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Birthday Treats - Part 2

By: Timer


Chapter 8 - On the Boardwalk We'll Be Having Some Fun

Just outside the Manly Arms B&B
1430 Local

Suddenly Harm ducks into a doorway, pulling me with him.

“Wahh?”, I start to ask.

Earnestly he puts his finger to my lips. “Don’t want to alert any JAG personnel out there to our presence. But I need to know, and this is a strictly ‘need to know’ assignment Mac. An undercover assignment. Totally voluntary. I’m up for it. Are you?”

I’m not sure which I want to do more: kill him or kiss him. He’s making fun of my concerns about getting caught fraternizing, lying to a superior officer, dereliction of duty and how knows how many more charges can be brought against us (being hopelessly in love, defenselessly regressing to adolescence, failure to resist hormone overload are just a few more I can think of, although I’m not sure I can cite the UCMJ regs on them). He’s also making me laugh at my own concerns. I mean really, what are the chances of running into someone from JAG?

I give him a thoughtful look. “Harm,” I say as if our National Security was at stake, “since we’ve recently served together on a number of ‘risky’ undercover assignments, I’m well aware how ‘up’ to the task you are. I’m flattered that you’d ask me to be your partner in this one. Yes, I’ll gladly volunteer for duty, God, corps and country.”

OK, maybe I a fumbled a few lines last Wednesday morning in the break room (I’m pleading coffee stirrer induced insanity, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it). I’ll admit to being a bit tongue-tied Friday afternoon in my office (it’s tough staying cool when you’re convinced the object of your fantasy just caught you dreaming about him). Certainly can’t deny being speechless Saturday morning when he walked in wearing those spandex running pants (kinda hard to deny a charge when there are like 15 witnesses, I’m a lawyer, I know these things). However, I made my grade school “this is how you act like a cat” teacher proud with that delivery.

For an instant Harm’s face automatically clicks into military duty mode. Then I smile, he smiles, we hug and laugh.

“Mac, have you ever considered doing some acting on the side?”

If only he knew.

As we exit the doorway, he puts his arm around my shoulder. I find that my arm fits just perfectly around his waist. I don’t know if he’s shortening his stride for my benefit, but we are walking in perfect harmony. (Oh please, oh please make this a sign for things to come I urge the powers of the universe, whatever they may be.)

“So, what do you know about this area, Mac? Been here before? Any favorite places to eat?”

Well, now now. This is an interesting line of conversation. Is Harm wondering if I’ve been here before with another man? Do I tweak and tease him? Intentionally make him jealous?

Would I slit my wrists with a dull, rusty knife just to see what it feels like? Playful is one thing, stupid and cruel is another.

“No Harm, I’ve just heard about it. But I think if we just stroll along the boardwalk we’ll find something to eat.” I take one look at his face and just know he’s gonna make some sexy double entendre crack.

“Maac, if I wanted the best thing in town to eat I wouldn’t have let you leave our room.”

Wow, that was no double entendre. That was out and out statement of sexual desire. OK, how fast can we find something to feed my physical hunger? ‘Cause if we don’t get back to the room pretty soon we’ll be up for more charges (public indecency, conduct unbecoming -- although I think I could get out of that one on the merits that we were most becoming).

I realize I’ve gulped again. I wonder if this is going to become a chronic condition.

“I’ve heard,” I try to sound casual, “there are vendors right on the boardwalk that sell great crab cakes, fish chowders, things like that. You know, you don’t have to go into a restaurant and get a table and wait.” I’m afraid this is going from bold way into the wanton range. Oh, what the hell. He brought it up.

Oh, hey, hey! I’m laughing inside at my own little sexual internal asides. For that matter, I’m actually having funny, sexy internal asides. I’m feeling confident about myself and secure in how Harm feels about me. Gee, just over 24 hours with this man and look at the wonderful things he’s done for my psyche! Does that mean that along with the pharmaceutical companies I have to alert the psychiatrists and psychologists as well?

No way. I’ll submit an anonymous paper to JAMA, Science and whatever the shrinks read, but I’m not giving this man up to science! I realize it took me all of 4 seconds to consider altruism over my personal desire. Guess that Marine training doesn’t apply to all occasions. Yet somehow I don’t feel guilty at all. As ‘energetic’ as Harm is, even he couldn’t satisfy all the insomniatic, depressed and anxiety-ridden people in this country. Hey, did I just think ‘people’? I doubt Harm would have any interest in extending his special therapy to people of the male gender.

“Besides,” I conclude most rationally, “it’s getting kinda late for a big lunch. Let’s plan on having an early big dinner.”

Just then I realize Harm has steered us to a vendor’s cart. It smells delicious. Fish chowder, crab cakes, crab salad, roasted potatoes. I may swoon. I see the mischievous boy barely there grin. The one he really tries to hide ‘cause it gives away so much.

“How long have we been standing here Harm?”

“Don’t you know?”, all innocence. Yeah, right. There’s this bridge in Brooklyn...

“Haven’t a clue. And if you try to bust my chops about it you’ll be sorry,” gotta get that last in just pro forma.

I see this coming like the wind up and the pitch in the World Series. Harm can not let this opportunity to poke fun at my whole internal clock thing go by. He crosses his arms over his chest (hey wait, that’s closing off my territory!). Leaving his elbows where they are, he brings his right hand up to stroke his chin. He sighs. (He may be real good at impersonating a sex-crazed teenager but I’m much better at those resigned sighs, ask any reviewer.) Eyes lifted toward the heavens, he moves his right hand into that oh-so-familiar forefinger along the cheek with thumb supporting the chin.

“Anytime this afternoon, Harm.” Yes, I let a mite of exasperation tinge my tone. “I asked you how long we’d been standing here, not the answer to ‘what is the meaning of life’’.

