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CHAPTER 6



ST. VINCENT'S HOSPITAL
BLACKSBURG, VA

THREE HOURS LATER

 

Mac had been gone for over three hours now. Harm was back in Mattie’s room, holding her hand, talking to her.

“You are so good with her,” a nurse who was changing the IV out told him. “You know, they say that patients in a coma can hear you.”

“I know,” Harm said, his voice sounding very tired. “That’s why I keep talking to her.”

At that moment, unknown to Harm, Trish and Frank arrived. When asked who they were, Frank came up with an answer quickly.

“We’re Mattie’s grandparents,” Frank told the nurse. Seeing the tears in Trish’s eyes, the nurse could not refuse them.

“Why don’t you wait here. You can see her and Commander Rabb through the window. He refuses to leave her side.”

“Thank you,” Trish said, her voice breaking.

As Frank and Trish stood there, what they saw broke their hearts. They could tell that Harm was talking to her, but it was equally obvious that Mattie did not hear him. Harm would lift his hand every now and then to run his fingers through Mattie’s long hair. The nurses looked at both of them, once again feeling their pain. Gloria, one of the nurses, asked Trish if she would like to sit down, but Trish refused, saying she wanted to see her son and granddaughter.

The nurse left them alone. Trish saw a side of her son that she had never seen before, and he looked so alone. Her heart split into a million pieces. He must be going through hell, she thought.

“I never thought we would see our son this way,” Frank said, startling Trish.

“Neither did I. Oh, Frank, I wish we had met Mattie when Harm first told us about her. I’m so sorry we took that trip to Europe instead of coming out here to see Harm.”

“Trish, we’ve always respected Harm’s privacy. You know that he could have brought her out to see us at any time, or for that matter, we could have stayed with her when he was on one of his missions. Our son has always done what he belived was best, just as we did. It’s important for him to know that we are here for him now, and if he wants us to stay, we will.” Frank had tears in his eyes as he watched Harm stroking Mattie’s fingers.

They could not hear what Harm was saying, but it looked to both Frank and Trish as if he was singing to her. Trish sobbed as she saw her son wipe a tear away, then put his head down on the pillow. It was only then that Trish realized what Harm was doing.

“He’s praying, Frank. I can’t remember the last time I saw Harm pray. He became so bitter after his father’s death, I think he stopped believing in God. Oh, Frank, I can’t stand to see him in so much pain. Why is he alone? Why aren’t his friends here? Why isn’t Mac here with him?” Trish buried her face in Frank’s chest.

“We’re here, Trish,” Frank said, a lump in his throat. He watched as Harm stood up. “Look, Trish, he may be coming out.”

Trish and Frank watched as Harm continued to stroke Mattie’s fingers, then bent down and kissed her on the forehead. The seconds seemed like hours to Trish. Finally, Harm straightened up and rubbed his eyes once again. He had no idea that his Mom and Frank had been there for almost thirty minutes, watching him.

Walking out of Mattie’s room, Harm actually walked past Frank and Trish, not really seeing them. He saw two people comforting one another, until he felt his Mom’s hand on his arm. It was only then that he truly saw them. He just stared at them. They had not notified him that they were flying in. He felt Trish’s arms around him, and Harm pulled away.

“Please don’t, Mom. If I allow you to comfort me, I’ll break down, and I can’t do that. I have to be strong for Mattie. Right now, I’m the only one she has,” Harm’s voice was ragged and broken.

“What can we do, Harm? We won’t get in the way, but we can’t let you go through this alone,” Frank told the only son he had ever had.

“There’s nothing to do, Frank. That’s what is so frustrating about all this. Her condition is unchanged. The specialist has been honest with me.”

As Harm spoke, Gloria, the nurse came up to them.

“Commander, why don’t you take a break? You haven’t left her side since your wife left, and you need to get some rest. I understand you’re his parents, and Mattie’s grandparents,” Gloria said, turning to look at Frank and Trish, who had a shocked look on their faces.

“Yes, we are,” Frank finally answered after several seconds.

“We are going to need at least two hours with Mattie. She is going to have her bath, and the linens will be changed, and the doctor has ordered some additional tests, so why don’t the three of you go out and eat.”

“Can I see her for just a few minutes,” Trish asked, needing to touch the young girl who had captured her son’s heart as only a daughter could.

“Of course.”

“I’m sorry. I have forgotten my manners again,” Harm said, turning to his mother and Frank. “This is my Mom, Trish, and my…my Dad, Frank. This is Gloria, one of Mattie’s many nurses. They just flew in from California and…”

“Oh, well, then of course you need to see her,” Gloria said. “I’ll tell the other nurses to wait a few minutes. I don’t think the doctor will mind if the three of you go in.”

“Mom, are you sure you want to do this,” Harm asked.

“I’m sure, son. Let’s go see our granddaughter,” Trish looked from Harm to Frank.

The three of them walked into the silent room, the silence broken by the beeping of the four monitors. Gloria led them in, and then walked out, giving them time alone with their favourite patient.

“She’s so beautiful, Harm,” Trish said, gently running her fingers through Mattie’s long hair.

“I call her my sleeping beauty,” Harm said, trying to hide the ache in his heart.

“Do you mind if I ask if there’s any change,” Frank asked.

“No, I don’t mind, but let’s wait until we get out of here. The doctors have told me to keep talking to her because she can hear me. I keep telling her that she has to get well because there is so much we have to do yet.”

Trish went around the bed and took Mattie’s hand in hers. Looking down at the beautiful, but very silent young girl, Trish’s eyes filled with tears, but she managed to hold them back.

“Harm’s right, Mattie. You have to get well so that I can enjoy having such a beautiful granddaughter to show off to all my friends. Besides, Harm needs you, you know. You have been one of the best things that has ever happened to our son.” Trish bent down to kiss her forehead.

Harm and Frank looked on, feeling both pride and pain for the manner in which Trish was taking it all in. They were proud of her strength, and felt her pain for Mattie.

Gloria came in just then and told them that she hated to hurry them, but they were going to have to ask them to leave for about two hours.

“You can come back as soon as we are finished,” Gloria smiled at all three of them. “I’m sure Mattie will be glad to hear all of you, just as she was to hear her stepmother.”

It was then that Trish remembered again the shock they had felt when one of the nurses had mentioned Harm’s wife. Trish hid her astonishment quite well, as did Frank, as the three of them told Mattie they would be back soon. Harm was the last one to kiss her once again.

Harm took Frank and his Mom to the one restaurant he had frequented often since his arrival in Blacksburg. He liked it because he could have just pasta with a lobster sauce, a salad, or whatever else he wanted that didn’t include meat, although they did offer it. This is where he had been just a few hours ago with Mac.

After sitting down and placing their orders, Harm told them Mattie’s prognosis. Once again, it was difficult for Trish to keep her composure, but for her son, she did.

“The general has kindly offered to move her to Bethesda, where he feels she will have better care, but the doctors here don’t recommend moving her. All we can do is wait and hope.”

“And pray,” Trish added, without too much emphasis.

The conversation during dinner was about what Harm would do if Tom Johnson could not take care of Mattie on his own. Frank and Trish immediately offered to help.

“If Mattie becomes my responsibility alone, then I will try to find a way to move her.”

“Harm,” Trish interrupted him. “We have excellent hospitals in California. Why don’t you bring her out there? That way, we can all help take care of her.”

“I can’t ask that of you, Mom. Mattie’s care will be very difficult…”

“You aren’t asking us, Son,” Frank spoke up. “We’re offering.”

“I will retire from the Navy if Mattie becomes my responsibility. Actually, that’s too harsh a word. Yes, I’ll take care of her, but she won’t be a burden to me. I just hate to think that she will never have a normal life. Mom, I wish you had met her. She was full of life and had her future all planned out. She wanted to be an aviator like me. Why did this happen to her? She’s been through so much tragedy for being so young, and now her own life is in question.”

“Somehow I expected you to retire as soon as I heard about this accident,” Trish said. “We won’t pressure you, but we do want you to know that we would love to have her with us. We can hire nurses to help us out. You know, the house will belong to you after we’re gone, so why not share it while we can all enjoy it. It’s just an idea, Son. Just think about it, okay?”

“Thanks, Mom, Frank. I promise you that I will consider it. It all depends on what happens now.”

“What about her father,” Frank asked.

Looking at his Mom and Frank, Harm wondered how much he should tell them.

Harm went into an explanation on the fact that Tom Johnson was taking it very hard, and just hadn’t been around to see his daughter in several days. He left out the part about Tom’s drinking.

“Has he gone back to drinking?”

“Unfortunately, yes,” Harm answered, remembering that when he had asked for guardianship of Mattie, he had explained to them about Tom’s drinking. “As angry as I am with him, it’s got to be devastating to him. He had just reconciled with Mattie, and now he’s lost her again, and he just can’t handle it.”

“Can we change the subject to a more pleasant topic,” Trish said, as she finished her meal, put her napkin aside and looked at Harm. “How long have you and Mac been married?”

“Married? What are you talking…oh, what the nurse said,” Harm sat back and smiled for the first time since they had arrived. “Mac came by to see if I needed anything and to tell me that the general has given me as much time off as I need.”

“Hmm. Couldn’t the general have told you that over the phone? So when did you get a wife?” Trish was enjoying watching her grown son blush like a schoolboy.

“It was all a mistake, Mom. I’m not married. Mac came by, and well, we’ve been friends a long time, so she hugged me. Just at that time, the doctor came by and assumed she was my wife.”

“So did you and Mac go mute all of a sudden,” Trish continued teasing him. “I imagine he still thinks she’s your wife since the nurses believe the same thing. So, when were you going to tell us?” Trish suddenly stopped, seeing the most painful look in Harm’s beautiful eyes.

“Actually, Mom, I was going to tell you. Not that I have a wife, but that I have asked Mac to marry me. She finally accepted, but this changes so much. I just can’t ask her to give up her life in the military, especially now that she is the new Judge Advocate General’s right hand person. He depends on her a lot. Plus, Mac enjoys her career. How can I ask her to give all that up now?”

“Wouldn’t you do it for her if the situation was reversed,” Frank asked quietly. “If you and your Mac have finally gotten to the point of discussing marriage, don’t you think that you should give her the option of making her own decision?”

“He’s right, Harm,” Trish said, stroking Harm’s arm. “Being in love may make the world go around, but it isn’t always painless. If she accepted your proposal, don’t you think she loves you enough to stand by you during all this?”

“That’s just it, Mom, how long is this going to go on. We’ve talked about having children of our own. When I met Mattie, and especially when I asked to be appointed her guardian, it was my doing. Mac had nothing to do with it. She didn’t even know about it until the day we went to court. Yes, Frank I would give up anything if Mac needed me, but for now, I can’t make any plans. She has a career she loves, and I can’t ask her to give it up for something that was my doing. I don’t care about the Navy anymore. I had planned on retiring anyway so that Mac and I could get married, so retiring to take care of Mattie just changes my plans.”

“It doesn’t have to, Son,” Frank put his hand on Harm’s shoulder. “You have chosen to be alone, and I’ve not interfered, and I will not do so now, but please don’t think that you are alone. We’re here for you, and I’m sure Mac feels the same way.”

Harm, Frank and Trish talked for several more minutes before Harm said he wanted to go back to his hotel and take a shower and change clothes before returning to the hospital. Frank and Trish had already rented a room at the same hotel after Frank had made some inquiries. They got back to the hospital at 9:00 o’clock, just in time to go in and see Mattie.

 

JAG HEADQUARTERS
FALLS CHURCH, VA

THE FOLLOWING DAY

 

 

The minute Mac walked into the bullpen, she was bombarded with questions regarding Harm and Mattie. Jennifer felt quite guilty for not having gone to see her, but everytime she even thought about it, she would break down. She kept remembering the hours they had waited to find out if Bud was going to live. Now, remembering the vibrant Mattie Grace, Jennifer stayed away, wanting her memories of her to be happy ones. If Mattie survived, Jennifer would go to visit her, but she couldn’t bare the thought of seeing her so still.

Mac answered everyone’s questions, surprised that the general did not put an end to their lack of work. After almost thirty minutes, Cresswell called Mac into his office.

“Sit down, Mac,” Cresswell said, closing the door behind them.

“I’m sorry…”

“How bad is it, Colonel? Since you’ve met my daughter, Cammie, you can probably understand how I empathize with Commander Rabb. Is it as bad as it sounds?”

“Worse, General. I’m sure that you know by now that her father was and is an alcoholic. He’s gone back to drinking, unable to handle the situation. It’s difficult to fault him. The man lost his wife not long ago, then his lost his daughter to Commander Rabb for several months. When he finally reconciled with Mattie, and things were finally looking up for them, this tragic accident happens. So, it’s all up to Harm now.”

“I have to tell you, Mac, that Commander Rabb has already requested that the paperwork for his retirement will be started immediately. I don’t want to lose him, but if it is as bad as you say, then I can understand. I know it seems as if I have pushed him out of JAG, and in many ways I have, but when I came here, I saw a lot of things I didn’t like. Yet despite all that, I certainly don’t want to lose a man like Harmon Rabb. You and he have established a reputation of being the very best. I am so sorry this is happening to him, and to you.”

Mac looked up at the general, seeing a smile on his face. Harm and her had been so careful, or at least they thought they had. Mac was shocked when the general explained why he was keeping them apart.

“Now that you’ve met my wife, and my daughter, well, you know how I feel about finding happiness even in the military. I was quite concerned that if the SECNAV suspected that there was something going on between you and the commander, he would take action. I have talked to him since then, to tell him about what’s happened in Harm’s life, and also to inform him of Harm’s request for retirement. It seems he has suspected all along, but like Chegwidden, he just looked away. So, I wanted to tell you that you could have a day or two off if you want to return to Blacksburg. I know that Commander Roberts has been asking several times a day for time off to go see Commander Rabb. As long as we don’t have a critical case come up, why don’t you take off the rest of today and tomorrow as well. And tell Commander Rabb that we are all thinking about him. Be aware that if something comes up, I will call you right away.”

Mac was speechless. She had gotten to know the general and knew how he liked to talk, even though at the office, he was very quiet and private. She couldn’t believe what he had told her about separating her from Harm, and most especially, the reasons why. She sat there, unable to even say thank you.

“Well, Colonel, do you want the time off?”

“Yes, Sir, and thank you so much. I think that’s what is so tragic about all this. Harm refuses to leave the hospital, but I think if I am there, I can at least get him to go out and eat. He looks exhausted, and even the doctor and the nurses told me to try and get him to rest. Thank you. I’m sure that Commander Rabb will be very grateful, and Sir, can you hold up on the retirement papers for a few days. I’m hoping for a miracle.”

“I intended to, Colonel. The SECNAV doesn’t want to lose Commander Rabb either, but like me, he does understand his reasons. Just let us know what is happening, and if it is at all possible to transfer her to Bethesda, he can at least be closer to her, without being away from home. Give him our best wishes. Now, you better go before the kids come in and start asking you questions.”

“Kids?”

“You know, Lt. Graves, Lt. Vukovic, Commander…”

“I’m on my way,” Mac interrupted him. She thanked him once again and then she was on her way out. She wondered whether she should call Harm, but then decided to surprise him, even though he hated surprises almost as much as she did.

 

 

 

ST. VINCENT'S HOSPITAL
THE FOLLOWING MORNING

 

Trish and Harm had spent the night in Mattie’s room, at least until 4:00 in the morning, when Frank came over.

“You two go back to the hotel. I’ll stay with her. Harm, please let me do this for you, and for Mattie.” Frank stared in Harm’s eyes. He saw the sudden relief and acceptance in his eyes.

“I’ll take Mom back, then get a couple of hours sleep. I’ll be back by 0600, okay?”

“If that’s 6:00 AM, that’s fine. Please try and get some sleep. You know, Harm, when Mattie wakes up, she is going to need you to be strong and healthy. Do it for her if you don’t want to do it for yourself.”

Surprisingly, Harm nodded and gave Frank a smile. Harm was more exhausted than he would admit, even to himself. He and Trish walked out.

After eating and taking a shower, Harm fell onto the bed. His Mom had gone to her room as soon as they had finished breakfast. Thanking her, Harm went on to his room.

Falling on the bed, Harm realized how much he appreciated Frank and his Mom being there for him. He missed Mac, but he was still doubtful about involving her in what may be a life-long commitment, not to him, but to taking care of Mattie. Harm’s mind was too tired to think anymore, and the blessed darkness of sleep allowed his body to rest.

 

 

 

MAC’S APARTMENT
0700 HOURS

 

 

 

Mac still couldn’t believe what the general had said. She had been so terrified that General Cresswell would separate her and Harm when she first learned he was being considered to replace Chegwidden. In a way, he had done just that, but his reasons for it were so different from what Mac had thought at first. It seemed that General Cresswell knew about them, and he had been protecting them by keeping them apart. She laughed, wondering what the general would think if he knew they had been together every chance they got, even when they were on assignment.

