Sunday, April 24, 2011

Chapter Sixty-Three

"You heard me Jerry, get hold of the kid and get him in for a tryout."

"You sure? The team is doing pretty well if that's what you're worried about."

"It's been bugging me since we talked about it, turning Wes down." So it was more something had been bugging him but the less anyone knew about this the better. He glanced over at MacKenzie who was tapping away on her Blackberry. They were headed back to the Soho apartment in a cab and the building super had left a message that the window would be repaired today. It felt weird going back but since they knew no one would be waiting pointing a sniper at them, they were safe.

"Ok, you're the boss. I'll get it done."

"Tonight--can you make sure it happens tonight, the call and arrange the try-out for tomorrow?"

"Sure Jon. I don't understand what the rush is but I'll get it done."

"Thanks Jerry. I just want to make sure he's not snapped up by someone else." Some quick thinking bought the conversation back to logic rather than the ravings of a lunatic. "Call me when it's done or if you have any problems getting hold of him or something."

"Ok Jon will do."

Jon disconnected the call and blew out his breath. "It's done, I didn't sound like a desperate idiot did I?" He wiped his palms on his jeans, they were out of danger but MacKenzie's partner still wasn't home and wouldn't be until this deal was set in motion. He covered his face with his hands, god he hoped David would return in once piece and ironically it was now all up to him. The roles were reversed and it was him that was putting this whole thing right when he always had expected she would. That was OK since it was his fault they were in this mess in the first place.

Her gaze met his and she smiled. "No, not too bad."

He managed a half-laugh. "Gee that's reassuring." He took her hand and linked his fingers through hers. "Are you ok?" It was the lamest thing he probably could have asked. Good one Jon, of course she's not.

"I'll be better when I see David." She snuggled in and rested her chin on his shoulder. "What about you? You did pretty well out there you know."

He lifted his brow. "You think so? I don't think I've ever felt more unprepared for something in my life."

"You did fine. We got what we needed to out of it."

"Yup, just a brother protecting his brother." He rubbed the back of his neck. "I still feel responsible, he was right you know."
Her chin lifted and she let her hand slide out of his and frowned. "Come on Jon. That guy is a thug and you can't blame yourself for this."

"Even if it's not this, you know he's right. I walk around throwing my cash at these charities promising better lives for all but how can I expect others to do that and follow by example when I can't even get my own principles to match what I preach." He was responsible for this and he'd take it as a learning curve, there wasn't much he could do about what had happened but he'd make sure it never happened again.

Her hand cupped his knee. "Jon, you're a wonderful wonderful man. Don't make me get all mushy and girly about this but you know how I feel about you and there's a reason I love you."

He rested his hand on top of hers. "Not just for my good looks and amazing talent in the bedroom?"

She snorted, "so sure of yourself huh?" She leaned over and kissed him on the lips. "No all of those things are just a big bonus to who you are. You're caring, you're headstrong and passionate about what you love. Including me. And you have a big heart to make a difference in this world. Many people in your position don't do half of what you do, so stop beating yourself up. I mean it or I'll have to kick your ass, and you know I can."

He winced. "Don't remind me. It still busts my balls that I'm with a woman that could kick my own ass if she chose to." Truth was, it turned him on. The strength this woman possessed was a huge turn-on to him, physically and mentally. He rolled his head back against the seat and closed his eyes. Was this really over? It didn't feel like it was, he felt flat but at the same time stunned. Could he really move on with this woman and have his old life back? It seemed too good to be true. True or not he opened his eyes and cupped the back of her neck and dragged her in, pressing his forehead against hers.

"MacKenzie. I've never met a woman like you. You're amazing and you've put up with my shit for the last few months and believe me, I know I'm not an easy guy to live with but I can't imagine living without you and I don't want to have to." His thumb swiped her strong jawline as she smiled.

"Jon, you know I love-"

"Shh--let me finish. Call it having a second chance, I feel like that's what I've been given here and I'm not going to blow it. MacKenzie, I've already been there and done that enough to write the book on it. So, marry me." He searched her eyes and his heart pounded in his chest. It was the right thing to do and he knew it.

Her eyes widened and then the lines around her face softened as she grinned. "Yes."