The vendor starts handing Harm packages. “Your first question’s kinda tough, all I know is it was long enough for me to order our lunches and listen to you primly proposition me. The second one is easy: you and me together, and whatever family we may be blessed with.”

He says this so matter-of-factly as he’s handing me a bag and a Styrofoam cup I’m astonished. I keep wondering if I passed out when he walked into his apartment Saturday morning and these are just pleasant drug- and coma-induced dreams (I knew I should have called the paramedics first and not waited for Harriet or Bud or Sturgis to figure out). Or if this is really happening.
“Let’s sit on this bench, what d’ya say?” Harm indicates a bench overlooking the sea and sand.

“I got you a cup of chowder, a crab cake and some potatoes. Hope that’s OK.”

Life couldn’t get much more OK. “That sounds great, Harm. Thanks.”

We munch quietly, watching the waves break on the shore.

“This is nice, Mac, don’t you think?”

“I think this is as nice as it gets Harm.”

“You ready to go back to our room. I think I spied a place called Body Spa back that way. We could get some bubble bath and relax a bit. Maybe figure out where to have a nice dinner.”

Relax a bit. Yeah we’ll relax just shortly after another ‘energetic’ encounter. The only question is bath before and quick shower after, or long bath after (which will probably still need to be followed by a quick shower). Jeez, he’s 40 and I’m 36, where is all this sexual energy coming from?

As we’re walking up the steps to the Manly Arms, Harm stops me with a look that says he knows precisely what I was thinking. Even more accurately than last Friday when he caught me daydreaming about watching his six while we ran together.

“You know Mac. Even before Einstein there were great theoretical thinkers that postulated universal truths that have held even to this day.”

He looks so earnest but I know this is code. Hey, I invented the code. But I’ll go along. I nod like the good undergraduate student to his kindly professor.

“Every action has a reaction.”

I blink. I hope, I hope, I hope he means what I think he means.

Sagely, he lowers his face to mine and gently says “If you store energy for eight years, when you start to release it you have to just let it go. And when it’s been stored for eight years...” if he ever wants to teach at the Academy they’ll hang on his every word. Well, maybe not like me right now, but he has a great professorial delivery. “...when it’s been stored for eight years, it’s takes a very, very, very long time for it to wear out.” He looks at me with a sincerity that is hard to disbelieve, and a seductive undercurrent that is impossible to ignore. “If ever.”

You know, I was never really big on theoretical physics when I was in school, but I’m beginning to develop a strong affinity for it.

Chapter 9 - Thermodynamics vs. Relativity for Dummies

Manly Arms B&B
Harm & Mac’s room
Sunday, Oct. 26, 2003
1630 Local

As Harm opens the door to our room and steps in, I find myself getting suddenly shy.

Boy, I don’t know who this 6-year-old girl is that has turned up in my psyche the last 26 hours, but I really need to get her under control. Bouncing on the couch when I find out Harm really (yes, really really) wants to have sex with me. Saying “I love you a whole bunch!” (how sophisticated is that?). Now, just when I’m planning on putting my own Mac whammy on Harm (let’s see how you handle my full throttle sexual persona flyboy), I’m feeling shy?

What is this?

I wander into the room, not really seeing it at all. Maybe just another dose of Harmy medicine will do the trick. Harm, the all-purpose antidepressant, anti-anxiety sleep aide. No hangover and minimal side effects (a few patients in clinical trials have reported ‘whammies’ but it’s rare and usually only lasts a few years).
“Hey Mac, is something wrong?”

He’s looming over me. No, he’s standing near me, with his hands on my shoulders looking at me with concern. He loves me. He is so tuned into me that he can almost read my mind. No secrets here. Not anymore.

“Well, I’m not sure. I think I need to talk to you a bit.” I’m asking for permission? He’s handed me his heart on a platter and asked me to marry him and I’m asking permission to talk? Oh, this REALLY needs to be said or it’ll drive me crazy.

“Sure Mac. We can always talk. About anything. Well, we can’t talk about cases when we’re opposing counsel. We can’t talk if we are underwater scuba diving. We can’t talk when we’re asleep, although I’m not sure if we don’t meet in our dreams...I felt like that happened a couple of times, did you?”

I know he’s trying to lighten my mood, reassure me. Oh I’m scared. There’s that 6-year-old. I think she needs to meet Harm. And Harm needs to meet her.

We sit down on the charming little love seat that’s under the window overlooking the boardwalk. This is a nice room, I think, still a bit too frilly for me to live with but fine for a day or two. I look at Harm perched on the love seat. Well, that’s just not the right picture. A man his size needs manly sized furniture. Our house is gonna have nothing but furniture that fits him. We may need to get a custom-made bed. No, check that, I like having him sleep really close to me.

Woah. I sat down wanting to tell Harm about a 6-year-old that’s invaded my psyche and ended up planning furniture purchases for our house (‘our house’?) before I even said a word to him.

No wonder he’s looking at me uncertainly.

I take a deep breath. “Harm,” leaning toward him I pick up both his hands and draw them to my chest. “I really want to make love with you.” I pause, waiting for his response.

Clearly he’s a taken a little off balance by my declaration. Hesitently he says“Well, gee Mac, that’s great. I really want to make love with you too.” I know I’ve thrown him a major curve ball with this, but I can see he can handle it. Oh, please Harm handle it. I need you to handle it.

I see him gathering himself. With a quiet intensity he asks me, “Mac, in fact, we have, remember? And we both liked it...a lot. So much that we did it again. Several times. So we know how to do it. We can do it again anytime. Maybe even real soon.”