“The laugh may be on you, Mac. He probably does know that already. Harm will get a kick out of it.” Mac’s words the last she spoke as she drifted off to sleep.

Mac had gone home and packed, wanting to get an early start in the morning. She could hardly wait to see Harm. It had been so strange. When they kissed at the hospital, their love was overflowing, but somehow their passion knew it was not the time for it to make its presence known. Their kisses had been comforting.

Leaving her apartment at 0745, Mac stopped and got some breakfast to eat while she drove. When she realized that she was leaving in the middle of rush hour, she decided to go in and eat breakfast before she got started. The weather was beginning to clear up and she hoped it wouldn’t rain or snow until she was in Blacksburg. She was optimistic about being able to spend several days with Harm. Of course, Mac had no idea that Trish and Frank were also in Blacksburg.

Looking out and seeing that the traffic was slowing down just a little, Mac asked for her check, paid it, and then settled herself to get on the road.

It was on that long drive that Mac began to think seriously about Harm’s words. He wanted to protect her, as always, but they were already committed to each other. She knew that if this had happened to Chloe; it would not have changed Harm’s love for her nor his plans for them. Mac realized now that she still wasn’t pregnant, but somehow, that didn’t matter right now. She had to be there for Harm, and for once, she was going to convince him that they had to face their future together.

All thoughts of the very handsome Lt. Vukovic had left Mac’s mind since the general had told her about Mattie. She was angry at Harm for not telling her at first, then realized he was just being Harm. Always the protector, he didn’t want to mess her life up.

They would have a life together, Mac vowed, even if she had to force Harm to marry her. She was so tired of the hurt they had caused each other, and now, she also knew that the only reason she had been so flattered over Vukovic’s attentions was because of her fear that she was failing Harm with her inability to conceive the child he wanted so much.

Things had changed, and now Harm really needed her.

“No matter how much you push me away, Harmon Rabb, I’m not leaving you. After all we’ve shared in the last two and a half months, I’m not letting you go. We waited nine years to be together. I am yours and you are mine, and together, we will take care of Mattie.” As Mac said the words aloud, she felt the urgent need to see her Harm again, to feel his arms around her and if possible, to feel his lips on hers.

The driving was slow until she finally got out of D.C. Realizing what time it was, she knew that it would be at least another hour before she even got to Blacksburg, and another twenty minutes before she got to the hospital. It would be almost 1130 before she saw Harm, perhaps even longer.

 

 

 

BLACKSBURG, VA
1052 HOURS

 

 

 

Harm had the longest sleep since he had been by Mattie’s bedside. He was shocked to see how late it was. His first reaction was to call the hospital, which he did. Gloria, who was at the nurses’ station, answered the phone.

“Commander Rabb, I’m so…

“Is there any change,” Harm interrupted, not giving Gloria the chance to finish. “Is my Dad still there?” Harm found it strange that he used that name for Frank, but somehow, he thought his own father would approve of it.

“No change, Commander. Your father has been by her side all night. He is such a nice man. We talked for a while last night while I was checking Mattie’s vitals, and he is just so worried about her. I’m glad they’re here to give you time to rest.”

“Thank you, Gloria,” Harm sounded disappointed. Indeed he was. He kept hoping everytime he slept, even if it was for a few minutes, that when he woke up, the nightmare would be over and Mattie would be awake, smiling at her and most importantly, sitting up in bed. “Tell my Dad that Mom and I will be there soon.”

“Take your time, Harm,” Frank’s voice came over the phone. “They are going to bathe her, change her linens, and get her all prettied up for when you come to see her. They said it would be about two hours. How’s your Mom?”

“I haven’t seen her yet. I don’t know if she is still asleep and I hate to wake her up. Why don’t you come on back to the hotel? Since we can’t see her for a couple of hours, we might as well have something to eat. I’ll wait for you.”

Harm decided to call Mac after he hung up. It took three rings before she answered.

“MacKenzie,” Mac had answered, hoping he didn’t have bad news..

“Rabb here,” Harm felt a smile on his face just hearing her voice. He felt a tightening of his heart imagining her beautiful face.

“Harm, is Mattie…I mean…,”

“Nothing’s changed, Mac. I just needed to hear your voice. It’s selfish of me, I know, but hearing your voice, and seeing you yesterday, and tasting your lips, well, it’s helped to make all this a little more bearable.”

“I love you, too, Harm,” Mac smiled, a tear leaving a trail down her cheek.

“You’ll let me know if you go out on assignment, won’t you?”

“Of course I will, Harm,” Mac smiled. “By the way, the general said to tell you that he sends his best wishes and should you need anything, just let him know. I think the SECNAV also sent best wishes. Everyone at work wants to go and spend time with you, but General Cresswell said he would wait until you are ready.”

“Thank him for me, Mac. The general is very perceptive. I would rather not see anyone until we know something, hopefully something positive.”

“Harm, I have to go. I’ll call you later,” Mac said as she saw an accident up ahead, and the traffic at a standstill.

“Take care, Mac,” Harm said, hanging up.

It was only after he hung up that Harm realized he hadn’t told Mac that his parents were with him. When she told him that she had to go, Harm had assumed that General Cresswell had called her in to his office. Selfishly, he hoped that he would not be sending her on a faraway assignment on the other side of the world.

On the road, Mac groaned as she saw the overturned eighteen-wheeler. It would add another hour to her trip and she was so anxious to see Harm now that she had heard his voice. There was little Mac could do except wait until they were given the go-ahead.

Turning the radio on, Mac spent the next forty-five minutes reminiscing about Harm, about how much she loved him, and how, somehow, at this time, having a baby was not the all important thing in her mind. All she could think about was being there for Harm. She needed him as much as he needed her. That’s when she realized that she would be happy with Harm as long as they were together. If they decided to adopt, that would come later. Right now, she wanted to be with Harm as much as she could.

 

 

 

ONE HOUR LATER

 

 

 

Harm, Frank and Trish had gone to eat. Since Harm wanted breakfast, they went to IHOP, where they could get whatever they wanted. It turned out all of them ordered an omelet and talked about Mattie.

“She’s so beautiful, Harm,” Trish said for about the tenth time.

“I know, Mom. To me, Mac is the most beautiful woman in the world, but Mattie comes in a close second. I love both of them so very much in different ways, and…”

“And you are a very lucky man,” Trish said, knowing what Harm was going to say. “Don’t push her away, Harm. Give her the choice, and let her know you will accept her choice whatever it is.”

“I have Mom. It’s just that…”

“Harm, doesn’t Mac have a little sister, not a biological sister, but one she adopted much as you have done with Mattie,” Frank asked.

“Yes. Her name is Chloe. She and Mac are very close.”

“Tell me, Son, if this had happened to Chloe, would you walk away from Mac, not wanting the burden of having to take care of her?”

“I know what you’re trying to do, but this is different. I am ready to retire from the Navy. I’ve already sent in my papers. Mac loves being a Marine. I can’t force her to stay with me, and I can’t use our love to entrap her.”

“Do you think she would consider it entrapment,” Trish said, “or do you think that she would push you away just as you want to do with her? Love isn’t always easy, Harm. You know that all too well, but if you can’t believe in your love for Mac and hers for you, then why even ask her to marry you? Marriage isn’t always easy, and tragedy can strike married couples just as easily as it has done to you.”

Harm took a deep breath, looking from Frank to his Mom. Why couldn’t he call Frank Dad? He was the only Dad he could remember, except for the unrealistic memories he had of his own father. He knew what they were doing, and he wished Mac was there. He missed her.

“I see your point, Mom, Dad,” Harm said, seeing the surprised look on Frank’s face and an even more surprised look on his mother’s.

Harm insisted that his Mom and his new “Dad” get some rest before they went back to the hospital.

“There’s no point in all of us being there at the same time. If we take shifts, it won’t be so tiring on anyone, but I’ll warn you that I will be there most of the time.”

Frank and Trish agreed, smiling at their son as he waved to them on his way back to the hospital, which had become home to him these last few days.

 

 

 

ST. VINCENT'S HOSPITAL
1217 HOURS

 

 

 

It had been a full two hours, but when Harm arrived at the hospital, the doctor was examining Mattie. He immediately became concerned, but one of the nurses told him that the doctor was only making his rounds.

Harm was sitting all alone, his arms hanging past his knees, his head back. He felt Mac’s warmth so close to him, closing his eyes tightly. He was beginning to imagine her now. Then he felt her gentle touch on his face.

“Mac,” Harm turned to her, staring as if she is some kind of image. “I’ve been thinking about you.”

“I thought about you all the way here.”

“Mac, how did you…”

“I drove. I was talking to you when I ran into an accident, which is what delayed me. How is Mattie, and how is my husband,” Mac teased, or tried to.

“No change in Mattie, but your ‘husband’ is very happy to see you. I didn’t know when I would see you again. General Cresswell…”

“You wouldn’t believe how worried he is about you, about Mattie. I guess he’s thinking about his own daughter. Everybody sends their love and best wishes. Has the doctor been here this morning?”

“He’s with her now. It’s so good to see you, Mac. If you only knew how much I want to hold you and kiss you,” Harm said, drinking in Mac’s face.

“Then why don’t you. I’m your wife, remember,” Mac said, turning to him and putting her arms around his shoulders. “I’m sure the doctor won’t mind.”

Harm didn’t wait. He pulled Mac to him, capturing her lips in a more passionate kiss than he had intended it to be. Her response tore him apart.

“You two must be newlyweds,” Dr. Rosenbaum’s voice startled them, causing them to pull apart. “I’m glad to see you again, Mac. This husband of yours is a very lucky man.”

“No, Dr. Rosenbaum, I’m the lucky one. Is there any change in Mattie?”

“No change really, however there was a slight change in the MRI we took last night from the one before. I don’t want to raise your hopes, but if she continues to remain the same, perhaps even improve, that could be encouraging. If Mattie continues this way, we might try removing the respirator for a few minutes.”

“Isn’t that a little dangerous,” Harm asked, holding Mac close to him.

“It can be, but we will wait until we feel it’s safe. If her MRI continues to show a significant improvement, Mattie has a good chance of pulling through this. It isn’t going to be easy. It’s going to take months, perhaps years of physical therapy, but if she’s the fighter you tell me she is, she will make it It won’t be easy, but she’ll make it.”

“Can we see her,” Harm asked, his arms still around Mac.

“They’re getting her ready for the MRI. I know this is difficult for you, Commander, but we will be needing some extra time with Mattie today. With the changes in her MRI, we would like to do some very specialized tests in the various areas of her spine in order to localize her extent and severity of her injuries to each area. Since your wife is here, take advantage of the time off. You two should get some rest. So, are you newlyweds?”

“A little over two months,” Mac said, smiling at the look on Harm’s face.

Once again, the sound of his beeper interrupted their conversation as Dr. Rosenbaum hurried off to another case.

“Does this mean I can call you Mrs. Rabb?”

“I can hardly wait until I really am Mrs. Rabb,” Mac said, brushing her lips against his softly.

“I’m glad you’re here with me, Mac. Hearing the news with you made it even better. We should try to find Tom and let him know.”

“You are a softie, aren’t you, my love?” Mac reached up and caressed Harm’s face seductively, suddenly feeling a very recognizable sensation overcome her.

Harm also felt the old familiar hunger for Mac as he drew away and looked deep into her eyes, to the love that was so beautifully obvious, it took his breath away. Since Mattie’s accident, Harm’s only thought had been of her, but with Mac so close to him, savoring the scent of her shampoo and her soft, but very enticing perfume, he realized it had been a long time since they had been together.

“I know, I feel it too,” Mac said, resting her head on his shoulders.

Harm took her face between his hands, framing it as he gazed at her, then slowly, his lips came down on hers, sharing his soul with her. She responded gently at first, then their kiss deepened until their passion overwhelmed them. It was as if the entire world had disappeared and there was only Harm and Mac.

It was at that precise moment that Frank and Trish rounded the corner and stopped, almost running into each other. Harm didn’t see them. His eyes were closed as he drew Mac closer to him. Trish and Frank felt like voyeurs, but they were fascinated by Harm’s ability to express his love so openly. Trish could not remember her son ever revealing his feelings or accepting someone else’s love so completely as he did now. They could see Mac whispering in his ear, but they couldn’t hear what she was saying, and it was at that time that they both looked at one another and walked out of sight.

“That must be my daughter-in-law,” Trish said, smiling through her tears.

“Now, Trish, Harm said they weren’t married, but we are about to meet Colonel Sarah MacKenzie, finally.”

“I know, but Harm has asked her to marry him and she said yes,” Trish’s eyes teared.

“How can I be feel so much joy over seeing my son’s happiness, when there is so much tragedy in his life?”

“You’re his mother, Trish. You love him. You want your, our son to be happy, and we know that in one way he is, but we also know that love is never perfect. There will always be problems or obstacles to…”

“Frank, Mom,” Harm’s voice interrupted whatever Frank was going to say. “When did you get here?”

“We were looking for you,” Trish said, looking at Mac.

To his own amazement, Harm blushed a bright red. He knew, without a doubt, that his Mom had seen them kissing. Holding Mac’s hand tightly, he turned to her.

“Mom, Dad, this is Sarah MacKenzie. Mac, this is my Mom, Trish, and my Dad, Frank,” Harm’s voice was a little shaky as he introduced Mac to his parents. He was also still getting used to calling Frank ‘Dad’.

After going to see if they could see Mattie before the testing started, they found her room filled with technicians and hospital equipment. The four of them decided to just get away from the hospital for a little while. Mac knew that Harm wanted to find Tom.

Trish and Mac became instant friends, perhaps because they were the two women in this world who loved Harm the most. Since Dr. Clark had told them that it would be at least two, maybe three hours before they could see Mattie, the four of them decided it was time for them to get to know each other.

“So, Mac, tell us this story about how you came to be Harm’s wife.”

Although the situation had definitely not been a funny one, by the time Harm and Mac finished the story, the four of them were laughing.

“Is anybody hungry,” Mac asked.

“Oh, I forgot to tell you that my Marine eats enough for two men, but maintains her beautiful figure easily. I didn’t even think about asking you if you were hungry, Mac. What do you want, besides a dead animal, that is.”

Harm got swatted from both sides, from his Mom and Mac. They found a small, but very nice restaurant that seemed to have a little of what each one of them liked.

As they ate, Trish couldn’t stand it anymore. She had to ask the question that was driving her to wild distraction.

“So, have you and Harm set a date yet, Mac?”

Harm had his fork halfway to his mouth and suddenly stopped. He waited for the answer with as much anticipation as Trish did, then suddenly remembered Mattie.

“Mom…”

“Well…” Harm and Mac had spoken at the same time. He smiled at her, telling her that she was first.

“I was hoping that it would be very soon, but what with Mattie, and not knowing what’s going to happen, I’ll wait until Harm feels the time is right. I’m not going anywhere.” Although Mac was answering Trish’s question, she was looking at Harm.

Frank looked at Trish, trying to get her to back off, but to his surprise, Harm responded.

“I was also hoping for a wedding very soon, but I think we should wait. I know the doctor told us not to get our hopes up, but it’s too late. I am hoping that things will be okay for Mattie, for her sake, not necessarily mine. Then it’s up to Mac. She has become very important at JAG, not that she hasn’t always been, but I really don’t think it would be fair to her until we know.” Harm saw the hurt look in Mac’s eyes. Would he never stop hurting her?

“Both of you have a logical reason for your choices,” Frank said. He put his arm around Trish and looked straight at Harm. “However, I do have to tell you about this man and woman who fell in love. She had been married before and had a son. Her husband was dead, and although I knew she would always love him, I was persistent. Although her son didn’t care for me too much, well, actually, he downright resented and probably hated me, but I talked Trish into marrying me anyway, and here we are thirty-five years later, sitting across from that same young man who almost kept us from getting married. Sometimes love makes life a little easier. No pressure from me, Son,” Frank chucked as he finished his story.

“This is different, and you aren’t being fair, Dad,” Harm said, emphasizing the word Dad.

“No pressure from me, Harmon,” Frank repeated, as Mac and Trish burst out laughing.

Mac had been concerned from the moment she realized that she had intruded on Harm’s time with his parents, but now all her doubts were gone. She already felt as if she was part of the family.

Frank and Trish went back to their hotel after almost two hours. Trish still looked tired, and since Frank had been at the hospital all night, he was also exhausted.

