Monday, July 26, 2010

Chapter Forty-Two

MacKenzie turned her key in the lock and nudged the door open, she was home. It was a bit too bitter-sweet as she was happy to have the space but already ached that she'd left him behind. She dumped her keys and dropped her bags, the sunlight bled into the living room welcoming her home. Dust caked all her tabletops and the apartment seemed so small after weeks in Jon's spacious one, his living room alone could swallow her place whole. She unpacked her laptop and files, she needed to dig into the case and go over everything with a careful eye. Maybe she missed something, something that explained why they would try and make an example of Jon and something that would indicate just how far they would go to do it.

She was faced with her reality with Brian, but this time she was going to make sure that she did the right thing. Yes she left him but removing herself from the equation was the right thing to do, for now. The sadness in his eyes had followed her out the door all the way home and it was destroying her from the inside out. She wanted to fix this, make it up to him so he could look at her the way he used to, the way a man looked at the woman he loved.

God she’d have to shop, her cupboards were barer than Mother Hubbard’s. Something else she never had to worry about being at Jon’s, an endless supply of food. She settled in at her desk and fanned out her files. Disappointment hit her square in the chest when she checked her Blackberry and there were no messages from him, why would she expect there to be? She was the one that walked on him.

She made herself a pot of coffee and settled in with her laptop and after fifteen minutes of staring at the screen that might as well have been in Chinese, she gave up.

The rain had eased and the sun was fighting its way back through the clouds. She needed to get out and clear her head and then think about facing the disgusting task of shopping. She threw her iPod and runners into a bag, collected her purse, keys and left. The beach had always been her place where she could breathe when life was taking her by the throat. She needed to breathe. All the emotion from the last few weeks was bubbling away inside of her, and she didn't know how much long she could manage it.

She checked her piece and clicked on the safety, it was better to be safe even if she was alone. She’d been a target before so there was nothing to indicate that it wouldn’t happen again. And that was the problem, with all the cases she’d dealt with in the past, they were cut and dried and she could logically dismantle them. This one she couldn’t and it was killing her.

There was always a fine line between the police when it came to gangs, it slotted into a grey area where police would either turn a blind eye or they just didn’t have enough evidence or guts to convict anyone. The reality was from her years on the force she knew more than likely it was a case of don’t touch us and we won’t touch you. This case wasn’t consistent with normal gang behaviour either, most gang trouble was between the gangs themselves, not innocent people. They usually were the ones that got caught in the crossfire.

Why Jon? Surely the point had been made for a little scare since the he rejected the kid from the Soul. It just didn’t make any sense to her. Something bigger was in play here and she needed to work out what that was before it was too late and before she lost the man she loved. Her feet pounded against sand and the blast of bitter salty-air was much needed as she turned up the dial to an old Bruce classic. The beach was deserted except for a couple of diehard fitness freaks with their dogs, hell it was November after all.

Even in the wide open space she felt like the walls were closing in on her. She picked up the pace and worked through the muscle burn. MacKenzie wasn't a traditional girl in any way but falling in love this way was just ridiculous. He wasn't exactly your normal kind of guy either---no he was something entirely else, something special. She wondered if she'd met Jon under a different circumstance if they would still have this attraction. When you were forced to pretend to be with someone, touch them, god kiss them. The buzz his kiss alone was enough to make anyone a little stupid, problem was it made her a lot stupid.

The croon of Springsteen washed over her and the tension eased from her body. She should have stayed and talked to Jon but they were both as stubborn as each other so ending up at each other's throats was really no surprise. She stopped, caught her breath and bent over to stretch. God, she was so stupid sometimes, if she'd just explained to him it was for his own good and snapped him out of his own sulking fit, things might have been better.

She sank down into the sand and hugged her knees. God, and who could forget the sex? Unfreakingbelievable. She closed her eyes and still felt her skin rush against his, his hot mouth down her neck and his hands all over her. Her eyes popped open as her phone buzzed on her hip. She snagged it and then sighed letting it got to voice-mail. Her father could wait, she'd call him back tonight as she was far too content with the feel of the ocean on her face and finally being able to think a little clearer.

Her thumb hovered over Jon's number, what could she possibly say to him now when he was so pissed off with her? She'd made a mistake and it was time to be completely honest with him, she'd give it a night, let the air cool between them and then go back when David had settled in tomorrow.

