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|Rescue - Part 2 -
A/N: Colombia is almost three times the size of Montana
When Harm and Mac reached the living room, Francisco was looking at some papers. Vilma sat at his side watching him, her hand resting gently on his knee. You could see how worried she was about him. Neither one had said anything, but Harm and Mac both knew this couldn’t be easy for him after the loss of his brother. Four years ago Francisco’s brother, along with the brother’s business partner, chauffeur, and secretary, disappeared on their way to a business appointment on the outskirts of town. Ransom requests had never been made. They were never heard from again. Initially Vilma, Francisco, and their sons left the country to the safety of Miami. After 8 months, when they were sure the threat did not extend to their family, they returned to Bogota.
Harm and Mac sat down, side by side, on the couch across from Vilma and Francisco. Without thinking, Harm reached over for Mac’s hand, holding it firmly on his lap.
“We have received word.” Francisco stood up and handed a paper to Harm, then to Mac. “They have done their homework. Obviously the captors checked into who we are, and how much we’re worth. Fortunately they don’t seem to question that we are not a blood relation. Most likely they probably think Vilma and I are Godparents or something along those lines. They have asked for one million dollars. That is a lot of money in Colombian pesos, even for us.”
“Was there anything else, any more information?” Harm asked.
“No, just that photo and the short note.” Francisco replied.
“I have already contacted my father.” Vilma interjected. “We should be hearing from his friend very soon. He has been in Bogota for almost a week getting ready. He is one of the best. He will know how to handle this from here.”
Returning to the seat next to his wife, Francisco looked over at Harm, “Ransom is seldom paid for the amount originally demanded. They most likely calculated what they thought we would pay and then tripled that figure. How much money do you have access to?”
At this question Harm and Mac looked at each other blankly. They had assumed this information would be provided to them when they arrived, since it had not been mentioned before.
Harm spoke up “We weren’t given any information regarding access to ransom money. We thought you or Mono would know.”
“Then,” Francisco said, “I think it’s time we show you our place of business.” Placing his hands on his knees, displaying an instant change in mood, he stood up with a grin somewhat like the cat that just swallowed the canary.
Knowing full well why Francisco’s place of business would be important, they all grinned in agreement.
Children’s Learning Center of Bogota
Vilma and Francisco gave Mac and Harm a quick tour of the facilities. It was actually quite impressive. There was a small indoor pool and a gymnasium for working on gross motor skills. Nearby were several smaller playrooms where therapists worked on fine motor skills. An extensive computer room and miscellaneous classrooms for tutoring of older ages were on the second floor. Apparently they were set up to help not only the physically and academically challenged, but the exceptional as well. Once they were done viewing the offices on the third floor, they walked downstairs to the small refreshment stand in the lobby.
“As you know I have several errands to run for Francisco” Vilma intentionally explained loudly in front of everyone. “Rather then have you bored tagging along, Juan will drive you back to the house. Is that alright with you?”
“Sounds like a plan.” Harm smiled back.
It took everything in Mac not to smile like a Cheshire Cat when she saw Gunny. Even Harm’s eyes had that special twinkle.
Harm and Mac stood up and followed Gunny out to the parking lot. Once the armored SUV had driven some distance from the learning center, Gunny finally spoke. “Great to see you ma’am, sir.”
“Same here, Gunny,” they both chimed in.
“We need to get information on access to ransom money,” Mac explained. “We’ve had our first contact this morning. They’ve initially requested one million.”
“Yes ma’am. The Vice President has set up an account with Citibank. Apparently this is one of the few banks that you can access accounts both in the US and Colombia with ease. You will have full access to all the funds you need. The account papers and information are in a manila folder under my seat. The account currently has one million dollars available. I’ve been informed that there is more available if you need it. Also, recent intel confirms the Gentilles have not been moved again and are in good health under the circumstances.”
“We were sent a photo of them, but we don’t know how long ago it was taken. I guess they did look pretty good considering the situation,” Harm commented.
Mac bent over to retrieve the envelope. Feeling her weight tug at his arm, Harm let go of the hand he hadn’t realized he was holding. He surprised himself further to notice his now empty hand rested comfortably on Mac’s thigh. Straightening up in her seat, she folded the envelope and slipped it into her handbag. Without a second thought, she effortlessly placed her free hand back in Harm’s grasp. Casually, she nodded to Gunny in the rear view mirror letting him know she had the information.
Giving her one of his famous flyboy grins, Harm left their joined hands resting on her leg, gently giving her a reassuring squeeze. These small gestures of affection were now second nature to them. Watching Mac chat happily with Gunny about the city, Harm began to contemplate these changes in their behavior. Initially Mac would tense up when Harm put his arm around her, or held her hand. It wasn’t long before she was relaxed enough in their cover to wrap her arm around his waist, or reach for his hand as she had just done. He couldn’t help but wonder if this felt as real to her as it did to him. The casual touches, the soft caresses, they all came so naturally now, as if it had always been that way between them. He thought back to the kiss on the deck. That wasn’t acting. She had to feel everything he felt, just like on the admiral’s porch so long ago.
“Isn’t that right, sir?”
Startled to realize Gunny was talking to him, “Excuse me?”
“It’s a shame such a pleasant country, once so famous for it’s beautiful emeralds, is now known for drugs and terrorism?” Gunny repeated.
