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Classification JAG Story, romance (H/M)
Length Approx 100,000 words, 145 pages (8 ½” x 11”)
Rating AO

 

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

 



Chapter 1

MAC’S APARTMENT
GEORGETOWN
30 DECEMBER 2004

 

Mac paced her apartment restlessly. It was the first night she would be alone, and in her own apartment since her accident. She was the one who had insisted that she was doing well, but it had not been under the best of circumstances. She knew that eventually Harm would have to leave on a mission and they would be separated, but she kept hoping it would not be this soon.

Walking into her kitchen, Mac put the kettle on to make some tea. Somehow, everything she did brought back memories of how Harm had taken care of her.

 

BETHESDA HOSPITAL
24 DECEMBER 2004
MAC’S REMINISCING

 

Mac remembered exactly what had caused her accident on Christmas Eve. She had been thinking about Harm, about Alicia, about her life and what she might have thrown away. She had indeed been given a miracle in that she had no major injuries. Seeing Harm arrive at the hospital had lifted her spirits. She didn’t feel alone once she saw his handsome face, his eyes filled with concern, his brow wrinkling in dismay as he saw her on the bed.

Harm had insisted on staying with her through the night. The implications of his refusal to leave her, not even going to the Wall, which she knew had always been his priority on Christmas Eve were enough to reveal the depths of his feelings for her. Despite the heavy dose of sedation she had been given to ease her pain, she had known exactly what she had said to him.

“I’ve been pushing you away, haven’t I?”

Even now, Mac could not understand why she had reacted to Harm’s concerns the way she had. Knowing him for as long as she had, she knew that the moment she went to him, telling him that Clay was dead, Harm would never leave her side. When she had confessed her medical problems to him, she also knew that Harm would continue to worry about her, yet she had told him without the slightest hesitation.

It wasn’t until the following morning, at the hospital on Christmas Day, when she woke up and looked over at Harm, sleeping on two chairs, then looking down to see their hands still clasped together that she knew he loved her as much as she loved him. Why had she wasted so much time? Why had he wasted so much? Why had they allowed so many things to keep them apart for so long? Mac had smiled as she watched Harm sleeping. His long legs were all bent and he looked so uncomfortable. She wondered how he had gotten the other chair.

It was then that Harm had opened his eyes to see Mac watching him. She gave him a big smile, a smile that he had not seen in quite sometime. He tried to straighten up, but he moaned instead.

“Don’t you dare laugh at me, Sarah MacKenzie,” Harm had said when Mac started giggling.

“I can’t help it, Harm. You look like an old man trying to get out of bed,” she had said, trying to control her laughter.

“I am an old man, Mac, and sleeping on chairs is for young people only.”

“You could have gotten on the bed, next to me,” Mac said, with a twinkle in her eyes.

Harm had finally managed to untangle himself from the confines of the two chairs, but when she said that, he fell back into them.

“Did you say what I think…”

“It’s not like it would be the first time we have slept together, Harmon Rabb. I seem to recall a dark night, under a million stars in Afghanistan, when you insisted that the only way we could keep warm was to share body heat.”

Harm managed to push one chair away. He put his hands on his back as he got up, as if he was in pain, which indeed he was.

“And as I recall, I had to practically force you to get close to me. You would have frozen rather than share your body heat with me.”

Once again, Mac burst into giggles, which in turn made all her aches and pains come awake to torment her. Her laughter died abruptly.

“Now, what was it you were saying about me being old?” Harm had finally straightened out, standing to his full height. “These chairs aren’t made for sleeping.”

“Not for old people anyway,” Mac laughed again, ignoring her own aches and pains.

“I’ll get you for that, Mac. Listen, I’m going to see if I can find a toothbrush…”

“Good morning, Colonel, Commander,” the nurse said as she came in. She was just too cheerful and bright-eyed for Harm and Mac. “I just heard you ask for a toothbrush. I can get you that, as well as some shaving lotion, or you can go downstairs and get them at the gift shop.”

“I need to walk all these kinks out of my legs, so I think I’ll go downstairs. Can Mac, I mean the Colonel, have coffee?”

“Yes. I guess the chairs didn’t work out too well, huh,” Althea, the nurse asked Harm.

“It was much more comfortable than before you brought in the second chair. Thank you so much.”

“I wondered where you had gotten the other chair,” Mac said from her bed.

“Althea came in and saw me trying to get comfortable last night, or was it early this morning? Anyway, she left and came back with this nice big chair, and then told me to keep the second one so I could put my legs up.”

“Althea?”

“Well, I got to know her well last night,” Harm winked at the nurse, a woman in her fifties, a little on the heavy side, but the type of nurse he would want if he were sick.

“So, you two carried on while I slept, huh,” Mac said, a smile on her face.

“Do you blame me, Colonel? I mean, this man is one hunk of man and I wasn’t about to let the fact that I’m older keep me from flirting with him.”

Laughter filled the room as Mac, Harm and Althea appreciated and acknowledged the miracle that had taken place.

“I’ll be back in a few minutes. I have a change of clothes in my car, so I may…”

“If you want to take a shower, you can use the ones in the locker room. I’ll give you a pass,” Althea said.

Harm thought the hot water might help his back, so he agreed and promised to be back in a few minutes.

“Don’t hurry. I have to bathe the Colonel, that is, unless you want to do it.”

Harm and Mac looked at each other. The emotions in Harm’s eyes were duplicated in Mac’s. It was a promising thought, but not here at the hospital.

“I’ll be back. Do you know when she will be released?”

“Since today is Christmas Day, our staff is limited, but I would say that the doctor will want to check on her before he releases her. That might mean it will be afternoon before she gets to go home.”

 

BACK IN MAC’S APARTMENT

 

Mac had smiled at the memories as she fixed her tea. She couldn’t believe that she already missed Harm and he had only been gone a few hours.

Harm had not wanted Mac to leave his apartment, which is where she had been staying until he was given the assignment to investigate a case of an F-14 crash in California. He had tried to talk her into staying at his apartment, but she kept insisting that she was feeling much better. She tried not to think about what had taken place before she left his apartment, at least, not the painful part.

Mac sipped her tea, remembering something that had been quite surprising to her. She could not stand people hovering over her. Over the years, she had felt smothered by Harm’s constant, and at times annoying concerns. She would get so angry with him, insisting that she was a Marine and could take care of herself.

Yet during the almost four days she had spent at Harm’s apartment, she never tired of him waiting on her, asking her if she needed anything. She would just smile at times, even making up things just to have him wait on her.

Putting her cup of tea down, Mac looked into the fire, remembering a few hours earlier, when she taken her first shower. Against his better judgment, and following orders, Harm had returned to work. After he left, Mac decided she would not wait until Harm returned to take her daily sponge bath. She wanted a shower.

They had teased each other about what Althea would say if she knew that Harm was helping her take baths.

Up until that day, Mac had been going into the bathroom, getting everything ready, and then, after she had washed herself as much as she could, Harm would come in and wash her back and help her wash her hair. The bruises from the air bag were slowly beginning to fade. It was Wednesday when she decided to take a shower.

General Cresswell had not been too happy to learn that Mac was staying with Commander Rabb, but after hearing all the excuses he had relented.

“P.O. Coates lives too far now, and her car is not in very good condition. She can’t stay with the Roberts because Harriet is about to give birth to her twins, plus they have two other children. The only other person is Commander Turner, and as I understand it, he will be going to Chicago for a few days. I am the only one left, General.” Harm had made his argument, and as often happened in the courtroom, he won.

“I just hope that all you are doing is taking care of her,” General Cresswell had said sternly.

In the short time he had been there, General Cresswell had already seen the love between Harm and Mac, so it had not surprised him when, after learning about Mac’s accident, Harm had asked for a day off to take care of her after she came home from the hospital.

“It is, Sir,” Harm had replied, but his heart said otherwise.

So Harm had been at work when Mac began getting her clothes ready to go into the shower. Her bruises were still very painful, so she was having a difficult time doing things. She hadn’t realized how much she had come to depend on Harm’s help until that day. Having taken all her clothes off and wrapped in a towel, Mac reached out to turn the water on, but could not get the shower going.

“Ouch,” Mac called out. She stopped and sat on the toilet seat. She was determined to take her shower, so she tried again.

Mac gasped when she felt Harm’s hand over hers, helping her turn the water on. His body was touching hers, and she could feel the heat from his body despite the towel she was wearing, and the heavy fabric of his uniform.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you,” Harm said, his voice husky.

“You…I…I just wanted….you didn’t scare me,” Mac said, slowly turning to face him.

Mac leaned into Harm, feeling enveloped by his strength, but even more so, by the hot breath against her neck. She looked up at him. Their lips were no more than an inch apart. Neither one of them moved. The room seemed to be devoid of anything except the sensations and emotions that were quickly consuming them.

“If…um…you hurry, I…can wait until you get out,” Harm said, his voice barely audible.

“Are you on lunch break,” Mac asked, trying, but not succeeding to hide the tremor in her voice.

“Yeah. I’ll go get something to eat while you shower. Call me if you need anything.” Harm had to put some distance between Mac and him. He turned to walk away, feeling Mac’s hand on his arm, making him pause. He turned to look at her.

“Do you think you can wash my back,” Mac asked meekly.

“Of…course,” Harm said, forced to clear his throat. “Do you want me to do it now, or wait until you call me?”

“I’ll call you when I’m ready,” Mac replied.

Harm walked off, his entire body trembling. He had seen Mac wrapped in a towel only once – when he was taking over for the admiral, and the chair had broken under him. Oh, yes, he had seen Mac in a towel, just as he saw her now, but this was real. It wasn’t a dream, or a fantasy, nor had it been caused by a blow to his head.

Smiling, Harm saw that Mac had made some pasta. There was also a salad in the fridge, and he noticed that she had taken out the salmon steak and some shrimp. He quickly made a chicken sandwich taking leftovers from the night before, but had taken only one bite when Mac called out to him.

Steeling himself against what he knew would be a difficult situation for him, Harm walked over to his shower.

“Are you ready,” Harm called out.

“I hate to ask you this, but can you help me wash my hair? I thought I could do it, but my arm is still very sore.”

“No problem. Let me get a towel to put around myself to keep from getting all wet.”

“Why don’t you take off your shirt? It will be easier.”

Harm had already taken his jacket off, and was very reticent about taking his shirt off. With Mac wearing nothing but raindrops, as Renee had once told him, and then him without a shirt, well, that just might cause problems. However, in order to help her, he knew he would have to take his shirt off. He quickly removed it, and got an old t-shirt, pulled it over his head, then went to wash Mac’s hair.

“Are you afraid the water will shrink you,” Mac teased when she saw him.

“I…well…maybe…come on, let’s wash your hair,” Harm said, smiling at her.

Washing her hair was a little more difficulty than expected. He actually had to almost get in the shower with her, but they managed. She insisted that he wash it twice. It was when he started to wash her back that things became steamy, not just from the hot water pouring down.

Taking the sponge in his hand, Harm lathered it with the lavender smelling gel and began to wash her back, starting with her neck. He pulled her hair up so he wouldn’t get gel on it and tried to stay as far away from Mac as possible. Mac moved her body closer to him. His hand began to slow down as he journeyed down her back, to her shoulder blades, to her waist. He gasped suddenly, not realizing he had been holding his breath for longer than he ever had. As he ran the sponge over her waist, her fingers folded over his, pulling them towards the front of her body. Harm groaned, knowing he was in trouble. His hands began to travel from front to back, feeling every curve he had dreamed of feeling someday, yet not really believing it would ever happen.

Mac took his hands and drew them to her breasts, taking the sponge away from Harm so that his hands were now massaging her gently.

“Mac…I…you feel…so….good,” Harm managed to stammer out.

“Your hands feel good on me,” Mac said, leaning back against Harm. He could feel her trembling as much as he was.

Very slowly, Mac turned around, facing Harm. His t-shirt was soaking wet by now, but his only coherent thoughts were how beautiful Mac looked.

Mac’s eyes burned with passion, inviting him to take her despite her many aches and pains throughout her body. Nothing existed in that single moment except the sensations that were engulfing them, making them almost as one. Her eyes locked with Harm’s, whose own hunger burned into her. Harm made love to her with his eyes, from her wet hair, to her nose, to her lips, her throat, her neck, her breasts, where his gaze lingered, and down to her mound. Resisting her was the worst torture Harm could ever have imagined.

Harm saw the tip of her tongue peek out, moistening her suddenly dry lips despite the water falling on them. Harm was mesmerized by her beauty; regardless of the bruises that still made her face red. His body reacted to her with a fierce arousal. He knew that no woman on earth could make him feel this way. All he could think about was how her lips would taste under his; how her body would feel against his. He tried to move away, but Mac reached out and put her hand on his arm.

“Harm, don’t leave. I need you. I mean…um…I need your help,” Mac said, her voice trembling.

“I can’t get in the shower with you, Mac,” Harm said, his voice sounding raspy.

“Althea said you should,” Mac’s eyes locked with his.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” Harm whispered, drawing closer to her.

“You won’t. Just help me.”

Neither one of them had broken eye contact. Now, Mac looked down at his lips, then her eyes went back up to his. His eyes were setting her on fire as he gazed at her hair, her eyes, her throat, the hollow beneath it, and the wondrous beauty of her bare skin.

“Mac…”

Mac had reached up and her arms had slowly made their way to his neck, then locked behind his head, bringing Harm closer. She saw his eyes exploring her body, giving her the sensation that his hands were caressing her. She shivered as she lifted her lips to him. She made him forget that he was still wearing part of his uniform.

Harm took a deep breath, his heart pounding as he put his arms around her carefully. As he did, he also turned the water off. Very carefully, he put one arm behind her head and drew her to him. As their lips touched, a jolt of electricity ran through them, making them forget everything but their kisses. Mac did not feel the pain. Harm was so gentle, yet so passionate; it was almost more painful than her bruises. After what seemed like an eternity, they pulled back just long to take in a deep breath, then their lips came together in an incredibly revealing kiss. Mac’s mouth was soft and plaint, moist from his kisses until she felt his tongue seeking entrance. She granted him access, allowing his tongue to probe her deeply. Their tongues came together in a most satisfying awareness of each other’s taste. Mac plundered Harm’s mouth, tasting him, devouring him. Their tongues were unable to separate even for one second.

Becoming aware of her condition, Harm knew that he had to stop before he hurt her, but she was holding on to him. Mac yanked his t-shirt off, wanting to feel his bare skin against hers. It was burning. She moaned softly as she finally felt his bare skin against her bare breasts. Harm groaned loudly. He had to stop now. Her bare breasts were crushed against his chest, and he didn’t ever want to let her go. Mac’s fingers began exploring him as she stepped out of the shower. He was so afraid of hurting her, yet she kept pressing her body against his. She sighed contentedly as she felt his arousal burning into her. Harm tried to think rationally, but with Mac’s fingers touching him all over, it was almost impossible. By now, the pants of his uniform were all wet from Mac’s wet body, but his only thought was how perfect she fit into his own body.

Harm captured her lips once again. Their kisses were incredible. They had kissed before, but never like this, never with this total surrender. Mac could possess him with just her kisses. Reason and logic beginning to return to Harm’s mind, he began to slow down. He put his forehead against hers, his breathing erratic and harsh.

“Oh, Mac…I’m so…”

“Don’t tell me you’re sorry,” Mac said, burying her face in his bare chest.

“I’m…I’m just sorry I have to stop. I don’t want to hurt you, Mac. I would never forgive myself if I caused you physical pain. I’ve already caused you enough emotional pain…”

“I wouldn’t even mind the physical pain, Harm, but you’re right.” She looked at Harm’s state of dress, smiling. “Now that you are half undressed, will you help me get dressed?”

“We’re playing with fire, Mac. I want you so much, I ache all over.”

“Then I have to tell you that I would rather suffer physical pain as long as we…I’m sorry, Harm. It’s just that we’ve waited so long.”

“A few days longer won’t make that much difference then, will it,” Harm had smiled at her, that sexy smile that made her knees weak and the butterflies flutter in her stomach, along with making her warm all over. “When we finally surrender to our love, I won’t let you go until you beg me to stop.”

“I guess not,” Mac said, standing quite unashamedly naked in front of Harm. “But you’re right. When we finally make love…make love, it won’t be just once,” Mac smiled sexily at him. Just saying those two words had almost destroyed Mac. Making love with Harm was all she could think of, yet she knew they would have to wait just a little longer.

Harm looked at her, wondering if he was a fool to say no, yet knowing that she had not healed yet. Besides, she was right. When they finally surrendered to their passion, to their love, they would not sleep for hours.

“Mac, you are driving me crazy standing there with no clothes on. Do you realize what you are doing to me?”

“About the same thing you’re doing to me, Harmon Rabb.”

“Come on, Colonel MacKenzie, let’s get you dressed before I change my mind,” Harm said, wrapping her in a towel.

Mac had a melancholy look on her face as she remembered what had happened before he left to go back to work. He had helped her get dressed, his hands and fingers caressing her soft skin. He finally pushed himself away, insisting that he had to go.

She had followed Harm to the door, holding his hand. He couldn’t take his eyes off of her, bending down at the last minute to kiss her again. He kept the kiss light. Mac missed him the second he closed the door. She leaned against the door, her body shivering as the memories of their kisses filled her.

 

BACK IN MAC’S APARTMENT

 

Now, as Mac recalled the past four days with Harm, she wondered why she had insisted on returning to her apartment. At least in his bed, she could smell that wonderful scent of his, feel his presence in everything she saw and touched.

 

REMINISCING

 

Harm had returned barely two hours later. Mac had been asleep and was startled to find him home so early. She remembered what had happened two hours ago. Was that why he had come home now? Mac knew she could not deny him if he wanted her, and suddenly, she had begun to shiver with anticipation, but she had been disappointed.

He had not come home to make love to her. Harm had been assigned an investigation in China Beach, California, where an F-14 had crashed near a playground. He had come home to get a change of clothes before he left. Looking at Mac on the bed, he knew he had awakened her from a nap.

“I’m sorry, Mac. I should have known you were resting. You’ll have time to get some sleep and rest while I’m gone.”

“Gone? Where are you going,” Mac asked, rubbing the sleep out of eyes and disappointed that he had not mentioned their kisses from earlier.

“China Beach, California.” Harm explained the mission as quickly as he could as he was rushing around packing his clothes. “My plane leaves in a little over two hours. I spoke to Jennifer and asked her if she would come check on you while I’m gone. I should be back by New Year’s Eve.”