She managed a small smile and relaxed her shoulders, it would be OK, she would make it OK. She enjoyed the sea for a little longer and then doubled around finishing two miles for a light workout. She slowed to a jog when she reached the parking lot and noticed a figure beside her car in a cap, hoodie, and baggy jeans. He couldn't be any older than a late teen. She glanced around, the rest of the place was deserted so he was alone. Her hand rested on her hip where steel bit through her sweater, she was taking no chances. She hurdled the small fence and when she looked up he was gone. What the hell? She did a three-sixty and panicked he was going to mind fuck with her but there was no one. Coincidence? She let herself into her car and locked the doors and smoothed her hands down her legs. She would call David when she got home but there was no doubt that this wasn't just about Jon any more.


The rain continued to thrash the windows in Mercer Street and Jon sat cross-legged on his bed with his Mac. He'd been making sure that the next two weeks at least he wasn't going anywhere to public functions with his guy, he was being an ass but hell. She just up and left him. Just when he fell in love with the woman and was prepared to lay his heart out on the line. He reached for his cigarettes, he tried not to smoke in the apartment but right now he didn't give a fuck. He lit one and lay back against his pillows, what a cluster fuck. He was now left with someone babysitting him which was exactly what he tried to avoid right at the beginning of this whole mess. MacKenzie had worked out well, better than he ever could admit and they got on so well, it hadn't taken any effort at all if he had to be honest.

He glanced over to his bedside table where her planted bottle of ginger lotion sat, what he would give for a real whiff of her scent as she walked past him or leaned over him in the kitchen to reach something. He couldn't even explain in words how he felt about her, it had snuck up on him which wasn't like him at all. The truth was as hard as it was to admit, she held him together in all of this and now she was gone. He reached for the bottle of lotion, he wanted to smash it into a billion pieces against the window, and it’d make him feel better before he'd be pissed off that he'd made one hell of a mess.

He had been no angel in this and he could have told her not to go, he could have also told her why. But his pride got in the way. He never needed anyone, but having her around in all of this had made it so much easier. He was scared as shit, but hell at least he had her to rely on, to depend on, until now. Not to mention the fact that he could have told her he loved her, she'd put herself out there more than once and he'd made her feel like an idiot. Stupid fucking pride. He hadn't expected to love anyone after Dorothea but MacKenzie just...she just fit, more than Dot ever had. The problem he had was it had been too easy to fall in love with her and Jon from experience didn't trust anything that came easy.

He'd opened an email to compose five times now and trashed every one. For one of the best song-writers he couldn't even put into words what he wanted to say to her. He shook his head and closed the lid of his laptop, he'd just have to wait it out. This was all just relative to the big picture, his livelihood was under threat in a way that was his worst nightmare and the horror of it all is he had no control over it. Not one little shred.

He squashed out his butt and got off the bed, his stomach was grumbling so he headed up to the kitchen not really enthralled by the possibility he'd have to talk to his new house guest. He stepped into the living area where David was standing talking on his phone facing the city at the window and crossed his arms.

"Uh huh, I'll follow up on that and don't worry I have it under control, thanks Mac---take care I'll call you in the morning."

Jon curled his fingers into a fist, just the mention of her made him want to snatch the phone off him and talk to her. David snapped his phone shut and turned around, "Oh hey---Mac is home and settled ok."

Jon shrugged, "do I look like I care?" Christ, he really just couldn't help himself.

David rested his phone down and shoved his hands in his jeans pockets. "Look Jon, I know you're angry with her but she's done the right thing and it's not as if she's--"

Jon held up his hand, "we're not discussing her, she's made her intentions clear in this whole situation. I wanted something to eat, I assume that's allowed?" God, he was being a prick and he knew it but right now he didn't care.

David sighed, "Jon it doesn't have to be this difficult I'm here to protect you. I'm sorry you don't feel that way but MacKenzie wasn't in a position to do that and care for you at the same time."

Jon shot his head back up. "Don't you dare talk to me about us, it's none of your business." Of course the anger that rushed through blinded any clear logic he usually prided himself on. .

David held up his hands, "ok---I get it. I wish you'd be more co-operative about this Jon. I'll get out of your way, I need a shower and I may use your gym if you don't mind."

Jon shrugged, "do what you want. I'm going to eat and then go to bed." He doubt he'd get any sleep between the bottle of lotion that taunted him nightly and the fact he was being a pain in this ass.

"Thanks, when I come back we'll talk about your schedule, you know if you just hide inside it will just show them they're winning right?" David didn't wait for him to answer and left him there while he clicked his teeth.

