Jessica woke and lay in the middle of her bed staring at the morning light shining into the room. She blinked the tendrils of the dream from her memory and counted backward from ten. Reaching one, she was out of bed and headed to the bathroom.
After washing up, she dressed in her usual jeans and a tee. Slipping on her running shoes, she headed into the kitchen.
She ate her usual organic six-grain cereal and added a handful of almonds. Jessica took the time to make and drink two cups of coffee. She straightened the place up then packed a bag that would last her for a couple of days.
She stopped at a gas station and filled the tank before she started out on the road. As she left the Wawa, she had an opportunity to see if anyone was following.
As she drove to Mac’s house, she watched to see if she had any new company tailing her. She took most of the day to drive the four-hour trip. When she was sure she was alone, she turned around and drove over to Mac’s farm in New Hope, Pennsylvania.
Jessica slowly drove down the mile-long gravel drive. Halfway down, she wasn’t surprised to see a pair of Dobermans running alongside her Rover. As she entered the circular driveway, two more dogs appeared. These four were Mac’s security team and welcome wagon. She remembered his original dogs, Zeus and Apollo. The dogs escorting her were a new generation. Mac was fond of the breed and always had a kennel full of Doberman pups on the grounds.
She saw him walking towards her as she parked over by the barn. She liked looking at him. Tall and lean, he looked better with the added pounds and a few years. He met her in the driveway with a big hug and deep kiss.
“Welcome, stranger. You look good. I’ve missed you.” Mac kissed her again and sighed. “You can tell me what’s new after we’ve gotten you settled.”
Jessica kissed him. She put her arms around his neck then kissed him again.
“Hey, let me carry your bags.” As Mac looked in the truck, he saw the assortment of roller bags stacked in the back. “You’ve finally decided to move in with me, good.”
Jessica laughed. She pointed to the red roller bag. “That’s mine. It’s all I need for a few days. My new counselor, Grace Goldman told me I need to take some time off and simply relax. The other bags, the black ones are for the company.”
“Well, I’ll get the black ones inside. If you want, I’ll bring them all in, and you can sit down.
Jessica smiled and said coyly, “Did I mention that the red one has my clothes, just in case I’m invited to stay?”
Mac laughed and gave Jessica another kiss as he held her in his arms, “Stay as long as you want. You’re more than a guest.”
Jessica sighed and hugged him. She looked him in the eyes, “I’ll be honest, Mac. I need to recharge my batteries and get a break from all the activity. I’m hoping you’re the medicine the doctor ordered.”
Another kiss and a smile were exchanged.
“Jessica,” he sighed, “You need to stop making a big deal about being out here with me. I’m not doing anything special when you come by. You dropping in and staying is a pleasure for me, too. Now, what should I do with the bags?” He pointed to the black roller bags.
“Lock them up. It’s cash. Unmarked hundred dollar bills, over six million dollars. It’s all untraceable.”
Mac’s eyes opened wide. “Wow. A lot of money. You’ve been busy.”
“But, that’s all we’ll see for a while. I’m taking a breather from the charity collections department. I’m sure I’ve pissed off a New York crime mob with my theft. And I want to give them some time to forget me.”
“Was all this dangerous? Are they hunting for you?”
“Nah,” Jessica looked him in the eyes and shook her head, “If I’ve done things right, they’ll never know how it happened. I did some long-term surveillance on their operation and decided that they’re clueless. It was two simple operations. They run around like headless chickens over there. But, I wanted to make sure nothing is leading them back to me.”
Mac grabbed the handles and started to pull the heavy luggage. “Well, six million goes a long way. That’s going to help a lot of rescued families get settled and keep our walk-in clinics open.”
She sighed. “The needy won’t just go away or stop asking. The work keeps coming. I have plenty to do. It took a lot of willpower just to take a few days off. I feel like the kid with his finger in the dike. I’m concerned that the water will pour through the cracks if I stop plugging the leaks.”
Mac shook his head, “Jessica, you were never the type to sit still. But, I have the cure for that. I’ve been chilling this and two flutes all day.” Mac stopped and left the bags standing there. He reached into the compact refrigerator in the corner of the mudroom and withdrew a bottle of bubbly. He popped the cork and filled two chilling champagne glasses. “Here’s to a little R&R, Mac style, Sarge,” As he handed her the glass, he kissed her again.
Jessica wrapped her hand around his neck and stood on her tiptoes. He was her best friend, and they had a good relationship with no strings attached. She smiled as she pulled away. “You are the best kisser, Captain.”
In a previous life, they’d served together. Mac had been the one to pin the medal on James’s uniform after he earned the Silver Star.
