Sunday, February 6, 2011

Chapter Fifty-Eight

MacKenzie had never been so relieved to feel the tires bump against the runway below her. She yawned and stretched when she realized she was still curled into Jon. She briefly smiled as she looked up. His arms were wound tight around her and his eyes were closed. All the worry lines on his face that had been looking back at her for the last few weeks were gone. She ran her finger gently around under his eyes and he stirred.

"We're here?" He asked shifting beneath her.

"Yup we are." Her stomach flip flopped as the plane pulled into the terminal. There was a police car waiting for them which David must have arranged. David! She plucked her Blackberry from her pocket and frowned. "Shit, I cracked the screen."

Jon dug for his phone and handed it to her. "Are you going to slam mine against the armrest as well?"

She snatched it and dialed her office. "Claire! Have you heard from David?" She hounded her receptionist the second she answered.

"MacKenzie! Where are you? The place has been going crazy. The police called. David's gone from the scene."

She stood up even as the plane was still making its way up the runway. "What? Christ you mean gone - gone?" She swallowed, the panic rising in her throat.

"Gone as in missing, they grabbed him."

Her eyes went wide. "Shit. Seriously? Fuck." She rubbed her forehead. Calm down they would have only taken him if he was alive. Least that was something.

"Police are very keen to understand the situation. They're trying to track them. They got a positive ID on one of the guys and he was definitely from the Bloods."

She curled her fingers around the headrest of one of the chair she was leaning against. HIs wife would kill her if anything happened to him especially now, with a baby on the way. "God, can you call downtown and see if they have any leads at all? The police are waiting for us here so we'll talk to them as well. Ring me if you hear anything, ok?"

"Ok Mac. And stay safe would you?"

She smiled. "Will do." She disconnected the call and the phone vibrated immediately in her hands. "It's Stephanie." She held the phone out to Jon.

"Damn, she would have heard it on the news I'm betting. Shit." He took it and answered it walking away from her. The plane rolled to a stop and her hip vibrated. "What the hell?" She reached for her broken Blackberry but couldn't read the screen. "MacKenzie Cooper."

There was a pause. "Miz Cooper."

She froze and her head rushed. "Yes this is she. Who is this?"

He chuckled. "I believe I have something belonging to you."

She closed her eyes. "Is he alive?"


She clutched her chest. Thank you jesus.

"Is he hurt?"

"He's ok, for now. I also believe you have something I want."

She glanced over her shoulder at Jon who was busy in conversation assuring Stephanie he was ok. "I'm not swapping them."

"I don't want to keep him. I want you and Mr Bon Jovi to meet me."

She turned away. "To meet? You have to be crazy, after what your croonies just did?" She would have to have a suicide wish for both of them to even consider it.

"That was a mistake. I want to talk."

"What in the hell could you possibly want to talk about?" She restrained herself from the more colourful words of the English language. Did he think she was stupid?

"This. I want this over just as much as you do Miz Cooper."

She scoffed. "You say that now, after you've crossed the line and I've got people looking for you and your cronies. The police have been looking for a reason to arrest your boys for a long time and you just gave them one."

"That may be so. But I'm gonna tell you right now Miz Cooper. If any coppers knock on my door I'll put a bullet through your partner's head."

She felt sick as she clutched her stomach. This nightmare just kept rolling and now David was caught in the middle of it. "I'll meet you but not Jon."

"No deal. It's him I want to talk to."

She raked her hand through her hair and blew out her breath. They'd popped the door open to the runaway and the police were waiting down on tha tarmac. "Talk to him on the phone."

"No deal. In person alone, no cops. I won't even be armed if that's what it will take for you to do it."

What in the hell did he want with Jon? She didn't get it. "Sounds lovely Blackwatch but I can't trust you after everything." She assumed that's who it was and he didn't deny it. She knew in her experience that a gang leader never did the calling so this was out of character. She couldn't take the risk and put Jon in danger again, she'd already done once that and she'd swore she'd never do it again.

"Miz Cooper. I'm aware that it must be hard for you. But make no mistake this is a one-time chance to end this once and for all and you and your boyfriend can walk away and have the freedom I've taken away from you. Otherwise I can make life very difficult for you."

Freedom. What the hell was that anymore?

"I can't. Tell me what you want now, over the phone. I've got police waiting outside this plane and it will be my word to influence what they do next."

"You know the deal. I know you're not stupid Miz Cooper. You, me and Bongiovi. Tommorrow morning eleven am, there is a cafe down in Camden called Riverside Blue on the river . I'll be there at 10am. It's public and I'll come alone."

She raised her brow. "It's not going to be possible." Let alone logistical.

"I know where you are Miz Cooper. He's Jon Bon Jovi. You'll be able to get back to New Jersey before then without a problem."

