||Angst, Mystery, Romance
words, 63 pages (8 ½” x 11”)
||Sequel to the story
“Where or When” so you may have to read that to know what’s
||Some of you might
recognize my inspiration. Given Mac’s psychic abilities I
remembered an old movie, one of the scariest I’ve ever seen. The
story is loosely based and I hope I can capture just a little of
My special thank you to TexJAG_b, for help with the military
stuff. The accurate part that is. Sorry if I had to improvise a
little, any inaccuracies are due to me taking liberties for the
sake of the story.
She’s watching me; I can feel her. The hair at the back of my neck tells
me she’s there. It’s a signal I’ve depended on for years. I have to be
careful. They won’t understand. I need to do this. I need to save them
from the pain. They don’t deserve the pain. I know what it’s like; this
pain, it’s too much to bear. My pain only stops, for a little while,
when I help them.
I’ll dress now, and slip out before anyone comes. I won’t be able to
finish my mission if they find me. How does she know? How can she see
The broad, bare back shifts; his dark head turned away. He looks down on
the bed where a young, dark haired woman lies, unclothed and relaxed;
except her neck is broken. She is dead.
“Haaarm!!!!” I sit straight up in bed screaming his name, a cold sweat
forming on my brow.
“Harm,” I call again, before realizing he isn’t here. Since we first
shared this bed three weeks ago, this is the only night I’ve been alone,
and the first time the nightmare has returned.
I tremble violently, as I pull the comforter close around me. Falling
against his pillow, I curl into a tight ball. I hope the scent of him
will lull me back into a less fitful sleep. If I breathe very deeply,
and force my mind to recall pleasant thoughts, perhaps I can dispel the
abject fear crawling deep inside me. This terror I feel, suddenly
stronger, because I can’t decide if I called his name seeking comfort;
or if, somehow, I believe the dreams were of Harm.
It was so real, so very real. The truth is, this horror that haunts me
The dreams have visited me for three months. Four different women, all
relatively young, all with dark hair, but each dream is the same. Each
new nightmare is frighteningly real the first time, then repeating
itself for days after, more veiled, but deeply disturbing. This is the
first dream, since I’ve been with Harm, but he wasn’t here.
Our lives and our love were finally replacing the years of loneliness
and separation, and now I believe I’m going crazy. I am so afraid, so
terrified of the dream. It isn’t Harm; it can’t be Harm. But the dark
hair, the broad back, the sudden aura of familiarity, and he isn’t here.
That’s it, I throw myself from the bed; it’s 05:30, and sleep will not
return. Might as well make some coffee. This is crazy; it’s just a bad
dream. I’m insane to believe the man I love so deeply, the man I’ve
bonded with body and soul, could be the fiend of this nightmare.
It’s too early for a run, too dangerous alone, but I can catch up on my
casework. Maybe I’ll call Harm in a little while. Yes, that’s it, I’ll
call Harm, then I’ll know.
But first, I’ll make some good, strong coffee.
Fifteen minutes later, I’m dressed and have my cup of coffee. It’s still
too early to eat. I boot my laptop and pull out my files. The next two
hours slide by in productive paperwork, before I realize my minds eye
has wandered to an image of Harm.
It is Harm, but still, not him; the aura is dark. A sinister shadow that
twists around him like a slithering fog. Distorting the warm, generous,
loving man I know, into someone cold, merciless, and vengeful. It shifts
and winds its tendrils through his image.
I pull myself forcefully from this likeness, this distorted copy of my
friend and lover, appalled by the thoughts invading my consciousness.
Quickly I stand, moving from the chair, the desk, my computer, my files,
towards the window and light. Anything to remove myself from the
vicinity of this figure my mind has conjured. I cannot accept this is
Harm, I will not accept it.
They are just dreams, I don’t know why I’m dreaming these things, but
that’s all they are just dreams. All but a small corner of my mind
believes. I shut the door firmly on that corner.
The light snow swirling down the street holds my interest for fifteen
minutes, before the phone startles me.
“Mackenzie,” I answer, my voice unsteady.
