Jon dumped himself in the chair opposite Carol, he forgot thanksgiving? Christ. It wasn't unusual for him to forget family events but thanks giving? It was just one of the many indicators that his life had been way too crazy over the last few weeks. "Mom, I'm sorry I forgot. Things have been shall we say a little hectic around here?"
Carol leaned back and her gaze drifted towards the kitchen. "So I see. So who is she? A football coach's daughter?"
Jon's eyes widened. "Mom! I am capable in finding a real relationship once and a while."
Her steely eyes narrowed, he'd seen that look one too many times in his lifetime. "That's debatable honey."
His fingers dug into his bicep."She's a good woman, she's a personal investigator and she was my... well...” here we go. "Bodyguard."
Carol snorted. "Bodyguard? Please Jon. I maybe old but I'm not stupid. You'd never hire a woman to protect you."
That was true until this all happened. "Yes but that was before I was attacked, remember I left you a note about that?"
Carol nodded, "yes the car thing? I thought that was just a mistaken identity?"
Jon cringed. "That's what I ended up telling you. They were after me as it turns out."
"What?" Her face fell as white as a sheet. "After you for what exactly?"
Oh boy. The expression was reminiscent of when in their younger years when he told on his brothers for locking him in the basement. She was mad. "Well that's the thing Mom, we don't actually know."
She slapped her hands on the arms of the couch. "What do you mean you don't know? I'll get Daniel on the case! You can't just sit here like a sitting duck! Do they want money? Or is it one your crazed fans, I'll get Matt to monitor those Fan Club forums, see if we can pin-point any suspicious activity.
Jon held up his hand. "It's not a fan. Far from it. It's to do with the Soul." He took a deep breath and started the story about Wes and how he hired MacKenzie to do a background check on him which subsequently led to his exclusion from the squad.
"And now they're trying to hurt you? What about your family? The kids... Dorothea...have you told them all this?"
Jon rolled his eyes back into his head as he closed them. "Yes Mom, part of this arrangement is that MacKenzie had arranged twenty-four hour surveillance on my property. I wasn't completely honest with Dot in the beginning either as I wanted to protect them all, but that didn't work for too long."
"You didn't tell her? God Jon! Well least I wasn't the only one in the dark of this ridiculous situation, what if they'd wanted to go after me or your father?"
"Mom we had no evidence to suggest that, MacKenzie had already looked into all the possibilities."
Carol tucked her pink silk scarf over her shoulder and straightened her white pant suit jacket. "Well just as well I'm here. I don't know what sort of a mickey-mouse kind of operation she is running but it's clearly not adequate in the very least."
Jesus Christ. He rubbed his temples. Why couldn't he have remembered what date it was earlier and called her to defer plans on coming here? Now he wasn't going to get any damn peace until she was satisfied. "Mom, listen to me. We've done everything possible and you have no idea what we've been through..." It was weird. He wasn't exactly always an open person but what he and MacKenzie had been through together in the last few weeks he didn't want to share with anyone. One reason was that he behaved like an idiot and ended up nearly getting her shot and the second it was something between them that he didn't want to share with anyone else. "MacKenzie has been fantastic-"
"Of course you'd say that, you're sleeping with her."
Jon looked up as MacKenzie rested down the tray onto the table between them. "Here we go."
Jon winced; she would have heard it all but this was MacKenzie. He was sure she wouldn't really take offence to it that easily and he secretly wondered how she'd deal with his mother. They weren't many women that Jon could back to take on his mother whether they were right or wrong, but MacKenzie was definitely one of them.
She laid out the teacups and poured tea like a professional hostess. "I take it you're not happy about the situation Carol?" MacKenzie handed her a teacup.
"Not happy is a little polite, but yes."
MacKenzie nodded and held up a tiny china jug. "Milk?"
Carol nodded and her cup out while she poured. MacKenzie then picked up the sugar but Carol shooed it away. "No sugar. So what do you have to say for yourself since you seem to be at the centre of this incompetence?"
"Mom..." he warned but MacKenzie held her hand up to Jon.