“You can’t possibly be back by then, Harm. You’re working alone. It will take you longer…”

“No, I won’t be. They’ve assigned someone to help me out. I can’t remember her name, wait, a Lt. Graves. She will be assisting me.”

Mac had gotten up, walked over to the living room area to give Harm some privacy, but when she heard that a woman would be helping him, the jealousy monster took over.

“So, you’re working with a woman. Do they always have to assign a woman to you? What do you want to bet she has blonde hair, blue eyes, very beautiful and develops a huge crush on you?”

Harm stopped what he was doing. After leaving her earlier, when they had shared such intimate and passionate kisses, he had planned on bringing her flowers and cooking dinner for her. But that was not to be. When he had arrived back at JAG, only twenty minutes elapsed before Coates called to tell him that General Cresswell wanted to see him ASAP. So, his plans had been ruined, and now, he realized that since arriving home, he had not even said one single personal thing to her. He turned to Mac, seeing the forlorn look on her face.

“I’m sorry about this, Mac. As for Lt. Graves, if she is blonde, please remember that there is this gorgeous brunette who just happens to own my heart. I don’t care what my assistant will look like; the only one who matters to me is you. I promise you, I will be back for New Year’s Eve, even if I have to charter one of Frank’s planes and return afterwards.” Harm had walked over to her, holding her arms with his two hands.

Mac looked up at Harm, seeing the warmth and love in his eyes. She shivered slightly, remembering their kisses from earlier.

“I’m sorry, Harm. I don’t know why…”

Harm’s lips covered hers in a kiss that left no doubt about his feelings. Mac managed to wrap one arm around his neck, drawing him closer to her. He bent down and picked her up carefully, carrying her over to the sofa. He never released her lips as their kisses grew hungrier, more demanding. Finally drawing apart for much needed air, Mac buried her face in Harm’s neck.

“Can’t you leave later,” Mac asked, so quietly that Harm wondered if he had heard her right. “I just don’t want to wait any longer.”

“The sooner I leave, the quicker I can get back to you. Oh, Mac,” Harm said, kissing her again, trying so hard to be gentle and careful with her, even as his passion intensified.

The seconds turned to minutes as Harm and Mac moaned softly against each other, their kisses filling them both with a raging fire. Knowing he had to stop before something happened, Harm drew away, still holding her.

“Make love to me,” Mac said. “Now. I don’t want to wait until you return.”

“I can’t, Mac. Oh, sweetheart, I want you so much, but I won’t hurt you. Besides, I want the first time for us to be special, not hurried. Didn’t you say earlier that we would make love for hours? That’s how I feel. I want to go to sleep with you in my arms and wake up and see your face on my shoulder when I wake up.”

“I want all that too,” Mac said, her voice subdued. “It’s never going to happen, is it? When I’m here, you’re gone. When you’re here, I’m gone. Either that, or you’re not ready, or…”

“Listen to me, Mac,” Harm tried to make his point, knowing his time was running out. “Please be patient a little longer. Besides, you are still very sore from your accident. Look at me,” he lifted her face to meet his eyes. “When we finally do make love, I don’t want to risk hurting you. I don’t want to make love to you and then would leave you. Besides, I would also be so afraid of hurting you.”

“I’m not a china doll, Harm. Okay, so I do hurt, but in your arms, I would forget all the aches and pain.”

“But I can’t forget them, Mac. If I did anything to hurt you, I would never forgive myself,” Harm said.

Mac pulled away from Harm, leaving him bewildered. She turned to him, kissing him lightly as she saw the look on his face, and then turned away. Mac knew there was nothing either one of them could do, but she did need some time alone.

“Please don’t take this the wrong way, Harm. Since you have to go on this mission, I think I’d like to go home. I haven’t been there in quite sometime now, and well, it’s not like I would be leaving you anyway. I would also like to get other clothes. Please don’t say no. I’ll be alone here, so it won’t make a difference if I’m alone in my apartment. It’s also a little easier for Jennifer to check up on me there. ”

“You have a point,” Harm said, frustrated that he had to leave her at all. "You are coming back, aren’t you?”

“Of course I am. I can plan our New Year’s Eve celebration just in case you get back in time, and if you don’t, we’ll celebrate when you get back. I need this time alone, Harm, so please don’t get angry. You and I have been together 24/7 since you brought me home from the hospital. We both know what we want finally, but I do need time alone. I didn’t even spend this much time with Mic or Cl…Harm, I’m sorry. I don’t know why I said that.”

Harm got up slowly, careful not hurt Mac. Her words had been like a dagger shoved deeply into his heart. He thought they were beyond all that, but somehow, their past kept coming back to haunt them.

“Maybe you do have to think about us, if there is an us, Mac. I’d prefer for you to stay here, but it is up to you. I won’t force you. If you’d like, I can drop you off before I leave, or I can call Jennifer and have her drive you home. I really do have to get ready. I want you to know one thing, Mac. There hasn’t been anyone else for me since Renee. I hurt you when you came to me after Mic left. I thought you understood. I didn’t want anyone else coming between us ever again. Perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps I was wrong about a lot of things.”

“Harm, we have to talk,” Mac said, getting up and following him to the bedroom.

“I think we have talked ourselves out, Mac. What was it you said at Manderlee? You said when you start dissecting a relationship, it’s over. I should have listened to you. Do you want me to drive you home?”

“Yes, please,” Mac said, feeling Harm’s pain, for it was her own also. “I don’t know how long you will be gone, but please don’t allow my words to come between us. You’re the only man I love and want, Harm. I don’t know why I even brought them up. I thought we were finally at a point where we could find our way together, and as for me, I am ready. We better hurry, or you’ll be late..”

I have been ready for a long time, Mac. I have to go. Can you be prepared to leave in fifteen minutes? I’m going to take my baggage downstairs. I also have to make a few phone calls.”

“I’ll be ready,” Mac said, her voice once again as loving and warm as just a few minutes earlier.

Taking his baggage downstairs, Harm could still hear her words. He could almost taste the pain in his mouth. Just a few minutes ago, he had been kissing Mac, their tongues tangling and dancing together, and now, he felt as if his life had just been destroyed. He had given Mac time to get over Clay. He had not wanted her to come to him right away, but he had wanted to be there for her as a friend. Instead, she had pushed him away. Harm took a deep breath, forcing himself to concentrate on the rest of his life. He called Mattie to tell her that he might not make it before New Year’s Day. He called Jennifer and asked her to check on Mac, informing her that Mac would be in her own apartment. He called his Mom and Frank to see if they were going to be home. They were thrilled to know that he might visit them.

As the elevator doors opened on his floor, he saw the door to his apartment open and Mac standing there, her coat on. She had packed her few clothes in a backpack and was ready to go. She would not look at him. The drive from Harm’s apartment to Mac’s was a quiet one as they listened to the top twenty tunes of 2004. Somehow none of them seemed to fit their mood. Mac was horrified at what she might have done. How she possibly have mentioned Mic and Clay when she loved Harm so much?

It was on this note that Harm and Mac ended what they had hoped would be a new beginning for them. Neither one of them mentioned their plans for New Year’s Eve. They had talked about ordering dinner in, and just spending it together, watching movies, just the two of them. If they were still awake at midnight, they would watch the ball at Times Square drop. Harm had looked forward to it, hoping that it would be the start of a new life for them. A life together. Now, as he helped her up to her apartment, he wondered if they would ever have that future, or if there would always be doubts. He took her things up and walked her up to her apartment.

Harm was about to get in the elevator just as Mac called out to him. He hesitated in turning back. He couldn’t ride this roller coaster anymore, but he could not help himself. He had barely turned around in time to catch Mac flying into his arms. Their lips came together once again as if they had a will of their own. Harm wrapped his arms around her, momentarily forgetting about her bruises and surrendering to the wonder of their kisses. This time it was Mac who drew back, smiling.

“I’ll be waiting for you,” Mac said.

“I’ll be coming home to you,” Harm whispered, kissing the tip of her nose. “Get some rest. I’ll call you as soon as I get there.”

“Don’t worry about calling me. Just get the investigation over with as soon as you can. I’ll see you soon.”

Even as Harm drove away, the warmth of her lips still on his, he already missed her, hoping that their love would be victorious. He just couldn’t be wrong about their love. He had tried to be there for her as a friend, but he realized that the love he felt for her was making matters worse. He had felt her pushing him out of her life and he had made the decision to wait, but for how long? Harm wasn’t young anymore. He knew that if he wanted to have a family, to have any kind of happiness, he would have to leave the Navy, for he knew that the only woman he wanted was Mac. Harm would be counting the hours until he returned, and if Mac had changed her mind, he would have to live with it.

 

CHAPTER 2

MAC’S APARTMENT
29 DECEMBER 2004
LATER THAT SAME EVENING

 

Mac sat on her sofa with an afghan over her legs. She was now drinking her third cup of tea, still remembering what had transpired during the last few hours.

She could not let him leave with the hurt feelings between them. When Harm had walked her to her door, Mac had turned and saw him about to get on the elevator. She had called out to him, unable to stop herself. She ran into his arms. As she remembered now, she ran her fingers over her lips, feeling the strength and warmth of Harm’s lips on hers. For just a few seconds, he seemed for forget about her bruised body. He had pulled her so close to him, it was as if he was a drowning man and she was his lifeline. Their tongues had collided against one another, hungry for their taste. Being in his arms, feeling his arms around her was like being home; finally accepting that this was the only place for her to be. She had to make things right before he left.

“Oh, Harm, how could I have compared you to Mic and Clay? You are my one and only love. Forgive me for hurting you. It was so foolish of me,” Mac sighed as she remembered hearing her words, which were now echoing throughout her apartment.

The tears slid down her face, and Mac did not even try to stop them. If she was alone and lonely, she knew that it had been because of all the wrong choices she had made. Mac knew that Harm was also to blame, but in the last two years, since her breakup with Mic, she could see his feelings for her in his eyes. Harm loved her, not just as a friend, but as the woman he wanted to share the rest of his life with and if possible, have children. Remembering the pain in his eyes, Mac knew she would be counting the hours until he returned to her. This time, there would be no stopping for she wouldn’t let him. She needed him as much as she needed the air she breathed or the water she drank. He was her life.

Mac fell asleep on the sofa, pulling the afghan up higher. She knew her face was tear-stained. She knew her eyes were swollen, but nothing mattered except hearing Harm’s voice again. Somehow, as she drifted between sleep and wakefulness, Mac knew their lives were about to change forever. They had waited nine years, and now, all she wanted was to be in Harm’s arms and feel his lips on hers. She dared not think of more.

She could not remember the dream that woke her up, but almost two hours after she had fallen asleep, Mac’s eyes flew open, her heart suddenly filled with not fear, but apprehension. She got up and went to bed, determined to get some rest so that she would be ready for his return. After thirty minutes, Mac got up, knowing she wasn’t going to sleep. Putting on a warm robe, she walked back into the kitchen, filled the teakettle with water once again, and got another cup down. Within a few minutes, she was seated in her living room, staring at the fire she had started afresh.

Looking at the phone next to her, she kept waiting for it to ring. She finally got up and walked to the window. Looking out, she saw the snow falling softly. How she wished that Harm was with her. During the last few days, their evenings had been so special. Harm would make dinner, start a fire, and then they would eat on the sofa, off two trays, sitting next to each other. Harm had only been back at work for a day or two, but he did discuss some of the cases that were going on at work. She realized now how much she missed those special evenings and moments she had shared with him. She wandered back to the sofa, willing the phone to ring. With her ability to tell time without even looking at a clock, Mac continued to count the minutes until finally she heard the ring of the phone. Grabbing it before it rang twice, Mac could hardly wait to hear Harm’s voice.

“Harm? Please tell me it’s you.”

“Good thing it is,” Harm laughed into the phone. “What if it had been General Cresswell calling to check on you?”

“He wouldn’t call me at this time. I’ve been so worried about you.”

“I’m sorry, Mac. When I got here, Lt. Graves was waiting for me and from then on, it’s been non-stop. Also, I didn’t want to wake you up just in case you were napping. How are you feeling?”

“I’m fine now that you’ve called me,” Mac said, the fear in her voice beginning to ease.

“Has anyone been by to check on you?”

“It’s only been a few hours since you left, but no, everyone is at work, remember? It’s just that I miss you. Besides, you know how I worry about you when you fly.”

“I thought that was only when I was the pilot,” Harm teased.

“I worry about you most of the time,” Mac said, her voice sounding like a little girls.

“Good, now you know how worried I’ve been about you. Please tell me that you aren’t trying to do too much.”

“Well, I am going to take a nice, long bubble bath. I just wish you were here to help me and see me wearing only bubbles.”

There was a light pause before Harm responded.

“You like to torture me, don’t you,” Harm asked, her words spreading a warmth throughout him. “Mac, I’m sorry about this mission. I would much rather be with you, holding you close in my arms, but orders are orders.”

“I should be apologizing to you, Harm. Do you think you’ll be back in time for our special celebration on New Year’s Eve? By the way, do I win my bet? Is Lt. Graves a blonde?”

Harm didn’t answer for several seconds. Actually, Lt. Kathy Graves was not too far from where he was calling Mac, and he had to smile at Mac’s words.

“I didn’t know we had a bet. If I win, what’s my prize?”

“Would you be happy winning me?”

Harm took a deep breath. That’s all he ever wanted since the day he first laid eyes on her, and now his dream just might come true. He tried to push all thoughts of making love to Mac aside, and concentrated on answering her other question.

“You’re the only prize I want. By the way, you are indeed clairvoyant, aren’t you? Yes, Kathy is blonde and has blue eyes. She is also turning out to be a big help in this investigation, so yes, I am hoping that I can be there tomorrow evening. It doesn’t matter if I’m finished with the investigation because I’ve already talked to Frank. He has agreed to let me fly one of his private planes if I’m not done. I can always come back later since some of the people we need to talk to won’t be in on New Year’s. I may be late getting in, but I promise that I will get there before midnight. Promise me that you will take it easy.”

“Good, that means I win the bet and I want you. Harm, it’s snowing heavily here, so please don’t take any chances. As much as I am looking forward to tomorrow night, I’d rather know that you are safe. Please don’t worry about me so much, Harm. I’m fine.”

“I know you are, Mac, and I know you can take care of yourself, but is it okay if I still worry about my best friend. I promise you that if I hear the weather is a factor in getting back to you, I’ll call immediately. If I can’t be there, then I will be on the phone talking to you at midnight,” Harm tried to reassure Mac.

They had talked for several minutes longer. Mac had felt a pang of pain when he called her his best friend, but decided to ignore it for now. She wanted so much to be much more than just his best friend, yet it had been her who had pushed him away for several months now. She smiled knowing that tomorrow night, she would be much more than just his best friend. Her body shivered in anticipation.

After hanging up with Harm, Mac felt even lonelier than before his call. She needed him so much, for so many reasons. Yes, she wanted to surrender to their physical needs, but just seeing his face, hearing his voice, and feeling his lips on hers would be enough for now. He was indeed her best friend, and no one could compare to him. It was then she knew she wanted to go back to his apartment, their apartment.

 

MAC’S APARTMENT
30 DECEMBER 2004

 

Going into the bedroom, Mac decided to take a shower. Suddenly she remembered she had told Harm she was going to take a bubble bath, which sounded ideal to her. Besides, a bubble bath would help her. Harm didn’t have a tub, and she missed soaking in a nice warm bath. It might also help the aches and pains that still plagued her. Gathering all she needed, Mac made sure that she had her cell phone right by the tub just in case Harm called again.

It wasn’t easy, but Mac managed to get into the tub without too much pain. She wished that Harm were there to help her, shivering at the thought of him holding her against him without any obstacles between them.

Mac stayed in the tub for over twenty minutes, smiling as she remembered Harm’s voice. She made a vow that Harm would share a bubble bath with her very soon. As she dried herself off, her thoughts wondered to Lt. Graves. Harm hadn’t said too much about her, only that she was indeed a blonde with blue eyes. Mac knew that she had indeed developed a crush on Harm. Who wouldn’t? But then again, Harm belonged to her, once again filling her with a warm glow as she waited for the following night. The bubble bath had been like a sleeping pill for Mac, for when she got out, she fell into bed, and was asleep within minutes.

Her body aching, her head still hurting, and her heart and body missing Harm, Mac did not wake up until 0645. She had slept fitfully for almost five hours, waking up feeling uneasy. Throughout her sleep, she had terrifying dreams of Harm walking away from her at the beach at Manderlee, this time, never returning. She dreamed he was flying an F-14, and it had crashed, killing Harm. She had screamed out when she saw his broken body, telling her that he loved her and then taking his last breath. Mac had also dreamed of Harm with another woman, a blonde. He looked so happy as he gathered her to him. It was only after Mac woke up that she realized that Harm was in his dress uniform, and the blonde woman was in a bridal gown. As can happen only in dreams, Mac saw not just one bride for Harm, but two, a blonde and a redhead, but no brunette.

Mac’s dream had changed. Harm was flying a small plane, and as her fears became part of her dream, she watched as the plane came crashing down. Somehow, she was there, running to Harm. She held his head on her lap, seeing his blood covered face. He had looked up at her, his hand reaching up to caress her cheek, and he had tried to utter the words ‘I love you”, and then he was gone. She cried out his name, begging him not to leave her. Her sobbing woke her up. It was then that Mac decided to get up. She could always take a nap during the day.

Mac worried about Harm trying to fly home in this weather, especially after her dream. It had been so vivid, so real that she still felt the pain of losing Harm. As soon as he called her again, she was going to insist that he wait until the snow stopped. She tried not to let the fear consume her, as it did every time he flew. If he chartered a plane, then he would be the pilot and the fear would not leave her. She decided to give him until noon to call her back, remembering the time difference. Finally dressed, pleased with herself that she had been able to do everything on her own, Mac realized that she was very hungry.

Going back into the kitchen, Mac took out the makings for French toast and bacon, knowing that if Harm were there, she would have to leave out the bacon. The seconds ticking away in her mind became all consuming, adding to her fear. She had eaten half of her breakfast when her phone rang. She picked it up immediately.

“Harm?”

“Yes, it’s me. How are you? Did you sleep well? How’s the pain?”

“Oh, Harm, I’m fine. I even took my bubble bath, but somehow it wasn’t the same without you here to help me. Yes, I slept, and the pain is easing up.”

“Good, good, good. Did I interrupt your breakfast?”

“Now who’s clairvoyant,” Mac smiled as she put another piece of the French toast in her mouth.

“When it comes to you, I am,” Harm said, his voice deep and intimate.

Mac felt her back tingling, and her hands began to shake.