He sealed it with a kiss, his hands shot up into her hair as he dragged her in. His tongue swiped across her bottom lip and into her mouth where he tasted her and let the kiss simmer between them. Her hands slid up his chest and around his neck. When he went into this he had never expected that they would come out of it like this, destined to be together. But what more could he possibly as for in a woman, she was the perfect training partner, she didn't take any of his shit and she loved him unconditionally. She was beautiful, graceful and had more strength than he ever could imagine.


By the time they had arrived back at Mercer Street MacKenzie was happy. She had no hesitation when Jon asked her to marry him, she never could explain it to anyone better than they just fit together perfectly. They understood each other and they knew how to live together with it. Jerry had text Jon back to confirm Wes had been successfully contacted for a try-out tomorrow. They'd fulfilled their part of the deal, now they had to wait for David to be released.

The whole thing was crazy looking back, never in a million years would she have picked this as the motivation of launching an attack on Jon, in her findings in the case it was never listed anywhere that Wes was related to Blackwatch. She had to guess that Wes had a fake identity courtesy of his brother, to be protected from the life his brother led as often with gang’s revenge killings easily targeted family members. It was a smart move from the kid, she'd give him that but the whole way this went about was just fucked up. She was sick of blaming herself, sick of Jon blaming himself. They needed to move on and providing she watched David walk through the door completely unscathed that's precisely what she intended to do. God, she missed her office, her people and just doing mindless investigation such as cheating marriages. Bring on the affairs! She'd never complain again about that as long as she lived.

The glass fitter had put in temporary Perspex to keep the apartment weather-safe. Everything else was just as they had left it-in a hurried mess. They both cleaned up the apartment and all the time she kept her Blackberry on her but still no messages had come through from David to indicate his release. She was restless so she snuck out to the balcony that overlooked downtown Manhattan and paced. She looked at her cracked screen for the billionth time that hour but still nothing. She just wanted to even out for good after this but she couldn't without knowing the fate of her partner.

"Kenz, you OK?" Jon walked out onto the balcony with a bottle of wine and two glasses but rested them on the table when he saw her.

She nodded but who was she kidding. It was Jon. "I just want him home."

He took her hands. "Still nothing yet?"

She shook her head. It was a deal and it was done so why the hell hadn't she heard from him.

"I'm going to get you a whiskey." He squeezed her hands and left her.

"Dammit just ring!" She screamed when it vibrated in her palm back.

"Hello?" She gripped the railing of the balcony, it was his number but she held her breath.


She closed her eyes and blew out her breath. "David. Thank god where are you?"

"I'm home. I would have come to you but I just had to see my fiancée', you understand right?"

Her hand landed on her heart. "Yes, god yes-of course I do. Are you OK? How is your gunshot?"

"It's fine, clean through the shoulder. Hurt like hell but turns out gangs are readily equipped with medical supplies, it's sore but it's fine. What happened? What the hell did they want?"

"But you're OK David, just tell me you're OK and they didn't hurt you any more than that?"

"I'm fine Mac, honestly, I won't be playing tennis this season but they didn't hurt me anymore than the shot. Are you guys all OK?"

"We're fine--all fine. I think it's over." She explained the meeting with Blackwatch and the connection with Wes.

"Wow--the things we do for family huh? Jesus Christ. Are you sure Jon's doing the right thing letting the kid into the team?"

She nodded. "Yeah I do. This kid's amazing. We're going to watch him tomorrow try-out."

"You're going to watch football?"

She paused and laughed. "Why yes, yes I am. And then we're going to see Jon's kids, he's only mildly excited. It's time to move on, all of us. So much so that Jon's asked me to marry him and I accepted."

"Way to go Jon! That's great Mac congratulations, I mean it. You deserve it. I better have an invite to the wedding."

"Invite? You'll be my best man thank you very much."

"Glad to be of service." As per usual, she didn't know what she would have done without David throughout the years. She really didn't, she was blessed with such a good confidant.

"Are you sure you're OK? I went out of my mind David."

"I'm fine, seriously Mac. I have some explaining to do to my wife and she's probably not going to be happy with me."

"It's my fault, I dragged you into this, tell her that. She can yell at me if she wants to."

"Will do. I better go and do that, but I just wanted to let you know I'm OK."

"God, thank you David. I'll pop around tomorrow after the try-out and make sure with my own eyes you're OK."

