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The Journey Continues, Continuation of "Continuum"
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uniquelyjas
Posted: 19 March 2020 - 05:19 AM                                    
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QUOTE (Dragondog @ 19 March 2020 - 12:59 AM)
So for the time being, my laptop is broken. So unless it fixes itself soon, my detailed reviews won't be what they were. This tablet I'm using doesn't let me run more than one tab at a time, and copying and pasting into quotes are a pain with this thing. I'll do what I can, though sad.gif

Saving Jack again. Joanna was right XD

Jack doesn't want to go to Alaska. I feel the same way about cold weather laugh.gif

Mac's not wrong about Minnesota winters.

Oh, still hanging on that cliffhanger, I see wink.gif I wonder if Joanna will feel reassured that MacGyver was mature enough to back out since he was overpowered here.

Sorry about your laptop. My computer here at work is running annoyingly slow...I think it's due to so many people working from home via the internet...or it's just our crummy computer system!! LOL!!

Thanks for the review. Per suggestions from other readers, things will get more, um, interesting??? hmm.bmp



Jody~

"I've found from past experiences that the tighter your plan, the more likely you are to run into something unpredictable" ~ MacGyver (The Heist)

 
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Dragondog
Posted: 19 March 2020 - 11:45 PM                                    
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It had it coming. It's been working on and off, and the screen broke, too.

Looking forward to it biggrin.gif



"If at first you don't succeed, get a bigger hammer" - Hank The Cowdog

"You have the heart of a chief, and the soul of a dragon"- How to Train Your Dragon 2

"[T]he more we try to understand one another, the more exceptional each one of us will be" - Zootopia

"Love makes you do strange things." - Charlie Brown

"When something looks too perfect, it probably sucks" - Dreamworks Dragons Race to the Edge

 
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uniquelyjas
Posted: 25 March 2020 - 10:14 AM                                    
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Chapter 42: On Her Own


March 24, 1998

“How could you break up with MacGyver?!” Judy Fairfax scolded as her daughter packed a suitcase.

“I didn’t break up with him, Ma,” Joanna clarified, quickly losing her patience. “I just suggested we take some time away from each other to make sure we can trust our feelings.”

“And then you’re planning on staying at his place while he’s gone?”

“That’s right, Mother,” Jo huffed.

“That doesn’t make any sense!”

“Look, I just need some time alone so I can think. Wherever I go, I’m with people. At school, at Challengers, even here at home.”

“When is Mac coming back?”

“I don’t know. Maybe never. We didn’t talk about it,” Joanna snapped.

“Seems to me you didn’t talk about a lot of things,” Judy observed.

Joanna stopped packing and took a deep breath. After leaving MacGyver’s the night before, she had pulled her car to a stop a block away and cried her eyes out before heading home where she held it together long enough to inform her parents that she and Mac needed some space and he was going to L.A. to check on Jack. Of course, her mother knew there was more to the story so Jo recounted the dinner with Craig and Nikki.

“They were telling all these stories about Mac’s assignments and I felt like they were talking about a stranger,” Joanna had tried to explain. After a long, sleepless night of alternately staring at the ceiling and sobbing into her pillow, she went to work as if nothing had happened, stopping at Challengers afterwards to pick up Frog where she learned MacGyver had told everyone he would be gone for a few days while he visited a friend. Of course, Mac’s total absence and her brief appearance garnered curious stares from Cynthia, Geena, and Rosie, but she refused to provide further clarification.

“I agree it wasn’t exactly my finest hour,” Joanna confessed to her mother. “But it’s done now.” She closed and latched her suitcase before heading downstairs, collecting Frog, and driving to MacGyver’s. When she pulled in the driveway his landlord, Charlie, was on the front stoop shaking hands with a man in a suit.

“Have you sold the townhouse yet?” she called to Charlie as she gathered Frog and her belongings.

“No,” the older man sighed. “My real estate agent just suggested I drop the asking price.”

“I’m sorry,” Jo replied sympathetically. “I’m sure it’ll all work out.”

“Mac didn’t mention you’d be staying here,” the landlord said, clearly eager to change the subject.

“That’s because he doesn’t know. Things happened kinda fast.”

Charlie studied Joanna who nervously shifted her weight from one foot to another while Frog tugged on his lead, anxious to head into the house.

“What’s goin’ on with you two anyway?” he asked.

“Mac went to visit--”

“A friend. I know,” Charlie replied, cutting her off. “He told me when I drove him to the airport. At least you got your stories straight. If you ever want to talk about what’s really goin’ on, I’m just next door. Remember that.”

Joanna summoned a small smile. “Thanks. I will.”

Once inside, Jo unclipped Frog’s leash and the pudgy bulldog headed directly to his usual napping spot under the coffee table. He had been spending a lot of time at Challengers and was probably glad for the solitude. Jo inhaled deeply and looked around. Everything was the same as it always was but somehow the space felt incredibly empty without MacGyver there. But that was what she wanted, wasn’t it? Annoyed at her melancholy and vowing not to shed another tear over the man, she picked up the TV remote and turned it on to a national news station.