He went to continue to the kitchen but something on David's laptop caught his eye. "What the hell..." he looked up at the empty staircase and sat down when he heard the shower start. His eyes widened, the email detailed an email that was addressed to him and been forwarded to David's email address. Jon scrolled the touch pad and felt his skin turn cold. The email had been sent today and son of a bitch they'd been intercepting his email. MacKenzie had asked for all this detail when she moved in but he was sure as fuck she didn't say that they read his fucking emails. His knuckles turned white, he was sick of the secrets, sick of living the life of a caged animal. The e-mail’s sender looked like a generic mailing list but it detailed a phone number that asked Jon to call.

He snatched his hand away, he knew he should just walk away and let David deal with this. But fuck, they wanted to talk to him? What the fuck about? He stood up and paced up the window and raked his hand through his hair. He glanced back at the computer, what if he could take control of this situation? Ask them exactly what the fuck they wanted from him? It was possibly the worst idea he'd ever had but he reached for the thick phone pad and scribbled down the number, tucked it into his jeans and disappeared into the kitchen.

He pulled up the fixings to make a peanut butter sandwich but his hand wavered as he tried to spread it across the bread. Fuck, he should just ask David what the hell he was going to do with that phone number and leave it up to them to sort the fuck out. He tugged open the fridge and pulled the bottle of Pinot Grigio out and took a swig from the bottle.

Maybe this is what they wanted, just to talk to him, maybe they wanted money? Then he'd have certainty, the one thing he was missing from this picture. He was fucking sick of being on edge every five minutes and wondering of his children were still alive, and now Kenzie was out there in it all somewhere. Well fuck that. Jon finished the sandwich and went back to the bedroom and locked his door, he picked up his iPhone and slowly tapped the number in and waited.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Chapter Forty-One

The rain thrashed against the windows and she stood alone, she'd fucked up-again. He was about to open up to her, she had seen it in his eyes but still she butted in and shut it down. Why? Was she scared that if he said the words that she had longed to hear she wouldn't deserve it from her failure in the job? She hid her face in her hands, why was this so hard? Were they really that different?

Like a record stuck in a groove, it kept playing over in her mind how the hell she could have missed this coming? She had wrongly assumed public events were off-limits but then  again there was also the waiter that drugged her, dammit. Thank god they weren't hurt, but the damage that it had done to Jon was far deeper than any surface cut. She wiped away the guilt with the back of her hand, this was shit, just shit. She looked over her shoulder, she wanted to go up and find him but everytime she looked in his eyes all she saw was failure. Failure to do to her job, and failure to protect the man that she loved. 

She packed her thing and zipped up her bags. Some of her clothes were still hanging in Jon's wardrobe but now wasn't the time to collect them. She felt incomplete as damn if she had ever walked away from a job, but honestly what choice did she have at this point? She was surprised that Jon was back in the living area when she jogged down the stairs. "Hey," she stood in front of him and hugged herself. "David should be here any minute. 

Jon crossed his arms and didn't break his gaze out the window. "I left your clothes on my bed, so don't forget them before you leave."

She crouched down and put her hands on his knees. "Jon, I need you to know I'm doing this for you."

He grunted, "right. You do what you have to do MacKenzie. I don't need you anymore, they know who you are..." he looked up and she met his gaze. "So why else would you possibly stay?"

Her heart missed a beat and she swallowed, "Jon that's not what I meant." He was curled into her chair, facing the early morning skyline so she knelt down and placed her hands on his knees. "Look at me," she whispered. He looked down and met her gaze, "I care about you, that is why I'm doing is. I need to let David take control of this situation for your own safety, without any distractions." It was that serious, whatever the hell this was, Jon's safety came above anything else, and in this case before her needs.

Jon sighed and covered her hand with his. "I don't want you to go." The vulnerability in his voice sliced right through her. It was a side of Jon that he rarely showed and it was breaking her heart. What she felt for Jon scared her, she'd not loved or connected with someone so fiercely since Brian. Her biggest fear out of all this was the choice to let go and just love him but she couldn't. Not while this was happening around them, not while she had a very real chance at losing him under her watch. Just like she did with Brian.

Her eyes stung with tears, "right now, it's best I don't. If I'm a target I need to remove myself from the picture." 

His hand slid away and he continued to stare blankly out the window. "The MacKenzie I know doesn't run, and she's not a coward."

She felt like a coward, and he had every right to see it that way, and god if someone stormed into the apartment now she would throw herself in front of him to protect him, no questions asked. She wasn't afraid of the gang or of herself being hurt, she was afraid of losing him. "I'm not, I'm--" She closed her eyes as the buzzer drilled through the room. 

"That's the door."