Fred Astaire and the riverboat gambler have left the stadium. This is the little boy mixed with the hormone-driven teenager tempered by the loving, mature man.

Have I said how much fun I think we’re gonna have over the next 50 years?
“So since I had, as you put it ‘so primly propositioned’ you, I planned to show you just how sexually voracious I can be. I planned to overwhelm you with my sexual appetite. I was imagining devouring you, leaving you a whimpering mass of protoplasm.”

He blinks a few times. Hey, there’s another look I’ve never seen before. Not exactly sure how to interpret this one but it reminds me of one I saw on a kid getting ready to ski down his first black diamond slope. Thrilled but scared nearly senseless.

He clears his throat. “Mac, that doesn’t sound like a bad idea to me.” He’s wondering where to go with this, I can tell. “Ah, what stopped you?”

There it is! The ace JAG investigator shows up to save the day despite the little boy, hormonaly-driven teenager and concerned mature lover kind of all standing between me and my weird thoughts. He shows up and asks the quintessential question. The question that is the key to the plot. (It was Col. Mustard in the library with the knife, skips through my head for no reason I can think of other than the 6-year-old likes to play ‘Clue’).

“A 6-year-old showed up, and I got shy.” Although I know I’m baring my soul, my deepest fears, I look directly into his eyes. He’s gonna get this, I know he is.

“A 6-year-old” he repeats slowly, looking as directly at me as I am at him.

“She reminded me that although Newton’s law is still true that every action has a reaction, the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics states that energy can not be created or destroyed, only changed in form.”

I watch Harm process this. I have an inkling of what his flight training was like, the kind of engineering and physics classes he had to take. He’s no doubt as familiar with the Laws of Thermodynamics as he is with the UCMJ, but he knows this is our code.

“So, the energy that you had, or was forced into you, as a 6-year-old, you still have today?” His voice is so quite, so gentle. How can a man his size, his strength, with his accomplishments still hold my heart as tenderly as a newborn baby? How can I keep falling deeper in love with him when I thought I had gone as far as I could go?

I nod silently.

“And when you planned to overwhelm me with your sexual appetite, not that I think that is a bad idea for the future Mac, but for right now, where we are, the 6-year-old recognized that was a wall. A piece of energy that couldn’t be created or destroyed but needs to change form. So she got you shy.”

Jeez, this man is a genius. I could have spent years with Dr. McCool before we got to this place.
“And you were brave enough to talk to me about it. Oh, Mac, god, I love you so much!” He pulls me into his lap and buries his face into my hair. He’s crying. I’m crying. This feels so good.

We rest that way for, well, exactly 7 minutes and 39 seconds. You know sometimes I wish I didn’t have this internal clock thing.

“You know Mac, I really wasn’t top in my class at advanced physics, but I think we’ve really hit on something here.”

I’m sensing a major change in pace. “Really?”

“Yeah. First it was the whole Einstein Theory of Relativity thing, hey remind me not to teach that to any of our daughters.”

Our daughters???

“Then Newton’s Every Action Has a Reaction. Now, we need to teach that to all our kids, it applies to everything from basketball to telling a lie.”

All our kids??? We’re having several? Guess I didn’t know about that part yet. Well, now I do.

“Now we’ve got the great 2nd Law of Thermodynamics looped in. I think we need to request an extended leave.”

He’s pulled me away from his chest enough that I can see his face. It’s lit up like a Christmas tree. Delight never looked this good.

I gulp again. Damn, I do think this gulping thing is getting habitual. “Extended leave?”

“Sure Mac. We’ll need it to work out our theory. Then of course we’ll need to meet with other eminent theoreticians to discuss it. MIT, Harvard, Stanford not to mention the military panels.”

He doesn’t quite dump me off his lap, but it comes close. He’s on his feet now, pacing in front of me.

“Don’t you see? We might have made the next big breakthrough in our understanding of the universe!”

I’m beginning to get reminded of the Professor in the “Back to the Future” movies. Minus the wild hair.

“Of course, we’ll have to do tests to prove our theory.” He stops pacing and beams a most intense stare at me. I’m a butterfly pinned to a display board, I can’t say no.

“Well, naturally, Harm. All theories need to be tested.” I’m wondering if we cut back on the sex just a little maybe his brain might return to normal function. But wait, didn’t I think him a genius only 14 minutes and 39 seconds ago? Have I turned him into ‘Rain Man’?

With two long strides he’s kneeling in front of me, grasping my hands.

“You’ll be beautiful in those tests, Mac.”

OK, I’ll bite, what kind of tests is he envisioning? “You think so Harm?” I’m talking softly, sweetly, they way you would to quiet a stallion.

“Oh of course. At first it may seem a little strange, but we’ll get used to it.” He’s so confident.

“Used to what, Harm?”

“The electrodes, the wires, the probes, the audience.”

I must admit, I’m getting seriously nervous now. Where’d that man I’m gonna love more deeply every day go? The one who wants to have a family with me? The one I think is a gentle genius?

“When would that be Harm?”

“Why, isn’t it obvious? Every time we make love!” He jumps up pulling me up with him. Hugging me closely he breathes into my ear. “Because every time we make love, the universe changes for me, Mac.”

Now I get it. Boy, was I not holding up my end of our code thing here. But I’ve got it now.

“I only want you. If some times you want to overwhelm me, overwhelm me. But to be honest, you do that without trying. If you need to be the 6-year-old, I’m always here to talk to her. Not as her daddy, but as a friend she can trust. I love the Marine, even when she’s whipping my squid butt. And I cherish the woman. All parts of her. OK.”

“Harm, I don’t want to do a symposium at MIT on this.”

“Well, it’s a great loss to the world, but I’m with you.” He releases me just enough to start unbuttoning my blouse. “Now, how ‘bout that bubble bath?”