“Our top news story this evening takes us to Prince William Sound, Alaska, where an American oil tanker struck the Bligh Reef early this morning causing a massive spill. Coast Guard officials report that the spill has been contained and is considerably smaller than the Exxon Valdez disaster that occurred in approximately the same location nine years ago today. The United States Environmental Protection Agency and several smaller agencies including the Phoenix Foundation in Los Angeles are in the process of mobilizing clean-up crews to send to the area. We will update this story as soon as more information becomes available.”

Her heart rate sped up at the mention of Mac’s former employer. Would Phoenix recruit him to go help with the spill? No, knowing MacGyver, if he heard this report, he would willingly volunteer for the job. Was he on his way to Alaska even now? Jo shook her head. That was none of her concern at the moment. She was here to see if there was a place for her in Mac’s life...assuming he even wanted her in it once he returned. If he returned.

After a late supper of leftover tofu casserole and a promise to go to the supermarket the next day, Jo changed into her pajamas and crawled into Mac’s bed. The sheets felt stiff and smelled clean. How many nights did he spend on the couch anyway? Or did he change the linens before he left? He had no way of knowing she would come here. Or did he know her that well? Joanna tossed and turned for an hour before glaring ruefully at the clothes hamper, cursing her traitorous heart.

“I can’t believe I’m doing this,” she muttered as she climbed out of bed and rooted through the dirty laundry to find one of MacGyver’s t-shirts. Quest complete, she grabbed the extra pillow laying next to her on the bed and pulled the stretchy material over it. Snuggling back under the covers, she held the pillow close, breathing in Mac’s scent as she drifted off into peaceful slumber.

XXXXX

Wednesday morning, Joanna arrived at the high school early as usual and quickly checked her mailbox as was her routine. She was surprised to find a note from Vice Principal Varga asking to see her before classes started.

“I see you got one, too,” a rich, deep voice with a hint of amusement said from behind her. She turned toward its source only to find an attractive man looking down at her. About six feet tall, his short yet neatly styled dark brown hair sported natural auburn highlights while his clear, hazel eyes caught and held her gaze. “I guess we were never properly introduced,” he said, holding out his hand. “I’m Tim O’Brien, one of the social studies teachers.”

Placing her hand gently in his, she knew she should offer a firm, professional handshake, but this way just felt..right.

“I’m Joanna Fairfax. You can call me ‘Jo’. I teach English.” Though by the very simple sentences that had just come out of her mouth one would never know it.

“Oh, so you’re in the foreign language department,” he teased, his eyes dancing in the fluorescent light.

“I’m afraid my students would agree with you,” she laughed lightly while reclaiming her hand. “We should go see what Mrs. Varga wants.”

Before either of them could knock on her office door, the vice principal invited them in.

“The bell is going to ring in a few minutes so I’ll keep this short. There’s a statewide teacher’s convention in Madison this weekend focusing on at-risk students. I want the two of you to go.”

With this she handed Joanna and Tim each a large brochure.

“It runs all day Saturday and Sunday morning. I’ve booked you each a room in the hotel where it’s being held for Friday and Saturday nights. I figure it best if you drive up Friday after school and I’ll give you both Monday off to compensate for your time. I do ask that you try to attend as many separate seminars as possible. I’d like you to report what you learned at our next staff meeting. And Joanna, I’ll need your answer regarding your contract when you return. Do either of you have any questions?”

Jo stood speechless. Her head spinning.

“Nope. Everything sounds good,” she heard Tim respond confidently.

With a smile and a nod she turned and headed out of the office with the social studies teacher behind her.

“How about we get together during lunch and pick out which presentations each of us should sign up for?” Tim suggested.

“Sure, that sounds fine,” Jo responded absently, still trying to process all the information that had been thrown at her.

Joanna had just dismissed her last class of the morning when Tim entered her classroom carrying a bag lunch. They spent the next thirty minutes poring over the brochures Mrs. Varga had given them trying to decide who would attend which seminars. Joanna was surprised at how smooth the process went. Tim was organized, flexible, and easy to work with.

“I was thinking,” he ventured, just before the afternoon classes were scheduled to begin. “It doesn’t make sense for us to each take our own car. How about we drive up together. I’m always game for a road trip.”

“That sounds great! I really don’t know my way around Madison and have a penchant for getting lost,” Jo confessed.

“Then it’s settled,” Tim replied, smiling broadly.

Before Joanna could answer, the bell rang and students began to enter the classroom.