She ushered David in, he matched MacKenzie in height but was built like a fridge. They hugged fiercely in the lobby, "he hates me for doing this. I can't stand the way he looks at me, there's so much hurt, he thinks I'm abandoning him."

David kissed her temple, "You're doing the right thing and it's just short term. A little space may help as well."

She nodded and smoothed down her sweater, "I think so, I don't think we could fuck things up more if we tried."

"Ok, well let's go and talk to him, or do you want me to do it?"

She nodded, "I'll come in too." She took David in, "Jon this is David, my partner, David, this is Jon."


Jon clenched his jaw as he heard MacKenzie and her partner in the foyer. He wished he'd been a bit more honest with her but hell, he was so pissed off he couldn't see straight. He'd thought about this over and over, if she loved him, how the hell was that helping him by leaving him? She swore to protect him no matter what, and now she was running. He didn't even want to believe there was logic involved in her decision, even though he knew her better than that. 

Christ, he was so angry at himself for falling in love with her. All the women that had come and gone in his life, why her? He refused at this point to now believe it was anything more than the right place and the right time, she was attractive and they had a lot in common so something was always going to happen. It was all too easy, she was right there, ready for the taking. Just as well he hadn't made an idiot out of himself gushing the word love all over her. Wouldn't he have looked damn stupid? He popped his knuckles and crossed his arms as they came in.

"Hi Jon, I've heard so much about you. How are you holding up?" David reached in with his hand but Jon simply looked at it.

"I bet you have, like what time I take my pills and how I have my potatoes?" His voice dripped with sarcasm but he didn't care. 

"Ok, well you know I'm just here to keep you safe. Things will be as normal as possible."

He snorted, Christ. "Nothing about this is normal David."

David dropped his hands to his sides and they both sat on the edge of the couch. "I realize this has been hard on you and your family Jon, but I'm here to make sure nothing happens to you or them. MacKenzie will still be involved with the intelligence side of things, while we try and get through the next few days." 

Jon's blood froze at the mention of his family, it was a miracle nothing had happened to them this far. He'd checked his appointment schedule for the next few days and had emailed in cancellations, there was no way in hell he was going out there with a guy. It was different with Kenzie as she was his girlfriend according to everyone else, but this just screamed bodyguard. He was being stubborn, he'd had bodyguards before before but this was a far cry from a few over zealous fans. 

"Jon, David is the best at what he does. You know I wouldn't leave you with just anybody."

But you would leave me, and that I didn't know. "Right. Well I appreciate the thoughts, but I've cancelled my appointments for the week, so you're going to be very bored David."

MacKenzie raised her brow, "you cancelled them?"

He smiled a little too smugly. "Yes, cancelled them all." 

"Jon, you don't have to do this, I know you're scared but--"

"Let's get this perfectly clear shall we?" He stood and walked to the window. "I'm not going out with a bodyguard, not like this. MacKenzie was perfectly competent to my needs, things are not ideal at the moment." That was an understatement and a half but he was too pissy to let this go. "I'm not going out with a public bodyguard, so if I have to stay in, then I'm staying in."

"Jon, please. Consider what you're saying here. I can't stay for you."

He whirled around, "you made that clear MacKenzie so this is how it's going to be. She'll show you where the spare bedroom is David, but if you ask me it's a waste of your time. Goodbye MacKenzie." 

He headed towards the stairs, every fibre in his body was screaming at him to stop, turn around and tell her how much he needed her to stay, not for protection but for him. But he was a stubborn prick and he knew it. He sat on the bed and rubbed his face in his hands, this was a nightmare, a fucking nightmare. The threat of danger was so real he could smell it, and the only person he needed for strength was about to walk out the door. He was used to to being alone, he always had been one way or another, as CEO  of the band and even in his marriage, he'd managed to put up walls between him and everyone else. He'd get by, he always had.

She didn't  come and collect her things from her room, part of him wished she had so he could be alone with her but they'd said what they needed to say at this point. He rested his forehead against window, and looked out, down to the street. He rubbed his chest as the woman he'd known as Kenzie climbed into a taxi. "Kenzie," he pressed his hand against the glass and scoffed at the tear that splattered on his knuckle. He was back to being by himself just like he was used to, only this time, he actually felt alone. 

Sunday, July 11, 2010


He tried to sleep, but all he did was toss and turn until the sheets strangled him. Rain splattered against the large expanse of glass that showcased the city skyline. It usually comforted him having the city so close, but at a distance he could be safely alone. But tonight, it felt like a fishbowl and the glass was choking him instead of making him feel at ease. Each time he rolled over, closed his eyes and tried to to start over the night, just one image haunted him. The man in the car with eyes of steel and a face of death, running his children down in the SUV while his feet were helplessly stuck to the pavement. Then his cold blade slicing through MacKenzie's chest and the life melting out of her eyes.