 

 

 

ST. VINCENT'S HOSPITAL
MATTIE’S ROOM
TWO HOURS LATER

 

 

 

After his parents left, Harm drove around looking for Tom, hoping to find him and give him some hope so he would sober up. Not finding him, they returned to the hospital. Harm and Mac had waited for almost thirty minutes before they were told they could go in to see Mattie at last.

Mac held Harm’s hand as she felt his entire body shudder. Mattie was still in a coma, still his sleeping beauty. Mac released Harm’s hand so he could go to Mattie. Standing back, she heard the man she loved so much talk to this young girl who had touched his heart so deeply.

“Mattie, the doctor gave us some good news today. He said that you are going to make it. You have to wake up, my sleeping beauty, so I can tell you about Mac and I. Mattie, you have to fight harder than you ever have before so you can get well. You will walk again, and I’ll be there watching you. I’ll even walk you down the aisle when you get marr…” Harm broke, as he put his head down on the bed, the tears falling once again.

It was only then that he felt Mac’s hand on his back. She gave him life and hope with her touch, but she gave him so much more. She gave him the strength and courage to go on.

“We will both watch her walk down the aisle, looking as beautiful as she does right now,” Mac said, succeeding in keeping her own voice from breaking. Mac had only been at the hospital a few hours total, but Harm had not left Mattie's bedside. He was so devastated.

Harm insisted that Mac go back to the hotel and get some rest since she had driven all the way from Falls Church.

“I don’t want to leave you,” Mac said.

“You aren’t. Not really. Just go get some rest. I’ll stay here until Mom and Frank come back, then I’ll get some rest.” Harm shrugged his shoulders.

“What?”

“I refused to leave Mattie’s side for three days. Everyone has been telling me to get some rest. I never realized I needed it until last night. Now you go and get some rest. Mac, stay in my room, okay, unless you’d rather not.”

“That’s the only place I want to be. I had no intentions of staying anywhere else. Do you think your mother and Frank will…”

“They know how much I love you, Mac. Get some sleep, okay?”

 

 

 

MARRIOTT HOTEL
BLACKSBURG, VA

 

 

 

Mac hadn’t realized how emotionally drained she was until she got into the big tub they had and just closed her eyes. It was so strange. Mac had been planning to walk away from Harm if she could not conceive a child, yet the only thing that mattered now was that they would be together, and whatever happened to Mattie, she wanted them to face it together. She finally understood what Harm had told her when she had been so upset over not being pregnant. She loved him, not a child she didn’t even know yet, probably never would now. The thought of life without Harm was more painful to Mac than anything she had endured in her entire life. Whatever her foolish behaviour had been with Lt. Vukovic was over, but then again, there had not really been anything between them. He flirted, she responded, but not so much that she led him on. No, Sarah MacKenzie knew she belonged to Harm alone.

Mac fell on the bed, not thinking she would sleep, but sleep she did for almost four hours. When she woke up, Mac actually didn’t know what time it was for just a second. It was almost 2100. She looked around for Harm and didn’t see him. Although she had taken a long, soaking hot bath several hours earlier, Mac took a quick shower. She had put her bra and panties on when she heard a noise. Mac put a robe on to see who was at the door, hoping it was Harm and not the cleaning crew.

Harm came walking in, looking worried and exhausted, but when he saw Mac, his beautiful smile appeared on his face. The sight of her soothed his soul and gave him life. He stared at her as her robe fell open. He had needed Mac beside him over the past week, the long, agonizing nights as he kept vigil over Mattie, but it was a different need. His need for her had been an emotional one. Now, as he gazed lovingly at her, his need was so different.

“Is…Harm, is…Mattie okay?”

“There’s no change in Mattie’s condition. Mom and Fra…Dad are with her now. You are so beautiful, Mac. Every time I see you like this, you take my breath away. It’s…Mac, it seems like an eternity since…” Harm’s voice was husky, filled with desire.

Mac ran across the room to him, throwing her arms around his neck. This time, when they kissed, they were in the privacy of their own room, and there was no holding back.

 

 

 

HARM AND MAC SHARE
SOME PRIVATE TIME

 

 

 

Harm caught her almost in mid-air, but as her lips crushed against his, his response was one of hunger and fierce need. His tongue plunged deeply into the warmth of her mouth, then dueled with hers. Mac felt Harm trembling as he held her, gently, yet at the same with an intense urgency. She also knew he needed her love as much as she needed his. It would heal the open wounds and give them courage for whatever lay ahead. It truly did seem like an eternity since they had last been together, sharing their passion. Harm picked Mac up, her robe falling off as he carried her to the bed. As he set her down in front of him, he reached behind her and unclasped her bra, her breasts revealed to him in all their glory.

Mac was shaking as she struggled to get Harm’s shirt off, then suddenly just yanked at it, buttons flying all over the place. She began pulling at his belt, her fingers suddenly shuddering so much she could barely grasp the buckle. Harm, never releasing her lips, pushed her hand away gently, taking his belt off. His shirt went flying across the room, landing near the bathroom.

Her hands were all over him as Mac pressed closer and closer to Harm. She needed to feel him, feel the heat of his skin against hers. They were gasping as they separated long enough to take a deep breath only to seek their lips out again. Harm’s shoes and socks were gone, along with his pants. The only thing left were his boxers.

Harm’s hands were on Mac’s breasts now, kneading them, squeezing them against the other, until he broke away from her lips to take one of them in his mouth. He heard Mac whimper, then moan louder, until it turned into a cry, calling his name out as they both fell on the bed.

Rolling over on the bed, Harm wrapped his arms around Mac, letting her heat become his, surrendering his heart and soul to her. Slowly, they began to caress each other with long sensual strokes, followed by long kisses all over their bodies. The euphoric haze began to engulf them, bringing them closer and closer. The last of the obstacles between them, Mac’s panties and Harm’s boxers joined the rest of their clothing on the floor.

Mac had a seductive smile across her lips. The warmth of her fingers as they danced across his body made Harm lose all coherent or logical thought. It seemed like months since he had touched her as his hands became reacquainted with her silky body. Mac moaned and buried her face on top of his head as he swallowed one of her breasts, insatiable for their taste. The room became a haze of colour, sensations, emotions and needs so fierce it made them shudder from the force of their love. Their foreplay was ecstatic as Harm kissed, tasted and loved every part of Mac, and in turn, she tasted, nibbled, kissed and loved every part of Harm until finally, their bodies, their passion demanded to be completed by their union. They could not wait any longer.

With the blood roaring through his ears, Harm lifted up, gazing down into Mac’s face. Their hands entwined as he began to thrust into her, his breath becoming ragged as he felt the heat of her warm, wet walls pulling him in deeper. Mac wrapped her legs around Harm’s rear, setting an incredible rhythm that matched the beat of their hearts. The emotions that overwhelmed both of them were frightening in their intensity, yet excruciatingly spiritual and complete in their union, not only of their bodies but of the very depths of their souls.

Emotionally, Harm and Mac could not be closer than they were at that moment. Physically, their being united so closely made it impossible to separate one from the other, for they were as one. In one another, for one another, with one another, Harm and Mac created a mystical and ecstatic heaven of their own.

Harm buried his face in her hair as her nails raked his back. He withdrew over and over, only to plunge in deeper and deeper until they felt the heat erupting through them, becoming a tidal wave of one emotion, one sensation, one incredible ecstasy after another. It took them to the very heights of eternity, and then plunged them into a myriad of colours, sounds, mystical wonder and a euphoric ecstasy. The heat of Harm’s love poured into Mac, filling her with his very essence even as her own love washed over Harm. They could not breathe for the magic of their release, as it seemed to go on forever, finally enveloping them in a cocoon of their blessed love.

As they began to float back down, their lips sought each other out once again, tasting the saltiness of their tears. Mac was awed by the many ways in which Harm could give her pleasure, but even more awed by the way he loved her. There could never be any doubts, any fears whatsoever that he didn’t love her with his very soul.

“I…lo…I…love…you,” Harm said, against Mac’s hair.

“No…not…not as…much as…I lo…love you,” Mac managed to get the words out.

Harm was no longer able to hold himself up, finally rolling over, taking Mac with him. She landed almost on top of him, raining kisses across his face and chest. She finally rested her head on his chest as his hands continued to caress her back.

They were quiet for several minutes before Harm spoke up, wanting to tell Mac what was in his heart. Playing now with her hair, running his fingers through it, he gazed down at her.

“How could I have ever pushed our relationship aside because I thought flying was more important to me? Nothing compares to being with you, to sharing all my feelings with you. I’ve wasted so much time.”

“We both did, Harm. It’s all in the past now, but there is something I want to clear up between us. Before I do though, we both made mistakes and wrong choices, but the point is that we are together and we will face the future, whatever it holds for us, as one.”

Harm bent down to kiss her, as their kisses had a way of doing, instead of a gentle kiss, it deepened and became more intense. Mac finally drew away, looking into Harm’s eyes.

“Wait, Harm. I need to tell you something. A few weeks ago, we sort of argued over my constant talking about Vukovic. I want to tell you why I was doing it.”

“Mac…”

“No, don’t stop me. Harm, we made a deal over five years ago to have a child together. Now that we have accepted our love, I thought I was not going to be able to fulfill that dream for you. I told you not to make promises you couldn't keep, but it's me who might not be able to keep that promise. I know you kept telling me that we could adopt, or that I was enough for you, but I felt I was being very selfish. When Vukovic came to work, I saw all the women falling all over him, and I won’t deny that I found him very attractive also, but he could never measure up to you, not in my eyes. However, in February, when I found out I wasn’t pregnant yet, I hatched an idea. If I could make you jealous of Vukovic, if you could think the worst of me…”

Harm’s lips swallowed the rest of Mac’s words as he pulled her to him, kissing her with all the love he had to give her. He could feel her shaking against him. Mac could not resist him. Their tongues came together in a joyous reunion. Harm’s fingers began to dance across Mac’s body, touching all the sensitive areas he had discovered, finding more each time they made love. He finally let her go.

“Don’t you ever do that again,” Harm said, his voice ragged and deep. “I could never think the worst of you, and Mac, I love you…Mac, I don’t know how to show you…”

“I do,” Mac said, this time interrupting him with a devastatingly passionate kiss.

For over thirty minutes Harm and Mac enjoyed tasting their love. Harm let Mac have her way, as she always did, but then he did the same to her, sending her into a frenzy of moans, whimpers, and at last into a flight across the heavens. By the time she finally came back to him, he was ready for her again. Taking the nurturing she offered him, he could feel both of them needing the wonder of their lovemaking once again.

“Please, Harm, I need you in me,” Mac whispered into his ear. He had never heard more beautiful words.

Harm lifted his head from her breast, the most beautiful look in his eyes, as he lost himself in Mac’s beauty. He kissed her nipples one last time, then lifted up, his lips landing on hers. As if in a trance, he lifted up once again, flipping them over and settling beneath and between her legs. His aching arousal touched her wet, throbbing bud, causing both of them to moan, swallowing the moan in their kisses.

Harm and Mac were both lost in an enchanted mist of love, their love, the most beautiful love of all as Mac took him into her so intimately and so joyously, making them one forevermore. They were indeed one, for there was no separation between their bodies, hearts or souls. He tried to go slowly, but Mac wouldn’t let him. He lifted her up, putting his hands on her hips and pushing her down on to him over and over as he began thrusting so deep inside of her, they were unable to breathe.

Mac wiggled her breasts against his lips, turning the flames into a fire totally out of control. Placing his hands under her arms, Harm began to thrust in and out, deeper and deeper until he felt the magic of her burning walls surrounding him. Taking one of her breasts in his mouth, the searing dance of lovers, that they had now come to know so well, began. Each time it was a little different. Each time it brought new and unknown and mystical pleasures to them.

Harm and Mac loved each other as they had never loved anyone, for this was perfect because their love was perfect, and their passion was incredibly ecstatic. Harm accepted Mac’s surrender, as she accepted his. They were a perfect fit. Harm felt Mac’s body tightening around his, knowing she was close. They were both so close, yet they held back, wanting it to last as long as possible, but their passion didn’t agree. A loud roar filled their ears, the rippling of the flames that united them burst into a ball of fire and ice, colours and darkness, as their passion exploded. Mac devoured Harm’s tongue as she felt his love pour into her, their bodies unable to stop thrusting into one another. Their journey into the heavens seemed to go on forever, for their kisses continued to inflame them.

Mac continued to thrust into Harm, even as his hands held her hips, pushing her into him over and over. Neither Harm nor Mac realized that they were both gasping for breath from the force of their release, a release that seemed to have no end.

As the euphoria sheltered them in a cocoon of floating sensations, mystical intimacy, unbelievable love and sheer ecstasy, Mac’s eyelids began to flutter. Harm gazed at her, his heart, body and soul filled with a powerful love for his Mac, his Sarah. He saw her writhing with their passion, even as his own strength began to fail him. Wrapped in each other’s arms, they drifted down to reality, but their love was eternal. Harm felt Mac slipping until she was resting on his chest. Kissing the top of her head, he finally separated from her, already missing her warmth. He heard Mac’s soft moan as she, too, missed him being one with her.

The afterglow of their glorious lovemaking lasted until Harm and Mac fell asleep, their arms keeping them infinitely close.

 

 

 

ST. VINCENT'S HOSPITAL
SEVERAL HOURS LATER

 

 

 

Harm and Mac rushed into the hospital. They hadn’t planned on being gone for such a long time, but they had gotten carried away. Calling his parents’ room, Harm had not gotten an answer.

“They must still be at the hospital, Mac. I didn’t realize we’ve gone for so long. You do have a way of distracting me, but I’m not complaining. I hope Mom and Frank aren’t complaining either.”

As they got off the elevator on Mattie’s floor, the doors opened to reveal Frank and Trish standing there, waiting for the down elevator.

“Mom, Frank, I’m so sorry. I overslept…” Harm was interrupted by his Mom.

“Don’t worry about it, Harm. Frank and I have had several breaks because they have been running tests on her again, and another MRI. Dr. Clark said he hoped he would have some news for you later tonight or early tomorrow morning. I’m just glad you finally agreed to get some rest.” Trish noticed that neither Harm nor Mac would meet her eyes. She smiled.

“Can I see her now,” Harm asked.

“If you hurry. I swear this has to be the cleanest hospital I’ve ever seen. They are getting ready to change the bed linens and bathe her again,” Frank told them.

“Dr. Clark explained that it’s necessary. Since she is in a coma, she could easily get bed sores, which could get infected. That’s the reason they bathe her and change the linens so often. They massage her back a little, and put lotion on it. Gloria, the nurse, explained it all to me.”

“It makes sense. Why don’t you and Mac hurry on in. They’ll give you a few minutes with her.”

“Are you going back to the hotel,” Mac asked, noticing how tired Trish looked. She felt a little guilty, knowing that she and Harm were responsible for keeping her so long.

“Why don’t we wait for you? We haven’t eaten, although Frank got a cot for me and I slept for about three hours. Go on before you can’t see her.”

Harm hurried in, holding on to Mac’s hand. The guilt began to overwhelm him until he realized that even if he had been there, it would not have changed her condition. He also realized that he was going to have to devote his time to both Mac and Mattie because he couldn’t lose Mac now.

Gloria saw them arrive and ushered Harm and Mac in, telling the nurses who were in the room already to give them about five minutes.

“I’m sorry to be so late,” Harm apologized as he walked up to the bed. There was no change, well, maybe there was. “She doesn’t appear to be as pale as she was earlier.”

“You’re right,” Mac said. “It breaks my heart to see her so still when I remember the vivacious young girl she has always been. Mattie, you are so beautiful.” Mac had turned to Mattie, looking down into her face. Picking up her hand, Mac continued.

“You know, Mattie, you need a prince to come wake you up since Harm calls you his Sleeping Beauty. Listen to him, Mattie, because he loves you very much.” Mac could not continue as the words choked her. “I’ll give you a minute alone with her,” Mac turned to Harm, then left the room.

“Hi, Mattie. It’s Harm. I hope you recognized Mac’s voice. Can you keep a secret, Mattie? I asked Mac to marry me and she said yes, and now all we need is for you to get well so you can be at our wedding. Mattie, you fought so hard to keep Grace Aviation going. Then you fought to find a way to forgive your father. Now it’s your life you are fighting for, but more than that, you need to wake up so I can see those mischievous eyes of yours that I love so much. I love you, Mattie. Please come back to me, to all of us.” All the time Harm spoke to her, his fingers stroked her hands, or he ran them through her hair. Tears welled up in his eyes, but only a lone tear escaped to leave a wet trail down his cheek.

“Commander, it’s time,” Gloria came in and told him he had to leave.

“I’m leaving now, Mattie, but I’ll be back. Gloria is going to make you even more beautiful than you are right now. I love you. See you soon.”

Harm left to join Mac, Trish and Frank, but he also had a mission to complete.