James had rescued his team of seven from two flaming Humvees. After multiple IED’s had blown off the wheels, they’d been pinned under advancing enemy fire. James stood his ground and dissuaded the enemy from finishing off the ambush. They’d called in air support and were evacuated out to the airport and safety. He’d also earned a Purple Heart and a Silver Star that day.
After the team was rescued, James recuperated in the hospital for his wounds and burns. Lying in a burn recovery bed, he submitted his resignation from the service handing the papers to Mac.
Mac was one of the few who knew about her transsexual dilemma. James had hoped to change conflicting voices inside his head by enlisting. It hadn’t worked, and so she sought out a private doctor and therapist to help her fight the urges that seemed to be controlling her desires. Deciding that overachieving and becoming the best soldier might help tamp the voices down, James joined the Rangers. Unfortunately, the intensity of serving as a Ranger had not dissuaded her deep-seated need to become a woman.
After the ambush and the heat of that last battle, Jessica was finally unleashed. The long recovery had only deepened the conviction not to live another day as a lie.
The conflict of war and brotherhood had sealed their friendship. Mac had been the squad’s second then their first lieutenant. Now, he oversaw several units of long distance sharpshooters. As the war became more intense, battlefield promotions had moved him up the chain of command to Captain.
Even with more responsibility and more people under his command, James and Mac still made time for a few beers and conversation. Mac was the first one to hear about her need to transition. It had been a long time coming in her mind, and the near-death experiences had solidified her thinking.
Mac had been supportive when she’d decided to resign and start her new life. He kept in touch and from a distance followed her journey as she took two years to travel and finally come out completely. After the operations, she’d returned to the United States to see who’d accept Jessica in place of James.
All that history was long behind them now. Mutual respect had turned to understanding the unique feelings they each held. While both of them felt a need for more than friendship, their unusual circumstances made it hard to move their relationship forward.
As Mac offered to assist Jessica with her plan of helping others, they were spending more and more time together. Their feelings eventually couldn’t be contained and they became ‘friends with benefits’. For a while, they pretended that’s all it was. Even though they both felt more, Jessica’s need to be a savior to every underdog that needed help kept her busy enough to ignore her growing feelings for Mac.
That wall was breaking down as she realized he was a vital part of her life. Mac was ready to accept whatever she gave him, but Jessica still held back her love out of fear of losing what they had. It was complicated.
With the bottle empty, they walked hand in hand to Mac’s hot tub. Helping each other get undressed, they both slipped naked into the oversized redwood tub. With the bubbles flowing around their bodies, Jessica leaned her back into Mac’s chest as he began to massage her neck and shoulders.
Jessica moaned out loud as Mac manipulated the knots out of her neck. His strong hands gently eased her tight muscles and helped her to relax. As she pushed herself back into his body, she reached up and wrapped her hands behind his biceps and pulled him in close. He was nuzzling her neck and causing her pulse to race.
Jessica turned her head and kissed him. She didn’t mind Mac holding her tight and dominating her. She enjoyed giving up control to him.
They were tucked in tight to each other’s bodies. Jessica could feel Mac responding to the contact.
Jessica rubbed against his body, enjoying the fact that she excited him. She didn’t try to analyze it too deeply but just accepted it as real. She turned around and held him close. She faced him looking deep into his eyes. It felt good to surrender herself to him. She wondered what it would be like to give herself over to this love forever. She knew she wanted it.
They both continued to kiss, and hold each other tightly. Finally, as Jessica felt her body relax, she kept him close. Pulling up and out of the tub, she reached between Mac’s legs and caressed him. Getting a firm grip, she slid herself up so that they were face to face. Mac slipped himself up inside her as Jessica squeezed tightly
Sitting on the edge of the hot tub, Jessica felt her skin warm with their combined passion. Every nerve ending in her body felt alive. She rode him, kissing his neck, ears, and face. Every time Mac pushed up, he grabbed her tightly. She was on fire. Her breath came quicker. She started to move with him and felt her thinking brain shut down. They moved together as one, lips locked, tongues probing, and their pace quickening. As she felt him nearing the end, she let herself go. As they came together, she felt limp and exhausted.
They held each other tight. She felt her heart slow, and her breathing relax. The soothing glow she felt all over made her into a different person. She felt at ease inside her skin. She laughed when she thought about Grace Goldman’s prescription. ‘This is what I really needed,’ she thought.
They slipped back into the hot tub and lay in each other’s arms for a long time. Nothing was said. They just touched, kissed, and enjoyed the afterglow. The two of them enjoying the mindless moments that come after making love.
Focused on the sounds of the wind blowing through the trees and the warmth of the springtime sunset and nightfall, they were content. It had been a while, and it was impossible to hold back. They resumed their lovemaking. They stayed in and on the edge of the tub for hours.
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