That evening Jo curled up on Mac’s couch, Frog snoring beside her. She turned on the television, but nothing managed to hold her attention. Her stomach roiled every time she thought of the upcoming weekend. Last minute assignments were a way of life for MacGyver, but she sorely lacked the confidence and spontaneity to deal well with such situations. Feeling restless, she gently rose from the couch so as not to wake the sleeping dog and began to look around Mac’s apartment. For all the time she had spent here, she realized she had actually paid little attention to many of his possessions. For instance, the yellow rubber ducky on the kitchen counter. She picked it up and gave it a squeeze. It had been there for as long as she could remember, but why? There had to be a story connected to it.

As she continued to stroll about, she noticed framed snapshots of Mac with Pete or Jack or even Nikki scattered about on shelves and the fireplace mantel. There was even one of him with an elderly gentleman she assumed was Grandpa Harry if the fishing hat was any indication. He also had books. Lots of books. Upon further inspection she noticed his preferred subjects were history, biographies, and just about any type of science you could think of. However, these were juxtaposed with a huge collection of video-taped Westerns and a rather impressive amount of records and a few CD’s and, oddly enough, high school yearbooks. Her fingers ached to turn through the pages, but she wasn’t ready to read what would undoubtedly be inscriptions of undying love from his former girlfriends. Having made a circuit of the room, she found herself back in the kitchen. She and MacGyver had spent a lot of time here together and she couldn’t think of a place that suited him better. And therein lie one of the reasons she had been avoiding marrying him. She loved this apartment as much, if not more, than he did. Never had another place felt more like home to her. But it was small. She glanced up toward the bedroom. Save for a small closet and dresser, there wasn’t much storage space. It was fine for a bachelor, but where would her things fit? The apartment didn’t even have room for a guest or even a child should they decide to adopt. Yet the idea of living somewhere else seemed unthinkable. Of course, she had never mentioned this to MacGyver. He had traveled and lived all over the world. Surely to him an apartment was simply a place to stow his hockey gear until he decided to move on. Perhaps that was the reason he couldn’t commit to buying a house when he had moved to Milwaukee. He couldn’t let go of the residue from his earlier transient lifestyle. Was he truly ready to finally put down some roots? But then again, people say home is where the heart is, so if her heart was truly with Mac, shouldn’t she feel at home anywhere as long as they were together?

XXXXX

Thursday at noon Joanna looked up from the essay she was grading to find Tim leaning casually against her door jamb, a brown paper lunch bag in his hand.

“I figured since we’re spending the weekend together we should get to know each other a little better,” he said with a gentle smile.

When she quirked an eyebrow he grimaced. “Sorry, that sounded better in my head.”

Jo laughed lightly. “Don’t worry, I know what you meant. Pull up a seat.”

Over the next half hour, Joanna learned that Tim O’Brien had been born and raised in a suburb of Milwaukee and now owned a home in the city. He had a sister and brother-in-law who had graced him with two nephews he clearly loved. Like her, he had grown up Catholic, attending parochial school until college. He was an avid Green Bay Packer fan and confessed to having only one serious relationship from which, he stressed, he learned a lot and was not about to make the same mistakes twice. If someone had asked Jo to create the perfect guy, before meeting MacGyver, Tim would have very much fit the bill. She had always rued the fact that she was an only child with no nieces or nephews to dote on, especially as time passed and it became clear she would have no children of her own. And, of course, having someone who actively shared her faith was a quality she highly regarded.

“So what about you?” he asked as they tossed the remains of their lunch in the trash. “Rumor in the teachers’ lounge says you’re engaged.”

“Do you always believe everything you hear in the teachers’ lounge?” she countered playfully.

“Only the stuff that’s true,” he replied, then let his gaze land on her modest diamond ring. “So, does that come with a guy or do you just wear it to scare off the weirdos?” He pulled a face causing her to laugh.

“It comes with a guy, for now,” she answered softly.

Tim’s demeanor turned serious. “Sounds like there’s a story in there somewhere.”

“It’s complicated,” Joanna said with a shrug. “He’s in Los Angeles right now. We needed some time apart.”

The bell signaling the end of the lunch period rang, saving Joanna from Tim’s questioning eyes. “Tomorrow? Same time? Same place?”

“It’s a date,” Jo answered, summoning a smile. Her heart was beating double time as students began to drift into the room. What had she been thinking? First, she flirts with the guy and then she leads him to believe that her relationship is in trouble. Of course, there was a very strong possibility her relationship with MacGyver was in trouble.

Friday morning Joanna left for work earlier than usual so she could drop Frog off at Challengers since she’d be gone for the weekend. She also felt she owed Cynthia an honest explanation. After all, both her and MacGyver had practically abandoned the club leaving the older woman to run it single-handedly. After Jo had settled Frog into his preferred corner and set out fresh food and water for him, she crossed the room and tapped softly on Cynthia’s office door.

“Mind if I come in for a minute?” she asked.

Cynthia looked up from her work, surprise registering on her face. “Of course not! Please, have a seat. We’ve missed you around here.”

“I know and I’m sorry,” Jo responded as she sat on the edge of the offered chair. “I wanted to let you know I brought Frog over for the weekend. I need to go to a convention in Madison.”