 

 

 

HARM GOES SHOPPING

 

 

 

Mac had called into JAG to let General Cresswell how things were going and to ask if she was needed, hoping he would say no.

“Nothing crucial here, Colonel, so stay another day. I’m glad to hear that Commander Rabb’s parents are there now. When you return, I may give Commander Roberts permission to visit Harm. He asks about him every day. Our best to everyone.”

While they were eating, Harm had managed to pull Frank aside, telling him he needed some time alone to go look for Tom Johnson.

“I’d like to find him, and then go back to the hospital for a few hours. You and Mom must be tired, so why don’t you take Mom and Mac back and let them get some rest.”

“Mac’s not going to like that, Son,” Frank said.

Harm realized that he had to tell Frank the truth. When Frank heard what Harm was going to do, a big smile appeared on his face.

“Are you sure you don’t want your Mom to help you out with this,” Frank asked.

“For once in my life, I actually want to surprise Mom and Mac.”

“Why don’t I go look for Tom while you run your errand. I’ll just tell your mother that I am going to help you. Maybe we can get Mac to go back with your Mom.”

Regardless of how much Harm objected, he realized that Frank had a point. Harm could see immediately that Mac didn’t like the idea of being separated from him, but almost as if she was in on it, Trish said it would be a great time for her to get to know Mac better. Mac could not object, but Harm could see the warning in her eyes.

Harm and Frank took off together after dropping Trish and Mac off at the hotel. Frank set out to look for Tom, after leaving Harm at the shop he had requested.

Within one hour, Harm had completed his mission and was quite pleased that he had found just what he wanted. Frank showed up to pick him up within minutes.

“Did you get it,” Frank asked.

Instead of answering him, Harm pulled out the tiny box and showed it to Frank. The engagement ring that Harm had selected had three diamonds on it, adding up to three carats. The band was yellow gold, but it was the three diamonds that made the ring so special. The two-carat diamond in the centre was mounted higher than the other two, one on each side. The diamonds were princess cut, multi-faceted, making them shine whenever light fell on them. Frank looked at the ring, then turned to Harm.

“It’s beautiful, Son, and Mac will love it. You couldn’t have selected a better ring than this one. Are you planning on giving it to her soon?”

“Yes, tonight if possible, or in the morning. I want Mom to see it, and I want Mac to have it before she has to return to work.”

“Harm, I’m proud of you,” Frank stated in a simple, yet quite genuine tone. “Despite all that you are going through, you can still believe in the future and the love you and Mac share. We wish you all the happiness in the world, and that the miracle we are all praying for will happen and Mattie will get well soon.”

“I don’t know if I deserve Mac, but I don’t ever want to be without her again. Let’s go back to the hotel.”

“Didn’t you want to go back to the hospital?”

“I called them. There’s no change in Mattie. I’d like to give the ring to Mac before we go see her again. I know that Mac will want to show it to Mattie,” Harm paused, a lump in his throat.

“She’ll see it, Son, she will.” Frank could see the tears in Harm’s eyes, tears he refused to release.

“Thank you for helping me, Dad. Any luck with Tom?”

“I went to all the places you told me that he goes to, but no one seemed to know him. I looked into other bars, but it seems as if Tom might be off someplace, nursing his pain. Or maybe he is sobering up.”

“I hope so, Dad, I hope so. Mattie forgave her father once, but I doubt she will forgive him again. He doesn’t even know that there’s a little more hope for Mattie yet.”

 

 

 

MARRIOTT HOTEL
2045

 

 

 

Trish had tried so hard to stay with Mac as long as possible, but her exhaustion finally got the best of her. They had talked for over an hour, and Mac already knew that she was going to love her future mother-in-law.

Mac had returned to Harm’s room, wondering how long he would look for Tom. She decided to take a long, soothing bubble bath and almost fell asleep. She smiled, realizing that Harm had kept her up for hours, or was it the other way around? She still couldn’t believe that all this was really happening, and although she was quite aware that they were facing a very difficult time, they were going to face it together.

The water had turned lukewarm when Mac finally got out, wrapped herself in a huge towel, dried and fluffed her hair out and when into the bedroom to find some clothes to put on. She hadn’t brought much with her since she had no idea how long she be able to stay, so she had bought a dress that she knew Harm would love. Looking at it, she wished he were with here. Her wish was answered within seconds. Mac heard the door open and turned to see Harm. Her heart skipped several beats as he looked at her.

Harm stared at Mac, taking in her state of dress, but mesmerized by her lips. He could not breathe from the ache in his heart. Would he always feel this sense of being lost, of needing and wanting and loving Mac more than he ever thought possible? He made love to her with his burning look. This was his Mac. His Sarah. And soon, she would be his wife. Harm took a deep breath and slowly walked to her.

“I think you get more beautiful every time I leave you, even for a minute, and then come back to you,” Harm whispered, as he got closer to her. “I need you in my life so much.”

“When you look at me that way, Harm, you take my breath away. I can feel your lips on mine even before you touch me. Ha…Harm, I love you so much I ache all over when I am with you, just looking at you, so perfect and all mine. Harm…”

Mac’s lips were so close to Harm’s, he could feel their warmth on his face as she took each breath. As he drew a deep sigh, her hair swirled around her. He reached her before she had a chance to say anything else, her words stilled as he crushed his lips against hers. Harm’s tongue swept into the warm depths of her mouth even as hers reached out to taste him, making it impossible for either one of them to breathe. The need for oxygen made them separate long enough to take a deep breath, with their lips instantly seeking each other out once again. As their kisses deepened and became more demanding, their bodies were pressed against the other.

Mac’s towel, wrapped around her body, fell to the floor. Her fingers were shaking as she pulled Harm’s sweater off, then his tee shirt. She pressed her bare breasts against his chest, eliciting a deep moan from both of them. Within seconds, Harm’s clothes were on the floor, on top of Mac’s towel.

It would be over an hour before the euphoria of their lovemaking, of a passion so intense, finally became an afterglow. Aftershocks of their ethereal fulfillment, of a love that seemed to get better all the time continued to fill their bodies as Harm held Mac against him. He had forgotten about the engagement ring until now. He thought rationally for the first time since he had taken Mac into his arms. This would be a perfect time to give her the ring.

Lifting his head up, he drew back just enough so that he could see Mac while he asked her to marry him once again. Although his voice was still a little shaky, he was determined not to wait any longer to put the ring on her finger. Gazing down at her, he bent down and kissed her lightly. His heart was racing.

“Mac, do…I mean…well, every time we make love, it just gets better. Do you think you would like to spend the rest of your life with me, sharing this with me because, Mac, I don’t think I can live without you.”

“I will spend the rest of my life loving you, Harmon Rabb.”

“Good, then will you marry me, Sarah MacKenzie, as soon as possible?”

Looking up into Harm’s eyes, Mac could see the shimmer of tears. She had known Harm for nine years, yet she had seen him cry only twice. Once had been when he learned of his father's death, and the second had been on the Guadalcanal as they had waited for hours to find out if Bud would live. In the last few months, she had seen him cry unashamedly, when they made love, also for Mattie, and now for her. Mac was so full of love for this beautiful man next to her, her heart felt like it would burst. She sat up and put her arms around his neck, looking into the same beautiful eyes she had fallen in love with so many years earlier.

“Yes, Harm, yes. I will marry you today if you want me to, or tomorrow, or whenever. I love you so much that nothing else matters except us being together and facing whatever life has in store for us, as long as we face it as one. Yes, my love, I’ll marry you.”

Mac reached up to kiss Harm, but he turned away from her, leaving her a little puzzled. She saw him reach down for his clothes. He seemed to be searching for something, so she waited. He finally straightened out and took her in his arms again.

“Then let’s make this official, okay?” Opening the jewelers’ box, Harm pulled the ring out and took Mac’s left hand. “Accept this ring from me, my beautiful Sarah, and know that a wedding ring will be placed next to it very soon.” Harm slid the ring on Mac’s finger as he watched the shock on her face.

Mac tried, oh how she tried, but she could not keep the tears of happiness from falling. She was speechless as she felt the ring on her finger, staring at the beautiful diamonds. She looked up at Harm, her voice still failing her.

Putting her arms around his shoulders, Mac pulled Harm to her, her lips capturing his in a scorching kiss that needed no interpretation, for it was so filled with love, Harm could only respond by making her his again.

 

 

 

AN HOUR LATER

 

 

 

Harm and Mac went to talk to his Mom and Frank. Trish saw the ring on Mac’s finger the second she walked in the door. Harm wondered if Frank had told her about it, but her surprise seemed genuine.

The four of them went to a nearby restaurant, toasted to Harm and Mac’s engagement, and of course, Trish asked if they had set a date.

“Not until we know about Mattie, Mom,” Harm said.

“Of course, that was so insensitive of me. I’m just so happy to see my son so much in love. Why don’t Frank and I go to the hospital to stay with Mattie so that you and Mac can be alone this evening?”

“It’s okay, Mom. Besides, I haven’t really seen Mattie today except for a few minutes here and there. I have called and checked on her several times, but she is still in a coma.”

“It may be a very small wedding, Trish,” Mac said, “at least until Mattie is better. We can always renew our vows afterwards. As long as we are together, and Mattie is okay, nothing else really matters.” Mac felt Harm’s hand on her thigh, squeezing her.

Trish could see the adoration in Harm’s eyes every time he looked at Mac. She returned each gaze with one of her own, loving him with her eyes. It was quite apparent that they were both intoxicated, addicted and obsessed with one another. Trish had never seen her son this happy, despite the pain of Mattie’s unknown future. She was glad that Harm had Mac by his side at this time, for it would make the ending so much easier for him.

“Life is never easy, is it? You and Mac have finally gotten together after all these years, and this tragedy has to happen. It’s tragic, not just for you and Mac, but for a beautiful young woman who has her whole life ahead of her. If you taught her anything in the time you had her with you, Son, it was to fight for what you want, just as you have,” Frank’s emotional words were felt by all.

“Thank you, Dad,” Harm said, truly touched by Frank’s words.

 

 

 

CHAPTER 7

BLACKSBURG HOSPITAL

 

 

 

Harm and Mac did not arrive at the hospital until after midnight, but the nurses let them in. The nurses, Gloria, Audrey, Dottie, Lupe and so many others had fallen in love not just with Mattie, but with Harm and now, Mac as well. They were also aware of his status in the military from the very beginning, and that his time was very limited, but once he had seen Mattie, he had not left her side. Harm had seemed so alone right after the accident and for several days, but since ‘his wife’ had arrived, they all saw the change in him. Harm and Mac were so obviously very much in love, and it seemed to change the atmosphere of Mattie’s room.

“Mr. and Mrs. Rabb, it’s nice to see you both again,” said Audrey, one of the nurses who had met Mac on her first visit, but had not been on duty since then, until tonight.

Harm and Mac smiled. They were holding hands, their bodies close together. This time, neither one of them bothered to correct them.

“It’s good to see you again, Audrey. How is my Sleeping Beauty tonight?” Harm began to walk towards Mattie’s bed, not really waiting for the nurse’s answer.

“She seems different somehow. Also, her sleep patterns seem to be undergoing a very subtle, but very definite change. Although she’s still in a coma, this is more of a very deep sleep. Why don’t you talk to her? I know she loves listening to your voice. Mrs. Rabb, could I get you anything?”

“Thank you, no, and the name is Mac.”

“Mac? For such a beautiful woman. Commander, you have to change that,” Audrey teased them.

“I do. I call her Sarah, which is her first name, but everyone at work has always known her as Mac. What does it mean that Mattie is in a deep sleep now? You say she’s still in a coma, so what’s different.? Does that mean that she is no longer in…”

“Her brain waves have changed. I’m sure that Dr. Rosenbaum told you that he is very hopeful about Mattie’s condition. When he first saw her, he was surprised she had survived the crash at all, but now, he says there’s hope.”

“I know. He told me that earlier when I called. If you don’t mind, we’d like to tell Mattie something very special. I mean, you can stay, but…”

“I do have other patients, so I’ll leave you two alone with your Sleeping Beauty.” Audrey smiled at both of them, then turned and walked out. Her heart was breaking for this very special family that had become very special to her.

After Audrey left, Harm walked to one side of the bed while Mac went around to the other one. Harm immediately bent down to kiss Mattie on the forehead, brushing some stray hairs aside.

“How’s my Sleeping Beauty doing today,” Harm said softly. It was a question, but he had become used to the idea that she was not going to answer him yet.

Mac looked at Harm, loving him even more. She had never seen this side of him, and a wave of sadness engulfed her as she realized what a good father he would been to their own child. Just for a fraction of section, Mac was filled with guilt once again, knowing that she was denying him the realization of that dream. Then Harm looked up at her, and the love she saw in his eyes took all her doubts away.

“What,” Harm asked, looking at the look on Mac’s face.

“I wish Mattie could hear you, Harm. You are the best father anyone could ever hope to have, and if that’s how your father was, no wonder you still love him so much. It’s just that…”

“Don’t say it, Mac. Look, between Chloe and Mattie, we have our two daughters. They will be a handful as it is. Our love for one another is going to help us to be there for them whenever they need us. I love you, Mac. I thought I could do this without you, but I can’t, not now, not ever.”

“I know I couldn’t live without you. Besides, I’m already Mrs. Rabb,” Mac smiled.

Harm saw the pain in her eyes. He knew that she still felt bad because she thought she was to blame for them not having a child of their own. The thought struck both of them at the same time.

“You know, Harm…”

“Mac, why don’t…”

Harm and Mac looked at each other as they spoke simultaneously. They looked at each other, smiled sheepishly and then gazed down at Mattie. Mac spoke first, her voice barely audible, but firm.

“I've been thinking, Harm. You know, I’m due to visit my gynecologist in about four weeks. I may ask her to put me back on the birth control pills. That way, there’s no chance of a pregnancy that may keep us from being there for Mattie.”

Turning to look at Mac, Harm wondered how it was possible that they both thought so much alike. Suddenly, Harm saw Mac, heavy with their child, but it was just an illusion, one both of them had wanted for so long. With a heavy heart, he spoke.

“It doesn’t mean we are going to give up, but perhaps it would be best for now, at least until we know more about Mattie. Mac, you don’t mind, do you?”

“Of course I mind, Harm, but then again, it will give us that much more time to practice for when we can plan…” Mac couldn’t finish the sentence, but she smiled at him, trying to show him that she was okay.

“Are you sure about this, Mac? You know how I feel about us having a baby.”

“I know, Harm. I feel the same way, but you need to spend more time with Mattie instead of with a pregnant wife who is throwing up all the time.” She tried to make light of it and Harm knew.

“When we do have our child, Mac, I want to be there for every part of your pregnancy, even the throwing up, the being irritable; even blaming me for your discomfort. Oh, Mac, I’m so sorry…”

“Don’t, Harm. I know I’m getting up in years,” Mac smiled when Harm rolled his eyes. “But we will have our baby, whether we adopt or have our own.”

Harm was holding Mattie’s hand all during their conversation, stroking her soft fingers. He would glance at her every now and then. Mac was also glancing at Mattie, but her attention was on Harm. Therefore neither one of them noticed that Mattie’s eyes seemed to move beneath her lids.

Mac went out to get them some coffee, giving Harm some private time with Mattie. She stood at the window, looking at Harm talking to Mattie. She couldn’t hear what he was saying, but she was amazed by his tenderness. She pushed the guilt away, knowing that Harm loved her as much as she loved him. After about an hour, Mac went back into the room.

“There you are. I was beginning to think you had gotten lost somewhere, or some handsome devil had whisked you away.” Harm seemed to be in better spirits. Mac stole a look at Mattie. She hadn’t moved.

“A handsome devil already whisked me away, and I would never let him go.”

‘What’s his name,” Harm teased.

“Commander Harmon Rabb. Do you know him?”

“Rabb. What a silly name. I hope you aren’t thinking of marrying him,” Harm pulled her to him, capturing her lips in what was supposed to be a light kiss. Somehow, their kisses had their own mind and before they knew, Mac was almost on Harm’s lap, her arms around his neck as she whispered in his ear that she could hardly wait until they were alone again.

“I like the name Rabb, so don’t you dare criticize it, or I’ll lock you out of our room.”

“Oh, you will,” Harm said, running his hand along her inner thighs, listening to her soft moan. “We’ll see how long you last in there.”

“About two seconds, if that long. Now, let me up, Mr. Rabb, so I can visit with Mattie.”

“Yes, Mrs. Rabb, but we’ll continue this later. Talk to our Sleeping Beauty.”

Mac smiled and went around to see Mattie. Gazing down her, Mac found herself praying. Then she spoke to Mattie.