“Absolutely, Gunny, absolutely,” Harm agreed, now, giving the driver his full attention.
“Did you know Colombia is considered the kidnap capital of the world? The population is only a little bigger than the state of California, yet an average of eight people a day are kidnapped for ransom somewhere in this country.”
“Yeah, Gunny, unfortunately, I do,” Harm sighed.
Turning one last corner, Gunny pulled up in front of the Franco residence in time for lunch. In reality it was time to go over the recently received information with their new broker, Antonio Quintero.
The additional information Mr. Quintero shared coincided with all the data they had been reading up on since their arrival. He seemed quite confident that this would be an easy transaction, as far as terrorist kidnappings went.
“First thing, we’re going to need to establish the Gentilles are still alive. Of course, we all know this already, but the guerillas do not know we know this. If I do not request some proof they are alive, it could raise suspicions.”
Walking across the room to get another egg roll from the lunch buffet Vilma had served, Antonio continued. “The contact this morning was a simple manila folder left with the doorman. It included little information. Mostly it just stated that in order to get Mr. and Mrs. Gentille back alive, they wanted to receive one million dollars. We can not presume when or how they will contact us again.”
The balance of the afternoon was spent working out the details, with Quintero telling them how he expected things to go. “One of the many reasons ransom negotiations take so long is that terrorists prey on the raw emotions of the family. The longer you sit waiting in anticipation for a word, a call, any proof your loved one is still alive, the more likely you are to pay more money. Time is on their side.”
Everyone in the room nodded their heads in understanding.
Antonio seemed to feel the next contact would be by phone. Although they weren’t expecting to be contacted too quickly, everyone felt it was best if he stayed close by, moving into the study. Now it was time again to just wait. The part Harm and Mac had dreaded at first, but had now become so accustomed to. The idle pleasures of a feigned personal relationship eased the passage of time. If either of them were to admit it, time spent waiting gave them the ability to indulge in the previously unexplored closeness of a couple, something they both treasured, knowing eventually it would have to be left behind.
Dinner had been a casual family event. The first really quiet night they’d had since they arrived. The boys stayed for dinner, but had plans afterwards. It surprised Harm and Mac how much of a social life the boys had, especially on a school night. Abel was 18 so it didn’t seem unusual that he would be going out with friends, but Alvaro was only 16, and Miguel was 14. Apparently training to enjoy life started at a young age in Colombia.
The balance of the evening had been spent chatting about all the people they had met and the things they had managed to see. It seemed strange going to bed at 11pm. Especially since Abel, the oldest boy wasn’t home yet.
With everyone retiring early, Mac and Harm followed Vilma and Francisco towards the bedrooms. Not surprisingly, neither of them was really tired. They’d gotten used to the late night, or was it early morning hours.
Pausing a moment, Harm looked at Mac, “I think I’ll just stay in the living room a bit and have a quick nightcap.”
“Okay, don’t stay up too late, this may be the only chance we get for a really good night’s sleep,” Mac commented as she reached for the knob on their bedroom door.
“I won’t,” he assured her. ‘Except, you need to be sleepy to have a good night’s sleep,’ he thought. ‘And, if you’re not sleepy, you certainly don’t want to be in bed next to a beautiful marine. A very sexy, beautiful marine.’ Shaking his head in an attempt to clear his mind of the vision of Sarah MacKenzie beside him in bed, Harm turned on his heel and headed for the bar.
After what seemed like hours of tossing and turning trying to get to sleep, Harm finally gave up. Looking at the clock, he realized he had only been in bed for 35 minutes. Restless, he sat up in bed and glanced over at Mac. He hadn’t known many women who were as beautiful asleep as they were awake. He wanted very much to lean over and brush the hair away from her face, to gently caress her beautiful bare shoulder. His lips longed to taste her delicate neck, but he knew better than to risk waking a sleeping marine, and if he somehow found the nerve to do what he was thinking, there was no way she wouldn’t wake up and deck him.
She was wearing a very attractive burgundy nightgown. Harm had learned it was best not to look at her much when she was in her nightgown. He wasn’t sure how many times he could be forgiven for gawking like a teenager. He also wasn’t sure how long he could continue sharing a bed only for sleeping if he paid any attention to WHAT she was sleeping in. He took a deep breath, looking for something else in the room to focus on.
He needed to get out of bed. Knowing how close she was to him, and seeing how beautiful she looked was just killing him. He desperately wanted to touch her, to watch her body spring to life, shiver with passion at the feel of his body mingling with hers. Hopping out of bed, he went to the bathroom for a glass of water. What he really needed now was a cold shower. Searching through his shaving kit for a couple of aspirins for a slight headache he’d been fighting all day, he didn’t hear when Mac came up behind him.
Putting her left hand on his right shoulder, he looked up at her reflection in the mirror. His heart caught in his throat, ‘Damn she has to be the most beautiful woman in the world.’
“Are you feeling okay?” she asked. He looked a little peaked.
“Just a little headache and a hard time sleeping.” Of course, he wasn’t about to explain that being hard was what wasn’t letting him sleep. Especially, if he didn’t want to spend the rest of this mission sleeping on the floor.