“That’s no problem. The kids will love having him around again. They missed him these past couple of days,” Cynthia assured her with a smile.

“I’ll also be making it a point to spend more time here.”

Cynthia waved off the comment. “You’re busy with school. We’ll be fine until MacGyver comes back.”

Joanna looked down at the floor. “That’s something else we need to talk about.”

“Well, it’s about time!” Cynthia leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms over her chest. “There’s more to Mac’s trip, isn’t there?”

“How did you know?”

“When he stopped in to say he was leaving, he looked like he had just lost his best friend...or maybe someone even more important.”

Joanna reluctantly met Cynthia’s gaze, dreading the censure she assumed she would find, but instead, the woman’s eyes were filled with compassion.

“Mac didn’t totally lie to you,” Jo began. “He was worried about not hearing from Jack so I told him to check things out. But I sent him away because some things happened on his birthday that caused me to start rethinking our relationship.”

“Honey, you have to know that MacGyver is head-over-heels in love with you. I’ve known him a long time and have never seen him this happy. This content.”

“I want to believe you. I really do. But I need to be sure we’re doing the right thing for the right reasons.”

“And how will you know you are?” Cynthia challenged.

Ashamed that she didn’t have an answer, Joanna glanced down at her watch and quickly excused herself saying she was late for work which would be true if she continued with this conversation.

The lunch bell had just rung when Tim poked his head into Joanna’s classroom. She greeted him with a bright smile he did not return.

“Listen, I’m sorry, but I’m gonna have to break our lunch date,” he informed her. “I’m up to my eyeballs in paperwork that I need to get done before we leave.”

Jo sighed in relief. “No problem. I’m actually glad because I still have to get lesson plans together for the sub on Monday. I’m beginning to think it would be easier just to come in myself.”

“No way!” Tim objected. “Mrs. V. gave us the day off. Take advantage of it! By the way, could you give me your address so I know where to pick you up later?”

“Oh, sure,” Joanna mumbled as she scribbled the address to Mac’s apartment on a sticky note. “I’m all packed, I just want to change into something more comfortable for the trip.”

“Sounds great. I’ll see you about four?”

“See you then,” she agreed as both anxiety and excitement about the upcoming weekend did battle in her stomach.

Joanna had just finished taking one last look in the mirror when there was a knock on the front door. Knowing it was Tim, she hurried down the spiral staircase and let him in as she went to retrieve her luggage.

“Play much hockey, do you?” Tim inquired as he examined Mac’s gear.

Jo laughed. “No. This isn’t actually my place. I’m house sitting for a friend.”

“This ‘friend’ wouldn’t happen to be the same guy who gave you that ring?”

Joanna felt herself flush. “Yeah,” she admitted softly. “But I’m not sure how long he’ll be here, especially after his landlord sells the place.”

Not caring for the direction this conversation had taken, she picked up her large suitcase and changed the subject.

“Sorry, I tried to pack light,” she smiled ruefully as Tim quickly took the piece of luggage from her.

“No problem. A girl’s gotta be prepared for everything, right?” he said with a wink as he headed out the door.

Jo felt her heart flip at the refreshing reply. She had gotten so used to MacGyver complaining about how much she packed she never expected some other guy might actually understand.

“I hope you don’t mind, but I thought we’d take Highway 16,” Tim said as they headed west, out of the city. “I figure Friday night rush hour on the interstate will be a nightmare. This way may take a little longer, but it should be a lot less stressful. Besides, it’ll give us more time to get to know each other.”

Over the next two hours, they exchanged anecdotes about attending Catholic grade school, their families, and the paths they had each taken that had landed them both at Lincoln High School. Joanna was surprised and pleased at how easy their conversation flowed. Even the silence was comfortable. They had just reached the outskirts of Madison when they saw a billboard advertising a well-known, casual chain restaurant.

“Wanna stop and get some supper before we check into the hotel?” Tim asked.

“You read my mind,” Jo grinned.

When the server appeared beside their table at the crowded restaurant, Joanna ordered the fish fry, a Friday night staple on any Wisconsin menu. Tim ordered a steak with all the trimmings, causing Jo to frown.

“What?” he asked defensively.

“Nothing,” she murmured.

“C’mon, what is it? You a vegetarian or something?”

“No, it’s just a Friday. In Lent.”

Tim relaxed as understanding dawned. “And you thought I’d abstain from meat like a good Catholic boy.”

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have assumed,” Jo stammered feeling suddenly awkward.

“Trust me, I’m sure God, Himself, would break that rule for a good old-fashioned piece of beef!” he laughed while Joanna summoned a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes.

After having secured and searched out their rooms in the hotel, Tim deposited Joanna’s luggage next to her door.

“Looks like we’re neighbors,” he remarked.

“Looks like it,” she agreed, as she fiddled with her keycard to unlock her door.