He launched up, clutched the sheet at his chest and the sweat poured from his temples. He was used to dealing with crazy crap in his life, but this was his own personal private hell. He'd never felt so alone, and so afraid of what to do next. This was as a dangerous game with only one guarantee, somebody was going to get hurt and there wasn't a damn thing he could do about it. The thunder clapped above him and lightening fused the sky. This was hopeless, he wasn't going to get any sleep anytime soon. He ripped off the sheet, pulled on his jeans, and padded up the hallway. MacKenzie's door was a crack open, he nudged it with his shoulder. He was tempted to wake her but she looked so peaceful, her arm wrapped around a pillow and her hair tumbling around her shoulders.

He didn't know if he needed comfort, but hell---he needed something. He scraped the pad of his thumb down her jawline, to her earlobe. She was beautiful and none of this was her fault. She'd been amazing truth be known, and he'd been a complete ass hole. They were so much alike and Jon didn't realize how much he'd missed having someone that understood him, and was comfortable with just who he was. When it came down to it, he was just a regular guy away from all this and that's how she'd always treated him. She was so strong, hell she matched him in strength body and mind and he hadn't had to contend with that in a very long time.

But no, you had to go and fuck it up.

Tempted to wake her, crawl into bed and lose himself inside her, he brushed his lips gently against hers. She didn't stir, they needed to talk but he didn't have the words today, he wasn't sure if he did now, he would tomorrow. He clicked the door closed and headed up to the kitchen, he pulled a beer out of the fridge and stood at the window and watched the rain slice the deck. What did he do now? He wasn't even sure, and that alone scared the crap out of him. He always knew what to do, it's what he did. He had been so used to taking cues from MacKenzie as much as he hated it, and now he wasn't sure what the hell to do.

Her favourite arm chair swallowed him, her smell bled out of the fabric, she loved to sit here and read or work as it faced the Manhattan skyline. It disgusted him that he stood behind her hiding like a coward back at the yacht club instead of standing up for himself. He was used to being the man that did that for his woman, but this, was a whole new ballgame. But who was he to talk a guy down with a knife? He was good at talking the talk on any day, but this was totally out of his league.

He twisted the top off the beer and watched the rain. The world was a crazy place, he wasn't stupid and he didn't wear rose tint glasses but he just didn't understand why he was being chosen as a target here. Some of his peers in the industry were self-proclaimed assholes, and well known for it but not him. He did what he could to help out and he wanted to do it, not because he had to. Was he that naive to believe that people were just cruel for the sake of being cruel? What the hell more could they want?

He stretched his neck and sighed, here he was again, out of control and lost. He reached into his case where he kept a few things, and dug for his spare cellphone. He flipped it open and his thumb hovered over Richie's number, it was three am, but they had the code. Anywhere, and anytime. He closed his eyes and waited for the for the click.

"What the hell, hello?"

Jon chucked, "Rich. It's Jon, were you asleep?" Dumb question.

"Jon? Why the hell is your number different?"

"It's the spare Rich. Sorry, I just didn't know who else to call."

The line crackled and popped, then came clear. "I'm up, I'm up. What the hell's up? It's been years since you've called me in the middle of the night, not since..."

"Dot," Jon finished. He'd used to call Richie when the marriage was falling apart, even then it had taken a lot of prompting by his friend to do so. 

"Ah yes, Dot. Is everything ok? Nothing's happened has it?"

"Everyone is fine." On the outside. "But something did happen today." Jon explained the confrontation at the yacht club to Richie. "His eyes Richie, I'll never forget those eyes. He meant it, and it's just fucked up." Jon blew out his breath, he hated to admit weakness but hell, Richie was the only one he could do it to.

"What about MacKenzie, what's she doing about it? Any leads?" 

Jon sighed, "things between us aren't the best. No thanks to me." What if something had happened to them, to her? What if he never had the guts to tell her what he truly felt for her.

"What happened now? Did you go all CEO on her?"

He snorted, "no. I wish that's all it was. It's a little more complicated than that."
There was a silence and Richie let a low whistle out. "OK, say no more. I had an inkling you both were close, but I didn't want to say anything. None of my business." 

"I don't know about close, we've---I. God, I feel like a fucking teenager with no words." He raked his hand through his hear , stood and pressed his forehead against the cooling glass. 

"It's messy and we both let it get to this point, I've been as ass."

