Friday, February 26, 2010

Chapter Twenty-Eight


“Tonight in downtime Manhattan an 18 year old-“


“You’re wife’s a WHORE! Where do you think she’s been all these-“


“Tonight on Whose Line is it Anyway – Ryan Stiles!”


They’d arrived home from the trip to see the kids in high spirits. Jon chattered constantly all the way home, telling her funny stories about the kids from over the years. It was nice to see the more relaxed side of him. She knew she’d done the right thing organizing the trip, but for now it was back to work. He’d ordered Chinese which was due in thirty minutes but for the last hour they’d been working on their own laptops, well until Jon had got bored and starting flicking the channels.

One more click and I swear I’ll shove that remote--


She slammed the lid of her laptop down, “do you mind?” she asked from her Indian style position on the floor.

"What?" he slumped lower on the couch. When she nodded toward the TV, he sighed.

"There's not a damn thing on. I'm bored."

"You think?" She popped herself up off the carpet and brushed off her thighs and ass. "Wanna a drink then? I’m thirsty." And I need to leave the room before that remote gets shoved places it shouldn’t.

He rolled his head along the back of the couch. "Bottle of w--beer," he corrected. "I'm in the mood for a beer. A Stella."

“And they call women indecisive,” she chuckled as she padded to the kitchen and plucked two bottles of Stella out of the well stocked fridge. He reminded her of herself when she was bored, like a restless impatient kid.

She found the bottle opener and flipped the lids off before heading back into the lounge. Still flicking that damn TV. She handed him the beer and snatched the remote off him as she took her place back on the floor.

“Hey now! You don't take a man's remote! That's rule one, woman!" Jon sat up and reached over her, she held it above her head, until he pressed his chest into hers. The quickening of her pulse dried his mouth. Her eyes locked with his for a moment before she gave it up.

"Choose something and stick with it -- some of us are trying to work here. It's toasty and warm in here to go anywhere else. Plus I wouldn't want you to eat all the dinner without me. All that football victory has me hungry," she winked as she took a sip of her beer.

His mouth flattened. "Obviously you cheated," he said and picked up his beer, sipping slowly. The beer didn't taste half as good as it usually did. Because her taste is far better. He took a longer swallow. Thank goodness the kids were ok, he would have questioned whether it was dangerous to go and see them like they did, but he reminded himself he’d told her, he’d trust her. And he had.

She rolled her eyes and she opened up her laptop again. "Sure that's the only explanation - couldn't be that I am an excellent athlete and was taught how to throw a football by the best-" She paused for a second before continuing. His hair was all messed up for lying on the couch and her eye level connected with the crotch of his sweats. Her hand curled into a fist and she shook her head, “never mind.”

"You were taught to throw a football by Joe Namath?" He drawled with a raised brow. He swung his leg against the couch with a grin.

"Pfff please. Look at you all smart ass. I let you loose for one day and this is what I get in return?" She curled her fingers around the cushion she had been leaning on in case she needed to hurl it to wipe his smirk off his face. It was good to see him back to being just Jon, after the last few days a relaxing evening of bantering is what she could do with.

He leaned back, lacing his fingers behind his head so he wouldn't touch her for fuck's sake. The little strap of her bra was peeking from the wide band of her tank top shoulder. He alternately wanted to snap it and shove it down. Christ

"You told me the best. I had to go straight to the top, of course.”

She could do this, she could tell him about Brian. It would be considered again breaking the boundaries of professionalism, but hell somehow it seemed like that a loss cause. He still weighed heavily on her mind as much as she tried to compartmentalize it away from her feelings for Jon, she couldn’t. “It’s kind of corny, but my college boyfriend was the Captain of the football team. He was the one that taught me how to throw, and he was...awesome.” She took a long pull of her beer.

"College boyfriend, huh?" He grinned, rubbing the bottom of the bottle against his belly absently. "Why the hell did the stupid man let you go?"

She chuckled and looked back over at him. “I lost him before he got big, he was murdered.”

He sat forward, his bottle snapping on the coffee table. "Jesus, Kenzie." He dropped to the floor behind her, taking her bottle away from her. "I'm sorry, I didn't know."

She folded her arms, “you didn’t know-god it was so long now but in some ways feels like only yesterday.” She stared into space and rolled her lip under her teeth, it hit her harder some days more than others.

“What happened?” The broken look on her face twisted him up inside, he had no idea and never expected Brian to be this.

She rubbed her arms and took a deep breath, “We were walking home from a game at night—he’d had an amazing night, god—“ She sighed and managed a small smile. “These thugs stopped us and attacked us, I ran and got help but by the time I came back he was lying in a pool of his own blood—barely alive. The tear rolled right down her face and splashed onto her hand. “He died in my arms.””

He scooted around the side of her and curled his arm around her back. "Oh, baby," he said quietly. She resisted for a moment, but finally leaned into him. A few pieces fell together that had been bugging the hell out of him.

She played the hard ass well, but it didn't seem a natural fit for her. When her arm came up and around his neck, he let her just lean into him. The tears had already stopped, but still she held on tight. His fingers sifted through the low ponytail at the back of her neck until it loosened and her hair flowed around his hand.

This is why she never accepted his date. Football.

She buried her face into his shoulder and he shushed her, she just held on as long as she needed to before pulling back. His thumb drifted across her spine in slow steady movements until she met his gaze. "Thanks, we all have our demons and now you know mine. That was part of the reason I threw myself into the world of combat and armed forces."

He tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “Anger? Or you just wanted to make sure you could defend yourself if it happened again?”

Her eyes fell to his lips, “a bit of both—I trained as a Marine, then a cop and then landed here as a PI/Bodyguard, which I think is the best of both worlds.”

He chuckled, “certainly is a helluva combo. I’m sorry that it happened to you and at such a young age too.

She smiled when his grip didn't loosen and their foreheads connected. "When dinner gets here lets chill out on the couch, if you don't mind." What she really wanted to do was ask him to take her to his bed, some mind-blowing sex would be just perfect right now but it would be for all the wrong motivations.
"I really could use the company."

Sensing the moment was lost, he sighed. "I'm good at just chilling out." He grinned at her, down at her lips, then back up to her eyes. "As long as you don't make me watch a chick flick of course."

She laughed, feeling herself relax. “Do I look like a chick flick kinda girl?” She could have told him more, could have told him how much guilt she still felt when Brian died and how much guilt she’d feel if anything happened to him, because she cared about him like no one else since Brian. The buzz of the door jolted them both.

She leaned in and pressed her lips to his in a sweet simple kiss. “Thank you, I’ll go and get the entertainment—you get the food.” She pulled herself up and jogged up the stairs.

Swearing as he stood, he hurried to his wallet and then the door. Smiling at the young kid at the door, he folded money into his hand taking two bags from him.

They'd taken to an assortment of Chinese food when they ordered, picking from all the cartons through the night. Hell, he'd probably put on five pounds just because of her affection for Yan's takeout.

To know that she'd had a loss that huge at such a pivotal age made a lot of sense. The way she kept just that little bit of herself away from him. The ultimate need to protect him, no matter what it cost her, the vulnerable pieces of her that she tried to bury.

He put a bright smile on his face as she came downstairs, spinning a disk on her finger. "Do I get a clue?"

"Yipee-kiyay-mother fucker!'" She popped the disc into the player and joined him on the couch folding her legs under herself. She clicked on the remote, "Time to see what John McClane is up, god I love these movies." He'd arranged all the boxes out in front of them so they could pick and choose at their leisure. She pointed her chopsticks to the far box. "Now come on Jon, how long have we been doing this now? You know the prawn is to stay in my radius."

"What was I thinking?" He said and passed the carton. "Don't get in the way of this woman and her seafood. Hell, any food."

When she elbowed him, he laughed. "What? Like I'm lying?"

She speared a king prawn into her mouth and giggled. "Hey now, just because I eat more than you and oh did I mention throw a football better than you?" She raised her brow and waited.

He traded her for the vegetable Lo Mein and dug out a baby corn. "If I had gotten the ball even once, then maybe I'd have a chance at throwing it."

"Excuses, excuses I'd expect better from someone that owns a football team," she snorted when he elbowed her back this time. "Well it's true c'mon. Least your kids thought I was pretty cool."

"Are you going to watch the movie or just talk trash all night?" He pointed at the television. "I'd rather have Bruce talk smack at me, thank you very much."

And yes, his kids had loved her. Son of a bitch.

Just what he needed, them to be as in love with her--Christ.

He stabbed green bean. Just shit.

