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Classification Romance (H/M), adventure
Length Approximately 28,000 words, 65 pages (8 ½” x 11”)
 
Spoilers After ATW but before ATW2
Rating IM15

 

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

 

 

 

Prologue-

 

He only comes to me at night—long after I should be asleep. But he knows that I rarely sleep much, and now I never want to close my eyes at all. I lie awake and wait—hoping this will be the night he comes to me again—once more in the darkness.

 

The Story-

 

The visits started after we returned from Paraguay. I had been so sure that the Admiral would welcome him back to Jag with open arms. After all, he had rescued me, and Webb, and the CIA’s lousy mission—

But nothing in my life made sense anymore, including the fact that everyday when I went to work Commander Harmon Rabb’s office remained dark and empty.

He’d started working with the CIA, but I couldn’t bring myself to think that it was permanent. The earth was spinning uneasily on its axis knowing that Harm was not part of the Navy, and I just wanted—no, I ached—for things to be the way they used to be.

The first time he showed up unexpectedly I had been tossing and turning for hours, wrestling with my blankets as if they were responsible for all that was wrong in my world. It was after two in the morning, and I almost didn’t hear the knock on my front door. Feeling modest enough in my flannel pajamas and bare feet, I stumbled out of my bedroom without turning on the lights and was surprised when I looked through the peep hole, to see him standing in my hallway. My heart jumped shamelessly at the welcome sight of him. He was dressed all in black, and he came in hurriedly when I opened the door. Walking quickly to my window, he checked the street as if he feared he might have been followed, and only then did he turn to me.

“I was hoping you would still be awake.” He offered a tense smile as an apology.

“What’s wrong?” I asked resisting the inexplicable urge to hug him. “Why are you here?”

“Nothing’s wrong—I just needed to see you. We’ve barely talked since we got home from Paraguay.” He wandered over to one end of my couch and sat down. I plopped down on the other end and pulled my feet up under me.

“It’s the middle of the night, Harm--kind of a strange time for a visit.” It was true. We had barely talked. He had been whisked away and caught up in this CIA job almost as soon as our plane touched down. I had a million questions, but his absence had made me shy. He seemed harder, darker, and more dangerous than the man who had been my partner for seven years.

“Ah—but I’m in the spy business now. We operate while the rest of the world sleeps.” His tone was mocking. “The truth is I just finished an ‘assignment’, and I had an overpowering urge to see you.” He laughed a little as if the admission cost him something, but his voice was husky, and his face was hidden in the shadows when he said quietly, “I should’ve stayed away, but I’ve missed you, Mac.”

He sounded tired and a little lost.

I hesitated then said, “I’ve missed you too, Harm.”

The only light in the room came from the streetlights outside the window. Darkness enveloped us as he closed the distance between us on the sofa and cupped my cheek with his hand. His eyes studied my face as if he needed to relearn it, and then he kissed me.

Softly—sweetly—gently—completely.

And then he was whispering broken words as he nuzzled my hair and crushed me against him. “My days are all wrong without you, Mac. Just let me hold you for a while. I need to hold you.”

I was a willing prisoner. His arms captured me, aligning me so that I was stretched out across his chest. My legs tangled with his and my bare toes scraped his denim covered shins. His hands smoothed my hair from my face and traveled down my flannel covered back. His lips grazed my temple before moving from my check and on to my neck. I inhaled his closeness, and held on for dear life.

I didn’t question why he was there or what it might mean. I didn’t want to examine his motives or mine—I just wanted to learn by heart how it felt to be buried in his arms.

The tension in his body seemed to ease when I welcomed his embrace, and I relaxed too for the first time in weeks as he cradled me in his arms. He seemed content to simply hold me, and slowly I drifted off to sleep using his body as an anchor—a mooring that put my world back on an even keel at least for one night.