"Fair observation from your point of view. I'd probably have the exact same opinion as you until I had a clear explanation. But having said that I know you came from the same background as I did and you should know very well the rules of engagement. Only involve those that need to know. There was no reason to communicate it further than a select circle when the research had proved that the gang had no interest in you or his family. They used it as a threat but we concluded it was a watery threat more than anything to promote an emotional reaction from the victim. We still went ahead and put security in place with three external security firms that report directly to one of the guys in my firm and I have at least three people qualified as detectives on the case."
Jon sat back not even disgruntled that she didn't pour him a cup of tea as the two woman locked down. MacKenzie reminded him of when he first met her. Very clear and to the point. Holy shit this was fantastic! His mother didn't even look at him as she listen to MacKenzie explain off her game plan, which she still backed one hundred per cent despite the incidents that had occurred.
"How close have they got to Jon or you?" Carol didn't break her stony stare but she was still absorbing it all in.
MacKenzie looked at Jon and then back to Carol. "There was one incident when I went to a warehouse based on a tip off that ended in not so friendly fire and I was injured, bullet grazed my temple here." She pointed to the now smaller square that sat stuck to her head.
"Well that was stupid, did you go with back up?"
Jon clicked his molars. "Kenzie..." His mother was going to yell after this. "That's not quite true."
"Jon you don't need to..."
"Don't need to what?"
God bless her. The problem was his mother was a human lie detector, always had been. Jon lied a lot, especially around the press but when it came to his mother...no way. No way was that even possible. He reached out and took MacKenzie's hand. "You don't have to do that Kenzie. She was coming after me."
The china clattered as she dropped her cup onto the saucer. "They took you?"
Jon shook his head. "No I agreed to meet them to discuss the situation. I hated the situation, I felt like a caged animal and I had no control over anything anymore. I was being a prick to MacKenzie so I decided I needed to deal with the situation myself..."
"Oh my stars...Are you stupid?"
"Carol it was pretty tense around here. Jon was coming to the end of his sanity and I didn't help."
"Don't you dare stick up for him! Christ! Jon what in the world were you thinking? Taking on thugs, unarmed? Unprotected? I know you think you're damn Superman sometimes but this is just a new level of stupidity."
Jon swallowed. Well least she wasn't yelling at MacKenzie anymore. "I know now it was a dumb move. I get that."
"So you went after him? And were nearly shot dragging his ass out of there?" She directed her attention back to MacKenzie.
She nodded. "Yes, after he went missing my colleague David, who you met in the lobby tracked him down and I went after him first while David arranged backup."
"The friendly fire wasn't actually at us, the gang had some visitors when I arrived there and found Jon hiding in the warehouse. We just got caught in it and I was knocked out so Jon had to cope with that."
His fingers curled around the edge of the chair as the adrenaline surged inside of him at the memory. Luck had always gone well for him and he could count the times on one hand that he feared for his life and this was definitely one of them. He would never forget the way she lay crumpled in his arms and her blood dripping all over him... never.
Carol raised her brow. "Well I'm glad you were there MacKenzie to realize what he'd done and that you weren't severely hurt. So thank you for saving him." She turned to Jon. "You however were stupid to even put her in that position. Thank god she had some brains as you sure as hell didn't."
Jon's eyes widened. Well shit. MacKenzie gave him a small smile and mouthed "Ouch."
"I realize that now. I wasn't thinking straight at all." His eyes met MacKenzie's, her eyes were warm and understanding. His Mom didn't need all the details about their relationship and how much confusion and complication it had added to the whole situation.
"What about the kids and Dorothea? They know about this?"
Jon rubbed the back of his neck. "Yes she does now and she's banned me from seeing the kids until it's sorted out."
"Well I don't blame her Jon, how could you not tell her? It's one thing to not tell us but she's the mother of your children," her eyes darted to MacKenzie. "No matter what sort of relationship you are in now."
"That's not how it was Mom. I didn't tell her because I didn't want them to know or for it to be obvious that she knew, not to them..."
MacKenzie leaned in, as though to snap the tension his Mom held against him.
"It was more my idea Carol. Again...forgive me if I'm wrong but you know all this. Protect the innocent..."
Carol turned and faced her. "Who do you think you are? I know you've obviously done extensive background checks on us all but don't pretend to know me because of what is written on a piece of paper."