She shook her head. "No. Whatever you have to say - it can be over the phone." She couldn't risk this after everything. She just couldn't. Maybe the police could find them before anything happened. You didn't trade one life for another, no matter who they were.

"Miz Cooper. I'm giving you an hour to decide. I'm going to call back, just know I'm not usually this generous. Think carefully as we wont' stop at David if you make the wrong move." The line clicked and then it was dead. Holy shit. She felt like she was trying to swim but fighting just to tread water.

She stared blankly at her berry.

"Are you going to tell me what that was about?"

She closed her eyes and turned around. Jon was standing with his arms folded and he didn't look impressed.

"It was Blackwatch. The gang leader. He's got David and he wants to meet us to talk."

Jon cocked his brow. "You said no?"

"Of course I said no. We'd be crazy to even consider it after what just happened."

"Why don't you look convinced Kenz?"

Her hands were shaking and so she clasped them together. "He offered us our freedom if we met him and he'd be unarmed. It's just unusual he'd suggest that--of course he's probably lying as well." She had an excellent radar on her and the kid didn't sound like he was lying. She wanted to believe he was, it would be easier that way to justify not going to meet him but something niggled inside her. It was like the biggest blackjack hand of her life, one move and they could win it all-one mistake and they could all wind up dead.

"And if we didn't go?"

She had to be honest. She made that mistake too many times before with him. "He'd shoot David but warned it wouldn't stop there. Fill in the blanks."

He choked on his words. "My kids?"

"He didn't say it but he implied it. If we send the police David's dead but they'd more than likely kill him along with him. They've been after this guy for a long time."

"So a life for a life, or a life and more?"

"The police might be able to save David. C'mon we'll go and talk to them." She went for the door and he grabbed her arm.

"I want to meet him."

She stood dumbfounded and shook her head. "Did you not hear what I just said?"

"The police will only complicate things. Why lose David when we don't have to?" The fear was in his eyes but he was trying to be brave. God love him.

"Jon. I know you're just saying it because it's my guy. It would be too dangerous. He might be unarmed but he might have snipers on us." She went to go again but his grip tightened.

"You were thinking about it. I know you were and that tells me you think it's legit. Please Kenzie. What if we can have our lives back? And Davids? Please."

Tears pricked her eyes. "Jon, we can't. I know how much you want it-"

"Don't you want it too? Don't you want to be able to leave the house and not have to worry if one of us is going to get killed by one of these guys?"

She put her face in her hands. "I don't know Jon. God, it's so risky and I can't do that to you again. I just can't." She'd never forgive herself if something happened to them, hell she'd never forgive herself if something happened to David.

He pulled her hands down into his and met her gaze. "This is our decision not just yours. I'm giving you the out you want to take. So do it. I trust you." He squeezed her hands. "I trust you completely Kenzie Cooper."

"Oh god. Jon don't do this to me. I could never forgive myself..."

"You don't have to. I'm asking you to do it. I want my life back, with my children. Christ I want our life to start and it's never going to as long as we do this. They may kill Blackwatch but you know he'll have his cronies ready to kill us. Eye for an eye."

When did he ever get this? Mackenzie realized that when she was so busy trying to protect him from the truth that when she wasn't looking -- he'd already got his head around this and how they worked. It had gone beyond a client and a bodyguard. She wasn't making the decision for him now, they were making the decision for them. She jumped, he jumped. And Mackenzie realized that was exactly why she loved him. Her heart swelled and so did her tears. He was being so brave for them when it should have been her but that was ok too.

"MacKenzie. I want this. I want my freedom. Our freedom. I want it so bad and I'm to the point that I'll risk everything for it. If I can't have control of my own life..." He took a step back and shook his head, his eyes misting. "I don't want it at all."

"Ok." She shook his hands. "Ok."

He dragged her in and wrapped his arms around her tight, his nose brushed against her neck. "Thank you." His grip tightened and it lifted her off her feet. She tried desperately to shut off all that was racing through her mind, she was crazy to consider this but Jon was right. myabe it was time to put it all on the line.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Chapter Fifty-Seven

There was a knock at the door. He reached for the remote and flicked the TV off. "Come in." He stood and folded his arms as the three of them came in.

"Boss." Jerome looked as smug as the cat that got the cream and Brett nodded. The guy was blindfolded and gagged and hung between them like Jesus being dragged to the cross, blood dripping and all.

He scratched his chin and looked at both of them. "Can someone care to explain why we now have baggage?" Jerome grinned and before he could open his mouth he slammed his hand down on the table. "What the fuck Jerome? What the fuck!"

"Boss I thought-"

He looked up and pointed at him. "You thought wrong. I gave you two simple instructions. TWO!" Go to the apartment, put a shot through the window of the STAIRWELL and leave. But no, you put a bullet through his living room and then chased them to the fucking airport and now you have a hostage and the whole state is looking for us."