Chapter 10 - Since We’re at the Shore, How ‘Bout We Storm the Beach?

Manly Arms B&B
Harm & Mac’s room
Sunday, Oct. 26, 2003
1730 Local

Wow, I’m drained. I don’t think I’ve ever had a conversation mean so much, do so much, touch me so much as that. I may need to rethink withholding detailed information about Harm-therapy from the psychiatric community ... I’m selfish but some treasures are not meant to be held for only the select few.

Vaguely I realize he’s gone into the bathroom. I hear water running. He’s drawing a bubble bath? Oh my god, I don’t care if it’s selfish, the rest of the world just needs to figure this out on its own. He’s mine, mine, mine all mine and I’m not sharing him with anyone!

Well, there is that whole Navy thing. I guess I’ll have to share him with them.

Uhmm, I’m starting to detect a wondrous fragrance emanating from the bathroom. Oh right, Harm bought that bubble bath on the way back. Gee, the guy doesn’t even have a bathtub in his apartment (but I’ve got to admit the shower’s pretty spectacular, especially when he’s in it). Who would have thought he’d like to take bubble baths?

It hits me like a safe falling on my head. IDIOT! GET A CLUE! He’s drawing a bubble bath ‘cause he knows you like them. Find them soothing. Take them when you need to pamper yourself. And he’s doing all that for me. He knows I need it. So he’s gonna make sure I get it.

How much more in love with this guy can I get?

The water’s still running, the aroma is fabulous and the man of my dreams walks back into the room.

“Hey Mac, there’s a brochure here about local everythings.”
He sounds so relaxed, so easy. In fact, he sounds more relaxed than I’ve ever heard him. And more into having fun.

Even after that psychic load I just dumped on him? Hhmm, maybe he doesn’t think of it that way. How does he think about it?

“Harm?” I need to know this.

“Yeah Mac?”

“Are you OK with the ton of psychic crap I just dumped on you?” Well now, that was certainly finely framed and eloquently stated.

He stops in his tracks. He turns towards me. Just like he turned toward me in his loft yesterday. He’s channeling the universe again (maybe that’s how he’s so good with the theoretical physics stuff).

“Mac, that wasn’t ‘crap’, well, maybe it was, but what I mean is it was stuff you needed to see for a long time. Remember, energy can’t be created or destroyed, so you didn’t dump it on me, together we just changed its form. Now its ours to use to make us both happy.”

Who is this guy?

I’m beginning to wonder again if this isn’t all a Clark Palmer ruse. Oh god, if I’ve had sex with Clark Palmer like I’ve had sex with the man -- body -- I think is Harm I’m gonna find that rusty knife.

He goes back into the bathroom, guess he’s checking on the tub.

“Hey, Earth to Mac? You there?”, Harm asks solicitously.

“Of course Harm,” I draw myself up. “I was just thinking.”

“Thinking like you were thinking last Friday afternoon? Because I could help you out with those thoughts.” Riverboat gambler and python are back. But now that I know them, I think I know how to deflect them.

“Pretty much,” oh this is not the rusty knife, this is playful. I hope. “No, don’t need you. Just had to find a cobra that was on the loose in the Union Station area.”

“A cobra?”

I give him a look for the ages; are you stupid or what?

“Like a snake?”
Oh, poor Harm is way in over his head and doesn’t even know it.

“Yes, Harm,” I say with the patience of a 2nd grade school teacher. “An actual, real snake. And I saw it get caught.”

That was when I saw it. Jeez. No going back now. This mission has become ‘assets expendable’.

I can accept that. I just didn’t realize how often Harm was gonna pull this Caveman thing. Whee! I can’t say I dislike being pulled up into his arms and carried somewhere. It’s just that I’ll have to get used to it, I guess.

What am I thinking? ‘I’ll have to get used to it’!?! Woman, (I’m mentally hitting my fist to my forehead) if you don’t find this the most wonderfully romantic gesture on the planet you need to find another universe.

OK, I think I’ve got that straight now.

Where were we?

Oh yes, in the bathroom.

“You know Mac, I’m not gonna be your clothing consultant or anything (he knows about clothing consultants? he’s definitely metro sexual) but you think you could start buying blouses that have less than 20 buttons?”

Those expressive hands of his, those elegant long fingers are getting really pissed off at the many little buttons this blouse has. Hey, what can I say? It was in style and on sale so I bought it. Didn’t consider at the time that Harm might have a hard time getting it off me.

“Harm, why don’t you let me do this, and you can work on your own clothes.”

“Great, just hurry up, the water’s perfect.”

OK, I’ve got my 6-year-old girl, he’s got his little boy. I think they’re getting along quite nicely so far. Hope his guy doesn’t think girls have cooties.

Wooh, I think I’m trashing this blouse. No piece of clothing should take that much energy to get out of. Oh, now I understand the real reason women were made to wear all those corsets and crinolines and three layers of clothing. Well, I must admit it does give one time to reflect on one’s impending actions if it takes forever to get out of one’s clothes.

Where exactly do these strange reflections come from? Maybe I need to amend the ‘possible side affects’ section of the Harmy cure.

Oh, nice feeling that. Strong hands on my shoulders. Speaking of reflections, I look up and see I’m looking into the mirror, still holding that stupid blouse. But the best part of the picture is Harm standing behind me.

He’s naked. At least I hope he is. He looks like he is from what I can see (I don’t think he travels with a groin pasty). God is he beautiful. You know, Michealangelo was a really good artist (now that goes down as one of the understatements of the century) but his David has nothing on this man.

“Mac,” our eyes lock in the mirror.

I can barely breath. “Yes?”