"Now that I find hard to believe." Jon could instantly picture his friends sly grin.

"I'm serious Richie.  I honestly don't know what to do." It hit him like a punch in the chest, admitting it out-loud. He closed his eyes, the tension throbbed up his neck. "I'm in love with her, and I didn't really expect to be."

"Christ Johnny, I thought you were just talking about sex here. Not love."

He pinched the bridge of his nose, so did he until the truth hit him like a fry-pan in the face. "Yea, surprised the hell out of me. But it's just not the right time, I feel guilty as fuck for even thinking about it when the asshole is threatening my family."

"The heart wants, what the heart wants Jonny."

Of course Richie would say that, he fell in love quicker and more frequently than he ever did. "I know, it's just fucked up Rich. All of it---"

"You tell her all this and then you put it aside while you figure out the safety stuff. It's that simple Jon." The problem was she'd already gone and done that and he'd hardly recognized it. How many times had she alluded to, or told him that she loved him? He'd been stupid to just not deal with it.

"I wish it was, we tried that but things have spiraled out of control," he lost his breath and stopped. "And now I'm worried about her as well." It was a fucking mess. He wanted someone to tell him it'd be all right, he wanted MacKenzie to tell him---as hell he had a hard time trusting anyone else at the moment.

"I'm coming around."

"No, Rich---it's ok. I'll be fine. I'll talk to her in a few hours, she's always up early anyway. I just needed---"

"Someone to bounce stuff off?"

Jon managed a smile, "yeah. That." 

"Ok---well if you need me tomorrow for anything just let me know ok?" 

"I will. And thanks Rich, for everything." He hated to admit he needed someone, but hearing his best friends voice of reason was better than the drink resting in his hand. Richie god bless him, knew the moments not to tease the holy hell out of him as well. He always just knew.

"Anytime Jon, and I mean it, you don't have to be invincible every day."

"Just every other day though right?" Jon chuckled as they said goodbye and hung up.

He didn't remember falling asleep in the chair, he blinked as the sun crept up his skin. There was movement in the kitchen and the aroma of coffee lured him to move. She was in jeans and a grey turtleneck that hugged her curves. "Hey."

She reached for his mug and poured him a coffee, turned and handed it to him. "Hey." The smile didn't quite reach her eyes but curved the lovely lines of her face.

"Thanks, I must have fell asleep out here."

"Did you sleep at all?" she asked as she picked up her own coffee and leaned back against the counter, and brought it to her lips.

He half laughed, "not really. You?" He sipped and relaxed. Her hair was pulled back, showing off her high cheekbones, most women would kill for her morning looked so effortless.

"Not really, I did quite a bit of thinking, and I was worried about you." The warmth in  her eyes crept back in.


"I'm sorry Jon. For this, for everything. I've truly fucked this up."

He frowned and rested his mug down, "Hey. Don't talk like that. You haven't done such a thing, if anything I haven't been that great in this whole situation." How could she even think that? She had on more than one occasion thrown herself under the bus for him. Her job or not, she was not a failure to him, not in the least instance. He took her mug off her and put it aside. "There is something I have to do that I should have done awhile ago." He cupped her jaw and moved in, he pressed his lips against hers and tasted her. She moaned and sank into him, her hands slid up his arms and rested on his shoulders. Pleasure rushed through his veins as he took the kiss deeper, he kissed her chin, down her jaw to her ear as he tugged her in. 

Her body moulded into his, he needed to feel her strength. Her fingers curled into his hair, and even though layers of clothes separated them, he could still feel the heat that bubbled between them. He raked his hands through her hair, pulling it loose so it fell around his hands. The kiss was slow and deep, the first time he'd taken his time to let her know exactly how he felt. His tongue lapped against hers, and he knew he could get lost in her. When he eased back, they stared at each other, breathless.

The words beat louder than one of Tico's drums in his head but still he held them at a distance. "Kenzie."

Her hands moved down to his chest and she rested her cheek against his shoulder, he wrapped his arms around her and held her there, just for a minute. "Jon, we need to talk."

He closed his eyes and took in the scent of her hair, "yes we do."

"I need to move out Jon."

His eyes popped open and his hands fell to his side. He stood back, "move out?" 

"David's going to take over, I need you to understand I-"

Jon stepped back and held his hand up, she was abandoning him? After all--god, after all they'd been through? She was just going to move out? Not even stick by him through this? "Fine. Go, do what you want."