I woke up the next morning alone and in my bed instead of on the couch. I’d been disappointed but not completely surprised to find Harm gone. There had been an air of desperation about him that he would have been uncomfortable showing in the light of day. But I vowed that the next time I saw him, I would make him talk to me. The guilt I felt about what he had sacrificed was enormous, and I wanted him to reassure me that he had made the right choice by accepting this new job. He had thrown away everything he loved, and nothing about that felt right.

Attempts to contact him had been futile. I’d left a few messages at his apartment and on his cell phone, but I never heard from him. And apparently, no one at the CIA thought I had a ‘need to know’ when it came to the whereabouts of Harmon Rabb, Jr.

Days and long nights dragged by, and I heard nothing. I started thinking that his visit had been a dream—some kind of pathetic unfulfilled fantasy—the imaginings of a lonely woman. I dragged myself through my workdays making an effort to lose myself in court cases—searching for that passion for the law that had sustained me through the years. But these days all my passion seemed to be reserved for one man alone. And he was nowhere to be found. I ran for miles every evening trying to exhaust my body so that I could fall into some sort of sleep, but my mind wouldn’t rest and each night I relived the brand of his touch, the echo of his murmured words.

And still I hadn't heard a single word from Harm.

I finally convinced myself that it was best if he stayed away from me. I would always be an unwelcome reminder of the life he had left behind. And we couldn’t turn back the clock and recapture what we’d had, so the best thing for both of us was to move on with our separate lives. Someday I hoped to believe that. I’d drifted off to sleep hoping not to dream at all, praying if I did that it wouldn’t be of Harm.

That night I woke up suddenly—startled to find myself surrounded by a large, warm body. He must have used his key to get in when I hadn’t answered the door. I shivered thinking that he must have watched me sleep before stripping down to his boxers and slipping into my bed. Though he was asleep, he seemed restless and troubled. He held me tightly and mumbled a protest as I turned to face him. I studied his beautiful unshaven face in the half light of the bedroom. Even in slumber he looked worn out. I longed to soothe away the weariness, and so I touched him while he slept, hoping my gentle fingers would alleviate the coiled tension that radiated from his skin. I ran my fingers across his bare chest and up his neck. I brushed my lips across his brow and tangled my fingers in his hair.

I knew the exact moment when he woke up. His body went from tense to rigid in a matter of seconds, and I found myself flat on my back with my arms pinned above my head.

Cold flat eyes that didn’t know me bored into mine and a harsh, menacing voice demanded in the darkness. “Tell me who you are before I kill you.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

“Harm,” I gasped as his weight drove me into the mattress.

His forearm came down on my throat, and I began to struggle in earnest. “Harm, stop,” I whispered again clawing at his arm with my loose hand. “It’s me, Mac.”

Recognition slowly crept into his eyes, only to be replaced by horror at what he had done.

“Oh, god, Mac.” He released me and rolled away with his back to me. He sat on the side of the bed with his head hanging down, breathing loudly and struggling for control.

I crawled over to him and put my hand on his back. He glanced at me and then dragged me up beside him and buried his face in my neck.

“I’m sorry.” He pulled back to look at me. “Did I hurt you?” His hands ran up and down my arms and across my throat.

“You didn’t hurt me, Harm.” My heart was still about to pound out of my chest. “But what just happened? You scared me to death.”

“I just threatened to kill you,” he said with disgust. “That’s what happened.”

“Obviously, you didn’t know it was me.”

“If I’d woken up in bed with a woman a month ago I don’t think that would have been my reaction.” He moved away from me, stood up and started gathering his clothes. “I shouldn’t have come here.”

“Don’t do this, Harm.” I jumped off the bed and grabbed his arm. “I want you to stay here and explain to me what’s going on. How did everything about our lives get so mixed up in such a short amount of time?”

He ran a hand through his hair and sighed. “The only thing I can tell you is that I’m trying to get things back on track, and for now, doing this job is the only way I know to do that.” He pushed his legs into his jeans and threw on his shirt without buttoning it while he looked for his socks and shoes.

“At what cost?” I demanded.

“Everything has a cost, Mac.”