"I wouldn't expect anything less from you Mac."

"Take care and thank you again for everything you did for us." She sighed as she disconnected the call and her shoulders eased. She smiled as Jon's arms snaked around her from behind and he pressed his body into her. He may have complimented her for having all the strength in the world but she loved the weight of him, behind her, it gave her strength.

"He's home then?"

She rested her hands on his at her belly. "He's home, he's safe. It's over." She moaned as his lips brushed the side of her neck.

"I beg to differ MacKenzie Cooper. It's not over, it's just begun."

The End.

There will be an epilogue to follow :) But thank you so much for following the story of MacKenzie and Jon, I've appreciated all the support throughout the story more than you'll ever know :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chapter Sixty-Two

Never in all his years of being on this earth had he expected to be walking into a situation like the one that they were about to. They parked in Camden and headed down to the Riverside that was lined with stripped trees and a chilly breeze, signalling winter was well on its way. Talking with MacKenzie on the plane about being prepared and her run down in the basics of self defence was much like the briefing he'd had going into the Young Guns project, never in a million years did he expect to be reliving this for real.

He checked his watch, the big hand a minute away from ten am - Showtime. His heart beat drummed in his ears and he wished he'd snagged a hip-flask of Jack before they'd left. He swallowed, a loan figure sat at one of the coffee tables close to the waters edge. He had wrap around shades on with a low slung ball-cap, denim jacket and jeans and his hand was curled around a cup of coffee. Hell it could be just a kid but he was guessing by the recognition in Mackenzie’s eyes that was not the case.

"That's our guy. Are you ready for this?"

"No, but I don't think I ever will be." He looked around and noted it was still a very public place so nothing sinister surely could happen. He couldn't see anyone else that could be with the guy, but then again he wasn't a stealth agent to know where they might be hiding watching.

The kid stretched out his legs as they approached and nodded to the chairs opposite him. Jon rested his hand on his hip where the gun he'd accepted in the end sat under his woollen coat. He took a deep breath and remembered his last-minute demonstration; flip the safety off, point, and fire. Simple? Yeah really simple, lets not forget the ten thousand tonnes of pressure that went with that to get it right in a spilt second.

"Miz Cooper and Mr Bon Jovi, you came alone it seems as I requested. I'm impressed."

Jon slid gingerly into the chair after MacKenzie nodded and did the same. He rubbed his palms on his jeans and doubted if he really did need to use the gun it would probably slide out of his hands like butter. "Hi." Hell, what else could possibly he say? Hey fucker thanks for ruining my life? Thankfully MacKenzie took the lead as they had discussed.

"Black watch, I presume?"

He pulled put a packet of cigarettes and lit one. "You would be correct Miz Cooper."

"Where's my partner?" She had eyes of steel and held her posture strong and dominant in her chair.

"Patience. He's my insurance if you two try any funny business."

MacKenzie placed her hands flat on the table. "What do you want from us? We're here now."

He flicked his ash and leaned forward. "Tell me Mr Bongiovi, how is your football team doing? Practice all going well?"
What in the world? "Uh yes, yes its fine. Admittedly I haven't been involved as much lately." Due to you making my life a living hell. "But I'm confident that I have a strong team, yes." The kid remained shaded by his glasses and cap and he suspected he'd stay that way the whole meeting. They were like sitting ducks but they had little choice at this point.

"Blackwatch, what do you want from us? I'm sure it's not a merry chit-chat in the least."

He chuckled and took a drag of his cigarette. "She always so feisty? Guess that's why you hired her as your bodyguard huh?"

Jon didn't answer, let alone tell him it was MacKenzie declared herself his bodyguard without giving him that much choice at the start. Looking back it seemed absurd, just like the whole damn thing had been.

He continued. "Not much use now as I could snap of my fingers and your heads would be blown off. It's really that simple. You're a brave man coming here Mr Bon Jovi. I gotta give you props for that in the very least of your semi-charmed life."

Is that what this was? He was being targeted because he was rich and he had pretty much everything he wanted in life? Seemed a bit lame. MacKenzie was doing a good job at keeping it straight, keeping it not personal. That was her job, but each time she did he'd close off and they were going around in circles. He knew what he had to do.