“I…um…how is the investigation going,” Mac asked, her voice soft and trembling.

“Surprisingly well, especially since I don’t have my favourite partner with me. Lt. Graves is a big help. Oh, by the way, I’ve met another gorgeous woman, this time a redhead, with green eyes. I’m surrounded by beautiful women, but the one I want isn’t here,” Harm told her. He had started out by teasing her a little, but his last words sounded quite melancholy.

“A red-head? Is she in the military also?”

“No. Actually, there had been one casualty on the ground from the F-14 crash. We had not identified him until we ran into Megan. She was concerned about her father because she had not seen him since the day of the crash. It turned out that the one casualty was her father.”

“I’m so sorry to hear that, and I wish I were with you so I could help you.”

“Lt. Graves is very enthusiastic about this investigation, so, yes, we are getting close. I have to notify Megan that it was her father who was killed, as we haven’t informed her yet. We wanted to be very sure before we gave her the bad news. She told us that her father is in the habit of taking off for several days at a time, so we didn’t want to alarm her until we had conclusive proof. We have it now.”

“Is she very young,” Mac asked, finishing up her French toast.

“Well, depends on what you consider young. I would say she is in her mid-thirties. She doesn’t have anyone, so it will be difficult for her.”

“So you are surrounded by beautiful women, Harm,” Mac said quietly. “I am so sorry about Megan’s father. What are you going to do?”

“I’ll tell you when I get home, but I should be finished today and home by tomorrow around 1400, no later.”

“Harm, it’s snowing pretty hard here, so please don’t…”

“Don’t worry, Mac, I’m not flying, at least, I’m not the pilot. So, tell me what you did last night.”

“As I said, I took a bubble bath, but I missed you being here.”

“Can I take a rain check on that bubble bath, or was it a one time thing?”

“You can have a rain check anytime,” Mac said, smiling happily.

There was a few seconds of silence before Harm came back on.

“I think we have to talk before the bubble bath, don’t we,” Harm said, his voice filled with apprehension.

“Maybe. Harm, we’ve talked so much, but you’re right, there are certain things that need to get cleared up. I don’t want our talk to…”

“I know, Mac. I’m so afraid of that talk and the consequences that I would love to put it off, but you and I know we can’t. I…you…Mac, I just miss you so much that I don’t think I can go through this again.”

“I know, Harm. I miss you also, more than you’ll ever know. Harm?”

“Hmmm?”

“You aren’t going to lose me, if that’s what you’re afraid of, but am I going to lose you?”

Harm didn’t answer right away. In those few seconds, Harm relived his life from the moment he met Mac. He had looked into her eyes that day so long ago, knowing that she had changed his life forever, yet it was now nine years later and all they had done was to hurt one another.

“Harm?”

“I’m here, Mac. As I told you in the hospital, things haven’t changed in my heart. I know how I feel. I’ve known for three years now. It’s you who has to decide, you who has to make a choice. There’s Lt. Graves, Mac. I have to go. If this meeting goes as expected, this case should be wrapped up in a few hours.”

“Okay, but I want you to know something, Harm. I love you. Don’t doubt that anymore, please, despite my hurtful words, please don’t doubt that I’m very much in love with you.”

Mac did not give Harm a chance to reply, or to tell her that he loved her. She hung up; tears streaking down her face. Harm was right. Mac also had known how much he loved her, from the moment she had seen his face busting down the door in the hut in Paraguay, but she had turned away from him. She had to clear her mind and forget her doubts, for she knew, in her heart, that the man she wanted in her life was Harmon Rabb.

It was only now that Mac allowed herself to relive her failed, and tragic relationships. Before Chris, there had been at least two or three young boys, but they really didn’t count. It had mostly been about being drunk and doing what all the other couples were doing, having sex. Most of the time, Mac could not remember the next morning, but she always felt a little dirty. She would get up and shower, trying to scrub that feeling away.

Marrying Chris was just a way of getting away from her father, and to a certain extent, she was also trying to change her life. She felt marriage would make her more responsible. The drinking still controlled her at the time, so her marriage to Chris had truly meant very little.

Between Chris and John Farrow, there had been other men, but mostly just to ease her loneliness, more than anything else. She certainly hadn’t fallen in love with any of them until she met John. In retrospect, Mac had known for years that she wanted so desperately to love and be loved that she gave in to the lust and physical attraction that had existed between John and her. It had not lasted, for by then, Mac was truly attempting to make something out of her life. She had stopped drinking, so she couldn’t blame the affair on alcohol. She had cared deeply about both Chris and John Farrow, but she hadn’t loved either one of them. Thankfully, John Farrow also realized the error of their affair and when Mac left a few days later, he was quite relieved and hoped that no one would ever find out about them. Unfortunately, their affair had been discovered, but Mac’s knowledge that she had never truly loved John Farrow were reinforced when she saw him again.

Looking back, Mac felt the guilt of hurting John’s career. She wasn’t a young teenager anymore, and she should have been more sensible, regardless of John’s persistent pleas. Once again, Mac vowed to change her ways.

For Mac, it would be very difficult, for she was not one who enjoyed being alone. She liked having a man in her life, to cherish her and care for her. She enjoyed the physical side of any relationship, but she loved the feeling of sharing her life with someone she cared for, and who cared for her.

Her career in the military was the most successful goal Mac had ever achieved. She began to feel worthy of being the respected Marine she had become, thanks to her Uncle Matt’s advice.

Sadly, Mac remembered Dalton. He showered her with attention, lavishing her with love. How could any woman help falling in love with a man like Dalton? He was handsome, successful, and most importantly, a very caring man. Even though she had already met Harmon Rabb, and she knew that he was special in her life, she was also aware that they could never become involved without hurting their careers. Yes, she had fantasies about Harm even back then, but when Dalton came along, she truly thought she had found the man with whom she would spend the rest of her life. It wasn’t to be, and it was Harm who made her realize that she didn’t love Dalton the way he deserved to be loved. When she had to choose between Dalton and Harm, she chose Harm. Oh, Harm hadn’t pursued her in a romantic manner, but he was always there for her, even though he often said some painful things to her, but then again, she did she. She had to be fair.

Her friendship with Harm had become very special to both of them, yet they continued to hurt one another. She smiled as she remembered an old song called “You Always Hurt the One You Love.” At that time, however, they only shared a special friendship, never love.

“Yes, it was love, but neither one of us was ready to admit it,” Mac said, her words startling her.

Her fantasies about Harm had already escalated to heights Mac had never expected, and certainly never thought they would ever become a reality.

So, why had Mac been so hesitant about becoming involved with Harm? She wasn’t blind. When she saw Harm’s face in the tiny hut in Paraguay, her heart had felt such joy, yet at the same time, by then, Clay had entered her life, albeit as just a friend also.

Before Clay, there was Mic. To this day, Mac felt the guilt over hurting Mic the way she had. He didn’t deserve to be hurt the way she had hurt him. Her relationship with Mic had been so bittersweet. Yet once again, Mac felt she had to be fair to herself. Mic was quite persistent in his courting of her. He had always had his doubts about her feelings regarding Harm, but that didn’t stop him, and she let him, thereby hurting him even more.

Mac felt the tears falling as she recalled the night on the ferry with Harm in Sydney. She had been so sure that he felt the same way about her as she did about him. She had seen the way he looked at her when they were at work. Yet he had turned her down and Mic had been there to pick up her broken heart. She had not wanted to accept the ring, but he had insisted.

“Oh, come on, Sarah MacKenzie, that’s just an excuse,” Mac’s voice came out angry and bitter. “You know it is. You are a very strong woman and you are always reminding everyone that you are, so why couldn’t you say no to Mic?”

Unable to answer or argue with her conscious, Mac knew that she had allowed Mic to manipulate her life. She was hurting, and she turned to Mic, aware that she was hurting Harm as well. He deserved it, she had thought at the time.

Her entire relationship with Mic was one of allowing him to make decisions for her, which in turn would anger her, and then she would forgive him in bed. Mic knew just how to make things right with her, and she always had a feeling that to Mic, winning her over was like beating Harm in court. Mic’s smile always seemed to come out a smirk, yet for two years she allowed him in her life, her heart and her bed. What would have happened if Harm had not crashed the night before their wedding? Would she have married Mic? Would she have settled for second best for the rest of her life?

“Yes, you would have,” the words came out, again sounding quite bitter.

Getting up angrily, Mac went back to the kitchen, taking her teacup and washing it out. She didn’t want to think anymore, and yet at the same time, she had to understand within herself why, although she was looking forward to finally making love with Harm, she had hurt him once again. Her mind, however, returned to Mic.

“If I would have married Mic, I know that we would no longer be together,” Mac said. She needed to hear the words aloud. She needed to accept what she had done, for in the end, it had been her choice and hers alone.

“I know that Mic wanted children and he might have been a great father, but I believe the only reason he was so insistent about my accepting the ring in the first place, then rushing me into making the engagement official, and setting a wedding date, was because he was afraid he would lose me. He wanted me to be his wife, his possession, and if having children made him feel like he owned me, then he would have had a dozen with me, just to satisfy his ego.” Mac was no longer surprised that she was talking to herself. Her rebuttal came back quickly.

“Mic would never have been as persistent as he was if I had just plain said ‘no’, and made him realize that he wasn’t the man I wanted. I let him control my life. I allowed him to do things to me that I would never allow any man to do. It was as if I was with Mic just to hurt Harm. The night of my engagement party was proof enough. As I stood next to Mic, listening to Admiral Chegwidden wish us a happy marriage, my hand was reaching out to touch Harm’s. I could still feel his lips on mine.”

Mac walked back to the window once more, seeing the snow piling up. She decided that if she was going back to Harm’s apartment, she had to do it soon, before the weather became too dangerous.

Walking into her bedroom, Mac put on some warm slacks, a sweater and a jacket. She had taken only one pain pill since she had returned to her apartment, but the aches and pain were lessening. She decided that she would get packed, call a cab, then take her medicine, if she needed it, once she was at Harm’s. For over an hour, Mac put her memories aside, wanting onto to get back to the place she felt was home to her now.

Just as she was about to call the cab, the phone rang again. The fluttering of her heart told Mac that it was Harm.

“Hey,” Mac said as she answered the phone.

“What? No ‘Harm’ this time?”

“I knew it was you. How did the meeting go,” Mac asked.

“Just as we expected. I’m on my way over to Megan’s now to give her the good news, then all I have to do is wait for my transportation. I already missed the last flight tonight, so I won’t be leaving until tomorrow morning. That’s why I’m calling.”

There was silence on the other end of the line. There were so many things that Mac wanted to say to Harm, but she opted to wait until she saw him in person. Changing the conversation, Mac tried to ease the tension.

“So, how old is Lt. Graves? What about this Megan? Is she attractive?”

“Yes, they are both quite beautiful. Lt. Graves wants to apply at JAG. She’s a little over-enthusiastic and talks too much, but who knows, she just might be what JAG needs right now. As for Megan, she is exceptionally beautiful, but not as beautiful as you. She took the news of her father’s death very well. I was able to give her some news that I hope will help ease her pain. It’s can’t bring her father back, but it just might help her to memorialize him. He was an artist. I don’t know if I had told that in our previous conversations.”

“No, you hadn’t, but I’m glad things might be working out for her. Harm, with all these beautiful women around you, are you still mine?”

Once again, the slight pause filled Mac with an almost unbearable pain. Had she lost Harm to one of these women? How could he fall in love with one of them so quickly?

“I’ve been yours for the last nine years, Sarah MacKenzie, but I’ve been too afraid, and too stupid to tell you. Don’t worry about Megan and Lt. Graves. Yes, they are beautiful women, but they aren’t you.” Harm’s last words had been filled with love and passion.

“I can hardly wait to see you,” Mac said, the words having difficulty getting past the lump in her throat.

“I know. I can hardly wait to see you,” Harm said. “I better go talk to Megan.”

“Wait, Harm. I’m going back to your apartment. Don’t worry, I’ll get someone to drive me, or I’ll take a cab since I don’t have a car…”

“Why are you going back,” Harm interrupted her.

“It’s just that at your apartment, everything reminds me of you. It’s strange how I used to love my apartment, but it feels so cold and empty without you.”

“When are you leaving,” Harm asked as he noticed Lt. Graves motioning to him.

“As soon as I call a cab. I’m already packed and ready to go. I know you would have preferred for Jennifer to drive me, but she is at work, and I don’t want to bother anyone else. I just want to go back home,” Mac said, her voice fading slightly as she said the word ‘home’.

“I’ll call you later today, Mac. If you can’t pack, don’t worry about it. I can always go back and get what you need. I really have to go. Mac, I miss you so much.”

“I miss you too, Harm. I can hardly wait to see you again.”

“Mac, I…I…”

“Me, too,” Mac said, hanging up. She knew what Harm was trying to tell her. Although neither one of them had said those three little words to each other in the way they should, they saw it in their eyes every time they locked at each other. Besides, she didn’t want to tell him over the phone, nor did she want to hear the words from him this way. It just didn’t seem right. When they finally admitted their love, she wanted to be in his arms, his lips on hers. Mac smiled as she became very aware that their long-denied love was about to consummated very soon and she could hardly wait.

Mac left her suitcase by the door, planning to ask the cab driver to carry it down for her. Jennifer called no more than fifteen minutes after Harm had called and when Mac told her that she was returning to Harm’s apartment, Jen insisted on driving her over.

“Jen, you’re working. I can’t take you away from work.”

“General Cresswell insisted, and by the way, so did Commander Rabb.”

“I’ve already called a cab,” Mac tried to protest.

“Call them back. I’m already on my way, so forget about the cab.”

She wished that Jennifer had called before Harm had, because he would have felt much better knowing that a friend was driving her. Then Mac remembered what Jennifer said. ‘Commander Rabb had insisted.’ Harm had called her at work. No wonder Jennifer had called her just minutes after she had hung up with Harm.

Mac smiled now as she waited for Jennifer to pick her up. Her spirits had lifted since she made the decision to return to Harm’s apartment.

 

HARM’S APARTMENT
30 DECEMBER 2004
TWO HOURS LATER

 

P.O. Coates had not only given Mac a ride over to Harm’s, but she had stopped to pick up some food she had ordered before leaving work. When they had arrived at Harm’s place, Jennifer would not allow Mac to do anything for herself. Taking the luggage up, Jennifer told Mac to get some plates so that they could eat before she left, but it was her way of not allowing Mac to carry anything heavy.

“So, what are you doing tomorrow night,” Mac asked Jennifer as they sat down to eat.

“Nothing much,” Jennifer replied. “I’ve been invited to a couple of parties, but staying home, soaking in a hot tub, and watching the New Year’s celebrations in New York is probably what I will end up doing. It’s too dangerous to go out on New Year’s Eve.”

“It can be dangerous anytime, especially when you aren’t paying attention to your driving,” Mac said, giving a little grimace.

“I’m sorry, Ma’am. I didn’t mean…”

“It’s okay, Jennifer. Harm and I aren’t doing too much tomorrow night. Want to come spend it with us,” Mac wished she could take the words back as soon as they left her mouth.

“I’d rather have popcorn, a beer, dressed in my comfy flannel pajamas, and watch TV. No offense meant, Ma’am, but since I will have two days off, I plan on just being lazy.”

“Sounds like something I would do.”

They continued talking for another few minutes before Jennifer got up and cleaned off the table against Mac’s protests.

“You should get some rest now, Ma’am,” Jennifer said, as she slipped her coat on.

“Harm must have been talking to you, right?”

“Well,” Jennifer blushed a little. “He is very worried about you, Ma’am. I think even the general realizes the special bond between you and the commander after nine years of working together.”

“We all worry about each other, Jen. That’s the legacy that Admiral Chegwidden left behind. He made us a family, and somehow, those feelings don’t go away that easily.”

P.O. Jennifer Coates had finally left. Mac had gotten out of her clothes and into some comfortable pajamas. Jen had started the fire going, so it was nice and warm although the snow continued to fall.

Mac wondered how Harm’s case was going. She had called and left him a voice mail informing him that she was now at his apartment and was going to take a short nap. Somehow, his words regarding Lt. Graves and Megan seemed to fester within her. She felt the pangs of jealousy, upset that she wasn’t well enough to have accompanied him on his mission. Was it in her sleep that she went back to thinking about the men in her life? Mac wasn’t quite sure, but her thoughts returned to Mic.

“You called him ‘Bugme’, Harm,” Mac said, chuckling a little bit, both at the nickname and the fact that she was not only talking to herself, but she was also talking to Harm as if he was sitting next to her. “He was a nice man, and despite your dislike of him, Mic didn’t deserve to be hurt the way he was, but I’m glad I didn’t marry him.” The sound of her voice in the empty apartment didn’t surprise her anymore.

Not forgetting all of Harm’s relationships, Mac spent the next hour thinking how she felt about Renee, but it was Jordan that made her speak again.

“Did you know that Jordan believed you were hers until I wanted you,” Mac repeated the words she had said to Harm on the admiral’s porch that night so long ago. “The funny part was that I half way believed it myself.” Mac could almost see Harm’s handsome face, grinning at her.

Even then, she could not deny that she knew how Harm felt about her. Mac could also not deny the fact that she felt the same way about him.

“My biggest mistake was Clay. How could I ever become involved with a man like Clayton Webb? I disliked him for years; at times even hated him. Did I turn to him just to hurt you once again? Harm, what have we done to each other, all because we could not admit the love that refused to die?” As Mac said the words, her heart felt empty without Harm, and filled with joy that she would see him soon. The tears trickled down her cheek.

Without going back into the past, Mac realized suddenly why she had been so afraid to become involved with Harm.

“I wasn’t afraid of a commitment. It was a commitment with Harm that terrified me. I know I was very young when I married Chris, but when we parted, it was easy to live without him. Becoming involved with, and then losing John Farrow was yet another man I could live without. I knew I could live without Dalton and Mic, and I know I can live without Clay, but I can’t live without Harm. My biggest fear is surrendering my heart to him only to realize we aren’t meant for each other. It would not only destroy me, but I couldn’t bear losing his friendship. I’ve always been afraid he would leave me again, as he did when he returned to flying, and when he joined the CIA. I was so afraid he would leave JAG and I would never see him again. Oh, Harm, why didn’t I have faith in our love?” As Mac finished speaking, the tears that continued to fall down her face suddenly became tears of joy. She could hardly wait to see Harm’s smile, the smile that warmed her all over and made her feel weak in the knees. She wanted to tell him how she really felt, how much she truly loved him.