She grabbed his arm but he yanked it back, "do what you have to do MacKenzie. I don't need you." His belly bottomed out as he walked away, it was a load of crap, he needed her and he thought she did too. Something had changed, was it David? Maybe he'd said something to her? He reached his bedroom door and smashed his fist into the wall, pain zinged up his arm. This is why he gave up women, for fuck's sake. And now David? Was she kidding? He stared out the window of his enclosure again. He wasn't a zoo animal for fucks sake that could be just passed to the next keeper. 

No fucking way was someone just going to come in and take over, they could all go to hell.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Chapter Thirty-Nine

She stayed behind him in the lobby and checked behind them, around them, covering off the perimeter. He was withdrawn and quiet in the car and it had made her belly flip the entire way home. Was he OK? The important thing is they were safe now, the rest she could deal with behind closed doors. She followed him into the elevator and pressed the P. She blew out her breath and glanced at him, tempted to take his hand but she sighed. "Are you alright?" Of course he wasn't. She didn't know how far to push him, she'd never seen him so closed off before.

He shrugged, "I guess so." His eyes didn't meet hers.

She was used to being in control in a situation, no matter how hard it was, and hell she'd been in some doozys, but none of them compared to how incompetent she felt right now and it was all her fault. One minute she wanted to strangle him and the next kiss him stupid. Above all she wanted to protect him and it was becoming clear because of the strangling and the kissing urges, maybe she couldn't. Maybe she should step down? Ouch.

She grabbed his arm as he walked out into the lobby, "Jon, I'm worried about you."

He managed a small smile, the one he saved for the photographers at the end of the night. Fake. He tugged his arm back, "I'm fine. I assume you've got some calls to make so go ahead and make them."

Stupid man, she growled as he disappeared into the apartment. She followed him in, dumped her bag and snatched her gun off her thigh. "Jon, don't!"

She dragged him behind her, the deck door was wide open and the net curtain billowed into the room. Her heart pounded in her ears as she rounded him, held her gun up and curled around the doorway, relief hitting her square in the chest as it was empty. She pulled the door shut and snapped the lock. "Stay here, I'll check the bedrooms," she jogged up the stairs and did a quick, thorough search upstairs--closets included.

She clutched her belly, as she stalled on the stairs. He sat alone, defeated, lost on the couch. “Can I get you a drink Jon?"

"Did you call about my family?" No eye contact, no fire, nothing that she expected from him.

She padded across the floor and crouched on the ottoman in front of him. "I called in the car, we're onto it Jon. You remember it?" The mental image of him crumpled into the side of the back seat would singe her brain for a long time.

"I guess not."

She wanted to shake him and she wanted him to come back at her with some smart-arsed remark. He remained so calm, so silent, and quite frankly it scared the holy crap out of her. "It's all taken care of," she patted his knee. "I'll get you a drink." She rose and headed for the bar, fixed some ice and scotch and handed it to him.

"Thanks, I think I'll take this up to my room, assuming it's clear?" For the first time his eyes met her, the sadness that swelled inside them broke her heart.

She nodded, "it's clear--I think we left that deck door open, I vaguely remember leaving in a hurry." Because we were so pissed off with each other. "Are you sure you're OK?" She folded her arms and bit her lip.

"I'm not a child Mackenzie, I'll be fine. I just need some space."

She nodded, that was Jon. She let him get as far as the stairs and reached out her hand, "Wait." She took a deep breath, dropped her hands to her side and went to him. She took the drink out of his hand and rested it on the mahogany cabinet. She wrapped her arms wide around his shoulders and pulled him close, the smell of spice and liquor swirled around her. She melted into him, she had to give him something, it was over the line, but hell, like they could talk about a line at this point. He stiffened and she expected him to jerk her back, but his arms coiled around her waist and he buried his face in her neck. His heartbeat raced with hers, she took comfort in the small intimacy in the middle of this cluster-fuck. Jon broke away first, the longing in his eyes disappeared quickly.

"I'll be in my room."

And that's all she was going to get.

The man was frustrating as hell, but she loved him. He was someone so different and he wasn't intimidated by her, well easily. Most men she'd dated had always ended up having some issue that she was part-guy and could have kicked their ass into the next century, but not Jon. Not to that degree. He didn't tip toe around her like some men did women, he was what he was, no bullshit. She wished they could both put their own egos aside and talk, that's what their problem was. She scuffed her foot on the floor, she'd ultimately fucked this up. She was the one to blame for letting it get to where it had, she knew better as a professional that she should have never gone there.