"Look Blackwatch, with all due respect I'm completely confused what you wanted to get out of this terrorizing. Was it just to get your kicks?"

He laughed and stabbed his smoke out. "Don't give yourself too much credit there rock-star. I thought you were smarter than that. It was fun at first, but now its becoming a drag and thanks to the little airport scene, the police are all up in our business again. I don't need that shit so I want it to stop."

MacKenzie smiled sarcastically. "Well that’s what happens when you shoot at people in a public place, FYI."

"I'm aware. Bon Jovi, do you remember a kid called Wes?"
Jon frowned and then lifted his brow. Oh shit. "Yeah he had a helluva throw on him, I didn't commit him to the team. I don't sign gang affiliates, it’s a general rule." He rubbed his neck and let out a deep breath, this is what this was about. He met Kenz's gaze and nodded as she pieced the same puzzle together. They were pissed because he didn't allow one of their guys to play in the team? Seriously?

"He's my little brother. You crushed his dreams Mr Bon Jovi. That kid deserves to be out on the field and all it took was you and your high class personal investigator here to draw one fucking conclusion that he was in a gang and you chopped his head off." His hand curled into a fist. "You are what is wrong with this country, you go around with your many charities shitting money all over the place preaching about a better life for all but the reality is you have no fucking idea what the hell it's like out there. You hear the word gang and run a fucking mile. Let me tell you something about Wes, he's got nothing to do with what I do. He's a good kid, stayed in school, studied hard and trained hard. I wanted nothing but to give him a normal life away from this shit and this was his chance. And you fucked that up for all the wrong reasons, so I fucked up your life." He slammed his hands on the table.

MacKenzie shifted as the kid's anger boiled over and Jon's heart lodged in his throat. Wes had talent, there was no denying that and Jon remember how disappointed that he'd been he couldn't sign Wes, he had a boatload of potential but rules were rules. He'd kept the Philly team so clean from conception and thought he was doing the right thing.

He hated to admit that the kid did have a point about the judgment factor in all of this. He should have talked to Wes about it, found out what was going on and then make a decision. At the time the risk of having any gang around games and putting the other players at risk, it just wasn't an option but damn. Damn if the inconsistency of his message to his charitable work was staring him in the face. "You're right. I didn't realize that at all." Christ, he hated to admit he was wrong, he was never wrong but hell in this case...he just might be.

All those nights worrying about his family, worrying about MacKenzie - it was his entire damn fault from the start. You couldn't blame him for being pissed off.

"You couldn't think of emailing him or settling this in a less violent way?" MacKenzie kept her hand on her hip under the table.

"You're partner being shot was a mistake. A bullet was meant to go through the stairwell--not the living room window, and you were not meant to be chased to the fucking airport."

Jon didn't have time to blink as MacKenzie whipped out her gun and stuck it in the side of Blackwatch's leg under the table. She leaned in, calm and poised. "A pretty fucking sloppy mistake don't you think? You could have killed him!"

His heart hammered in his chest, if people really were watching them it would just take Blackwatch's signal and they'd be dead.

"Miz Cooper." He growled but didn't move as he leaned in towards her. "I told you that it was a mistake. I didn't want your partner as my baggage but I had no choice. I took care of the problem. It just turned out I could use him to get you here so we could sort this clusterfuck."

Jon assumed "took care of it" didn't mean the rogue got a stern talking to and sent to his room without any dessert.

"He could have been killed. Now tell me why I shouldn't shoot you in the god damn balls for it."

"Because you're smarter than that Miz Cooper, you know I'd blow your head off before you got past the second trigger."

She snarled but held her ground. He couldn't believe this, talk about surreal. He rubbed the back of his neck, "so where does this leave us?"

Blackwatch leaned back and tugged his cap down hard. "It leaves us in a predicament. I want Wes to have a shot in the team but you have this "rule"."

"I can let him try out again. I have to at least make him try out to make sure he's worth the cut."

Blackwatch's long fingers drew circles on his chin. "I wouldn't expect anything else. He'll be there because he's good. You can't tell him I have anything to do with this."

"What? Doesn’t he know his brother’s a thug?"

"Not this. He stays clean of the gang. I told you that. He has no idea we're involved in this."