“That’s not an answer, Harm. I need to know why in the world you are working for the CIA. Have you even talked to the Admiral about coming back to Jag? Help me understand this. No one has given me a straight answer since I’ve been home. Not the Admiral. Not Webb. Not even you. I can accept it from them, but not from you.” I was ranting, but I couldn’t stop.

Suddenly he looked so defeated, and I realized how that must have sounded considering all that he had given up for me. I quickly added, “Harm, I owe you my life, but you owe me something too. You can’t just show up in the middle of the night whenever you feel like it and then disappear for weeks at a time. I’m worried about you all the time, and I want to kill you the rest.”

He sank down onto the side of the bed and just stared at the floor.

I pleaded with him. “You’ve got to give me a way to live with this.”

Finally he looked up and asked, “Do you have anything to eat? I’m starving.”

At least he wasn’t running out the door. I let out the breath I had been holding and asked, “How about a peanut butter sandwich?”

“With honey?” His smile was tired but sweet.

“I think I can manage that.”

He followed me into the kitchen and buttoned his shirt while he watched me make his food.

“Do you want some tea?” I asked.

“Sure, tea would be great.”

I put the kettle on while he poured himself a glass of milk. We carried the food out to the dining room table and sat down.

“When is the last time you ate?” I asked as I watched him wolf down the sandwich.

“Yesterday morning,” he admitted before downing half of his glass of milk.

“I’ll make you another one, but it’s going to cost you.”

“I’ll tell you what I can, Mac. You deserve that much.” He seemed more resigned than happy about it.

I got up and made him another sandwich and finished making the tea. When I sat back down I said. “Ok, talk to me.”

He closed his eyes and said, “You know I made a deal with the CIA so they would help me find you.”

“Yes, and when we took out the stinger missiles and flushed out the mole that deal should have been fulfilled.”

“Well, they don’t quite see it that way.”

“Harm, they used both of us to do their dirty work and that should be the end of it. You need to talk to the Admiral about coming back to JAG. It’s where you belong.”

“When we blew up those missiles it stirred up a hornet’s nest.”

“I’m not surprised. That’s the nature of those kinds of operations. You shut them down in one place and they crop up somewhere else. What does that have to do with you?”

“Well, you know Gunny stayed in Paraguay when we came home.” I nodded and he continued. “One of his contacts, a woman named Esmelda, worked at a local manufacturing and distributing company. They had a warehouse out in the middle of nowhere that had a small run down airstrip attached to it. The warehouse was being used to store counterfeit knock offs—cds, watches, even designer purses and shoes- before they shipped them off to other countries to be sold. Then the money from the sales would be funneled back into the terrorist organization by sending money to P.O. boxes set up by dummy corporations. From there the money could be wired anywhere overseas in a matter of minutes.” He paused to take a sip of tea.

“An increase in activity at that airstrip made the CIA particularly interested in that business, and since their newest recruit was an ex-Navy pilot, I guess they thought I should be involved so they sent me back down there. It made sense to assume that besides being used to ship handbags, the airstrip was being used for transporting weapons, people, and even aircraft in and out of the country as well. We'd just set up some preliminary surveillance on the place when Gunny got a tip from Esmelda that they were expecting an important shipment at the airfield. She didn’t have all the specifics but told us that security was being stepped up on a certain date and that everyone was unusually nervous. Two days ago based on her information and some other corroborating intel I gave the go ahead and we raided the airstrip. When we got there the place was deserted, except they had tied Esmelda to a chair and slit her throat.”

His face was a mask as he related the last part, and his voice got even flatter if that was possible. “I left them to sort it all out and caught the first plane out of there. On the flight home every time I closed my eyes I would see her face—those lifeless eyes staring at me. And every time I tried to get the image of her out of my head it was replaced with one of you strapped to that table about to be tortured. I realized then that even if I had known it would cost Esmelda her life, I would still have made the same bargain to save you all over again. What kind of man does that make me?” He rubbed his hands over his face refusing to look at me.