“Well, if you need anything during the night, just knock on the wall,” Tim teased with a friendly wink.

“I’m sure everything will be fine, but I’ll keep that in mind,” she replied with a smirk before tugging her suitcase into her room and closing the door behind her as a tingling heat crept up her neck. Later, as she crawled into bed, she stared at the dividing wall, a frisson of awareness passing through her before she drifted off to sleep.

Saturday morning Joanna awoke with a dull ache in her temple and groaned. Her slumber the night before had been riddled with odd dreams. Faceless figures had floated past her mind’s eye. Some warmed her with hope and love while others chilled her with anxiety and fear leaving her feeling restless and out-of-sorts. Thirty minutes later, Tim knocked on her door and together they joined hundreds of educators from around the state in a huge conference room where everyone was taking advantage of a free breakfast buffet. She and Tim compared their schedules one last time to make sure that none of their chosen seminars overlapped as Mrs. Varga had asked. Soon, the large group split into several smaller ones as a number of presentations began in separate, smaller gathering rooms.

By lunch time, Joanna remembered why she hated going to these types of events and would do cartwheels to get out of them. Eventually, all the presenters basically said the same thing which, when boiled down, was basic common sense to any teacher worth his or her salt. Granted, she had picked up some interesting information as well as tips and tricks for teaching and disciplining at-risk youth, but her stiff back and aching shoulders outweighed them all...and there was still a whole afternoon and half day tomorrow to go.

Tim was waiting for her while everyone was herded back into the large conference room for the midday meal. Both needing a break from their colleagues’ incessant chatter, they ate quickly and silently before taking a stroll among the hotel’s common areas which ended with Tim kneading Jo’s taught neck and shoulder muscles. She wanted to moan with delight as the tension quickly melted under his gentle yet firm ministrations, but instead she moaned with disappointment when an announcement beckoned them back to their seminars.

“Tell ya what,” Tim proposed before they parted, “Let’s have dinner in the hotel restaurant tonight.”

“Are you sure?” Jo asked. “It’s pretty high end.”

“Yep! Consider it a reward for surviving a day’s worth of seminars.”

Hours later, Joanna was comfortably seated at a cozy table for two in a candlelit corner of the fancy restaurant. The afternoon had dragged, but the thought of spending the evening with Tim provided a much needed shot of adrenaline. She chalked it up to the excitement of getting to know a new friend. At least, that’s what she convinced herself to believe. As had become customary, conversation flowed easily. After debriefing each other on the information each had gleaned from the day, they proceeded to talk about both everything and nothing at all. Jo was once again pleasantly surprised at how relaxed she felt in Tim’s company. Maybe it was because they’re backgrounds were so similar she didn’t feel like she had to defend herself and her choices. Or perhaps it was because Tim was open and straightforward and she didn’t have to worry about saying something that would bring back an old fear or open up a painful memory. Or maybe it was because a kind, handsome, intelligent man appeared to take a genuine interest in her.

After dinner, they slowly strolled to their rooms. Somewhere along the way Joanna’s hand had slipped into Tim’s, but she made no effort to remove it. Arriving at her door she sighed.

“Thanks for dinner. It was wonderful. I hate to see this evening end,” she confessed.

“It doesn’t have to, ya know,” he replied softly.

Warning bells went off in her head, but she ignored them. “Wanna come in for awhile? We could start getting our notes together for the faculty meeting,” she suggested.

“Sure,” Tim murmured, giving her a lazy smile as she again fumbled with her key card.

Once inside, Jo headed toward the desk to retrieve her legal pad, but Tim grasped her hand tighter and turned her towards him.

“I’m really enjoying getting to know you,” he said, his voice husky. “I can’t believe we’ve been teaching in the same school for seven months and I never noticed you. I hope you know what a very special woman you are.”

She watched breathlessly as his clear hazel eyes darkened and he leaned closer. Every nerve ending in her body tingled in anticipation. She stood stock still as his warm lips ever so lightly grazed her own.

“I’m sorry, I can’t,” she said, pulling away.

“Is it because of him?” he asked, looking pointedly at the ring on her left hand. “I thought you were breaking up with him.”

“I said that it’s complicated,” she answered, preparing herself for angry words from Tim accusing her of leading him on.

When he next spoke, his voice was calm and smooth. “It’s not that complicated, Joanna. If that was my ring you were wearing, I wouldn’t have let you push me away in the first place.”

Her feet frozen to the floor, Jo felt him place a chaste kiss on her forehead before leaving the room. She mechanically performed her bedtime routine and it was only once she was snuggled under the covers that she allowed herself to replay Tim’s kiss in her mind. Her eyes welled with tears as she relived the emotions it had awakened. The loneliness, emptiness, coldness she had felt...because he wasn’t Mac.