Feeling as if a weight had been lifted from her, Mac waited for Harm to call her. She just wanted to hear his voice. She was no longer afraid of committing the rest of her life to Harm.

At 2115, the phone finally rang. Mac had kept the phone close to her all evening. She grabbed it.

“Harm?”

“Mac,” Harm said, a chuckle in his voice.

“How did things go?”

“The case is now closed once Megan agreed to take the money. Forget about me, how are you feeling?”

“Lonely without you, but just hearing your voice makes me feel better. I am doing well, Harm, really I am. I was even able to take a quick shower, and Jen made sure that I had plenty of food. Thank you so much for calling her. Are you coming home tomorrow morning?”

“I’m leaving at 0930, so I should be there by mid to late afternoon, given the time differences. Mac, don’t try to do anything for tonight. I’ve already taken care of everything from here. All you have to do is open the door when they deliver the food, but I should be home by then, okay. How are the aches and pains?”

“Well, the bubble bath, and standing under the warm spray in the shower have really helped. I’m not even taking the pain medication anymore. Harm, I miss you.”

“I miss you too, my Ninja Girl,” Harm said. “Although I do have to admit that I got kissed by Megan today. It was a thank you kiss.”

“It better have been,” Mac said, knowing it had been a little bit more just from the tone of his voice. “Tell Megan that I’m a Marine, and I can handle her anytime.”

“You won’t have to, Mac. I’m coming home to you. Get some sleep tonight since we are going to stay up late tomorrow to ring in the New Year. I can hardly wait to see you.”

“I can hardly wait to see you, Harm. I’ll try and get some sleep. It will make the time go by faster. Harm, I…I…hurry home to me.”

“I will,” Harm said, closing his eyes as he imagined her waiting for him. “I won’t call you in the morning just in case you’re asleep, but I might be able to call you during the flight.” The cold fear and doubts he had felt in his heart when he had left Mac seemed to have disappeared. He could hardly wait to see her and hold her in his arms.

“I love listening to your voice, Harm. I’ll wait for your call.”

The next few hours passed quickly for both Harm and Mac. Harm was able to catch a plane that left two and a half hours earlier, and although he hated getting up so early, it also meant seeing Mac that much sooner. He decided to surprise her.

Mac was up by 0545. The anticipation of seeing Harm filled her with joy. She refused to allow herself to think about what tonight might bring, although she already knew that Harm was too concerned about her to give in to their physical needs.

 

HARM’S APARTMENT
31 DECEMBER 2004

 

Mac began to count the hours and the minutes as soon as she was through eating breakfast. She could almost sense Harm’s presence, so much so, that it made her tremble. She was wearing a long hostess gown that flowed all around her, yet it had a tantalizing neckline. The vivid green of the gown almost gave her eyes a hazel look.

It was 1158 when Mac felt the butterflies in her stomach. Her heart began to race, and she noticed that her hands were shaking. It would be at least another two hours, maybe more, before Harm would get home. No, that wasn’t true. Harm was very close to her and she could feel him. Turning to the door, she was facing it when Harm opened it.

Harm stood frozen to the spot as he saw Mac looking him. He wanted to rush and crush her to him, but seeing her standing a few feet away from him turned his world upside down. There seemed to be two little voices, one on each shoulder. One was reminding him that Mac might not feel the same way, or that she might still be hurting, and he should not give in to his physical needs. The other voice, a lot stronger, was telling him that the look in her eyes were saying the words they hadn’t spoken yet, and that she wanted him as much as he wanted her. He tried to ignore that voice, and remember the first one, telling him to be careful, but his heart and body weren’t listening to him any longer. His reaction to seeing her was almost embarrassing as he realized what was happening to him.

Mac’s heart was racing. The need to run to him, to hold him close to her was stilled by his silence, by his firm stance. Firm, yes, but she could see the struggle in his eyes, a struggle he seemed to be losing as the seconds passed. She wanted to tell him how she felt, but what if he didn’t feel the same? Yes, he did. The look he was giving her spoke louder than words. Mac felt the warmth began to spread through her, knowing there was no turning back now. She loved this man with all her heart, and she didn’t want to wait any longer.

Without giving thought to the consequences, Mac began to move slowly towards Harm. He took a tentative step towards her, then another one and another, until they were about two feet apart. Harm’s eyes were drinking in Mac’s beauty, his tongue coming out to lick his dry lips. He stopped breathing as he saw Mac mimic his actions, mesmerized as he saw the tip of her tongue running across her bottom lip, an invitation in her eyes.

Dropping his bag, Harm closed the distance between them, seeing himself in her eyes. They appeared to be in a hypnotic trance as he took her in his arms. Without a word spoken, Harm dipped his head and captured her upturned lips in a searing, hungry kiss that seemed to draw the very life from both of them. Mac leaned into him, deepening the kiss, opening her mouth to welcome him as his tongue clashed with hers. He held her head, holding her close to him, even as her hands went around his neck, molding her body to his. They both shuddered as the wonder of their kisses made the world around them spin out of control. Breathless, their lips parted for but a few seconds, only to seek each other out again. Mac devoured him with her kisses as he immersed himself in the warmth and depth of her mouth. They were oblivious to time, as their bodies demanded more even as their kisses grew bolder.

The silky softness of Mac’s lips, her throat and neck drove Harm wild. His tongue followed his lips, leaving her moist all over. Mac hands were tangled in his hair, always drawing him closer, never releasing him. She needed him inside of her, all over her, tasting her, kissing her, being a part of her. Her body ached to be one with Harm. Her moans became louder as Harm’s caresses became more demanding. They were completely intoxicated with the sensations and emotions that held them both captive.

Harm’s hands began to roam over Mac’s body. It was only then that he realized she was not wearing a bra. He moaned in sheer pleasure as his lips continued to leave a trail of wet kisses down her cheek, her neck, her throat, and slowly, but eagerly, journeyed to her breasts. All rational thought was forgotten as Harm picked Mac up and carried her to the bed. His knees were shaking, but he made it even though they never stopped kissing.

Mac had managed to get his coat and jacket off and thrown them on the floor. His shirt was now unbuttoned and his tie was off. Harm had not dared hope for this kind of homecoming, yet he could not hold back. Being as gentle as he could with her, his fingers began to caress her arms, her shoulders, her throat, her chest, and her stomach. Her body was on fire. The heat began to spread throughout both of them as they shared each other’s burning hunger

With a gentleness that made her hunger greater, Harm slowly began to explore and acquaint himself with the woman he loved. Their eyes locked as he removed her gown slowly, kissing her shoulders, only to look at her again. Their lips kept seeking each other out, the need to be one as intense as their bodies needed to be one. They had not uttered one word yet, except to repeat their names passionately. As she watched Harm staring at her breasts, she moaned and pleaded with her eyes for him to touch them. In all the years she had been an alcoholic, Mac had never felt as intoxicated as she did right now, an intoxication that cleansed her soul as she felt Harm’s lips on her body.

Mac thought she would go insane as Harm found all her sensitive spots, and some she didn’t know she had. He kissed them, tasted them, nibbled on them, bit them and kissed them again. She could feel his burning arousal against her despite the fact that he was still wearing his pants. Mac struggled to get them off. Harm lifted up, looking into her eyes, and stood up long enough to remove the rest of his clothes. Leaving his boxers on, he stared down at Mac. He had never felt this way. It was as if his very heart was being torn apart only to become whole in Mac’s body. His soul seemed to leave his body to become part of Mac. His gaze burned into her, and she could almost feel him making love to her as his eyes traveled the length of her body. Finally, he leaned over and pulled her bikini panties off.

Harm gasped with wonder as he beheld the beauty of the only woman who could make him surrender his body, heart and soul so completely. With a most delicious torture, Harm began to familiarize himself with the exquisite parts of Mac’s body, the areas he had only fantasized about, but wondering if it would ever become a reality. His lips moved from hers, to the areas that made her moan, or pull him to her, calling his name out. He reached her earlobe, hearing a loud cry from her, urging him on. Taking it in his mouth, he nibbled on it gently, feeling her shudder.

After several moments of kissing her ears, he began to make his way down her neck, kissing, then tasting her, making her squirm as he discovered unknown sensitive areas. Finally reaching her throat, he kissed the hollow spot and at the same time, his hands began kneading her breasts, his own need now aching from holding back. With a sound that sounded like a growl, Harm took one of her breasts in his mouth, tasting her, nibbling on her, and then nursing from her as he had dreamed of doing for so long. Mac’s body writhed beneath him as she pulled him closer, the warmth of his mouth around her breast creating a heat that went straight to her aching sex. He paid equal attention to the other breast, hearing Mac moan and whisper his name over and over.

The prelude to their lovemaking was timeless, for even Mac was unable to tell how much time had passed. She mourned the loss of his warmth when he lifted up to look at her. Gazing lovingly at her, he claimed her lips in a scorching kiss that seemed endless, until she felt his hot breath in her ear.

“I love you so much, Mac,” Harm’s voice cracked as his declaration of love was whispered in her ear.

Twisting just a little, Mac met his eyes. Hers were filled with tears of happiness.

“And I am madly in love with you, Harm.”

Harm lifted his eyes, so filled with passion, they appeared almost black, to make sure Mac was willing.

“Please…please…don’t stop,” Mac whimpered, as her hands reached out to take his arousal in her hands.

Those were the words Harm needed to hear as his arousal throbbed, demanding release, but it was his heart that was filled with so much love, it left him totally overwhelmed. There had been other women in his life, but at that moment, Harm knew that there had never been anyone like Mac. They shared a bond, and feeling her in his arms, his lips on hers, he knew he had finally found his home. Harm also realized that he was truly making love for the first time in his life.

Mac’s thoughts seemed to float with desire, love and the reality of what was happening to her. She had felt so alone, so lost, and regardless of how many times she felt that she had found love, being in Harm’s arms now, knowing they would soon be one, made her aware she was finally where she belonged. Like Harm, she felt as if this was the first time she really knew what it was to make love.

Harm did not hurry, for he wanted to please Mac in every way. Slowly, deliciously, he traveled slowly throughout her entire body. He kissed her toes, her feet, her ankles, her calves, the back of her knees and heard her moaning and calling his name out. He smiled, running his tongue along the inside of her thighs. He felt her body shuddering against him. Harm’s emotions filled his body with a warmth that was now engulfing him with sensations, intimacy, and love as he had never known. He finally reached the very essence of Mac, her moistness waiting for him. Mac cried out as he began by tasting her with his tongue, back and forth, her hips thrusting into him until he finally took her in his mouth. The low growl came from Harm even as Mac cried out his name.

Mac would only remember later how the firestorm raged through her body, leaving her in a euphoric state, but fully aware that their ecstatic journey was just now beginning. Harm gave her time to float down from the heavens to which he had sent her before finally releasing her and began making his way back up to her. She reached out and wrapped her fingers around his hard as steel arousal.

Burying his head in the softness of her hair and neck, Harm wondered how much longer he could hold out. He had been dreaming of this during his entire investigation. The trip home had been an uncomfortable one as his body reacted to his thoughts and his fantasies of Mac. Now, he was in her arms, and the ache in his erection was becoming unbearable.

Raining kisses over his face and chest, Mac had pulled him up to her, needing desperately to feel him inside of her, to know the joy of being one with the man she loved with all her heart and soul. She tortured him sensually as she held his arousal in her hand, squeezing against him, going up and down until Harm had to pull away from her for fear of being unable to hold back. Looking up into his eyes, Mac said the words.

“Be…one…be one…with…me,” Mac whispered.

Once again, it was the words that Harm needed to release him from his need to wait any longer. He lifted himself over her, laced his fingers through hers, positioned his body between her legs and looked into her eyes.

“We are one,” Harm said, huskily. He saw the tears in her eyes, and somehow, he knew they were tears of joy, for he felt them also.

Bending down to kiss her, their tongues became entangled in one another as the bed and room seemed to disappear. He loved her lips and how they tasted.

Releasing her lips, Harm continued to look at her as he pushed his hot erection against her sensitive bud, causing both of them moan loudly. Mac had been amazed by his size and the thickness of his arousal. Now, without breaking eye contact, Harm began to enter her, slowly at first, then a little faster until he filled her with his love. He waited, giving her time to adjust to him, and then he went even deeper. Time stopped. They could not breathe for the sensations that were overpowering them left them in a daze. Harm and Mac were finally one. Both of them let out a ragged breath as they realized they had forgotten to breathe. Being nestled deep within his beloved Mac, Harm felt as if his life had just begun. He was whole. He was complete. Feeling Harm fill her in such a delicious manner, Mac’s body shivered. Harm bent down to kiss her, their lips becoming as closely united as their bodies were. Remembering her injuries, Harm gently lifted Mac up so that she was straddling him. They both gasped as he plunged deeper into her.

They were totally and completely lost and immersed in one another, for their surrender made them unaware of anything else. The emotions and sensations swamped over them, engulfing them in a maze of wondrous passion and love.

In becoming one, Harm had truly possessed Mac, just as she possessed him, capturing his very essence, his very heart and soul.

Now it was time for that wondrous journey that would take Harm and Mac to heavens they had had only dreamed of until now. The room was filled with soft moans, cries of each other’s names as Harm pulled out, only to plunge back into her again, meeting her every thrust. Harm buried his head against Mac’s soft hair, repeating her name over and over as their bodies demanded the release that had taken almost nine years to achieve.

With gentle hands, Harm lay Mac on her back, her hair spreading over the pillows. Harm bent down, their lips hungrily seeking each other out as the dance of their bodies became more intense. It was the eternal dance of lovers.

Their moans became louder as their bodies felt the fire spreading. It was like being on the precipice of eternity, and each time Harm went deeper, with Mac meeting his every thrust, they came closer and closer to going over the edge. Harm felt Mac’s body tightening around him, her burning walls enticing him to let go. Mac arched her back, thrusting up to meeting Harm’s every plunge. Their tongues seemed to be imitating their bodies’ movements. They began to rock together. Harm could feel Mac body coiling around him, knowing she was teetering on the edge. One last plunge and Mac cried out Harm’s name, her body luring him on. He followed close behind her, the ripples of fire spreading throughout them, leaving no part of their bodies untouched, sending Harm and Mac on a journey across an uncharted and unknown paradise they had created. Harm’s love poured into Mac, leaving both of them in a euphoric state as their bodies continued to thrash against the others. It was like nothing either one of them had ever experienced. Harm continued to pour his hot passion into Mac. The ecstasy that washed over them was endless, for it was the wondrous culmination of so many years of denial.

Harm’s lips made their way to Mac’s, kissing, tasting and licking the sensitive areas that were still causing her to moan and squirm beneath him. He could see the sweat making her warm skin glimmer in the soft light. They could not stop the ever-increasing rhythm of their bodies, still seeking the miracle of their love. Harm could feel Mac’s body tightening around him once again. Lifting himself up, he continued to plunge into her, hearing her call his name out once again as she frantically thrust into him, finally hearing the soft moan of yet another release. Harm could feel her holding him in a vise, making him want her all over again. Mac’s nails raked his back. Harm could not let her go. This was not a fantasy. This was not a dream. His body was united with Mac’s and they were one, and everything else was forgotten.

Rubbing his cheek against hers, Harm felt Mac seeking his lips again. She licked her way up to his chin, then found his lips, releasing a guttural sound as she pulled on his tongue, sucking on it with the fierceness with which her body was still seeking Harm’s.

Blushing a bright red, Harm felt his body responding to her with a need such as he had never known. He heard Mac laugh, a throaty, sexy, needy laugh, only it wasn’t really a laugh, but an urgent cry of joy as she felt Harm growing inside of her. Still weakened from her previous orgasms, her body was waiting for him.

Thus Harm and Mac began their second journey that would eventually send them flying across the heavens once again, the rush of heat filling them once again. Harm had flipped them around, and now, he suckled on her breasts as his body continued to plunge into her. Mac whimpered as she saw Harm at her breast, loving the sight of him there. She had dreamed of his mouth around them, and now, she felt his soft nibbling turning more intense as their movements became frenzied. She could feel him pulsating against her heated walls. They danced the ancient dance of lovers once again as the movements of their bodies spoke in way no words ever could. Sensations engulfed them, making their union complete, for their souls, like their bodies, had indeed become one.

Harm reached up and kissed Mac once again, his lips now soft from his continued nursing. Their tongues collided, plunging as deep into one another as their bodies were now doing. Harm reached down for her breast once again, hungering for their taste. Their souls shattered into a millions pieces, blissfully joining together to form one soul, one heart, one life, one love. Their bodies trembled from the force of the powerful heat that engulfed them. It was more than just a physical release. It was the mystical wonder of two souls, destined for one another, now becoming one, forever one.

The flames roared through them, making them tremble and clutch to one another. Harm tried to whisper that he loved her, but Mac’s lips were on his, murmuring her own words of love as she felt Harm’s warm essence pouring into her. They were floating in a world of their own making, of their finally admitted love, and the mystical and ethereal euphoria in which they were cocooned. Their fingers caressed each other with sensual, erotic massaging. They could not get close enough, nor could they get enough of their kisses, or the magic wonder of their release.

It seemed like an eternity before they began to float down, the delicious weakness so strong now, that Mac collapsed on Harm’s chest. It took several minutes for their breathing to slow down and become normal again. It was then that Harm realized what had just happened between them, and to them. He had never given of himself the way he had just done with Mac. For the first time in his life, Harm felt completed in ways that he never imagined, or thought existed. Still joined as one, he looked at his Mac, knowing that his lonely, empty life was over. Mac had made him whole, giving him the greatest gift of all – her love.

Taking time to return to earth, they continued to touch the other with soft, loving, at times, passionate caresses. Their lips continued to hunger for their kisses, coming together again and again, gasping for breath, then joining their lips again. The taste of their lips was like sweet nectar, and they hungered for each one, savouring the taste and surrender.

Mac finally looked into Harm’s eyes and saw a storm of love and desire in them.

“Welcome home, Harm,” she whispered, kissing his chest and looking up at him again, giving him the beguiling smile he loved so much.

“If I go away again, can I come home to a welcome like this again,” Harm asked, his lips brushing her forehead, then leaving a trail down her neck as he found the hollow of her throat.

“You don’t have to go away. Just come home to me every day.”

Harm heard the tiredness in Mac’s voice, suddenly feeling guilty for not thinking about her injuries.

“You sound tired, Mac. I’m sorry. I should have waited.”

“Don’t you dare say that, Harmon Rabb,” Mac said, framing his face with her hands, then leaning in to kiss him. “We’ve waited long enough. Harm, I do love you. You know that, don’t you? Besides, you are the best medicine any doctor could give me right now. All I need is you to make me heal.”