Knowing he needed some space to keep his composure, I’d valiantly resisted the impulse to gather him into my arms while he told this story, but at his last words I stopped resisting and launched myself into his lap. He buried his face in my shoulder and held me tightly as he continued his confession, “I came here straight from the airport. You were asleep and I should have just turned around and gone home, but I couldn’t make myself leave.”

“I’m so glad you didn’t leave.” I held on tight trying to show him that this was where he belonged. “Harm, you've got to quit now. You don’t owe them anything else.”

His story was horrifying, and the wound was still too raw for him to see that the responsibility for her death wasn’t solely his. But it wasn't in him to shift blame, so I could only hope that time would give him some perspective. I knew that he would always carry guilt over this woman’s death, but he could come home now and start to heal, and I wanted to help him if he would let me.

I felt such relief that it was finally all over, until his next words stopped me cold.

“I can’t quit, yet.” He spoke with grim determination.

“Why not?” I demanded.

“Because there’s a lawyer in Maryland that I need to eliminate.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

I pushed myself away from him and stood up. “I am going to assume that you don’t actually plan to kill anyone.”

“Ask me again tomorrow. Right now I could kill him with my bare hands.”

“And this lawyer has something to do with what happened in Paraguay?” I walked over to the sofa and sat down. My disappointment was barely manageable and I wrapped my arms around my middle.

“Listen, Mac, I’ve already said too much.” He stood also and started pacing in front of the couch.

“And so now you’ll just disappear again to pursue your newest obsession.” I tried to keep the bitterness from my voice.

“I’m just doing my job.”

“Avenging this woman’s death is not part of your job, Harm.”

“No, it’s my job to follow the leads wherever they take me. But let me make one thing clear. I only have one obsession these days.”

“What’s that?” I asked wearily.

“You.” His voice was hushed.

My eyes flew to his, and his low, dark voice washed over me, saying the words I’d only heard in my dreams.

“When I resigned my commission and went to Paraguay, it was about you. When I accepted this deal with the CIA it was about you. And when this job is finished it will still be about you.”

I could barely breathe. “I’m right here.”

“And this time I’m the one with one foot out the door.” He sat down beside me on the sofa and turned his body so that he was facing me. “I’m in no position to ask you to wait for me, Mac. So I won’t. I want you to get on with your life while I’m trying to straighten out mine. But I am also telling you right now that when this job is finished—and I don’t care if it takes weeks or months or years—when all of this is finished, I’m coming back for you.”

“I’m not going anywhere, Harm.”

“Well, I won’t hold you to that, Mac. I know you have some unfinished business with Webb.”

I tried to protest but he stopped me before I could say anything. “You don’t need to explain. I understand how he feels about you. I’m just warning you that even if I come back and find out that you have become the new Mrs. Clayton Webb, it won’t stop me.”

“When did you turn into such a caveman?” I smiled at the absurdity of it.

Smiling he shrugged. “I tried the noble approach with Lowne and Brumby. It didn’t get me very far.” He stood up and pulled me to my feet. “Walk me to the door.”

“You’re leaving?” I didn’t want him to go.

“I think I should.” He sounded determined.

“I have a better idea.” I started dragging him toward the bedroom. “You need some sleep.”

“If we go back into the bedroom it won’t be to sleep.” He stopped short and hauled me up against him.

“I was hoping you’d say that.” But I saw the regret in his eyes even before he spoke.

“Mac, we can’t. Not now. Not like this. It wouldn’t be fair to you.”

“I thought you were going to give up on the noble approach.” I tried not to pout, but couldn’t keep from turning my face away when he tried to kiss me.

He chased my mouth with his and whispered softly, “Kiss me, Mac.”

I had no will to resist. I turned my mouth back to his, seeking his gentleness. Instead I was met by savage intent. It was a kiss full of want and need and the loneliness we were both certain to endure in the coming weeks. He ended the kiss reluctantly and I tried not to cling as he walked out the door and disappeared from my life once more.