At some point during the pre-dawn hours, Joanna’s heart firmly decided she truly and deeply loved MacGyver and would for the rest of her life, but it was her head that convinced her guys like MacGyver didn’t date, much less marry, girls like her and she would be much better off with a nice, safe, family-oriented man instead. Decision made, she knocked on Tim’s hotel door early the next morning.

“Can I buy you breakfast as an apology for last night?” she asked when he let her in.

“You have no need to apologize and breakfast is free,” he pointed out.

“But it’s the thought that counts. Right?” she asked with a sassy grin.

“Touche!” he laughed as he grabbed his notebook and draped his arm casually across her shoulders as they headed down to the conference room.

The final seminars of the convention were much more easy-going and laid back than the previous ones. It seemed as if Saturday had drained everyone’s energy, including the presenters’, and Joanna breathed a huge sigh of relief when the final session ended promptly at noon as scheduled. An hour later, she was sitting in the passenger seat of Tim’s car as they headed east on Interstate 94 towards Milwaukee.

“Since I missed my usual Mass this weekend, I was planning on going to a church near the high school that offers an evening service tonight. Would you like to come along?” Jo ventured.

Tim glanced over in surprise. “Naw, I’m good. I was planning on spending the evening with a basketball game on TV and a cold beer.”

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have assumed.” Again.

“Don’t worry about it. I figure all the Masses I was forced to attend as a kid have me set for awhile,” he smirked.

“I’m not sure it works that way,” Joanna observed.

Tim shrugged. “I doubt God keeps an attendance log. Unless he works for Mrs. Varga!” Jo smiled but remained silent.

A little while later, Tim spoke again. “So, what are your plans for the summer?”

She couldn’t help but laugh. “It’s only March!”

“What can I say? I’m a sucker for plans...and summer vacation!”

“Mrs. Varga asked if I wanted to teach summer school, but I was planning on working full-time at Challengers.”

“What did you tell her?”

“Nothing yet. But I need to let her know this week.”

“If you want my opinion, just take the summer off. Do some traveling or something.”

“Is that what you’re gonna do?”

“Yep! I’m going to Japan for a month and then maybe take a couple smaller trips stateside if I can fit them in.”

“Wow. Guess you won’t be spending much time at home,” Jo observed.

“Staying home is overrated. I never traveled as a kid and couldn’t afford to when I was in college and starting my career. Now I have the time and the means and nothing holding me back for three months!”

“So you’re making up for what you missed out on?”

He shrugged, “I guess you could say that.”

“I see,” Jo replied before turning to look out the side window and watch the familiar landscape pass by.

When they reached the city, Jo asked Tim to stop at Challengers so she could pick up Frog.

“What kinda place is this?” her colleague asked as they walked through the parking lot.

“It’s a community boys and girls club. Everyone is welcome, though. But most of our members are at-risk or low-income kids. We actually have quite a few from Lincoln High.”

“And you volunteer here?”

“Yeah. Well, actually I’m one of the directors. I feel bad that I haven’t been able to spend much time here since I started teaching full time, though.”

“You seriously want to spend time with your students outside of the classroom?” he asked with a tinge of sarcasm.

Jo stopped and turned to look him in the eye. “Yeah, I do. It’s a great way to get to know them and their background. I feel it helps me be a better teacher when I know what my students are going through after they leave my class. You might want to consider volunteering yourself. We’re looking to get the kids involved in community projects and will take all the help we can get.”

“Thanks for the offer, but I think I’ll pass. A guy needs his down-time, ya know?”

“Sure,” she replied flatly.

They entered the building to find Cynthia and Rosie chatting at the reception desk. They both looked up when they heard the door open.

“Back from the convention?” Cynthia asked.

“Yeah, thank goodness,” Jo answered before briefly introducing Tim as her colleague. She grabbed Frog’s leash from its hook and headed to the corner where several younger members were petting the dog.

“Sorry to break up the fun, but it’s time for Frog to go home,” she announced.

“You named him ‘Frog’?” Tim whispered in her ear causing her to laugh.

“No. Someone else named him that long before I ever met him.”

As the kids moved on to other activities, Joanna bent down to give Frog a hearty ear rub before clipping the lead on his collar. When he caught sight of Tim standing behind her, he growled low in his throat.

“Hey, what’s that all about?” Jo asked the dog as she smoothed her hand down his back, feeling his chubby body quivering. “C’mon, I want you to meet a new friend.” She tugged on his leash but he remained firmly planted on his bed, his eyes never leaving Tim, his body trembling.

“I don’t know what’s gotten into him,” she apologized.

“He can probably sense I’m not much of a dog person,” Tim remarked.

“Then I take it you prefer cats?”

“Why would you say that?”

Jo hesitated. “Well, one is usually either a dog person or a cat person.”

“To be honest, I’m not really into pets. Too much responsibility.”

Joanna stared at him, speechless. A few days ago she thought he was her perfect match. Now in the span of a couple hours he basically said he doesn’t go to church or like animals and apparently had a low opinion of her involvement with Challengers. She mentally shook her head. She was tired and probably giving his words too much weight.