She laughed, a man like Jon did not like to lose--“say it---MacKenzie can throw a better football than I can.” She twirled some saucy noodles around her chopsticks.
MacKenzie better watch out or I’ll be throwing her over my shoulder in a minute.

"Jon?" she asked as they both stared at the screen as he didn’t reply.

He grunted back at her.

She rolled her eyes, she could have told him she was ready to have wild hot sex with him and he wouldn't hear. "Jon," she nudged him with her elbow as they settled the boxes down to let the food settle for bit. Men really couldn’t multi-task.

He couldn’t look at her. Hell. He could not be in love with this woman. No fucking way. Pretending to be absorbed in the movie he tried to focus on words and the scene before him. "Why does he leave the fucking shoes behind? I'll never get that."

She leaned into him and shook her head. "I've seen this a hundred times and I have no freaking clue." He stiffened then relaxed and curled his arm around her shoulders. She rested her head against his shoulder and they sat in a companionable silence. Part of her wanted to ask him if he felt the same way as she did and the other part wanted just to let it slide. It was still too complicated right now so how would admitting anything achieve anything at all?

He’d missed half of the movie by the time he spoke again, be damned or not. “Kenzie--“he brought his hand up into her hair and twirled it around his finger. “There’s something I want to say—“Fuck, she’d asked him to keep it to business till this was over—but this was insane. He’d never wanted a woman as much as he wanted her. She still hadn’t stirred. “Kenzie,” he pushed the hair back and sighed. She was dead to the world on his fucking shoulder. He turned the TV off and slid out from her letting her down onto the couch. He pulled up the blanket he kept at the end of the couch and covered her in it. It would have to wait, he took one last look at her lying there—and went to his room.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Jon popped the knuckle on his thumb, then fiddled with the dial for the radio in her car. Man, if he wasn't in his city car with his driver, he preferred to be the one behind the wheel. Instead of yelling at him--yet again--for touching her shit, she simply rapped his hand.

He sighed and sat back. "C'mon, where are we going, Kenzie?"

She chuckled and her fingers curled tight around the steering wheel. “If you play with my knobs one more time...” she rolled her eyes when his lips curved into a smirk. “We’re going to infinity and beyond.” She checked the rear view and signalled for the exit on the freeway. Everything was going smooth, this was not a bad idea she kept telling herself. She’d run it past David and they had high security all over them, so it should go off without a hitch.

"If you know Toy Story then you are so going to be a hit with my two little guys," he said conversationally. He recognized the byways, but it wasn't even close to his house in Red Bank. They were in NJ, that was about all he could figure out.

She tried to fight the grin from spreading across her face, she’d be meeting those little guys in a matter of moments. David had found out that the family were taking a day trip out of town and after careful planning and discussion, she’d agreed it would be safe to take him there for the day with the appropriate controls. As his girlfriend.

She took a right jamming her directional on. The call the night before to his ex-wife was interesting. She had to pretend to be his girlfriend, which Dorothea knew of and that she was planning a surprise visit for Jon to his kids as he needed to "relax" as she had put it so faithfully. She hated lying but Jon wanted to keep it a cover for as long as he could for their protection, and MacKenzie respected that.

She glanced sideways as he'd found something on her dashboard to start on next. "Do you not know how to sit still? Seriously?"

He crossed his leg knee to ankle, then dropped his foot back to the floor. "I'm a guy, I don't know how to sit in the passenger seat. It's a genetic thing." Flicking the cell phone holder one more time, he went back to cracking his knuckles. "What exactly are we doing?"

She ran her tongue across her bottom lip and grinned. "I'm kidnapping you for the day, are you scared?"

He glared at her from behind his shades, pushing them up against the bridge of his nose. "The kind of kidnapping I'd be interested is not on the agenda." She seemed strangely relaxed considering the last couple of days.

She flicked her gaze into the rear view mirror to double check they weren't being followed for the tenth time, and if the Granny with no sense of direction behind her in the red bomb was a gang infiltrator, she was pretty sure she could take her.

She pulled into the entrance of the state park she'd arranged with Dorothea to meet at, the arching Pine Trees lined the drive. As the tires crunched along the gravel she gave his knee a squeeze. "Well, as much as I'm sure that'd make you happy. I will still be the best bodyguard in the world after me." She was a little nervous to meet the kids. She wasn't a kids person to be honest, and really something like this should have been discussed with Jon and how she would meet them. Too late now.

He looked over his shoulder, but not out the back of the car. Did he miss a picnic basket? "Did you have something in the trunk I don't know about? And seriously, did you include bug spray?"

She rolled her eyes, "Jesus Christ Jon – is all you do whine? I am sure that will be taken care of where we are going... is that all you can say when we're here away from everything... Bug spray?" She arched her eyebrow.

He peered over his shades, then back to the picturesque park he'd been to every year since he'd been about eleven. "At least it's not Manhattan," he said and pushed his shades back up, leaning back in his seat, crossing his arms so he didn't touch anything else.

"Well if that's thanks I'm taking it. But I swear, you owe me after today -- I'm giving you something you have wanted for awhile now." She was going to let him think what he liked at that statement. Two could play this game.

Uncrossing his arms he rubbed his palms down his jeans. "Sorry, just restless. I've been cooped up way too much." He looked out the window. "Kinda wish I'd known we were coming here. I'd have brought my jogging clothes."

The thought of spending the day out of the house with Kenzie was a little too tempting. He knew he was being a shit, but--Christ. He was sick if playing games. Danger or no danger, it was doing his fucking head in.

Or...he grinned. They were in public.

"They're in the're going to need them if what you've told me is correct." She rolled to a stop in the impromptu parking lot that a few cars were scattered beneath the trees and sighed. Through her own shaded eyes she could see a small congregation across the field, just where they said they would be. She wanted to do this for Jon -- not just as a client but as a friend. If that's what she could even call him.

"Well we're here." She said proudly.

He looked around. Hell, she even brought him to the spot his family--He saw a familiar golden cowlick on a little boy running full steam into his eldest son's knees. Oh man, how many times had Romeo done that to him? He swallowed down the quick lump of response.

Giving into instinct he leaned over, pressing his lips to hers softly. When she gave a startled jerk, he settled in. There was no heat in the kiss, just an easy meeting of mouths. He brushed his lower lip along hers then drew back. "Thanks," he said softly and climbed from her truck.

She smiled, popped the lock and got out. “Its ok -- and I know what you’re thinking. I have security following and watching us. I just wanted you to be here, I know how much you’ve missed them.”

He really had. He didn't even realize how much until Jake screeched and broke away from his ex-wife. He heard her startled yell and waved, running to meet him. "Hey, Jakey." He curled him up and scratched his stubble over his neck until he squealed.

"Dad!" Jake wiggled away, rubbing his hand over his neck. "Prickers."

"I was too lazy to shave, bud."

Jake leaned back, snatching his sunglasses of his nose, putting them on his face. "Where ya been, Dad?"

"Working," Jon said and put him down, clutching his hand automatically. "I'd like you to meet my friend, Mac."

He peered up at her, his smile hesitant. "Hi."

MacKenzie chuckled at the boy wearing sunglasses that took up almost his entire face. She smiled and fought the urge to ruffle his soft blond hair she waved, "Hiya buddy." She'd let Jon lead just exactly how "together" he wanted them to look. It was his day after all.

He slid his arm around her, the flat of his hand on the small of her back as he listed to Jake chatter about school. He was in first grade and had a host of friends at the prep-school he started going to with Jesse. He felt his eyes get a little glazed as he chattered in the way of a six year old, but nodded at the correct times.

Romeo spotted him and the screech was near deafening. His kid had a set of lungs on him, that was for sure. "Hey, bud." His hand slid away from Kenzie as he crouched down to meet his four year old. Romeo climbed up his arm, toppling Jon onto the grass.

She laughed as Jon was tackled to the ground by the most boisterous kid she'd ever seen. What was more intriguing was watching him with his kids, there was really something that pinched her insides the way he was with them. It was a side of Jon she didn't expect but liked, he looked so happy. Jon soon won over the mini-wrestle as he tickled the boy so his shrieks could wake the dead. It was cute, and just from that she knew she’d done the right thing bringing him here.

Both boys had mirror images of their father's eyes, those bright blues that she herself time and time again got lost in. As he regained control with the two boys they headed further towards the picnic table where the rest of them were.