I floated through the next few days, replaying Harm’s words in my head. I was optimistic that he would be home soon, and we would finally have a chance to explore this thing between us. At least we both seemed to want the same thing at the same time for a change. But days turned into weeks and nothing happened. He called a couple of times, but couldn’t really share what he was doing, so I would tell him about my days at JAG. My court cases, Harriet’s pregnancy, Sturgis and Bud facing off against each other. He seemed comforted by the familiar news. Another night he called and we barely spoke. Like an adolescent I was content to listen to him breathe. Breaking the connection had been painful, and like an adolescent I was certain I could die of heartache.

I finally started badgering Webb for information. We’d stayed close while he recovered from his injuries. I’d made it clear that friendship was all he could expect, and he had accepted that easily enough. If he still had feelings for me he never mentioned them, and I think we both felt relieved to find ourselves back in a more comfortable place with each other. So we had fallen into a habit of spending time together at least one night a week after work. I was lonely, and he hadn’t gotten back into the swing of his old social life yet. He was working again, though only part time. The background work he had done in Paraguay had been extensive and the contacts he had established had proven invaluable to the ongoing investigations, so his superiors had rewarded him by allowing him to return to work at Langley. He wasn’t overseeing anything anymore, but Catherine Gale kept him up to date and consulted with him from time to time.

I never told him about Harm’s visits, but Webb was a pretty smart guy. If he thought Harm was oblivious than he certainly found me to be nothing if not obvious. He had always been able to see how I felt about the man, so he wasn’t surprised that I was worried about Harm’s new job. He also knew that he owed Harm his life, so keeping his ex partner from dissolving into hysteria with bits of news occasionally was a small price to pay.

Almost six weeks after Harm had walked out of my door, Clayton called on a Friday afternoon and told me to meet him at Dusty’s. I was familiar with the place. Dusty’s was an upscale restaurant and bar that catered to the upwardly mobile career crowd. It was full of slate table tops, cast iron chairs and strategically placed uplights that gave the place a warm glow. The food was unassuming and on a Friday night the drinks were half priced, so the crowd was already happy by the time I arrived and looked around for Webb. He was waiting for me outside near the entrance and threw his arm around me and led me inside.

We were walking to our table when I saw him. He was standing near the bar, and he was laughing. His hand rested at the small of a woman’s back. She was blonde, and I hated her on sight. When she turned I recognized Catherine Gale. She was looking up at him, flirting, laughing in return.

Harm had come home, but instead of coming to see me he was here with her. Clayton pulled out my chair, so I blindly sat down and asked, “Did you know he would be here?”

He didn’t ask who I meant, but did seem surprised by my tone of voice. “I thought you would be happy to see him. Do you want to leave?”

Before I could answer, Catherine spotted us and waved. She started toward our table pulling a shocked looking Harm along with her.

“Webb! I’d heard that some woman was managing to get you back into circulation, but I didn’t know it was Sarah McKenzie. Nice to see you again, Colonel.” She stuck out her hand so I was forced to take it.

Webb stood at her approach. “Hello Catherine. Yes, Sarah is just what the doctor ordered. I don’t know what I would have done without her.”

She still held Harm’s arm and turned to him. “Isn’t this a nice surprise?”

“Hi, Mac.” He looked uncomfortable.

“Harm.” I managed a weak smile that didn’t go unnoticed by Ms. Gale. I tried to cover my reaction by cheerfully inviting them to join us.

Harm said hello to Clayton and shook his hand before pulling out Catherine’s chair. He sat down in the chair adjacent to me allowing his knee to brush against mine. I moved away from the contact and asked Catherine brightly, “Well, how’s your newest recruit doing?”

She grabbed his hand off the table and said sweetly while staring at him adoringly, “Well, I don’t want to embarrass him, but I think he could be good at anything he tried. I know I have learned a lot by listening to the way he thinks a problem through. I have found it fascinating. But you must know all of that. You are so lucky to have worked with him for all those years. I really envy you.”

She certainly was touchy feely for a CIA lawyer. I couldn’t stop staring at their joined hands. I had an overpowering urge to stab them both with my fork.

Harm pulled his hand away from hers and changed the subject. “So Mac, how are things at JAG?”