Mac stepped back to her left to let him pass just as he turned around to his left to leave, bumping right smack into her right breast. Without thinking, he glanced down at her very full breasts. From this proximity and height, he could see right down the valley of her breasts. He was close enough to see her erect nipples pressing against the satin gown, and Lord help him, no panties. Momentarily frozen at the sight of a totally bare Sarah MacKenzie beneath that invitingly thin nightgown, a jolt of excitement shot through him straight from both his heads to his toes. It took everything in him to move his eyes and shift left again. Unfortunately, Mac regained her composure and shifted to her right about the same time. Now they were face to face, pressed against each other in the confines of the small bathroom.
Harm could feel her hard nipples boring into his bare chest, and let out a soft grumble. At the clear memory of her soft breasts and dark mound, his body’s instant reaction meant stepping away now would be very embarrassing. There was no way he could hide what she was doing to him. He didn’t dare look in her eyes, did he?
Flat against the wall, Mac was trying desperately to not hold her breath. She could feel Harm’s arousal growing as it pressed against her. Her knees were starting to feel a little weak from the shock her whole body had just received as he brushed up by her. Knowing the only thing between her and a rock hard Harmon Rabb were two thin strips of fabric only increased the fire shooting through her. It was taking all her self respect and marine control to keep to her side of the bed every night, but God hadn’t created a human being with enough will power to withstand this.
Harm couldn’t resist looking in her eyes any longer. The deep, dark pools of black drew him in. Before either of them could think clearly, Harm’s mouth came softly down on hers. Considering the passion that was burning in them, this was the softest, most tender, loving kiss either of them had ever experienced.
Harm pulled away from the kiss to look at Mac. The gentleman in him urged him to apologize, to step back. The man in him wanted this woman more than anything in the world.
“Sarah, I…. Uhhh…I’m….” ‘Oh what the hell’ flashed through his mind. He came in for another kiss with the fury of a tomcat coming in for a landing on a carrier. Mac threw her arms around his neck. This kiss was hard and passionate. All the desire that had been bottled up for weeks had been uncorked and was exploding with volcanic force. Their tongues were dueling as if their very lives depended on it. Harm’s hands slowly moved around Mac’s waist. Her hips were so round and smooth. Every part of her was calling to him. He couldn’t touch enough of her. Their lips were on fire. They were on fire. Pulling her more tightly against him, the gentle friction of his erection against her soft body had him almost convulsing with need. When her hand slid slowly down his chest, around his side and fell softly on his six, pushing him impossibly closer, all the oxygen rushed from his body, his lungs gasping for air. He had to stop, there was no way he was going to love this woman standing against the bathroom wall. Placing his forehead on hers, he took a deep breath, his hands resting gently on her six. “God, Sarah… I’ve never wanted anything, anyone, as much as I want… need you right now.”
Their chests were heaving with the need for air. Harm was just watching the rise and fall of Sarah’s perfect breasts.
Mac couldn’t believe what was happening, ‘he wants me, ME!’ Her knees felt like jelly. How she was still standing she didn’t know. Everything she had been waiting for was now right in front of her for the taking. Everything, except….
“Oh, Harm.” Her breathing still heavy, she tried to find the right words, “as much as I want you, want … this, we…we can’t. Not now.”
Harm’s heart crashed to the floor. What had he done? ‘Stupid Rabb, she’s not a street corner whore. What were you thinking pouncing on her like that?’
Harm lifted his head, trying to avoid Mac’s eyes. He couldn’t bear to see anger or disdain in her eyes. He focused on a spot just over her shoulder. “Sarah, …Mac, I’m…”
“Huh?” He looked her straight in the eyes.
“I like it when you call me Sarah,” she almost smiled.
Now confused, as well as scared, Harm continued. “Sarah, forgive me, I shouldn’t have…”
“No.” Still trying to get her breathing under control. Avoiding his eyes, she reached forward on either side of him, she took hold of his hands in each of hers.
Harm was struggling to clear his mind. Mac simply holding his hands was once again exciting every nerve ending in his body.
“I’m not saying I don’t want…this…us.” She squeezed his hands, and sighed. This might very well be the hardest thing she’d ever done. “I can’t think of anything I would like more than to share that bed over there, for more than just sleeping, and for more than one night.” There, she’d said it. She finally said what had been on her mind since the first night she stepped into the room. “What I’m saying, or at least what I’m trying to say is, there hasn’t been anyone, that is… a man in my life for some time now… I mean… I have no reason to use… to be on…birth control.”
She stopped looking at his hands and looked up into his eyes. Harm’s eyes dropped briefly to Mac’s stomach, then back up to her eyes. To Mac the momentary silence seemed interminable
“Would that be so bad?” He asked, his sexy, low voice almost a whisper.
If Mac thought she was blown away by their sudden kiss, Harm’s response now, really threw her for a loop. Her jaw dropped as her mind struggled to find words.
“I …uh…wha…ah…well…Can we maybe discuss this sitting down? Preferably NOT in the bathroom.”
Harm chuckled softly. He bent over and slid his arm under her legs picking her up, and walked a few feet before depositing her on her side of the bed.
Climbing over her, Harm lied down beside her and drew her up close to him. She rested her head on his shoulder and laid her hand on his chest. Lightly kissing the top of her head, Harm took her hand in his and laid the entwined pair of hands back down on his heart. The two of them were now breathing easier, more in control. He still wanted her with everything in him, but now he could wait – if that was what she wanted.
“Would that be so bad, Sarah?” He whispered into her hair, his lips eager to continue their exploration of Sarah MacKenzie.