Absently, Jon snagged her hand and laced their fingers as he talked with his kids. The fact that Kenzie had put this together was something he wouldn't forget. He knew she was risking a lot, bringing him here but he really did trust she’d made the necessary arrangements. He headed right for Dot, hugging his daughter tight as he got closer. "Jesse, Steph, Dot," he turned back to Kenzie drawing her closer. "This is Mac," he met Dorothea's eyes, "my girlfriend."

MacKenzie smiled easily. “Hi guys, pleased to meet you all.” Dorothea was pretty, and her smile was warm but cautious as MacKenzie expected. These were her children none the less. “What a great place to get out of the city.” She smiled as he squeezed her hand.

"I've been coming here since I was a kid actually," Jon said to Kenzie. He ruffled Jakes hair and grunted when Jesse sacked a Nerf football into his gut.

"C'mon old man, still know how to throw?"

He looked back at Kenzie. "Will you be all right?"

She raised her eyebrow and winked at Jesse, "what? Are you afraid I can throw better than you?"

Jon opened his arms. "Hey, if you think you can take us Bongiovi's," he said and sidled up to Jesse. "I'd love to see you try."

She snorted. Puh-lease. This was too easy. She held her hand up and caught the football one handed as Jon passed it back to her before backing up with Jesse.

Jake stood about five yards away from her but watched on curiously. "Want to see how girls really throw Jakey?" She shielded her eyes with her hand before taking a few steps back. Complete with a small run up she socked the ball so it hurtled straight towards Jon.

Jon backed up a few more steps as the Nerf made a perfect spiral, landing neatly into the curve of his elbow. Perfect throw and catch.

"Holy crap, Dad." Jesse laughed and waved. "She's SO on our team."

Jon nodded. "We're so going to kick ass after dinner."

Steph took a step forward. "Uh, we're playing girls against guys after dinner, Dad. Don’t get any bright ideas about stealing Mac."

She clapped her hands together as she jogged up to them just in time to hear the trail end of the conversation. "Too right Steph. That's of course unless you're afraid of being beaten by a bunch of girrrls," she teased resting her hands on her hips.

Jon turned his hands, palms up and gave her a c'mon gesture. "Bring it on."

Jesse scooped up Romeo and headed back to the food. "You know we're totally screwed, right, Dad?"

"Screwed!" Romeo echoed happily.

Jon just groaned.

She laughed, how could she not. The day had turned into something she didn’t expect, a side of Jon she didn’t know existed, and of course the side of Jon that was competitive. As among the sat with his family and listened to the chatter among the kids and watched on, the warm feeling in her gut bubble. For a second, she forgot what screwed up situation they were in and felt like this was their true reality. The thing that was worse was MacKenzie wanted this to be her reality.

She was in love with him.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Chapter Twenty-Six

Boston, MA November 1993

"I'm the luckiest guy in the world!" Brian twirled her around in his arms before settling her back on the ground and pressed his lips against hers.

"Luck hasn't got anything to do with it. You earned this Brian, this is all you." She tapped his chest with her finger and brushed back his blond hair looking into the most perfect blue eyes she would ever remember.

His hands slid around her waist and under the cotton of her tee, "I'm talking about you silly," he kissed her nose. He smoothed back her hair and grinned. "Seriously Mac you always believed in me and made me work hard for what I wanted. Even though Mom and Dad always said Football was such a waste of time, you were the one that always believed in me. Told me never to give up. And here I have the Championship game starting at Quarterback with the biggest Scouts this side of the East Coast looking for players. It's a dream come true."

"Well I don’t like to see talent go to waste, and besides," she leaned back in his arms and relishing his arms tucked tight around her, “it’s what girlfriends do.” A car revved and whizzed past them, revellers hanging out the windows. "GO HUSKIES! WOOOO KICK some ass on Sunday BRIAN!!!"

She laughed "See you're already famous, you’re halfway there, and we’ll make a Giant or Jet of you yet." He released his grip and turned her around, meeting her mouth his in a gentle kiss before linking his hand in hers.

"Come on you, let’s walk home, it's too much of a perfect night to not to." He led her
away from the grounds, the last pep rally for the season had finished leaving the air thick with smoke and excitement for Sunday's game.

She pulled herself inside the crook of his arm and slid her hand around his waist and into his jeans pocket. This was her guy, where she belonged. The year had been perfect, he’d been playing like a demon and earning respect from everywhere and she’d been acing all her exams. She’d finish with honours’ the way it was all going.

"You know Mac you've got to be my manager and trainer if I make it Pro, you’d do a fine job kicking my ass when I needed it. Promise me you'll do this with me," he whispered dipping in for a quick kiss.

"Of course, wouldn't miss it for the world. You need it with the amount you eat, hell the amount we eat," she chuckled meeting his gaze as they walked in step with each other. They'd been walking for a good ten minutes oblivious to anything else around them talking, laughing and enjoying each other. Nights like these just couldn’t get any better.

"Well look who it is Brian Henderson and his little bit on the side MacKenzie Cooper," she shot up her gaze to a number of young black men standing around on the sidewalk, flicking cigarettes and swigging beer.

Brian took a step in front of her, “now guys, we're just walking home we're not looking for trouble." He folded his arms and rocked back on his heels while she leaned into him from behind.

"That may be true bro, but you're on our turf. This is our turf after dark," the tallest one stood in front of Brian.

He held his hands up, “Guys, I don't have time for this, I want to get home with my girl and get a good night's sleep." He went to turn back to her, but the guys foot connected with the back of Brian, and he fell into her.

"Brian!" She reached out to grab him but felt strong arms tug her back.

"Come here beautiful, we won’t hurt you,” he grabbed her and ran his knuckle down the curve of her breast. He smelt like stale tobacco and beer.

"Get your hands off her!" Brian growled shoving her out of the way. "Mac, get out of here, now!"

Brian was dragged backwards with a guy on each arm, leaving the remaining two that moved towards her. "Get out of here, GO!" She was dizzy, unable to process what was happening and Brian was shouting in pain. She couldn’t, she couldn’t leave him. Not like this, but she couldn’t take them, god she couldn’t.

She spun on her hell and her feet pounded the pavement as she quickly put distance between them, tears sliding down her face as Brian’s broken voice followed her. She sprinted around the corner at least a mile until she spotted a police car stationary on the side of the road. She collapsed against the driver's door and pounded the window. Finally it rolled down.

"What's wrong miss?" It came out in a blur as she rattled off what had happened. Soon she was sitting in the backseat of the car directing the two officers to the scene where she'd left Brian. The lights beamed down the road and she held her breath as it was deserted.

“They were right here? I don’t understand.” Her stomach dropped as the headlights crept across a figure lying disabled on the ground.

“Oh god, stop!” She flung the door open and her knees hit concrete as she fell beside him, “Brian!” She screamed and grabbed his hand clutching it tight against her chest. “Please wake up, what have they done to you?” Tears started to fall she kissed his hands in hers. Blood seeped through his shirt, and was smeared up her arm,

The first officer called for an ambulance and the second one had attempted to move her away but she didn’t budge. Her knees dug into the dirt and her free hand stroked his brow., “Brian, I’m here—I’ve got help.” She gasped when his hand squeezed hers, and his eyes where open staring back at her. Her knees were starting to soak, she didn’t want to look down and face the reality his blood was everywhere. The officer shone his torch across him, his stomach was shredded and oozing. “Brian, please hold on...” She lay across him desperate to stop the bleeding, desperate to stop him slipping away from her.

"Mac, I love you—“

"Oh god, I love you too...please...please don’t go Brian.” Her own clothing was now his blood, and she couldn’t seem to control the tears as they came.

"I love you… Mac"

"Nooooooooo--" He slumped, his hand loosened off hers and slapped back against the ground. He was still warm, as long as he was warm he had to be alive, she couldn’t give up, she couldn’t...”please wake up...god ...please.” She murmured closing her eyes, desperate to wake in his arms and this all be a horrible dream.

In that moment her heart snapped and soul was destroyed as she laid her whole body against his, still warm, she didn't understand if he was still warm, he was still alive. "Please don't leave me, Please" she murmured closing her eyes desperate to wake up in his arms and this was all a dream. Her fingers curled around his hand, he couldn't go, not like this.

The click of a door in the hallway made her snap the folder shut. Memories, memories that were still so real and still so raw. She lifted her hand to her hear, Brian had died, and she’d never forget it. All through the Marine Corps, all through her cop training, she’d done what she’d needed to do so if it ever happened again, she’d be able to defend herself and the person she loved.

