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Shadows from the Past    Part 3


Chapter 14
Harm’s apartment
Same time

“Mom? Are you still with me?” Harm squeezed Mac’s hand again.

“Yes. How long have you known?”

“A few days.”

“Are you sure? She’s yours, I mean?”

“Yes. We got the DNA results today.”  Harm waited impatiently listening to more silence on the line.  “Mom?”

“I’m still here, dear... A little girl?” A slow smile began to creep across her face.  Looking up at her husband, Trish was surprised to find him already smiling like a Cheshire cat.

“She’s really sweet, and smart, too,” Harm smiled timidly, beginning to relax for the first time since he picked up the phone.

“Do you need our help buying a house?”

“A house?”

“Yes, you know; four walls, a roof, a backyard.  Don’t tell me you’ve got her in that little bachelor pad of yours!” Trish was already packing her bags in her mind, suddenly horrified at the thought of her little granddaughter alone with her son.

“No, Mom.  She’s with...” Harm didn’t get to finish his sentence.

“Wait a minute – if her mom was murdered two years ago, who’s been taking care of her?”  Trish was beginning to panic.

“Her grandparents, but her grandmother died recently and the grandfather brought her to DC to meet me.”

“Good. Then we have time to make proper arrangements. We’ll start with the house and schools. I’ll have Frank book me on the first flight out tomorrow morning.  Don’t you worry about a thing, dear, we’ll take care of everything.”

“Mom, slow down.  I just found out for sure she’s mine two hours ago.” Harm glanced at Mac for confirmation, smiling when she mouthed, two hours and 22 minutes. “I haven’t told her yet, and I’m not sure when will be the right time to tell her.  I haven’t had time to think about anything more, especially not houses.  I think it’s better if you wait a little bit before coming to meet her.  Mac and I have everything under control so far, and I...”

“MAC!” Trish dropped back in the chair again.  This time, Frank sat down on the arm beside her. He was getting dizzy watching her spring up and down.  “You didn’t tell me she was helping you.”  A sly grin matched the twinkle in her eye.

“I wouldn’t have made it through the first day without her.” Thank you, he mouthed in Mac’s direction.

“I see,” Trish smiled.


“I’ll give you two a little time to work all this out, but if you don’t...”

“Yes, Mom.  I think I get the idea.” Harm nodded as though she could see him through the phone.

“I want daily updates,” Trish insisted. 

“I’ll do my best, and Mom?”


“I really do love you.”

“I love you too, honey.  Now go take care of your family, and remember, if you need help to get a nice house, we’re here.”

“Night Mom, Frank.”

Disconnecting the call, Harm tossed the phone to the other side of the sofa, his head falling heavily on the seatback behind him.

“That didn’t sound so bad,” Mac grinned, wiggling her fingers to help with circulation.

“Oh, Mac. I’m sorry.” Harm let go of her hand, immediately wrapping it around her shoulder and drawing her into him.  “No, I suppose it could have been worse, but she’s right.”

“About what?”  Mac snuggled more securely into his embrace, her hand resting on his chest, resisting the urge to play with his chest hair.

“If I’m going to take care of Chris I should consider a house, or at least a bigger place.  I’m going to have to start looking into neighborhoods, schools, daycare options, and then there’s what to do when I’m sent on investigations,” Harm sighed heavily.

“You know I’ll help with whatever I can.  I’m sure Ray’s sister might not mind taking her in when you’re away, or maybe... if you’d like, you could... you know, leave her with me.” Mac couldn’t take it any longer and began slowly swirling the strands of short hair under her fingers.

Harm closed his eyes allowing the warmth of her touch to fill him completely.  His mouth was getting ready to speak when he felt her lips lightly touch his neck.  Suddenly every drop of blood in his brain was pooling south, igniting a small fire that was quickly rushing through his veins demanding to be fed with the feel of her skin against his.

Shifting her weight, he turned far enough to capture her lips with his.  He so loved the taste of Sarah MacKenzie.  Slow, he reminded himself. There wasn’t enough time to let this go much further, just a little friendly necking. His hands rubbed soothing circles along her back and waist, resisting the temptation to slide up under her sweater and feel her soft, hot skin.  His tongue teased and swirled, exploring every sensation her moist mouth had to offer.  He could live on nothing but the taste of her kiss and the feel of her soft body in his arms.

Debating with himself if he dared pull her closer, allowing himself to feel the curve of her flesh against his hard body, the decision was made for him with the loud buzzing of his oven timer.

Grudgingly pulling back, his eyes fighting the heaviness of desire, Harm asked, “Could we maybe pick this up again later?”

“Mm.” Mac pulled back, her own eyes opening slowly, revealing the same suppressed yearnings.

“Somehow, I think that casserole is going to be a disappointing second best,” Harm mumbled on his way to turn off the offending sound.

Making her way to the kitchen, Mac wasn’t sure if she was meant to hear him, but either way, she couldn’t disagree. 

Scooping the food onto a dish and handing it to Mac, “Did you mean what you said about helping?” Harm asked, filling his own plate with a large helping.

“Yes.” Mac sat at the table.

“How much help?” Harm took a seat across from her.

“How much do you want?” Her fork dangled in mid air, her gaze slightly suggestive.

“You know what I want.” Harm set his fork down on the plate.  If this conversation was about to go where he thought it might, food was the last thing he felt like.

“Do I?” Mac took a bite of her food.

“I thought I’d made myself clear.”

“You want me in your life. Well, I’m offering to be there when you need help with Chris.”