Mac propped herself up on one elbow, and looked him in the eyes. “You’re serious!”
“Yeah.” He tried to read her eyes. “It can’t be a total surprise to you that I want you to be the mother of my children?”
Sarah thought a second. ‘Did he just say children, plural?’ Sitting up now, but leaving their clasped hands on his chest, Mac searched Harm’s face.
“I know you once offered to father my child, but I wasn’t really sure if it was something you would want to go through with.”
“Very much so.” Harm responded without any hesitation.
She looked at him another moment. She wasn’t used to this much honesty from Harm. She liked it. “Then no, no it wouldn’t be so bad.” Looking down she took a deep breath, then looked Harm back in the eyes. “It wouldn’t be bad at all, but I’d like to be a little selfish and enjoy just having you for a while first…Besides, I’d always sort of thought… hoped…that maybe…I mean…I’d rather...”
“That maybe a wedding would come before a baby?” Harm flashed his megawatt smile.
“Something like that,” she blushed.
Awed that he hadn’t blown his one opportunity with his Sarah, Harm paused to consider how to best say what was on his mind, “Would you…consider…I mean, do you think maybe some day we could…”
“Yeah, I think maybe we could.” Sarah lied back down against him, amused at how such a well- spoken lawyer could be so tongue-tied when it came to matters of the heart.
Harm smiled and squeezed her. “Maybe tomorrow I should ask Arcadio to give me a tour of the local drugstores.”
“Sounds good, sailor.” They came together again in a very tender kiss, knowing for now that it would have to be enough.
The Next day was spent in a whirlwind of activity. Harm and Mac had forgotten that today was the day of the big birthday party.
The day started out with the manicurist arriving at the house by 9am and the masseuse by 10, a few more of the cultural perks. Vilma and Mac had a manicure, pedicure and massage. After lunch the two women went on to the hairdresser while Harm and Francisco had their turns with the masseuse. House calls were apparently very common. Service seemed to be a major focus for all types of businesses, Mac wasn’t at all surprised when they were offered a cup of coffee at the beauty salon, but she was flabbergasted to be offered a seat and coffee at the bank. Just as she had been startled to notice how many businesses had signs offering home delivery, from the pharmacy to the grocery store.
Harm accompanied Francisco to pick up a new tux Francisco had ordered for the party. Most of the day Harm had been wondering how to bring up the subject with Francisco about needing to buy condoms. For some silly reason he felt very uncomfortable, probably more so than when he was a teenager.
The problem almost resolved itself when on their way back to the house Francisco turned to Harm, “I need to make a quick stop here at the pharmacy. It will only be a minute, is there anything you might need?”
‘YES!’ Harm thought ‘Okay, calm down, I’m not a teenager, we’re not teenagers, just ask the man.’ “As a matter of fact there is.” Harm’s face flushed several different shades of pink before his mouth opened again. “I… well actually Mac and I…we, I mean I, I could use…”
Francisco had sensed his obvious discomfort but now the realization of what Harm wanted was beginning to dawn on him. “I think I understand.” Francisco smiled “It’s nice to see you and Sarah have worked out your ‘complications.’ Follow me and you can choose your preference.”
Harm and Francisco had been home only a few minutes when Vilma and Mac walked in. Harm was amazed at the two women. The ladies were both naturally very attractive women. He had always thought Mac was the most beautiful woman in the world, but the two creatures before him were absolutely stunning. He’d never seen Mac with so much makeup. She looked like she fell off the cover of a fashion magazine. Francisco smiled and whispered into Harm’s ear, “close your mouth or you’ll catch bees.”
Harm wrinkled his brow, turned to Francisco, and softly replied, “Flies.”
“Hmm?” Was all Francisco said, smiling at his wife.
“You’ll catch flies.” Harm expounded, still gaping at Mac in astonishment.
The ladies smiled, walking right past the men and into their rooms.
Everyone was ready to leave for the party by 8 o’clock. Mac was wearing a black knee length dress with a scoop neckline, showing just a hint of cleavage and some beadwork on the short sleeves. The dress fit as though it had been custom-made for her. It hugged her tiny waist and then rounded out at the curve of her soft hips. A sleek pair of black, sling-back heels made her already long legs appear even longer. Mac had never looked sexier, Harm thought. He held his bent arm out to her and together they followed Vilma and Francisco out the door.
The party was much like the events they had already been to. Laughter and music filled the air with plenty of food and dancing, only all of it on a much grander scale. The room was glowing with dim lights and candles. The tables were set with lovely arrangements of fresh colorful flowers. A rather large orchestra was playing a varied selection of Latin and modern rhythms. Most people were already dancing by the time they arrived. The food was outstanding. The hors d’oeuvres were almost orgasmic. Everyone was dressed to the nines. Even the younger teens were wearing tuxes and evening dresses. At times, the jewelry was almost blinding. Over the weeks Harm and Mac had met so many of Vilma and Francisco’s friends, they were easily engaged in various conversations throughout the large ballroom. They also had gotten used to dancing together since it was the norm at so many of the gatherings they had been to. Not only had they gotten used to it, they’d grown to love dancing together. At 11pm, Vilma had to practically drag Harm and Mac off the dance floor when dinner was finally served.
“Now this has to be a first for you, marine,” Harm commented following Mac to the table.
“What would that be?” she replied, glancing back at him as he pulled her chair out for her.
