Sunday, July 4, 2010
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 He was withdrawn and quiet in the car and it had made her belly flip the entire way home.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.