“I bought you something special today.”

Something special? When did he find time? We were together the whole time, weren’t we? And what kind of ‘special’ is he talking about? He’s already proposed, I’ve accepted. Wait, is he gonna give me a ring? Right now standing naked in the bathroom???

Upon reflection, that doesn’t seem like an unsuitable situation. After all, married people are naked in the bathroom daily, right?

“Something we can share.”

Share? OK, this is not a ring. Share in the bathroom? Not sure where this is going.

“And both play with and enjoy.”

Now there’s more than a shade of concern running through my veins.

“Harm,” I keep my eyes locked on his in the mirror.

“Mac,” oh god when he whispers my name like that I have no control. I watch him in the mirror as he bends his head down to my neck, and breathes a kiss.

OK, that’s it. Whatever he wants us to play with, I’ll do it. I’ll do anything for this man. I’d cross the world for this man (oh, wait, I’ve done that a couple of times). OK, trying to come up with new declarations of love. I’ll walk through fire for this man (yep, done that on the Hornet). I’d swim through stormy seas for this man (well, I haven’t actually, but I found him in one, doesn’t that count?). It seems I’m running out of heroic declaration of love scenarios because we’ve already done them all.

Remind me again why it took so long for us to finally ignore regs and get together.

Damn, the regs, this whole weekend, this potential career-killer weekend....

“Mac, I bought this for you, for us, to play with in the tub.”
I’m sure my face is the picture of shock. But I’m not looking at my face in the mirror, I’m watching that strong arm with that gentle hand pull in front of me holding a little rubber duck.

“What d’ya say? Ready for a little bath time fun?” Bud sure was right when he noted that Harm had a very well-developed inner child.

I look at the tub and at him. “Sure, but how are we gonna do this? It’s a big tub but we’re both pretty big people...”

I have ugly visions of cascading water funneling down the hall, torrenting down the stairs, ending up at the check-in desk where that nice woman who checked us in will realize we’re doing torrid things in her bathtub and (horrors of horrors) then she’ll discover we’re not really married.

Images of us hauled out in handcuffs (well, at least they let us put towels on...Harm always looks great in a towel) in shame flash before my eyes.

“Gee Mac, are you telling me you’ve never done this before?” Harm’s query is lacking no sincerity. He truly can’t believe I’ve never done this before.

“It’s just that I’ve dated ‘shower’ men”, I say, trying to defend myself against what I know is true.

“But Mac, you love to take bubble baths. I know it and we haven’t really been officially dating, although I think I could make a very persuasive case that we’ve been dating for years but that’s another argument. Why wouldn’t the men you’ve dated in the last 7 years take a bubble bath with you?”

Why indeed.

I do a mental shrug. OK, got this. Need to process. Later. Right now more important things to do.

“So, since you’re the expert, how do we do this without flooding the place?”

“Hey, it’s simple Mac. Do you want to get in first or do you want me to?”

The earnest eagerness of this part of Harm can not be denied. If he had said, “Hey, Mac, you want to go into the SecNavs office and tell him he’s a real ass?” I’d probably say yes.

“Maybe since you’re the seasoned pro, you should go first.”

“OK”

I look again at this man. This little boy in a 6’4” body. This hormonally-charged teenager that knows exactly when to hold back. This amazing specimen of mankind. He’s leaning over the tub, checking the water temperature once again. His whole back is on exquisite display...not just the back but the hips, the gluteus, the hamstrings. How I ever got this guy to believe for a moment that I thought his fitness level was going down...

Oh wait, he never really did believe that did he? He was playing me while I thought I was playing him. Whatever, as long as we play together from now on.

“Water’s perfect Mac.” He looks at me with such glee I can hardly stand it. OK, the 6-year-old can’t stand it.

I start to bob on my feet just a bit. (Why can’t I stop this?) “Yeah?”

“Oh yeah, here Mac you hold on to the duck,” with this he gives me the little yellow rubber duck. He might have well given me the Hope diamond for as much as I cherish it at this moment.

He’s in the tub, standing in the tub, at the back of the tub. I’m trying to remember this in case I need to do it with someone else who doesn’t know how.

What am I thinking? Doing this with someone else? Not a chance.

OK, back to work. WORK? MAC, YOU’RE CALLING THIS WORK? My psyche is getting a little bent out of shape about that last, not that I can blame her. OK, OK, how ‘bout back to the present?

Psyche says that’s good.

I step into the tub, facing Harm, holding ‘our’ duck. “That’s good Mac, now, you need to turn around.”

He sees my question. “I’ll be right here behind you, covering your six like I always do.”

“But who’s gonna cover yours?” as if he needs that, it’s not like we’re in Afghanistan. We’re in a gentile, upscale B&B.

I feel him nuzzle my neck, his arms around my waist as he turns me around. “If they manage to get by you, I’ve always got the rubber duck patrol as backup.”

That’s it. I’m done. This man has me in a bubble bath and is soothing me with tales of rubber ducks? I have lost at least half my brain in the last 24 hours. At this rate, I’m gonna last, what, maybe another 4 or so?

“Now we’re sitting down,” Harm instructs. Why do I feel like I’m in kindergarten again?


“And you’re leaning back against me,” he continues.

Oh wow. This is way better than the bath pillow I bought at Blood Bath and Beyond (as I always like to think of it since I heard Homer Simpson refer to it that way).

For one thing, it cradles my whole upper body. For another, it has these great legs that alternately wrap around me or lay beside me. Then there’s the arms and hands feature that my bath pillow most definitely did not have. They are a major improvement on the item. Not sure I’m ready to share this with the consuming public at large. Finally, and most emphatically, the best difference is the head that’s attached to the shoulders that host the arms and hands that lead to the legs that encompass me right now.