“Hi, Mattie, it’s Mac. You look so absolutely beautiful with your hair draped across the pillows. Harm’s right, you do look like a beautiful princess just waiting for her prince to kiss her and wake her up. The last time we spoke, Mattie, you told me to take care of Harm now that you were moving back home.”

Harm looked at Mac in surprise. She had never told him about the conversation Mattie had had with her just as she was about to return to her father and her home. Mac looked up and smiled at Harm.

“Look, Mattie, Harm’s surprised. I never told him about our talk.”

Picking up Mattie’s hand, Harm reached out his other to take Mac’s. If only Mattie would wake up, his world would be perfect.

“Mattie, remember I told you the other day that I had asked Mac to marry me and she agreed. Well, guess what, I got her an engagement ring tonight. Do you want to see it?”

Mac was having a difficult time keeping her emotions under control. Her heart ached for the pain in Harm’s eyes and heart as he looked at Mattie. Instead of crying, Mac turned her hand over and showed the ring to Mattie as if she could see it.

“Harm has excellent taste, Mattie. This ring is exquisite. We can hardly wait for you to wake up so you can see it. I think Harm wants to know if you approve.”

“If you had been awake, I would have asked you to help me pick it out. Mattie? Mattie? Oh, my God, Mattie.” Harm watched in awe as Mattie’s eyelids fluttered. “Open your eyes for me, Mattie. Open your eyes for yourself. Oh, honey, I love you so much, and we have so much to tell you. Mac? Mac, get Audrey.”

Mac was stunned. Mattie eyes opened slightly, then closed again.

“Keep going, Mattie, keep going my Sleeping Beauty,” Harm pleaded as Mac pushed the call button, not wanting to leave.

“Kiss her three times, Harm, on the forehead, on the tip of her nose and lightly on her lips. You’re her Prince Charming, even if you are her Dad.”

Harm held tightly to Mac’s hand as he bent down and kissed Mattie’s forehead, telling her that he loved her. He kissed the tip of her nose and told her that he needed her.

“You need to wake up and start living again, Sleeping Beauty,” Harm said, as he kissed her lightly on the lips.

By then, Audrey, Dottie and Lupe were in the room, witnessing what appeared to be a miracle of love. Audrey had called Dr. Rosenbaum as soon as Mac pushed the call button.

“Wake up, Mattie. You’ve been asleep for hours. That’s it, open your eyes. Mattie, can you hear me?” Harm’s voice was trembling as he pleaded with her to wake up.

“Mattie, it’s Mac. Can you hear me? Please, honey, open your eyes so Harm can see them again. He keeps telling me how much he misses seeing the mischief in your eyes.”

“Ha…r…m.”

Neither Harm nor Mac could hold their tears back as Mattie called out Harm’s name. Even Audrey and Dottie were crying. They could see Mattie struggling to say something else.

“M…a…c.”

Mac, who had gone over to Harm’s side when the nurses came in and started checking Mattie’s vitals, now turned and buried her face in his chest. The sound of her name coming from Mattie made Mac lose it as the tears continued to fall. Just then Dr. Carter walked in. Mattie had closed her eyes again.

“What have we here,” the doctor asked, seeing the huge crowd.

“She…spoke,” Harm choked the words out. “She opened her eyes.”

As happens in hospitals, whenever there is a drastic change in a patient’s condition, the doctor immediately ordered Harm and Mac out so he could examine Mattie closer.

“NO!” Mattie’s adamant demand, weak as it was, made everyone turn back to her. “Harm. I…want…no…don’t leave.” Despite the fact that her voice was extremely frail, Mattie made her wishes known.

“I’ll wait outside, Harm,” Mac said, but she was also stopped by Mattie’s words.

“NO! Harm, Mac,” Mattie paused, as if struggling to find the strength to continue speaking. “Don’t leave.”

Mattie finally opened her eyes wide. Harm went to her side, taking her hand in his, bringing it to his lips to kiss it. Mattie looked over at Mac. The look in her eyes was unmistakable. Mac joined Harm, her tears falling as Mattie smiled at both of them before closing her eyes again. She would not let go of Harm or Mac’s hands, holding them tightly in her one free hand.

“Since you are the best medicine for Mattie, I guess you stay. Let me check her quickly,” Dr. Rosenbaum said, overwhelmed by the miracle that had just taken place, and by the intense emotions that filled the room.

“Harm, where’s…my Dad, my…my…oth…other Dad?”

Without hesitating for a second, Harm replied to her, shocking Mac.

“We sent him home to get some rest. He’s been so worried about you. I can call him…”

Harm hesitated, not knowing what to tell Mattie next. He had no idea where Tom was, or had been for the last five days now. He had to find him. Dr. Rosenbaum looked at Harm, not knowing whether it was the right thing to do.

“No, let…him…rest,” Mattie said, sounding very sleepy.

“Mattie, are you okay,” Harm asked, just out of sheer need to hear her voice again.

“Sleepy,” Mattie said, finally letting go of their hands.

“Mac…take care…Harm.”

“I will, honey, but you will be there with us. We need you in our lives, Mattie.”

Harm had wrapped his arm around Mac’s waist, holding her close to him. He could feel her trembling almost as much as he was over Mattie’s unexpected awakening.

“Mattie,” Dr. Rosenbaum looked at her. “Is it okay if I ask Commander Rabb and Colonel MacKenzie to step outside for just a few minutes? I really do need to examine you and you are talking too much right now. I need you to calm down a little. They’ll be back in a few minutes.”

Mattie looked over at Harm and Mac, surprising everyone by smiling at them. There was so much she wanted to tell them, but she was so sleepy. She didn’t want to sleep anymore, but she could hardly keep her eyes open.

“Okay,” Mattie’s voice was barely audible. “I love you, Harm. I love you, Mac.” With those words, Mattie closed her eyes once again, filling both Harm and Mac with fear.

Dr. Rosenbaum quickly examined Mattie briefly before turning to Harm and Mac with a big smile on his face.

“Mattie has gone back to sleep, but this time it’s a normal sleep. She’s no longer in a coma. Why don’t the two of you step outside and I’ll come out and talk to you in a few minutes?”

Harm reached out to touch Mattie’s hair again, brushing his fingers lightly across her forehead.

“We’ll be right outside,” Harm told Mattie, but she was sound asleep.

Lupe, who had come in at the doctor’s request, followed Harm and Mac out, just to reassure them.

“Mattie has had a great breakthrough tonight. She’ll sleep for sometime, but she is out of the coma. One obstacle has been conquered, and it was done with the love you have for her, Commander Rabb, and yours as well, Mrs. Rabb. Somehow, we all knew that when Mattie came out of the coma, it would be because the commander would be with her, and now that you are here also, it was even better. Would you like some coffee?”

“I don’t think I can drink anything right now,” Harm said. “Mac?”

“No, not right now. Maybe later.”

Lupe left them to go back into Mattie’s room. The curtain had been drawn and they could no longer see her. Harm and Mac were still in shock, but somehow, it was a good kind of shock. Mac took Harm’s hand and led him to some chairs that were just outside the ICU.

“You did it, Harm. You brought Mattie back to you by talking to her all this time. Oh, Harm, what a unique and incredible man you are.”

“I didn’t do it alone, Mac,” Harm said. “I’ve been talking to her for over a week now, but it was you who helped me bring her back to us. Mac, what am I going to do? I told her that Tom was resting. I have to find him.” Mac could see how worried Harm was, and there was very little she could do.

“My beautiful Harm, you can’t do it all yourself. Tonight we were given a miracle. Who knows, maybe, just maybe, Tom will show up without you having to go out to find him. Maybe you and I can go look for him after we leave here in the morning.”

“You’ll need to get some rest. I just think he needs to be here, especially since she asked for him. I’m so glad you were with me, Mac. I love you so much.” Suddenly Harm smiled.

“What?”

“I bet Mattie woke up just to see what kind of ring I got you,” Harm said, but his emotions got the best of him and he broke down, just as he had when the doctors had come out to tell them that Bud was going to live, even though he had lost a leg.

Mac held Harm in her arms, letting him cry even as her own tears fell. This had to have been the most beautiful, most wondrous, most exciting and most miraculous day of her entire life. She knew that the hard times were just beginning, but Mattie had overcome one obstacle. With their help, Mac knew that Mattie would fight to walk again.

“Well, when Mattie sees the ring, she is going to be very proud of you,” Mac said, resting her head on top of his. That’s the way they still were when Dr. Rosenbaum came out to talk to them.

The night was filled with one surprise after another for Harm, Mac and Mattie. Once she came out of the coma, Dr. Rosenbaum asked Harm’s permission to remove the respirator, even if it was for a few minutes. All of them were back in Mattie’s room by then. Harm was shocked until Dr. Rosenbaum said that they would wait for several hours before making this attempt. The doctor also explained it to Mattie.

“Mattie, if we see that you can’t breathe without it, we will immediately put you back on it. We certainly don’t want to take chances at this point, and it is up to you and your, I mean Commander Rabb.” Dr. Rosenbaum wanted to add that her father should make the choice, but since Tom Johnson had not been present for a week, it would be Harm who would be asked to make this choice.

Harm refused to agree until Dr. Rosenbaum assured him that he would be in the room, and even told Harm that he could also stay in the room, which was unprecedented.

“If we see that Mattie is having problems, we will turn it back on. I am not removing the respirator, I am just turning the power off. If she cannot breathe without it, it’s just a matter of turning it back on. It won’t hurt her.”

“When do you want to do this,” Harm asked, hoping he could go find Tom before Dr. Rosenbaum would take this action. “I’d like to go look for her father.”

“How about no later than noon today? That would give you several hours to feel reassured, and for Mr. Johnson to return.” Dr. Rosenbaum hated saying those words, knowing that Mattie might be very disappointed. He added a condition, making it possible for Harm to lie a little more. “Remember that if Mr. Johnson is present, he has to be completely rid of his cold, or he can’t be here.”

Harm looked from Dr. Rosenbaum to Mac, knowing exactly what the doctor was doing. No one wanted Mattie to be disappointed, so if Tom could not be found and sobered up, they had an excuse for him not to be present. Since there were no phones allowed in ICU, they felt everything was covered.

Putting his arm around Mac’s waist, Harm shook his head in agreement, winking at Mattie, who was already getting sleepy again after a very exciting and tiring two hours.

Once everyone left, Harm and Mac stayed behind although Mattie had gone back to sleep. Harm noticed that Mac kept glancing at ring, then touching it with her other fingers. It looked so beautiful on her, almost as beautiful as she was, Harm thought as he gazed at her lovingly.

“Harm,” came Mattie’s voice, surprising both of them. “I love you.”

“I love you too, Mattie. Do you know how happy you’ve made me, just saying that one word? I didn’t think I’d ever say this, but I sort of miss you being sarcastic to me.”

“So…when are…you going…to marry Mac,” Mattie grinned at him. It was difficult for her to talk, and her voice was very raspy.

“As soon as I can get him to a minister or justice of the peace, or an open field where we can repeat our vows,” Mac said, noticing that Mattie had reached for her hand also.

Mattie tried to laugh, but all she could do was smile. She picked up Mac’s finger to look at the ring, nodding her approval.

“You…took good care…of him,” Mattie said, closing her eyes momentarily.

Harm and Mac blushed, laughing as they realized that a fifteen-year-old girl was causing their faces to turn red.

“She did, Mattie,” Harm said, leaning over to kiss Mattie’s cheek.

“Ha…r…m.” Mattie’s voice was barely audible. Harm leaned in to hear what she was saying. When he lifted his head, he looked down at her. “He…did…”

“Mattie, your Dad has been taking this very hard. He’s doing his best, and I promise you that he will be here in a few hours when they take the respirator off. Why don’t you go back to sleep.”

Mattie closed her eyes, holding tightly to both their hands, then letting them go as sleep overtook her once again.

“What…”

Harm lifted his hand to his lips, motioning for Mac not to say anything. Instead, they waited until they felt sure she was in a deep sleep and then called the nurse. Audrey came in right away.

“Commander Rabb, you and your wife should get some rest. It is going to get very exciting here in a few hours. We will take good care of her.”

Leading both Audrey and Mac out, Harm then told them what he had to do.

“Audrey, I lied to Mattie about her father, and I have to try and find him before Dr. Rosenbaum removes the respirator. Mac, that’s why I stopped you. I didn’t want Mattie to hear you ask me about Tom.”

“I suspected as much, and so does Dr. Rosenbaum,” Audrey said. “It’s almost 5:00 am, so why don’t the two of you get some rest. I think the doctor would like you here around 9:00 so that you can reassure Mattie. With you here, she’ll be more receptive, and less afraid to the removal of the respirator.”

“Thank you, Audrey. If anything changes, or she asks for us, please call us.”

“I will, Commander. Mrs. Rabb, take your husband home.”

“Audrey, we have to clear something up,” Mac said.

“You don’t have to. I figured out that the two of you aren’t really married, but I can see that you are engaged now.”

“How did you…”

“Maybe I’m wrong here,” Audrey interrupted Mac, “but I think even the military would allow a wife to be by husband’s side at a time like this, even though Mattie is not really your daughter. When I first met you, I saw the change in Commander Rabb, and I knew then. I think this is quite funny, really. Who was the first one to mistake you for husband and wife?”

“Dr. Rosenbaum.”

“I should have known. He then told the nurses that he hoped you would get some rest now that your wife was here, so it sort of spread.”

“Well, Audrey, that was very perceptive of you to notice I wasn’t wearing a wedding ring,” Mac said, smiling and wrapping her arm Harm. “Thank you, and yes, we are engaged now.”

“Congratulations,” Audrey said, looking at her watch. The new shift would be coming

“Commander…”

“Please, Audrey, call me Harm. You’ve been very kind me during all this time. My military rank isn’t that important.”

“Okay, then Harm, go home and get some rest, and congratulations to you as well. I think you are both very lucky to have each other.”

Harm looked down at Mac, seeing her eyes burning into his, and he nodded in agreement. They were indeed very lucky to have each other.

 

 

 

SURPRISES ABOUND

 

 

 

Mac knew that Harm was anxious to go look for Tom, but she insisted that they have some breakfast first.

“It’s going to be a very long day, Harm, and who knows when we will eat again.”

“Okay, but let’s see if the coffee shop at the hotel is open. That way, you can go upstairs and get some sleep as soon as we get through eating.”

“I wish you would let me go with you, Harm. You didn’t look for him last night, did you?”

“No,” Harm grinned, but did look guilty. “I was busy with other things.”

“Like getting my engagement ring, right?”

“Guilty as charged. Frank looked for Tom while I went shopping. Actually, I had already been to the jewelry store earlier in the week. I almost bought it then, but I didn’t want to…”

“You didn’t want me to sacrifice my life, even if living without you would have been an even worse torture for me.”

“I love you, Sarah MacKenzie. I want to make you so happy, and as always, there are so many things keeping us apart.”

“Not anymore, Flyboy. You put this ring on my finger last night. If you are going to back out now and tell me that our passionate lovemaking made you do it, you’re out of luck. You’re mine now, Harmon Rabb.”

“What time is it,” Harm grinned, leaning over to take Mac in his arms and kiss her. After almost a minute, they came up for air.

“How should I know,” Mac whispered huskily. “When you kiss me like that, who cares what time it is.”

 

 

 

MARRIOTT HOTEL

 

 

 

Arriving at the hotel a little past 0600, they were glad to see that the breakfast bar had just opened up. Harm and Mac got a table.

Ordering their meal, Harm and Mac settled into a comfortable conversation regarding what taken place earlier. Harm held Mac’s hand, his thumb caressing the silky skin between her thumb and forefinger. They kept marveling at everything that had happened, and all of it here in Blacksburg. Their meals arrived and Mac started eating immediately. Harm gazed at her, grateful to have her by his side.

Half way through their meal, Mac looked up. Her eyes grew wide. Harm glanced at Mac, then followed her eyes to what she was looking at, or make that, whom she was staring at. Harm’s eyes also widened.

“Good morning, Son. Did you just get in from the hospital?” Frank had someone with him, and it wasn’t Trish.

“Tom! Dad!” Harm stood up, a bewildered look in his eyes.

“May we sit down,” Frank asked.

“Of course. What’s going on? Do you want some coffee? Tom, it’s good to see you.” Harm was rambling one thing after another, trying to figure out what was going on and assessing whether Tom had been drinking.

It didn’t take long for Frank to tell Harm what he had done. A waitress came over and took Frank and Tom’s orders, served them coffee, then left them alone.

“Dad, what’s going on?”

“Well, I knew how concerned you’ve been about Tom. I went out in the middle of the night, going to every bar in town, but I couldn’t find him. However, I did run into someone who knew him, an Elias Stone.” Frank paused, waiting for Harm to comment.