Jerome shrugged. "Let them come. I aint got nothing to lose."

He yanked his gun out of his waistband and pointed it to him. "You may not but I fucking do. Do you realize what you've ever done Jerome? You've completely fucked any chance of Wes making that team."

"Oh please, he was never going to accept one of us on his team, even Wes. He's a hypocrite and a fuckhead. It was time to let him know that."

He clicked the gun into place. "Did we forget the pecking order around here?"

Jerome shifted his feet. "A few of us thought you were being too soft. I was gonna get Bongiovi but his hottie bodyguard shoved him into the damn plane too quickly. So he is the consolation prize."

He closed his eyes and counted to five. "Where is he shot?" He walked forward and yanked open David's shirt. The shot was clean on the edge of his shoulder next to his bullet proof vest. "For fuck's sake." He tilted his chin with the stub of the gun and pulled down the gag.. "David isn't it? How much do the police know about all of this?"

David winced. "Some of it. We got them involved once the shot came through."

"Fuck!" He paced up the room and stood by the window watching the Philadelphia night sky bleed into black.

"Where are they on a plane to David?"

"I don't know."

He chuckled and shook his head. "Right and I'm the queen of fucking England. Where are they going?"

"I told you I don't know."

He clicked his fingers. "Brett."

A gun clicked and he smirked. "Care to answer it again?"

"Kill me, I don't care." He sighed. Fucking cop-types and their camaraderie. Fine, he'd try a different approach but first he needed to deal with the matter at hand.

"Brett. Go and get the truck ready. We're dumping a body tonight."

Jerome grinned and clapped his hands together. "Now that's what I'm talking about. Send them a message."

"You're going to kill him?" Brett asked.

Blackwatch smirked. "Yup time to lighten the load." He turned pointed the gun at Jerome and fired it twice at his chest and he hit the ground with a thud.

"Fuck!" Brett yelled.

"Now Brett and get David cleaned up I don't want him bleeding to death on while I sort out your and Jerome's incompetent fucking mess." He reached and dug into David's pocket for his cellphone. "Perfect. Time to give Miz Cooper a call I'm thinking. And Brett. Pass on the message. I won't tolerate crap like this again."

"Yes Boss."

He waited till he dragged David out of the room and flipped open his phone. Time to sort this shit, once and for all.

Chapter Fifty-Six

This like a bad nightmare dipped in a side of unbelievable. He didn't know what to do next except hold her as they powered down the runway and nosed into the air. A quick breath of relief escaped but this was far from over, they were far from being safe. He couldn't stay in an airplane all his life, he could try but he was pretty sure he'd end up hauling himself out of it from insanity in the end. Mackenzie had gone quiet and he didn’t like it.

It should have been a bad dream or a bad take in a blockbuster movie. This stuff didn’t happen in real life, so he used to think. Now wasn’t the time to be hosting his pity party. As completely terrifying as what they just went through MacKenzie had not only put her life on the line but her co-worker, her Richie. That’s what David was to her and he was in this situation because of him.

She wriggled under him, dug into her pocket and pulled out her blackberry. “Dammit.”

“No signal? I don’t think you’re meant to use them on here anyway Kenz.”

“I have to find out if he’s ok.” She tugged away and stood up as the plane levelled out and paced up the small cabin holding her phone up.

Jon slid out of his chair and ducked his head into the cockpit. “Will we get a cell signal up here?”

The captain nodded. “Possibly but it could be skectchy.”

“Ok thanks and sorry about the drama.” He'd be lucky not to get away without being sued for personal trauma, but he figured since David arranged the plane they knew the risks taking on the job.

He didn’t look at Jon just straight ahead into blue and white skies. “No problem. Can’t say I want that to happen ever again but least they didn’t hit the plane. Is your lady friend ok?”

“She will be. Her partner was shot. That’s why we need the phone - we don’t know if he made it.” He didn't want to even think of that possibility he felt guilty enough when Mackenzie got hurt because of all this bullshit but someone she was close to get killed because of it? Unthinkable. He rubbed his chest.

“Good luck. We should be there earlier than expected. A nice tail wind coming through.”

He thanked the pilot and returned to the cabin where Mackenzie was crouched into a chair tapping furiously into her Blackberry.

“I’ve got a data connection. I can email one of the guys down at central they should be able to find out something…Nope now it’s gone.” She tucked her hair behind her ears and slammed the blackberry against the arm rest. “Piece of crap!”

“Hey hey.” He knelt in front of her and took her hands. "We'll be there soon. Captain says that we'll be there earlier than expected."

She met his gaze and her eyes were filled with worry. "I can't lose him Jon. I just can't." Her eyes filled with tears. "It should have been me."

“Don’t be silly MacKenzie, this isn’t your fault.”

She shook her head. “It is, he would have never had to have stepped in if I hadn’t fucked this up by falling in love you with. Say what you want but that is the truth.” She turned her head and gazed out the window. “He was just the innocent party.”