She’d done a pretty good job of keeping both separate until now, until Jon. And that was why she couldn’t let him in, as long as she was his bodyguard; the two had to stay separate. Of course, she’d done a pretty piss poor job at that to date, but there was still time to make sure they were ok.

The threat to them was very real, they’d gone after her, whether this meant her cover was now blown and they were testing her. She’d never know. She just had to make sure she kept the cover up and be a little more discreet in their public outings.

She tucked the folder away, it was a funny thing the things you always carried with you. Some people preferred a lucky charm, or a prized piece of clothing but not MacKenzie. She carried around a folder of love and loss and the reason she was what she was today.

On some level she was still so embarrassed that she’d been all over him the night before, when she was drugged. God that was so embarrassing, but thank god he’d been the sane one to stop anything happening when he easily could have.

Her Blackberry beeped and she picked it up with a smile. “David, hey—how did you get on?”

“Not that great Mac, I’ve had the pictures from the beach scanned and nothing’s come up in prints and I’ve had the staff-list at the party investigated and I have had no Puerto-Rican waiters there. So god knows how this guy came in, or he’s used a fake name which is virtually impossible in the security checks those guys do before they hire for these functions. I don’t understand.”

She sighed and rolled back onto the bed. “What about his family? Did you have that all checked out for me?”

“Yes, all is fine there. They’re safe and I’ve bumped up security around the house. There have been no reports of anything suspicious at any time.”

“Thank god for that, ok –well I’ll try and be a bit more careful.”

“Are you sure you’re not in too deep Mac? You’d say if you were right?”

She rolled her lip under her teeth, she should come clean with David about the attraction to Jon but she knew the minute she did, he’d step in and abort the whole operation, and she wasn’t prepared to do that just yet. This was still working. “No, I’m not---as long as we keep a super close on things, I’m not in that position yet.” She had to figure out this Jon thing for herself, yes she was attracted to him and yes there was something amazing between them but at this point it didn’t matter. She was here to protect him and she had the belief she still could do that.

“Ok, you’re the boss. But you let me know immediately if anything suspicious happens or you think you or Jon is in serious danger ok? I can’t have you risk more than you should be.”

She sighed, “Yes I will.” She knew her limits, and she wasn’t there yet. It wasn’t as if they were being stalked fulltime, the key here was to understand what they were trying to prove from all this. If the kid didn’t get on the team, were they going to make Jon pay until he did? Or send a general warning to the public that these guys were not to be messed with.

“Is there anything else Mac?”

Yeah, I’m in love with him.

“No, nothing David. I’ll keep alert and just keep me informed, run some scans around the gangs again see if we can’t get any clues to why they’re doing this.”

“I will---ok take care. We miss you down here.”

She smiled, she missed them too. Most of her life revolved around that office and those people, they were her family and not seeing them on a day to day basis was killing her. She understood why Jon felt like this with his kids, except his wasn’t out of choice.

“I miss you guys too, keep up the good work. Thanks David.”

She disconnected the call and rested her Blackberry under her chin, just maybe...she could do something for Jon. Something he’d been wanting in a long time.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Chapter Twenty-Five

MacKenzie rolled into the pillow clutching at the sheet wrapped around her. God, it was morning already? Her mind struggled to pull up memories of last night. She remembered arriving at Senator Clinton's function, but the rest...well the rest was foggy.

She could feel the sun glowing against her skin, wait sun? Jon's daughter's room had high windows and the sun never hit her bed. She jolted upwards and screamed when her head popped at the sudden movement. She crashed back down into the pillow. “Oh fuck...” the pain blinded her. What in the hell? She adjusted her eyes slowly and the room came into focus, He came into focus.

Holy mother of god. She was in his bed. She tugged the sheets up higher around her body, why couldn't she remember this? Was she drunk? What in the hell happened here?

“What happened?” She closed her eyes as the sun burned her eyeballs. There better be a decent explanation why she couldn’t remember ending up in his bed.
Wiping a hand over his mouth, he stretched. "Do you want the censored for TV version or the reality of last night?”

“Oh, god—give me the reality.” She rubbed her throbbing temples, none of which ignored the fact he was lying topless in bed next to her. Oh crap, they had sex and she can’t even remember it? She peeked under the sheet and breathed a sigh of relief, she had underwear on.

He curled his fingers into the sheet. It was better than fisting them into her rumpled hair like he wanted to. He had every intention of making light of it, even teasing the holy hell out of her but the look on her face just wouldn't let him.

"The best we could figure, was that you were dosed with one of the glasses of wine last night. You were a bit...uh," he cleared his throat. "I guess roofied is the closest term to what happened to you." He tried to bury the images of her crawling all over him the night before along with the memory of the firm perfection of her ass that spooned him most of the night. He'd never wanted to bury himself inside a woman so badly. "I honestly tried to put you into your own bed but..."

He glanced down at the sheet clutched against her breasts and then zeroed in on her eyes. "The only way I could get you to go to sleep was in here.”

“Oh god,” she wanted to be mad at herself, for making a stupid careless mistake after everything that had been happening to them. She unknowingly put them in danger last night.

She nodded before opening them again and meeting his eyes. "Ok.. I'm sorry that it happened. I should of been more careful what I was doing." She watched him lean back and prop his hands behind his head against his pillows. This is not how she ever imagined waking up in Jon's bed. Ever.

As he leaned back and yawned, even with the pounding jack hammer in her head she wanted to roll into that chest and curl up until the pain went away. "Did I do anything ... stupid?"

He looked into her earnest eyes, the embarrassment was already deep enough. "No, just a little..." he grinned, trying to lighten the moment. "Well, a little cuddly. I didn't know you were such a teddy bear sort, Kenzie."

She winced, “yeah-I’m like that when I’m drunk, evidently high as well now I guess. I totally came onto you didn’t I? And didn’t take no for an answer?” He chuckled and all she wanted to do was sink under the sheets and disappear. Even with his bed hair and sleepy eyes, she was an internal mess.

“How did we get home?”

He scratched his hair and rubbed his chin, “you directed me to just lay low until we could get out, until you became –uh over keen.”

She put her hands in her face, “Christ, I’m so sorry Jon. Thank you for getting us out of there ok. I’ll ring David this morning and report this in. It was that Puerto-Rican waiter, right?”

He nodded, “yeah. He left after the job was done though. I didn’t notice anyone else.”

Her hair was tumbled everywhere and the makeup, well...God love women. Even with mascara smudged eyes he wanted to just roll her under him and take a taste of her. And if the firmness of her ass was anything to go by, the thighs would be equally destructive around his hips. He sat up, swinging his feet off the bed. God, he hoped the morning erection coupled with thoughts better left unsaid was hidden as he stood up.

Without a backward glance, he headed for the bathroom. "Don't worry, Mac, I won't hold this against you." He half turned at the door, keeping his back to her. "All bets are off when this is over though," he said quietly, turning back to the bathroom and the cold shower that was his only option. He still wanted to know who the hell Brian was, but now wasn't the time.

What kind of bodyguard was she here? She should have been more fucking careful. “Ugh,” disgusted with herself she waited until she heard the shower spray before padding back to her room to collect her robe. She patted her belly as it growled, she needed food and coffee so she could think straight again. The least she could do for him was make him breakfast since he had to do her job last night.

Her red dress, purse and shoes led a trail from the door to the middle of the living room floor. Oh god, seriously? She stripped off? Her cheeks burned and thanked god he wasn't here to see it as she scooped it all up and dumped in on the couch. Where in the holy hell was her gun?

She breathed a sigh of relief when she saw the leather of the strap twisted around the small revolver lying on the breakfast bar. She swore and jammed on the coffee, collected the eggs, bacon and cheese and set to work. She fished through the cupboard for an aspirin. God, of all things it had to be him MacKenzie.

As he towelled off, Jon swallowed down a shudder. Full blast cold hadn't even been enough to keep his dick from rolling out the red carpet for a morning of sex and more sex. It had been a long time since he'd actually slept with a woman in his bed. He was no saint since the divorce, but he preferred uncomplicated arrangements that rarely included a sleepover.

Having this woman in his house, his life, his space was hard enough, but now to add the feel of her in his arms to the list was about as close to cruel as you could come in stretch of hell. He couldn't even come up with a complaint, like bed hog, sheet stealer or roof rocking snorer. No, Kenzie was as close to comforting as it came for him.

He was used to sleeping alone. Even through his marriage he was alone more often than not. But here, with her tucked in so trustingly. He snapped his towel out and stepped into a pair of jeans. No, he had to be haunted by her soft skin and the lace of a woman comfortable with her body. Haunted by things he couldn't touch.