Harm smiled, the smile that made Mac feel warm and weak all over. He agreed with her. They had waited long enough, but still, he felt guilty.

“Why don’t we get some sleep? Tonight is New Year’s Eve and we will be up late. And yes, I know you love me. I love you, Sarah MacKenzie, so very much, and I can’t believe I’ve never said those words to you. I’ll tell you how much I love you for the rest of our lives, if you let me.”

“Hmmmm.” Mac did sound sleepy and tired. “For the rest of our lives it is, then,” Mac murmured against Harm’s chest. “I missed you so much. Harm, I don’t know what you did to me tonight, but you own me. It’s as if you branded my heart the day we met, and now you have branded my body and soul forever. I love you so much it hurts, and I know that sounds like a song, but I do.”

“I missed you too. I am yours now and for always,” Harm said, stroking Mac’s hair, bending down to rain kisses across her forehead and the tip of her nose. “Why don’t we get some sleep and talk later.”

“No more talking, Harm. Let’s just surrender to our feelings, to our love, okay,” Mac said, her voice soft, yet firm.

“You mean I get to make love to you again,” Harm said, pulling the blanket over them and cuddling against Mac.

“You better. I think that would be a wonderful way to start off the New Year,” Mac said, yawning.

“Go to sleep, my love,” Harm said, wrapping his arms around her, their legs entangled.

They declared their love once again, then Harm held Mac to him closely, listening to her breathing as she fell into a contented sleep. Gazing down at Mac, Harm leaned over and kissed her lightly, as he followed her into the world of beautiful dreams. Even in their sleep, soft sighs could be heard in their breathing.

Their wondrous lovemaking had erased the hurts of their past, the doubts of the presents, but would it be strong enough to face a very uncertain future.

 

CHAPTER 3

HARM’S APARTMENT
31 DECEMBER 2004

 

 

 

It was four hours later before Harm and Mac woke each other up with a hunger only they could fulfill. Harm looked at Mac, still concerned about her injuries. She reached up to caress his face, smiling at him as her body turned against his, feeling him wanting her with the same fervor she wanted him.

“Mac…”

“Don’t talk,” Mac said, her lips closing over Harm’s to stop any further doubts.

Harm didn’t have any as he took Mac in his arms and together, they commenced on that mystical voyage once again, allowing their bodies to lead them. His heat became her heat. Her need became his need. Their passion brought them together, joining their bodies in a union that made them both gasp from the sheer, raw sensations that left them breathless and speechless. Harm groaned loudly as he felt Mac’s burning walls encase him in a viselike grip, causing him to pulsate within her, thus taking both of them to the highest peak of eternal love. Their bodies took over and spoke all the wondrous words of love in a beautifully eloquent manner, until Harm and Mac, clinging to each other, erupted with their passion. He felt her spasms tightening around him even as his own release filled her with the hot, burning love that poured into her. Floating on a nameless cloud of bliss, ecstasy and love, Harm and Mac slowly returned to one another, their lips seeking the kisses that neither one of them could resist any longer.

Several minutes later, Harm turned to Mac and looked into her eyes. She was staring at him with a look of adoration in her eyes.

“We’ve crossed that line, Commander Rabb,” Mac said, her fingers caressing his chest with feather-like strokes.

“Several times, Colonel MacKenzie,” Harm replied, his own fingers circling around Mac’s nipples.

“It was a wall we erected, you know that, don’t you?”

“Yes, Mac, I do. At different times, for different reasons, we have each held back, pushed the other one away, or just plain tried to ignore our feelings. I don’t want that wall, or line there ever again. Do you?”

“Hmmmm,” Mac purred, leaning over to kiss Harm’s chest. “The line, wall, or whatever, has crumbled. It’s gone and we are all that’s left, just you and I. Now, I’m hungry. How about feeding me.” Mac ran her lips across Harm’s once more and then got up, saucily walking nude to the bathroom to take a shower. She could feel Harm’s eyes burning into every inch of her body.

It was an hour later, after Harm also showered, that they walked out into the living and he saw how Mac had prepared their evening together. He could see candles all over the place. There was a “Happy New Year” banner across one of the windows. There were several small cans on the table in front of his sofa. Picking one up, he turned and grinned at Mac. It was silly string, several different colours of it.

“Aha, so you plan on tying me up, don’t you?”

“Or you can tie me up, Harm. Either way, I’m sure we’ll both be happy. Come on, let’s eat. I started on some omelets.”

Harm had pulled Mac to him, their lips meeting in open-mouthed kisses, their tongues dueling for supremacy. Breathless, they drew apart to breathe, but their lips craved the taste of their kisses, just as their bodies craved the magic of their passion. Finally letting her go, Harm and Mac sat down to eat.

The evening passed quickly, with Harm stopping to kiss Mac every few minutes. It was almost as if he was afraid it was all just a dream that would be ending soon. He would wake up and Mac would no longer be in his life. Mac was just as loving, almost to the point of embarrassing herself. She kept reaching out to touch Harm’s body, needing to know he belonged to her. How could she have pushed him away all this time?

Their dinner arrived shortly before 2100. Mac had made sure that Harm would not be disappointed. He wasn’t, but then again, he wasn’t thinking about food. Mac had ordered all his favourites, including four different kinds of desserts. He turned to her and laughed.

“How many people did you invite to this party, Mac? I thought it was going to be a private…”

“You know how hungry I get, and since you are using up all my energy in the most delicious way, I thought I’d order enough for several days.” Mac pressed her body into his, feeling his hot need against her. “Hmmmm. Maybe we should forget about dinner.”

“No way, Mac. You’ll accuse me of starving you later. Besides, I wouldn’t want you to make excuses later on because you are too weak or hungry.”

“For you, Harm, never. I am always ready for you. Okay, help me light the candles so we can eat. Then I’ll get comfortable and we can watch the ball drop and wish each other the happiness of beginning a new life together. I love you, Harm. I want to love you in 2004, and 2005 and all the years after that.”

“Somehow, I don’t think we will be watching the ball drop. I think we will be creating our very own fireworks. Let’s eat, my love.”

At precisely 2316, Harm turned his attention from the television to Mac, who had been teasing him with her erotic caresses. She was wearing a very low-cut black dress, and she had added to the sensuality by telling him that it was all she was wearing. They walked over to the fireplace, where Harm had spread out a blanket with lots of pillows. In the few hours they had spent together, Mac had managed to convince Harm that she was completely healed. The scars on her face were gone. Now, her hair flowed around her face, creating a halo effect. Harm sat down first, then took Mac’s hand, inviting her to join him. Somehow, when she sat down, her dress went way over her thighs, and Harm saw the shock of dark brown hair that tried to hide the very core of Sarah MacKenzie. Staring at her, Harm bent over to kiss her mound, causing her to moan and twist towards him. They weren’t quite aware how and when, but suddenly they were next to one another, all their clothes gone. Harm loved feeling Mac’s breasts against his bare chest as he kissed her over and over.

For the next few minutes, Harm tasted every bit of Mac once again. Taking her throbbing nub in his mouth, he heard her call his name as he sucked on her. It didn’t take long for Mac to cry out his name, her body writhing against Harm in a frenzied spasm as she felt her first release. Harm gave her time to return to him before he leaned over to kiss her.

“It’s my turn,” Mac whispered dreamily.

So it was. Mac left no part of Harm untouched. She kissed, licked and tasted him. At times, she could feel him so close that she had to pace herself, but she wanted so much to give Harm what he had given her. He tried to stop her, but she wouldn’t let him. She took him in her mouth and never let go until his body trembled as he cried out her name. Harm could not speak coherently, as he felt Mac’s mouth around him, draining him of all his love. He had not wanted their lovemaking to end this way, but he could not deny what Mac so obviously wanted. He felt the warmth of her mouth still surrounding him as he finally began to regain his composure, but he needed Mac to be a part of him.

“I’m…Mac…I…”

“Thank you, Harm,” Mac looked up at him finally. Her face was flushed, wet and absolutely beautiful. Slowly, she crawled up his body, stopping to kiss him in all his sensitive areas.

“Oh, Mac…I love you so much,” Harm said, trying to sit up. He was overcome by the weakness that still filled him.

Suddenly Mac’s face was above his. Harm looked at her lips, yearning for their taste as she captured his, her tongue invading his mouth with a desperation that re-ignited their passion once again. The taste of their love was a sweet aphrodisiac to them as they began to feel the tremors in their bodies once again.

“I love you, Harm. I’m yours fo…,” Mac couldn’t finish the sentence. Harm had covered her lips with his in a kiss that spoke for them.

When they parted, Harm looked into Mac’s eyes, seeing himself in them. He looked deeper, into her soul, knowing that no other man had ever seen her as he was now. Mac gazed lovingly into Harm’s eyes, seeing the other half of her heart, the other half of her soul, and then saw Harm’s soul heal itself, surrendering to her. No woman had ever seen him his open, this vulnerable, this susceptible. Mac knew the power she held over Harm, and hoped that he could see the same in her eyes.

Their lips came together once again, as their bodies demanded to be united. It didn’t surprise Harm that his need for her was this strong. His erection was fierce and aching as he put his hands on her hips, then picked her up and felt the magic of her sheathing him, taking him within her.

The seconds began to tick away as Harm felt his body about to erupt once again. Mac’s spasms only brought him closer as he quickly turned her around without breaking their connection, and began pounding into her. He felt Mac’s nails rake down his back and her legs wrapped around him, pulling him deeper into her. His arousal was painful now as he pulsated achingly within her. Harm reached down and took one of Mac’s breasts in his mouth, then surrendered to the heat as it began to ripple with a mystical fire. Neither Harm nor Mac were aware that the ball had dropped and it was now 2005. Mac erupted with such fierceness, Harm could do nothing but follow her willingly. His love poured into her with as much force as he had been plunging into her seconds earlier. With the magic of their passion, Harm and Mac had indeed created their own fireworks, just as Mac had predicted. That ethereal weakness that follows a wondrous orgasm overwhelmed Harm and Mac, leaving them floating in a cocoon of soft kisses, whispered moans, and a passion unequalled. Having difficulty breathing, Harm used his arms as leverage to avoid putting his weight on Mac, but she would not let him leave her yet. She was driving him crazy as she continued to run her tongue up and down his chest, her body still convulsing.

“Ha…Happy New…Year…Harm,” Mac said, still breathless.

“Happy New Year, Mac,” Harm said, struggling with each word to catch his breath.

“We were making love in 2004, and we were making love just as 2005 began, so let’s hope it’s a good sign.” Mac felt Harm leave her now as he rested beside her, no longer joined as one in body, but joined as one in their souls forever.

“Do we have to do this every year,” Harm asked, his breathing a little easier.

Mac just started kissing his chest, rolling over him and bending down to shower tiny kisses all over him, until he stopped her with a kiss of his own, putting a quick end to the conversation. They cuddled together, blissfully worn out, and fell asleep immediately.

 

 

 

JANUARY, FEBRUARY, MARCH 2005
DIFFERENT LOCATIONS

 

 

 

During the next several weeks, Harm and Mac were together as often as they could be. Mac had all but moved in with Harm, not wanting to be separated at night. They were very careful to drive their own separate cars and arrive at different times. Had Harriet been at JAG, she would have known immediately. Even during missions in which they were sent out together, they always found time to be together.

For some reason, as much as Harm loved Mac, and as much as she kept telling him that she loved him, there was an uneasiness growing within him. Sometimes, when they made love, Harm could not let Mac go, afraid of losing her. Mac didn’t mind at all, for she loved sleeping in the arms of the man she loved.

As many times as they surrendered to their passion, they had never practiced birth control. They were hoping to start a family as soon as possible. Mac did continue to have her checkups, and the doctor told her she had healed nicely from the procedure to remove the endometriosis.

There were times, at night, when they were both home, that Harm or Mac would bring up the fact that they had not conceived a child yet.

“We have to decide on a length of time we are going to give ourselves in order to make our baby,” Mac said. “If we don’t, we can use other methods.”

“I’ll leave it up to you, Mac. How long do you want to wait? I know that the sooner we conceive a child, the better it will be for you, so I will let you decide. I’m just happy having you in my life.”

Harm was sitting behind her, her back to his chest as they sat on the sofa. His arms were around her waist, frequently stroking her breasts with gentle caresses.

“What will you do if we don’t conceive a child, Harm?”

“What do you mean?”

“I know how much you want a child, and I know you want to have that child with me. What happens if I can’t give you what you want most?”

“I already have what I want most, Mac. I have you. Having our baby would be a miracle, but you are my life. Trying other methods will be fine with me, including adoption.”

“Oh, Harm, sometimes, I feel so guilty. Ever since you went to the doctor to see if you were okay, and all the tests came back positive, I feel even worse. I am denying you the one thing you desire most in life; to keep the Rabb name going. I love you too much to do that to you.”

Harm stopped her by turning her around and capturing her lips in one of his most gentle, passionate, and revealing kiss. He breathed his love into her, their tongues reaching out to one another. It didn’t take long for their passion to demand gratification. Picking Mac up in his arms, Harm carried her to the bed, and spent the next hour making love to her. He felt her trembling beneath him as she took him into her, thrusting up to meet him everytime he plunged into her. Their wondrous journey across eternity left them sated for now, sated and content. Harm raised up and looked at Mac, remembering her fears.

“I have waited a lifetime for this kind of love, Mac. Yes, I want a baby, not just for me, but for you as well. I know how much you want to feel the baby growing inside of you, feeling it kick you, and even looking forward to the pain of giving birth. We both want the same thing, but I could never let you go now, Sarah MacKenzie. You are my life. Perhaps one of these days you will agree to marry me.”

Harm had proposed to Mac shortly after New Year’s, but she refused. He asked her to marry him again at Valentine’s Day, but again, she refused. She loved him too much to deny him the child he wanted, and kept hoping every month, that she would be pregnant. As the weeks passed, Harm sensed the sadness in Mac, and he felt her withdrawing from him once again, pushing him away one more time. It was different this time because he could feel her pain. He loved her so much and the thought of losing her was excruciating.

Mac had returned to work, and although their love was always burning within them, they managed to keep their distance at work. In January, when Mac learned that she wasn’t pregnant, Harm came home to find her crying. He had already guessed what was wrong. Mac had been on edge for the last two or three days, but when it came to making love, she was always ready. Looking into her red eyes, Harm shook his head.

“Mac, it’s not going to happen this easy.”

“I kept hoping for a miracle,” Mac cried.

“If, and when, we do conceive a child, it will be a miracle, no matter how long it takes. Mac, I love YOU. I am not making love to you every night with only the hopes that you will get pregnant. I make love to you because I love you more than life itself. You can’t do this to yourself.”

Mac stood up and came over to Harm, putting her arms around his neck and burying her face in his chest. She looked up at him, telling him once again how much she loved him.

“I just love you so much, Harm, and all I want to do is to give you a child. I…”

“You aren’t giving ME a child, Mac. It will be OUR child. I want you to enjoy our lovemaking because of our love for one another, not because you are counting the days until you find out if you are pregnant or not. The doctor told us that you had to relax and stop trying so hard. What was it she told us? She said to enjoy our time together, because once we conceived a child, our lives would change drastically.”

“I know, Harm. Everything you tell makes sense, but I’ve waited so long. We’ve waited so long. Why can’t things go right for us just once?”

Harm looked down at her, framing her face between his hands, then bent down to capture her lips in one of his delicious kisses, kisses that always seemed to get out of control. Mac immediately responded, a little too passionate, until she drew away.

“We can’t even make love tonight,” Mac said, whimpering like a little girl.

Harm laughed at her and continued to hold her.

“Well, that’s good. I don’t think this old body of mine could take too many more all-nighters. You know Mac, I am getting to be an old man, and let’s face it, I need time to recu…ouch, what was that for?”

“You are not an old man, and besides, I can tell you definitely don’t need a break. What’s this,” Mac said, caressing Harm’s powerful erection. “Hmmm. Who says you need a break? You know, Harm, I can take good care of you.”

“No, Mac, not like that. I love you for even thinking about it, but I would much rather that we both share in our lovemaking. Come on, my love, do I make dinner or do we order out?”

“Surprise, Harmon Rabb. I made dinner, and no, it won’t make you sick.” Mac tried desperately to put her disappointment behind her. Harm was right. Their relationship had just become a personal one, and they should enjoy it.

 

 

 

JAG HEADQUARTERS
FALLS CHURCH, VA.
FEBRUARY 2005

 

 

 

Despite the wonder of discovering how physically compatible they were, Harm and Mac were very professional at work. Things began to change at JAG about this time. Where Harm and Mac had been sent out together on missions, there was a sharp change when Lt. Vukovic entered the picture, and most importantly, Mac’s life.

Mac was shocked by her reaction to Lt. Vukovic when she first met him. She was angered by his obvious words of flattery. She had thought Harm was arrogant when she first met him, but Vukovic could give Harm lessons Mac saw Harm’s face before her. No, he wasn’t there, but he was embedded in her heart and soul, and regardless of where he was, Mac could see his beautiful face. It brought a smile to her face, which the young lieutenant mistook as meant for him. If only he knew what she had with Harm, he wouldn’t even try his very obnoxious tactics on her.

Now, Mac saw the admiring look in the new lieutenant’s eyes, and wondered if he could really be that foolish. He was an extremely handsome man, and Mac was quite aware of it. She suddenly remembered Harm’s words.

“I can see a beautiful woman without wanting her, especially if I have you.”

Mac was a little upset when Gen. Cresswell informed her that she would be working with the new lawyer on a regular basis, thus separating her and Harm. They were assigned to the same case, making Mac miss Harm even more and looked forward to his homecoming and their nights of lovemaking. It also made her angry that when Harm had been accused of manslaughter, neither Sturgis nor the general had bothered to inform her of what was happening. Harm, not wanting to worry her, had not told her until his return. Mac had never been more furious with Sturgis than she had been when she found out about the charges he had recommended against Harm.

Unfortunately, in the military, you follow orders or else. The next few weeks brought Mac and Lt. Vukovic even closer, and separated her from Harm for long periods of time. Mac did not like the way Vukovic manipulated things to win a case, but then again, hadn’t Harm done the same thing so many times. NO! Harm bent the rules at times, but never to the extent that Vukovic did. Despite the many times that Harm had disobeyed or bent an rule, his only motive had been to find the truth, and most of the time, he had been right. Vukovic had a different agenda altogether, and she knew that he felt she was part of it.