“Hi Mac, you OK? You sound funny. Didn’t wake you, did I?” It’s Harm;
thank god, it’s him. I’ve never been so happy to hear a voice on the
phone. I sink gratefully onto the couch, instantly comforted by the
feeling of soft warmth flowing through me.
“Uh, no, I’ve been up for a while,” a small lie, no need to worry him
with my silliness. “I was just doing some paperwork.”
“All right, if you’re sure,” he still sounds unconvinced, but he
continues, “how would you like some company tonight?” He offers.
“Who?” I ask, still a little distracted.
“Me of course, Mac I’m starting to worry here, you don’t sound right.”
His voice is hinting at that obsessive edge he adopts, when he perceives
something isn’t as it should be.
“I’m fine Harm… but you… how? I thought your investigation would take
longer than a day.” I scramble for some chaff to distract him.
“It will, but I need some files, and I can’t access them from here. I
have to get them from my secure terminal, so I’m coming back in a few
hours. I’ll have to return tomorrow night or Tuesday morning, but we’ll
have this evening. That is,” he teases, “unless you had other plans.”
Finally, I snap out of it, at his merry teasing, hoping the distraction
“Don’t be silly flyboy; of course I don’t have plans. How soon can you
be here?” I can’t wait to see him. I feel like jumping in my car and
meeting him halfway, but I force myself to be rational.
“I just finished my first formal interview with Commander Kensington. I
have one more person to interview this morning, before I can get on the
road. Early afternoon, I guess, probably around 13:00 or 14:00. Can you
wait that long for lunch? I’ll call if I’m going to be later.” He
“Harm, you know I’ll wait. Hurry home flyboy,” I whisper, “and drive
carefully.” It’s said with all my love, but I can’t help the small
frantic note of desperation that creeps in.
“Mac,” he starts, then stops. He knows, but surrenders this moment. “I
can’t wait to see you either, Mac.” I know I’m in for serious
questioning when he arrives. But I don’t care. Suddenly, my world is
filled with light again, as the image of him fills my mind, bright,
unshadowed, and shining with love.
The sheer delight of anticipation floods my heart and soul, as I move to
shower, prepare breakfast, and make a grocery list. We could go out
tonight, but I want him all to myself.
God, how could I have been so foolish?
I firmly ignore that annoying little alarm, flashing desperately, but
locked securely, in a deep compartment of my mind.
I wonder if this is how Harm feels when he flies. Like he owns the world
and nothing can touch him. I’ve had a good run and a venture into
domesticity at the grocery store. My mind is clear of this mornings
cobwebs, my heart is full, knowing he will be here soon. Harm will make
dinner; he’s a better cook. Right now, I’m going to seriously consider
what we’ve been discussing, for most of three weeks.
We have to decide where we are going to live. It’s foolish to assume,
that we will ever spend another voluntary night separated; so
maintaining two apartments is a waste of money. If we are serious about
a life together, and a family, then we have to start thinking about
economy. OK, OK, I’m not insisting anyone sell their Corvette, yet, but
two apartments are just dumb.
The space that he left unfinished, behind the bedroom, isn’t large
enough for another room, not a whole room, maybe a cozy office, or a
nursery. But for it to be a nursery, we would have to make a more
convenient door, besides I really don’t want to raise a baby here.
For now, it will give us room for our desks and files maybe a bookcase
as well as a large closet for storage. He’s the handyman; I’ll let him
decide how to make the space work. He’s currently only using one corner.
It’s comforting, running my hands over his power tools, things he used
to build the loft. The big wooden wardrobe was an experiment in
furniture making. Inside, are his out of season uniforms, and the dress
uniforms. He also keeps his civilian suits in there. Some of them are
expensive gifts from his mother. She has a weakness for Italian clothes.
Everything I touch, touches me back, with Harm’s essence. He is here,
even when he is not here. This is his place and we will stay here until
he is ready to go. My apartment is just a set of rooms in a building,
with furniture. Most of it isn’t even mine. Yes, we definitely will stay
here. He said it was my decision, and I’ve made it, but I know he
prefers this, too.