“Actually, what I said was, I wanted to be a part of YOUR life.  You’re my best friend, Mac. I’ve never doubted I could count on your help for anything.  I’m talking about much more than friendship.”

“I hope so. I would hate to think you kiss all your friends that way,” Mac smiled, waving her fork in the direction of the sofa they had just vacated.

“Don’t drop chaff now, Mac.”

“I’m not.”  She pushed her plate away.

“You never answered me the other night.  Could you consider Chris yours? Would you be willing to raise her together?”

“Harm, up until a few nights ago, I had no idea if trying to fulfill our deal meant a comfortable custody agreement or a more permanent arrangement,” she started.


“No, let me finish.  You may have seriously implied, but let’s face it, it won’t be the first or last time you’ve strongly implied and then everything blew up in my face.  I think it’s safe to say that a few things are much clearer now then they were even a week ago.  There is definitely something between us stronger than anything we can fight or ignore. We both still want that illusive child with your looks and my brains, and it’s safe to say you want more than a custody agreement.  Have I got that right?”

“Yes.” Harm bit his lips repressing the urge to explain himself.

“Before this week you’d kissed me all of three times.  Only one of which implied anything of any import, and that was at a time when my fiancé would have taken rather unkindly to my doing anything about it.” Mac paused for a breath, aware of Harm’s efforts to let her speak her mind. 

“Can’t you just accept that I want to help with Chris, and let whatever we’ve started have a chance to grow some solid roots?” Mac pushed back in her chair signaling to Harm she was through.

Moving out of his chair and walking around the table to sit beside Mac, Harm took her hand in his.

“Yes, I can gratefully accept your offer to help with Chris, but since I’ve obviously not made myself clear in the past, I’m going to make my intentions perfectly clear now.  When I say I want to be a part of your life, day and night, in every way, I’m asking you to love me, my children, and our children, for the rest of our lives. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.  I won’t push this now, but I want you to know when you’re ready, I have every intention of asking you to be my wife.  Is that clear enough?”

“Yes.” Fighting the tears threatening to flow, Mac felt a sly grin tugging at her lips.  “Are you expecting any more children?”

Rolling his eyes, Harm pulled Mac into a tight embrace.  Holding the back of her head steady with his broad hand, he softly whispered into her ear, “Only the ones we make.”

Chapter 15

The visit with Ray and his sister’s family had been both calming and unnerving.  Ray and Shelly had both offered to be Harm’s back up when duty called.  It surprised Harm to discover how relieved he was to hear Ray’s plans included selling his home in Florida and moving to DC to be near his granddaughter.  Ray was the only father Chris had ever known, and Harm was relying heavily on his guidance.  Besides, everyone agreed it would make the transition easier, less drastic.

However, the one thing no one could determine was when or how to tell Chris. It seemed that step was out of everyone’s realm of expertise.  No one wanted responsibility for scarring the precious child for life by going about this all wrong.

“What exactly does she know about her father?” Harm finally asked as the adults sat in the living room over coffee.

“Very little. We were intentionally vague.  When Jordie died, we decided to give her the photo of you and Jordan together, but all we ever told her about it was that you were her mommy’s special friend.  I suspect that’s why she felt so comfortable with you from the beginning. Well, that and the obvious,” Ray shrugged.

“Has she ever asked about me?”

“Not as often as you would think.  Since she doesn’t ever remember having a mom, having grandma and grandpa seemed the norm to her.  We were concerned that when she started pre-school last year it would spur on questions, but she must have been too young, because they didn’t.  She wasn’t at school very long this year when my wife passed on.  We simply haven’t had to deal with it.” They had dreaded the time when Chris would start asking questions about her father, neither one of them sure how to explain never telling Harm about her.

“Not often means she must have asked something?”  Mac voiced what she was sure Harm would have if the entire situation weren’t so personally consuming.

“Well, once she asked if she had a daddy. Obviously we told her yes.  She asked if he was in heaven like her mom, and we explained no, but he couldn’t be with her now, but maybe some day soon he could. That seemed to satisfy her at the time.  The only other time she asked, she startled us out of the blue. One day she ran into the kitchen and hugged my wife around her knees.  She didn’t do that very often. When Sally bent over to hug Chris and told her she loved her, Chris asked, ‘Does my daddy love me?’”

“What did your wife answer?” Harm had a hard time swallowing the lump that had formed in his throat.

“She said, ‘Very much’.”  Ray choked out, the memory breaking his heart.  He didn’t tell Harm that he almost picked up the phone and called him that day, despite his wife’s wishes.  If Chris had not simply accepted his wife’s word at face value, and had pursued the issue, Ray would have definitely found Harm.

At least Harm could be thankful to Sally for that much.  He’d had a nagging concern that perhaps she might have unconsciously imposed a negative opinion of Harm on Chris.  In an odd way, this gave him somewhat of a clean slate to work with.

It was finally decided that Harm should invite Chris to spend the weekend at his place, a sort of trial run at parenting.  It would be an excellent gauge of where their relationship stood and perhaps could help Harm decide when and how to tell her.

Harm’s car
Later that evening

“You know what galls me?  If they had just told me about her in the first place, I wouldn’t have to be worried about scarring her psyche.” Harm banged on the steering wheel.

“I know, but what’s done is done.” Mac shifted in the seat.  Harm had pretty much been ranting about the situation since they’d left the Stevens’ house, and she wasn’t sure he was going to reach any viable conclusion before arriving at her apartment.

“It’s not fair.  I’m being asked to resolve a delicate situation that I didn’t create.”