No, not the head, the mind inside the head.

“Mac, you’ve drifted off again. Are you OK with this?”

“You have no idea how OK I am with this.”

“Well then, where’s our rear guard?”

Rear guard? My rear is firmly set against his crotch, and his rear is against the back of the tub. What’s this rear guard question, and why would he be asking it now, I thought we dispensed with the idea of terrorists coming into the bathroom a few minutes ago.

“Don’t know Harm. Which battle group were you expecting?”

“The rubber ducky brigade Mac! I entrusted him to you. Are you telling me he was left behind? Marines don’t leave men behind!”

God, he delivers that with such sincerity that if our community playhouse ever decides to do a production of “A Few Good Men” I will demand he audition.

“First of all Harm, one duck does not make a brigade,” I can’t believe this, I’m sitting in a bubble bath at a romantic B&B with Harmon Rabb, Jr. all around me and I’m marshaling courtroom arguments about how a rubber duck has been deployed???

And having a delightful time at it, I must add.

“He was not designated as our rear guard. His designation was ‘play toy’. He was not left behind, he’s right here.” I lift said rubber duck up so that the ace JAG investigator who’s sitting naked behind me in this tub can see him.

“Finally,” wow, I’m really saying this in my summation voice. “While Marines never leave a man behind, it doesn’t mean that they will occasionally leave a duck behind.”

With that I let our rear guard float away and I storm the beaches like only a Marine can.


Chapter 11 -  The Naked Truth

Manly Arms B&B
Harm & Mac’s Room
Sunday, Oct. 26, 2003
1830 Local

Harm’s propped up against the headboard of this enormous king-sized bed. Jeez, who needs this much real estate to sleep in? I’m kind of casually draped over him.

We’re both naked and smell great from our bubble bath. (Note to self, let Harm do the shopping for bath products from now on.)

He’s paging through the brochure that describes ‘everything about everything around here’ as I just relax. Relax deeper than I think I have in my whole life. If this isn’t really happening, if I really passed out and fell into a coma when Harm walked into his apartment wearing spandex running pants and a smile, I hope the doctors are kind enough to just pull the plug. I never want to wake up from this.

I’ve never been all that comfortable with being naked. Sure, as a Marine I’ve had plenty of times when I’ve been in communal shower situations. But that’s different than being naked with a man. At least it is to me.

Naked is vulnerable. Naked is exposing everything. Hmm, no wonder I’ve never been quite comfortable with it.

But with Harm. Wow, this is a whole new day. We made love for the first time just 28 hours and, not sure how to mark this. From when he turned to me on the couch? Picked me up and carried me to the bed? Got my clothes off? Got his clothes off? Oh well, maybe I don’t need to be able to pin a precise time on it.

Now where was I? Oh yes, thinking about being naked with Harm. A little sigh seeps out.

“Hey Mac, you getting sleepy?” he asks.

“No Harm, just relaxing.”
“OK, ‘cause I figure you’re gonna be hungry real soon and I’m reading about the restaurants around here. Since it’s Sunday night, I’m betting we won’t have too much trouble getting in anywhere, but maybe we should pick out one or two and call first.”

He’s really taken to this ‘us as a couple, he’s gonna take care of me’ thing. Seems natural to him.

Feels natural to me, too.

Just like this being naked thing.

Gotta work this out. It seems important. The 6-year-old girl is tugging on my sleeve (metaphorically speaking since I’m not wearing a stitch). OK, let me just rest my cheek on this strong chest and figure it out.

Got the naked, exposed thing covered (yeah, yeah, a complete nonsequitur, I know). I realize that with all the other men I’ve been with, when I’ve been naked they never saw me. They leered at my body, but they never saw me.

When I’m naked with Harm, he still sees me. Sure, he appreciates my body (oh does he!) but he never stops seeing me. Oh man, there I go again falling deeper in love with him. I wonder what the depth is now? Maybe I should call Sturgis and check on crush depth. I’m not sure if I can handle being any more in love with this man. Oh, yes I can.

Now, for the flip side. Harm being naked. Gee, let’s just stop a moment and contemplate that. Harm naked. It’s enough to make me believe in reincarnation. He had to be the model for Michaelangelo.

Other men I’ve been with, they were either self-conscious about being naked, or strutted around like they were showing off. Both a big turn off. (Why did I ever hang out with guys who were a turn off? Need to get back to that one.)

Not Harm. Harm naked is just like Harm clothed, minus the clothes. He doesn’t strut or pose, although god knows he would look great doing either. He’s just him. It’s like he doesn’t recognize the difference between being naked and being dressed. I guess that’s what ‘being comfortable with yourself’ is all about.

What a man. And he’s mine. Really mine? Yes, really mine. I sigh again and give him a little hug.

“Mac?”

“Yes Harm?

“What are you thinking about?”

“Nothing special, just kinda drifting around.” Hoping he’s gonna buy that. Not a chance.
“Annnnt,” he makes a noise like a buzzer on a bad game show. “Don’t think so Mac. You’ve sighed twice and now you just gave me a sweet squeeze. Fess up.”

It’s the JAG investigator again. He’s like a dog with a bone. I know he won’t let go of this but for some perverse reason (maybe years of facing off with him in the courtroom?) I just can’t fold this easy.

“Really, Harm. It was nothing. I’m just kinda drifting along not thinking about anything.”

Cobra man strikes again. I had been sort of halfway covering the top of his body. Suddenly I’m underneath and he most definitely has the drop on me.

“Joou know, vee have vays to make you talk,” he’s doing such a bad WW2 German accent I can’t help laughing.

He keeps me pinned with his wonderful, glorious, magnificent body (am I gonna have to confess that part too?) while his hands move to my sides.