Leaving the top button open he padded out to the living room for his iPhone. Maybe he could get some work done at least. And he didn't give a shit if he was rude, he needed to stay away from her for a few hours at least. The smell of bacon and coffee drew him into the kitchen, his phone a distant memory as his belly growled. Well, he could ignore her after breakfast, surely.

"Hey," he said from the doorway, his shoulder resting on the door jamb.

She flipped the omelette and turned around, as if waking up beside him wasn’t enough punishment, there he stood in a pair of jeans not even buttoned up. Her eyes trailed up his flat belly to his chest, before meeting his eyes. “Hey, hope you’re hungry.” For food.

Then it came back. The night flashed before her eyes as the aspirin cleared away the fog, she was all over him like a horny teenager, pawing—touching, oh god she touched him. The sizzle of fat on her hand broke the stream as her cheeks flushed, oh fuck. “Shit,” she twisted the cold tap on and shoved her hand under it. How could he just stand there and say nothing to her when she practically tried to—she wanted to vomit. The heat of his skin, the feel of him growing hard in her was all there, in Technicolor in her head.

“How can you just stand there after what I did—“

So she remembered, he wasn’t going to make her suffer, but he took a small comfort knowing she remembered it now. “That you tried to rape me?” He grinned folding his arms.

She flipped the omelette, “Jon that’s not funny. God, I’m so sorry. I should have never—“ Despite the fact she was heavily attracted to him, this was so not what she’d ever had planned.

He stepped forward, then rocked back on his heels. Unsure what his next move should be, he went for the coffee pot instead. "You don't have to worry about last night, Mac. I know you weren't yourself. There's a reason roofies are illegal." Though if part of the allure was a woman without restraint, then he could see the appeal. He hated that it appealed, but a woman as strong as Kenzie wasn't a victim with that in her veins, she was a weapon.

He knew she would have felt bad. She wasn't the type to like the loss of control, and whatever had been in that glass was definitely the opposite of control. He poured two heavy mugs, leaving enough room for her blue, skin milk, that she put in her coffee. Not sure why she bothered. Christ--nasty stuff.

He snagged the skim from the fridge and fixed it to her preference, setting it next to the stove before sipping from his own mug. "We'll just chalk last night up to a learning experience."

She chuckled, and served a generous pile of egg and bacon onto each of the plates. She nodded and picked up her mug, “Thank you. And Thank you for...” he could have very well taken advantage of her, especially with the crazy tension that flowed between them.

He lifted his mug, “for having blue balls this morning? No problems.”

She laughed, “oh god. I’m seriously so embarrassed, I mean it’s not that I wouldn’t have wanted—“she put down the mug. “Again, I’m sorry I put you in that position, when it’s my job to protect you. And thank you for getting us home safely, I appreciate it.”

They both stood in a comfortable silence sipping their coffee and he smiled. Her mind flashed back to the fight they’d had before they’d gone out. “This is sounding like a broken record, but I’m sorry for the kids thing—I should have told you earlier about the pictures and the threat. I’m going to get some work done after this, and then I promise we’ll talk, I’ll keep you informed of anything I find out today.” It wasn’t how she usually operated, but she owed him the honesty after what he did. She hated to admit, they made a pretty good team and ironically she trusted him with her own life.

He sat down, lifting his fork. He wasn't exactly a breakfast guy, but it looked really good to him. He was a two egg white guy before his workout, but the full carb explosion was just what he needed. He stood, pushing down some toast as he rounded back with raspberry jelly and a knife. Shoveling in a mouthful of egg and cheese he nodded. "I appreciate it. I got a few texts from my oldest son last night that hit a little closer to home than normal."

The toast popped and he slathered it in butter and jam, rolling his bacon in the center. "My kid doesn't text me unless I bug him. He knows something's up, they all do."

She sat down beside him and dug her fork into her eggs and scooped a huge mouthful into her mouth. “I know, and you haven’t seen them for awhile, and that’s out of the ordinary when they know you’re at home, not on the road. I get that.” She took a large gulp of coffee, “I’ll sort this somehow. See what I can do. "Until then, you are going to have to put up with me. Are you sure you can handle it?" He’d have every right to pull out now if he wanted to after last night.

"Well, I guess we're going to find out, now aren't we?" He folded a piece of bacon into his mouth. He was willing to try again. Handing over his life to this woman wasn't something he was willing to do a day ago, but after the last attack...he couldn't put his family in harm's way. Even if it meant cow-towing to a woman nearly half his size. She knew best, and he had to start trusting her sometime..

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chapter Twenty-Four

The carpet meshed into swirls of colors and the fairy lights that twinkled all around the room, started to blend into one as he swayed her gently. She clasped her hands at the base of his spine tightly. Why on all nights did this have to happen? Her body tingled and her skin buzzed as she tried blinking the heavy fog from her head. A new adrenaline started to pump through her veins as her arms and legs began to twitch. A smile spread across her face as she felt her shoulders ease. Suddenly the cares and the worry of the night started to slip away, and she felt good. Real Good.

She burrowed her nose into his chest drawing his scent in and then lifted her head to meet his gaze. “I feel like a million bucks,” the laugh bubbled from her throat as she threw her head back not caring the on-lookers that glanced their way.

"Okay, babe." He tried hard not to laugh, but seeing his straight arrow bodyguard high as a kite was pretty freakin' funny. "I can beg off. I'll have the driver come get us."

She hooked her arm through his, “Ok lead the way. Ohh maybe we could stop for burgers on the way home.” Jon tried not to react to her body pressed against his.

He looked around the room, but he wasn't sure what he was looking for. He tried to see it the same way she would. To look at the exits and the people that noticed them. Were they being watched? Was he going to get her killed? Was it because she was with him?

His gut clenched.

And a bead of sweat dripped down his spine. The room closed in on
him as he looked at each person that smiled at him.

She felt dizzy, but she felt alive. The thought that she was meant to be doing something, or –god it just kept slipping from her mind. She was meant to be doing something? But she couldn't remember what.

He cupped her elbow and tried to right her into a standing position. She was flopping against him, her head lolling as she looked at him with an unusually adoring look. It wasn't the Mac he was used to. And right now--it wasn't the Mac he needed. He wasn't used to needing anyone and that rankled more than anything. He waved at Mrs. C. She frowned at him, but was quickly pulled away so he could move on. "C'mon Kenzie, you gotta help me out here a little.”

She leaned in and pressed her lips close to his ear, “I love when you call me that.”
The sharp giggle that followed had him shaking his head. “You know what else I loved?”

He raised his brow, “do I want to know?”

She turned to him again and her lips curved. Her fingers popped the top buttons of his shirt as she reached into the warmth of his skin, the tips of her fingers brushing against the very top of his chest hair.

But she found nothing.

"You're not wearing it?" she pouted.

He looked around the room. Trying to gage the level of gang banger incognito versus regular wait staff and the woman in his arms was practically vibrating with some horny drug that he should be able to take full advantage of god dammit. He hissed as her nails raked through his chest hair. "Wearing what?"

"You know...." she whispered huskily as her teeth scraped over his Adam's apple. She was allowed to do that right? Well at least she thought she was. All this delicious man right at her disposal. "The makes me want to do bad things to you..." Her eyebrow lifted.

The skull?
He frowned down at her, then his brow cleared at the strange little quirk to her smile. God, how he wished that quirk was really for him. It was the drugs talking. "I promise if we get home, I'll wear it every day."

She ran her tongue across the bottom of her upper lip. "Naked?" She curled her fingers around the lapels of his shirt and tugged him closer to her.

He stared at her lips, the hint of pink making his dick so hard he'd have to close his suit jacket for fuck's sake. But that niggling feeling between his shoulder blades just wouldn't stop. "Oh God, Kenzie--you're killing me here." He was supposed to be professional here. She wanted to keep things on the up and up, but he wanted nothing more than to take her home and sink into her.

He was warm and familiar, and there was something safe about the way he held her, except she couldn’t seem to finish the thought. The driver ushered her to their car and she climbed in, sweeping her dress to the side as she sat back against the leather seats. Once he joined her, she found his scent and snuggled in under his arms. She sighed and closed her eyes. “You’ve worked so hard to get here Brian, I’m so proud of you baby...” Her hand slid up his shirt, finding the gap between buttons as she grazed her fingertips against his chest.

He sat back, his hand smoothing through her hair as she leaned on him. He nuzzled her cheek until the name and her words sunk in. "What did you say?"

