12,000ft, 400nm SE of Norfolk
Harm put the conversation passed him, as he had put it past him when
he’d left JAG. No, that’s not quite right, he thought. When
you left JAG, you knew it was to take back something ripped from your
soul years before. Before he could be whole again, before he could
fully give himself to anyone in a relationship, he needed to mend the
tears not just from childhood, but from that fateful night on the deck
of a storm-tossed carrier. He needed to prove to himself, his peers and
the ghosts of his father and grandfather that he really was an aviator.
And before you left, he thought, you made a promise. Five
Yeah, well, her needs differed to his. He wasn’t entirely sure why he’d
backed off in Sydney, except that Mac was in vacation mode, looking for
a little fun, and he wasn’t going to ruin something as important as
their relationship on a fling. Yeah, it had been the Titanic.
Except he’d hit an entirely unexpected iceberg, one that was destroying
whatever it was they had.
He’d needed more time to get his head together. Good one, Rabb. And
she’d obviously needed more than a fling. A good man and an engagement
What in hell was wrong with him? Why was Mac, of all the women he had
ever know, so damned important to him that he was terrified of losing
her? So terrified, he’d stood idly by and let it happen. Ah, forget it.
He might loath Brumby, but whatever it was the man gave Mac, it was
making her happy. He himself couldn’t do that; therefore, he was not the
right guy for her. Her look in the elevator had hurt, but once she was
walking down that aisle, she’d forget all about it. And he’d be there,
no reason to believe otherwise.
For the most part, Harm was damned thankful that his quals had been this
weekend. He needed this time on the carrier to remind him what was
really important to him. JAG, yeah, sure, but half of him still lived
here, and nothing could ever take that away. It was like a drug. The
smell of jet fuel and burning rubber, the scream of engines, the
activity and camaraderie—even to an outsider like himself. The feel of
the Tomcat in his hands. He missed it. Not enough to want to come back
full time, but enough to feel it inject new life into him. Despite
wrangling with Paddles, despite the fact that he was there only to prove
himself to them, he thrived on the demands, because he knew he was good
at this. Despite accusations from various girlfriends—including
Jordan—he was not emotionally crippled. He felt. He hurt.
You’re a very interesting specimen, Commander. Does anyone ever get
Theresa’s words had struck home. Jordan had seen through him, but
despite his claim to doing so, he’d never let her get too close, either,
in case she saw how right she was. In fact, he’d never let the
women that he dated get too close, because that part of his life was
separate. It had to be. Annie knew that. Most Naval wives did.
Besides, Mac had always been there for him.
She’s good for you, she looks after you. Words that Mac had
spoken about Jordan.
You both do, he’d replied.
Harm chuckled as he recalled the night she’d spent in his apartment,
purportedly protecting him from Palmer, but in fact, needing his
presence, needing comfort as much as she was giving it.
Ah, forget it. He had made his choices in life, and if he had not always
gotten what he’d wanted, well, who ever did? He still got to ride fire
inside one of the world’s finest fighting machines. He still got to fly,
he still had the challenges of JAG, and he had friends, good friends. He
and Mac would be okay once she was married, especially now he knew that
he would be at the wedding on time.
And he could put that part of his life behind him and try to make a real
go of it with Renée.
But such thoughts were only a subtext running through his mind as he
watched the thunderheads. It would be a spectacular light show on the
way home. Then things fell apart—fast. No thoughts for anything but the
aircraft. Shit! He remembered listening to a dozen tapes of downed test
pilots. Hearing them calling out, not in desperation, but in systematic
detail, “I’ve tried A, I’ve tried B, I’ve tried C. And I’ve tried every
known possible combination. Tell me what to do next?” as they augured
into the ground.
In the seat behind him, Skates was doing that with him, trying every
know combination, every sequence in the book, but this bird had serious
issues about staying in the air. She wasn’t just sick, she was dead and
Harm doubted that he could have nursed her home even without the
thunderstorm. At least they’d had the time to run through everything, to
know they weren’t screwing the pooch. The aging machine had failed them.
Yet, he almost regretted the fact that they had time to consider the
reality of punching out. Too much thinking about that could—
“Harm, I’m not a strong swimmer,” Skates finally broke past her
professionalism to voice her fears.
“Just remember your survivor training. I’ll see you down there, Skates,
you have my word on that!” He had also made a promise to another woman,
a promise he was about to break. Mac would be even more pissed at him.
He waited for the shocking sensation to catapult him up into the storm,
felt more than heard the canopy blow, the secondary explosive impact as
Skates ejected. Seconds passed. Crap! Eject damn you! He could see
glimpses of the waves, even from this height. This bird really was dead.
He reached down and manually ejected himself, hoping there was
sufficient height for the ‘chute to open.
A moment’s pain of shock and disorientation, slamming up, head smashed
from side to side, lightning and cold, rain pounding him. But he reacted
instantly. Short drop, almost too short—shroud lines entangled. Fuck!
Once he hit, in these sea conditions the ‘chute would be like a drogue,
dragging him under. Can’t orientate! Get the helmet off; get free of the
damned thing! But the shock of impacting on the water had not been as
bad as finding himself entangled.
Years of free diving in the Bahamas, and emergency training, kicked in.
The taste of air. So sweet, despite the lashings of salt spray. But his
leg, his knee wrenched agonizingly sideways, then pulled under before he
could more than taste life. Cold. God it was cold! His ears and
sinuses squeezing as the water pressure increased and the pain in his
Dripping with water, his white blouse muddied and stained, Bud’s words
captured their attention. “I’ve spent a lot of time this year tying to
figure out why things happen the way they do—”
Cut the lines! Thank God he hadn’t dropped his knife. Harm felt the
pressure change as he exploded through the surface of the ocean and
inhaled life, crying aloud as he did—
“…yours, like any right union on this planet, was a matter of destiny.”
Mac tried to push the feelings aside as she raised her glass in a toast.
Nerves, that’s all. Her wedding was tomorrow, and the practice ceremony
was supposed to have settled her nerves! Yeah, okay, so why did Bud’s
words about destiny sending a chill down her spine? Was it the courier
bag that the Admiral had handed her just after he arrived? Whatever. It
could wait. Her wedding was only hours away. She smiled and gently held
Mic’s arm. This was her wedding, her time to get everything she had ever
Despite herself, she was still angry with Harm. Flying was his standard
fallback position. Any excuse, but this one always worked so well. He
had picked this weekend deliberately. Why? Because he wanted to punish
her? He really had no idea how much his meant to her, how important it
was to her to make this next step in her life.
She would not let him do this to her. This was her time and if he wanted
to be an asshole, okay. Fine. And yet, as Bud spoke, Harm’s words struck
home. Belittle his flying, then demand he give it up to watch her marry
someone he barely tolerated? Fact is, he was right about losing her, and
he knew it better than she had. Marriage wasn’t just about a ring, it
was about giving up the single life—and that meant a large chunk of her
life with him.
I don’t want to lose you.
He didn’t want to lose her, but not in that way, because in that
way he wasn’t ready to have anyone, let alone lose them. So, why in hell
had he kissed her? A momentary visceral need? A…carrot dangled? She
shook her head in confusion. She had kissed him and after all, he was
just a guy. Nice going, Sarah. What exactly was it that she
wanted from Harmon Rabb? Was she trying to hard to cling to her life as
a single woman? Was Mic right, was she just reluctant to put the past
behind her and settle down to married life?
She couldn’t have it both ways. And she had made her decision. But it
still troubled her, and her eyes kept returning to the courier bag,
drawn like a moth to a flame. And why the hell do I feel so jittery?
It was just so damned cold! Harm tried to set his watch bezel. In these
temperatures, four hours, tops, he figured. A countdown to what remained
of his life. At least his leg would start to numb soon, but the freezing
rain on his face just aggravated the bruises and gash he’d sustained
from the ejection. And through it all, the constant fear for Skates.
Jesus, they’d been through too much for him to let her down now! But the
dark and cold. Constant battering of waves in his face. And she’d
punched out at least sixty seconds before him. I’ll see you down
there. He almost laughed at the arrogance of that statement. He was
an ant on a heaving, angry, living mountain of icy cold. She could be a
hundred feet or a hundred miles away, and he couldn’t do a damned thing
to help her.
Another wave crashing over him. He could take that okay, take it
indefinitely. Salt water in his face and a leg that shot white shafts of
pain to the top of his skull every time he tried to use it…but jeez it
would help if he could see the waves coming! Lightning. He rubbed the
salt of the sea and blood from his eyes. The survival procedures sucked,
damned near everything had gone wrong!
Skates! C’mon honey, you can do it. You’re stronger than you
How long? He tried to concentrate, work backwards. Half an hour was the
best he could hope for. Half an hour to get used to the constant
thrashing, the water he was gulping. Maybe if he counted the waves, it
would give him an idea of their periodicity. Give him time to wipe his
eyes, hope that lightning would illuminate the sky as he floated on the
crest of a wave.
But the seas that night were erratic, as erratic as the damned storm.
Mac would have his balls.
“Would you like to add anything, Admiral?” Bud asked when Chegwidden
walked back into the room. He’d been called away by the phone.
When Mac thought about it later, all that she’d heard of the Admiral’s
reply, was, “Captain Ingles, Patrick Henry, bingo to Andrews,” and “went
down at sea.”
Harm looked at his watch again, but the salt spray blurred his vision.
He was shivering uncontrollably and getting tired, and the pain was
taxing him, and he was trying to fight to keep his head out of the
water. The first stages of hypothermia were setting in. Damned raft
wasn’t helping, just hindered his ability to move and causing even more
pain in his leg. He should know better. He should just sit back, stop
trying to swim, conserve his energy, but if he could just let his leg
lose in the water, it would support it. Instead, being in the raft just
thrashed it around.
Thunder. Lights. Every sound was a chopper, every flash of light, a
strobe imagined. The cloud base was getting lower. Shit. If he died out
here, Mac would never forgive him. He’d ruin her wedding.