Well shit. In a funny and fucked up way they were just like him and Richie. Looking out for each other without the other knowing. He'd many a time made sure Richie's mom turned up at shows when he knew Richie needed some family, or stopped the bar tab when Richie was rollicking drunk. He knew also Richie had told people to leave him the fuck alone when he just couldn't deal with people, they looked out for one another so in a weird way this was the same thing. "I understand."

"When does my partner go free?"

"I'll make sure he returns home after Wes gets the call from the coach. Do we have a deal?"

Jon met Kenzie's gaze and nodded, it was easy for him. He had the easy part of the deal. She had to walk away without what they ultimately came for. "We have a deal."

"Any funny business and he's dead. I mean it. He tries out and we walk away from each other and Miz Cooper you drop all police involvement from this case and delete anything relating to it."

She nodded but Jon held out his hand. "I have a couple of conditions of my own."

"Mr Bon Jovi I don't think you're really-"

He didn't let him continue. "If he does make the team, your gang is not to come to the games or any practices. I don't want any gang colours to be at my Soul games. And that's not negotiable."

Blackwatch nodded. "Fine. You have until eight-pm." He slid out his chair and walked away.

Jon blew out his breath and his shoulders relaxed. "That's it? That's all he wanted?"

MacKenzie put her hand on his. "Mis-understood kids. Christ what a mess. If I'd put this connection at the very--"

He took her other hand and shushed her. "Kenz. It's not your fault. None of this is. He's right you know, for all I do I'm a hypocrite."

"Jon, he's thug. Don't listen to him."

He half-laughed. "No he's right. I preach about new starts and building new futures for these kids and families we build homes for but I never bothered to look at the bigger picture. Where these kids have come from and the challenges that they face getting there. The judgement from people like me who doesn't even know what it's like coming from that sort of life. Wes was outstanding when we trialled him. None of this ever should have mattered. I failed Kenzie, I failed and its something I will have to look at inside myself and turn it around."

Her eyes warmed and she smiled as she leaned in and kissed him. "I know you think you've failed Jon but hell, you've done more than a lot of people in your position would even care to."

"It's ok. I'm fine with it." He tugged her up out of her seat as they stood. He drew her in, that elusive scent of ginger teasing him. He dropped a light kiss on her lips. "Now I need to put it right."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Chapter Sixty-One

MacKenzie had showered before Jon had even stirred. It had been a wonderful night in the face of their greatest challenge yet. Not only were they putting themselves in danger today but also her partners Davids. While the water beads drizzled down her she couldn't help but feel guilty for the mess that the two closest people in her life were now tangled up in. Jon had kids, David had a pregnant fiancée who MacKenzie had been informed that thought David was away on work. She figured it was the best thing to keep it that way until she had an outcome as it wasn't unusual for David to go on assignment for days in their household.

Their flight back to Jersey left within the hour and they'd have just under an hour to make the ten am appointment to meet Blackwatch in Camden. She dressed, tied her hair up and walked back into the bedroom where Jon lay face down asleep into a pillow. She perched herself on the edge of the bed and lazily stroked his hair. It was game-day, no matter how you looked at it, Brian would have looked at it this way and Jon almost certainly did. She'd avoided the football field for so long but now she drew on the philosophy of it, you trained hard to win and at the end of the day there could only be one winner and this time it was going to be her. She'd win it all for them, the rights for Jon to see his children again, the rights for David to walk free and the rights to their freedom to live a long and happy life together. There was no other choice.

The odds were stacked against them but the payoff was worth the risk.

"What's the time?" The voice from the pillow mumbled.

"A little after five, we've got to get going." They'd barely been asleep all that long but MacKenzie felt more relaxed and more rested than she had in the past few weeks. She picked out a pair of jeans and long-sleeved top for Jon from her bag."

He rolled over onto his back and draped his arm across his eyes. "I still can't get over that you had a go-bag packed for us."

She chuckled as she unearthed two guns from the extra clothes in the bag. "I'm always prepared, weren't you ever a boy-scout?"

He groaned as he stretched and rubbed his face. "Yes but I didn't think I'd ever have to make a quick get away from bad-guys, I'm Jon Bongiovi not John Wayne."

"Well there's enough swagger in your voice for a start." She paused. "Would you object to carrying a gun today?"