“No Harm, don’t tickle me. Please, no. I’ll tell you anything!” I’m laughing so hard before he even touches me that I can barely speak.

“Vee have vays.” He repeats as I squirm under him.

This squirming under him is really fun. And I’ve just noticed it seems to have had an effect on him too.

“So do we!” I reply triumphantly. Hey, he may be the cobra man, but I’m still the Marine Colonel. Flip flop, I’m on top.

“Oh, Mac, how’d you do that?” He seems sincerely interested but I know it’s a sham. All misdirection to change my focus.

“Same way I did this,” wow, I’m getting pretty randy here, rocking my pelvis against him.

“Is this the sexually voracious Mac I haven’t seen yet?” he asks politely.

How can he be polite at a moment like this? Oh yes, just part of this little game.

“No, she’s much higher octane than this,” I purr as I rub against him.

He gulped. He gulped. He actually gulped! OK, the score’s still 3-1 in his favor, but I got him to gulp! Hoo-rah!


Chapter 12 -  Be Careful What You Wish For

Manly Arms Bed & Breakfast
Harm & Mac’s Room
Sunday, Oct. 26, 2003
2030 Local

“Oh god Mac.” Harm’s moaning and I can barely move to help him.

Mustering all my strength. I lift my head to look into his eyes. They’re focusing, sort of. “Yes?”

“You’re telling me that wasn’t your most voracious?” He’s sort of drifting a little here. Not totally with it or coherent, but I understand.

“No Harm, that wasn’t.”

He rallies like I’d never thought a Navy man could. Would have done a Marine proud ‘cause all of a sudden there I am under him. “I may not survive it, but I’ll sure has hell will like it.”

Boy, does he have a cute grin or what?

“If it makes you feel any better Harm, I do know CPR,” I offer most sweetly.

He kisses my forehead, now how endearing is that? “Good, ‘cause I’d really hate to miss out on the next 40 years or so with you.”

“Fifty,” I declare.

“Fifty?”
“Fifty.”

“OK.”

We shuffle around in bed a bit. “Hey Mac? Do you think you might give me warning when you’re gonna unleash that full-blown voracious part of you? ‘Cause I might need to be prepared. Have an ambulance standing by. Make sure my will is up to date, you know, things like that.”

He’s saying this as he is nibbling at my collarbone. Not fair. Not fair to who? Not sure who has the advantage here.

“But Harm, that’s a big part of the allure of the voracious Mac. She sneaks up on you and takes you down by surprise.” I’m doing a bit of nibbling on my own now. Two can play this game.

“OK, but give me a couple days to make sure all my affairs are in order before you unleash her on me, please?”

Flip flop, I’m back on top. “Affairs??? You’re having affairs that you need to get in order?” I know he’ll know I’m kidding, but hey, the opening was too good to leave alone.

“Well yes, Mac. There’s that 55-year-old redhead that I ‘service’ every week. She pays for my loft. Then there’s that 60-year-old blond (I must say, I keep my eyes closed when I’m taking care of her) but she pays for ‘Sarah’. Then there are the twin sisters, brunettes, not exactly sure how old they are, they won’t say...”

“Enough!” I’m trying to tickle and punch him at the same time. End up doing neither.

“I’m just guessing, but I’ll bet you’re gonna be very hungry very soon.” He’s kinda mumbling into my shoulder. Did he go to “cute” school or something? Jeez.

“Yes Harm, I will be. And we need to take a shower or stray cats will be following us around. We smell so much like sex it’s got to be illegal. Or it should be.”

He sniffs. “Yeah, we do. Smells good to me.” A little leer, a trace of a smile. Oh, this is the slyly randy part of Harm I haven’t quite met yet. Hello, nice to meet you. His eyes twinkle. Gee, and I thought only Kris Kringle’s eyes twinkled. Hey, this is better than a once a year holiday. Way better.

Not quite the cobra, maybe it’s the panther, he leaps out of bed. “Well, we better get going or you’ll be fainting from hunger before we get dinner.”

A hair abrupt, but his intentions are good. I crawl out of bed far more slowly. By the time I’m in the bathroom he’s got the shower going and is most beautifully wet. “Hey, get in here!”

Have I mentioned how much I like his little boy?
“Did you find a restaurant for us?” I ask as he washes my hair. Metro sexual, no question. “Yeah, I think so, just 3 blocks away. Has steaks -- I’m thinking you’re wanting a red meat fix -- and lots of stuff for me too.”

Now he’s putting conditioner in my hair. Was this guy a hairdresser in a former life? Jet jockey, lawyer and hairdresser? He’ll kill me if I breath a word of this to our friends. Damn, and it would make such great cocktail conversation!

“Sounds perfect. We better get there quick. It’s getting kinda late.” Much as I’m thinking this shower could get a little hotter, we really do need to eat.

He playfully slaps my butt, “yeah, hit the beach Marine,” and pushes me out of the shower.

Well. OK. Smartly done.

I’m dry and getting dressed as he walks into the bedroom. “What took you so long?”

“I washed you first, then I had to wash me. I’ve got a bigger body.” The sincerity with which he says this is unsurpassed. The expression on his face completely honest. OK, I’ll buy it. What else could he have been doing? The only other possible scenario is way too far a stretch for a man his age who’s already made love like what four times today.

“Casual?”

“Yep.”
Walking out of the Manly Arms I once again note how perfectly his body and mine fit together. His arm around my shoulder is at just the right height so that neither he nor I will get tired keeping it there. My arm around his waist is at the precise level that makes it most comfortable for me. His shoulder is exactly where I need it should I want to place my head against it.

“Harm,” I need to say this. And I’m not not saying things any more.