“You got a kennel or something to put him in for the ride home?” Tim asked, breaking into her thoughts. “My car does have leather seats, ya know.” From the look on his face he wasn’t kidding and Jo felt her blood pressure soar.

“Why don’t you let Frog stay here,” Cynthia suggested with a knowing smile obviously having overheard Tim’s comment.

“But you’ve had him all weekend,” Jo protested.

“And both he and the kids have loved it,” the older woman insisted.

“Alright,” Joanna capitulated. “I’m gonna spend some time here tomorrow since I have the day off so I guess it only makes sense.”

“Good. Now you go home and get some rest. And don’t worry about what time you come in. I can hold down the fort,” Cynthia promised.

The air in Tim’s car was fraught with tension as he drove Joanna back to the townhouse.

“Are you upset because I don’t like dogs?” he finally asked, breaking the silence.

What could Jo say? Yes, she was upset. She had always pictured a dog in her life. And, to be honest, her gut told her not to trust people who didn’t love animals.

“No, I’m just tired,” she finally told him. And it wasn’t a complete lie.

After arriving at the apartment, Tim carried in her luggage and waited until she was settled.

“How about we get together tomorrow and get our notes in order for the faculty meeting. We never did get around to that,” he reminded her with a grin.

“Sure,” she agreed, less enthusiastically than she would have liked. “I wanna spend the morning at Challengers, but you can come by my place say about one in the afternoon?”

“Sounds good,” he confirmed, taking the piece of paper on which she had scribbled her home address. At some point over the weekend she had also decided she needed to move out of MacGyver’s house since she had already moved herself out of his life.

XXXXX

Monday afternoon Joanna watched from the bay window as Tim parked his car in front of the house. She greeted him at the front door.

“Hi, c’mon in,” she invited. “I thought we’d work at the kitchen table,” she said over her shoulder as she led him down the hall.

“This is a pretty big place for just you,” he observed, taking a seat.

“Oh! I guess I never told you that I live with my parents.”

“What?!”

A bit taken aback by his reaction, Joanna went on to give him a brief history of the house and the rationale behind her decision to remain there.

“I don’t know how you do it,” he said, shaking his head. “There’s no way I could live under the same roof as Ed and Irma everyday.”

“Ed and Irma?”

“Yeah, my parents.”

“Do you always call your parents by their first names?” Jo couldn’t help but ask.

“Only when they’re not around,” he grinned. “I mean, there comes a time when you outgrow calling them ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’. Know what I mean?”

Apparently that was a rhetorical question as he continued, “So where are your parents now?”

“Monday is their day to run errands. They’ll be gone for awhile yet.”

Joanna had been looking forward to introducing her family to Tim. Now she just wanted to get him out of her house, and her life, as quickly as possible. Her first impressions of him had certainly been way off the mark. He was in no way the type of man she had imagined him to be, but she was thankful she discovered it so quickly. She should have been this decisive with MacGyver a couple years ago but she was too busy believing they were falling in love.

“Then we better get crackin’,” Tim suggested, obviously eager to part ways as well.

With a minimum of discussion, the two teachers quickly outlined the presentation Mrs. Varga expected from them and as soon as it was done, Tim expressed his need to leave and attend to his own errands. He hurried out the door with a tight smile and a light-hearted, “See ya around!”

Joanna stood in the middle of the living room and watched as his car pulled away from the curb just as her parent’s car turned the corner. Huffing out a sigh and refusing to shed even one tear, she painfully noted that she was once again all alone.

















Jody~

"I've found from past experiences that the tighter your plan, the more likely you are to run into something unpredictable" ~ MacGyver (The Heist)

 
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Dragondog
Posted: 26 March 2020 - 01:15 AM                                    
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"Seems to me you didn't talk about a lot of things" Boy, Judy is smart biggrin.gif

I thought she might hear about the spill on the news wink.gif it'll be fun to see where this goes...

Tim O'Brien just made a love triangle. Great, XD

The rubber duck. I see what you did there wink.gif

That whole "home is where the heart is" tangent that I can't quote because I'm still stuck on mobile is simply poetic. Well done thumbsup.gif

Yeesh, their chemistry actually makes ME question her and mac's relationship...

Massages? Candlelit tables? I'm suspicious. He knows she's technically taken right now...

Grrr, now I don't like him mad.gif

Frog's vote sells it. Tim is bad news.