Her other hand reached up slid across his cheek as she patted it. "Brian, silly. I know you love to hear it over and over. But you're gonna be famous one day. And I'm going to be there with you---forever." She whispered as her nose dove into his chest again.

He cupped the back of her head, trying not to moan when she nuzzled deeper into the hair on his chest. Who the holy fuck was this Brian? He hushed her, until she settled down. Not sure what to do, he played with her hair until he felt her get heavy against him. She wasn’t married. Was she still hung up on an ex and that's why she wouldn't let him in?

The drive home was quick and painless, the streets narrowed until Mercer came into view and they pulled up to the doorway. He nodded at the driver when he opened the door and gave him a half cocked grin. "Too much champagne at the party."
"Certainly sir," the driver said with a knowing grin.

That was just great. He passed George with another rueful smile, thanking every god he knew for an empty elevator. On his floor he propped her up by her elbow. The elusive name Brian on her lips again with a shit eating grin.

He didn't know Brian, but he was fairly sure he was gonna kill him.

She kicked off her shoes as he walked her in. "Thank god for that, you know those shoes are FEET killers. They should sooo be arrested." She had a sudden desire to get out of her clothes, she felt contained and smothered. She reached behind her and tugged the zipper down feeling the red silky material slide away from her.

"I don't know about you but I need a drink." She whipped open the large oak door of his liquor cabinet.
She stood there in a pair of red panties, bare feet with crimson toenails and what could pass for a bra if material was the only option. He could see every curve of her breast and the high, tight tips of her nipples. Have mercy, God--do you hate me?

He hurried after her, once his brain started functioning again. "Oh yeah--I think we're good for the night." He took the decanter of his best single malt away from her. "Why don't we get you into bed, huh?"

"Party Pooper," she muttered. She rubbed her head with the back of her hand. Why were they home all of a sudden? She couldn’t remember getting here. She blinked and looked down holding out her arm as her balanced wavered. Connecting with him, she found herself in seconds lifted into his arms.

She yawned and her body was becoming heavy as she sank into his arms. He carried her up to the guest bedroom, the lonely double sized bed was waiting for her. And suddenly she was scared. Her arms gripped around neck tighter, her nails finding skin.

"What if they find me here?"

"Who's gonna find you, baby?" At her sleepy stare, he didn't much care right then. Just keeping her safe and with him seemed to be far more important than her stupid rules. "Okay, okay," he hushed when she became distressed, swinging around to his room. Dear God, how was he supposed to stay sane with her in his bed too?

"Thank you." She hit his sheets, and rolled onto her side closing her eyes. His pillows smelled like him, and the sheets felt like him. Something about this moment was so right, but something else niggled in the back of her mind.

She opened them again when she felt the bed move a few moments later, he was climbing in on the right side. She chuckled. "I'm totally on your side aren't I?"

"That's okay," he laughed. She was indeed on his side of the bed. The only thing he worried about, was that if she slept with him all night--besides her calling him Brian--he was afraid he'd end up snuggling in on her. He did not need her right hook in the morning after she figured out what she'd done.

He pulled the cover up over them, and she moved in. She couldn't help it. He drew her in like a moth to a flame and the dizziness and buzz in her head was starting to wear off. She pressed her cheek against his chest and felt his hardness through his sweats pressing into her belly. Her hands slid down, under the waistband, until she found what she was looking for.

She let her fingers stroke the underside of him, and her thumb circle the tip. Her jerked under her but she continued to touch. With her other hand she cupped his sac, digging the tips of her fingers into the fleshy skin. "I want you Jon."

"Jesus, now you get the name right," he muttered. He tried to still her hands, but she kept moving them, until he was hot and hard in her hands. "Fuck, Kenzie."

Her chin brushed his as she pressed her lips against his flooding his mouth with the heat from hers. "Yes—fuck me. NOW.”

He sucked in a deep breath and tried to control the raging hard on that wanted
nothing more than to sink into her sweet heat. Whatever this street drug was--it was dangerous beyond compare, even if it was about a second away from shooting him off into the stratosphere. He grabbed her hands, crossing her wrists to hold them tight as he pinned her writhing form down with one knee. "Kenzie, listen to me."

She wiggled and nipped at his chin. He raised her arms over her head cuffing them with the fingers of one hand. Her breasts lifted, high and firm against his chest and he groaned. He growled. "Look at me!" He used his other hand to hold her face still. "Baby, look at me."

She giggled as her eyes met his, blue and dark against the glow of his bedside lamp. "I always knew you were the dominant type." Her lips quirked in a grin, god she wanted to roll right on top of that and devour every little piece her mouth could touch. But she was sinking. Further into the mattress, her resistance to his grip melting away.

Well, fuck.
"Baby, you couldn't even begin to figure out my type with a crystal ball." He held her down tighter as she wiggled. "We're going to sleep and pick this up when both of us are on equal footing."

"Is that a promise?" she drawled as she finally let the weight on her eyes win. The darkness consumed her, but she was safe. From whatever she had been running from. She let her body go, finding his and sinking into a familiar heat. "So tired..."

Her fingers stopped clutching his as she finally bottomed out. He had a feeling she was going to have a hangover of epic proportions in the morning, but he rolled her to her side. When she scootched back against him, he groaned. Man alive. "You do hate me, God. I knew it." Her little tight, lace covered butt scratched across the front of his sweats and he resigned himself to a very long, very uncomfortable night.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Chapter Twenty-Three

MacKenzie tugged at her robe, well fuck. What the hell? His face was thunder and his eyes were cool as steel. Not like the cobalt fire she’d been ready to near lose herself in just a minute ago. She snatched the Blackberry from his grasp.

“What the hell are you doing with this?” It was one thing he was standing there ready to lay into her, it was another thing to be reading her Blackberry. She’d already been in a daze when she’d managed to escape him earlier, before her will snapped and she’d done something she regretted.

"It was an accident, but that's not the point. I should be apprised on all leads."

He crossed his arms. He was well aware he'd breached a boundary, but their situation was far from normal. Ethics could take a flying leap. Especially when she wasn’t keeping him informed.

She tucked the Blackberry into the pocket of her robe and crossed her arms. “Does Homeland security tell the president every single threat or do they wait and find out what’s really going on before they cause unnecessary panic?” Her brow arched as she stood defiant, she’d done nothing damn wrong here.

"This isn't a usual case, Kenz. Don't give me that higher than mighty shit. That might work with some clients but not me." He leaned forward. "What don't I know?"

She wanted to bark louder at him, but the look of worry swiped across his face made her re-think. “This morning on the porch, at the house. I found a bunch of photos that were left there for us, of us-kissing back on the beach.”

“Who left them there?” He demanded, feeling the heat creep us his neck.

“Who do you think, but I’m running them for prints. I didn’t tell you because-“

“And what was the family problem and why don’t I know anything of it?”

She winced, “one of the photos was of your house in New Jersey.” She held her hand up, “now before you go all loco on me I’ve had someone take care of it, step up the surveillance around your family.” She raked her hand through her hair as he didn’t move, his eyes pinned her to the floor. “These are just scare tactics Jon, they’re playing with us.”

"You told me my family was fine!" He palmed the door and pushed her back. "I haven't seen my kids in days to make sure the focus stays on me. What the hell, MacKenzie?"

She took a step back as he pushed her and then steadied herself. "Hey, they're fine. This is what you employ me for Jon, to make the call. I made the call and I stand by it. They're not in any immediate danger but if they were I'd tell you. Now I need my dress," she had to get past him away from him. The hurt and anger she saw swimming in his eyes she needed to get away from.

He followed her back into his bedroom. "When would you tell me? When one of them were dead?" He gripped around the door. "Is that when it would be important enough?" Fear and anger coalesced until he was blind with it. "The only thing that means anything to me is those kids."

“I know they are, but I have to separate the emotion out of the job Jon. That’s why I couldn’t tell you, I needed to take care of it before I informed you. That’s how I roll.” She scraped the red dress off the rack and turned to him. “I’m doing my job, you trusted me to do way.” She may have stepped out of line with the kids, but this is exactly why she hadn’t told him earlier, he’d of panicked and rang them causing all kind of hysteria.

Guilt burned, she knew what his kids meant. Of course she did, god she knew those kids like she would her own with the amount of DVDs, stories and pictures she’d been told and shown. There was always this sparkle in his eyes when he talked about those kids, it was those things that kept it hard to separate Jon from just a job.

"We're going to be late."