Jon sat up immediately in the bed and stared at her, a lock of his hair sticking up on end. "Do you think that's even a good idea?"

She bit her lip and nodded. "They'll be expecting me to carry one and I'm going to as he never said I couldn't but I'd like to know I have back up if they take it off me."

"Gee Kenz. I don't know, won't they just check me for one as well? And the last time I even operated one of those things was in a movie decades ago if you don't count the toy ones Jakey and Romeo have."

The scenarios blasted through her head, one after the other. They'd grab her, thinking he'd be helpless...or they'd grab him and make her decide who she'd take over Jon or David. "OK, if it's uncomfortable I don't want to put you in that position and you're right it will be too dangerous if you had to actually use it." Damn it, she needed back up.

The lines of his face deepened with worry. "Do you think we'll have to use one?"

"I honestly don't know. I don't understand what he's meeting us for, he hasn't asked for money and he hasn't alluded to a swap of any sort. He's been very unpredictable. I just want to be prepared for any scenario which we'll discuss on the plane." She patted his thigh and took a deep breath. "Sorry, I'm thinking out-loud. You need to get ready babe."

The reassurance wasn't great on her end but Jon took it as a cue to get moving and it gave her a little more time to think things through. The ironically stupid thing was she usually had David to talk this out with or he'd offer her a back-up solution but because this was so not by the book no one else in her firm knew what they were doing. So it's just you kiddo.

They arrived at the airport without a fuss and boarded the jet. She slouched into the plush over-sized airplane chair next to him and slid on her shades as the rising winter sun was like a beacon through the windows. Blackwatch may have been prepared to come un-armed but she had to be wary about the possibility of a sniper crew watching over them so if any attempt was made on his life, they'd be dead in seconds. She knew how to move fast in those situations but the problem was Jon didn't.

"You're freaking me out."

"Huh?" She turned to Jon as he buckled his belt.

"You've been lost in MacKenzie-land all morning. I thought I was the only one that did that."

She blew out her breath and reached for the coffee they'd picked up on-route to the airport. "I know, I'm sorry. I'm just trying to come up with ways in my head how this is going to work and if anything goes wrong." The kick of hazelnut in the creamer was a good as a hard shot of whiskey.

"Are you regretting not telling the police?"

She flipped the lid off, licked it and nudged her sunglasses up her nose. "God no, we can't. That would be the worse thing we could do. Sorry babes, this is probably very un-nerving for you when I'm not saying much but I'm about to so settle in."

"Good. I trust you Kenz. I feel like I'm about to throw up but I do trust you so know that."

His confidence in her was complimenting, if not strengthening. It's what she needed and if this was even remotely going to have a chance of success, they had to be in this together. Boots and all. She reached for the complementary notepad and pen and slid out the tray table. "I know, and that's why it's time for your training." She wiggled her eyebrows and began drawing diagrams. It wasn't the silliest idea she'd had in the world, definitely not as silly as meeting the leader of a gang unprepared.

He leaned forward and bit his thumb nail. "Do I need to sign some release saying I won't expose these secrets?"

She nudged her elbow into his side. "Careful mister." He was trying to keep it light but the nervousness in his laugh wasn't convincing though.

"Listen up...hey!" She dropped the pen as his fingers cupped her chin and he dragged her in for a kiss. It was slow and sweet, a little like their ascent into the day waiting outside.

"Last one, I promise. I'm just nervous, I'll stop being an idiot now."

She sighed and palmed his cheek, took a moment and swiped her tongue along his bottom lip. "I know, just relax but that is the last one. I've got to go back to being kick-ass Kenz now."

They snuck in one more kiss before she started her basic training, if only they could see her now trying to give Jon a lesson in self defense, gun-play and negotiation in less than two hours. She'd never be able to live with herself if he got into a situation she could have easily given him a better chance of getting out of with a little knowledge. Granted he had to remember this and with anything packed into two hours she doubt he'd retain most of it, but it was still more than worth the shot.

As they landed into Jersey, she covered his hand with hers and linked her fingers through his.


He nodded, "you know if this works out we could go into business. Jon and MacKenzie's ass-kicking service." It was one last joke but she needed the smile to dissolve her nerves. He was being amazing so it was all the more reason to slap her game-face on and go and save his family, her family.