“Yeah Mac?”

“Stop.”

He turns to me, hands on my shoulders now a growing look of concern.

I put my hands on his hips, in an intentional proprietary fashion. I draw him closer to me. I raise my face to him. “Harm, kiss me right now. Right here in public.”

“Yes ma’am” he says as he gathers me closer to him and gives me what has to be a world class kiss. Must of been, some teenagers are starting to hoot and applaud. We turn toward them and bow. “Just remember guys, love is grand if you treat your woman right” Harm advises the peanut gallery.

“Oh Commander, is that so? Does that include exposing her to the terrible illness you have right now? The one that’s gonna keep you out of the office for two days? The same two days the Colonel happens to be on leave?”

Major oh oh here. We both stiffen as the Admiral walks towards us.

“Making out in the middle of the street? Lying to a superior officer? Exactly how many charges do you two think I can come up with?”

“All my fault, sir. The Colonel just kinda went along with it. It was my idea.” Harm’s trying but I can see the Admiral’s not buying.

“Going along is called accessory to a crime.”

“I’ll take full responsibility for my part in this, Admiral.” I’m not letting Harm take the fall alone for this.

“Really, Colonel. And just what part did you have to play in this?”

Boy, he’s not making this easy and we’ve started to draw a small audience.

“Well, sir. He had his 40th birthday yesterday.” Chegwidden’s eyebrows raise slightly. “I arranged a surprise birthday party for him.” Not seeing much sympathy here yet. “After the party we got talking about Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and well, things just followed their natural course.”

“You were discussing physics and....?”

“Physics took over.”

I can see he’s having a hard time with this, but with the growing audience it’s making it tough for him to really bust us. Harm, god bless him, is staying very quiet.

“So when we woke up the next morning,”

“THE NEXT MORNING? YOU SPENT THE NIGHT TOGETHER?” He’s leaning really close to me now, I must say his intimidation skills are finely honed.

“Hey guy, of course they spent the night together. Can’t you see they’re in love?”

“What’s your problem? Hey, maybe you’re her father but don’t you think she’s old enough to have a boyfriend?”
“No, I think he’s in love with her too and is just jealous.”

“So why’s the big handsome boyfriend there not saying anything?”

The crowd is getting a little restless.

“Admiral, I don’t think these onlookers understand our situation. I’m not sure we do either. Maybe we might try to diffuse?”

He looks around. “Yes Colonel. Good call. As always. Follow me.”

I give a small “it’s all OK” wave to the crowd. They seem to buy it, thankfully.

Like penitent school kids, Harm and I walk behind the Admiral to yet another Bed and Breakfast. ‘The Last Resort’? It’s really named that?

We sit down, fittingly enough, in the sitting room.

“OK Colonel, since the Commander seems to have lost his voice, will you continue with this intriguing tale? I think you had just told me you two spent the night together.” Boy does he have glowering down to an art.

“Yes, sir. We did. Then I informed the Commander that I had two days leave scheduled, nonrefundable reservations for a B&B here, and he decided to come along with me.”

“That would be about the time he called me sounding like he had the plague.”

“Yes sir.”

“And you’ve been here since then.”

“Yes sir.”

“Been having a good time?”

Well, that was certainly not a question I expected. “Yes sir, very much sir.”

“Mr. Rabb, have you told the Colonel that you love her?” No nonsense here. Strict military demeanor.

“Yes sir.”

“And have you stated your intentions, or do you think you can just trifle with my chief of staff?”

“I’ve stated my intentions, she has agreed to marry me and no sir, I’d never trifle with your chief of staff.” He gulps.
Do I get to count that gulp? We were at 3 to 1, but I think the Admiral’s on my team so I’m making it 3 to 2.

The Admiral sits back in his chair, looking thoughtfully at us. One thing I’ve always liked about him is even when it seems like he makes quick decisions, he’s always taken time to consider the consequences.

“Do either of you know why I’m down here?”

Until this moment, I didn’t even question it. I guess I thought we were gonna get busted on this from the get go, so when it turned out to be busted by him, I didn’t wonder.

“My aunt owns this B&B, she’s getting on in years and wanted to have me review her will, papers, you know.”

I nudge Harm. We nod.

“The chances of my finding you, especially finding you making out like teenagers in the middle of the street!” (OK, he’s still steamed about that) “are about a million to one.”

He sighs.

“Harm,”

“Yes sir.”

“You’re really gonna marry her? I don’t have to take you out behind the woodshed and beat some sense in you, do I?” The Admiral looks hopeful, but a shade worn out by this.

“Yes sir.”

“Mac, do you really want to take on the challenge of keeping this man in line?” He gives me his most fatherly look.

“Only for the next 50 years, sir.”

“Well, OK. Go back to wherever it is you’re staying. Try to not make out on the street between here and there. We’ll discuss the rest of this back at the office on Wednesday. And Harm, you are not completely getting away with the ‘I’m sick’ scam.”

“No sir. Thank you sir. Goodnight sir.”

As quickly as we could, we got out of The Last Resort (who would name a B&B that?) and started running toward the Manly Arms.
By the time we reached our room, we were gasping for breath and laughing so hard we didn’t know up from down.

“OK, you’ve done it now. I TOLD you we’d get caught.”

“Hey, the Admiral himself said it, it was a million to one chance. It was worth it.”

“It was?”

“You bet. You know what’s even better?”

I just raise my eyebrows.

He gets such a smug smirk I want to kick his six. “He’s ordered us to get married. You can’t back out now, Mac. I’ve got you just where I want you.”

Me too I think as I pin him to the bed. “Hoo-rah” I whisper as I lick that bent ear just the way it drives him a little crazy.


                                        
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