Time passed. Fight the waves…ah hell; let it go, stop confining me! The
raft—abandoned. The cold becoming pain superseding the pain in his leg
“Dammit! Stop fighting me!” he cried out. “I have to get you out of
there!” He held him close as artillery fire exploded nearby. Fucking
Germans. Six of them had ganged up on them, tearing their plane’s
fabric-covered wings to shreds. They’d taken four out, two apiece, then
the fifth had come out of the sun. He’d cut the bastard Hun’s tail plane
to shreds, but then his gun had jammed. He’d got it going again, but the
synch was all wrong and he’d blown his prop into shrapnel fragments that
flew backwards, tearing half his cheek and one ear off. He’d hardly
noticed in the bitter cold. Then he’d watched Murphy’s plane go down,
oil and smoke erupting. He’d managed to half glide his own wrecked
aircraft to land near where Murphy’s had cracked up, just avoiding the
spotter balloons. He hadn’t realized until it was too late, that they
had come down in the middle of the god-damdest biggest fucking battle of
the whole fucking war!
He made it out in one piece—well, except that he could feel the wind
whipping through his face and straight into his throat. He didn’t dare
put his hand up to find what he already guessed, that half his face was
missing. And his leg hurt like hell, but he couldn’t actually see
anything wrong with it. All he could think of was getting to Murphy.
“C’mon buddy! You’re not gonna die on my. Jenny’d tear my heart out!”
Murphy cracked a smile, coughing on the blood. “She always had a soft
spot for you, Jay. But that pretty boy face of yours isn’t looking too
good about now.” The trickle of blood coming from his mouth had become a
Harm’s face began collapsing in tears. He was only eighteen and his best
friend, the man that had taught him to fly, who in another lifetime he
would come to know as AJ, was dying in his arms. He’d lost both of his
sisters, woman in another time he would call Theresa and Diane, to the
shocking horror of Swine Flu. While thousands had died in the trenches,
tens of thousands had succumbed to a tiny killer back home. It wasn’t
fair! None of it was fair!
Why God? Why must I live a hundred life times without her in
But the exploding shell had found its mark and sent him into oblivion…
…to wake with the soulful eyes of an angel watching over him. His face
was on fire, his body frozen.
He blinked through the pain and reached out to touch her face. “Mac,” he
whispered. “I found you. I waited, God so many years I waited for you!”
“Anglaise?” she asked, frowning.
He blinked and took in her habit…and almost laughed in disbelief. A nun!
A Belgian nun! Dear God, was this some sort of cosmic joke, to have come
so far and—
Her head exploded in blood and gore, filling his mouth with salt, and
his chest exploded in agony as the soldiers came and—
“Why would he be flying in this weather?” Renée cried.
AJ’s sympathetic eyes slid to Mac. “Harm was trying to get back in time
for the ceremony.”
Mac felt the edges of her vision blur. Aren’t you going to wish me
luck? But she drove the thoughts away as she stood and talked to the
maitre d'. Moments later, he brought the telephone into the room, to be
hooked up to the speaker ‘phone.
Words. Reassurances. Then Singer, “Now he has a better reason to come
back. He has someone to come back to. ” Her eyes traveling to Renée.
Of course. For this is the way it was meant to be. Forever apart.
Destiny. Snatching her bag, Mac escaped into a private room, and
stood staring outside into the rain. A hundred miles away, Harm was out
there, alone in an unforgiving ocean. Not even he could survive this.
Hope might spring eternal for some, but she was too much of a realist.
She knew how badly these operations could go even in the best of
conditions. But tears would not come; for it seemed that destiny had
once more played its cruel hand. Why? Why must it always end this
Her thoughts jumbled; then the white patch on the table caught her eyes.
The courier envelope. Her hands moved before she could think. She tore
it open and pulled out a note from McCabe attached to an enlarged
photographic image of an old Daguerreotype. She took it over to the
lamp…and her fingers clenched in disbelief.
No! It was not possible! A trick of the light as the lightning erupted
But her fingers traced the face of Commander Alexander Mackenzie. The
features, so sharp, rough contours and flat planes of the earliest
photographic images. Take away the muttonchops and cut his hair and it
could be… No! Then eyes had automatically sought his and
her knees almost buckled in disbelief. A dream become reality.
The lightning flashed again and abruptly, the resemblance vanished.
She breathed again. It was just his eyes. Alight with intelligence and
mischief. The eyes of a potential buccaneer? His uniform—could it be the
Boson’s mate? Had she known that her letters would hang the one
she loved so much?
The image slipped from Mac’s fingers as the tears finally came. What did
it matter now? A hundred and fifty years later, that her words had
Had her words killed him…again?
She could not turn to face Mic when he walked into the room. “Come back
out, Sarah. You should be with those who love and support you. Sarah?”
Had she killed him? Had Mackenzie really murder him back then? Oh
God, what had they done?
“Aaaah!” He screamed, vomiting the ocean from his lungs, burning his
throat. He had passed out. A nightmare—God; he could not fall asleep!
Sleep was his mortal enemy. Harm spat out the bile and vomit and salt.
Where in hell was the raft? If they spotted that first and found it
empty, it was all over. He checked his watch again. Skates was closer to
the ship. They would find Skates first and take her to safety. He rubbed
his eyes. The cloud cover was alive with lightning strikes. One hell
of a storm, Mac. I hope the weather clears in time for your wedding
tomorrow, but hey, you know what they say about rain at weddings.
It had rained then, too. And he had hidden in the church nave. She
thought that he would not know she was to be wed, but his father had
told him. Of all the men she could have chosen. And yet, he understood.
Mackenzie was not an unfair captain, not as bad as some, although the
scars on his back might speak differently.
She was so beautiful; his heart was swollen with pride. So much like
Dianna, and yet, so different. A headstrong girl who ran and played like
a boy, but who had grown into a woman as beautiful as her dead sister.
He clenched his jaw and held his tongue when Mackenzie took her hand.
The way he looked at her. That Mackenzie would take her in such a
manner that he had known of whores—it tore at his very soul. He would
never touch her in that way, though such thoughts and desires had
troubled him much on those nights he could not sleep, but held her
oilskin wrapped letters close to his breast.
There had been other women, too. Not whores, but dark skinned exotics
that knew nothing of his land. Islands in the South Seas where such
pleasures as never dreamed of could be found in their arms. Sweet and
clean. It would have been that way between them, the sweetness a
thousand fold, for their love would fire a greater passion. He
understood how hard it was to return to the streets of New York, where
the dreaded pox and cholera raged. Where beauty was shrouded in filth
and the laws of ‘civilized’ mankind.
Ah! Give him those uncivilized worlds in exchange for the pain of
watching her kiss him. Such thoughts were not mere treason, but
treachery. He turned his face aside and wept without tears. Perchance he
might see her again, when next their ship sailed. She would come to the
dock and he would take in her beauty and hold it in his heart, as he
held her letters—all that remained of their once sweet, innocent love.
The one possession he held now that his father was gone.
In the safety of her office back at JAG, Mac tried to inject some reason
into her thoughts, grasping onto it like a life raft in the storm, as
Mic had tried to grasp her hand. She could not go through with the
wedding now, even if Harm was found alive and well, he’d be hospitalized
with injuries and hypothermia. Too long had passed. Mac glanced at the
courier bag she’d tossed on her desk. That mystery no longer mattered.
The names of the hung bluecoats had been hidden from Elizabeth Mackenzie
until after the court-martial. Had she but known then… She was as
helpless now as she had been then to prevent his death.
“What!” Mac sat up, startled. God, she was losing her mind. She had to
get a grip. Had to face the cold, hard facts.
“I asked, any luck yet?” Chloë said.
“Close the door,” Mac replied tiredly, and apologized for not paying her
enough attention. No, Harm was not invincible. Heroes really did die.
Over and over. Every time through countless years.
“I thought you would be trying to find him!” Chloë said, confused.
“Chloë, he’s in the middle of the ocean,” she replied despondently.
“No! I meant like when you found me, when I was thrown by my horse!”
A glimmer of hope, a crack in destiny. Maybe this time… “I…I’ll try. I
was on a plane, dreaming. I saw lightning hit a tree.” But her fears
washed the images away. “I can’t do this. I need your help!”
“We need your help, Mr. Cromwell, are you with us?” Spencer asked. “You
are as good a man as the boson, we both know that! And the captain, I’ve
seen it in his eyes. He has you in his sights, for reasons that I cannot
Harm swallowed. His letters, gone, taken from him by Mackenzie as his
shirt was stripped for a flogging. Another flogging for no reason other
than he had been jostled and spilled some rum on the man’s boots! He had
accepted his loss, for Elizabeth was not meant for one such as he. But
since the morning after his lashing, he had caught Mackenzie watching
him with eyes ablaze. Could the captain have intuited the truth?
“You speak of treachery, Sir,” Harm replied. “Something I cannot be a
But Spencer only smiled. “You have sailed on this ship many years. You
know the places of which I speak, where a free man can have anything—anyone—that
he desires, to do with as he pleases. Soft, tender flesh to taste the
sweetness of! I have heard of your reputation amongst the men. You do
not touch the whores of New York, but save yourself for the sweet
pleasures of these exotic fair.”
Cromwell’s eyes darkened. But Spencer was a midshipman, the oldest of
the midshipmen aboard. A man in his early twenties, whereas the others
were little more than children. Something that Spencer found most
amusing…and amused by. For Harm/Cromwell had seen how Spencer used two
of them, as a man would a woman. Except Spencer exacted a cruel price,
for each boy had been ordered flogged the next day for some petty
offense. And Spencer had stood by, handling himself, ecstatic as the
blood and flesh was flayed from their children’s’ backs. Then Spencer
would demand from them again that night that they bend for him, while he
took his pleasure from them once more, savoring their wounds, licking at
them like a rabid dog.