“Mr. Stone told me about Tom.” Frank had continued when Harm hadn’t said anything, but then he noticed him looking at Tom. It was obvious that Tom wanted to complete the story.

“Tom, are you okay,” Harm asked.

“I’m fine now, Commander. If you don’t mind, Sir,” Tom said, addressing Frank, “I’d like to finish the story. Harm, when you found me on the street, drowning my sorrows in a bottle as I’ve always done, you shook me up in more ways than one. After you left, I realized how much I envied you, and how jealous I am of you even now. You are so strong. You are a man of honour and integrity, whereas I can’t…”

“Tom, each of us copes with our demons in our ways. I’m not quite the man you think I am, but I would like to hear what you have to say right now. It’s very important.” Harm looked at Mac, wondering if he should tell Tom about Mattie. Her nod was almost non-existent, but Harm saw it.

“After you left me that night, I started thinking about all the things you’ve done for my daughter, and me as well. You couldn’t find me because I went home. It was there that I searched my soul for my weaknesses. You’ve been so supportive of me. I couldn’t disappoint Mattie again, and I certainly couldn’t let you down. I spent the last four days drying out, sobering up, and realizing how lucky I am. That’s where your father found me. Elias was the only one who knew where I was, and that’s only because he drove me home. He checked up on me during the next few days. I don’t want to make any promises, but I also know that Mattie needs me, not a drunken man who makes her ashamed of being my daughter. I love Mattie more than you can imagine. I’m sorry I let you down, Commander. I’m sorry…”

“Tom, we all have weaknesses, obsessions, and faults. The main thing is that you realized it, and now you have done this on your own. I have some news about Mattie, and I’m very glad you’re here.”

Harm noticed how tired Frank looked. Turning to him, Harm reached out and took his hand. Admitting his own faults in front of Tom would be a good start.

“I’ve been a fool where you’re concerned, Frank, I mean Dad. So many years of wasted resentment are lost forever now, when you could have been part of my life all along. I can’t ever thank you enough. You look so tired, Dad, but I do want you to hear the news before you get some rest. Tom, Dad, Mattie is out of the coma. She’s talking, not much, but she is talking. She asked for you, Tom. Dr. Rosenbaum wants to take her off the respirator in a few hours, and Mattie wants you there with her.”

Frank and Tom looked at each other. Harm knew that they had just realized that Mattie had come out of her coma about the same time Frank had found Tom. Tom didn’t even try to hide his tears this time. Harm could see the shimmer in Frank’s eyes as well.

Mac was sitting so close to Harm, seeing three grown men cry. For the first time since she had become a Marine, she realized that ‘being tough’ included the ability to let go of their pride and surrender to emotions of love, pain, loss and acceptance. Mac felt her own tears gliding down her face. She felt Harm squeeze her hand. There was so much love in that moment, at that table, and within those four people, it was almost tangible.

Seeing Frank’s love for Harm was incredible, both for Harm and Mac. Then there was Tom’s love for his daughter. For Harm, there was his undying love for the young woman who had brought them all together. And love filled both Mac and Harm’s hearts, the love they had denied and pushed away for years, and their own love for Mattie.

Lying in a hospital room, Mattie Grace Johnson seemed to smile in her sleep, feeling the love of those so close to her. It was Tom who broke the silence.

“Do you think I could go to the hospital now,” Tom looked at Harm.

It was only when Tom looked at Mac that Harm realized he had never introduced her to him, and he didn’t know if he remembered her.

“Of course you can, Tom. Do you remember Colonel MacKenzie?”

“Yes, I do. She talked me into letting you keep Mattie while I sobered up. It’s good to see you again, Colonel.”

“Thank you, and it’s Mac. It’s great to see you. Would you like Harm and I to take you back to the hospital?”

“No, I have my truck, but thank you. You’re welcome to go…”

“Why don’t we give you some time alone with your daughter,” Harm said, seeing the smile on Tom’s face.

Thus it was that Tom Johnson returned to the hospital to see his daughter. Harm spoke to Frank alone, once again thanking him and asking him to forgive him for all the wasted years.

“It’s now that’s important, Harm, not yesterday. I think I’ll go upstairs and get some sleep. Do you think it would be okay if we come to the hospital with you? Since Mattie doesn’t know she has two doting grandparents, it might make her feel better.”

“Of course, Dad. We’ll see you in a few hours. You are giving Mattie a wonderful gift, Dad. I have my Dad now, and you brought Mattie’s father back to her. Go get some sleep. We’ll see you later.”

Harm and Mac went upstairs to their room, their arms wrapped around each other. It had been an extremely emotional day for all of them. Removing all their clothes, they crawled into bed, reaching for the warmth each had to give the other.

“You know, Mac, I am truly blessed. As for you, my little vixen, you are both my weakness and my strength, and I will never be able to get enough of loving you.”

And love each other they did, but not physically. With their warm bodies so close, Harm felt the emotional and spiritual fulfillment that Mac gave him. They kissed hungrily, but it was the communion of their souls that made them feel complete. No longer alone, Harm and Mac fell asleep wrapped in their love.

 

 

 

CHAPTER 8

JAG HEADQUARTERS
TWO DAYS LATER
GENERAL’S OFFICE

 

 

 

Harm, Mac, and Bud stood in General Cresswell’s office. It was Harm’s first day back since their return from Blacksburg. Tom, along with Harm’s parents had insisted that they would be there for Mattie.

 

 

 

SMALL FLASHBACK


ST. VINCENT'S HOSPITAL
BLACKSBURG, VA

 

 

 

The doctor had removed the respirator twice, and on the third time, it was completely disconnected. Mattie was overjoyed to see her father, and meeting Harm’s parents had been an added bonus for her. Each hour had brought new improvements.

When General Cresswell called Mac on the second day of Mattie’s miracle, Harm realized he had a decision to make.

“Harm, the general needs you for an assignment, if you can leave. I’ve been keeping him updated on all of Mattie’s improvements.”

Mattie had looked at Harm, seeing so much love in his eyes; love for her, love for his parents, but mostly, an incredible love for Mac.

“You’re going to have to leave me eventually, Harm. I have Dad, and now, two very special grandparents to take care of me. Go with Mac,” Mattie had insisted. Harm had finally agreed, but not until being reassured by Dr. Rosenbaum and the nurses, and of course, Tom and his parents.

Trish had been delighted that Tom asked them to stay at his house. Since there was no urgent matter that would make Trish or Frank leave, they intended to settle in for a few days at the least.

Harm and Mac had driven home the night before, arriving at Harm’s apartment and falling into each other’s arms exhausted, but not too exhausted. They had all the energy they needed to surrender to their love and passion once again, or was it twice? However many times it was, Mac kept telling Harm that they had nine years to make up for, making him smile and reach for her again.

 

 

 

BACK TO JAG HEADQUARTERS

 

 

 

Now, they stood before their Commanding Officer, General Gordon Cresswell. Harm had been touched by the general calling him in a few minutes earlier to inquire about Mattie’s recent improvement.

“The offer of help is still good, Commander,” General Cresswell said. “I know how I would feel if it was my daughter, so if Mattie needs anything, I’ll do my best to make sure that she gets it. I’m also very glad to hear that she is no longer in a coma. I hope things continue to improve.”

“Thank you, Sir, for being so understanding of my time off.”

“Emergencies happen all…ahh, there you are. Commander Roberts, Colonel Mackenzie, I have some assignments for you. Commander Rabb, it’s nice to have you with us again,” Colonel Cresswell said, as Mac and Bud walked in

Bud was totally oblivious to the change in Harm and Mac. The only thing he was happy about was the news about Mattie, and having Harm back.

Mac hoped that she and Harm would be sent out on a mission together. It had been so challenging, yet even more exciting when she and Harm found ways to be together during missions. She hid her disappointment when Harm and Bud were sent to Oklahoma to expedite matters in the case of seventeen young men who had been killed, all from the town of Kresge, and most of them being good friends. Details of the incident were given to Harm and Bud, and then they were dismissed. Mac’s heart seemed to skip several beats as Harm left the room, knowing she would be sent somewhere to the other side of the world, most likely Iraq, which is exactly were her mission was to take her.

Not having time to say goodbye, Harm and Mac walked to the break room, both of them with the same intent.

“I already miss you, Harm,” Mac said, turning around quickly to face him.

“I’ll be worrying about you as well as missing you,” Harm said, wishing he could take her in his arms and kiss her. “We’ll just be in Oklahoma, while you’ll be so far away from me.” Without thought, Harm walked over to her, leaning down to her and brushing his lips against her, quickly stepping back.

Mac looked behind Harm, saw no one and stepped back towards him to plant one more kiss on his lips, this time a little more than just lightly.

“We’re taking too many chances, Marine,” Harm said, his voice soft and filled with desire.

“With you, I don’t care anymore. Besides, I want to take this ring off this chain and wear it on my finger so that everyone will know I belong to you.”

“Soon, Mac, very soon. You know, we are liable to be sent to permanent assignments that would keep us apart, and…”

“Don’t even say it, Harm. The military has kept us apart for way too long…”

“It wasn’t just the military, Mac, it’s been us as well, but this time, I can’t let you go. By the way, I think the general is sending me to Oklahoma so that I can still be close to Mattie in case I am needed.”

Mac drew back, smiling as she looked into Harm’s eyes.

“So, you think the old man has a heart, huh?”

Harm told her how he had called him in earlier so that he could inquire about Mattie and to offer his help once again. Just then Bud came in, but thankfully, all he heard was something about the general and Mattie.

“We’ll be leaving in less than an hour, Commander,” Bud said.

“Yes, sir, Commander,” Harm said, his beautiful eyes lighting up and that beautiful smile of his making Mac wish she had him all to herself.

“That wasn’t an order, Sir. I mean…”

“Bud, when are you going to learn that I am teasing you,” Harm said. He didn’t realize until that moment how good it felt to be back with the people he had worked with for so many years. “I’m ready if you are.”

“Okay, Sir. Goodbye, Colonel. We’ll see you in a few days, I guess.” Bud turned and left, giving Harm and Mac a few precious seconds together.

Harm reached up and felt the ring through Mac’s clothing. Running his finger across her lips, he smiled again.

“Just because it’s not on your finger doesn’t mean you aren’t mine. I’ll be thinking about you every second.”

“Give yourself a few seconds to complete your investigation, and I know I’m yours. Just don’t forget you’re mine.”

“Never,” Harm said as he walked out the door.

 

 

 

KRESGE, OKLAHOMA

 

 

 

Working with Bud again was good, but it wasn’t like old times anymore. Lt. Commander Bud Roberts was no longer the naïve, but brilliant officer who had looked up to Harm. He was a Lt. Commander himself, and his new status seemed to have change his personality. Harm found himself longing for the animated, innocent, and much loved young officer, studying hard to be a lawyer.

Now, Bud talked about his three sons and a daughter. Harm suddenly smiled as he remembered when Bud had first met Harriet. Harm and Mac were sent out on an investigation. Bud had been with them, and that’s where he met Ensign Harriet Simms, aboard the Seahawk. He recalled looking down at them, smiling as Mac walked up to him. She also glanced down upon Bud and Harriet.

“I just had a scary thought,” Harm had told Mac.

“Their children,” Mac had replied, reading his mind.

Now, almost ten years later, Bud and Harriet were married, had a beautiful home, four children, and lost one child. Suddenly Harm’s thoughts went to Mac.

Why had he wasted so much time? He thought he had all the time in the world, but truth be told, he loved her even back then, only his career came first. In but a few minutes, Harm relived his life from the moment he first met Mac, shocked at how much she looked like Diane, his lost love, who had been murdered by her senior officer.

“Mattie is going to be okay, Sir,” Bud said, mistakenly thinking that Harm was worried about leaving her.

“I know she will, Bud. Her father is with her, and my Mom and Dad are there as well. I call them several times a day, and from what they have told me, Mattie is making slow but steady progress. They will be doing another MRI to see if the diagnoses regarding her spine might have been slightly off. I hope so.”

“What?” Harm saw the puzzled look on Bud’s face.

“That’s the first time I’ve heard you call you stepfather ‘Dad’, Sir.”

“Bud, would you please call me Harm. Things change, Bud. I just never realized how special Frank was until the last few years. Calling him ‘Dad’ seems to come easier every time I say it. Life and things change, Bud. Look at you and Harriet. When we first met you, who would have thought you and Harriet would be married with four children by now. I might add, you need to give Harriet a break,” Harm said, smiling and trying to ease the serious conversation. It worked. Bud chuckled.

“It should be you and the colonel who should be married and have children by now, Harm,” Bud said, not realizing he was opening up some painful wounds.

“Mac and I have waited too long, but who knows what the future will bring,” Harm said, glad to Bud hadn’t caught the clue he had just given him.

“I think we’re here, Sir.”

 

 

 

IRAQ
MAC’S MISSION

 

 

 

Mac had also arrived in Iraq. Details of the events that had brought her to this place once again were given to her. She requested to talk to the boy’s mother, Mrs. Alraza. As she arrived, she could see the suspicious looks she got from all the native people. No matter how much they had tried to help, the U.S. military was still looked upon with distrustful eyes. She walked into Mrs. Alraza’s shop.

As Mac’s mission progressed, she saw the love between Mrs. Alraza and her son, Mahmud. Each day made her miss Harm even more. Even in this godforsaken place, the love of a parent for his or her child was all-consuming. In talking to the beautiful woman, Mac wondered what she was doing in this dusty, burning hot in the day, and perhaps some relief at night place. She had lost count of the times she had been to Iraq and Afghanistan, and countless other places.

Separated by thousands of miles, Mac, like Harm remembered the many times they had been here together. A smile crossed her lips as she recalled the night they had spent in the mountains of Afghanistan.

“If you want, I’ll call room service and have them send up a room divider,” Harm had said.

“I’m just giving you your space,” Mac had replied, as far away from him as she could get under the circumstances. Even then, she knew her feelings for him were too much for her to take the risk.

Harm had laughed. “Mac, how much more space do I need,” he had said, waving his hand to indicate the vast space that surrounded them. “Besides, it’s only going to continue to get colder. If we don’t share body heat, we are going to freeze.”

“Is that an invitation,” Mac had said, trying not to express her true feelings.

They had cuddled up, staring up at the stars like two lovers would have, only they weren’t lovers back then. She had felt Harm trembling as he crossed his leg over hers, pulling her close to him. Her own heart had been racing as their cheeks had touched and they looked up at the stars.

Remembering that mission, and how he had been injured when they hit a land mine while she was driving was giving Mac some thoughts that shocked her.

Lt. Col. Sarah MacKenzie had fought hard to get where she was now. She was proud of her service to the military, and the awards she had received. Perhaps if she and Harm had not put their careers ahead of their love, they would be married by now, and perhaps have a child, if not more. Did she really want to be traveling all over the world once she and Harm were married? NO! Her answer came so quickly; it shocked her.

Mac had to hear Harm’s voice, but before she called him, he called her.

“MacKenzie.”

“Mac, I miss you so much.”

“I was just thinking about you, Harm, remembering all our missions together. I wish you were here with me, or better yet, I wish we were both at home so I could wrap my arms around you and pull you on top of me.” Mac’s voice was soft, yet Harm heard something he had never heard in her voice before. Regret.

“Hmmm. That does sound very tempting, Marine. How’s your investigation going,” Harm changed the subject, worried about the way Mac sounded.

“It’s going. I shouldn’t be here too much longer. How about you and Bud?”

“It’s very tragic. It seems incredible that seventeen young men, all from the same town, young men who grew up together, and now have died together. It’s not a big town, so everyone here is affected by these deaths. Everyone knew at least one of the young boys who gave their lives. It’s tragic. Mac, I miss you so much. I’m trying so hard to forget you are on the other side of the world.” No matter how much he had tried, Harm’s love was much too powerful to ignore, not now.

“Harm, I…”

“I’m sorry, Baby, I shouldn’t have said that. I was trying to be professional, but…”

“I miss you, Harm. I don’t want to be here anymore, not unless you’re here to share your body heat with me like you did in Afghanistan. Harm, I don’t want to be separated from you anymore. You called me Baby. I’ve…you’ve never called me that until now.”

“You are, you know. I mean, you are my Baby, the one I love so much. How much longer will it be before you leave,” Harm asked.

“If things go the way I expect, probably late tomorrow, or early the next day. Even if I leave tomorrow, it will still take me almost twenty-four hours to get home. What about you?”

“I’d say another couple of days, maybe three. We didn’t expect to have a trial, but something happened last night. I’m sure we can be back in three days at the most.”

“Whichever one of us gets home first, the other one will be waiting at home.”

“Then I hope it’s you, Mac, because I like the way you wait at home for me,” Harm said, vividly recalling the many times Mac had either been in the shower when he got home, or waiting in bed for him.