“You not wanting dinner,” he smiled, taking the seat next to her.
“I was enjoying myself,” she grinned, placing her napkin on her lap.
“Since when has having a good time ever stopped you from eating?” Harm leaned back slightly as the waiter placed a steaming plate of food in front of him.
“Maybe I’m not hungry for food?” Mac raised an eyebrow as she speared a roasted new potato the size of a large marble, placed it in her mouth, and very slowly slid the fork out from between her pursed lips.
Harm couldn’t help the grin that broke out across his face from ear to ear watching Mac’s oral mastery. “Make sure you leave room for dessert.”
“Wouldn’t have it any other way, sailor,” she smiled back.
After dinner, Harm and Mac danced to every ballad. Swaying to the music, wrapped in each other’s arms, was the closest thing to heaven on earth. Dancing, holding Mac, feeling her heart beat against his, felt like the most natural thing. Mac belonged in his arms. This much, Harm was finally sure of.
Lifting her head from his shoulder, she stepped back slightly, “Yeah.”
“Will you miss this when we go home?”
“Yes, no, not just the dancing, the whole thing?”
“What do you mean?”
“In Washington our jobs take up most of our lives, as you previously pointed out so clearly. There’s little time for friends and family. Having fun seems to be almost an afterthought. These people leave their work behind at the end of the day and make time for living life with their friends and family as easily as we make the time to run to the grocery store for a quart of milk.”
“I agree, but most of the time, this doesn’t even seem real.”
“What about us, Mac, is that real?”
“I didn’t mean us. How could you ask such a thing? I meant all the rest of this.” Mac waved her arm across the splendor of the ballroom then put her hand back in Harm’s. “The only place I belong now is here in your arms, and I don’t ever want to lose that.”
“We won’t, not now.” He leaned in for a slow, light kiss that wouldn’t attract too much attention. Mac settled back into his shoulder as they continued to dance.
By the time the party had broken up at 4am, Harm and Mac were dead on their feet. After the last good-byes, and the drive home, it was another 45 minutes before Harm and Mac were finally alone in their room.
Kicking her shoes off, Mac watched them fly one at a time across the room. “I have never danced so much in my entire life! How the hell do these people do it?”
“Didn’t you see all those young kids? They start training for these parties while they’re still in diapers!”
Rubbing her eyes and yawning, “I don’t have the energy to even change, never mind take off all this makeup. Can you believe they wear all this stuff whenever there’s a party?”
“It is a bit much,” Harm nodded. “ But you are stunning, as a matter of fact a lot of those women looked much improved.”
Mac threw the nearest pillow at him.
Harm had kicked off his shoes, undone his tie, and a few buttons on his shirt. He smiled at Mac, patting the bed next to where he had laid down.
“You realize if you have anything other than sleep on your mind you are SO out of luck tonight.” She grinned, shaking her head as she walked closer to the bed settling down beside him.
“Mac, I’m almost 40 years old, I’ve been awake for 21 hours, dancing almost non stop for 8 of them, and I’ve lost count of how many drinks I’ve had. This is NOT the condition I want to be in the first time I make love to you.”
Snuggling a little closer, with her eyes already closed, she yawned, “That’s nice.”
The two of them immediately fell into a deep sleep.
A/N: So far I have tried to keep the information about the guerillas and life in Colombia as accurate as possible. In this chapter I’ve taken a few literary liberties. The existence of the two main rebel groups and the paramilitary groups is not one of those liberties.
Mac woke up and stretched like a lazy cat. She hadn’t slept in late since she was a teenager, and even back then it wasn’t that common. Harm was still sleeping soundly, one arm wrapped around her. Debating whether or not she should wake him up, Mac decided to sneak out from under him to tackle removing all the day old make up she was wearing and take a quick shower.
A few minutes later, Harm shifted a bit in bed. Starting to wake, he recognized the sound of the shower running. Looking up at the clock he thought, ‘Wow – I guess we’d better get a move on it.’ Poking his head out the door of their room, he could tell by the total silence of the house that he and Mac were probably the first ones awake. Rubbing the sleep out of his eyes again, he headed back towards the bathroom.
Stopping momentarily at the bathroom door, he looked up as if he could see through the door to the other side. A wide grin slowly spread across his face.
Hearing the door open and close, Mac called out. “Harm, I’m almost done, you should have enough hot….” Before she could finish her sentence a very naked Harmon Rabb Jr. had stepped into the shower beside her.
“I thought you might need someone to wash your back,” he smiled.
Stunned, Mac just stood there, mouth open, staring into his sparkling green eyes. As if with a mind of it’s own, her right hand stretched outward giving Harm her back brush. Shifting places with Mac so the water was spraying on his back, Harm turned Mac around. He set the brush down on the tub and picked up the bar of soap. Lathering up his hands, he began covering Mac in suds. Starting with the top of her shoulders, slowly he massaged her swanlike neck, creating a creamy lather. His fingers gently kneading her soft skin before his hands moved down her back, sliding both his hands across either side of her, just barely touching her sides, and nipping the edges of her breasts. Though tempted to let his hands wander around her front and linger washing and caressing her fleshy peaks, he forced himself to continue the path down her back, making swirling motions with the lather, to her rounded six. Squatting down on his heels, he firmly rubbed her right ankle, working his way up her calf, caressing her thigh, he moved across to the other thigh, ignoring her inviting curls, and continued down her calf to her left ankle.