Harm/Cromwell had heard talk, too, of money spent ashore, at places
where boys and whores were known to disappear. Spencer had plied rum and
money on his friends, encouraging them to such acts as were unnatural to
man. But none would speak of such, except to acknowledge that Spencer
had tastes that befitted those of buccaneers. Of rape and blood and pain
and cruelty. As much as Harm/Cromwell might have hated Mackenzie, when
the captain had ordered floggings, he had also ordered that the men’s
wounds be tended to and the men given time to recover before being
ordered back to duty.
And Elizabeth had found love in Mackenzie’s arms. Harm would not deny
her that, no matter the cost.
But he also knew that if he spoke out against Spencer now, he might not
learn of the man’s plans. Better to pretend to go along, then he could
report it to the captain. “Perhaps you have my interest, Sir,” he
replied. He would do this, to protect Elizabeth from pain.
“…an empty raft, I don’t have to tell you what that means,” Ingles said.
All hope lost. Again. Mac heard the next few words, but they were
meaningless until Ingles added, “Blame it on timing.”
What kind of perverse hand had fate dealt her, to give her such a sense
of time passed, then toss a giant spanner in the mechanism by the name
of Harmon Rabb? “That’s one area of my life I never question, Sir.”
She wandered for a while, but she had been conditioned by the Marines to
take hold of her life. She had to get out of her head, get back to her
world. Find Mic, he was her anchor. Safe, solid, dependable in his
devotion and love for her. She stood and went to him. It was not until
much later that she realized what had so surprised him. She had kissed
him. It was true, she never kissed him first, she had only ever
responded to his passion.
The dropping flares caught Harm’s eye and instinct took over. But his
hands her so cold, he could hardly inflate the SAR buoy. His lips,
hardly able to move. His voice, torn with salt water. But the strobe,
surely they could see the strobe! He checked his chronometer as he
called, over and over...
“Time’s up, mate,” he could hear Brumby’s voice, see his sneer. “She’s
all mine, now.”
No! Damn it, fire, damn you! He tossed the worthless flare aside and
felt for his weapon. One last chance. He couldn’t do this to her,
couldn’t go and ruin her wedding like this! He’d promised and he’d never
made a promise yet that he hadn’t kept. Lift and squeeze, squeeze. The
sound shattering the night, unheard just a few feet away. But they would
see the muzzle; they had to! I’m coming home Mac. I might be a little
late for the wedding, but I’ll be there. I promised. I just want you to
The sound of the approaching helicopter grew loud as the spotlight
filled his vision. Good thing, too, otherwise Mac would really be
pissed. He felt the man fall on top of him, the harness around his chest
and waist, then the frightening bitterness as wind whipped through his
wet clothes and if possible, made him even colder. Wind-chill, his mind
supplied, then the coldness took him away.
He looked down at Rabb’s shattered leg. It reminded him of London.
Buildings ablaze, sirens announcing the all clear. Yeah, clear all
right. Clear to tear our hearts out, to find the limbs of children and
loved ones, those that were not buried alive beneath the burning rubble.
Clear to let the smoke and ashes burn our eyes. Clear to let me bury my
wife and children—or what remained of them. Mac was gone again, as was
Chloë and baby Theresa, for in this lifetime, they had been his
daughters. His mother, Diane, also dead, along with his brother, who he
would one day call AJ. All gone now.
Rabb had been a good buddy. Harm laughed without humor. Here he was,
writing off his best buddy before the guy was even dead. Well, what the
heck, he was dead, too. No way was anyone going to reach them in this
“Sarah,” Rabb croaked.
“Hey, pal,” Harm replied, almost lost in his own delirium. Rabb would
one day be his grandfather and Sarah, his grandmother, but he had to
leave them now, just for a little while. Just a few years, this time.
Harm frowned. That was not his name in this lifetime. This time he was
Casey Winchester. Harm Senior was just a child, Rabb’s child…who would
not be his father until years in the future. He shook his head; it was
so confusing. This time, the man in the cell with him had a sister, Mac.
They had come together in this life, this time, only to meet in passing.
It is so heartbreaking to wait. Oh God, I miss you! For the last
time we both died in a hail of German bullets.
He opened his eyes. He could see them running with him, a corpsman was
talking. How could they have found them? A Japanese hospital? But Japs
didn’t treat POW’s. Better to die. Next time, he promised.
Next time it will be different Mac, I promise.
“I’m not getting through to him!” the corpsman said through gritted
Commander, stay with me!
Skates pulled herself across. She wasn’t going to let him go, not this
time. Not again. She owed him more than that! “Can I try, doctor? He
They all looked at her. It might help, hell, right now it was their only
Skates leaned over him. “Harm, Harm! Hey, it’s cold down here and I need
you. I can’t do this by myself. C’mon!” She refused to let him
die. “You promised me you’d be there! I’m holding you to that! Now I
don’t swim well,” she cried, tears choking her voice. She could almost
sense his willingness to die, to leave them.
“Commander, you hear me?” she shouted. “Take that thing off!” Skates
demanded, motioning to his oxygen mask. It would not breathe life into
him, only his sense of duty could do that. She ignored her own screaming
injuries as she climbed onto his bed and leaned in close, pulling her
face to his, desperately trying to reach him. “Save me!” she whispered
into his mouth.
“Uh..h..” He could hear his sister’s voice, calling, but it was so far
“Don’t let go…don’t let go!”
She needed him…he had promised. And a promise was a promise. “H…Hi…I
can’t… breathe!” he croaked.
He heard her apology, her soft laugh, then the pressure from his chest
was gone. “Have…we made it?”
“You’re going to be okay.”
“Wow,” Harm whispered. “What’s in that?” he asked as the nurse added
something to his drip.
“The good stuff,” she grinned. “Take away the pain, Commander. And we
need that swelling to go down so you’ll get your memories back.”
He closed his eyes. “Givin’ me some wild dreams.”
She chuckled; the commander was still flying. “That’s normal.”
He didn’t want to sleep again. The last time he’d woken, the producer
had been standing over him, Renée. It was nice, but it didn’t…feel
right. Mac and the others though, that was right. They’d always been
Every time. Souls traveling through time together, changing, but always
together, throughout eternity, for that’s how long they had to wait.
He slept, but this time, there were no dreams.
And woke again, hungry. Things were a little less confused, and he began
to remember. Only problem was, they were mixed up with some pretty
bizarre images. About the fields over France, and a Japanese hellhole.
He shook it off; he had a few bad experiences of his own in prison
cells, with the Chinese playing mind games on him. Add a potent cocktail
of drugs and it was no wonder he was loopy.
Over the following days, he recovered his memory completely, and the
strange dreams were consigned to the fog of the past. Renée, he
remembered. And the wedding. He wasn’t surprised that Mac hadn’t come to
see him after that first day. She had every right to be madder than hell
at him, despite her assurances that it didn’t matter.
But he couldn’t help feeling like he’d had a stay of execution, and that
that’s why the strange dreams had left him. He was glad when Renée
called by and said she had to go out of town for a week. He just wanted
to concentrate on getting better, and the way Renée had fussed over him,
her hurt looks and reminders to him about how he’d forgotten her but not
Mac… Hell, what did she expect? He’d known Mac a lot longer.
Years longer. Traveling together for all eternity.
“Hey, sailor,” Mac said, smiling as she came in the following morning.
“Hey yourself,” he said smiling, ridiculously pleased to see her.
A shadow passed her face. She replied, “At work.”
He rocked his head in understanding. Besides, he didn’t expect Brumby
would fall over himself to come by, although he had appreciated that
first visit, even from him. “Listen Mac, I’m real sorry I wrecked your
“No! C’mon Harm, it’s not your fault,” she replied, going to him and
sitting on his bed. His hand was nearby and she reached out and clasped
it gently. She felt him squeeze it in reply. “They’ve found some of the
wreckage. Looks like a major systems failure.”
“Yeah, I heard. Well, we’ll see,” he replied. But he wasn’t too worried.
He’d been over it a dozen times in his mind. They’d followed everything
by the book, and then some. He knew he might get flack over his
post-ejection procedures, but dammit! Ejections rarely went by the book.
She smiled gently at him and said, “How’s your memory?”
“Yeah…it’s getting there,” he said with a grin, but it faded as he
added, “Listen, about what I said before, about you thinkin’ twice about
who your were marrying—”
“Harm,” she interrupted, squeezing his hand. “I…I should never have
dismissed your flying like that. I know how much it means to you and
your quals were scheduled before my wedding. I just, I wasn’t thinking
about anyone but me right then, and that’s not fair to you, or anyone.”
He smiled. “Harriet did warn me.”
Mac grinned. “Yeah.”
“So, when’s the big day?”
H didn’t miss the look on her face, but she replied, “Let’s get you
better first, okay? Maybe next month.”
Her eyes begged him not to ask anything more. “Okay,” he replied slowly.
“I should be outta here in another week.”
They talked of other things, of ongoing cases and investigations until
he asked, “What about the Somers? Anything break on that yet? I
never did see the autopsy results.”
“Commander Coulter is dropping by this afternoon. She’ll go over it with
“All right.” He nodded; his eyes not leaving her face. “Mac, what is it?
What else about the case is bothering you.”
“Apart from the obvious?” she replied with a stiff smile.
“Did you find out more about the letters?”
“Yeah Harm, I did. It looks like Elizabeth Mackenzie was the
woman who wrote them. McCabe checked her background, and ran them
against he handwriting of letters she was known to have written to her
husband. The FBI agents ran a check, too. Their calligraphy experts
confirmed it, and the paper, ink and sealing wax on the envelope came
from the same source.”
“How come you involved the FBI?” He tried to keep the concern from his
voice, but the strange dreams that haunted him patrolled the edges of
his memory, like shadowy wraiths.
“Mulder kept calling me, chasing up the history of the Somers.