I’m completely lost in thought, when I feel, more than hear him enter
“What are you doing back here, Mac? I called, and you didn’t answer. Are
you sure you’re OK?” He looks at me closely. Waves of tension and doubt
roll from him, to break against the barrier I erected, against this
mornings dream. It was foolish; I locked it away. I refuse to allow it
to interfere with our happiness. I know how to divert his attention.
“I was just thinking, Harm, about what we’ve been discussing. I think I
want to live here, if that’s ok.” I’m a little uncertain, now that I
suggest moving into his space, but he suggested it first. I’m just
“OK? That’s wonderful, Mac. Are you sure? I mean we could leave things
for a little while, until you’re sure.” It’s thoughtful of him, to give
me space to be certain.
“Yes, Harm, my minds made up. If you want me, I want to be here. We can
store or sell my stuff that won’t fit. But if we finish this room, we
would have plenty of space for a while,” I explain logically.
He hugs me from behind, clearly indicating how much he wants me. “So
what’s this we business, since when do you know how to work power
tools?” He teases, nibbling at my ear.
I cock my head sideways and flirt with him, suggestively. “Well, big
boy, I haven’t had any trouble so far.”
He throws back his head, and his laughter bursts forth, filling the
small room, as he turns me in his arms, holding me close.
“Then I guess the next thing we need to discuss, is making babies,” he
offers, smiling boldly.
“Harm,” I explain with mock patience, “you don’t get babies by
“Oh I think I have the practical application under control, I just
wondered what your time frame was for releasing the little gremlins into
the live fire zone,” He’s referring to my birth control pills. He
chuckles, amused at himself, until I poke him playfully in the ribs.
“Harm, that is no way to talk about your future children.” I try to
sound stern, but I stifle a giggle, as I visualize my little marine
green eggs playing hide and seek with his little fighter jets.
“See,” he says popping me lightly on the nose, “you thought it was
“Did not,” I respond grabbing the offending finger, “it’s a guy thing
isn’t it? Saying crude stuff when you’re embarrassed by a biological
He grins. “Tell you what, you give me a shot at that biological
function, and I’ll show you how embarrassed I am.”
“Neanderthal,” I call him. Nudging him lightly in the stomach, I try to
“Neanderthal?” he raises one eyebrow, and dangerous smile forms. “I’ll
show you Neanderthal,” and with one motion, he swoops me over his
shoulder, carries me down the short hall, and around the corner to the
“Harm, put me down,” I giggle, pounding on his back.
“Hold still, or I might drop you,” he warns, as he nears the bed.
With a buck of his shoulder, he launches me towards the bed, but catches
me midair and lowers me, so I fall beneath him, completely pinned.
He tries to kiss me, but we’re both laughing so hard, we can’t close our
mouths. That makes us giggle more, so he tries a love bite on my neck,
which causes me to catch my breath suddenly. He thinks he has hurt me,
and backs off just enough to allow me an advantage. I take it, and flip
him over landing on top of him.
“Now,” I crow triumphantly, “well see just how well your caveman stuff
works when you’re on the bottom.”
“My caveman stuff works from any angle Mac, just like a space pen.” He
quips, flipping me back. “You should know that,” he continues in a low
growl, as his mouth descends on mine. The warmth of our laughter gives
way to more interesting activities, and lunch is delayed an hour.
I’m drifting in a sea of satisfaction, as we lay here spooned closely
together. Harm prepared a simple dinner and I made a chocolate thing for
dessert. I looked brilliant, it was so good, but actually, it’s super
After dinner, we moved to the couch to discuss moving plans, which once
again morphed into baby plans, which led to the co-operative practice at
baby making, and now I’m almost asleep.
Unfortunately, our bliss is to be short lived for now. Harm has to go
back to Norfolk tomorrow, and Coates called this evening; the Admiral
requests Bud and I report an hour early tomorrow.
I don’t know which I like less, going in early, or Harm leaving for
Norfolk. There’s just something about Norfolk that’s really bothering
me. This alarm, somewhere in my head, keeps going off. There’s a
horrible cold knot in the pit of my stomach. A knot of fear that’s
centered on Harm.