She stood at the bottom of the empty staircase, did it matter now? They knew who she was, what the hell did she do now? She trusted every one of her employees to do a good, no--a great job, but it was David she'd only trust for this. He had the best specialist training in the field out of everyone, having spent time body-guarding for senators and even the president. She grabbed her Blackberry and headed up to her room, folded her legs Indian style on the bed and hit call.

"Hey, was just about to call you back. I have a lead on who the guy was that was at the party."

"That's great, he'll be one of Blackwatch's messengers I'm sure. David we need to talk." If she didn't say it, she never would.

"What's happened? Is it Jon? Is he ok?"

She sighed, "He’s not coping too well but he's safe. It's about this case, I haven't been honest with you." She fidgeted with her fingers.

"Oh? Why what’s going on Mac?"

"I haven't handled this very well David, and I should have told you this awhile ago." She tucked the blackberry under her ear and twisted her fingers together. "Jon and I have been, kind of involved."

"What? But-how? I mean since when?"

She rubbed her forehead and pinched the bridge of her nose, "we had this insane attraction from day one, none of us wanted to admit it. Of course being his girlfriend everywhere was never going to help that situation." All the touches, all the kisses, god...her neck flushed thinking about it.

"Oh honey, you should have said something. I mean it's not a bad thing if you guys are--"

"We're not-that's just it. It's so fucked up right now David, we slept together and things have been rough ever since. Then today the guy, came out of nowhere and I should have expected it--I should have---" She breathed out, god she sounded like a hysterical woman.

"Slow down Mac, put the feelings aside for a minute. I'm not discounting them, you know I'm your friend. But be this honest, do you think you're compromising his safety given the situation?"

She swallowed, "yes. I'm so distracted, and I'm torn between wanting to keep him safe and fighting my feelings for him." She raked her hand through her hair, "god I'm such an idiot. I can't even handle such a simple job." She would rather stuck needles in her eyes that admit she was wrong in this instance, but his safety was at stake and she knew this.

"Hey, it's not simple. There is some real danger here, and the unknown component to this is still very much high risk if he's a random target or they want something specifically from him. Throw in what you're going through...god I had no idea, dammit Mac you were always a good liar."

She managed a small smile, "I'm sorry David. I thought I could handle it. After seeing him tonight, I'm so worried about him and I can't worry about his emotional state and do what I'm meant to be doing." She had to put Jon's safety first and set aside her feelings for the minute. What she should have done in the first place.

"Ok, you know what this means don't you?"

MacKenzie closed her eyes. "You're going to Veto and take over aren't you?"

"Yup, I'm moving in the morning. I'll take over, you can stay, and that’s up to you and Jon."

She shook her head, "no. I'll leave. I think we need some space, he needs space from me." She clutched her chest, "and I need space from him."

"Fine, you can you stay isolated in your apartment for awhile, I don't want you sighted out and about and they take a hit they'll see you as an easy target, a message to Jon."

"That's fine." She bit her lip and blinked away the fear of how he would react, the fierce ache in her chest dreaded leaving him. She wanted to be with him, wanted to make sure he was ok, wanted to face this with him but she needed space...she needed to clear her head and get her thoughts in check. The time would do him good too, and then if there was anything left over after that--Maybe they could work through it, maybe they could be normal. She chuckled, normal-what the hell was that?

MacKenzie had an impeccable record and this was going to leave a chink in the armour but she did what she had to and she just hoped Jon would see it the same way.

"Do you love him?"

"Are you going to yell at me?"

David half laughed, "I'm asking as your friend."

"I love him. It's different, it's fierce. I've never felt this way since..."

"Brian," he finished for her.


"And he feels the same way?"

She shrugged, "he feels something---but who knows David. This whole situation of pretending, the lines have been blurred for a long time."

"You should ask him. Given the fact this is why you're ultimately doing this for him, I don't want to see you hurt Mac. If he's playing around with your emotions..."

"No he's not a game player by nature. I think there is something there but I don't think he ever expected there to be, I know I sure didn't."

"OK, well try and get some rest. And I'll be there about ten tomorrow k?"

"Thanks David, for not being too harsh on me." He had every right to be, she showed no mercy about these rules on her own staff.

"No problem, it's fixable. Is he going to mind the change?"

"He'll hate it. I'll talk to him before you get here." He'd hate her for making the decision without consulting him, that was one of their rules but it was too late for rules. He would tell her that he didn't want another bodyguard, no matter if he believed he needed it or not.

"Ok----rest up Mac. You did well today getting him the hell out of there. Don't be hard on yourself OK?"

"Thanks D. Talk to you tomorrow." She clicked her blackberry off and sank into the pillows. Her belly filled with dread about facing him, facing the truth.