For some reason,” she laughed nervously, “Agent Mulder seems to think
there’s a connection to the current murders.”
He hadn’t been able to stop himself from grasping her hand.
Her eyes narrowed. “What is it, Harm?”
Taking measured breath, he replied, “What about the daguerreotypes, any
luck there?” She blanched. Now it was he who frowned and asked, “Mac?”
She laughed nervously. “It’s nothing, just…yeah, McCabe dug up one of
the ship’s crew. He’s chasing down a later daguerreotype, of Elizabeth
Removing her hand from his, she stood and bent down to her briefcase.
When she handed Harm the black and white photo, her fingers shook.
He sat examining it for a long time. He didn’t have to be told who
Spencer and Cromwell were. He muttered, “I remember.”
“What?” she demanded, sitting on his bed again.
He looked up, his eyes haunted, but he tried to dismiss it with a shaky
laugh. “I guess I’d been reading too many of those old newspaper
reports. When I was in the water, I must have dreamed about it. About
He handed her back the photo. “It’s nothing. It was the cold and a knock
on the head.”
“Harm, please, don’t shut me out.”
Biting his lower lip, he held her eyes with his. Of all the people that
he knew, Mac would probably be the one who most understood. “I can’t
shake this feeling that I was there, like maybe I was seeing ghosts on
Swallowing, she nodded and asked, “What led you to the forecastle that
Picking up the photo again, he pointed to Alexander Mackenzie.
“You…you saw him?”
“Not exactly, not like…”
She nodded. “Go on.”
“It was kind of like Mackenzie was trying to make amends. Like he had
done something right, but also, a wrong, and he was trying to redeem
“By showing you the remains of some dead kids?”
Harm tossed the photo aside. “I don’t know Mac. It sounds crazy.”
But she brought her hand to his face, tenderness in her voice as she
said, “It worked before, when you were trying to find your father.”
Angry with himself, now, he snapped, “Well then who am I trying to find
this time?” Before he realized it, Mac had taken her in his arms as she
had before, and held him close. He closed his eyes for a moment, taking
sanctuary in the feel of her arms. But when he opened them again, he saw
Mic Brumby standing at the door, watching them. Watching him.
Reluctantly, he withdrew from Mac and said, “Hey, Mic, how’s it going?”
Brumby swallowed and tried to compose his features. “Office told me you
were here,” he said as Mac turned and stood.
“Yeah, come to take me to lunch?”
The Australian opened his mouth to reply when Theresa Coulter walked in.
“That’s quite a story, Harm,” Theresa said.
Outside, the sky was darkening. The FBI agent, Mulder, had left a
half-hour before, taking the reproduction of the Daguerreotype. He
intended to have Spencer’s face enhanced and rendered. “Yeah, well.”
Harm laughed in self-depreciation. “I was almost dead. Lot of weird
things go through your head when you’re bobbing around the ocean in the
middle of a storm, Tess.”
Theresa looked at him carefully. He knew that she had something of a
crush on him, but was already too complicated to think much about it. “I
didn’t see the FBI agent laughing,” she said.
“He might not have taken me so seriously if he’d heard the other stuff.”
“You’d just crashed your plane, Harm.”
“And that makes it okay to remember two previous lifetimes when I’d
“And Christ said in the church of Smyrna, Behold... the devil shall
cast some of thee into prison that you may be tried... you'll have
tribulation for ten days. Be thou faithful unto death and I'll give thee
a crown of everlasting life.”
He rolled his eyes and looked at her, but she replied calmly, “You’ve
had these sort of experiences before, Harm. And they’ve paid off. And
Mac, she pinpointed your exact location.”
“My raft, not me,” he replied ruefully. Then he caught her eyes and
asked, “What if it were true, Tess, that we’re all just souls, traveling
in time, crossing paths at random, drawn to one another, only to lose
our way each time? What’s the point if it all keeps ending the same
“Maybe that is the point, Harm. Maybe we just have to keep
trying, until we get it right.” She sighed, patted his hand once and
stood to leave. “Get some rest. We’ll follow it up from here. And maybe,
when you get out, we can do as Agent Mulder suggested. Go down to the
Somers and you can tell us the rest of it.
North of Union Station
Harm couldn’t blame Renée for fussing, but he wished she’d settle down.
The trip home from the hospital, she’d talked non-stop, about her latest
projects, about her planned redecoration. About anything that would take
her mind off his mishap. She had always thought of him as a lawyer. The
aviator part was just decorative. She’d just been confronted by the fact
that his occupation ranked as one of the most dangerous in the world.
Which was exactly why Skates was going back.
And it was exactly why he couldn’t wait to get back in the saddle.
Well, maybe another month or two, once he could walk without a damned
cane. Still, if Chuck Yeager could break the sound barrier with a couple
of busted ribs…. He looked around his apartment, Renée still chattering
about carrying bags instead of caskets. It seemed a little weird
somehow, as if he hadn’t been there for years, not just two weeks. As if
he’d lived another lifetime in between. Then Renée started on this thing
with Mac again, and he snapped something in reply.
“Renée, I’m not mad,” he said as she made for the door. “I’m not mad.”
Just tired and sick and disorientated and just leave me a while to
work through this.
“He just can’t get past this…thing….with us,” Mac said when she walked
out of his door a few hours later.
While a part of Harm felt the burdens of a dozen lifetimes lifted from
his soul, her words still didn’t make it right this time. “Maybe it’s
because we can’t get past it,” he replied, holding her eyes. He wanted,
needed to talk to her this time. The lifetime. No more dancing around
But she was gone. Again. And the damned painkillers and just getting
readjusted to being back in his apartment had tired him out. He lay down
on the bed, wondering when she would call.
If she would call. He started to fall asleep when the telephone rang,
and her pain gushed out.
“Come to me,” he replied.
“Don’t argue with me.”
“I need a better reason!”
“You know the reason…I’m waiting.” He could no longer go through this
lifetime without her in it.
But once more, duty dictated the terms of his life, as it so often had
in the past. And when he got back from the funeral for Renée’s father,
Mac had gone.
17the December 2001
Falls Church, Virginia
Weeks passed. Renée finally settled for what she wanted—a man who would
commit. That’s what Mac had wanted, too. He was batting one hundred
percent here: Annie, Jordan, Renée…and Mac. Except that when he finally
thought he might be able to get it right, Mac hadn’t been willing to
listen. Yet equally, he understood why. Mac needed to find herself
first, before she could deal with anything else. He knew that one all
The events on board the Somers had long been forgotten, for the
FBI had hunted down and caught their man. Unfortunately, or fortunately,
depending on how you looked at it, Agent Mulder had blown the guy’s head
off when he’d been cornered. The only photo of the deceased suspect was
a decade old. But it was enough to shoe that the similarities were
uncanny. Mulder had never revealed, at least not in any report that Harm
saw, where he’d got an artist’s rendition of the suspect. But to Harm,
it was as clear as the image on the Daguerreotype. The killer, Robert
Edvard, could have been the reincarnation of Spencer, the disturbed son
of a despotic, sadistic Secretary of the Navy back in 1842.
Mac had returned from Indonesia, then Harm managed to shove his foot
half way down his throat with a conversation to Sturgis at the
elevators. Shit, what was it about elevators and faux pas with Mac? He
always ended up pressing her buttons instead. But they somehow got past
that and at the end of the race that they’d tied, he’d suggested to Mac
that they take their relationship back to the beginning.
It seemed a singularly adolescent thing to say, but after all they’d
been through together, and separately, it also seemed to be the only
thing that made sense. They needed to recapture the easygoing trust and
camaraderie they had once had, before heading off into uncharted
territories. At least now, he reasoned; they had acknowledged a deeper
affection for one another than the normal bounds of partnership.
Then duty called and he’d been obliged to go to China. When he got back,
they were both up to their eyeballs in work, but at least when they did
see each other, the easygoing banter was there. Now he was back, Mac was
in town, and their workload was lightening up because of the Christmas
break. He figured the new year might give them time to work at this. In
fact, with Chloë arriving in a few days, maybe he could suggest they do
something together, something that would give Mac whatever space she
needed, chaperoned by her little sister. He glanced outside at the snow.
Maybe something as adolescent as his suggestion weeks before, something
like…ice-skating in the park.
He glanced at his watch. Mac would be in anytime now. What the hell,
he’d ask. If nothing came up in the meantime— His telephone rang.
“Commander,” said Tiner, “There’s a Joshua McCabe on the line. He asked
to speak to the Colonel or you, sir.”
“Put him on, Tiner,” Harm said. He barely noticed that his grip on the
telephone had tightened, and that his stomach muscles had started to
“Commander,” McCabe began, “Colonel Mackenzie mentioned your interest in
the Somers, and your name came up again when the FBI agent’s were
doing a follow up with me on the Edvard case.”
“Yes, Mr. McCabe. The Colonel’s due in any time, can I take a message?”
“Well,” McCabe replied excitedly. “I’m sorry that it’s taken so long,
but I finally managed to find a photograph of Elizabeth Mackenzie. Now,
I know that the Colonel insists that she is not related, but the
resemblance is…well, it’s uncanny! I’ve just couriered it across to her,
but I wanted to tell her first.”
The G’s started hammering the edges of his vision. Harm sat back in his
chair. “That’s very kind of you, Mr. McCabe. Did you find out anything
more about Elizabeth Mackenzie that might indicate she was the author of
the letters to Samuel Cromwell?”
“That’s what’s taken me so long. You see, this changes everything about
the case!” he replied excitedly. “It changes history! She had a sister
named Dianna, who died along with her mother, Theresa, when Elizabeth
was just fourteen. Her father died a year after she married Commander
Mackenzie, and she grew up on estate managed by a man named Cromwell. He
had a son the same age as Dianna. Now records show that he enlisted in
the Navy when he was just a boy. And yes, records also show it was
Samuel Cromwell, the boson’s mate whom Alexander Mackenzie hung, along
with Spencer and Elisha Small.”