Mac furrowed her brow and stared silently at the flustered lawyer.  Dare she point out that he was indeed the one to ‘create’ the current situation? Not only by aiding in Chris’ conception, but by placing his love of flying before the relationship he was having with Jordan.

Glancing in Mac’s direction, Harm did a double take at her expression. “Okay, so maybe I had a little something to do with creating it, but you know what I’m talking about. If Jordan had told me from the beginning, things would be very different.  For one thing, she might not even be dead.”  That thought weighed heavily on Harm.  It was the first time he’d voiced it out loud, but not the first time he’d faced it.  Had he not allowed his obsessions to control his life, he might have stayed at JAG and his relationship with Jordan could have run a very different course.

“Maybe.” Mac hesitated wondering if she really wanted to ask what she was thinking.  Probably not, she knew the answer.

“What?” Harm asked softly.  He recognized the look on her face.  He was fairly sure he knew what it meant, but he had to ask.

“Nothing.” Mac shook off his question.

“Would I have married her?” Harm kept his eyes on the road.  He wasn’t sure he could have this conversation and look at Mac at the same time, especially, in light of yesterday’s conversation. The last thing he wanted was for Mac to associate a marriage proposal with the arrival of a child. He couldn’t afford to have her misconstrue his marriage goals.

“I didn’t ask that.”

“No, but that’s what you were wondering.”

“Maybe,” she replied timidly.

“I’m not sure.” That was another thing he had thought about.  He had loved Jordan in his own way, but not enough to stay away from flying and probably not enough to ask her to marry him.  On the other hand, he couldn’t see not asking her if he’d known she was pregnant. Even if he’d gone flying anyway and she’d told him when he’d come home... “If I’d have asked her when I returned from flying, I doubt seriously she would have accepted.” Harm voiced the rest of his thought out loud.  Jordan’s father made it very clear she didn’t want him just because of the baby.

“But, you probably would have asked anyway?” she stated with certainty.

“Probably.”  He wasn’t going to lie to Mac or himself.  She knew him too well for that.

Mac stared out the window, fighting the unexpected wave of sadness that washed over her at hearing his words.  He was right.  She had wondered, but she wouldn’t have asked, she’d already known what his answer was going to be. There was no way Harmon Rabb, Jr. would not have taken responsibility for his child and her mother. Had things been different, she’d probably have been invited over for an anniversary dinner once a year. Maybe throw darts with him and Jordan at McMurphy’s.  Her heart broke a little as the image flitted through her head.

After a few long minutes of drawn out silence, he glanced to check on Mac. Even though she was looking out the side window, Harm could see what he thought were the corners of a possible smile on her face. He couldn’t quite make sense of it.  “Mac?”

When she shifted to face him, Harm could see he’d been right. A hint of a smile was tugging at the corner of her mouth.

“Did I miss something?” His eyes looked back to the traffic ahead, even though he wanted to see her face. It wouldn’t do them much good if he drove them off the road.

“That’s why I love you.” She turned back towards the window.   Memories of her years with Harm flooding her thoughts. Jordan was gone, and sweet little Chris was now part of Harm‘s life.  He was offering her a chance to be part of it, too.  Nothing else mattered in the end.

“Excuse me!” Harm almost slammed on the brakes.  He could hear Mac almost chuckling under her breath at his reaction.

“Harmon Rabb, you are the most honorable, noble man I have ever known.  From me to Coates, to Mattie, to every stray veteran you have ever met – you have to be everyone’s ‘knight in shining armor’, but I love you for that.” Her hand reached over and dropped softly on his leg.  “I wouldn’t have expected anything less from you with Jordan. That’s a good thing.”

Mac watched him carefully as he thought about what she’d just said.

“You’re the best man I know, and Chris is lucky to have you for a father.”

Harm wanted to say something but was finding it impossible now that all the air had rushed from his lungs. Placing his hand on hers, he squeezed as tightly as he could.  “Thank you.” He wasn’t sure if he was thanking her for loving him, for understanding him, or for just being the most perfect, beautiful woman in the world, but whatever the reason, nothing else seemed to matter anymore.   Sarah Mackenzie loved him.

Chapter 16

Harm had walked Mac to her door, but didn’t accept her offer for coffee. It had been a very long day, and an even longer evening. It just seemed right not to tempt fate further and call it a day.

The next couple of days passed in a flash.  Harm and Mac sat down at lunch the following day with Bud and told him the entire story.  Bud immediately called Harriet to share the news.  Once all the ‘Oh, my Gosh’ and ‘Congratulations’ were over, Harriet invited Harm, Mac and Chris over for a barbecue Saturday afternoon.  She was bursting at the seams wanting to see Harm’s little girl.

Harm and Mac took Chris to dinner Thursday without Ray to a place called Chuck E Cheese.  Even though Harm was hoping to teach Chris the joy of proper diet, he accepted the fact that at four, a pizza restaurant with an oversized rat and a play area would be considerably more entertaining to her than Ho’s Organic Noodle House.

She had gotten all excited about going to a barbecue someplace with small children.  Much to their surprise, when Harm asked if she’d like to stay with him Saturday night after the barbecue, she was enthusiastically in favor of the idea, something Harriet had warned them not to expect from a four year old. Most children that young suffered from a sort of separation anxiety and would need to be taken home before making it through the night.

By Friday night, Harm was pacing like a caged lion.  Having Chris stay over shouldn’t be such a big deal and yet so much seemed to be hinging on it.  Originally he had planned to have her over Friday as well as Saturday night, but Harriet suggested two nights might be a bit much and perhaps it would be better to start slow with one night and see how it went from there.  Harm quickly came to realize that Harriet was going to be a very important asset over the next few months.