“I better go, Harm. Just hearing your voice is enough to arouse me, but I want you to give me what I need. I love you, Harm. There's something I want to talk about when I get home.”

“Talk? Not about our past, I hope.”

“No, Flyboy, about our future. I love you.”

“I love you, too, Marine.”

After hanging up, Mac felt the loneliness even more. She hated hanging up because it meant she couldn’t hear Harm’s voice anymore, but she started to count the hours until they were together again. If things worked out okay, they would both be home on a Friday, and they would have the weekend off. Smiling, Mac already knew what they would be doing during their nights and their days.

Indeed, Mac’s case wrapped up the following day, but she didn’t have transportation out until early the next morning. Mac was pleased with outcome of her mission. She began to make plans for her return and most importantly, to seeing Harm again. Just thinking about him made her shiver from the inside out.

 

 

 

KRESGE, OKLAHOMA

 

 

 

The entire town of Kresge had been shocked when the lone survivor, Lance Corporal Vanarsdale had been arrested for setting the fire at the Marine Recruitment Centre. Harm and Bud had been sent to Kresge to facilitate the financial aspect for the beneficiaries and to offer support and psychological help to the families who had lost their loved ones. Now, with the arrest of the Lance Corporal, it had turned into an Article 32 hearing on charges of arson and willful destruction, even though he had denied setting the fire, but all the evidence had pointed to him.

To their credit, the people from Kresge had been most kind to Harm and Bud. They were simple people who didn’t quite speak as correctly as Harm and Bud did, but their generosity in light of their losses, made the situation so much easier.

Unfortunately, in the end, Lance Corporal Scott Vanarsdale admitted he had set the fire. Harm, feeling the pain of the entire town from his own experiences with Mattie, was astonished when the young man turned to the townspeople to make his apology. The reception he got gave Harm hope for the betterment of this world after all. The corporal had waived his right to a court trail, instead choosing to serve the time offered. Once again, Harm and Bud were astonished when at the end of Scott Vanarsdale’s apology; the citizens of Kresge stood up and forgave him. The men and women of Kresge were a forgiving, and understanding people.

The ending to their case was extremely uplifting. The government had given each young man’s family a rather large sum of money. The townspeople elected to donate some of it to build a monument to the seventeen young men who had given their lives in the service of their country. Harm and Bud marveled at these people and were pleased at the outcome, even if Scott Vanarsdale would have to pay for his crime.

It was late Thursday night when Harm finally got home. He had talked to Mac earlier and he knew that she would not be arriving until the following day. He decided to surprise her. Realizing she would be tired after a long trip, Harm sent her a message to meet him at her apartment. Mac had been puzzled, but she didn’t mind. She would be seeing Harm in a few hours and that was all that mattered to her now.

 

 

 

CHAPTER 9

JAG HEADQUARTERS
FRIDAY

 

Harm had arrived in plenty of time to report to work on Friday. He had insisted that Bud go straight home, knowing his friend was anxious to see Harriet and their children. Harm even told him to take a couple of hours extra in the morning before coming in.

“But what about the paperwork, Sir? General Cresswell expects it on his desk…”

“I’ll do it, Bud. You need to go home to your family.”

Bud had reluctantly left the final paperwork to Harm, and gone home. Now, Harm sat in his office, getting ready to give the general the final report. He had been hard at work for over thirty minutes and was almost finished.

“Good morning, Commander Rabb. You’re here early”, came General Cresswell’s voice, causing Harm to stand at attention immediately. “Sit down, Commander. Why are you here so early?”

General Cresswell took the chair in front of Harm’s desk, watching as Harm followed suit, easing into his own chair.

“I sent Commander Roberts home so he could be his with his family, and I’m finishing up the paperwork on the Vanarsdale case to give him an extra couple of hours this morning, Sir.”

“That was nice of you,” the general said sarcastically, softening the sarcasm with a smile.

“I know how much he misses Harriet and the children. Besides, Commander Roberts has covered for me all this time that I’ve been in Blacksburg. It’s the least I could do for him. The paperwork will be completed within the hour, Sir.”

“Don’t rush, Commander. Why don’t you tell me about the people in Kresge instead.”

Harm proceeded to put his pen down and push his file away. Within fifteen minutes, the general had the whole story. He had interjected several comments during Harm’s account of what had transpired during their stay in Kresge.

“Sometimes we forget that it is those simple, innocent people that we are fighting for, along with all the others as well. I’m glad it turned out so well. Have you heard from Mattie’s father?”

“Yes, Sir, I did. The MRI revealed that her injury, though quite serious, is not as bad as they had believed at first. The doctors aren’t making any promises, but they do seem more hopeful that someday she will be able to walk again. It may take years of physical therapy, and perhaps some surgery along the way, but the doctors are very hopeful. Knowing Mattie, she will surprise everyone of them because she has such a will to live her life as she wants.”

“That’s good to hear, Commander. Tell me, is her father with her?”

“Yes, Sir. He sobered up again, and with Mattie needing him so much, perhaps this time he will make it. Mattie loves her father very much. That love will go a long way in giving Tom Johnson the strength he needs.”

“I understand she’s quite close to you also, Harm,” the general said, making Harm look up at him at the use of his given name. It wasn’t often that General Cresswell addressed him by his first name.

“For a time, yes, she was. I think Mattie always knew she loved her Dad, but she hated what he was doing to himself. I was there for her when he wasn’t, but she needs him with her now.”

“You’re being way too modest, Commander Rabb. I have a daughter, Cammie, just a few years older than Mattie. I know how important it is for Mattie to know that should her father ever fail her again, she has you to turn to; someone she trusts and loves. Tell me, Harm, would you be willing to take assignments overseas for long periods of time?”

Harm looked at the general, then down at his hands, then out the window, then back at the general. The question had come right out of the blue. In those few seconds, Harm realized that Mac had been right. They were about to be separated, and no matter how kind, or generous, or tempting the general made the offer; it was still an obstacle that stood in their way, one that could tear Mac and him apart yet again.

“I would have to talk to Tom, Mattie’s father. I would also have to talk to Mattie, and my own parents as well. Mom is used to me being gone for months at a time without hearing from me, but Mattie is another matter. It would also depend on how long I would be gone, and how far away. Even without the accident, and what she will have to endure in the coming months, at Mattie’s age, she needs people she can trust, people that are reliable.” Harm realized that the use of the word ‘Mom” had made him sound like a little boy instead of a commander in the Navy.

“We make sacrifices in the military, Harm. I was not always there for Cammie, her brother, and their mother. I know I should say that I regret it, but when I joined the Marines, I knew what it would entail. When my wife married me, she knew that I might be gone for months, perhaps years at a time. I’m sure that Mattie would encourage you to take an assignment that might advance your career. Since you aren’t married, you are one of those at the top of the list. Besides, you’ve spent years here at JAG. Wouldn’t you like to move on, perhaps to a more challenging post?”

Once again, Harm did not comment, or answer right away. His mind wandered, not just to Mattie, but to his parents, who were getting old; and most especially, to Mac. He could not bear the thought of being separated from her again, not after finally admitting their love. These last few days without her had been painful, and even now, he was counting the hours until he saw her again.

“I’ve made sacrifices also, General Cresswell. I understand how you feel about your daughter, but she was not in Mattie’s condition. I may not be her biological father, or even her adopted father, but I promised to be there for her. As for my career, well, Sir, the Navy has been my life for almost twenty-one years now. Perhaps one of the reasons I’m not married is because of my commitment to the Navy. Besides, I promised Mattie, and I can’t let her down.”

“A promise is very important to you, isn’t it?”

“It defines who I am, Sir.” Harm’s voice was firm, but Cresswell could hear the undertone of bitterness. “I’ve broken too many promises already, and if Mattie needs me, then I will retire before I fail her. I’m sorry, Sir. I know that’s not the answer you wanted to hear.”

“Why haven’t you ever married, Harm,” the general’s question shocked Harm. It was almost as if he hadn’t heard anything Harm had said.

“The Navy had always been my first priority, and because of that, I’ve hurt a lot of people.”

“You mean when you returned to flying?”

“Yes. I hurt others, and I hurt my career.”

“Why did you do it?”

“I guess you could say I was foolish, but it was my dream to be an aviator, like my father had been, and when I was given a second chance, I had to take it. I had to fulfill my own promise to myself.”

“You still haven’t given me a reason why you’ve never married. You are a good-looking man. I’m sure women aren’t in short supply where you’re concerned. Is there someone special that you are waiting for, or have you already found her?”

“I don’t know you very well, General Cresswell, and perhaps I never will. However, I get the impression that you are baiting me.”

General Cresswell did not answer, just gave Harm one of his stern looks, expecting an answer from the younger officer. Instead he got another question.

“Am I being reassigned,” Harm finally asked.

“Reassigned? Not that I’m aware of, but in the military, things can change very quickly, and it’s important that you are not only aware of the situation, but prepared to make the move when the order is given. Is Mattie the only reason you wish to remain here?”

Harm stood up and walked to the window, staring out. He wondered then if the general knew about him and Mac. Mac had said that she had an indication that he did. Is that what this was all about, or was a transfer for him imminent?

“Having served in the military for as long as I have, General, I am well aware of the changes that can take place overnight. I was hoping, since you’ve been so concerned and generous regarding Mattie, that you would realize how difficult it would be for me leave this area. If I were being transferred, it would depend on where it is as to whether I accept it or not. I would like to remain close enough to Mattie that I could fly in to be with her as often as I can.”

“Mattie has her father. I also understand that your parents are helping out, and just recently, that her aunt has returned to Blacksburg to aid in Mattie’s recovery. Even when she was under your care, you were assigned missions that took you to Iraq and other distant, and inconvenient locations. She was left in P.O. Coates’ care quite often.”

“How did you know about her aunt, Sir?”

“I call the hospital everyday, Harm. Her aunt, Eugenie, has talked to me as well. You see, I already knew about Mattie’s continued progress. Eugenie informed me that she had talked to you for a very long time last night, assuring you that she would be there to help Tom with whatever Mattie needed.

“If you already knew all this, then why…”

“How long have you known Colonel MacKenzie,” the general asked, once again ignoring Harm’s comments.

Harm looked at his commanding officer. He was nothing like Admiral Chegwidden had been. Chegwidden didn’t beat around the bush, which is exactly what the general was doing. Why didn’t he just ask what he wanted to know instead of interrogating Harm as if he were on the stand?

“If you know about Mattie and Eugenie, then you must know how long I’ve known the colonel,” Harm said, sitting back down, his voice on edge.

“Perhaps I should rephrase my question, Commander Rabb. How long have you been in love with Colonel MacKenzie?”

General Cresswell saw the stunned look on Harm’s face. He didn’t tell Harm that it was so obvious to everyone but them that even a blind man could see how much they loved each other. Instead, his fingers formed a steeple as he waited for Harm’s reply. He looked quite nonchalant about the matter.

“I…who said…I…” Harm stammered for several seconds, his face turning a bright pink, causing the general to chuckle.

“I’m waiting, Commander.”

Harm acknowledged the fact that the general was indeed baiting him, but it wasn’t about Mattie. It had all been about Mac. He wasn’t going to lie anymore, or deny his love for her. He was tired of the military dictating what emotions he could, or could not express openly. He was also tired of having Chegwidden, the SECNAV, and now General Cresswell determining Harm’s love life.

“Since you seem to be aware of it already, Sir, yes, I am in love with Ma…Colonel MacKenzie. As for how long, almost since we met.”

“Are you aware that you could be court…”

“It doesn’t matter anymore, General. I’ve been in love with Mac almost since the day we met, but our military careers kept us from each other all that time. Instead we turned to others, only to realize that we could not love anyone else. If you want to court-martial me, Sir, do it, but Mac is not a part of this.” Even as the words left his lips, Harm realized how his last words must have sounded to the general.

Surprisingly, the general stood up, walked to the door and closed it, returning to the chair in front of Harm. He sat down.

“If you haven’t declared your love to her, Harm, you are one damn fool. Somehow, the way you blushed when I mentioned her name tells me that you aren’t quite that big a fool and that Mac is a very willing part of it. So, here’s what I can offer. I do intend to transfer one, or both of you out, which will leave you free to follow your heart. You may be separated for a while, since the posts you and the colonel deserve are far apart, but it will be for a short while, until I can get you a closer billet.”

Harm was speechless. Here was this man who had taken the place of now Ret. Admiral A. J. Chegwidden, and one with whom Harm had felt no close connection, openly discussing Mac’s and his future. When he realized what the general had said about him blushing, Harm felt his face getting warmer and warmer remembering the plans he had for Mac and him that evening.

“It’s quite refreshing to see a man your age blush, Harm. Now, why don’t you finish your paperwork and go on home. There’s nothing pending here, and I am really trying to break in the new kids, Mayfield, Graves and Vukovic. If I need you, I’ll call you.” The general started to walk away, then turned back to him. “It’s amazing how you and the colonel have managed to keep your professional lives out of your personal ones. Right now, we need both you and the colonel here to train our younger lawyers, but eventually, you both deserve your own command, so be prepared. Take care of yourself, Commander, and tell Mattie we are all thinking about her. As for Mac, well, I’m sure you’ll know what to tell her.” General Cresswell walked out laughing as he saw Harm blush an even brighter red.

Harm managed to mutter out a weak “Thank you, Sir,” as he stood up when the general left. Sitting down, Harm realized what had just happened. He also thought about the transfers that the general had mentioned. Harm knew he did not want to be separated from Mac anymore. These past few days had been torture for him, and from the sound of Mac’s voice, he knew she missed him just as much as he missed her.

It was 1500 hours when Harm went in to tell the general that he was securing for the day. The report on the Vanarsdale case had been placed on the general’s desk hours ago. Harm had tried to do some of Bud’s work for him. Now, he was anxious to go home and put his plan in motion. Mac would be arriving a few hours later, and Harm wanted to go home and shower, then go grocery shopping before he went over to Mac’s apartment.

 

HARM’S APARTMENT
1640

 

Harm had stopped at the grocery store on his way home. He had gotten all the makings for omelets and French toast in the morning, and a steak for Mac tonight, along with the makings for a crab-pasta dinner for himself. He had everything he needed for a salad and baked potato for Mac, to go with her steak. She loved sautéed mushrooms, so he made sure he had all the ingredients to make her homecoming special, grinning as he realized that food had little to do with making the next few hours unforgettable. He kept whistling as he shopped, looking at his watch every two or three minutes.

Mac had called him to say that she would not be arriving until 1945, but it would take at least thirty to forty minutes before she actually got home. Harm had groaned a little. It meant that much longer before he saw her, but she refused to have him pick her up, saying it would only waste time.

“I want you waiting for me at home, Harm. Don’t plan on getting any sleep tonight, Flyboy, because I have really missed you.”

“Like I haven’t missed you, huh,” Harm had chuckled. “Just hurry home, okay?”

By 1725, Harm went into the shower. Mac was always saying how much she loved taking a shower with him, just as he did. Although he missed her not being with him now, the anticipation of their reunion was much more compelling. He could sense her close, hoping her plane had landed early. Looking over at his watch, he realized it was much too early, yet he felt her presence so vividly, it was almost as if she was with him. Harm glanced at the phone, which was resting on the lavatory, wondering if he should call her. He decided to wait, once again surrendering to thoughts of how they would spend this weekend. Harm was whistling and then broke out into a song.

“My Secret’s Love No Secret Anymore,” Harm sang out. He could never remember being this happy and filled with so much expectation.

Harm had talked to Tom, Eugenie, his Mom and Mattie earlier, so he didn’t feel as guilty when he told them it would probably be late Saturday before he arrived. Even Mattie had sounded almost as happy as he was.

The water rained down on Harm as he washed his hair, still singing about his secret love not being a secret anymore. He hoped that Mac would want to talk about setting a wedding date soon. Even though they spent all their free time together, Harm wanted to be able to call her his wife, and to hear her call him her husband. Harm was lost in his plans for tonight when he suddenly felt the warm feeling he always did when Mac was near. Then he felt her hand on his shoulder. He turned and saw a delectably naked Mac in the shower with him.

“Ma…”

Mac didn’t let him finish, capturing his lips in a hungry kiss, their tongues colliding in a frenzied dance of their own, one that would match their bodies in a few minutes. He felt her bare breasts against his chest, moaning loudly and pressing against her. Her touch had caused an instant reaction from Harm, as his burning erection brushed up against Mac. She swayed against him, her fingers in his hair, pulling him closer to her. They forgot they needed to breathe, but a minute later they broke apart briefly to take in the much-needed air, only to unite their lips once again in hungry, demanding kisses.