Vukovic’s only motive was to win and be recognized. Harm had proven time and time again that he was a man of honour and integrity. Yes, he had been cocky and arrogant, but when he took a case, he would do anything and everything to ensure justice without losing his integrity. Vukovic also used his good looks, expecting all the women to fall at his feet, which many were. He did have charm. Mac knew he wanted her, but then again, she soon saw him flirting with any women who could help him advance. It was obvious he had his heart set on Mac, perhaps because she was a Lt. Colonel and she could help him in advancing his career. Vukovic hadn’t met Harm yet, and Mac could hardly wait until that day. Vukovic wasn’t the only irresistible man at JAG.

Having an incredible relationship with Harm had not alleviated Mac’s uneasiness. She loved him so much, yet she felt she was being selfish. She saw how other women looked at Harm, how much they would have loved to be the woman in his life. If he were to fall in love with another woman, then his dreams could come true. He could be happy, and have the family he wanted so much. The best part for Mac was that the more time she spent with Harm, the more she grew to love him. They had begun to make plans for their future, a future that Mac somehow could not see as a reality. Harm wanted to retire from the Navy, buy a small house for them and let her continue to serve at JAG. It seemed like part of her dreams had come true, but something was missing. Then Lt. Vukovic entered Mac’s life. They worked on several cases together before she began to see that he just might be the answer to Mac’s poignant dilemma.

In a way, Mac was grateful that Harm was away so much. It was the first test of their love, or was it? Their love had been tested for the past nine years, and it had survived the obstacles and the passage of time. There was something bothering Mac very much. It was the fact that she had covered for Vukovic with the general when he hired the actor to win a case. Mac realized she had compromised her own integrity by not reporting him. Why?

There was one other thing at work that was working to tear Harm and Mac apart. General Cresswell made it quite obvious that he considered her, not Harm or Sturgis or Bud, but her, as his best JAG officer. He made no attempts to hide his preference, and in so doing, the general made sure that the one man who was equal to Mac, if not better, was not in the office too much. Harm was sent out on his own. It was as if he no longer belonged to the close little clique that had once been known as the JAG “family.” This was a new era, and General Cresswell was rebuilding JAG in the way he perceived it to be. He wanted younger men and women at JAG, but he needed Mac. For all the reasons that Mac had believed Cresswell would get rid of her, they were now they same reasons he made her his most trusted ally. Harm was not in that picture, and it was something that Mac could see happening, although she didn’t discuss it with him. She didn’t have to. Harm was quite well aware that he was expendable at JAG. However, there would be other things in Harm’s life that would be much more important and heartbreaking.

 

 

 

HARM’S APARTMENT
FEBRUARY 2005

 

 

 

February brought yet another disappointment to Mac when once again, she learned she wasn’t pregnant. Mac began to search her soul. She loved Harm with a love she had not known was possible for her, but was she being too selfish in her love? She knew that Harm would not leave her just because she could not give him the child they had agreed to have so many years ago. She also knew how much Harm wanted a child to carry on the Rabb name. It never occurred to her that even an adopted child would carry the name Rabb. If he stayed with her, he might not be able to fulfill that dream. How could she give him up now when they had finally surrendered to a love that had been born in a rose garden so many years ago? When Harm proposed marriage once again on Valentine’s Day, Mac refused.

Mac became extremely conflicted. When she was with Harm, she felt fulfilled, content, and happy, yet she also felt guiltier by the day. That’s when her plan was born. What if Harm saw her flirting with Vukovic? Mac sobbed as she thought of the pain he would endure, but it would be better to hurt him now than wait until it was too late. She just could not deny Harm his dream. Everytime she looked at Vukovic, she tried her best to let him know that she found him almost impossible to resist. Mac realized she was playing a very dangerous game. For one, Vukovic could get ugly when she refused him and report her to Cresswell. However, she knew that Cresswell trusted her, and if necessary, she would lie to him. After all, she had already covered for Vukovic more than once.

No matter what had transpired at work with Vukovic, when Mac was in Harm’s arms, JAG and all else was forgotten. They had waited so long to surrender to their love, and when they were together, it was like the first time all over again.

It was nearing the end of February when Harm returned home. She welcomed him as she always did, by giving herself to him completely. It was a night of sweet surrender for both Harm and Mac.

Harm had missed her so much. Being separated from her so soon after they had finally admitted their love was tearing him apart.

That night, after dinner, Harm carried Mac to bed, loving, tasting, kissing, nibbling and leaving his mark on her all over her body.

It was hours before they finally fell asleep in each other’s arms. Harm was content with loving Mac, yet he knew that she was very upset because she hadn’t gotten pregnant. He kept teasing her about how much fun it was for them to keep trying. She would bury her face in chest, awed by the powerful love she felt for him. She had never dreamed that a love so complete, so pure, and so holy could exist. She felt the tears fill her eyes. She had already decided that if she wasn’t pregnant by April, she would put her plan into action.

Harm could not help but notice the intensity of Mac’s passion. Her hands and fingers were always caressing him, even as they floated down from the heaven they had created. It was an almost desperate kind of love. She kept telling him how much she loved him, and how she wanted him to remember it wherever he was. She would tell him about how she could see his face when he was gone.

Slowly, her arms would creep up his neck, bringing his lips back down to hers, and their passion would take over once again.

It was during this time that Harm began to talk about retiring again.

“Mac, I don’t like being away from you for such long periods of time. I have already given up my flight status, so retiring would only mean we can spend more time together. I could find work possibly here in D.C., or Maryland, or even Virginia. It would mean I could come home to you every night.”

“You’re serious about retiring, aren’t you,” Mac said, sitting up and looking at him. She had been resting her back against his chest until now.

“Very serious, Mac. The general isn’t going to be understanding about the two of us being together. I know he likes you very much, but even you have to agree that he could very well do without me. He’s made it obvious by bringing in all these new people, younger and, in his opinion, more suited to the job. I mean, look at how he has you working with Lt. Vukovic almost exclusively. When was the last time we worked together?”

“I can’t deny what you are saying, but why can’t we both retire?”

“I have more than twenty years in, Mac. You don’t. It would be much easier for me to retire and make our lives a lot easier. Cresswell couldn’t object to you marrying me, if you ever agree.”

Mac smiled at him. She knew that he had already bought a ring for her, but somehow, she just couldn’t bring herself to say yes just yet.

“Harm, I love working with you. It would never be the same if we were separated. And I just can’t see you retired from the Navy. It’s your life.”

Harm had reached over for her, taken her in his arms, and after several minutes of kissing her with all the love in his heart, he released her and looked into her eyes.

“You’re wrong, Mac. It was my life. There was a time, even with you in it, that my entire life was flying, and the Navy. It isn’t anymore. At night, when we are sitting here like this, I realize what a fool I’ve been. I’ve been in love with you for years, but I pushed it deep into my heart, refusing to acknowledge my feelings, and when I did, it was too late. I almost lost you because I couldn’t tell you how I felt. You’re wrong, Mac. You are my life, and without you, it would be meaningless.”

“What about the son or daughter you want so much?”

“I don’t deny I want to have a child, but you are the only woman I want to carry that child. If time has denied us this, then I am ready to accept it. I just don’t want to lose you, Mac. After almost two months of being together, don’t you know that already?”

“Yes, Harm, I do,” Mac said, straightening up and moving away from Harm. “I know how much you love me. I also know how much I love you. It’s just that we have been making love every night, not just once, but several times, and we still haven’t conceived a baby. What’s the point of…”

“Wait,” Harm interrupted her. He stood up and walked away, trying to clear his mind. He didn’t want to hurt Mac, but he had to ask her.

“Mac, I make love to you because I want and love you more than anything else in this world. Of course I am hoping that we will conceive a child, but when I’m making love to you, I’m not thinking about a child. I’m giving you myself, my life, my love, my future. We’ve been together two months and you are upset because you haven’t gotten pregnant. Tell me, Mac, while we are making love, are you thinking that maybe this time will be the one? I know you love me, but I have to ask you this. Are you here with me because you have a need to fulfill our promise, or because you want to be? Are you here because you love me?” Harm knew his words would hurt her, but he was bleeding inside. The thought of life without Mac, especially after these two months, was agonizing.

Mac saw the pain in his eyes. Would it be better to hurt him now, and let him find someone else to love? As much as she loved him, would it be fair of her to stay with him knowing that there was a possibility she could never give him the child he wanted? Did he really love her enough to be satisfied with her? This was not the way Mac had planned to break it off with Harm, but since it had come up, she felt it was a blessing, or a curse. She walked away from Harm, not wanting to see the look in his eyes.

“I don’t know, Harm,” Mac was shocked to hear the words that came out of her mouth. “I’m afraid I’ll ruin your life. I know you say you love me, but what about five years from now when we visit the Roberts with all their children. How will you feel when you know that you will never have your own child just because of me? This is no longer about my loving you, or you loving me. I know you love me, Harm. I’ve never felt so wanted or cherished in my life. No man has ever made me feel this cherished. You have given yourself to me so completely and I feel selfish taking your love when I know I can break you heart later.”

Harm didn’t answer for several minutes. He had sensed this during the last couple of weeks. When they were making love, nothing else mattered, at least not to him, but if she was thinking about conceiving a child all the time, he could not force her to stay with him. He didn’t want to hurt her. He didn’t want to live his life without her, yet he had known, even from the very first time, that Mac was not ready yet, regardless of the passion she shared with him. Yes, he wanted a child, but he loved Mac. He had accepted the fact that they may never have a child of their own unless they adopted one, but Mac would not even discuss it with him. He turned around finally, looking for Mac. He didn’t realize she was standing by the window.

“Mac, do you want to leave me? I won’t force you to stay with me, but you have to know that it will be your decision alone. I’ve already told you how I feel about you, how much I love you. Yes, it would be perfect if we had our own child, but we don’t always get what we want in life. If you feel I am pressuring you, I’m sorry. I love you so much that when I came home on New Year’s Eve and we made love for the first time, I didn’t ever want to be without you again. You’re not my possession, Mac. If you think you would feel better living apart, I won’t stop you. Just know that if you leave, it is your choice.” Harm felt his heart split into a million pieces. They had spent the last two months together accepting the wondrous gift of each other’s love. His body trembled as he thought of life without her, of waking up without her in his bed, or going to sleep without her wrapped in his arms, but he knew he had to give Mac her freedom if it was her wish.

Mac didn’t turn to look at him. She stared out the window, seeing nothing, feeling only the heartache that was becoming unbearable. Why was she hurting Harm if she loved him so much? She was the one bringing up the baby issue at every chance. Was this her excuse to get out of this relationship? She had never given herself, or shared her deepest emotions with any of the men in her life, except for Harm There was no doubt in her heart that she loved Harm with all her heart. At the same time, there was no doubt in Mac’s heart that she would find another man and perhaps be happier, knowing that she would not be failing him by not giving him a child. Mac began to sob. The mere thought of spending a night apart from Harm was tearing her heart apart. She was the other half of him, just as he was the other half of her. They belonged together. She turned, seeing Harm through the blur of her tears. Even then, she could see the love and the pain in his eyes. Why did this have to happen to her? To Harm? Why couldn’t they be as happy as the Roberts? She saw Harm turn away from her, walking into the bedroom. She saw him grab a jacket and then go to the door.

“I’m going for a walk, Mac. If you feel it necessary to leave, do so while I’m gone. I don’t think I can bear seeing you leave.” Harm closed the door, leaving his heart behind. He had taken the chance and lost. Harm could barely keep the tears from falling.

Mac became terrified. Harm had been gone over an hour and it was cold outside. It had also rained. She had seen the keys to his car on the table, knowing he was not driving. She tried calling him on his cell phone, only to see it beside the keys.

‘Why are you doing this, Mac, she wondered. Harm has told you that all he wants is you. How can you continue to hurt him? Is he right? Is the only reason you are with him to have his child, to make that silly promise a reality?’ NO! She knew she was with him because she loved him with all her heart and soul. She was frantic. Mac kept looking out the window, all sorts of thoughts going through her mind. She remembered the time they had been jogging in the park and he was injured. She had been so scared that she would lose him even back then. Now, he had been out in the cold for over an hour, and he still wasn’t home. Mac began to cry.

Harm didn’t even look up at his window, afraid to see it dark, meaning the Mac might be gone. Had he pushed her too hard? He had given her all the time she needed until the night of her accident. Things had changed that night. He had tried to think about what he would do if she was gone, knowing he could no longer stay at JAG. He walked up the stairs with an almost defeated feeling. As he opened the door, he saw the darkness, his heart crying out until he felt Mac in his arms.

Mac had heard the door opening and run into Harm’s arms. Even in the darkness, she could find his lips. It was several minutes before she realized how cold he felt. He was wet, but refusing to let her go.

“I thought you would be gone,” Harm whispered, his lips against hers.

“I’ll never leave you, Harm. Come on, let’s get in the shower and warm you up.” Mac pulled on his arm, feeling his body tremble both from the cold and from their kisses.

Mac turned the water on while Harm undressed. They both walked into the shower, where their love took all the cold and doubts out of their hearts. She knew that her fears would never leave her, but her fear over losing Harm was even greater. She could not hurt him again. How many times would he be willing to forgive her? She didn’t want to take the chance to find out.

In the shower, their lips and bodies came together, soft moans filling the steaming enclosure, not from the water, but from the passion. Mac knew she needed to tell Harm something, but everytime she tried, he would capture her lips once again. For now, she allowed their kisses and their passion to speak for them.

Several hours later, Harm held Mac against him, still trembling from the powerful release they had shared, and the wondrous euphoria that brought them down to each other. They had joined their bodies in a most glorious way, again and again, and now, sated and content, they held each other.

“I love you, Harm,” Mac said, kissing his chest. “I have to tell you this before we go to sleep. Making love with you, sharing our passion is the most incredible and holy experience I have ever known. Yes, I would like to conceive a child, but the thought of life without you is too painful to consider. I love you so much, and I want to give you the child we agreed to have together, but I won’t leave you unless you change…”

Harm’s lips stopped whatever she was going to say. Weakened by their torrid and exquisite lovemaking, Harm laid his cheek against hers.

“Mac, I’ve waited my entire life to find someone like you. I knew that day in the rose garden that you had finally entered my life and my heart, but I never dreamed it could develop into a love as deep as this one. I want so much to give you that baby, but whatever happens, please know that you are the one I love. I can’t love a child we don’t have yet, but I do have you. You own me body and soul. I won’t ever leave you.”

“Just promise me that if you want to try other methods, you will let me know.”

Harm lifted his head and looked into Mac’s soft eyes. There was an ethereal look about her, an almost fragile quality that made her even more beautiful to him.

“What, and miss out on all this fun,” Harm said, teasing her.

Mac looked up at Harm, her eyes shining with love.

“Hmmmm. You’re right. You’ve worn me out, Commander Rabb.”

“That’s my line, Colonel MacKenzie, which brings me to a question.”

“Yes,” Mac said, knowing what the question would be.

“Yes?” Harm stared at her.

“Yes!”

Their lips came together once again, but this time, their bodies, exhausted from hours of surrender, failed them.

“As soon as possible?”

“Whenever you want, Harm, only let me get some sleep first, okay?”

“Come to think of it, I need some sleep too. We’ll talk later.”

Mac cuddled up against Harm, feeling his arm going around her. Her heart was finally beginning to slow down to its’ normal pace as her eyelids began to close.

Harm and Mac’s love was powerful, but there would be obstacles still to fight. Fate, or destiny, or whatever they wanted to call it, was about to separate Harm and Mac once again, testing their love as it had never been tested before.

For Mac, she would be shocked at her feelings towards another man, but her love for Harm would never waiver, just become conflicted. For Harm, tragedy was about to strike. Harm had lost everyone he loved except his mother, and now, that same tragic destiny, almost as if written by Shakespeare himself would befall the life of Harmon Rabb, for he would lose the woman he loved more than life itself. Tragedy, thy name is death, separation, tears, and for some, new beginnings. Would Mac realize the wondrous gift of love she has before she makes another mistake? Would Harm’s sorrow turn him away from the only woman he has ever truly loved?

 

 

 

CHAPTER 4

 

EVENTS IN HARM AND MAC'S LIFE

 

 

 

March was to be a month that brought so many changes in Harm’s life, and surprises in Mac’s. It would either separate them or make their love stronger. They only had three nights left together before the whirlwind of change took place.

Three nights after their argument and then making up so gloriously, Harm and Mac spent every moment they could together. It was amazing to both of them how much they needed and wanted each other. It was difficult for Harm to come into the office and look at Mac, remembering the ecstasy of their lovemaking. Sometimes she would catch him looking at her, desire obvious in his eyes. She would smile back, and turn away for fear of the general seeing how they felt.

Then there were times when Harm would turn and find Mac with a dreamy-eyed look on her face. Her eyes would travel up and down his body, resting on his lips and he would shudder, remembering the early morning shower when they had given in to their passion. He would force himself to turn away from her.

Without knowing it, the following morning was about to turn their world upside down. Harm tried to talk to Mac once again about how uncomfortable he felt at JAG. He truly did feel his days at JAG were numbered, and he had choices to make.

Harm and Mac had taken a shower together, which they loved to do. After finally getting out, with much foreplay, but no lovemaking, Harm ordered some dinner for both of them. Now, they sat in front of the fire, their tummies filled, and their bodies, although quite content, beginning to ache for one another once again.

“Mac, we need to talk,” Harm said, taking her hand, kissing each finger and pulling her against him.

“I hate talking, Harm. We always wind up hurting each other, or losing our temper. Why don’t we just go back to bed? We can always find things to do in bed,” Mac teased as she reached over and stroked him between his legs.

“This isn’t about our past, Mac, it’s about our future.”

“Oh, then that’s different,” Mac said, cuddling closer to Harm.

“Maybe not, Mac. I know you don’t agree with me, but since General Cresswell arrived at JAG, it’s been very clear to me that he has already selected the people he wants around him. It’s funny because you were so concerned that he would cause trouble for you, but it’s quite obvious you’re one of his favourites. I’m not complaining, Mac. You know, I can’t make everyone like me, and it isn’t that Cresswell doesn’t like me. I think he just sees a different role for me in the future, one that does not include me staying at JAG.”

Mac turned around and looked into his eyes. She could see how serious he was, and since her talk with the general, she knew that what Harm was saying had some truth to it.

“General Cresswell wants to change JAG. He doesn’t like how Chegwidden ran the office. He feels that A.J. allowed us all to get too close. However, you do have a point. I’ve noticed how he is bringing in new people, younger, and keeping you and I apart. I don’t know why, but he has a reason. As for me, I told you about the talk we had, and since then, he seems to want me around all the time.”