"Fuck the benefit!" He gripped the door of his closet. He couldn't look at her--staring into the row of suits he'd been forced to add to his wardrobe, the black blended together. Hot rage pooled into the base of his spine, spiking until he had to let go of the door.

“Look, I’m sorry if you’re upset but this is my job, my call. You employed me to do this, so you have to trust me. Just remember that.” Gah, she should have been easier on him but she wasn’t in the mood for his mood, and he’d read her Blackberry. She slammed the door hard behind her, and set about getting dressed for this damn function. Her arms wavered as she pinned pearl drops in her ears. She cleared her messages and made sure David kept her up to date on the photos and now the family situation.

She stepped into fire-red stilettos and twisted her hair into a neat up-do with the occasional wisps floating around her face. She adjusted the holster around her thigh and made sure her purse was organized, amidst the slams and bangs that were happening outside the door. She took a deep breath and made her way up to the large living room mirror, where he was straightening his tie. It had become somewhat of a tradition that they met at this mirror before they headed out to these benefits.

He caught her in the reflection as he tightened his tie. Flipping down his collar, he tried to tamp down the raging hormones that roared as the dress hugged her from breast to hip then flowed down until it grazed the floor. Regal. Statuesque. Understated elegance.

His fingers wanted to muss her up, drag her down onto the floor until he could hike up that perfect silk and find hers. She looked away from her, shame flashed high in his cheeks. He was worried about his kids. He had no business looking at her like that now. Manners screamed that he should tell her how amazing she looked, but the words were lodged with his anger in his throat.

Instead he went to the door and pulled her wrap off the hook, holding it open. His eyes met hers without a word.

The click of her heels cut the silence as they walked through the lobby, if he was going to ignore her then so be it. She stood by her decision, and that was the end of it. She groaned as George came into view, and spread the fake smile across her face. She took his hand and laced her fingers through his, they had to still play—they didn’t know for sure what the hell the gang knew.

His palm zinged at the contact. The fresh and spicy scent of ginger lingered between them like a thread. The driver was at the curb the door open for the both of them.

The car ride was interminable. Her fingers next to his on the seat, but not touching. Staring ahead, but no speaking. The long, elegant line of her neck drove him to distraction. The velvet wrap swung around her shoulders dipping at the back of her neck. Wispy hairs teased the lovely column, distracting him from the duty and the anger he couldn't seem to separate.

It wasn't like he'd shared everything with her. Or the various threats on his live over the years with his family. He knew it was stupid to be so angry at her, but the threat to his family pushed this....thing between them into the realm of reality instead of playing house like they had been doing.

As they pulled up to the gala, he opened the door and helped her out, careful to keep her tight to his body. Ginger and MacKenzie threatened to drag him back into that web of seduction. The pull of their bodies and the acting that suited them a little too easily.

God help them.


She hung on his arm as the ritual of nightly introductions began the approving nods in her direction and even sometimes the jealous stares she knew would be candy gossip in the ladies room later.

She smiled to herself, her and Jon would always play a stupid little game sometimes over what people were saying about them. But tonight, they were flat. The physical energy was still simmering between them, and it was hard to ignore with him so close to her.

She plucked a glass of wine off the tray as the Puerto-Rican young man walked past them. He looked a little familiar but she couldn't place it. She took a long sip, and swallowed it along with her pride. The silence was becoming ridiculous, she missed him. Sad but true his sarcastic wit at these things kept her sane till home time.

"Oh look its Mrs Plastic Surgery, how much do you want to bet she got a boob job since the last function?" she whispered in his ear feeling herself relax already. Damn good wine.

The olive branch was about as subtle as a brick, but he took it anyway. "They can do it through your belly button these days, you know."

"Hmm maybe I should get mine done..." she looked down to her more than ample breasts nestled at the top of her dress. Her head was growing heavy and her tongue loose.

"What do you think?"

"I think the only one touching them should be me." He said and frowned. Damn. Where'd that come from? She swung the glass his way and braceleted her wrist. "Hey now."

She blinked and snapped her head up at him, she stifled a giggle before a hiccup as his face twisted before her eyes. "I want that too." Damn, what the hell? Wake up MacKenzie. You've had half a glass of wine, anyone would think you’d---

Her stomach knotted as she fought with the urge to sink into his body. Stay calm, oh god, oh shit. She had to lean into him or she'd look like a certified drunk. She wrapped her arms around his neck when he took her drink off her and buried her face in his neck. Just a PDA... that's all. "I don’t feel so good, I think there was something in my drink."

His body reacted to her nearness, curling her into him. His hand rested at her back as her words broke through. "What?" He sniffed the glass. "I don't smell anything."

The waiter, oh god the waiter. How could she have not seen it? Been so careless, after everything that was happening. "Is there a Puerto Rican waiter looking at us? Don't draw attention to us whatever you do." She spoke slowly and fought to keep calm and collected, finding solace in the warmth of his neck.

He quietly scanned the room, making sure to rest his eyes on every person he knew in the vicinity with a smile. As he head hopped, he scanned the waiters in that elitist gaze that all of the hired help were used to seeing.

Finally--one pair of eyes seemed to keep going back to them. When he finished his tray, he backed out of the room. "He's leaving," he whispered back, his fingers tightening on her waist.

"Ok, it's important we stay here in the crowd. So no matter what happens. What I do -- don't isolate us." She tugged herself in closer to him slowly as any woman would to her man. The smell of him was becoming overbearing. Her senses were heightened. She was indeed drugged. How could she be so stupid? "And Jon, if worst comes to worst. The gun is on my thigh." Her lips slid up the clavicle of his neck, her tongue was buzzing against his skin. Oh god, no this is not what she needed. Some kind of party street drug that was going to make her a mess.

Her hands hooked around his waist, and her fingers teased along the back of his belt. "Evidently. This could be your lucky night."

Jon swallowed hard, meeting her widened pupils. She had a soft edge to her eyes and the obvious sheen of chemicals, but his body reacted anyway. Hot and potent, his cock rose against her hip as she smoothed her hand down his ass. "Okay, let's go to the dance floor. Even a rock star can't get away with too much PDA at a Democratic function."

She nodded as he led her there slowly, a step at a time not to draw any unseen attention to them. She had to get hard and ride it out. It would wear off eventually. Her mind flashed back to her marine training when they were drugged and made to stay alert, that seemed so long ago...and fuzzy.

Thank god it was her and not him, and thank god it was only half a glass. Her body was buzzing and the tips of her toes tingling. “I’m sorry Jon, for tonight...” She murmured as she pressed her forehead to his.

"Aww hell," he sighed drawing his hand up her shoulder blades to her neck. His thumb brushed along her spine. "It's not important now." He tucked her head against his shoulder, keeping them in a steady box step at the center of the crowd.

Not used to the vulnerability she was showing he firmed up his hold. He wasn't sure how long it would take to get her through this, but he'd hold her tight as long as she needed him to.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Chapter Twenty-Two

Jon paced the kitchen. They'd been back in SoHo for hours. The trip back to the city was about as uncomfortable as you could get. Thankfully each of them had an active blackberry that filled the silence. In fact, he had a pile of messages waiting for him as soon as he walked in the door.

He tuned back into the conversation as the charity schpiel ran longer than usual. "Look, Mark. You know you have the full backing of the Soul, but I need--" his words cut off as he passed the door and MacKenzie arched back, her thigh rotating in slow circles as she scissor kicked then came back up on her knee to do it again.

Do not look, she’s your bodyguard for Christ’s sake...He'd already been haunted by the shower incident.

Muscles gleamed under the spandex/cotton mix while she lowered herself into another position. The only thing distracted him from all that was going on, was the thing that was saving him.


"Are you there?"

Jon swallowed, dragging his eyes away from the lithe form of her and started out the window. Brick, much better. Sweet fuck. "Yeah, I'm here. Set up a meet with Amy, okay? She's running the day to day planning. We'll donate what we can and we'll help you run a function. That's the best I can do until after the election. I'm booked for personal appearances until Obama gets into office.

"Sure of your guy this time, huh Jon?"

Jon laughed, his gaze tracking back to Kenzie. "Only thing I'm sure of these days, Mark. I hope he has your vote too."

"No need to stomp for me, Jon. I'm with you."
Jon smiled, opening the fridge for a bottle of water. "Glad to hear it. Okay, I'll talk to you in a few weeks."

He tucked his iPhone into his shorts and gluggled down half of his bottle before he made it out of the kitchen. Christ, she was limber. Don't look at her. But it was too late, she was on her knees, her back arched as her ass lifted into the air with her chin pressed into her hands. Fuck. He sat down at his desk, angling his laptop to block her, but kept peeking over the top.