“Maybe this will help.” Mac handed Harm a cup of herbal tea. She'd tried talking to him. She suggested watching a movie, and at one point she even considered certain more...physical activities, but didn't have the nerve to follow through. Finally giving up, she'd been watching him pace from the kitchen for twenty minutes.

“I’m sorry. Thanks.” Harm accepted the proffered cup and took a seat. “Maybe a movie wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all?”

“Chris loves spending time with you.  Tomorrow will be just fine.  It won’t be any different than any other day you’ve spent with her.” Mac took a sip of her tea.

“I know that, and you know that, but my nervous system doesn’t seem to know that,” Harm teased.

“Finish your tea.  Do you want to watch that movie? It’s getting late, and I don’t want to leave you alone in this state all night.”

“Then don’t leave me.” Harm raised a suggestive eyebrow.

Mac merely rolled her eyes at him before taking another sip of tea.  If he only knew how tempting an offer that was.

“You can’t blame a guy for trying.” Shrugging casually, he flashed an impish grin.

They managed to watch only half of Dead Poet’s Society bfore Mac was unable to stop yawning.

“As much as I hate to say this, either you go home now before it gets any later, or you’re staying here tonight.” Harm leaned forward and turned off the TV.

“As tempting as you make that sound,” Mac wrinkled her nose at him, “if I’m supposed to be dressed in clean clothes and ready to go first thing in the morning, I’d better go home. Are you picking me up before or after Chris?” Mac picked up her purse and started for the door.

“Before if you don’t mind. Say, nine o’clock?”

“Done.” Smiling, she leaned forward a bit and kissed Harm on the cheek.

Harm chuckled at the chaste gesture, “Remind me never to offer to let you stay again.”

“Night.” She brushed her fingers across his cheek.  “Try and get some sleep.”

Saturday afternoon
Roberts’ house

Harriet softly patted Nicole’s back before setting her down in the bassinet.  She could hear the hustle of activity as her sons scurried down the stairs to answer the now dinging doorbell.

“They’re here,” Bud whispered into the doorway as he passed by.

Chris stood between Harm and Mac, her weight shifting awkwardly from foot to foot, her tiny hands tugging on the adults as she moved.

Harm and Mac glanced down at the little girl, then up at each other, waiting for the front door to open.  Neither could resist smiling at the bundle of excitement.

“Nice to see you, sir,” Bud announced loudly, swinging the door open while each of the boys hid behind a leg.

“Thanks for the invitation.” Harm followed Mac and Chris into the spacious home.

Harriet quickly made her way down the stairs.  “Sorry for the delay. I was putting the twins down for their nap.   You must be Chris?” Squatting down to the child’s eye level, Harriet extended her hand to the little girl.

“Yes, ma’am,” Chris replied softly.

“Oh, Harm, she’s darling.” Harriet stood back up.  “AJ, why don’t you take Jimmy and Chris out to the swing set.”

Without a word, AJ took Chris’ hand and scurried off towards the kitchen.

“Why don’t you guys head into the other room, and I’ll get us something to drink.” Noticing the concerned look on Harm’s face she added reassuringly, “Don’t worry, the yard is perfectly safe. The new swing set should keep them busy for hours.  The damn thing cost more than my living room furniture.”

“Gee, something else to look forward to.” Harm rolled his eyes and followed Bud and Mac into the family room.

“Ah, already learning about the financial joys of parenthood,” Bud chuckled.

“We’re thinking about buying a house.” Harm took a seat next to Mac on the sofa.

“You are?” Carrying in a tray of lemonade with glasses, Harriet tried very hard not to grin.  She was fairly sure Harm hadn’t noticed he’d used the pronoun ‘we’, as in he and a certain marine.

“My mom suggested it.  It makes sense. Then Chris could have a yard with a swing like that.” Grinning coyly he added, “Well, maybe not quite like that, but you know what I mean. My neighborhood is no place to be raising children, and my apartment is great for a bachelor, but there isn’t any extra room for a four year old, not even a spare broom closet.”

“Have you started looking yet?” Harriet set the tray on the table, and began pouring the drinks.

“I’m working on narrowing down the options for neighborhoods.  Any suggestions?”

“Well, the schools here are wonderful, and then we’d be close enough to help out. That is, if you want us to.” Harriet handed Harm his glass.

“What about daycare options?”

“We used to use one close to JAG. It made more sense to me to be close to the office for an emergency than close to the house. I can give you the name if you want,” Harriet offered. “When do you get custody of her?”

“Thank you. If you guys can recommend it, it will save me the trouble of checking it out. As for custody, we haven’t figured out how or when to tell her, never mind when she’ll come live with me.  We followed your advice, and she’s spending one night tonight, sort of a trial run.”

“That’s a good idea. Ease her into spending more and more time with you,” Bud nodded.

“That’s what we thought,” Mac interjected.

Once again Harriet contained the urge to burst into a smile. She was delighted to notice Mac having an obvious role in the situation.

The afternoon passed by with pleasant conversation and lots of noisemaking. Three children and two infants made for anything but a quiet afternoon.   When Harm and Bud took the older children out for ice cream, Harriet finally got the opportunity for girl talk she’d been waiting for.

“Nicky is more patient than Mikey.  If you’ll hold her while I feed him, then we can switch off.”

Mac nodded taking the little bundle into her arms.  She was absolutely amazed at how tiny the newborn babies were compared to when AJ and Jimmy were born.