But Harm was no longer listening. Between trying to quell the nauseating
sense in his gut, and the memories blurring his vision, he barely
noticed when a dark haired man and diminutive redhead walking across the
bullpen. Mulder and Scully, the FBI agents, then walked in his office,
trailed by Mac.
Taking a deep breath, Harm said, “Mr. McCabe, the Colonel has just
arrived now, I’ll put her on.”
He stood and motioned Mac into his office, nodding in recognition.
“McCabe,” he said to the agent, handed the ‘phone to Mac and motioned
for Harriet to bring in another chair.
While Mac was talking to McCabe, Harm took the time to collect his
thoughts. He’d dismissed the whole thing as a bad trip, an experience
brought on by hypothermia and emotional issues. Dead kids and losing Mac
to Brumby, things that had pressed his buttons, big time. But that’s all
His eyes turned to Mulder’s, and he saw in them someone haunted by a
past more troubled than his own. But he also saw determination. What was
it Walther’s had called him? An obsessive son of a bitch.
Mac was staring at him as she talked on the phone to McCabe, while
Scully looked less than comfortable being there. Another story there,
Harm thought, one he was not willing to probe.
When the call ended, Mac said to them, “He’s couriering the documents
across now, but…you already have copies?”
Mulder’s glance flicked between them. Opening the file case he’d brought
with him and lifted out the photographs. “Elizabeth Mackenzie,” he
supplied as he dropped the enlargement on Harm’s desk.
Harm supposed that he’d been expecting it, but it was still like a punch
in the groin. From somewhere, he heard Mulder’s voice.
“What?” he replied, absently, unable to take his eyes from the image.
“Commander, what else do you remember?” Mulder said.
“What do you mean by that, Agent?” Mac’s snapped, her voice, protective.
Mulder’s eyes never left Harm’s. “You found him using the Daguerreotype
of Spencer, didn’t you?” Harm asked him.
“It was an artist’s impression of an enlargement. Any resemblance was
purely—” Scully began.
But her partner turned on her. “You found the photo of Sullivan Biddle,
Scully. You were there!”
“Mulder, that’s not proof of—”
“There never is, is there?” he replied tiredly. “But absence of proof is
not proof of absence! You were there, you saw…and so did he.” His eyes
moved to Harm’s and held them. “You saw something that night, more than
what you told us in the hospital.”
Exasperated, Harm frowned.
“Look, Commander, this is off the record,” Mulder said, a desperate form
of entreaty lacing his voice. “Wouldn’t you like to know what really
happened on that voyage?”
“I would,” Mac’s voice was low but determined.
Okay, fine. Let’s get it out in the open, once and for all. “How do you
propose we find out?” Harm asked, not breaking his gaze with Mulder.
Harm blinked and frowned at the agent.
“You mean, past lives,” Harm replied skeptically.
Mac reached across and gently tapped the back of his hand with her
finger. “Harm, why is it that you always know where I am?”
He smiled at the memory. “Hey, you’re the one who found me in the middle
of the Atlantic.”
“Well, your life-raft,” she replied, grinning.
“Then you agree?” Mulder said.
“Whoa, whoa! Power back there, Agent. I’m not agreeing to anything like
that!” Finding out was one thing, but letting someone mess around with
his head—not gonna happen.
21st December, 2001
Washington Naval Base
“I’m talking to Samuel. It is the year of our Lord 1842,” said the
The dark cabin of the Somers was lit by lanterns. After the
bodies had been removed, the ship had been moved back to the Naval Base
for security purposes. It would open to the public some time in the new
Harm’s initial antipathy to hypnotherapy had tempered when Mulder had
admitted to having undergone the same regression technique. And that
anything they learned would be kept strictly confidential. Only one tape
would be made of the session, a tape that Harm alone would keep.
The therapist was contracted to the FBI and as much as she might liked
to have published her findings on these cases, she admitted that she was
content to apply what she learned, elsewhere. She had warned them at the
outset that many sessions would be necessary, but as Harm had agreed to
only one, suggested that doing so aboard the Somers might act as
Mac now sat in the shadows with Scully. She had no idea what this night
would bring, but her own strange talent had prevented her from being
skeptical at Harm’s past claims of seeing ghosts. Maybe Scully was
right. Maybe as trained investigators they instead put a myriad of
apparently unrelated pieces of information together and arrived at a
perfectly rational explanation. Like the way Harm had known where to
look for the bodies aboard the Somers that night.
Yeah, thought Mac. That would explain why Harm just happened to stumble
across a well-hidden book in the middle of an aircraft carrier that just
happened to have his father’s name listed. Or the way she just happened
to know the exact location of Harm in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
No, in this, Harm was as curious as she—that’s why he had agreed.
Harm’s glove was off and his sleeve pushed back, despite the fact that
it was snowing outside. The therapist had called it his anchor, a focal
point he could concentrate on, from which his soul could wander.
Whatever. But it had taken surprisingly little time for him to go under.
Even the therapist was somewhat perturbed. Mac pulled her overcoat
around her. It seemed colder down here than on the snow-covered deck.
“Tell me where we are, Samuel,” the therapist added.
Even with his eyes closed, a deeply saddened look crossed his face. “She
is so beautiful,” Harm said. “Standing there in her bonnet and shawl. So
like her sister in appearance, but oh, my love, so strong and headfast,
so uniquely herself.”
A flicker of a smile crossed Harm’s face, but it became burdened by
years of sadness. “She is Sarah, but in this lifetime I know her as
Mac felt her skin crawl, but then she also felt her heart leap. The way
he had used her name, like soft silk against the desert sand. But she
shook it off. Sarah was also the name of his grandmother.
“Is Sarah watching you, Samuel?”
“No. Mac does not know that I was transferred aboard the Somers
some two years past.”
Mac’s stomach clenched at that, but she said nothing when Mulder glanced
Harm/Samuel continued, “I did not tell her such for fear she might
inadvertently let slip to her husband something untoward. It is best she
never sees me again, for that is what she has written in her last letter
Scully scribbled something on a note and handed it to the therapist. The
woman frowned, but nodded and asked, “But if Sarah does not know you are
there, how is it that she wrote you?”
“My elder brother, Steven. The man I now call Sergei.”
Mac stifled a gasp. Harm continued, “He lives in New York, having found
a good life as a footman, with his wife, a second cook who works for the
governor, no less. Elizabeth charged her staff to take messages to
Steven’s wife, the woman I knew as Jordan.”
“Tell me of that day you left New York. Your last voyage,” asked the
Harm’s expressive face grew more troubled. “I watched her stand there
until we were put to sea, hiding behind my cap drawn low over my brow.
He watched her too, and I thought then that he did love her. But not as
I had, never as I had, for he could not possibly know what it was like
to wait so long, to love so deeply and yet, in each lifetime, to come so
close, then lose her yet again. We have been lovers only twice in a
hundred lifetimes, seeking each other out as only true lovers can. One
day, one day,” he cried sadly, moisture filling his closed eyes.
“The voyage,” he continued after a moment, “was like any other. It was
not uncommon for men to take men as women on such voyages. A privilege
understood by the officers and older seamen, especially amongst the
youngest and prettiest of boys, but a privilege not always taken.
Mackenzie was one such man that denied himself this…dubious pleasure. As
many of his officers also did. And for this, I admired the man even if I
“But Spencer.” Harm’s face screwed up in distaste. “I have known men
with tastes for boys whose pleasure was in their pain. To this foul
creature, it was a sweetness to hear their squeals. But his tastes ran
even more to the unnatural. Things he had honed while we were in Africa,
no doubt. Such matters were brought to the attention of the captain as
we made our way to the Caribbean. And he ordered them cease. But
Spencer,” Harm shook his head. “He had made his position know since the
day that he boarded. Currying favors with the men, given them his rum
ration and cigars. His insolence knew no bounds and it was clear among
the officers that he fostered this disrespect among the midshipmen, the
men for whom this voyage should have taught temperance and discipline.
Instead, they learned of nothing but debauchery and the promise of lofty
lives if they took the Somers for themselves.
“Word had reached us in Africa, before we set sail, of certain crimes
committed in the Washington just prior to our departure. Such things as
men like Spencer might have claimed. And indeed, he boasted of his
libertine ways and evil misdeeds as he fermented rebellion among the
crew. I had thought them fantasy, such was his wont to fantasize of
piracy, but it was now apparent that they were not.
“That eve, November eight, Spencer doled out his rum ration to some of
the men—once more directly disobeying the Captain. As luck would have
it, I was jostled by one now drunk men, who then dropped his cup and
scattered the remains on to the boots of Captain Mackenzie. For this, he
ordered twenty lashes for the guilty man—and four lashes to me for
clumsiness. I was of a mind to warn him then of Spencer’s plans, but
although I tried to speak out, he bade me hold my tongue lest he double
the lashes. Still, I made to speak, but he had me bound and gagged and
ordered eight hard strikes against me. And then,” Harm’s face took on an
edge of such pain that Mac wanted to go to him, but the therapist held
up her hand.
“Then, as they tore the shirt from my back, my packet fell to the deck.
I had carried it from my things that eve, to sit and drink my rum and
once more think of her, as was my wont on those winter eves. Seeing the
packet there, the Captain swept it up in one hand and demanded what it
was. But gagged, I had no reply. He tucked it into his waistcoat and
ordered my flogging to begin.
The pain,” Harm said, “was nothing to the loss of her letters. Many
times, I had thought to leave them in the safe hands of my brother, but
I could not bear to part with them, as I had parted with her. As I
recovered from my wounds three days later, Spencer came to me that very
night and took it that I would join him. But as I went to see the
captain to tell him of my concerns, I was arrested and thrown into irons
on the deck.”
Harm’s fist clenched until his knuckles turned white, his face torn with
frustration and bitterness. Mac had seen something of these emotions in
the past, but never so raw. Harmon Rabb had tempered his feelings, but
Samuel Cromwell had no mortal dignity to lose.