Mac could barely hold her head up with the delicate caressing. Her limbs were turning to rubber. She could feel the warmth of his touch creating a fire within her, every motion of his skilled fingers, feeding the flame.
Almost stumbling as he turned her around and began the same lathering motions up the front of her leg and across to the other, Mac could feel the moisture of her desire pooling heavily between her legs, desperate for more of his touch.
Standing up, Harm reached for the soap to lather his hands again, and raised his hands slowly drawing soft circles around Mac’s hips and abdomen. Her muscles were so toned and hard, under such silky, soft skin. She was everything and more that he had ever imagined, and it took everything in him to focus completely on Mac and ignore the burning of his own rapidly growing desires.
As his hands moved up her front to reach her ample breasts, Mac let out a soft moan. The sound brought a small smile to Harm’s lips, and a twitch to his groin. Avoiding the temptation to pay more attention to her heaving breasts, or to suck in and savor the taught, dark nipple that was only inches away from his face until she screamed his name, Harm remained intent on the task at hand. All he wanted right now was to show his marine how much he loved her. Francisco’s words from weeks before echoed through his mind, ‘find ways to love her.’
Forcing his hands across her shoulders, delicately, he raised one arm and rubbed down to her wrist, gently soaping and massaging her hand, each finger one by one. Then, he gently put the one arm down and lifted the other arm, languishing it with the same slow, sensuous attention.
Mac had swayed once or twice, lost in the fabulous sensations that were pulsing through every fiber of her being. She didn’t know how she was still standing.
Just about finished with his initial assault on her senses, Harm turned Mac back towards the water and rinsed the soap off with the same slow sensual caresses he had used to apply the cleansing suds.
Despite her nearly hypnotic state, realization dawned that this was all very one sided. With tremendous effort to move her heavy limb, Mac reached over around Harm for the bar of soap. Grabbing her hand, he kissed the palm and said, “There won’t be enough hot water for that.” Quickly, he washed up a few critical spots as Mac stood there in a heated daze. Rinsing off, he couldn’t resist leaning into her for just a small good morning kiss, suppressing the burning desire to ravage her where they stood.
As expected, the hot water was becoming very lukewarm. Harm turned the water off, and reached out for the towels. Stepping out before Mac, he held open a large bath sheet, and she slowly stepped into the towel. After delicately dabbing the drops from Mac’s toned body, Harm wrapped the large towel around her, and bent down for another soft kiss, resisting the urge to pull her fully into his arms.
Still wobbly on her legs, her insides burning with want, Mac stepped back, tucking a corner of the towel in front of her, she took the other towel from Harm.
Harmon Rabb was most definitely the perfect package. Unable to ignore his impressive arousal, with a glint in her eye, Mac’s voice came out soft and sultry, “We’d better dry you off before you catch pneumonia, sailor.”
Gently she began to rub down his arms and back, amazed that she was now allowed to freely enjoy what she had so often dreamed of. As she slowly dried every inch of Harm’s dripping torso, they could hear the sound of human activity in the distance. Harm looked Mac in the eyes, all his efforts focused on controlling his desires, as every touch fanned the flames of his already blazing passion. His voice, scratchy and low, was barely above a whisper, “It sounds like our hosts are up.”
“They’re making enough noise out there for an army.” She said, pressing up against him, wrapping her arms, and the smaller towel, around Harm’s waist. Mac took a deep breath at the feel of his hardness pressing against her.
Unable to resist the call of her soft skin any longer, he leaned over and kissed Mac’s neck, reveling in her sweet taste, he mumbled, “Do you suppose something important is happening?”
“I suppose… we should…check.” Mac finally managed to respond. The feel of his lips on her still damp skin was pushing her control to its limits.
“Do we have to?” Nibbling now on the other side of her neck, he began moving slowly down her shoulder. He’d shown enough restraint, he wanted this woman, badly.
“Probably…” She leaned her shoulder closer to him, praying her rubber legs would hold her upright just a little longer.
“I don’t want to stop again.” Harm slid his hands around her waist as he continued kissing her bare shoulder. The need to be one with her was taking over his senses.
“Me neither…” Mac raised her arms around Harm’s shoulders.
The echoed sound of knocking on the door forced them out of their amorous stupor.
Taking deep breaths, Harm threw on his robe, and moved reluctantly to open the bedroom door.
Vilma stood there sleepily, still clad in what was left of last night’s hair and makeup. “Sorry to disturb you, but Antonio needs us right away in the living room.”
“We’ll be right there.”
Everyone was gathered in the living room. Except for Antonio, the group were all still in their robes. As the maid brought them all coffee, Antonio began, “We still have not heard more of the ransom, but Mono has heard from his informant.”
Without realizing it, they had all moved to the edge of their seats. The sleepy haze that was so evident on Vilma’s and Francisco’s faces, was now replaced with sharp awareness. No signs were left of the passion that raged through Mac and Harm only moments ago, they were once again Commander and Colonel.
“It seems they have split up more of the French tourists. Several have been taken up into the jungle. Eight of the tourists, four couples including the Gentilles, were left in the village. The informer thinks the ones left behind are the ones with a ransom in the works. We have what appears to be an unusual break. Each couple has been left in the care of a host family. Only two guerilla soldiers have been left behind to supervise.”