Settling comfortably into the rocking chair, Harriet adjusted her shirt as she spoke to Mac.  “Harm seems to be taking fatherhood well.”

“He’s always wanted children.” Across the room, Mac swayed with the baby.

“Chris seems to be taken with him.”

“She is. She nestled up against him the first time she spoke to him.” Mac hadn’t removed her eyes from the small baby. Nicky had been staring quietly at Mac, taking in every nuance of her facial features.

“She also seems pretty fond of you.  I thought for a few minutes there she wasn’t going to go for ice cream if you didn’t join them.”

“Well, you know kids. Nothing is more important than ice cream.” Mac glanced up for a moment to watch the baby nestled against Harriet’s breast.

“I was pretty sure the ice cream would win, but you have to admit, it’s rather fortunate that she’s taken to you as her mother figure,” Harriet smiled knowingly.

Mac’s eyes sprang open wide. It hadn’t occurred to her that perhaps Chris was using her as a substitute for the now absent grandmother.

“I...I’m not ...I mean...”

“Colonel, Mac, anyone with eyes can see. You guys are becoming a real family.”

Looking down at the big blue eyes staring back at her, Mac felt a wave of emotion rush through her, just as she felt Harm’s eyes on her. 

Harriet watched silently as Harm walked up to Mac and dropped his arm around her shoulder.  “Bud sent me up to let you know we’re home.  Chris seems pretty tired, maybe we should think about heading home now.”   Oblivious to Harriet’s watchful gaze, “You look beautiful,” Harm whispered softly before kissing her temple.

Drowning in the depth of his sea green eyes, Mac swallowed hard.  Feeling the baby squirm in her arms, she looked down. Yes, maybe they really could be a family.

Chapter 17

Mac’s apartment

Harm pulled up to the apartment. He didn’t like the idea of just dropping Mac off at the curb, but Chris was fighting heavy eyelids in the back seat, and he didn’t want to drag her all the way upstairs just to turn around and come back down.

“I’m sorry I can’t go up with you.” Harm reached for Mac’s hand.

“I understand.”  She squeezed his hand reassuringly.

“Are we here?” Chris’ sleepy eyes perked up instantly as she squirmed to unbuckle the latch on her seat belt.

“No, no, honey.  This is my apartment.   Keep the seat belt buckled until you get to Harm’s.” Mac reached around and waved her hand, silently motioning for Chris to hold off.

Chris’ brow furrowed in confusion immediately.  Within a few seconds, her lower lip took on a frightening twitch. “You’re not staying, too?” her small voice squeaked out.

Harm’s eyes widened in the same fear his daughter now felt.  It hadn’t occurred to him that she would be expecting the three of them to be together.  Silently, his eyes pleaded with Mac for help.

Mac’s expression was equally surprised.  She had no idea what to do.  When she felt Harm’s grip tighten painfully on her hand, she spoke to Chris, but her eyes remained fixed on Harm. “If I’m invited, I would love to stay.” Then she prayed she hadn’t overstepped her bounds. 

The sense of panic visibly washed from Harm’s body. “Of course you’re invited.”

“Okay, why don’t you two come upstairs with me and I can pack a few things for the night?” Mac smiled broadly to reassure Harm as much as Chris.

Pulling up the street a short distance, Harm parked the car and helped Chris out, holding her hand all the way up to Mac’s door.

“Grandpa helped me pack my bag,” Chris mentioned, once inside.

“You’ve got a very helpful Grandpa.” Mac reached her hand out to escort Chris over to the couch.

“Mm hm, but I packed most of it myself.  I brought my new pink pajamas with flying pigs, and I brought my blue pants with the blue shirt that has a butterfly the same as the pants, and I brought clean panties and socks, and I remembered my toothbrush, too!” She was clearly proud of having remembered that last article on her own.

“Do you know my favorite pajamas have cowboys on them?”

“They do?”

“Uh huh. How about if I bring my cowboy pajamas?”

“Okay? Are you going to bring a bedtime story?”

“A bedtime story?” Mac repeated.

“Grandpa said the Commander wouldn’t have any so I should bring one.  He almost didn’t let me bring mommy’s picture but I promised I wouldn’t let it get broken.”

“You brought your mommy’s picture?” Mac asked, a little surprised she didn’t have a favorite stuffed animal or some such toy.

“Grandma used to tell me that having mommy’s picture near would remind me that even though mommy was in heaven, she was still close to me.”

Harm watched the conversation evolve from the other side of the room, amazed at how naturally Mac communicated with his daughter.

“Does the Commander love you like my mommy?” Chris asked matter of factly.

That sense of panic that had risen franticly in the car had just raised its ugly head again. Both Mac and Harm were at a loss for words.

“Why do you ask that?” Mac forced herself to ask.

“Grandma told me the Commander was Mommy’s special friend. When I asked her why, she said because he loved Mommy very much.”

“Yes, he did.” Mac felt her heart sink to the pit of her stomach.  Harm on the other hand felt his lurch to his throat.  The first thing that occurred to him during this conversation was that Chris was going to have to call him something other than ‘Commander’. The next thing running through his mind was to plead with God that this line of questioning didn’t chase Mac away.

“The Commander says you’re a special friend, too, so he must love you too, right?”

Mac glanced quickly at Harm, unsure of what to say next. Startled himself, Harm still managed to nod yes to Mac. Even if Chris didn’t understand, Mac could.

“What else did your Grandma tell you about the Commander?”  Mac begged the question, still unsure of how to answer, but amazingly reassured by Harm’s telling nod.

