorite.” He didn’t say anymore, wanting to the true reaction out him. Flicking a button, he piped the song through the control room.

Jon sat back, eyes closed to listen without Richie’s expectant look ruining the effect. His eyebrows rose as the melody layered in with Richie’s bluesy voice. Complicated, yet simple as only Richie knew how to writem, the song resonated with a pain that even a layman could find. It didn’t clobber you with the emotion, just teased and lured you in until his voice went harsh and guttural with the lyric. The guitars were as masterful as he’d ever heard out of Richie. It fucking hurt to listen to it.

Instead of opening his eyes, he simply asked for another listen.

Richie tugged at the fraying ends of one of his bracelets as he watched Jon’s reaction. Again and again, the centre of the song made him flinch. He was too close to the song. It was everything that he’d locked up in his gut for so long, right there in the open. “Too much?” he finally asked as the song died out.

Jon opened his eyes. “Christ, Rich. What the hell did that woman do to you?” The question came out before he could take it back. There was plenty he didn’t know about Heather and their fated marriage. He’d never held back in his dislike for the woman, but he’d managed to stay civil to her for Richie’s sake. Maybe if he’d pushed earlier…

“Pain Where There Was Once a Heart is the working title,” Richie said in answer.

Jon sighed. Richie’s smile was sad, and it was enough to tell him all he needed to know. She’d done her damndest to destroy him, but the redemption was sitting there in the healing heart of his friend. He could see it finally start to happen. And if this was the way he needed to get it out, then he’d support every painful note. “It was power and hope, love and loss.” Jon smirked. “Redemption in a guitar was always what you did best, man.”

Richie let out a sigh of relief. “It’s what I was going for,” he said simply. Even now without saying a word, Jon got it. He stood and clasped a hand on Jon’s shoulder. “Thanks.” He shut off the sounding board. “Now let’s get some fuckin’ food, all that emotion made me hungry.”

Jon laughed. “Thai?”

Richie nodded. “Thank God you didn’t say sushi. I’m fuckin’ starving.” He locked up and followed Jon out the door. Jon knew the area better than he did, so he let Jon lead the way as he was prone to do anyway. He headed for one of the small off streets until they came to a hole in the wall restaurant. Taking a back table he ordered an Iced Chai.

“Mind if I get wine?”

“Nah,” Richie said and played with his water glass. The drinking thing had been difficult at first. His friends were social drinkers and he was a social guy, but his kid and the future meant more to him than a shot these days. “You should come back in a few days.”

“Oh yeah?” Jon took a sip from his water. “Got more magic for me?”

Richie snorted, “Yeah maybe.” Truth be told, it felt Jon to be around when he was recording. It seemed right. He raised his eyebrow at Jon, he knew him too well that the constant fiddling with the knife and fork meant he was mulling over something.

“What’s up?”

Jon looked up and was about to say nothing, but instead he laughed. Richie knew him well, too damn well at times. “I was just thinking about the PI I got to look into the gang business.”

Richie leaned back and stretched his legs. “And? She’s hot?”

Jon felt his dick twitch, but ignored it.

“Well, she was just working for me. Not like I’m ready to get into her pants or anything.” Jon sipped his wine. “I don’t know how to define her. Ball buster, maybe?”

Richie. “Now I definitely have to meet her, did you ask her out?”

Jon winced and remembered how she closed off so damn quick to a casual invite to a football game. Jesus. He was so out of touch with this sort of shit.

Richie slapped the table and his eyes lit up. “She said no, didn’t she?”

Jon rolled his eyes, “shut up asshole.” Christ, it wasn’t like he’d asked anyone out on a date lately. He knew he’d crossed the line suggesting it to her. “She was different, she’s an ex-cop, marine. But gorgeous.”

Richie shifted forward and mouthed, “are you sure she’s into guys?”

Jon snorted, “Christ Richie. It’s no big deal, probably for the best. I don’t have time for that sort of thing at the moment.”

“Who said it has to be a thing? Some sex could do you good at the moment.”

Jon quickly tried to quash the image from his head of Mackenzie wrapped naked around him, but it was too late. Was she limber as she looked? Fuck.

“Totally pictured it, didn’t you?”

“You going to order, or just talk smack to me?” Jon flipped open the menu, he needed to erase any thoughts of MacKenzie and naked from his head. Immediately.

Richie’s laugh echoed through the booth. Typical Jon, always kept things close to his chest but Richie knew better. He secretly liked that he knew his friend a little too well, and that pissed Jon on. That’s why it was so fun.

“Sure we are. Just keeping you on your toes.”

Jon shook his head, and reached for his phone that buzzed on his hip. The text from Jerry confirmed they’d dropped Wes from any interest from the Soul. He knew it was the best for the Soul and to protect his interests, but damn the kid could throw.

He waved the waitress over and they gave their orders. ““I’ll stop by the studo in a few days. I’ve got meetings that pass even your late evening recording sessions.”

“Fuck off man, I play when the mood strikes you know that.”

“Believe me,” Jon took a deep slug of the white wine. “I’ve felt the pain of your muse at three in the morning, you shit.”

Richie just tipped his head back. “Lucky dog, you don’t get to see that side of me until next year.”

Jon grinned and held up his glass. “Lookin’ forward to it.”