“It’s quite evident to everyone, Mac. It’s sad for me to see how things are changing. When you were out of town with the new guy, the Roberts had their twins baptized. I was only there for a minute or two, but it seems the general was there, along with part of his family. Somehow, memories of when you and I baptized little A.J. became quite painful. I realize this is being very immature on my part, but when I went there to give Bud and Harriet my congratulations, I didn’t feel at home anymore. Even when I left, Bud just accepted my continued absence with a shrug, and that’s how the military is. I remember when I left to go back to flying; he was devastated. I also remember how he risked his career to help me out when I was charged with murder. You did the same, but you had left JAG. Maybe that’s my problem, Mac, I hate to see all the changes. Please don’t be upset with me when I tell you this, but even you are changing. You talk about Vukovic constantly. I know you criticize him, yet at the same time, you seem to admire him. Everyone has told me how handsome he is and how all the women are falling all over him. I don’t care about that, but I do care about you. I have also accepted the fact that Vukovic was brought in to replace me. So, I think I should start planning my retirement.”

Mac got up, walking away. Harm had hit a nerve with most of what he had said. Harm was gone most of time, and when she was sent out, Vukovic went with her, so she was never alone, whereas Harm was. What he said about her talking about Vukovic all the time was right also. Mac had never felt this conflicted in her life, not even when she was engaged to Mic. Somehow, she knew that marriage would never take place. She turned back to Harm, who was not looking at her, but instead, gazing at the flames in the fireplace. Somehow, he knew his words might start an argument, but he had to be honest with Mac. He knew she loved him, but he was also aware of the fact that something besides not getting pregnant was bothering Mac.

“I guess we do need to talk, Harm,” Mac said, without coming back to him. “You read me quite well, don’t you? I’m not attracted to Vukovic, Harm, but with you being gone for such long periods of time, and him making it quite obvious that he finds me both attractive and desirable, well, I am human. It doesn’t mean I love you any less, instead I find myself longing for you even more. As for Cresswell, you’re right again. It’s become apparent, even to me, that he is keeping us apart. He has teamed me up with Vukovic, and in some ways, it’s like working with you when I first arrived at JAG.” Mac stopped, realizing how that sounded. When she saw the look on Harm’s face, she knew she had hurt him. “Harm, I don’t mean it the way you think I did. You were arrogant, and you bent the rules just to win a case.” Once again, Mac stopped. She knew this talk was going to lead to more problems for them. Somehow being honest always hurt one or both of them.

“It’s strange, Mac. You were always very critical of me. After years of working together, you asked me to recuse myself as a judge from a case because you didn’t trust me. We had been through so much together by then, and still you didn’t trust me, yet in a few short weeks, you seem to admire this man and somehow find excuses for his behaviour. It’s almost as if you enjoy being his mentor, or perhaps something more. Tell me Mac, was I that insubordinate, that arrogant, that you can compare me to this Vukovic? Is he after the same thing I was? Or am I making excuses for myself?”

“Well, you did shoot a gun in a courtroom.”

“Please don’t tell me you’ve told him that already,” Harm said, standing up. How was it that they could make love so joyously, whisper words of love to one another, and then hurt each other this way?

Mac bowed her head. Yes, she had told Vukovic about Harm, but she hadn’t meant to ridicule him. However, seeing the look in Harm’s eyes made Mac realize that she had done just that by discussing her personal life with a man she had known for such a short time.

“I’m going to retire, Mac,” Harm said, his voice on the cool side. “I know that your career is the most important thing in your life, but for me, I am tired of the military telling me whom I can love. I have loved you for nine years, although I didn’t admit it even to myself. I thought we had finally found our way together, and that nothing could keep us apart anymore. That’s why I’m willing to retire, so that you can remain in the service. However, from the little you have said, perhaps what you need most is the time to think about us.” Harm tried to keep the pain out of his voice.

“Harm, I’ve agreed to marry you, remember? Are you backing out on the proposal,” Mac said, her heart aching, knowing that this time, none of what was happening was Harm’s fault. She enjoyed being the general’s right hand. She enjoyed Vukovic’s attention. She enjoyed being the so-called ‘top-gun’ at JAG. She could not deny it.

“I would never back out on my proposal, Mac. I want you for my wife more than I want anything else in this world. I need you as I never thought it was possible to need anyone, but I won’t force you into this decision. If I’m not mistaken, that’s what Mic Brumby did, and I just can’t hurt you again. I don’t think you’re ready for marriage. Perhaps you are one of those women who never will be. And that’s my fault. Perchance if I had told you how much I loved you years ago, we would be together now. You enjoy your life at JAG, whereas mine has become quite a nightmare. You enjoy your new status as the general’s right hand, and you enjoy the attention you are getting, not only from Vukovic, but from all the younger ones being brought in. If I’m not the right one for you, Mac, don’t wait too long, or you will find yourself all alone years from now wondering what happened to your life. I know, because I waited too long.”

“Does this mean you don’t want to marry me,” Mac said, not knowing whether she wanted him to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

“The question here is ‘do YOU still want to marry ME?” Harm met her eyes, not looking away. It was Mac who looked away, and then quickly turned back to him.

“I’ll marry you tomorrow if you want, Harmon Rabb. Do you remember when you were telling me about Lt. Graves and Megan? You said they were both beautiful, and that you admired beautiful women, but I was the one who owned your heart. Well, I’ll be honest. Yes, I am flattered by the fact that Vukovic is obviously very interested in me, but I also know that he wants to advance his career and he will go after any woman who will help him in this goal. He’s very handsome, and I am human, but I am already taken by the only man I want, you. I love you, Harm. I don’t want you to retire, but if that’s the only way we can be together, then I’m all for it. I’m not ready to give up the Marines yet, but as soon as I get pregnant, I want to stay home with our baby.”

“Are you sure, Mac? Remember that we’ve hurt each other too much over the past nine years, and I don’t want you hurt again. If working alongside of Vukovic is what makes you feel fulfilled, then you should do it. I am willing to give you more time if you need it. I love you enough to let you go if it will mean you are happy. ” Harm didn’t quite know how he got the words out, for each word seemed to tear at his heart.

“I need you in my life more than you realize. I don’t need other handsome men to make me happy. I have the best and the most handsome one right here. Besides, I don’t just love you because you are handsome, sexy, brilliant, and so damn desirable. I love going to sleep in your arms, and waking up next to you. As for Vukovic, yes, I’ve covered for him, and I’m not proud of myself. Perhaps I see myself a long time ago, making stupid mistakes, but I will only go so far. I am risking my own career, and I won’t do that for any man, well, for you I would risk my life. I love you, my flyboy, and I don’t want anyone but you.”

Harm and Mac had survived another obstacle as she ran to him and put her arms around his neck, leading him back to bed. Her words had touched Harm deeply. He trusted her. As they went to bed, they reached out for one another, within minutes, surrendering to their passion, lost in each other, all else forgotten.

Sleeping was not a priority for Harm and Mac, but their hunger for their passion, for the love they shared so gloriously was and they joyously and eagerly allowed their bodies to talk for them. Their lovemaking, as always was beautiful, but this time, it had a mystical euphoria to it. Mac waited breathlessly for Harm to join her, to fill her with his love. She moaned and cried out his name as he entered her, deeper and deeper until she was complete and he was finally home.

 

 

 

JAG HEADQUARTERS
FALLS CHURCH, VA

 

 

 

It was early morning at work. It had been a long time since Harm had been part of the group as the assignments were handed out. Harm actually enjoyed the banter between his long-time friends, and to make it even better, Lt. Vukovic was not present. Yes, today was different. The general seemed to be in good spirits as he started talking about the annual conference, which was usually held in D.C. However, this time, General Cresswell had decided to change things.

The weather was miserable, the general commenced, and because of that, he had decided that the conference would take place in San Diego. Of course, everyone began to talk about the sunny beaches and nice weather. Harm waited, knowing with a certainty that he would not be included as part of the group going.

As Harm had expected, General Cresswell announced that Mac and Vukovic would be attending the conference, along with other of the younger ones, and of course, the general himself. Turner and Bud had their own cases. Harm just sat there, not knowing what to expect.

“As for you, Commander Rabb, you will be in charge of JAG while I’m gone,” the general turned to Harm.

It was a shock to Harm. Why not Sturgis? After all, he had been acting JAG for months while they approved Cresswell’s appointment. Harm accepted his assignment, noticing the look on Mac’s face. There was a relieved look in her eyes when she looked at him. Was she glad that he wasn’t going to be there with her, or was she happy that the general had shown some confidence in Harm by making him the Acting JAG while he was gone? From the way Mac looked down at her hands, Harm gathered that it was the former. For some reason, Harm felt a sense of doom.

Harm had lost Mac to Clayton Webb, a man he never would have expected her to become involved with, and now, from the chatter coming from the women, including Mac, he could tell that she was excited about the upcoming conference.. Harm knew in that moment, as he noticed how she avoided looking at him, that he could be losing her once again. He could not play this game anymore. But to all those in the room, Harm gave no indication as to his feelings. Mac knew how he felt, for the excitement she felt knowing that she would be working with Vukovic again was enough for her to know that Harm had been right. She wasn’t ready to settle down. Perhaps she never would be. She enjoyed the attention of handsome men, and Lt. Vukovic was very handsome.

General Cresswell kept Harm pretty busy as he told him what was pending. The more Cresswell saw of Harm and Mac together, the more he realized how strong their relationship had become. General Cresswell was married, and loved his wife very much. Somehow, he knew that Harm and Mac shared that same kind of love, the one he had for his own wife. However, rules were rules. Cresswell actually believed he was doing them a favour by keeping them apart before they got into trouble. He had no doubts that Harm and Mac spent all their time together when they were home. He was not quite prepared to do battle for both of them, and he knew it was something that would happen if the SECNAV ever found out about them. If keeping them apart during assignments would protect them, then he would play the devil’s advocate until the time came when they admitted their love to him. Now, he wanted to have Mac train the younger group coming in. He was still trying to find a place for Harm.

Harm and Mac were able to spend a glorious night together, albeit a little unsettling. Mac was almost desperate in their lovemaking, unable to stop touching Harm. It shocked her that she saw Vukovic’s face in the midst of their passion. Mac opened her eyes to see Harm’s beloved face. He was staring at her. Mac was suddenly terrified that she might have called out Vukovic’s name, but then Harm kissed her with a passion that was ecstatically incredible, and all else was forgotten.

 

 

 

JAG HEADQUARTERS
FALLS CHURCH, VA
THE FOLLOWING MORNING

 

 

 

“I love you, Harm,” Mac whispered to him as they took their early morning shower together.

“I love you, Mac. Enjoy yourself while you’re in San Diego. The weather is beautiful, and remember that I’ll be waiting for you.”

“I’ll always come home to you,” Mac said.

They were late to the office, something which did not go unnoticed by General Cresswell. By 0830, General Cresswell and his party were on their way to San Diego while Harm was left feeling very much alone. He tried to busy himself with some of the paperwork that the general had left for him to finish up. The cases had already been assigned, but there would be several boring meetings that Harm would have to attend.

For the next two days, Mac called Harm two or three times a day. Then she told him that they were in the middle of a case, so her time would be more limited. By the fourth day, she called him only at night. Harm had suggested that she call him since he was not aware of their schedule and he didn’t want to interrupt her at a bad time. Mac agreed.

Harm and Sturgis were sitting in the general’s office discussing a case. Sturgis was surprised that Harm agreed to his request. The friendship that they had shared for so long was strained since Sturgis’ recommendation that Harm be charged with manslaughter while he was out on a mission. He had done nothing to try to exonerate Harm, instead making the recommendation within hours of his arrival. Their friendship had been strained for a very long time; almost from the time that Admiral Chegwidden had told Harm he was no longer part of JAG. Sturgis had visited him once during all that time, and even then, he seemed to blame Harm for everything. Harm no longer tried to figure out what was going on with Sturgis, but he did regret the loss of his long-time friend.

 

 

 

HARM DEALS WITH TRAGEDY

 

 

 

The sense of doom that had filled Harm a few days earlier was about to befall him with powerful and tragic consequences. He had not heard from Mac the night before, so he had called her, hoping she wasn’t in a meeting. When he hung up, the ache in his heart intensified. Mac sounded like a schoolgirl. She sounded so happy, and so at ease. Harm didn’t keep her on the phone long as he sensed she really didn’t want to talk to him. They were all going out to eat, and she was holding things up. It had not been an easy night for Harm. He felt the short-lived happiness he had found with Mac slipping away.

However, the worse was yet to come. It was while he was talking to Sturgis the following morning that Jennifer interrupted them with the message that Mattie had been in an accident. For a few seconds, Harm tried to make sense of Jennifer’s words. Had Mattie been driving? Had her father been drinking again? He couldn’t wait. Without getting the general’s permission, Harm looked over at Sturgis, and for a second, their friendship returned. Harm made Sturgis the Acting JAG so he could go to Blacksburg. Sturgis wished him luck and told him to keep in touch.

The drive to Blacksburg was agonizingly long for Harm. He tried so hard to be positive, hoping that when he arrived, Mattie would be sitting up in bed, teasing him about worrying about her too much. It was not to be, and when Harm finally did arrive at the hospital, he could not breathe, think, or move when he saw a motionless Mattie on the bed, with so many machines attached to her that he couldn’t even try to rationalize what was happening.

The image of the very proud Mattie Grace that he had met so long ago popped into Harm’s mind. That Mattie was gone, and in her place there was this silent, sleeping beauty, her hair almost covering the pillow she was on. She could not move or talk, for she was in a coma. Harm’s heart broke once again. So many images passed through Harm’s bleeding soul. He was five years old, seeing the cars drive up and then hearing his mother cry. Seeing Diane’s face as he unzipped the body bag. The little girl, Annie, who had done nothing wrong to anyone, but who had been tortured to death by a very sick man.

The image of Jennifer telling him and Mac about Bud’s tragedy and the loss of his leg was quite vivid. Even Jordan made her way into the images that brought so much agony to Harm as he looked at Mattie. It seemed like an eternity as these images tortured Harm, yet it was only seconds. He saw Mac’s face on New Year’s Eve, and once again, as she left a few days earlier. Now, he stared at Mattie. She was only fifteen years old. This could not be happening to her. Mattie had her whole life ahead of her. His pain was unbearable as he tried to get the doctors to tell him what Mattie’s prognosis was, but they were all waiting for a specialist. Even Tom Johnson, Mattie’s father, seemed to be in shock. Mattie couldn’t die, Harm cried within himself.

Two days later, the specialist arrived. He had nothing but bad news for Harm. It was not in Harm’s nature to accept defeat, and even now, he kept pushing the doctor, insisting there was something to be done, there had to be. Harm had known heartache so many times, losses that left his life a little emptier, but he had never known this kind of pain. It was while the doctor was explaining to Harm that Tom Johnson came in, the smell of liquor immediately filling the room.

Harm was furious. After the doctor left, he lashed out at Tom, trying to force him to accept his responsibility, but Tom Johnson wasn’t strong enough. It was only afterwards, as Harm sat beside Mattie’s bed that he realized how harsh he had been with Tom. He felt guilty. He looked over at Mattie’s face. She was so pale, her red curls framing her face. His mind seemed numb as he talked to Mattie, telling her about all the plans they had made.

“You have to live,” Harm uttered the words past his constricted throat. He could almost taste the ache as he looked at the youthful face of Mattie Grace.

“Why God? Why Mattie? She’s lost her Mother already, and has just found her father again. She was just beginning to live again. Why her? Why not me? Why, God? Please let her live. Don’t let her be paralyzed, please. Let the prognosis be wrong. Give Mattie the miracle she deserves.” Harm was shocked to hear himself praying. He could not remember the last time he had prayed.

Somehow, deep within his soul, Harm knew there was a God, or a Supreme Being, but he had never prayed. He went to church on Christmas Eve, sometimes on Easter Sunday, but he wasn’t a religious man. Yet in this moment, as the tears filled his eyes when he looked at Mattie, Harm turned to God. He had no one else to turn to for he was very much alone.

A few hours later, Harm was resting outside, trying to take a break. He decided to call Mac again, but when she answered, he could hear music in the background, and Lt. Vukovic’s voice. Mac’s voice sounded a little giddy. It was obvious to Harm that he had called at a very bad time. Somehow, Mac must have heard the pain in his voice because she asked him what was wrong. He bluffed his way out of it, telling her to enjoy herself.

Once again, Harm felt so alone. He hung his head and prayed again, this time for himself, for he didn’t know what to do. It was only then that he called General Cresswell. It didn’t matter if they were at dinner. He had to know that Harm would be out of the office for an indefinite period of time.

“Cresswell,”

“General, it’s Commander Rabb. I’m sorry to be interrupting you at this time, but there has been an emergency and I just wanted you to know that I’ve left Commander Turner in charge of JAG.”

Harm heard the music and laugher in the background, wishing he had not called, but the general was his commanding officer, and therefore, Harm had to notify him of his actions. He could hear the general making excuses to leave.

“Commander, are you still there?”

“Yes, Sir. I am so…”

“Tell me about the emergency, Commander.”

With his voice breaking several times, Harm told him about Mattie’s accident. The general was very understanding, asking all the right questions and immediately offering to have her transferred to Bethesda where she could have the very best of care.

“Thank you, General, but she can’t be moved right now. The prognosis isn’t good, but I’m hopeful. I have to be or I don’t…”

“Didn’t she just reconcile with her father? Is he there?”

“Yes to both questions, but he’s not taking it very well, Sir.”

“Commander Rabb, you did the right thing. I’ll contact Commander Turner just to see if he has any questions. Does Mac know?”

“No, Sir. Let her have a good evening. Mattie, well, she is my problem.”

“I don’t think Col. MacKenzie will see it that way, Harm.” Harm was startled to hear the general address him by his first name, and discussing something that was very personal..

“Just let her have a good time tonight. She’s been through enough herself. Thank you, general, for being so understanding.”

“When it comes to family, Harm, I will always understand. I’ll be in touch. I hate to leave you alone, but I do…”

“I appreciate your understanding, General. I better get back to Mattie.”

The next few hours were the most difficult of Harm’s entire life, including his own accident. He kept remembering how alive, how stubborn, and how determined a very young Mattie Grace had been. Refusing to leave her room, Harm fell asleep holding her hand, with his head resting against the back of his chair. He would wake up every time someone would enter to take Mattie’s vitals, or to change or add to her IV. When he woke up, he relived the tragedy all over again. Somehow the darkness of sleep protected him from the reality of what was happening to Mattie.