“Sarah?” he murmurs against the back of my neck.
“Hmmm?” I respond sleepily.
“Will you marry me?” His tone is almost conversational.
“Ummhmmm.” It takes a beat to register, before I come fully awake and
sit straight up. Turning to look at him I babble, “Will I what?… Harm…
did you just ask???”
“I asked you to marry me. Will you?” He pulls me down against his chest.
“Isn’t this a little sudden?” I could kick myself for this, but I’m just
so astonished I’m not coherent.
“Sudden?” he cocks an eyebrow, sardonically. “Eight years is sudden?”
I smile in agreement, shrugging at the absurdity.
“Besides,” he grins, “don’t these things spoil, if you leave them in the
box too long?” He reaches into the drawer of the nightstand and brings
out a small wooden box.
I know what’s in it, but my breath leaves me in a whoosh, and my hands
tremble. I just look into his eyes; it’s all I can manage.
“Open it, Mac,” he whispers.
I look down at the small, carefully crafted box. Not a normal jewelry
“Harm…” I start. I’m not sure what I’m scared of.
“We already agreed to forever and children, Mac, I just want it all the
right way.” He pleads softly.
“Oh Harm.” I tuck my head under his chin. He holds me, stroking my hair,
knowing somehow, my tears are of joy. I whisper, “yes,” against his
chest several times between little hiccups.
Finally, I pull back “Open it,” he says again.
Inside is a small velvet pouch. I untie the silken cord and out tumbles
the most exquisite engagement ring and wedding band I’ve ever seen,
“Dear god, Harm, if this is real, it must have cost you two years pay.”
I’m instantly aghast. Then quickly, I’m embarrassed. “I’m so sorry, that
was unkind and rude.” I apologize. “I’m ashamed.”
He just chuckles. “Oh they’re real alright, but I’m afraid I’m guilty of
bargain hunting. I found them while I was stationed back on the Seahawk.
Another pilot took me on a quick liberty with him, and we visited a
friend of his in Riyadh. He’s a jewelry merchant.” He explains.
My mouth is hanging open, a mixture of emotions.
“The Seahawk? Harm, that was four years ago. You were seeing Jordan
then.” I’m not quite certain what to think.
“No, I wasn’t, Mac. Jordan and I broke up before I left. This was for
you. It was always for you.” He fishes them out of my hand, and replaces
the band in the pouch.
As he places the ring on my finger, he looks into my eyes. “No one has
seen them, since the day I bought them, and no one would have, if you
didn’t accept them.”
God I love this man.
He curls me back around, and snuggles up to me.
“Night Mac,” he whispers.
“Night Harm,” I sigh.
I can see him, he’s there again, his back, his hair, the woman on the
bed. As if through a frosted window, all blurry and indistinct. I move,
try to get away, he knows about me, knows I can see him, knows I’m here.
I move again, something is in my way. I should fight, but it’s warm,
gentle, comforting. Arms… I feel his arms, he holds me close, tells me
it’s ok. I believe him. I fall back someplace safe.
“Wake up sleepyhead.” I insist. “I swear Harm, I don’t understand how
the Navy gets their boats anyplace on time, if they can’t even get up in
the morning.” I give him a swat on his beautiful backside, as I pass the
His arm shoots out and grabs my wrist, pulling me down against his
chest. “They aren’t boats, they’re ships,” he says sternly, before
planting a firm kiss on me.
“Fine, ships,” I respond, “then get your ship out of bed, before we’re
“Actually Marine, I don’t have a report time this morning. I’m on an
investigation, remember.” He has the audacity to look smug.
“Well I do, flyboy, and it’s an hour earlier than usual so turn me
loose.” My words are stern, but I’m not making myself pull away as
forcefully as I should.
“I know, Mac, I’m sorry about that.” He is instantly contrite.
“Not your fault, but I still have to go.” I start to slide away, when he
tightens his hold.
“Mac, you’re having nightmares again, aren’t you?” He asks gently.
“Oh Harm….” I start. There really isn’t time for this.
“C’mon, Mac, you had one last night. How often?” He insists.