“This doesn’t follow the pattern in our files,” Harm commented.
“No, not at all. Usually, locals try not to get involved. If they assist the guerrillas they are in risk of being murdered by the paramilitary. The paramilitary has become as big a problem as the guerillas. This vigilante group viciously murders anyone they believe to be aiding or sympathizing with the guerillas. Unfortunately, hearsay is enough evidence for them. Too many innocent people are slaughtered every day. People are as afraid of the paramilitary as they are of the guerillas.”
“So you’re saying this can work to our advantage?” Mac asked.
“Exactly. The locals do not want to be responsible for kidnapped foreigners for fear of the paramilitary. They do not dare rebel against the guerillas for fear of retaliation by the same guerillas. This puts us in an excellent position to take these captives ‘off the townspeople’s hands’ with their cooperation.”
Antonio continued, “We have put together a small rescue squad. For a fee sufficient enough to fund relocating to another village far enough away from guerilla retaliation, the host families have agreed to look the other way when we come into town.”
“Is there such a place?” Harm asked.
“Yes, they will go to Barranquilla in Atlantico. There, Mono will take charge of setting them up. As you know from your research, the guerilla group FARC controls this part of the country. If we relocate them to Atlantico on the northern coast where the ELN is in control, they should be safe.”
Harm and Mac noticed Francisco move his arm around his wife. Without the help of her father none of this would be possible. Harm winced recalling how he scoffed at the Vice President’s choice to trust only this man.
“The informant has agreed to drug the guerilla soldier’s food in exchange for asylum in the US. Your man ‘Gunny’ is arranging for this as we speak. We have received a detailed map of the village. Each of the prisoner’s locations has been clearly marked. Speed is very important – we don’t know how long the guerillas will leave the village so lightly guarded. If guerilla reinforcements arrive, our plan will be aborted.”
Antonio glanced up at his audience. “We leave in 30 minutes, Commander. Can you and the Colonel be ready?”
“Wait a minute” Francisco interjected. “I know Harm and Sarah are qualified military in the US, but I’m not so sure taking them through the jungle roads of Boyaca is the best of ideas.”
“We will not be on the roads, we will be dropped at this location here.” Antonio moved the map to show a spot to Harm and Mac. “From there we will move by foot to the village, attracting as little attention as possible. A vehicle will be waiting at the village to help bring the prisoners closer to the pick up point, since we do not believe they are in any condition to trek the entire way on foot. Not to mention, at that point time becomes our enemy.”
Francisco didn’t appear convinced of the sanity of this idea. He knew Harm and Mac were experienced military, but he was having a hard time thinking of them as anything other than his American houseguests whom he should be protecting.
Harm looked up at Francisco, “We’ve done this sort of thing before. Mac’s a marine.” Harm caught her grinning out of one side of her mouth. “This is what she is trained for. I survived the jungles of Vietnam at sixteen. We’ll follow Antonio’s orders carefully and won’t take any unnecessary chances. We’ll be back for dinner.” Harm patted Francisco on the shoulder as he and Mac turned back towards their room.
“Here.” Stretching out his arm, Antonio handed Harm two handguns. “You’ll be needing these.”
30 minutes later
Harm and Mac stepped into the living room. Francisco stood up to wish them well, coming to a sudden stop when his eyes settled on Mac. His mind knew she was a Marine, but now, he believed it. Gone were the fashionably attractive outfits she had been wearing. Standing there in full camouflage with sidearms, Mac looked every bit the military soldier. Harm thanked Francisco and Vilma, as did Mac. “Remember, we’ll be home for dinner,” Harm smiled.
“God be with you” Vilma and Francisco chorused. “God be with you.”
Few Hours Later
Small Village in Colombia
The drop had gone off without a hitch. The squad consisted of four men in addition to Antonio. At first they had seemed somewhat apprehensive at the sight of Mac. None of them had ever worked with a woman before and they were none to happy to start now. Once the drop was complete, and it was clear to everyone that Mac was not in need of babysitting, Mac quickly became just another one of the guys.
The hike to the village was not nearly as long as Harm and Mac had anticipated. ‘So far so good,’ they thought. The squad positioned themselves around the perimeter of the village. Antonio called the informant by radio. The status of the sleeping guards was confirmed.
Antonio remained in his location just looking over the village. From his vantage point he could radio anyone in the rest of the squad at the slightest hint of a problem. Harm and Mac were going after the Gentilles. Three of the other men were dispersed to the other homes to retrieve the remaining six prisoners. The fourth man in the group was already positioning himself by the getaway vehicle.
As they had been promised, each of the four homes was found unlocked and empty, except for the prisoners. Mac and Harm rushed in the front door where the Gentilles were being held with guns drawn. Spotting the couple tied together on the floor of their prison with a horrific look of panic on their hollow faces, Mac quickly announced, “it’s okay, you’re dad sent us- but we need to book it.” In each of the other homes the French prisoners were also quickly untied and escorted to the getaway vehicle. Despite the minor communication challenges of convincing the French this was a rescue, not another march further into the jungle, it took less than 10 minutes until they were all safely in the vehicle and on their way down the road. Fifteen minutes later they were in the waiting chopper and flying over the hills.
Looking down, Antonio called over to Harm, pointing at something in the distance. “Looks like God was on our side.”
Following the direction Antonio was pointing in, Harm saw a convoy of vehicles coming down the same road they had just left. It was heading towards the village.
