One month later
Taking her in with his eyes had not lost its effect. For years he had watched her, memorized her every move and feature; had wondered what it would be like to taste the skin that hid beneath the dull green uniform. Now as she tilted her neck, allowing him access yet again, he was electrified by her scent and the feel of her soft skin against his lips.
She wished she were immune to his touch, the feel of his warm breath on her neck and his lips on the sensitive spot just behind her ear. In the last month of togetherness, nothing had changed. She was drawn to him, taken in by his touch and the idea that he now belonged to her, that no part of him was off-limits. One would have assumed that the excitement would have run its course, that once the mystery was over, so would be the passion.
"Harm," She whispered.
"Hmm?" He continued his assault, backing her up against the door, unfazed by their surroundings.
"They're waiting for us." She tried to push him away, but instead found herself pulling him closer, finding his mouth and fusing hers to it.
The kiss grew in intensity as the thousands of others before it, bringing with it a sense of urgency. The word control now had no meaning. For years the uniforms were worn as an identity, an announcement to the world that behind them were dutiful, capable and honorable human beings. While their sense of service had not waivered, the need to focus so heavily on career no longer existed. Life was the person in front of them, the warm body in the mornings and the soul for which theirs longed.
It was only the sound of voices emerging from the other side of the door that caused them to stop, to take a breath and to realize again why they were there. Breathing heavily, they stared into one another's eyes, searching for an answer: Stay or go?
The voices came closer, and she looked down in disappointment. He was obviously annoyed. She wiped the corner of her mouth and looked up to straighten his tie.
"They mean well." She smiled.
"Come on." She took him by the hand. "This is important to them."
He let out a long, purposeful sigh. "How long do we have to stay?"
She gave him a look that said, "Be nice."
They opened the door to a room full of co-workers and friends. The small crowd met them with applause, their first official acknowledgement of the union that in their minds, was long overdue.
There was music. There was dancing. There were finger sandwiches and mingling and laughter, but he didn't care. It was all a barrier to his desire, his need to be near her and to touch her at will.
She felt it. She always did; his stare from across the room. Their eyes met above the goblets held up for a simultaneous drink, a menial gesture intended to distract, to occupy their senses for the time being.
Unbeknownst to them both, he saw it all. He too had grown accustomed to the stares, the silent need that hung heavily in the air. An unassuming spectator at the dance, he decided to finally step in.
"Ladies and gentlemen, if I may have your attention." His voice bellowed across the room. "A final toast, if I may." The Admiral raised his glass and looked at Harm and then over at Mac.
"People keep asking me how bizarre this situation is to me: Two of my finest officers, called away on a CIA assignment that, as usual, went awry, ending up married without even knowing it, then ultimately deciding to remain husband and wife, inform their commanding officer by convincing a spook, of all people, to spill the beans."
There was laughter from the group. When worded that way, it sounded completely absurd, even to Harm and Mac.
The Admiral cleared his throat before continuing. "I simply tell them, it doesn't surprise me at all. Nothing about these two, frankly, could surprise me. Here," he motioned to Harm, "we have a man that has sprayed bullets in the courtroom." And "Here," he motioned to Mac, "is a woman that pulled him into a helicopter on their first assignment in the middle of nowhere, after a successful attempt to save the Declaration of Independence."
Everyone laughed again.
"Harm, Mac, I speak for everyone in this room when I say thank you. Thank you for keeping our lives interesting, thank you for your contribution to our nation, and most of all, thank you for finally allowing us some peace and quite in the office. There's nothing worse than a Marine scorned and a jet jock with a wounded ego. May happiness find you…wherever the hell you two end up."
Glasses were raised and hugs were given. Mac was intently trying to pay attention to Harriet talk about the color for the nursery when she felt his hand on her back.
"I'm sorry to interrupt you two." He leaned in to kiss her on the cheek. "But I think that we need to call it a night."
Mac was grateful for the chance to leave. She thanked Harriet again and made plans for lunch. They made their way around the room as quickly as possible in an effort to say goodbye without giving the appearance of hormonally charged teens.
When the finally made it out the door, he pulled her quickly into the adjoining hallway and pinned her against the wall. He lifted her chin and held it in place as he delivered a slow and deliberate kiss. She was speechless. Meeting him need for need, touch for touch was one thing, but the sincerity and the tenderness that he shared on occasion was overpowering.
When he finally broke contact, he cupped the back of her head in his hand and leaned his forehead against hers.
He was silent for several moments, searching her eyes for what she did not know.
Finally, he spoke, but in a whisper. "I love you Sarah."
The statement, oddly enough, had yet to be spoken. Passion had overtaken the need for words, for affirmation in their weeks as a couple. It was a given, a silent assumption, that until now, she didn't think she needed to hear. And yet in that moment, emotion took over and she felt as though she would melt.
"I love you too." She whispered, reaching up to caress his cheek. "So much."
He smiled and reached for her hand. "Come on. Let's get out of here."
She smiled and followed him out to the car. He opened the passenger door for her, and leaned in for another kiss. "Your place or mine?"
She smiled. "You know the drill. Whichever place is closest."
He went around to the driver's side and got in. "We're really going to have to talk about these living arrangements soon."
"I know." She reached across to run her fingers through the back of his hair as he drove.
"What do you think? Keep one of our apartments? Start all over?"
"I think…" she leaned across to plant a barely-there kiss on the inside of his neck. "…that right now…" she continued moving her way around his neck. "…I really don't…care."
His breathing quickly became labored.
"Mac, you know I can't drive when you do that."
"Mmm-hmm…" She pretended not to hear him and reached up to loosen his tie.
"Hmm?" She began to unbutton the top few buttons of his shirt.
"You're going to be the death of me, you know that?" He didn't think about the significance of his comment. He was drowning in desire and unable to focus.
She stopped and moved away.
"What? Mac, what is it?" He reached across and grabbed her by the hand.
She looked out the window at the passing scenery.
"You once said that anyone that's ever been involved with me is either dead or feels like they are."
"Mac, I told you that I didn't mean that." He squeezed her hand. "I thought you believed me."
"I do." She looked over at him and smiled, leaning her head back on the seat. "I just hope you weren't right." She reached over again and caressed his cheek. "I don't know what I would do—"
"Mac, stop it. You're not going to lose me, okay? If I die when I'm with you, then I guarantee that the scenario will involve very little clothing, difficulty breathing and numbness in the extremities."
They both laughed.
"Oh, so you've actually thought this through, have you?"
They pulled up to his parking lot and walked into the apartment building.
"Not until last night, when you—"
"Harm, stop it!" She playfully smacked him on the arm, looking around to see if anyone overheard.
He pulled her close as they stepped onto the elevator.
"Your tie's a little messy there, Sailor. And this shirt…it's wrinkled." She said as she completely loosened the tie.
"You'll have to talk to my wife about that. I can't get her to iron." He smiled leaning in for a kiss.
The elevator squealed and came to a sudden stop on his floor. "Mmm." She returned the kiss. "She sounds like a real loser." Her hands made their way down his shirt, unbuttoning one button at a time.
Their walk was staggered down the hall to his door. Between kisses, he muttered, "Nah, what she lacks in the household department, she makes up for…in other areas."
She smiled and pulled his shirt out of the waistband. "Ah, so it sounds like you'll keep her around for awhile."
The door to the apartment was finally open. He threw his shirt across the room and closed the door with his foot. He reached out to her and pulled her close again before she could get too far away.
"Forever." He breathed. "I'm keeping her forever."