“Actually, I haven’t had any since we’ve been together,” I prevaricate,
letting my eyes slip.
“But you had one last night, and the night before too, didn’t you,
that’s why you sounded so upset.” He always was a bright one.
I nod, “But they’re really nothing. Last night it was barely more than a
dream.” I’d love to tell him I’m OK when he’s here, but that would put
undue pressure on him. After all we are both military, and subject to be
sent anywhere at a moments notice. I can’t have him believing I’ll fall
apart because I’m not sleeping in his arms. It would make him crazy, and
make me sound like an insipid idiot.
“Do you want to talk about it, Mac?” He looks like he’ll be hurt, if I
don’t tell him.
“Not much to tell, Harm.” I shrug casually. “It really doesn’t make much
sense. Just vague images. It could be leftover from Paraguay, or any of
a dozen other sources. I’ll be ok, I promise,” I give him a quick kiss.
I’m not sure why I couldn’t tell him the truth. I convince myself it’s
because I don’t want him to worry.
He seems to accept this for now, and his goodbye kiss forty-five minutes
later certainly lifts the cloud of distress settling over my mind.
Especially when he brings the hand that wears his ring to his lips. “Do
you have any idea how much I love you?” he asks, just before he opens
the door for us.
“I think so,” I smile, “but you can show me anytime.”
“Count on it,” he answers with his full strength flyboy smile, as we
walk to our cars.
“Colonel Mackenzie and Lieutenant Roberts reporting as ordered, sir.”
I’m afraid I’m still not fully comfortable with the Admiral, even though
the situation has worked out well for Harm and me.
Harm has an interesting job, and we’re together. However, I still find
it difficult to forgive him for the five months of hell, while Harm was
with the CIA. In fact, I’m finding more things to not forgive him for,
as time goes by.
The NCIS investigation wherein, I now think he hung Harm out to dry, and
had us half convinced, with his behavior, that Harm was guilty. And,
virtually challenging me to go with Webb, for whatever convoluted
reason. What was that about? Was it just to separate me from Harm, or
did he assume the operation would go to hell, and Harm would come
running after me? I’m still working that one out. God I hate being
manipulated, especially by someone I trusted. I know, in order to work
here, I have to let it go at some time, but not today, and maybe not
“Colonel, Lieutenant, have a seat,” the Admiral offers formally.
Whatever he’s done, and for whatever reason, he is sincerely
“You have a murder to investigate. The body was found in Portsmouth,
late yesterday afternoon. A female Navy Ensign. Colonel, I want you to
join NCIS on the investigation, so you have first hand information. If
the murderer turns out to be military, you will prosecute, if not, I
want you to stay on top of whoever is prosecuted, in an unofficial
capacity, to see that justice is done.”
“Sir,” I ask, “are you saying no one’s been charged yet, we don’t have
anyone in custody?”
“That’s what I’m saying, Colonel, but this is the way I want it handled.
“No, sir,” we reply in unison. Actually, I have several, this is
unusual, but I’m entertaining vague thoughts about possible important
connections, or a political agenda.
“Good then, here is the folder, it’s all we have at the moment.
Lieutenant, you will be co-counsel on this when the time comes.” The
Admiral explains Bud’s presence.
“Yes sir.” Bud replies, neutrally. I can almost feel Bud wondering why
he had to come in an hour early to find out he was co-counsel on a case
that hasn’t been filed.
Must be nice for the Admiral, he has everyone in the office at a
disadvantage now. Bud is still battling his disability, and the
perceptions it brings, Sturgis is under a cloud, due to his poor
handling, and subsequent overturn of a high profile case, and I’m the
office pariah for getting the shining star of JAG fired. Of course, I
have a secret advantage, that shining star is now sleeping with me
nightly. Well, almost nightly.
The Admiral spots my ring, when I reach for the folder.
“Uh… Colonel, was there something you wanted to share with us?” he asks
“No, sir,” I reply, “nothing that will interfere with my duties.”