He was quiet for a time, then at the therapist’s urging, continued his
story. “Elisha Small had freely admitted to being part of Spencer’s
plan, as others too, saw reasoning in taking the ship for themselves.
But the officers were to a man loyal to Mackenzie. Most had family and
estates in Virginia and New York and few would have abandoned well-to-do
lives for the unknown future of pirates.”
“But when I met the eyes of the captain, I knew that he had read
Elizabeth’s letters. He took me aside and accused me of the same heinous
crimes as Spencer. Not just of libertine ways and mutiny, but inhuman
debauchery. For Spencer had admitted that I had indulged as such with
him, in the whorehouses of New York and Washington, and street brothels
of Africa. He had admitted—nee, boasted— of acts beyond that of
civilized man, to indulge in the sweet, succulent pleasures of Africa,
to mete out torture and death amongst the innocent. To Spencer, you see,
such things were not considered vile or inhuman, but things his father
knew of, and paid to cover up, in order to keep his son’s name from the
newspapers. But this last occasion, even his father could not hide. I
know the Captain determined to hang Spencer for many reasons, mutiny but
one. For if he were returned to New York, Mackenzie knew that the truth
would be revealed, and the Secretary’s good name besmirched as foully as
“That I had even known Elizabeth was an affront to Mackenzie. But that I
might be considered in her past affections, when I had committed
immortal sins against man and God… The captain had no choice but to see
me hang with Spencer. For if I were to return and be placed on trial,
the truth would be revealed and his wife’s good name dragged through the
mud and filth of my reprehensible actions.”
“Had he let me speak then, I feel I may have swayed the man. But his
hatred of me was beyond reasoning. And it was then that I suspected what
Elizabeth feared; in a moment of passion she did not cry his name, but
The lanterns flickered and died for no reason. Mac hardly noticed, for
her own cheeks burned red. It had never happened, but since that
night, she had feared that it might. And she now wondered if perhaps, in
her sleep, she had indeed called Harm’s name.
One small lantern remained burning, shedding just enough light to see
Harm’s face in sharp silhouette. “When I was to be hung, the captain
granted me one last word. But I said naught except that he was doing a
grave wrong, one that we would all do penance for, throughout eternity.
And at that moment I sent up a prayer, for one more chance that my life
was blotted out not so completely, but scattered wrecks enough of it to
remain dim memories… As now, when seems once more the goal in sight
again. Oh, Mac… Sarah, I miss you!” he cried in soft despair. “It
is so hard to wait!”
The darkened cabin was silent for some time. The therapist about to tell
Harm to open his hand, but then Harm/Samuel added the final words.
“Mackenzie died a shamed man, knowing the wrong he had committed against
both his God and me that day. And he knew that his necessary restitution
for his false judgment was to leave a fragment of his immortal soul in
the place where he committed his sin.
“We travel,” Harm’s voice faded to a mere whisper as his head rocked
forward and his fist slowly opened, drawing him back to the present.
“Together once more in this lifetime. Each time Spencer takes fewer
innocents, and one day, Mackenzie shall use me to stop him before he
begins. On that day, his immortal soul will rest and Spencer’s soul be
purged of evil. But it is too late for them, now, in this lifetime. I
just pray it is not to late for us.”
North of Union Station
22nd December, 2001
Harmon Rabb sat back from the television and switched off the VCR. If a
part of him wanted to dismiss what he’d seen as ninety percent
suggestion and ten percent a compilation of research, all woven into a
winter’s eve fairy tale told during a highly suggestive state of mind,
equally, he could not entirely dismiss it.
The FBI agents had left the night before—without the tape. Mulder had
seemed contented, less driven, while Scully dismissed it as, well, just
that, a story based on known facts and a highly suggestive state. But
there were too many details about that voyage that Harm knew he
had no knowledge of. The brutal murders of children found around DC soon
after the Somers set sail was something none of them had known.
But he’d spent this morning researching newspaper archives. Then Mulder
had called to confirm that the victims of a century and a half past, had
been discovered near the modern dumping sites. Most of the deaths back
then had been blamed on wild animals, only two had been considered
Now, they both knew the truth.
Whether Harm’s present actions were in some way guided by fragments of
his past soul, or fragments of Mackenzie’s, who could say for sure? But
something more than mere respect took him to the Wall whenever he was
troubled. He did not believe in ghosts, but he had silently saluted one.
He knew that his father was dead, but Harm also knew that he protected
him. He also knew that Mac had found him as he lay near death, adrift in
the Atlantic. Unlike Mulder, Harm didn’t need to question the forces
that guided him. Nor like Scully, did he need to rationalize them. He
took them as a guide, and had learned to respect them, that’s all that
“I have to go,” Mac said, standing. “Chloë’s flight will be landing
soon. You okay?” she asked, her eyes showing her concern.
He smiled lopsidedly and looked up at her. “Better than a high school
She smiled and squeezed his shoulder. “It was a beautiful story, Harm.
Whether it was true or not, doesn’t matter, because even without it,
there’s enough evidence to reopen the case and rewrite history.”
“Mackenzie wasn’t a…bad man, Mac,” he said reassuringly. “Just
“That’s why we have due process,” she replied. “See you tomorrow?”
He nodded. “Count on it.”
29th December, 2001
“What, no “’jammies?” Harm said as Mac opened her apartment door for him
to come in. She was dressed in lose jeans and a lightweight, open-necked
Mac tossed him. “Chlöe’s gone, Harm. And they weren’t pajamas exactly.
Thanks,” she added as she took the bags of Chinese takeout.
“Ah,” he replied with a knowing grin. “A girl thing.”
“Well, you guys bond over a corvette,” Mac replied as she took the bags
into her kitchen.
“I don’t mind bonding with girls in ‘jammies,” he replied innocently as
he removed his overcoat and cover.
“Red light, Sailor.” She tossed a chiding look over her shoulder. “So
how did it go with Jennifer?”
But he’d already caught the laughter in her eyes. He loosened his tie
and undid his uniform jacket as he replied, “Lieutenant Singer didn’t
seem to mind too much that PO Coates wasn’t tossed into Leavenworth for
the next fifty years. I think deep under that ambitious scowl may rest a
“Don’t bank on it,” Mac replied as she brought back a tray and plates.
“How’s Sergei settling in?”
“He’s doin’ okay,” Harm said, chuckling. “Getting addicted to America
real fast. So,” he said, settling down on her couch. “What do you want
to go over first?” They’d decided to work on a backlog of petty crimes
tonight, freeing them up for more serious criminal cases in the new
Mac sat on the floor opposite and opened the food containers. “How about
“Let’s get started,” he replied.
They spent the next few hours going over mostly misdemeanors, coming to
agreement on non-judicial punishment, when a phrase in one of the
transcripts jolted Mac’s memory. “Hey,” she said, sitting back and
stretching. “Want some coffee?”
Harm looked up and rolled his shoulder’s back. “Yeah.” Then he stood and
followed her into the kitchen, more to stretch his legs that anything
Preparing the brew, she asked, “You ever think about taking up that
therapist’s offer to regress you back to different time periods?”
He looked at her through lowered brows. “I have enough problems with
this life, I ain’t going to collect the problems of a dozen past ones.
Besides, I watched that tape, 1842 was all she could get out of me that
“You did try again, didn’t you?” She grinned knowingly.
“Well…once,” he conceded. “In her office. She couldn’t even get me into
a light trance, let alone full hypnotic state. I nearly fell asleep; I
was so bored. Frankly, a part of me was surprised she got what she did
on the Somers.”
“Why surprised?” Mac asked, handing him the coffee.
He turned and went back to the couch. “Jordan and I talked about
hypnosis once, in a case I was prosecuting. I remember her saying then
that no one, even nowadays, really knows what hypnosis is, and that I
was the lousiest candidate she’d ever met.”
“Why?” Mac sat down.
He shrugged and grinned. “Temperament. I have control issues.”
She shot him a knowing look over her cup. “Is that why you agreed to try
the first time, because you believed it wouldn’t work?”
Any amusement he felt vanished when met her gaze. “No,” he replied
softly. “No, because a part of me was also sure it would work—that one
“Mackenzie?” Mac prodded in a softer, knowing voice.
He nodded once and picked up the last file to work on. They’d been over
this, it was time to get back to work. “Falconer. Did you read her
Nodding in understanding, she replied, “No. I’ve only gone over the
charges. What have you got?”
“She states here that she put laxative in McClean’s hot chocolate to get
back at him. Apparently, he was supposed to go to, of all things, to her
daughter’s christening, because he was the godfather. But he was doing
is quals that weekend and...” Harm’s voice trailed off as he caught her
staring at him. “Hey!” he held up his hands defensively, “I didn’t ask
the Admiral for this case. This is the sort of stuff Singer normally
Mac just looked at him. “Not a good reason for giving the guy stomach
cramps that end up causing the loss of a ten million dollar helicopter.”
“No, no it isn’t.’ He glanced warily at her. “Not a good defense
“In fact, I’d call it an indefensible position. I mean, McClean might be
a reservist, but he is Navy and that comes first. Falconer’s a Marine,
she should have known better.”
“Still,” Harm conceded. “She was stressed out. Difficult pregnancy, her
own exams coming up. As her best friend, he should have been more
“Yeah, but his quals had been arranged weeks before she had the baby.
She could have rescheduled the Christening to the following weekend.”
“That doesn’t always work out so well,” he replied, maintaining her
“Well, in the long term, maybe it does,” she replied looking away. The
she smiled and asked, “Do you remember how Bud met Harriet?”
“Yeah,” he chuckled. “Missed a game with his brother.” He looked down at
the report. “Stomach cramps or not, he wouldn’t have been the first
aviator who’s walked out of a machine needin’ a change of underwear; it
was no excuse for ditching.”
“Then we go to court martial.”