Because he was in a hospital room with sensitive medical equipment, Harm had turned his cell phone off, therefore he did not hear his phone when Mac called him. General Cresswell had waited only a few minutes before calling Mac aside and telling her about Mattie and Harm. He saw the agonizing horror on her face and in her eyes.

“General…”

“I’ll try and find a replacement for you Col. MacKenzie, but until then you must remain here. As soon as I can, I will make other arrangements. Commander Rabb needs someone with him now. I’ll arrange transportation for you as soon as I can.”

Mac had not even bothered to go back into the ballroom. She knew now why Harm had sounded so strange. She knew he hadn’t told her because he didn’t want to ruin her evening, yet he had called General Cresswell. Mac felt that familiar ache in her heart when she was separated from Harm. She also felt fear. She had to go see him.

For Harm, the hours had turned into days. He would leave just long enough to freshen up, take a shower, change clothes and return to Mattie’s side. He kept hoping that Tom would return, but he seemed to have disappeared.

As much as Harm tried to feel positive, each day only brought the same news. And Mattie continued to be a sleeping beauty, not moving, not speaking, not opening her eyes. Harm had never known his heart could break so completely. Alone, he had decided to call his mother.

Trish was horrified when she learned what had happened and wanted to come out immediately, but Harm wouldn’t let her. He said there was very little she could do.

“I can comfort you, Harm. I can stay with Mattie while you eat something. Knowing you, you probably have not eaten in days.”

“Harm,” Frank’s voice came on the phone. “We are coming out there regardless of what you say. Son, it’s times like these that we need our families, and you are our only son. I’ll call you as soon as I made all the arrangements.”

“Frank, the weather is pretty bad out here. I know you will probably charter a plane, and I will be worrying about you and Mom. I’ll call you every day, and as soon as the weather clears, you can come out. Mom’s right, I do need some help.”

The tears were falling down Harm’s face as he spoke to Frank and his Mom. More than anyone else, he needed Mac. She had called him several times, but he had not returned her calls, and he didn’t even know why. He knew it would hurt her, but at that moment, Mattie needed someone to be there for her since her father had disappeared. His mother’s voice brought him back to reality.

“Harm, we can catch the first flight out of here. You sound so tired,” Trish’s voice came back on.

“Give me a couple of days, Mom. I do need you and Frank,” Harm’s voice broke. Trish was crying, for this was the very first time Harm had asked for their help.

“Harm, promise me that you will call if you feel…”

“I promise, Mom. I have to get back to Mattie. I’ll call you later.”

Harm hung up, but he did not go back to Mattie, not just yet. He was thinking about Mac. The year had started out with so much promise. He thought that all the obstacles that had kept them apart, including their own fears and stubbornness, had been conquered by their love. Harm’s tears continued to fall. He cried for Mattie, for the future she might never have. He cried for Tom, who had managed to stop drinking, only to be destroyed in such a tragic manner. Harmon Rabb cried for Mac, his only love. He could not ask her to put her own life on hold because of Mattie, and he knew that she would offer.

Not even feeling the cold outside, Harm walked back and forth, feeling the warmth of Mac’s lips on his, remembering the miracle of their lovemaking, and more importantly, reliving their complete surrender to one another. Even in the love they shared, Harm knew that Mac still had issues to resolve. He could not add to those issues. Ironically, his cell phone rang just then. Looking at the caller I.D., he saw that it was Mac, almost as if she knew he was thinking about her. He didn’t answer.

“I have to let her go,” Harm said to himself. “I can’t do this to her,” and with those words, Harm broke down. He went to his car and cried for all the things that would not be, not for him and Mac, not for Mattie, not for Tom, not for any of them.

Harm rested his head on the steering wheel of his car, the tears still falling. Not knowing how long he had been there, Harm knew he had to find Tom, try to help him. He had to talk to Mac, but he had to find the strength to send her away. He already knew what he was going to do about his career unless Tom Johnson could fight his way back to his daughter.

“Oh, Mac, I failed you again. If I had said three years instead of five, we would have our child by now. If I had told you how much I love you years ago, we would be married now. I can’t fail you again. I love you so much, Sarah MacKenzie, but I have to let you go. Please try to understand, but even if you don’t, it’s okay for you to be angry with me. It’s better that for you to be angry with me than for me to possibly ruin the rest of your life. I love you, my beautiful Ninja Girl.”

As Harm spoke the words, he felt as if his soul had left him, for without Mac, he felt so alone, and yet, raising his head, he knew he had Mattie. In another lifetime, when Mac and Mic broke up, she was coming to him, Harm realized. Renee’s father had died, and their lives were split apart. Now, he had a responsibility to Mattie, and he could not, would not bring Mac down with him. He loved her too much. The phone rang again, once again he saw Mac’s name.

Brushing his tears away, Harm went back into the hospital. He went to the first restroom he could find, washed his face, combed his hair, and tried to smile. His signature smile was gone, leaving a melancholy one that hid a myriad of emotions.

 

 

 

CHAPTER 5



ST. VINCENT'S HOSPITAL
BLACKSBURG, VA

FOLLOWING MORNING

 

 

 

The next morning brought more of the same. Mattie’s condition was unchanged. Harm felt so helpless. Harmon Rabb was a man who, when he made a promise, he kept it. He had promised Mattie that he would always be there for her, but he hadn’t, or else she wouldn’t have been in that plane alone. The doctor told Harm that he should get some rest, seeing how exhausted he looked. He had just walked away when Harm felt Mac’s presence before he saw her. It had been four days since the accident. He had not returned any of her calls, so seeing her in front of him was a surprise to him, albeit the only good thing that had happened since this nightmare had begun.

Harm tried so hard to give her the smile he knew she loved, but when he did, it turned into a heartbreaking attempt. Harm vowed not to involve Mac too much.

“How is she,” Mac asked. “You haven’t returned any of my calls.”

“I’m sorry, Mac, but I can’t turn the phone on while I’m in her room, and I’m in there most of the time. She’s not doing well.”

Harm gave her a brief report on what the doctors had told him, seeing the pain in his eyes reflected in Mac’s. He was hurting her again.

“Where’s her father,” Mac asked, sitting down next to Harm.

Harm shrugged his shoulders. Mac knew what that meant. Tom Johnson was drinking again. Her next words tumbled out of her mouth before she had a chance to think about how they would sound to Harm.

“Have you contacted Child Protective Services?”

The look in Harm’s eyes told Mac that she had said the wrong thing, but she didn’t back down and she would never understand why she continued. She finally stopped when she saw Harm hang his head in a defeated gesture. It was painful for her to see the man she loved in so much pain.

Mac tried to ease the tension by putting her hand on his arm, but then she heard Harm’s words, so filled with agony and love, it almost tore her apart.

“Don’t, please don’t, Mac,” Harm said as he drew away from her touch. He needed her touch so much, but knew he would break down if he allowed her into his heart. No, she was already in his heart. He couldn’t allow her into this kind of pain.

Mac felt as if he had slapped her, but that physical action would not have hurt as much as his words and what they did to her emotionally. She pulled her arm away.

“Call me if you need me,” Mac said, getting up and walking away.

Harm never looked at her, just heard her heels clicking away. He finally looked up and watched her walk out of his life. He had purposely shut her out, telling her that Mattie was his problem, insinuating that Mac had nothing to do with it. Harm hung his head once more, wondering how much more he could take without breaking down.

As the minutes ticked away, Harm relived their New Year’s Eve celebration. They had basked in their love for one another, surrendering to a love they had denied for years. He loved Mac so much, yet Mattie needed him. With Tom’s unstable behaviour, Harm knew he would be responsible for Mattie for as long as she needed him, and since the prognosis had not changed, he realized it could be for the rest of his life. Still, as he heard the silence, aware that Mac was now gone, Harm got up quickly. He had to explain to Mac.

Mac had been hurt and angry and feeling helpless as she walked away from Harm. Was this the man she had shared so many magical days and nights with, the man she loved with all her heart. She stopped walking, looking around for a place to sit down. She saw a waiting room and sat down.

It was then that Mac understood fully why Harm had sent her away. Harm had tried to make Mattie a part of Mac’s life, especially since she was the one responsible for Mattie being allowed to stay with him, but she had been too involved with Clay. Now it was Mac who hung her head, yanking the rubber band out of her ponytail, her hair falling and covering her face. She put her face in her hands and began sobbing.

“Oh, my one and only love, you always have to be the hero, don’t you,” Mac’s thoughts merged with the pain in her soul. “You are pushing me away in the same way that I pushed you away. It was Dr. McCool who finally made me see what I was doing. She didn’t have to convince me that I loved you. I already knew it. Why do we continue to do this to each other?” Mac realized that she was actually talking to herself. Embarrassed, she looked around to see if anyone had heard her, but the waiting room was empty.

Of course Harm would push her away. He was putting her career first, always thinking of her needs instead of his. It could be months, perhaps years, even for the rest of Mattie’s life that she would need Harm to take care of her, and this is why he was pushing Mac away. His reason was much more noble than hers had been. Her tears continuing to fall, Mac recognized the fact that Harm would never want to put her in a position where her career would suffer. How could they love each other so much, yet not be able to communicate with one another. They were lawyers, yet they weren’t able to share their pain. Mac didn’t know what to do. She couldn’t leave Harm this way. He looked so alone, so helpless. She had never seen him looking like this, not even when he learned about his father’s death.

Harm hurried out to look for Mac, missing her as he hurried out the door. She didn’t see him walk past her. She had her head down and her hands shielding her teary eyes.

Outside, Harm looked from one side to the other, but he didn’t see Mac, or her car anywhere.

“Mac, what have I done? Why do we keep doing this to each other? Why couldn’t I allow you to comfort me? What have I done now?” Harm stood outside for several minutes, not feeling the snow falling on his face, or the cold wind that left his soul frozen. He turned around and slowly walked back in. As he passed the lobby, he heard voices from a couple sitting in the waiting area. It was only then that he saw Mac sitting in a chair. Her head was still down, covered by her hair, but he could tell she was crying. He had hurt her once again. Harm knew then that regardless of what he did, he would wind up hurting her, so he stood there for several minutes, staring at her, needing her so much.

“Mac?”

“Harm,” Mac stuttered his name out, trying to hide her tears, then deciding it wasn’t necessary. They needed each other right now, and if their love was strong enough, they would find a way.

“I thought you were gone. I’m sorry I was…”

Mac put her arms around Harm’s neck, pulling him down to her, not caring who saw them kissing. Her lips on his stilled the rest of his words. That mystical jolt of ecstasy spread through them, as their kisses became their comfort. Harm put his arms around Mac’s waist, holding her against him. They could both taste the saltiness of their tears, but nothing mattered except that they were together. Gasping for breath, they broke apart. Harm smiled at her. It was but a mere ghost of his beautiful smile, but it was filled with love. He rested his forehead against hers.

“Forgive me, Mac.”

“Sit down, Harm, please. You look as if you are about ready to drop. When was the last time you ate?”

Harm looked into her eyes, annoyed with himself for being so weak that he had now made Mac a part of his pain, yet feeling so good to be touching her, to know she was there for him.

“Harm, our love has been tested in so many ways. This has to be the worst, and we can’t let it tear us apart. My love for you hasn’t changed.” Mac gave him a teary smile. “I probably love you lots more now than I did on New Year’s Eve. Seriously, Harm, we can’t keep pushing each other away. If we do, we might as well end it now, and I am very sure that I don’t want to end anything between us.”

“Oh, Mac, I love you so much. I just can’t keep doing this to you. You do realize that if I had made that promise for three years instead of five, things might be so different for us now. I should have told you years ago how much I loved you, but my damn flying always got in the way. My pride and my career as well. Mac, you have to realize how much I love you.”

“I know you love me enough to give me up if you believe you are hurting me, right?”

Harm nodded, his smile a little wider now, but the sadness never left his eyes.

“Yes, I do. Where I am ready to give up my career, I know how much yours means to you. Women in the military have to fight twice as hard for everything. I can’t deprive you of what you so richly deserve. Yes, Sarah MacKenzie, I do love you enough to give you up, but it’s important that you know I will always love you.”

“Then let’s go back and see Mattie together. Let’s start out by facing this heartbreak as one. Are you willing to take that chance with me?” Mac looked at Harm, seeing the struggle in his eyes. “I am not going to stop loving you just because we are facing some rough times ahead. Love means accepting the good as well as the bad, remember.”

Harm pulled her into his arms once again as he stood up, bringing her with him. He bent down to give her a gentile kiss.

“Well, it’s nice to see your wife is finally here,” came a voice from behind them.

Harm turned around abruptly and saw the specialist that was treating Mattie. Harm started to correct him, but Mac beat him to it.

“I’ve been on assignment, Doctor, but I’m here now.”

“Are you in the Navy also?”

“No, I’m a Marine,” Mac said, standing closer to Harm.

The doctor looked from one to the other and smiled.

“A Marine married to a sailor,” he teased.

Once again Harm attempted to correct him, but Mac held his hand, squeezing it, and smiled at the doctor.

“They make great husbands,” Mac smiled.

“Well, this young man of yours needs to take a break. He has not left Mattie’s side since I arrived. I go back and forth, but the nurses tell me that your husband here never leaves her side. You need to get him to take a break.”

“That’s what I’m trying to do, but he is stubborn. Actually, he’s the very best father also, although Mattie isn’t his daughter, our daughter. I tried to get here as soon as I could, but when you’re in the military, sometimes it just…”

“You’re here now. Take your husband out and make sure he gets something to eat. The nurses have tried to get him to eat by bringing him a tray, but he never touches the food.”

“Doctor, this is Col. Sarah MacKenzie. My manners aren’t the very best right now. I’m doing fine, but having her here, even if it is just for a few hours, makes things a little easier. Has anything changed with Mattie?” Harm didn’t correct the doctor’s mistake either, instead putting his arm around Mac’s waist and drawing her closer.

“Pleased to meet you, Colonel MacKenzie. Nothing’s changed. The good thing is that she isn’t getting worse, which in itself can be encouraging. However, there is no progress whatever, so we just have to wait.” Just then his beeper went off. Looking at it, he saw the worried look in both their eyes. “It’s not Mattie. They just brought in another accident victim. I have to go. Hope we see you again soon, Colonel.”

“Thank you, and it’s Mac, please.”

“Take care of Harm, Mac,” the doctor said as he hurried off.

Harm stared at Mac, the smile on his face almost turning into the smile she loved so much.

“You let him think we’re married, Mac.”

“Why not? You did ask me, and I did say yes. We just haven’t gotten around to it, but we have enjoyed the honeymoon. Now, let’s go see Mattie.” Mac took Harm’s hand and together they walked in to see Harm’s sleeping beauty, as he had nicknamed her.

Mac stayed with Harm most of the day. She finally got him to go out and get something to eat, telling him that she was starving and she would not eat alone.

“You’re cheating, Mac, but okay, let’s go. Thank you for being here. I can’t begin to tell you how much it means to me.”

“You can show me sometime soon, when I can get you away from her long enough to get some sleep.”

It was late afternoon before Mac finally asked Harm for the time.

“You’re asking me for the time, you, the human clock?” His own words made him chuckle. It was the first time since his arrival that he had truly enjoyed his food and the company even more.

“Don’t know what you’ve done to me, Harmon Rabb, but I’m supposed to go over to the general’s house tonight, and I really need to get going. I could always call him and ask him if we could change it.”

“Oh, having dinner at the boss’s house, huh? And this was the man you were afraid of, Mac? Sounds like you and he are getting along just fine.”

“This is dinner with his family. He has a daughter…” Mac stopped, realizing that her words would be a reminder of Mattie’s unknown future. “He wants me to talk to his daughter, and I have no idea what it’s all about, so you see, it isn’t that important. I can call him…”

“No, Mac, you’ve done more than enough for me today.”

“Harm, I can never do enough for you, don’t you understand that? I love you. You come first in my heart, in my life, and yes, even my career.”

“Well, I appreciate it, but since the general has so much trust in you, why don’t we wait until it becomes an emergency.” Harm stopped, knowing that it could mean something he wasn’t prepared to face just yet. “Or perhaps when Mattie wakes up. I love you too, Mac. I always will. You have to make me a promise before you leave.”

“What?”

“I know you love me. There is no doubt in my heart of that, but I need you to promise me that if our future involves us taking care of Mattie, which will be extremely difficult, that you will tell me when and if you can’t handle it anymore, or you want out. Okay?”

Mac got up and kissed Harm, looking into his eyes. She wanted him to see the love that belonged only to him.

“If it will make you happy, I promise, but don’t count on pushing me away again, because it won’t work anymore. You’re stuck with me..”

Harm and Mac shared their wondrous kisses before she left. Even as she drove off, she kept looking back at him, wanting to call the general to ask him if she could stay a couple of days. Harm needed someone here with him, especially since Tom Johnson was not able to accept his part of the responsibility for Mattie’s care. Mac brushed the tears away as she ached for what was happening to Harm. It wasn’t fair.

Harm stared until he could not longer see Mac’s car. He missed her moment he let her out of his arms. He wondered if he had done the right thing, but then he shook his head and acknowledged the fact that if their relationship was going to survive and continue, they had be willing to share their lives with one another. It had to be, or else he would lose her. Harm decided to go for a walk.

Not even aware of how far he had walked, Harm suddenly saw a lonely figure sitting in front of a department store. As he got closer, he recognized Tom Johnson. He tried so hard to rationalize Tom’s actions, but Harm had been the one to see what Mattie had gone through after her mother was killed. Harm remembered the letters that Tom’s wife had written him, the same letters that finally enabled Mattie to forgive her father. Tom had lost his wife, and now he could quite possibly lose his daughter, and even if Mattie lived, what kind of life would she have.

Then he heard Tom’s words.

“Is she dead yet,” Tom asked in a drunken voice.

Harm lost it. He had no patience with Tom and his self-pity anymore. He tried to talk to Tom, but his anger turned to fury, and Tom’s actions only made it worse, so Harm walked away from him. If Tom wanted to wallow in his own sorrow, wasting his life away in a bottle, there was very little that Harm could do about it. He remembered Mac’s words about him having to seek guardianship of Mattie, knowing that he would do so if necessary. As angry as he was with Tom, he could still relate to the man’s sorrow. Tom was weak, and he found his solace in a bottle. Tom would not be able to help Mattie, which left him to do it. It was only then that Harm realized his anger was based on frustration, and the fact that there was nothing Harm could do to make things better for anyone.

 

 

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