“She said if anything ever happened to her and Grandpa that the Commander would love me as much as Mommy and he would take good care of me.”

“She told you the Commander loved you?” Mac was a little surprised at that.

“No, she said he would if he knew me cause I’m Mommy’s little girl.” Chris raised her tiny hand to cover a lazy yawn.

Harm stood frozen, unsure if he should approach Chris and say something or just let Mac handle it for now.  Slowly, he stepped closer to the sofa. Squatting down between them, Harm searched, no prayed for the right words.

“You’re Grandma was a smart woman. She was right. I did love your mommy, very much.  She was very special to me.  I was very sad when she died.”

“That’s what Grandma said.” Chris tried to hold back another yawn.

“You look sleepy. I’ll go help the Colonel pack her things so we can get going. I do have something else I want you to know.”

“Uh huh,” she nodded.

“I love you because you’re you.” Harm squeezed her knee. A surge of sheer elation rushing through him as the miniature Rabb smile spread sleepily across her face, before another yawn overtook it.

“You stay here on the sofa.” Mac brought Chris one of her dinosaur books to look through. Smiling at Harm, Mac gestured with her nose towards the bedroom door. “Let’s go pack my things.”

“Sure,” he nodded. “You need anything else, honey?” he asked Chris before leaving the room.

“No, thank you.” She was perfectly contented looking at all the pictures.  Harm couldn’t help smiling to himself.  Already she reminded him of Mac in so many ways.

Waiting for Harm to step into the room, Mac closed the door quietly behind him.  “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. I guess I have a lot more to learn about Chris and her relationship with Grandma.”

“Those were some tough questions. You handled them really well,” Mac smiled proudly.

“You too. Thanks.”  Harm withheld the urge to pull her into his arms and thank her properly.  

“What about tonight? Are you sure you’re okay with this?” she asked.

“Oh, yeah.  I can’t thank you enough for being willing to do this. It just never occurred to me that she and I have never been out anywhere just the two of us.  I guess she had no reason to know you wouldn’t be there.”

“Well, if you’re sure you don’t mind, I’m glad to help.” Pulling a small bag from her closet, Mac quickly began tossing things in while Harm sat on the bed watching.

“Don’t forget the cowboy pajamas. My favorite,” Harm teased.

Slapping him on her way to the bathroom for her toiletries. “Don’t let this go to your head, flyboy.”

A few minutes later Mac was packed and ready to go. “Come on,” she gestured, opening the bedroom door.

Harm practically knocked Mac over when she stopped short in front of him.

Turning around, Mac shushed him with her finger. Chris was curled up on the sofa sleeping soundly.

“Doesn’t look like we’re going anywhere tonight,” Mac sighed. “Why don’t you run downstairs and bring her bag up.  At least we can have clean clothes for her in the morning.”

While Harm went for Chris’ bag, Mac brought out a blanket and pillow.  She pulled the clutched book from Chris’ little arms and set it on the table. Taking off her shoes and sweater first, Mac placed the pillow under her head and settled the blanket over her.

“Is she going to be okay there?” Harm whispered, quietly closing the front door behind him.

“Well, I could put her in bed with me, but I think the couch is more suited to her size than yours.” Mac kissed Chris on the temple and stood up. “We can watch TV in my room.”  Mac walked passed him unaware of Harm’s sudden pallor.

Setting the bag down by the door, Harm swallowed hard.  This was going to be a LONG night.

Chapter 18

Mac was already lying on the bed, flipping channels when Harm walked into the room.  He was at least relieved to find her still fully dressed.  He hadn’t thought about it, but 2110 was a little early for two full-grown adults to go to bed.

“Anything good on?” he asked.

“Not really.  I think I’m going to read. Pick whatever you like.” Mac tossed him the remote control, and rolled over to open the drawer of her nightstand, unknowingly giving Harm an ideal view of her six.

“Uh, thanks.” As long as they stayed fully clothed, and he stayed on his side of the bed, all should be fine.  Now if he only believed that.

At 2315, Mac stretched and yawned rather loudly.

“I think I’ve had it for tonight. Mind if I use the bathroom first?” Mac stretched one more time before getting up from bed.

“Sure. I didn’t bring my toothbrush or anything so I’ll just strip and climb into bed.”

“I have an extra.” Mac popped her head out of the bathroom and tossed him a new toothbrush. “I’ll be finished in five minutes.”

True to her word, five minutes later she was done. “Your turn.” Mac pulled back the sheets and climbed into bed as though this was an every day occurrence.

Somewhat out of sorts, Harm managed to brush his teeth and make his way back to bed without doing or saying anything embarrassing.  With his back to Mac, he stripped down to his boxers and quickly climbed under the covers.

“Good night,” Harm called over his shoulder, afraid to look at her.

“Sleep well,” Mac answered back, reaching over and turning out the lights.

It felt like it had taken forever, but Harm finally fell asleep only to be awakened by a soft rustling sound.

“Commander.” Chris’ small voice whispered over him.

Opening one eye, Harm could barely make out the small form by the bed.

“I need to use the potty.” Chris leaned more heavily on the bed. 

Sitting up, Harm turned on the light and reached for Chris’ hand. “It’s this way,” he muttered, not yet having noticed the tear stains on her cheek.

“What’s wrong?” Mac’s sleepy voice filled the room.

“Sorry. Potty run.” Harm turned on the bathroom light and nudged Chris in the right direction. “Do you need anything, honey?” he asked her.

“Uh uh,” she mumbled quietly.  “Will you wait for me?”

This time, both Harm and Mac noted the slight trace of fear in her voice.