“You know how it is, Harm. Just the same old, dull military cases, week after week. We have tried our best to carry on without you, though. You really should stop by and see everyone if you are going to be in town for a while. I know they all miss you.”

I must have sounded sarcastic because Clayton reached over and rubbed my forearm soothingly and then asked the question that I had been dying to ask since I first spotted him across the room. “So, when did you get back into town, Harm?”

He glanced at Webb’s hand resting on my arm then answered bravely, “About a week ago, I guess.”

About a week ago! It was worse than I thought. He had been home for a week and hadn’t even called. I needed to escape so I stood up and asked to be excused.

I practically ran to the ladies room. I washed my face and forced myself to take some deep breaths. There had to be a good reason if he hadn’t called or come to see me. How could he not come to see me? I wouldn’t jump to any conclusions until after I talked to him. Then I would kill him. There had to be a simple explanation and I couldn’t hide in the restroom all night. I plastered a smile on my face and marched out to rejoin them.

He was waiting for me at the bar when I came out of the ladies room.

“Don’t go home with him,” He grabbed my arm as I started to walk past him. “We need to talk.”

“Harm, your date is watching us. You might want to let go of me.”

“She’s not my date.”

“Oh, really? Did you tell her that?”

“Mac, she is not my date.” He released my arm as he repeated his earlier denial.

“Then what is she?”

“She’s just my partner.”

Those words ripped into me with a force I wasn’t prepared for. I was supposed to be his partner. I was Sundance to his Butch, Robin to his Batman. That was just the way it was supposed to be. I almost wished she was his date. I conjured up an excuse for a smile and said, “It doesn’t look like you had any trouble breaking in a new one.”

He realized what he’d said and apology, frustration and stubbornness were all evident on his face. He stepped closer to me and reached for my hand. “Mac, I hate this. Please don’t go home with him.”

Feeling bruised I said simply, “Give me a reason.”

Despite the fact that Catherine and Clayton were watching us from across the room, he stepped even closer and leaned down to whisper in my ear. “Doughnuts.”

Startled, I pulled back to look at him.

“So, you’re pulling out the big guns?” I asked. When we’d worked together he would bring me doughnuts when he was trying to get back on my good side after a confrontation. But it was a tactic he saved only for the most important groveling. I felt the earth shift back to more solid ground.

He seemed very pleased with himself as he waited for my answer.

“Jelly?” I asked through narrowed eyes.

He pretended to consider for a moment then said smugly, “That could be arranged. I might even throw in a cinnamon twist or two.”

“You never did fight fair.” I said in defeat. There had never been any question that I would give in. “I like the lemon filled.”

“I know what you like, Mac.” In a voice that should have been confined to the bedroom he added, “And wear those red pajamas.”

I put some distance between us. “You mean the ones with little pink pigs on them?”

He grinned from ear to ear. “Those are pigs? I thought they were bunny rabbits.”

I started walking back to the table where Catherine and Clayton waited, and Harm trailed behind me. Looking back over my shoulder I said, “Oh, and Harm, just so you know, I never planned to go home with him.”

Oddly enough, I didn’t see triumph in his eyes, only relief.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

I sat on one end of my couch. Harm sat on the other. I’d changed into my piggy pajamas when I got home. He had removed his dark suit jacket and tie, loosened his collar and rolled up the sleeves of his white dress shirt. My bare feet rested in his lap, and a large box of assorted doughnuts sat on the coffee table in front of us.

“Were you even going to let me know you were home?”

“Not if I could help it. I’ve been trying to stay away, but if it makes you feel any better, a few nights ago I sat outside your apartment for about an hour before I managed to make myself drive home.”

I shook my head sympathetically. “I would’ve never known a thing if you hadn’t agreed to let Catherine show you off in public.”

“Or if you hadn’t agreed to be Webb’s latest arm decoration.”

I took a bite of my lemon filled doughnut and remarked casually, “So—Catherine is a blonde—that’s good. You like blondes.”