“And what about with your career, with your position here at JAG,” he
prods; referring tiredly, to the times I have left, or contemplated
“No, sir, I don’t believe there will be any conflict.” I certainly hope
this is true. “It’s a matter I can handle on a strictly personal level.”
It’s the most polite way I can think of, basically, to tell him it’s
none of his business. Bud looks at me aghast.
“Close your mouth, Lieutenant,” he orders, brusquely.
“Yes, sir,” Bud sits at attention.
“Fine then,” he heaves a deep, unsatisfied breath. “The folder should
tell you everything.” I open the file and see an indistinct email photo
of a woman lying on a bed, her head cocked at a strange angle.
“Oh god, no,” the blood rushes in my ears.
I hear the admiral say, “She was killed sometime early Sunday morning,
her neck was broken,” before my head spins.
It takes every ounce of will, to remain upright in my chair, but I know
I swayed alarmingly, when both the Admiral and Bud reach to steady me.
“Colonel, are you sure there isn’t something I should know? A physical
condition, that would prevent you from handling this case, perhaps?” I
know what he’s indicating. Seeing the ring, he thinks I’m pregnant. It’s
not only sexist, but also rude. Not everyone gets pregnant out of
wedlock, but if I did, it would certainly be none of his damn business.
I’m not on a ship. I contain my ire with difficulty.
“No, sir, absolutely not. I….I didn’t sleep well last night, and…. well…
the way she was killed. It brought back some memories, sir.” I stammer
out the best excuse I can think of quickly.
I know he has heard the story I shared with a few close friends, of how
Harm had broken the terrorist’s neck with his hands, when he saved me. I
didn’t talk about it much, but it just sort of slipped out in a weak
moment. Perhaps he will buy this.
“Alright, if you’re sure you can continue.” His words seem to accept
this, but his voice is less certain.
“Yes, sir, rest assured it won’t happen again, it was just the
surprise.” I know I’m over compensating.
“Very well Colonel, but I’m revising the plan. You take Lieutenant
Roberts to Norfolk with you.” He orders
“Norfolk, sir?” He’s going to lose his patience any moment, if I don’t
“Norfolk, Colonel. The Naval base, it’s across the bridge from
Portsmouth and it’s where the Ensign was stationed.” He explains in a
tone that I should find offensive.
“You will coordinate with NCIS agent Jack Garrett, and offer any
assistance. In return, they have agreed to keep you in the loop. You can
help by looking into the woman’s background, her acquaintances,
co-workers. Don’t get in their way, but don’t let them shut you out.
This Garrett can be a hard headed…. well never mind. Maybe you can find
a way to handle him; he’s a former Navy pilot.” This is delivered
blandly, but I feel the verbal knife slide cleanly between my ribs.
“If there are no other questions, you are dismissed. Get your travel
vouchers from Coates.” He’s back to the business of being the Admiral.
After that last barb, I wonder if he knows about Harm and me. I haven’t
advertised it, and I know Harm has said nothing. Harm had the SECNAV’s
tacit approval of our arrangement from the beginning, but it’s doubtful
he is interested in a blow by blow of our progress, or that he has given
it a second thought since.
I should also be offended by the innuendo that I can’t handle this by
myself, but I think …well, I feel….actually, I’m not sure what I feel,
but Bud will understand about the dreams as no other, even if he is
fascinated by the entire concept a little too much.
We take proper leave of the Admiral, and I urgently ask Bud to join me
in my office. The minute the door is closed, he turns to me, “Sit down,
Bud,” I set the tone, before I manage a controlled collapse into my
Cradling my head in my hands, I am overwhelmed by the distorted images
of those four women, as they swirl through my mind, calling and
accusing. They wind in and out of the dark fog that shrouds my thoughts;
I’m overcome by feelings of fear and guilt. I have to stop this; I
should have stopped it. Somehow, I should have known it was real. If I
had only done something, said something, but the only answer I had, was
one I refused to accept.
How could I allow myself to accuse the man I love, who fills my heart
and soul with a bright golden light, when I have only a dark shadow on
my mind as evidence. It can’t be true, yet it is real. One of the women
is truly dead. I have no doubt the others are too. This paradox is
shredding me to pieces.