“You bet I will.” Harm smiled down at her, his eyes barely open.

When Chris had closed the door behind her, Harm turned to Mac. “What time is it?”


“Oh.” Harm tried to force his eyes open. “Did she sound scared to you?”

“Yeah.” Mac threw the covers back and got out of bed.

“You don’t have to get up too.”

“I know.” Mac tried to smile at him but her face was still asleep.

Slowly opening the door, Chris peeked her head out first.

“Are you okay, honey?” Mac leaned down to her height.

“It was dark,” she answered quietly.

“I bet it was. What do you say if we turn on the kitchen light for you?”

“Thank you.” Her voice was still a little shaky.

“Hey, what’s this?” Mac wiped the almost dry tears from the little girl’s cheek.

“I didn’t know where you were,” she replied timidly.

“But you do now?” Mac nodded.

“Uh huh.”

Taking Chris’ hand, Mac walked her out to the living room.  “Would you please turn on the kitchen light for her?” Mac asked Harm, pointing at the kitchen with her nose.

Harm nodded his head and quickly flicked the switch, shedding a dull light into the living room.

“Is that better?” Harm asked.

“Uh huh,” Chris nodded.

“And you know where to find us if you need us?” Mac continued.

“Uh huh.”

“Are you going to be alright now?” Mac tucked her under the covers again, lightly brushing her fingers across Chris’ forehead.

“Uh huh.” Chris’ eyes began to fall closed with Mac’s soothing ministrations.

“You’re sure?” Mac nodded knowingly at Harm. Still gently caressing her temple.

“Mm,” was the only small sound Chris managed to make before falling off to sleep again.

Quietly they padded their way back to bed.

“She should be okay now.” Mac tried to reassure Harm.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen her cry.” Harm pulled the sheets back and slid under the covers.

“You still haven’t,” Mac chuckled, climbing into bed.

“Still...” Harm trailed off.

“Don’t worry about it. Try and go back to sleep.” Mac turned off the light. “Night.”

“Good night.”  Harm fluffed his pillow for good measure, but worrying about Chris left him wide awake.

“Are you okay?” Mac asked over her shoulder.  She could feel how tense he was, despite the distance between them.


“You sure?” Mac turned over, facing his back.

“I don’t like it when she cries.” Harm rolled over, not expecting to find Mac quite so close to him.

“You’ll have to adapt at some point. This was just a few tears. What will you do when you get an honest to goodness downpour?”

“I don’t know.” Harm reached forward and brushed a lock of hair away from Mac’s face.

Mac let her eyes fall closed, enjoying the momentary feel of his touch.

“You were great with her.” His hand dropped down to cup her cheek.

“I was glad to help.” Mac’s eyes remained closed, her heart beginning to race at his continued caress.

Harm’s fingers traced the edge of her cheek, sliding past her chin, down her throat, before he dropped his hand to the bed.

Mac reached up and laid her hand on his.

“She’s a good girl.” She gently squeezed his hand.

“Uh huh.” Harm weaved his fingers in hers, his thumb drawing lazy circles on the back of her hand.

The simple gesture of his finger caressing her hand was slowly bringing her simmering need to a more fervent boil.  Did she dare move, say something, anything to show him how she really felt, what she wanted?

Harm swallowed hard, savoring every second of their unique closeness and yet wanting so much more, but not daring to ask.

Both were afraid to move, to even breathe, neither wanting to break the spell.  With only the delicate glow of the streetlamp shining through her window, there was just enough light in the room for the two pairs of eyes to remain helplessly locked in each other’s gaze.

Shifting his weight up onto one elbow, Harm leaned in a little more closely.

“Mac.” Her name came out in a low, husky, whisper that sent chills down her spine.

“Yes.” The desire burning in her heart kept her voice soft and sultry.

“I...I” He wanted her, he needed her, and he desperately wanted to tell her, to show her how much he loved her, but he just couldn’t find the words. Closing the final distance, Harm’s lips fell lightly on hers.

The barely there kiss sent sparks trickling throughout both their bodies. What Harm tried to keep as a simple good night and thank you to show her how much he cared, was bringing him  dangerously close to succumbing to the passion building inside.  The mere feel of her lips against his, of her fingers entwined with his, was more powerful than any experience he’d ever shared with another woman.

“I love you so much, Mac.” Without any further thought or fear, once more his lips gently descended on hers, trying to tell her all that he couldn’t find words for.

Chapter 18.5

Oh how she wanted this, him. As his lips covered then suckled her own, his tongue tangled with hers sending shivers down her spine that were literally curling her toes.  Her body was nearly convulsing with need as he deepened the kiss to such heights she swore his tongue was stroking her straight to her core. 

Still holding her hand, Harm continued to kiss Mac with everything he had. He could feel the need within him rising through his system like a tidal wave.  He wanted her so badly, to touch her, to feel her. He wanted to watch her body squirm, wracked with pleasures as his mouth and hands explored every nook and cranny of Sarah MacKenzie, and then finally to sink deep inside her, filling her with all his love.  Deepening the kiss to practically impossible levels until he was almost convinced he could taste her very soul, Harm’s hand broke loose of her hold and reached up to gently touch the base of her neck.

Mac’s shoulder jerked unconsciously. The warmth of his touch on the sensitive hollow of her neck felt as though she’d been struck by lightening.  The current shot straight to her center, magnifying her need for him tenfold.   Her now free hand was flexing with the nearly uncontrollable urge to touch him in all previously forbidden places. 

