Saturday, April 3, 2010
MacKenzie parked the car and pulled on her jacket as she stepped out of the car. She tied her hair back in a loose ponytail and slipped her Blackberry and keys into her jeans as Jon came up to meet her. She held out her hand for him but he looked at her hand and paused before he took it. God, dumb move Mac.
He nodded and raked his free hand through his hair. “Yeah...helluva scare that’s all, and Dot’s pissed at me.”
“It’s ok—we’ll talk to her. Everyone is safe, let’s remember that here first and foremost.” She followed Jon up under the arching trees to the entrance to the house. Dot had a right to be angry, these were her children, but MacKenzie was confident she could show her why they'd kept it from them.
“I don’t know what’s safe anymore, MacKenzie.” He let her hand go as they walked into the foyer, and she felt her stomach bottom out. She smiled as he held the door open, but he didn’t smile back. Clearly he was feeling some strain in the situation, and she was the professional here, so she had to put it right for them.
“Dorothea, nice to see you again.” MacKenzie held out her hand, but Dot just stood there with her arms crossed. Yep, she’s pissed. She dropped her hand, and squared her shoulders, holding her head high.
“I think we need to sit down, and you can tell me what’s going on. All of it.”
“Dot—“ Jon tried to interrupt, but MacKenzie nodded.
“Sure, not a problem at all.” They all sat down in the parlor. Jon sat next to her on the couch and Dot in the chair opposite. The housekeeper brought in a tray of coffee leaving it just as noiselessly as her rubber soled shoes that squelched on the polished floors.
Dot leaned forward and poured the coffee. “Creamer? It’s Non-fat, as requested,” she said shortly.
MacKenzie raised a brow and nodded. “Sure, thanks.” She glanced at Jon, his head was down as he fiddled with his watch strap. She was worried about him. He’d seemed a little off balance since she arrived. The incident with Romeo going missing had to have scattered him, those kids meant everything to him.
“Now, tell me about what’s been happening.”
Well I want to sleep with your ex-husband. MacKenzie took a deep breath and took a sip of coffee, wishing it was something stronger all of a sudden. “Well, once Jon hired me I organized the necessary surveillance around him, his family and the children. I covered all bases.”
“Don’t talk about me like I’m not here,” Dot snapped as she flicked her ponytail back over her shoulder. Oh lord.
“I wasn’t, I’m explaining to you that’s what I did---it’s what I do as part of my process. I create a circle of surveillance around my client’s lives.”
“So that involves not telling those closest to Jon that their lives could be in danger?” Dot’s eyes fixed on hers. Mac wasn’t afraid of her, she’d faced much worse interrogations but she wanted to be tactful, as a wrong move here could have consequences for Jon.
Jon cleared his throat, “Dot—I made the decision first. I didn’t want to involve you guys. This was my problem, not my kids.”
Dot chuckled, “stupid man, they are involved. Whether you like it or not. You just did what you always did Jon. Used your high-handed tactics without consulting with those around you. So why should I be shocked?”
“I did this thinking of you and the kids."
"Yes, your way Jon. Without consultation to the rest of us."
Oh boy, this was going to be an all out war in a minute if she didn’t take control.
“Ok, look—yes Jon didn’t want you involved and I agreed with it. His foremost concern was his family's safety. The disruption to your lives, would have been too obvious, always looking over your shoulder to see if they’re around. I didn’t agree with Jon, I would have veto’d. This is my operation, not his.”
Dot dropped her hands to her thighs. “So when did you let her become in charge of what is right for our children?”
Jon raked his hand through his hair, “Dottie, I couldn’t say no to her. Part of my commitment to her taking on the job was agreement to trust her.”
MacKenzie reached out and took his hand without even thinking. “Which he didn’t do easily, believe me.” Jon’s eyes widened so she quickly pulled it away, dammit. She hated the unease that had suddenly grown between them.
“So, I see.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” Jon snapped.
Dot leaned over and refilled her coffee. “It means I can see exactly what’s going on here.”
MacKenzie sipped her coffee again. Man, tough crowd. “Dot, I stand by this decision. If you knew you were being followed, we would have been compromised.”
“How can you possibly justify that, MacKenzie? Putting four children’s lives at risk? I’m not accepting that for a second, even if my dear ex-husband did.”
“Oh hang on a minute." Jon lurched up off the couch and paced behind it. "I never knowingly put them at risk--I knew what she was doing, Dot. I’m not stupid. I don’t just let people do things without being fully informed. You know this.”