He nodded. It wasn’t the first time they’d used someone else’s problems
to dance around their own, and it wouldn’t be the last. But for two
pig-headed people, it was the closest thing they could get to a mutual
They continued until just past midnight. “That’s it, I think,” Harm
said, sorting through the files on the desk.”
“Good,” she replied rocking her shoulders back, then rolling her head
and grimacing. He immediately stood, sat on the couch behind her and
began massaging her neck. “Mm…oh, that’s great, yeah, that’s the spot,”
“Right here?” he said, gently kneading the bunched muscles of her neck.
It wasn’t the first time he’d done this for her. In fact, he’d done it a
lot over the years, and she had reciprocated in kind. But he was
suddenly aware that this was the first time since they’d acknowledged
this…whatever…between them. The first time that neither one of them was
involved with someone else.
The first time, Mac thought, since that night. The kiss under the
mistletoe had been situational, and he’d been very sweet about it,
removing any awkwardness. But she was sensitive to everything about him
now. His jeans clad legs either side of her shoulders, the feel of
masculine fingers on her skin. The firm, gentle kneading. His familiar
aftershave—the same aftershave as that night, flooding her senses
with disturbing memories. But his ministrations were so relaxing, she
put such thoughts aside, allowing him to manipulate the tension from her
shoulders until she rocked her head to one side, exposing more of her
neck and shoulder as the oversized sweater drooped.
In the nearby fire, a piece of wood fell with a soft shower of firefly
sparks. He looked up and considered stoking it, but then he felt her
head rock against his knee. He looked down to see her eyes closed, a
soft smile on her slightly parted lips, little sighs of pleasure
escaping as he ran his fingers along the exposed tendons of her neck.
What do you see when you look at me like that?
I see a very desirable woman.
He rolled his lips into his mouth, deciding to concentrate on the shape
of the muscles and tendons, ignoring the soft, silky feel of her flesh.
But it was impossible. Who was pleasuring whom, here, he wondered, his
fingertips relaying the subtlest of tactile pleasures to other parts of
his body. It was too easy to imagine that look on her face, those soft
mews and secret smile, in other contexts. Did she have any idea how
desirable she was? He swallowed and leaned forward a little more,
running his hands across her shoulders, gently kneading the muscle
between the tendons and around her collarbones. Then he allowed his
palms to caress her flesh as he moved his hands behind her neck once
more, his thumbs firmly massaging her trapezoid muscles.
Her open-necked sweater allowed him free access to most of her shoulders
and neck. Only her bra straps offered any hindrance. But touching them,
running his fingers beneath them, sent a schoolboy thrill through him.
Forbidden territory, Rabb. He almost chuckled, almost tempted to see how
far he could ‘go’. But then he frowned and stopped. This was no game, no
adolescent backseat necking. The stakes here were very different.
“Mm…don’t stop now,” she said, rolling her head to the other size,
unconsciously leaning back further until her head rested on his upper
Her proximity was more than disturbing; her invitation pressing every
one of his male buttons—and some he wasn’t aware that he had. But he’d
been housetrained, and refused to allow his thoughts to go there.
Instead, he concentrated on using his right hand on her neck, while his
left gently explored down either side of her spine, until the sweater
prevented him further access.
A vague annoyance crossed her face. “Lower, just a bit lower,” she
“I can’t reach it from here, Mac.”
She leaned forward, allowing him to reach under the hem of her sweater;
then she sat back upright as his hands climbed higher, past her bra
fastener until he could feel the bunched muscles. “I think you’ve got a
couple of stuck ribs,” he said. “Here, in the upper part of your back.”
He gently edged his knee against the spot. “Lean back and I’ll pull your
shoulders back until it clicks.” He moved his hands outside of her
sweater again, then gently grasped her shoulders.
She allowed him to roll her shoulder back with his hands, but then she
stiffened. “Ow! Damned clip,” she muttered. Before he realized what she
was doing, she had reached behind with one hand and unclasped her bra.
“Okay, try now.”
It was just a brassier clip. He hesitated, swallowing hard again. “Okay,
breathe out as I pull.”
Two or three clicks rang out when the ribs rotated free of her spine.
“Uh…oh yeah, that’s better. Wow, you’re pretty good at this.”
He smiled as she leaned forward. He slid his hands back under the hem of
her sweater again, quickly, business-like, going straight to the now
tender spot and gently kneading it. A dozen quips came to mind, but
every one risked a red light—and the inevitable cessation of what was
arguably more pleasurable for him than her. “I’m a mean hand at foot
“Yeah?” she replied huskily. “What’s a girl gotta do to get one of
“We…ell,” he replied thoughtfully, leaning down to speak into her ear.
“Be nice to me?”
Mac could feel his breath on her neck, the magical touch of his fingers,
the way his long legs framed her, but his ministrations were seducing
her ability to think clearly. No red lights, not even a yellow one came
to mind, because it was just a back rub. “I’m always nice to you.”
“Yeah…sometimes,” he replied equivocally, as his hands splayed wide,
massaging the ribs across her back, moving out from her spine and around
and down. “Why, you angling for a foot rub?”
“Mm.” She smiled dreamily. “Can never have too many good shoes—or
foot-rubs.” Without realizing it, she was running her right hand up his
At first, Harm thought it was just to brace herself, but as he was
caressing her, so she was unconsciously responding in kind. Her soft
moans increased, the look on her face… Christ, he thought, swallowing
hard, he wasn’t a eunuch. He could feel where her bra had slipped
forward, feel the loose straps brush his knuckles. Just an inch or two
away and…his fingers tingled as he came into contact with the softer
flesh beneath her arms. Too many adolescent summer nights, too may
memories of unfastening girl’s bras with hopes of... Then, as he ran his
hands forward again, she leaned back further and suddenly, he found them
all but cupping her generous breasts. He tried to snatch his hands back,
muttering an instant apology when her eyes flew open.
Mac realized two things at once. First, it had not been his fault, and
second, a sensation of unfettered, erotic pleasure arced from her
breasts to her groin, spreading out to her toes, even her fingertips.
She had enjoyed sex with Mic but this…this was…my God, was this what
people meant by electric?
He just couldn’t order his hands to move. God help me, he thought. He
boasted some of the fastest reflexes in the world, but his hands hadn’t
moved! He closed his eyes, sensations battling. The clearest one was of
the charges being read against him. Copping a feel of your partner,
despite six years together, was still sexual harassment. But it was
going to get worse, much worse, because when she turned to confront him,
despite his jeans, she was going to get an eyeful of that part of his
body which had responded with those same, lightning fast
He’s not moving, Mac thought. In a sudden epiphany she realized that his
loss of control that night as he pulled her to him in an almost
desperate kiss, had been because she had kissed him first. She had
instigated it—not in words alone, but actions meant as affection. And
like tonight, she had not meant it in a sexual way.
In my world, you lose control, you’re dead.
Mac had never considered herself a seductress. Her looks and endowments
had been something she’d kept reasonably camouflaged by a short,
military haircut and Marine greens. But equally, she was aware that she
was attractive, and that out of uniform, she turned heads. It just
wasn’t something she used in life, and certainly not something that she
flaunted. Still, even if he flew Tomcats, Harm was just a guy.
What do you see when you look at me like that?
I see a very desirable woman.
Harmon Rabb was losing control. Not moving his hands meant that he had,
in fact, already lost it. Capitulating to her own shockingly intense
arousal, Mac leaned back even further, until her back was against her
sofa, encouraging his big hands to enclose her breasts fully, moaning
softly as she did.
That was not, however, Harm’s undoing. His undoing was the way she
turned to meet his eyes, her tongue tip barely darting out between her
partially opened lips, and her eyes flickering to his groin. Then her
nostrils flared at the bulge pressing painfully against his zipper, just
a hand-span from her face. His imagination had long supplied him with
more than a few fantasies about his partner. It now launched a frontal
assault on his growing problem. The apology on his lips died stillborn.
Then her hands came up, outside of her sweater, to press his hands
firmly against her. Just the slightest pressure and she moaned softly.
He sat, eyes wide, mesmerized by what he was doing—what she was doing as
he lifted his thumbs to stroke her already engorged nipples.
She met his eyes again—and almost chuckled. He was way past the frozen
deer in the headlights stage. Frozen deer didn’t have the look of raw,
unadulterated lust in their eyes. She thought she knew what she was
getting into, the way he teased and flirted with that flyboy grin and
knowing look. But she now understood that had been all play-acting. This
was for real. A shudder of anticipation shot through her. Three seconds.
That’s all that had passed since his hands had slipped forward. Maybe
four. Harmon Rabb was the only man she had ever met who played havoc
with her sense of timing.
Only with you.
“Mac,” he said in a warning voice. “Don’t make promises you can’t keep.”
She responded by leaning her head back further until it rested again his
groin, her lips parted, a smile touching her lips as closed her eyes and
In his relief, Harm wanted to snatch her up off the floor and take her
lips in his, but he had recovered from his initial shock and decided to
wrest control again. Mac was not going to practice her Marine
hand-to-hand combat skills against him. And then it hit him; after all
this time, he was finally coming home.
He ignored her request and instead moved his hands higher, gently
tracing patterns across the tops of her breasts, then bringing his hands
back under them, memorizing their shape with his fingers, rubbing his
thumbs against her nipples, alternately squeezing and caressing until
her sighs became moans and her hips began to arch. He smiled as he
brought his hands up under her arms, and lifted them, removing her
sweater and bra in one movement. Then he leaned forward to admire her,
fondling her as he did so.
The goose bumps on her flesh reminded him that the dying fire needed
attention—or else they needed to take this elsewhere. He didn’t want
that. He wanted to watch her, not just her body, but also her face. Here
was just fine. “Fire needs stoking,” he whispered, then stood.
She said nothing as he moved away. She just watched him with liquid
brown eyes. Despite her need to scream that her fires were burning her
from the inside out, she was not about to concede her lack of control.