He shrugged and stroked the arch of my foot. “Blondes contrast nicely with my dark, good looks. Webb is certainly infatuated with you,” he noted nonchalantly.

“It’s flattering to be wanted.” I shivered as his hand moved inside my pajama leg to stroke my calf.

“I want you.” His eyes were dark and deadly serious.

“Well, he’s needed a little help with his convalescence.” I rubbed my foot against the inside of his leg

His voice was soft and low as he murmured, “I need you.”

Disconcerted, I tried to change the subject. “I overheard Bud telling Sturgis about your ‘marriage’ to Ms. Gale. He was almost beside himself when he described that moment when you kissed the bride.”

“You kissed Webb.” He countered automatically.

“I love it when we keep score.” I sighed and then closed my eyes and concentrated on the hand that was wandering in the direction of my thigh.

“Come here, Mac. You have some jelly on your mouth.” He grabbed both of my legs just behind my knees and pulled me toward him.

“Besides,” I explained patiently, “I thought Webb was dying.”

I offered no resistance as he maneuvered me until I was straddling his lap.

“I thought her mother was dying, too.”

He studied my mouth, and with his thumb dabbed at one corner. Then he rubbed it across my lower lip and stole a quick kiss. “Sweet,” he whispered before taking my mouth completely.

I wrapped myself around him, dropping my uneaten doughnut onto the sofa, not caring that it got squashed somewhere beneath us as he pushed me back into the cushions. His body covered mine and I welcomed the sheer weight of him—the reality of having his body close to mine. He kissed me like he’d missed me. He kissed me like he never wanted to leave me—and suddenly I knew that this visit was about saying goodbye. Again.

I grabbed his face and pulled away, looking at him sadly. “You’re about to go away again, aren’t you?”

“Yes, and this time I really can’t be in touch until it’s over. I am going undercover, and Catherine will be my only contact.”

“Does this have something to do with that lawyer in Maryland?” I suddenly realized that he would still be in the area.

“Yes, and that is all I am going to say.” He had shifted so that we were lying side by side facing each other on the couch.

“Is it dangerous?” I echoed the question he had asked me long ago.

“Very.” He answered honestly knowing I wouldn’t have believed him even if he had denied it.

I sat up as an idea began to take place in my head. “Harm, why don’t you go to the Admiral and request my help on this?”

“Because I don’t want to give him a reason to break my nose. That’s why.” He sat up beside me and pushed himself off the couch.

“Why is this any different than all of the other times Webb borrowed one of us?” The more I thought about it the better this idea sounded.

Harm didn’t seem to agree. He paced around and tried to poke holes in my plan. “Well for one thing the plan is already in place. And for another thing I don’t think the Admiral is too happy with me for leaving him short handed. He certainly wouldn’t appreciate it if I waltzed into his office and asked to borrow you too.”

“I was on this investigation before you were, Harm, so it makes sense to let me help. Besides you need someone to watch your six. What kind of mission planning is that anyway? You need someone on the inside with you.”

“Forget it, Mac. I know you feel like you are being left on the sidelines, and I love you for wanting to be there to back me up. But it’s not going to happen this time.”

I could tell that I was getting nowhere with him, so I decided to back down. “I’m sorry, Harm. I’m worried about you and I just got carried away.” He looked suspicious. He knew it wasn’t like me to give up so easily, but I grabbed his hand and pulled him back down beside me. “Don’t you want to show me how much you’re going to miss me while you’re gone?” Then I kissed him and talking didn’t seem important anymore.

“I want to hold you while you fall asleep,” he whispered later as we tried to bank our desire for each other. Despite my best efforts he was still stubbornly refusing to make love to me until all of this was over.

“I don’t want to close my eyes while you’re still here,” I murmured into his chest even as I stifled a yawn.

He stood and scooped me into his arms, carrying me into the bedroom. “C’mon Sleepyhead. Let me tuck you in.”

I helped pull back the covers and snuggled into my bed wrapped in his arms. As I drifted off to sleep I made a mental note to call Webb and then the Admiral first thing the next morning.

 

 

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