I try to reach for Harm with my mind, to reach for the glow I hold deep
in my heart, but I can’t find it. All I encounter is a deadly, dark
shade, blocking any contact beyond this room.
Struggling, I force myself back to awareness of my friend’s sympathetic
With quiet, gentle forcefulness, as only Bud can, he states, “You know
“I’m not sure. Not here, Bud,” I answer.
“Colonel…Mac… don’t keep me in the dark.” He pleads. I know he thinks I
have no confidence in him, either.
“I don’t intend to, Bud.” I console him temporarily. “We need to get
packed, and get down there as soon as we can. I’ll tell you on the way.
But first, let’s take a few minutes to review what information we have
in this file. I need to be prepared for what I’m walking into.” I
shudder visibly at the thought of going near the base, but try to
recover by telling myself that Harm will be nearby. Oddly, I feel no
comfort in the thought.
JAG parking lot
I lean against my car, watching as Bud Roberts kisses his wife goodbye.
Once I would have looked away, hiding the undeserved jealousy they might
see. Now I take deep pleasure in sharing a common bond.
As he slides gracefully from his van, I realize that Bud Roberts has not
only regained control of his body, but of himself as a man. The vestiges
of a smile remaining on his face, mirrors the way Harm looks at me.
I make an instant decision.
“You can drive stick, right Bud?” I ask.
“Uh… yes ma’am,” he looks puzzled.
“Good you drive, I want to talk, and I don’t want to be distracted.”
It’s an order, but not.
“Why aren’t we taking a vehicle from the motor pool, Colonel?” He looks
slightly confused by my decision.
“Because Bud,” I admit, “when I’m done talking, I’m going to want to
drive, and I don’t want to drive something that wallows like a garbage
scow. I’ll turn in a mileage voucher later.”
His eyebrows shoot up in appreciation, but a smile spreads, as he
realizes I’m letting him drive the Corvette. “Yes ma’am,” he agrees more
“Good, stow your gear, I want to talk to your wife a minute. And quit
calling me ma’am. At least, while were driving down,” I soften the order
with a smile.
I climb in the door he just vacated, and give Harriet a quick hug. I ask
about the children, and listen raptly as she fills me in on their latest
accomplishments. Little Jimmy is sound asleep, but AJ is playing some
kind of learning game on a small computer module, and not in the mood to
be interrupted, even by his godmother. I hope to share this experience
with her soon.
After a quick goodbye and take care, I slide off the seat and securely
shut the door, before walking around, and lowering into the passenger
seat of my sports car. I’m startled to realize that no one, except Harm,
has ever driven this car before. Not even Mic.
Bud is skillful, but careful, as he guides my powerful car into traffic,
and onto the I-95S. It takes me about fifteen minutes, before I can
marshal my thoughts, and explain to Bud what’s bothering me. He waits
patiently, and drives with his attention on the road, while I think.
“Bud, I don’t know how to tell you this, it’s crazy.” I begin,
“I doubt that ma’am… uh, Mac,” he smiles briefly in my direction, before
turning back to the road.
I take another deep breath and plunge in. “I’ve been having nightmares.”
“Uh-huh,” he responds, unsurprised.
“How did you know?” I’m puzzled and off balance.
“I didn’t, but I know about your history of visions, and your reaction
to the crime report was… well what else could it be? How much did you
see?” He asks with the logic and calm of a Vulcan.
“That’s just it Bud, I saw too much, and not enough, but more it’s the
feelings,” my voice is shaking. His knowing has given release to my
emotions, and it’s all I can do to control the tears.
“Feelings? Of what? No, wait a minute. Please. Make this easier, tell me
exactly what you’ve seen first,” he suggests. At least one of us is
thinking like a lawyer.
“I see a man, from the back, he’s nude, broad shoulders, dark short
hair,” I pause to see if he reacts, but his eyes remain on the road, and
his neutral countenance tells me nothing. When I hesitate, he nods,
urging me to continue. “He moves sideways, and I see a woman on the bed
with a br…broken neck,” I stumble, breathe deeply again, and continue,
“then, he dresses and leaves. I have the feeli….”