The way she extended her leg and rotated her hip made his mouth water. As she tucked her knee in close to her body then extended again he groaned into his bottle, finishing it off. He tapped on his keyboard but didn't see a damn thing on his screen. In fact, he could have been reading Russian for all he knew.

She finally kneeled, lowering her butt to her ankles and curled forward in the last of her stretches. He fucking tortured himself with watching her do this daily and yet he never learned. Never went into his room, never found something else to do.
Because you're an ass. Or was it more like you like her ass? Jon thunked his forehead on the table.

She exhaled deeply and popped herself up off the ground, shaking out her tension. It’s just what she needed. The morning had brought about interesting events, she’d been up early and done a perimeter check which brought about finding the envelope left at the back door. Filled with photographs of them kissing on the beach earlier that day. They were being watched.

It wasn’t news to her obviously, but it just drummed home the need that they had to be extra careful. She felt a hell of a lot better that they were back in the apartment, with a decent level of security. She’d failed to tell Jon about the photographs, thinking it was best she try and get them scanned for prints first. She spun run at the thunk behind her, and chuckled at Jon face down on his laptop.

“Rough day already?” She reached up and clasped her hands above her head and stretched.

If a constant hard on equaled rough, then yeah. "I'll be glad when the Obama thing is over and he's elected." He tried not to stare at the heart shaped sweat stain that bloomed from her breasts.

She swiped her water bottle off the table and took a healthy sip. She wiped her hand across her mouth and nodded. "Yeah, seems like he's a popular boy. Just what this country needs in my personal opinion."

"I'm banking on it, literally." He stood, pacing away from her. The light sheen of sweat on her shoulders and the crisscrossing t-back bra she wore under the oversized tanktop was going to be the death of him. It wasn't sexy dammit. It flattened her breasts, not made them...he groaned and went back to the fridge. No worries on his eight glasses of fucking water today. He walked back into the room with half the bottle gone again and sucked back a string of curses as she swiped at the sweat on her neck with the bottom of her shirt. The light indents of her six pack tightened as she bent over, then straightened up. She dropped the shirt and he wished for death.

She needed a shower and she needed to get ready for the next function on his docket which was tonight at some fancy to do party. Thank god she’d been vigorous keeping up her training schedule, all these parties could easily take a toll on her waist line.

It wasn't the dresses she was dreading tonight, it was the heat between them. There would be no way to physically escape it. No combat training in the world had her prepared for this. It was for the best they stayed like this. She had no choice. Least that's what she kept telling herself as her eyes dropped down the long lean line of his torso. His pecks stretched out the black cotton material showing off tight, damn tight muscles.

Her eyes fell further down to the tight grey shorts he was wearing, and quickly away when she spotted the obvious rise in his shorts. Shit.

"Uh, so what time do we have to leave?" she asked taking a step back.

His brow arched at her retreat. He caught her eyes dropping low then quickly meeting his own. Well, well. He stepped forward. "We've got some time." Making quick work of the distance between them, he smirked. "Any ideas?" Be damned morality.

Her head snapped up to meet his eyes, twinkling with something...something she wanted. She needed to break it, “we eat? They always have such small helpings at those dinners.”

"I'm only hungry for one thing." He stepped forward again, the predatory instinct racing in his blood when she took another back. "Could be salty," he took another step, his toes buried into the plush shag of the area rug near his couch. "Or sweet."

Her heart hammered loudly in her throat as she swallowed. Jesus Christ, he wasn't going to give up on this. There was only so much a woman could do to fight her instincts. Instincts that involved her hands in that hair and mouth on that neck.
The next step she took connected her back with the wall. He's just a man, get a grip. You've been intimidated by much worse. Her eyes widened and her stanch stiffened. "Jon," Christ she couldn't even speak properly. She winced as it came out like a simpering woman.

He braced a hand over her head, looking down at her. "Kenzie," he said on a low voice. His gaze dropped to her mouth, then back to her eyes, then down to that blasted heart on her chest. He traced his fingertip along the line of the oversized tank as it dipped low along her bra. He smiled slowly as her nipples tightened under the red cotton. "Cold?"

The hairs on her arms prickled as she shook her head. She was anything but cold, and evidently she was now speechless as well. Her toes curled into her sneakers, the memory of what he felt like washed over her. He was here for the taking. "No". Did she mean no she wasn't cold? Or no for him to stop, the meaning to the word became a blur as her nipples tightened again as he moved within an inch from her face.

His chest rested against hers as he propped himself away from her...barely, with his other hand. "No?" He rubbed lightly from side to side, watching as her jaw clench. "I could have sworn you were cold."

She bit her bottom lip, so she was defenceless now? One swift kick to his balls would end this. So why the fuck couldn't she do it? She tried to merge into the wall behind her unsuccessfully.

You need to stop this, her eyes met his...stop...this...her hands curled into fists, the friction of his body against hers was making her ache in places they shouldn't. "Jon, I've got to go and get ready..."

"Need any help with zippers?" he said against her mouth, but still didn't touch her.

Her hands pressed against his chest but he didn't budge. His strength held its ground. She closed her eyes and waited. Maybe he'd go away, god make him go away. She couldn't do this much longer.

He could push it. He knew if he just stepped over the line just a little more, he'd have her wrapped around him. Finally. As she swallowed with difficulty, unable to look at him, he stepped away. "Go."

The void of his body leavings hers was strange, now she was cold. She held out her hand, "Wait Jon" when he stopped the self control she had snapped inside her of her. She dragged him closer to him and took. Her mouth latched to his swallowing his breath as her hands wound around his neck and her fingers inched up into his hair.

Thank fuck Jon dragged her up against him, the kiss was harsh and out of control. He didn't care, he just needed a taste. Something, anything to tide him over. His cock was stone hard and he was going to end up pounding out an orgasm in the shower, he knew it now. But goddamn it, he'd take what he could get.

His fingers threaded into her sweaty hair, tugging out the ugly little knot she had it in on top of her head. The silky strands would around his wrist, his arms and her unique flavor roared in his head.

She moaned into his mouth, this is what this had come to. She fought for control in the kiss as it deepened and his knee came up between her legs pinning her back against the wall.

He tasted dark and sweet with a hint of mint from the chewing gum he'd been popping in his mouth for the last hour. She wanted all of him, she'd lost the capacity to care at this moment that this was wrong. This was against everything she stood for.

His mouth left hers, and she by instinct tipped her head back letting his lips slide down her neck. Hot and wet, they left a trail of destruction in their path. Sweet jesus, she wanted him to take her, right here and right now, be damned the consequences. She dragged her gaze back to his, and her heart thumped loudly in her chest. Lust was replaced with something deeper, something richer--something she knew she wanted but couldn't have with him right now. "God, no..." she pushed him back and cupped his face. "I want this, more than anything I've wanted in a long time. But I can't, as your bodyguard I just can't put your life at risk again..."

She removed herself completely "When this is all over maybe we can then, but I- I just can't," she turned and jogged up the stairs before she even had a chance to change her mind.

"Son of a--" he slapped his open palm against the wall and the resounding clash of nervendings dragged him back to reality. "Fuck." he growled and plowed his fingers through his hair. He couldn't even be mad at her or call her eight kinds of a tease because he understood responsibility much more than even a father, husband and CEO should. Responsibility had been drilled into him until he didn't know anything else.

He dropped into the plush leather couch that usually gave him some modicum of relief, but not even a slice of that comfort could help him now. He swiped the magazines off the coffee table and resisted the urge to upend the stupid thing. Kicking it instead, it banged into the hutch and Mac's blackberry spun arcross the room.

"Nice," he muttered and stood to pick it up.

He cringed as it went through a smear of dust bunnies from under the table. Man, he needed to have the cleaning crew in again. The city dragged in more dust and dirt...he rubbed it against his shorts and the face lit up as another message came through. His thumb hovered over the accept button automatically, so used to answering his own iPhone, but his finger stopped. It wasn't his.

He climbed the stairs to give it to Kenzie just in case something was wrong and it buzzed in his hand again. A third message popped up Urgent-re your pictures found at beach

Well fuck. What pictures? He pressed his thumb on the send button. Fuck that. Send me the pictures over by urgent courier, I’ll scan them today. Keep him close, and I’ve closed out the family problem.

Family problem? What the hell was that supposed to mean? And what pictures were they talking about?

The door opened wide and he looked up, her blackberry in his hand. "What the fuck was the family problem and why don't I know about it?"