“Who is that?” Harm asked.
“That is the guerilla cavalry. I knew once this chopper was spotted landing, they’d know what was up and have reinforcements out.” Looking up at Harm, he now had a better understanding of the American expression ‘if looks could kill.’ “We didn’t see any need to worry you with small details,” Antonio commented matter of factly.
Harm just shook his head. This guy would have made a great CIA agent. He wondered if ‘small details’ was the Colombian way of saying ‘need to know.’ He looked over at Mac on the other side of the chopper trying to help the rescued Frenchmen. At least this time it all went according to plan. Maybe Antonio could give Webb a few pointers.
The eight French citizens were unceremoniously delivered to the French Embassy. Once inside, despite her weakened condition, Mrs. Gentille insisted on phoning her children, and then her father, before allowing the embassy physician to look her over. The Vice President said he would inform Admiral Chegwidden of the situation. Harm didn’t think the Vice President would ever stop saying thank you. It was quickly agreed by all, the Gentilles would be returning to France.
Vilma and Francisco’s Apartment
Vilma and Francisco had spent the better part of the day pacing the apartment. They had considered going to the club for lunch, but they simply didn’t want to pretend all was well.
When the doorbell rang they both practically jumped out of their skins. It was a race to the front door. Vilma won. Flinging the door open, she threw herself at Harm and Mac still standing on the other side.
“Vilmita, at least let them inside, then you can strangle them,” Francisco said pulling his wife away from the door to let his friends in.
Despite their exhaustion, Harm and Mac were still on an adrenaline high. Vilma clapped her hands, “All right you two, off to the showers. Put on some decent clothes and dinner will be waiting.”
In their room Mac rummaged through her luggage. “You’d better go first, I think they’re expecting us back quickly.”
Harm pulled Mac close to him and settled a soft kiss on her lips. “You’re right. I wish you weren’t, but I’ll be right back.” He patted her six as he walked past her to the bathroom.
By the time Mac returned to the living room, Claudia and Jack had arrived. Hugs and congratulations went around the room when Vilma ordered everyone into the dining room. Harm and Francisco had been huddled in the opposite corner of the living room in soft-spoken conversation. ‘Odd,’ she thought. ‘Don’t be silly. It’s probably just war stories’, she told herself.
As usual the two older sons were out at some party or other. The youngest was expected back after dinner. Between school and their social lives, Harm and Mac had barely spent any time at all with the boys.
Gathered into the dining room, they enjoyed a quiet family dinner. The meal was absolutely delicious as usual. It was the dessert that had Mac’s mouth watering tonight. Some merrengon ake, typical of this part of the country, made with meringue like egg whites and various berries. Mac wasn’t sure which she loved more, this or the strawberries and cream. There was something about the thick cream here that tasted absolutely sinful. Vilma had made sure both were available tonight.
After dinner they moved into the living room. Amparo and Rodolfo arrived as Francisco opened a bottle of champagne. Harm had a glass to be polite. Francisco surprised Mac when he handed her a champagne glass with ginger ale. When Mac smiled at Francisco, he actually blushed at the sincere gratitude in her eyes. The music was playing and the laughter began to fill the room.
Not much time had passed when Francisco pulled Harm aside. A few minutes later Harm walked over to Mac, leaned into her, and whispered in her ear, “Come with me a minute, please.”
Harm extended his hand to her. Mac followed him down the front hall holding his hand. As they reached the door she couldn’t help wondering, what was Harm up to? When the door opened, three mariachis began to play. She looked over at Harm who was grinning from ear to ear like that proverbial Cheshire cat. She turned around and noticed the entire household had followed behind, even the maid. They were all standing in the hall, grinning as wide as Harm was.
After the first song for Mac was finished, everyone turned back towards the living room. The musicians, already playing a second tune, strolled into the house following the crowd. Mac was speechless. Harm put his arms around her waist pulling her back against his chest. Looking over her shoulder at everyone in the living room, he whispered into her ear, “I love you, here and everywhere.”
Mac could feel the tears fighting to come out. It took all her strength not to cry like a baby. She leaned back against Harm and whispered, “What did I ever do to deserve you?”
Harm turned her around to face him. “Dance with me?”
The couple started dancing in the hallway, oblivious to the smiles around the living room. Harm and Mac couldn’t stop staring into each other’s eyes. “I love you too, you know,” Mac smiled.
“I had hoped so.”
“Don’t ever doubt it.”
He gave her a very chaste kiss, unaware all eyes in the room were still on them.
By the time the Mariachis had left, Mac was sitting on the sofa snuggled up against Harm. Even though it was only 2340, Claudia and Jack excused themselves for the night. Amparo and Rodolfo followed their lead, bidding everyone a good night and pleasant dreams. Francisco and Vilma turned to Harm and Mac. “It’s been a long day.” Francisco said. “ I think we should call it an early night.”
After hugging each other good night, the success of the mission still charging the air, they each retired to their rooms.
A/N: Due to my lack of knowledge in military detail, I made the rescue scene short with no surprises. If you are interested in learning more about this type of situation, the movie Proof Of Life with Russell Crowe has an excellent director’s cut version on the dvd. It accurately explains in detail the guerilla problem in Colombia. The character Antonio Quintero is based on a real person who I am told is very much like the character Russell Crow portrayed.
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