“No Mac, no feelings, not just yet. Sorry to interrupt, but these things
can be hopeless if we don’t sort it out a piece at a time. We could end
up in a very wrong place. I don’t mean to give orders,” he looks faintly
embarrassed, “but I’ve read a lot about this phenomenon.”
I nod. I remember how I was mislead, by the vision of the horse. “That’s
why I didn’t get upset, when the Admiral insisted you come with me. I
knew you could help.” I admit.
He understands, and smiles appreciatively at my confidence. “I know,
normally you would have taken his head off, for suggesting you couldn’t
handle a case alone. What do you think is behind this ground floor
stuff?” He suddenly shifts direction; I recognize the technique. “We
usually aren’t in on anything, until NCIS is finished, and have their
man in custody. Or woman,” he amends
“Only one thing I can think of Bud. The last page of the report, there
was a single line. She had just been accepted for SEAL training. She was
due to ship out the first of the month.” Speculation on my part, but I
think I may be on target.
“Do you think that had anything to do with her murder?” He wonders,
trying to fit the pieces.
“Maybe, not sure, but no, I don’t think so.” I let my mind wander over
the various thoughts that have played at the edges. Thinking aloud I
offer, “It sounds more like the Admiral is getting involved because
SEAL’s are involved, and someone else, possibly Bobbie, getting into it
because of her ‘women in the military’ agenda. Although, they might not
necessarily, be on the same side of the fence.” I comment thoughtfully,
and smile at the thought of the Admiral trying to protect his SEAL’s
from the likes of Congresswoman Latham. “No, Bud, I really believe that
part of it is entirely political.”
“Then what do you think was the reason, ma’am… sorry, Mac.” He corrects
himself. “For her murder I mean,” he clarifies
“I didn’t tell you all about the dreams.” I hate doing this, but I know
Bud will help me sort it out, and make me do the right thing, whatever
“You saw more, you know who did it?” He sounds a little worried for me.
“Not exactly,” I hedge. “I had four nightmares Bud. Over the last three
“You’ve been dreaming this for three months?” incredulous, he swerves
slightly, then corrects.
“Not exactly, I’ve… I’ve seen four different women killed, over the last
three months. Bud, I think we’re dealing with a serial killer.” There,
that part is out, and admitting it aloud leaves me breathless and
Bud takes the next exit, and parks in the lot of a small coffee
shop/diner. He just sits and stares ahead for a minute, trying to gather
himself. I’ve just shocked the hell out of him.
“Mac, uh… what does Harm think of these nightmares?” It’s almost
physically painful, to have him hit the core of the matter, with so much
naiveté, and so much insight.
“Harm?” I respond nervously, then I try unsuccessfully, to cover my
reaction. “Why would you ask that Bud?”
“It’s obvious you’ve been together, Mac, and now the ring. You haven’t
told him, have you?” He pounds his point home. Who taught him this stuff
anyway? Oh yeah, it was Harm.
“No, I haven’t, but I have my reasons, or at least I think I do, they
just don’t make sense. Why was it so obvious, Bud?” I thought I had been
rather stealthy about the whole situation.
He gives me his huge Bud grin now. “Because Mac, I’ve never seen you
smile the way you have the last three weeks. You completely dropped off
everyone’s radar, at the holidays. You had to be with someone, and the
office pool laid some pretty good odds, that Mr. Webb didn’t have what
it took, to make you so happy.
I blush deeply knowing I’ve not only been so transparent, but that
people have noticed. How dare they actually place bets on it. Harm will
think it’s hilarious.
“I guess I thought I was being very clever, keeping it to myself.” I
“People notice what you do Mac, and believe me the ones that count, are
happy for you both.” He continues, with extraordinary kindness.
“Can you tell me where Harm is now? We, sort of, heard through the
grapevine, that he was fired by the CIA.” Bud’s concern is evident.
“I can and I will, Bud, but with any luck you may see him yourself, when
we get to Norfolk. As long as we’re here, why don’t we have some coffee,
before we continue.” I’m somewhat stressed, and the story isn’t halfway