He jerked her and her eyes went wide. "Stop saying that dammit. It shouldn't have been anyone and certainly not you." His thumbs brushed her wrists. "I did not come this far to lose you now."

She smiled. "We’re similar. I hate myself for losing so much control over this and you hate losing your control of your own life.”

He squeezed her hands. “That’s why understand each other. We demand the best and sometimes…” He took a deep breath. “Sometimes we have to accept that we can’t always have that.”

A lone tear slid down her cheek. “When the hell did you get so wise?”

He grinned. “I have my moments.” He rose to his feet and lifted her up out of the chair, sat down in it and pulled her onto his knee. She curled in and rested her head on his shoulder and he wrapped his arms around her and pressed his nose into her hair. "It’s not your fault Kenz, it’s just not." He paused and sighed. "Do you think they got them?"

She shook her head. "I don't know anymore." She whispered it like a confession. "I don't even know how they got onto the runway. That's not supposed to happen--I just don't get it." She blew out a breath as her fingers clawed at his chest bunching the cotton under her palms. "I feel like I failed in so many ways."

He felt for her. She hadn’t failed but she wouldn’t be MacKenzie if she didn’t think so. He didn't even know at this point how the hell anyone could be successful against these thugs unless they played dirty. MacKenzie didn't play dirty and neither did he. He squeezed his arms tighter. "No you didn't Kenzie. And hey, I'm here aren't I? I'm charge and I'm here in one piece?" He forced a small smile as she looked up at him.


He dropped a kiss onto her lips and slowly the frown melted from her forehead. "I'm OK, so I might need therapy for the rest of my life...I’ve got the money."

She laughed. "Stop it, god I can't laugh when I don't know if he's-" She paused and broke their gaze.

"Did I ever tell you about the time Richie and I were arrested in Japan?"

Her eyes narrowed. "You weren't arrested? That’s not on your record."

His eyebrows shot up. “You looked at my record?” He waved his finger at her. "Well, no it's not because we cut a deal."

She tucked her head just below his against his shoulder. "I'm listening."

He reclined the chair and held her tight. "It was in the Slippery tour, we were huge. Japan was not a promiscuous country and the band one night partied till all hours of the morning. I think we were in Osaka for three shows and we had a few nights to ourselves in-between."

"Were you just as crazy as you are now?"

He jabbed her lightly. “Hey. I am not that crazy. Sometimes but yes Richie was into coke so he was high as a kite generally half the time so yeah we were crazy. Indestructible."

"So what happened?"

Jon leaned back and closed his eyes, she went heavy against him. Good, she was settling. "Well we went to a karaoke bar and we were pissed. And I mean pissed, god we could barely walk. Anyways, there was two kids singin' Prayer and they were crap, god love them for murdering my song."

She snorted. "Jon! That's the point of karaoke, you murder people's songs."

"Anyways so as I was saying. I'm telling the story here, no butting in if you can handle it."

"I know what you're doing Jon..."

He smiled. Of course she did. "Let me finish then." She remained silent so he continued. "We took over the stage well tried to as people recognized us so a bit of a crowd gathered. I was wasted I can't even remember singing but it was so awful no one believed us and booed us off the freaking stage."

She chuckled. "Oh nooo."

He stroked the top of her head and kissed it. "So Richie who was completely off his face and I, started a brawl."

"Oh Jesus. I am sure that went down well."

"Nope we were chucked in a cell over-night pleading on who were but they didn't believe us. It wasn't till we'd slept it off I could prove it."

"So you both spend a night in a Japanese cell in the eighties? God! How did that not get out?"

"They were so embarrassed and begged us not to tell anyone so we didn't. We were gods in Japan back in those days.”

"So how did you prove it?"

He laughed. "Had to sing, and the next morning we actually could sooo they believed us and were pretty embarrassed about the situation and let us go."

She snorted. "You're a goof." She curled in closer and the elusive scent of ginger filled him. They were both lucky to be alive; he was desperately trying not to over-think what just happened as he rubbed his chest. Right now he needed to keep it together for her. No one he knew was lying on a runway bleeding to death for fucks sake.

He shrugged. "My kids tell me that all the time." He swallowed and shook his head as she looked up at him. "It's ok." He needed to be strong for her and while he was being torn inside out so was she.

"Does your iPhone have a signal?" Her voice was barely a whisper.

He dug into his back pocket and pulled it out, NO SERVICE flashed angrily at him. He shook his head. "Sorry babe." He kissed the top of her head laid his head on hers. "We'll be there in a little while. I promise." He closed his eyes as her breathing became heavy. They were safe--in this one moment they were safe and he was going to enjoy it while the world went to hell outside of the tiny plane sized windows. If it was all he could get was this moment, he'd take it.