It was a shower that only lovers would ever indulge in. Their lips would part for a few seconds to breathe, but their lathered hands were roaming over each other’s bodies, causing them to tremble with passion. Mac loved having Harm wash her entire body with his big hands, leaving trails of heat wherever he touched her. He put his hands on her breasts, drawing them against the other, crushing them as Mac moaned, telling him to kiss them. He didn’t even feel the water falling on his face as his lips left hers, his tongue leaving a hot trail down her neck to his destination. It was a delicious obsession of their love to which they surrendered so completely. It was an addiction to one another that they knew would last throughout eternity.

“Ha…I…I…now,” Mac cried out.

Harm picked her up and held her against the wall, her legs going around his waist. He took one breast in his mouth, hearing Mac calling his name over and over. Harm brushed his engorged member through her wet folds, against her throbbing bud, causing Mac to shudder against him. Harm took the other breast in his mouth, nibbling and biting her, pulling and nursing fiercely until he heard Mac cry out.

“Bed…Harm…bed.”

Somehow Harm heard her through the euphoria that was fast consuming them. He managed to turn the water off, carrying Mac to the bed even as the water dripped from them. Nothing mattered. They fell on the bed. Their kisses were driving them wild, but when Harm took his erection once again and ran it through Mac’s moist, heated folds, and resting it on her aching bud, she grabbed him and pulled him into her. Their intoxication with one another was so overpowering their bodies shook visibly. It was as if the entire world was experiencing a gigantic earthquake, but it was just their rejoicing in being reunited.

“Now…now.”

With her nails raking down his back, Harm crushed his lips against hers, their tongues dueling as he began to plunge into her. This time it was Harm who let out a low growl as he felt her wet, hot walls surrounding him, tightening around him. The movement of her hands was frantic, as her legs began to pull him in deeper and deeper. The fact that they could not breathe did not matter. Mac already felt the ripples of heat turning into an inferno, totally out of control.

Everything except Harm and Mac and their passion disappeared as their bodies pummeled into the other, bringing them closer and closer, lifting them higher and higher, until there was a loud cry from both of them, as the waves of fire overwhelmed them. The sound of their blood rushing through them, leaving a roaring echo in their ears, was soon followed by the fiery waves of their passion. They had reached the highest peak, then suddenly plummeted into nothingness, only to be filled with overwhelming emotions and sensations such as they had never known. The glory of their love created brilliant fireworks, and colours. They were engulfed in a beautifully excruciating intimacy and sheer, raw ecstasy. Mac’s released washed over Harm, even as his emptied into her, burning them with a love so pure, so intense, it was truly magical.

Harm was having difficulty holding himself up as he tried to roll over, but Mac would not release him, instead keeping him in place. Panting heavily, Mac refused to let Harm leave her after they finally floated down from their journey into paradise.

Burying his head in her hair, Harm leaned on his elbows to take his weight off Mac. His breathing was still ragged, his heart still racing, and his body still trembling from the wonder of their incredible lovemaking. Once again, he tried to roll over, but again, Mac pulled him down against her.

“Don’t leave…me…yet, my love. I’ve missed you…so much, Harm. Right now, all I… want is to feel…complete, and the only…way is to have you inside of me. Oh, Harm, I love…” Mac buried her face into his chest, spreading kisses all over him. “I love you so much.”

Wrapping his arms around her, Harm rolled over, holding her tightly against him so he could grant Mac her wish. She was on top now, and he could just look at her, take her breasts in his mouth and never let go. Smiling up at her, his fingers began to stroke her in feather-like caresses. The aftershocks of their powerful release still filled them, leaving them wanting more. He ran his thumb against her nipple, then squeezed it between his thumb and forefinger. He hungered for their taste. He groaned as Mac began to ride him again, aware that they were far from finished. Grinning at her, he took one of her breasts in his mouth and nursed contentedly until their passion became more persistent.

This was Mac’s favourite position because Harm could devour her breasts even as she sheathed him, pulling him deeper and deeper into her. It was what she had been dreaming about during her trip home. Mac pulled Harm’s face away from her breasts, capturing his lips in a scorching kiss that literally sucked the breath out of him. Their bodies were still flushed from their previous lovemaking, but neither Harm nor Mac were letting them rest. Taking his tongue in her mouth, Mac began sucking on it even as she began her assault on him. They both groaned as Harm began to grow inside of her, not slowly, but with a fierceness that left Mac elated and soaring once again. They both shuddered from their passion. Mac knew that within seconds, Harm would flip them around and then he would pound into her. Harm surprised her. Instead, he put his hands on her hips, put one long leg around her and set an incredible rhythm.

Releasing her lips, Harm took her breast in his mouth, devouring her as she had done to his tongue, his hands raising her up and down, faster and faster. They were drenched in sweat, but every movement was painfully delicious, taking them higher and higher. Harm sucked on her breast, matching his movements. Their moans intensified as they felt the waves began to envelop them once again, lifting them to even greater heights. Harm grabbed the other breast in his mouth, biting on her nipple, then swallowing as much as he could and sucking their sweet nectar. Mac’s head went back. Harm continued to lift her and push her down onto him as the flames erupted. Harm and Mac’s hands were all over each other, their bodies tingling and the roaring in their ears becoming the culmination of their passion as Mac’s love washed over Harm and his poured into her, hot, fast and filling her with his very essence, his very life.

Gasping, Harm began to lose his strength as that mystical euphoria consumed them, wrapping them in a cocoon filled with new emotions, new sensations, mystical and magical bliss, and an overwhelming sense of intimacy. Mac, still shaking, finally rested her head on Harm’s chest. Harm was trying desperately to catch his breath. He wrapped his arms around her, holding her against him even as he felt the waning ripples of their fiery fulfillment. Breathing harshly, Harm bent down to kiss the top of Mac’s head, feeling her wet hair against his lips. Slowly, as the minutes passed, Harm and Mac’s breathing began to take on an almost normal rhythm. So little had been said in words, but volumes had been spoken with their lovemaking.

Harm felt Mac’s hand pulling gently on his chest hairs. The afterglow of their incredible passion still filled them. Suddenly, he realized that Mac was crying. Lifting her face up gently, he looked into her eyes and saw such sadness.

“What…what’s wrong, Mac?” Harm remembered her words about wanting to talk and he felt the fear consume him.

“I don’t…please…don’t make…I don’t want to leave you again,” Mac sobbed. “I…missed…missed…you so much.”

“Oh, my Baby…my Mac…my Marine, I…love you so much. Mac…”

Mac’s fingers pressed against his lips, stilling his words. She knew she was acting silly, but it wasn’t until they became one that she realized she didn’t ever want to leave him again, especially if it meant going half way around the world. She had to make him understand how she felt, but for now, she was content and ecstatic just being with him.

Harm pushed her hair back, looking into her beautiful eyes, eyes that he got lost in every time he looked into them. Gazing into those eyes, Harm was amazed at how much he loved her, his Mac. She had become his entire reason for being, for everything he did. He had never believed himself capable of loving any woman this much. He placed a gentle kiss on her lips, tasting the saltiness of her tears.

“Mac, let’s get married right away. I know it won’t change anything, but everyone will know I belong to you and you alone.”

“That’s all I want now, Harm. I want to be your wife, to help you take care of Mattie, and to spend the rest of my life by your side. I don’t care about my career anymore.”

“Sshhh. You don’t mean that, Mac. You’re…

“Yes, I do! Harm, I don’t want to be so far away from you ever again. It’s taken us nine years to get to this point, and you’re the only one I care about now. Please believe me.”

“I do believe you, Mac, but you’re not thinking clearly right now. Besides, if anyone will leave their career behind, it will be me. I have enough time in to retire. You don’t.”

“I don’t care about that, Harm,” Mac said, sitting up and looking at Harm. She loved him so much, it was almost painful, but when they were together like this, she was awed by her feelings for Harm.

Harm pulled her down onto the pillow, his arm behind her, the other drawing her closer bending over her until their lips met. They shared their wondrous kisses for several minutes before she cuddled up to him, her eyelids beginning to close. He pulled the blankets over them, holding Mac tightly against him and they fell asleep, exhausted, content, and ecstatic to be together again. Harm had not given a thought to the fact that Mac had come home early, and instead of meeting him at her apartment, she had walked in while he was taking a shower. Actually, all rational thoughts had left Harm the second he saw Mac standing before him. Once their lips met, he was oblivious to the outside world. Now, the two tired, but contented lovers, held each other, even as sleep began to overcome them.

 

TWO AND A HALF HOURS LATER

 

Harm woke up with a start, feeling as if someone was watching him. He reached for Mac, but saw her sitting up, smiling and just looking at him.

“Do you know how perfect you are, Harmon Rabb?”

“Perfect? Me? You may rethink that when you’re angry with me, or we go up against each other in court. But now you, my one and only love, my beautiful Mac, you have no equal. You’re a woman that every man would love to possess, and every woman is either envious of, or terrified you might take their man away.”

Mac laughed, running her hand along Harm’s long body, reaching for the one thing she wanted to feel in her hands.

“Oooohhhh, that’s not fair, Mac. Oh, don’t stop. Aaaahhhh, that feels so good.”

Needless to say, it was another forty-five minutes before Harm and Mac got up, took individual showers, at Harm’s insistence, and got dressed. Not that Mac wore much. She knew that tonight was just beginning for them.

Harm was standing in the kitchen, wondering whether he should make breakfast or dinner. It was the middle of the night, but he knew that Mac had to be starving. She walked into the kitchen, stepped up to Harm, and kissed him lightly on the lips.

“Hmmm. You do taste good, Harmon Rabb. I could get used to this,” Mac said, her fingers traveling seductively down Harm’s chest.

“There’s a lot more where that came from,” Harm said, lifting her head and bending down to capture her lips. Keeping the kiss light, Harm drew back. “Speaking of tasting good, you know you are some delicious dish. I know I could live with that for the rest of my life.”

“Then why did we get out of bed,” Mac grinned impishly. “I guess the floor is okay, since the bed is all wet.”

“Aren’t you hungry,” Harm asked, then stopped. “Hey, how did you know I was still here? Didn’t I tell you to meet me at your apartment? Besides, you came home very early.”

Mac smiled coyly at Harm. There was so much more to their relationship than just their physical passion, although it was a major part of it, she knew, yet she felt such a strong connection to him. Mac knew, without a doubt, that their love had been pre-destined. It was also the most beautiful love she had ever known. The very thought of being separated from him was the only thing that kept her from complete happiness. Now, she turned her attention back to him.

“Well, I knew you would be thinking of ways to surprise me, so I thought I would surprise you.”

“But how did you know I was in the shower?”

“Let’s just say I’ve gotten used to your ways. Besides, I was going to jump your bones wherever you were. The fact that you were in the shower made it perfect. I see you picked my clothes up.” Mac put her arms around his waist. “By the way, have I told you how much I love you?”

“No, I think you showed me, but I’m very insecure. You may have to show me again, and well, maybe even again,” Harm said, reaching down to kiss the hardened nipple peeking out through her robe. “Hmmm. I love the way you taste. So, you were going to jump my bones, huh? Care to do it again after we have something to eat, before I hear you complaining?”

“No complaints coming from me. So, what was your surprise?”

“I was going to make dinner for you. I even got you a steak, makings for a baked potato, and sautéed mushrooms. Oh, and of course, a salad. I was also going to have a hot bath waiting for you, and after that, well, I thought we’d go…ouch,” Harm yelled playfully as Mac swatted his behind. “What’s wrong with that, may I ask?”

“My surprise was better,” Mac said, wrapping her hand around his now very alert member. “Oh, my, what have we here?”

“Mac, you have to eat something. Oh, forget I said that…Ma…ac,” Harm groaned out.

“I could have dessert now and have dinner later,” Mac said, grinning up at Harm as she knelt in front of him.

“You are insatiable, Sarah MacKenzie…aashhh…Mac…ooohhhh,” Harm said, knowing she was going to have her way with him. He wasn’t putting up much of a fight.

“I think the bed would be more comfortable,” Mac said, grinning mischievously up at Harm as she tasted him again.

“The bed is all wet,” Harm said, his knees about to give out. A low growl escaped him as he felt the heat of Mac’s mouth envelop him. “The sofa,” he said, picking Mac up and going into the living room.

“Mac…”

Slapping his hand away, Mac pulled Harm’s boxers off. Oh, was he ever ready. Licking her lips, Mac swallowed him, hearing him groan. She wanted to make this last, so she was going to have to torture him, albeit a torture he would enjoy thoroughly, and one she had been fantasizing about since she got on the plane, several hours earlier than she had told Harm.

Mac did indeed torture Harm, but he wasn’t complaining. They had no concept of how much time had gone by until Harm could not hold back. Regardless of how much Harm had tried to change Mac’s mind, she had known what she wanted and no one was going to keep her from attaining her goal. Somehow, Mac felt so much pleasure in seeing Harm throw his head back, his eyes closing heavily, and finally, calling out her name as she felt his body trembling, and his voice calling out her name.

Harm returned the favour, and an hour later, Mac begged for mercy, weakened, but loving him even more with every second. They grabbed some pillows and got a blanket and fell asleep on the floor in order to give their bed a chance to dry off.

It was indeed an unforgettable twenty hours for Harm and Mac. They had rested very little, and slept even less. Harm had finally made the omelets for them, insisting they both needed to keep their energy up. It was only then that Harm went back to asking Mac how she knew about his whereabouts when she was supposed to have met him at her apartment.

“I knew you would be planning some kind of special evening, Harm, and I really did intend to go to my ex-apartment (Harm chuckled), but when I got the chance to leave a few hours earlier, I was on the plane before the pilot was, and here I am.”

“Are you sure? I don’t believe you. You just couldn’t wait to jump my bones, so you lied to me…Mac, how many times do I have to tell you I’m not ticklish.” Harm was having a difficult time trying to hold his laugher in. He finally pinned Mac’s arms behind her.

“Now, being ticklish is your style. I’ll offer you a deal.”

“A deal,” Mac said, cocking her head to get a better lock at Harm. Struggling not to giggle, she stared at him. “What kind of a deal?”

“If you stop tickling me, I won’t tickle you,” Harm said.

“Aha! So you are ticklish…wait…wait…okay, okay, no more tickling. Harm, are you as happy as I am?” Mac’s last question was quite serious.

“Happy? No. I’m delirious. I feel as if I’m fantasizing all this and that if I let you go, I’ll wake up and it was all a dream. I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am, Mac.”

“So am I,” Mac said, solemnly. She reached up and caressed his face. “You know, you are absolutely perfect.”

“How can I possibly be perfect when it took me, what, nine years to tell you how much I love you? That alone makes me a fool. But you, on the other hand, you’re the ultimate woman. I bet Venus, Aphrodite, and all the other goddesses of beauty and love envy you because you are so beautiful, and the way you make me feel when we are making love, well, they could take lessons from you.”

Mac had to laugh at Harm’s ridiculous comparison, but when she looked into his eyes, she realized that that was how he saw her. To him, she was the most beautiful woman in the world. She had her comeback.

“I bet even Narcissus would be jealous of your perfection, Harmon Rabb. You can name all the Greek, Roman, Norse and other mythological gods who were supposed to be the most beautiful, the bravest, and the best lovers and you could teach them a lot.”

"Narcissus? Mac, that guy was so vain, he fell in love with himself, and there are times I don't even like myself. The only one I love is you."

“Well, okay, let’s make it Apollo, oh, I know, the statue of David. Yep, you fit that one perfectly.”

“Boy, are you a kidder,” Harm said. “Hey, they were gods. The only time I feel like one is when you make me feel like one, and you are an expert at that, my beautiful Mac.”

“Come on, Harm, even the real David would be jealous of you. You make him look puny. Let's say you are much better...ah...endowed? And I bet none of them can fly an F14 or a Hornet,” Mac giggled. “Okay, it’s time to get serious. It’s getting late. We should be leaving soon. I’m anxious to meet this Aunt Eugenie.”

“Now I know why I love you so much. You truly do make me feel like a god. We better get going. I’d like to see if Mom and Dad will take a break and get some rest. You really think so, Mac?”

“Think what?”

“That none of them could fly a Tomcat or a Hornet?”

Mac jumped on him, looking into his eyes. Loving him this much was frightening, but it was also the greatest gift she had ever received. They kissed for a few seconds, then got up and started to get ready to leave.

During the long hours of making love, Harm had removed Mac’s engagement ring from the chain and placed it on her finger.

“Harm…I.”

“The general knows about us, Mac, and I’m tired of hiding our love. We don’t have to tell them that the ring is from me. Just tell them that you are engaged and very happy.”

Mac had looked at her ring, loving the feel of it on her finger. Even if General Cresswell knew, she had to talk to Harm first about something she had been thinking about for several weeks now. So, the ring was now on Mac’s finger, glittering everytime the light fell on the diamonds.

 

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3
 
 
   

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