Harm let his finger run from her neck down her chest to the swell of her breasts, afraid to allow himself to lean any closer. He wasn’t sure he could stop if he felt the softness of her body against his and she didn’t want what he wanted. When Mac broke the kiss, gasping for air, need twisted tightly inside him.  “Mac…” He kissed her cheek. His breath blew warm against her face, his voice caressing her ear. “I love you...” His ragged breath continued to stroke her face as he spoke. “Let me love you... please?” This was beyond a physical need.  His very soul longed to be one with Sarah MacKenzie.

Her head thrown back, her neck stretched eagerly accepting every flicker of sensation he had to offer, her mouth struggled to find words, any words.  All breath and reason had rushed from her as soon as his lips touched hers.  An attempt to nod was futile. 

Misinterpreting her lack of response, Harm pulled back slightly. “I’m sorry, Mac. I shouldn’t have crossed... I should have...”

“Oh, please...” Mac reached up, her hand landing squarely on his chest, her fingers sliding down to tease his pebbled nipple. “Don’t stop.” She managed to mumble, her voice low and raspy, “...I love you, too… I’m ready. I want this.”

Her words resounded like the starting pistol at a race. Though he had every intention of loving her slowly, very slowly, his arm snaked around her waist pulling her tightly against him as his lips crashed against hers, taking what was finally his.

Dropping his weight fully on the bed, he flipped Mac around to have use of both his hands. Slowly he undid the buttons of her pajama, allowing his fingers the pleasure of swirling along her soft skin with every additional opening. When the last closure was undone, he spread the shirt wide allowing the soft feel of her bare breasts to press momentarily against his own flesh. Briefly savoring the feel of skin on skin, Harm released his hold on Mac’s lips and began a trail of hot wet kisses down her throat as he raised her back, gliding the now unwanted garment off her succulent shoulders and tossing it away.  Licking and kissing every spot of exposed skin from her neck to her now bare shoulders, Harm felt a surge of pride and excitement at the low purring sound Mac made when his mouth finally latched on to one breast, his free hand caressing and teasing the other taut nipple.

Reflexively, Mac arched her back offering more of her aching flesh into the moist caverns of Harm’s masterful mouth.  Overwhelmed by the sparks of pleasure shooting from her breasts through the rest of her body, she finally managed to slide her hands across his back and under the waistband of his boxers.  When her fingers began doodling patterns on his six, Mac thought Harm was going to swallow her breast whole. At that same moment, a deep throaty moan simultaneously escaped their lips, pressed unexpectedly outward at the surge of pleasure traveling rapidly through both their systems.

Suddenly, Harm was painfully aware that he wasn’t going to be able to take this as slowly as he’d planned.  The need to be inside Sarah was becoming more than he could bear. The feel of her fingers on his six, gently caressing some of his most sensitive flesh, was making him wild with want and need. Carefully, showing more restraint then he thought humanly possible, Harm successfully moved his six away from her reach, forging a path of oral caresses past her breasts, down along her stomach, pausing to toy with her navel, thrilled at the tiny noises she made with every flick of his tongue.

“Oh, God.” Her entire body had been vibrating with need. The sensations surging through every extremity were converging forcefully between her legs. The feel of his wet tongue, dipping in her now hypersensitive belly button was only compounding the situation, she was literally dripping with desire.

Harm continued on his path of discovering every taste of Sarah MacKenzie, grinning silently with pride and pleasure at her ragged cries. Shifting his weight, and underestimating the length of Mac’s reach, he almost came out of his skin when her long fingers grabbed firm hold of his already aching arousal.  When her other hand cupped his sac and gently kneaded the heavy weight, all the air rushed from his lungs in a loud whoosh.

“Mac!” Harm stilled her hands more forcefully than he’d intended. Squeezing her wrist tightly, he scooted up so he was face to face with the woman of his dreams. His lips hovered over hers, and he practically breathed into her, “I’m barely hanging on by a thread here, if you keep that up, this will all be over before we have a chance to get started.”

Lightly kissing her lips, Harm felt Mac’s hands pressing against his chest.

“Then maybe we should quit playing around.” Running one finger down his spine, Mac paused drawing circles around his lower back before sliding around and once again firmly taking hold of him.

Unable to hold back any longer, within seconds he was poised at her entrance, desperate to feel her warmth around him. Teasing her with his sensitive tip, he was amazed at how wet she was.  Swallowing hard and taking a deep breath, slowly he sank into her depths. Her moist walls hugged him tightly. Gradually he slid back out before pushing in a little further. With every stroke he felt himself delving closer and closer to her soul and his own release.

Mac swore she could feel Harm all the way to her kidneys.  With every thrust he was stroking her into a torturous frenzy.  She wanted him deeper, closer. “Faster, God, Harm!” Her body writhed beneath him, frantically matching his every movement. 

When she thought she couldn’t stand the sweet agony anymore, Harm whispered in her ear, “I love you, Sarah.  I’m so close. Come with me, baby.” Still pounding together, his long fingers reached between them, and with a single caress Mac was flying over the edge. 

Harm could feel her body coiling around him. Her already tight walls now squeezing him spasmodically, and the sound of her voice moaning what sounded conspicuously like his name was the final blow that snapped his last thread of restraint. With a final thrust, his body stiffened in ecstasy, pouring himself into her.

Falling into sweet exhaustion, Harm rolled to his side, cradling Mac in his arms. “You’re perfect, thank you.”

“You’re no slouch yourself, Mr. Rabb.”

Snuggled comfortably in each other’s arms, a smile on their faces, contented to surrender fully to the other, Harm and Mac fell into a peaceful sleep.

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