She had every intention of paying him back.
Harm crouched and added the chopped timber to the flames, pushing the
coals around as he did so, making sure the resulting blaze burned
evenly. Then he stood and tossing her a boyish grin, turned out the
lights, leaving only the orange glow of the fire as the dry timber began
to blaze. His eyes never left hers as he returned, sitting exactly as he
had before, bringing his hands around to cup her breasts once more. But
this time, before she could rock her head back, he leaned forward and
around, to kiss the hollow between her collarbone and neck.
Simultaneously, his hands slid lower, caressing her abdomen, then around
to her back, gently massaging.
Mac felt like screaming, tossing him onto the floor and taking him there
and then. But equally, she wanted nothing more than to just lay there
and let him continue with his exquisite torture. Then, his exploring
mouth found the tender part just beneath her ear, and she groaned aloud,
His fingers had found the buttons on her jeans, but he ignored them and
edged his fingers beneath the waste-band. Mac wore her jeans lose, and
reclining like this made for easy access. But the feel of silky soft
underwear, the hint of springy curls beneath, the way she writhed
beneath him…his hand felt cramped, confined, and he wanted to time this
“Take them off,” he whispered the order as his lips and tongue slid
across her jaw.
She almost rebelled at his command. The way he commanded everything. But
her hands obeyed before she could stop them. It was too easy to succumb
to his demands, to let him take first chair. His time would come. She
used her toes to push first one, then the second woolen sock from her
feet, then lifted her bottom as she unfastened her jeans and slid them
off. Her simple silk panties remained, however. And she took pleasure in
the sight of his fingers edging beneath them.
He, too, watched his hand move across the flat plains of her belly,
bronzed in part by her naturally olive skin, and in part by the light of
the fire. He watched as his hand moved beneath its narrow elastic, to
touch the curls beneath. “Sarah,” he whispered as his tongue explored
her ear. “You are beautiful.”
She moaned and turned her face to his. She had only heard him use her
name like that once before, and again it was like soft silk flowing from
his tongue. Then she felt his mouth open to hers, his tongue barely
touching her lips, teasing her as his fingers teased her entrance. Her
moans became groans as his fingers slid between damp and swollen folds,
down, but not in, as his tongue slid across her lips, but refused to
enter. She lifted her hips, pushing against his hand, curving upwards,
begging him to enter her until finally, he slipped his tongue into her
mouth as he slipped two fingers into her core.
Assaulted from both ends, sensations tore through her, sensations that
compounded as he withdrew his tongue and fingers - then slid them in
again, harder, as he slipped down off the couch and onto the floor
behind her, to get better leverage. She turned in his arms, thrusting
herself against his hand, demanding more, wrapping her hand around his,
guiding his fingers and she pushed herself onto him as he used his
tongue in perfect counterpoint.
She didn’t want it to end this way! Not so soon! But he moved his thumb
and pushed just so until she cried out again and again, calling his name
until the hard contractions around his fingers ceased.
He withdrew his hand gently and enfolded her into his arms, kissing her
head softly, closing his eyes and smiling with a depth of contentment he
could hardly credit. It didn’t matter to him that his own physical needs
had not been attended to, his heart and soul had been nourished beyond
Presently, she looked up, then frowned and blinked. He was fully
clothed, right down to his boots. She caught the smug smile on his face,
but couldn’t do anything more than grin and shake her head. “Think
you’re pretty clever, huh?” she quipped.
“We…ell,” he replied, tossing her a knowing smile. And this time, the
smile really was knowing. “Now that you mention it…” But his smile
turned to an expression of alarm as she very deliberately ran her hand
up the inside of his jeans legs, and cupped him. “Now Mac,” he said
cautiously, “we can be reasonable about this.”
“You want to keep your clothes on? Fine,” she replied, lowering her head
and mouthing him through the fabric of his jeans. She was glad that
despite the snow, he’d worn an old pair. Soft and a little threadbare in
places, the material was thin and faded almost to white where he bulged.
She ran her tongue along the fabric over the zipper, watching him watch
her, delighting in the lost, almost frantic look on his face.
“C’mon Mac, gimme a break here,” he begged, his voice rasping as she ran
her tongue around the material-covered outer part of his swollen tip,
while he fingers firmly kneaded his length.
She couldn’t quite make out all the details, of course, or reach all of
him, but his mind was supplying most of it, and that’s what counted. She
felt one of his hands caress her back and the other, cup her face, and
an idea struck her. She reached down and drew his hand across her mouth,
then licked between the joints of his fingers.
His eyes widened in shock and he held his breath. But worse was to come,
as she took his index finger in her mouth and sucked firmly, wrapping
his finger in folds of tight, warm, moist, flesh. Pulling on him. God
help me, he thought, since when did one part of his anatomy instantly
transmute into another? His breathing quickened and his eyes became even
wider as she slowly lifted her lips away, wrapped his finger with her
tongue – then immediately lowered her face to his groin and ran her
tongue along his entire material clad length. Hard down again she pushed
her face, using her nose and lips, not just her tongue, in counterpoint
to her fingers, then back up, to thrust his fingers back into her mouth,
sucking on them, until a tiny patch of damp, no bigger than her small
fingernail, appeared near the waste-band of the soft denim.
“You want me to make you come in your trousers, Commander Rabb?” she
whispered as she climbed on top of him, straddled him and rocked against
Ten minutes, even five minutes ago he would have said that was
impossible. That hadn’t happened to him since…well, in fact, it had
never happened to him. At least not while his trousers were fully zipped
and fastened. But as she rocked against him, the way she spoke…the way
she came out with it so…casually…he tried to get his breathing under
control, tried to form a cohesive denial. Instead, he foolishly replied,
“You can’t, Mac, you wouldn’t dare.” His eyes widened at her look and he
fumbled for words in his panic, “I…m…nn…ah!”
But it was too late. That was one challenge she intended winning. She
opened his zipper, reached in and grasping him firmly within his boxer
shorts, lifted herself so that he could see her part the lips of her
vagina, and wrap herself over his material shrouded length. Not inside
her, but along her. Then she rocked hard against him, watching his face,
watching him lose control. Still, it wasn’t enough, so she reached down,
grasped his hand and rubbed it against herself, moaning as she did so,
pleasuring herself against him and his fingers until he lost all hope
and exploded in a gush of pleasure so strong that he cried out and
pulled her mouth to his.
She felt the hot warmth flood against her, but most of it spread beneath
his shorts. Before he could finish kissing her, she deftly reached down
and zipped his jeans, making sure he was safely tucked inside. What the
hell, she thought, it also saved her having to clean the rug before
Jingo became embarrassingly curious.
“Low tactics, Marine,” he grumbled a few moments later. “Now what am I
going to wear home?”
He could feel her chuckling as her held her close to his chest. He could
also feel how cold she was. “Hey,” he added, “you’re freezing.” He
looked around, then reached up for the rug on the sofa, and wrapped it
around her as she snuggled against him.
Mac wasn’t sure if she wanted to see his eyes. She couldn’t believe what
she’d just done. She was no prude, and certainly enjoyed a few sexual
athletics, but that little stunt went way beyond anything she’d ever
done before. But there was no way she could have allowed Harmon Rabb Jr.
to claim the upper hand. She began to giggle.
Harm pulled his head back and looked down at her. Mac, giggling? Nah…but
there it was, the evidence was all over her face. “You…giggled!”
he said incredulously.
She rolled her lips into her mouth and pulled away from him, sitting
back on his outstretched legs. “I’ve been known to, on occasion,” she
replied, trying to control her mirth.
He tucked her hair behind her ear and considered her fondly. If he’d had
any doubts about the direction their relationship might take,
particularly in the bedroom, it was that sex might be too intense, too
serious because the emotional stakes were so high. But again she had
surprised him. Mac wasn’t just sensual in bed, she was fun. He smiled
and holding her eyes with his, asked, “I don’t suppose you have pair of
trousers that would fit me, do you?”
“That’s really bugging you, isn’t it?”
He rolled his eyes and looked away, but he couldn’t keep the grin off
his face. “Okay, yeah, you got me. Happy now?”
“Mm,” she replied thoughtfully. “Maybe. Don’t you keep a change of
clothes in your car?”
His eyes slid back to hers. “I suppose you expect me to go out into the
freezing night to get them…like this,” he added as he glanced down to
the growing dampness spreading through the fabric of his jeans. Her
sitting on him didn’t help. “Especially when some of it is not
attributable to just me.”
She climbed off him, pulling the rug around her. “I’ll put them in the
wash, then get up early to dry them.”
His smile faded as he looked at her. “That means I’ll have to spend the
night.” He saw a shadow of doubt cross her face. “Do you mind?”
“Do you?” she asked, her whole body going tense.
He stood and took her into his arms. “Hey, I didn’t mean it like that,”
he said gently. “Listen, isn’t it time we stopped this crazy seesaw? If
I didn’t want to be here with you, I would have backed off before this
went too far. But I asked you not to make promises you couldn’t keep.
Now I’m asking again.”
She reached up from the rug and cupped his face in her hand. “If you
don’t know by now how much love you, then I’ll kick your sorry six clear
But his kiss cut off her words. A tender kiss, one full of love and
promise. “Y’know,” he whispered into her ear, “from a legal point of
view, we haven’t made love yet.”
“What, you’re taking the Clinton defense?”
“Well,” he replied as they walked into her bedroom. “Under cross
examination, we could truthfully declare that you never made direct
tactile or oral contact with any of my intimate parts.”
“Yeah,” she replied cautiously. “But you did with mine.”
“Ah councilor, that wasn’t the question.”
“What was the question again, counselor?”
“Have you or have you not ever made direct physical contact with the
defendant in a sexual manner?”
“No, but when he strips and showers in a few minutes, I have every
intention of rectifying that.”
Harm tossed her a grin, then began pulling his clothes off. This time,
in this lifetime, they were finally going to get it right.