"No Jon. I won't have it. I've sat here and all I've heard is this cop now private investigator, hell security guard explain this, lord does she juggle too?"
"Carol if you'll just let me explain..." MacKenzie stood but Carol continued her rant.
Jon knew it was pointless to argue... but only lifted his eyebrow when MacKenzie stood with her arms at her side to attention. What the fuck? He then grinned as he figured her out.
"I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defence. I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist."
Carol stopped in her tracks. "You're---one of us?" She stood and saluted MacKenzie while he nearly fell off his chair.
"Yes ma’am. I served as a Marine for five years."
"Really? Where did you train and where did you serve?"
MacKenzie sat back down when Carol did. Well fuck me. If he'd just told his mother that at the beginning he could have avoided the Carol-o-lecture.
"I did my training at Quantico up in Vancouver. You could say I wanted to get as far as way from here as possible, I was drafted out into Seattle and Cali, and then I moved back into New York State and did some training on combat and then self-defence before I decided to become a cop."
Her eyes met his across the room and he nodded. In some ways he and MacKenzie had lived similar but different lives. He couldn't imagine what that sort of loss felt like. That would have been like losing Dorothea when they were just starting out, just when he was starting out with the band. He wasn't sure if that had happened he would have recovered as well as she had or turned out just like he had today. He had learned to apply the same discipline in his life that she had and his parents were probably more to thank for that with their military background.
"Wow, well from marine to cop, you've certainly had a colourful life MacKenzie. Did you parents serve as well?"
She shook her head. "No they didn't. Mom is an interior designer and Dad is a lawyer. They're both semi-retired in Pensacola now."
Carol nodded. "Well then. I guess we'll have to meet them sometime if this thing with you and my son is anything serious."
Jon's brow winged. Should he leave the room now? If he came back would they been engaged? Hell. He seemed invisible since the "marine" word had been mentioned. Hell, he wasn't complaining especially his mother liked Kenzie not that he ever worried about her approval. He stopped worrying about that a long time ago. "Mom...we've just started seeing each other. Really there is no need to rush into anything like that."
MacKenzie laughed. "And I'm still deciding whether I want him." She winked at Jon as he pursed his lips. She had gone from woman-encroaching on son running a mickey mouse operation to best prospect for a daughter-in-law in what seconds? Jesus Christ.
Carol eyed him and then smiled at MacKenzie. "Well good thing MacKenzie is here. Maybe she can stop you from any future stupid life-threatening decisions."
"Carol, it wasn't completely-"
Jon stood in, wrapped his arm around MacKenzie and squeezed her shoulder. If he had to be the guy to take the fall in front of his Mom, it was worth it. He knew she felt just as guilty as he did for the mis-mash of the relationship that had caused all the confusion and most of all the distraction from her job. "Yes I guess I am lucky Mom." He pressed a kiss to her temple. There was no need to go into it in front of Carol as he was used to not sharing details of his business to his Mom so this wouldn't be any different.
Carol sipped her tea and paused. "Well I guess there is only one more thing to do."
Jon raised his brow. "And that is?"
"Plan a thanksgiving dinner, let's go and see what you've got in your pantry. We can order what we need in and take it from there, are you getting Jenny in this year?"
Jon winced. "Jenny moved back to Connecticut, I haven't had a cook for a few months now."
"Why don't we do it?" MacKenzie asked casually.
Carol nodded. "Operation Turkey. You're on, I'll go and check out the supplies and we'll take it from there." Carol got up and left them in the living room.
Jon chuckled. "Man, have you just asked for a death wish."
MacKenzie elbowed him. "Hey you haven't seen me in the kitchen."
Jon snorted. "Yeah there's a reason for that." He dodged her next elbow nudge but captured her in a swift kiss. He pushed back her hair from her face and traced his thumb down her cheek. "You must be the first woman I've ever had that's impressed my Mom and ganged up with her on me."
MacKenzie's gaze fell to his lips. "Aw are you feeling a little vulnerable?"
He smirked and ran his finger across her lips. "I'll give you vulnerable...you just wait."
Her eyes met his and she raised her brow as she snuck one more kiss in.
"Bring it on."