MacKenzie closed her eyes. Holy Jesus. “Ok, look Dot—I’ve had a lot of experience with these people. We had to be discrete, especially with Jon’s public profile.” She leaned forward and placed her mug on the table carefully. Some of her hardcore training seemed easier than this moment.
“It’s not just about Jon. What if someone had grabbed one of them when I wasn’t around and your super security couldn’t get to them fast enough? What would you have said to me then?”
MacKenzie smoothed her hands down her legs. “Dot, this was never going to be an easy situation. Hell, it hasn’t been for Jon from the very beginning. His whole life has had to change. We’ve seen no evidence that they are interested in his family. I’ve had daily check ins and I’ve got the best people I know working on this.”
“I’m really angry, Jon." Jon dug his hands into his pockets and stood still.
The silence in the room hung thick like a fog, MacKenzie wondered what had made this marriage end. She had no idea about his past life here, just who he was now. God, what really did she know about him? Jon was a thinker, he was never one to have long talks about life and what he was feeling. MacKenzie suspected that he lived his whole life like this, from the early days in the band---making all the decisions and living with the mistakes. Agonizing the stress of it all on himself, and not let anyone else deal with what he was dealing with.
Which is why this all made sense. Surely Dot knew this after living with him for so long. Maybe she did, and that’s what she could never accept about him. That’s just who Jon is and he would never change.
“Dot. I’m sorry but I only ever had your interests at heart, you must know that.”
She pursed her lips and nodded, “so if this is all under-cover once it all over, I assume MacKenzie will disappear out of your life?”
MacKenzie felt like the air in her lungs was being sucked out, Jon was staring out the window of the parlor to the expansive yard they had and he said nothing. MacKenzie rolled her lip over her teeth, god she hated when she didn’t have an answer. She should have said yes, that’s right—but she didn’t want Jon to think she wanted to leave him. And this was so not a conversation to be had in front of his ex-wife.
“I’m asking because the kids will be confused, they like her,” Dot continued.
Jon turned around, “we don’t know what will be happening at the moment. MacKenzie is still investigating whether our cover is officially blown, right?” The flick of warmth in his eyes gave her small hope, as let’s face it. There wasn’t much to hold onto now. And his kids liked her? God, her heart was been thrown in all kinds of directions.
She nodded, “right. We’re still trying to track who attacked me.”
Dot’s gaze flicked down to her arm where the angry red mark was fading into purple. She straightened her collar and her cuffs. “Right, well. I appreciate MacKenzie you telling me the truth. But I want to make this clear, you are to tell me everything from now on what goes on with this.”
MacKenzie nodded, “of course. I don’t see that as a problem.”
Dot stood up and faced Jon, “secondly I think its best if you and MacKenzie stay away from the kids until this is all over. Once and for all.”
MacKenzie felt the stab in the guts, where Jon would have felt it. His kids meant the world to him, part of her knew that his uneasiness in this whole thing was because he was being denied having a normal relationship with them. But now, none? It was going to kill him.
“C’mon Dot---I.” He sighed and swallowed hard. “What will you tell them?”
“I’ll tell them what I always tell them Jon, you love them but you’re away travelling with Obama stomps commitments but you’ll be back soon. It’s not news to them their Father is away a lot.”
Jon rolled back on his heels. “Can I call them? Text them?”
Dot crossed her arms, “what if they are tracing all those calls?”
Pain creased his face, MacKenzie knew he had no option but to accept the deal.
“Ok. Fine. I’m going to see them now though.”
He was half way across the room before she nodded, leaving her alone with Dot.
“How serious is it?” MacKenzie was surprised to see the concern in her eyes.
“Pretty serious but we’re doing our best to keep a tight lid on the situation.”
“Which includes getting yourself beat up for him?”
“All part of the job Dorothea, I can handle it.” The job was the easy part, handling her feelings for Jon was not.
“Well just be careful. He’s still the father of my kids, not matter how stubborn and bone-headed he can be at times.” The small smile was one of approval, as much as Dot didn’t like the situation MacKenzie knew she at least had reached middle ground with her.
“I will Dot.” MacKenzie showed herself out and decided to wait for Jon in the car, she pulled out her Blackberry and sent a message to David to review and double check that all family security was tight. The door popped open on the passenger side and he climbed in. He dug his cigarettes out of his pocket.
She buckled herself in and shook her head. “No, go right ahead.” He didn’t meet her gaze, instead he stared out the window the entire way back to the city. The tension between them was a whole new level. She was so confused, and he was hurting. But he was silent, and that’s what killed her.