I'm glad she's rid of him. But I really want to slap some sense into her XD



"If at first you don't succeed, get a bigger hammer" - Hank The Cowdog

"You have the heart of a chief, and the soul of a dragon"- How to Train Your Dragon 2

"[T]he more we try to understand one another, the more exceptional each one of us will be" - Zootopia

"Love makes you do strange things." - Charlie Brown

"When something looks too perfect, it probably sucks" - Dreamworks Dragons Race to the Edge

 
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bluegirl
Posted: 26 March 2020 - 05:57 AM                                    
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Wow, you had me going there for almost the whole chapter - I really thought you might be bringing up another love interest for Jo, making her even more unsure and confused and giving Mac something to fight against, if he doesn´t want to loose her... But then Frog spoiled it wink.gif

But this whole situation makes me think of an old song I happened to hear today while driving to work: "The Last Unbroken Heart" by Patti LaBelle and Bill Champlin. It´s part of the Miami Vice soundtrack. You can find it easily on youtube. It´s about two people shying away from commitment, because their hearts might be hurt in it - the lyrics fit so well to the story your putting them through blush.gif sad.gif



The stuff is already there, I just find a different way to use it!

 
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uniquelyjas
Posted: 1 April 2020 - 09:47 AM                                    
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Chapter 43: Where It Began

March 31, 1998

MacGyver opened his eyes and immediately squinted at the bright shaft of sunlight piercing through the grungy window. He looked at his watch, chagrined but not surprised to find that it was already mid-morning. Scrubbing his face with his hands, he swung his legs over the edge of the bed and yawned. His flight from Los Angeles to the Twin Cities the day before had been delayed...twice. And then, instead of taking a connecting flight to Mission City, he had chosen to rent a 4X4 figuring the solitude of the drive would give him time to think. Instead, he had brooded big time. It was exactly one week ago that Joanna had told him to leave. Had told him she needed to figure out if she truly belonged in his life. Had, in her mind, set him free when all he felt was tied in knots of despair. In hindsight, he now wondered if he did the right thing by doing what she asked, or if he should have stayed and fought for their relationship. It was a vicious rhetorical circle that was making him dizzy. By the time he pulled up to his grandpa Harry’s cabin in Northern Minnesota all he wanted to do was fall into bed, which he did, fully clothed. He pushed himself upright and shuffled to the kitchen area, grimacing at the dust that had gathered in the one-room hideaway. After pouring himself a lukewarm glass of water from the cranky faucet, he opened the door and breathed in the early spring air. There was something about this place that always soothed his soul, no matter how torn and beaten it was. Perhaps it was the fact that he knew it would always be here for him and would never change. At least he hoped that was the case.

He was about to turn and go back inside when something by the gravel drive caught his eye. It had been well after dark when he pulled in last night, but now, in the light of day, little red and yellow flags sticking out of the ground were obvious against the still-brown grass. MacGyver considered them for a moment. They had most likely been placed by the DNR or Forestry Service to mark something. Perhaps there were plans to repair and widen the deeply rutted road. Or maybe they were indicators of where trees were to be planted or taken down or both. With a mental shrug, Mac grabbed his car keys and headed into town for supplies.

As was his ritual, he first stopped to check out the house he had grown up in. Now a nursing home for more years than he could remember, the lawn and yard were perfectly manicured despite the harsh winter. A sudden yearning to walk through the rooms of his old home tugged at his heart, but he doubted the elderly residents would take kindly to his trip down memory lane so he kept his feelings at bay. Instead, he shifted into gear and headed toward the heart of town. He was a couple blocks away from the supermarket, his main destination, when he glimpsed flashing red and blue lights in his rearview mirror and the single whir of the siren signaling him to pull over. MacGyver groaned but obeyed and watched as the officer slowly climbed from his car and approached the rented vehicle. Mac rolled down the window and waited. This day was not starting out well.

“What seems to be the problem, officer?” MacGyver asked, turning toward the cop and summoning what he hoped was a friendly, innocent smile.

“MacGyver?!”

“Neil!” Mac exhaled when he recognized his childhood friend and Mission City police sergeant, Neil Ryder. “That you’re way of welcoming back an old friend?” he asked with a grin.

“Oh, sorry about that. I got a call from the nursing home about a possible stalker and your vehicle matched the description.”

“A stalker?”

Neil shrugged, “What can I say? The town is growing every day and those folks aren’t accustomed to strangers. So, I guess you’re here for the big town hall meeting tomorrow night, eh?”

“What meeting?”

“Didn’t you get the letter?”

“No. I didn’t get a letter.” Mac was quickly losing patience with his friend.

“That’s odd,” Neil mused.

“Well, I haven’t exactly been home a lot lately. Would you just tell me what you’re talking about?”

“An outfit called North Star Real Estate Developers is proposing to buy up a bunch of land around Bell Lake and build luxury condominiums. They’ve already been here talkin’ to your neighbors.”

“Neighbors?”

Neil chuckled, “I know Harry’s place is secluded, but you do have neighbors, ya know.”

“Well, they can’t be very happy about these plans,” Mac observed, steering the conversation away from the fact that he had never really considered himself as having neighbors up here.

“On the contrary, some are seriously considering the developer’s offers.”

“What about you? You still got the cabin?”

“Naw. I sold it after Sean started college. He didn’t have time to hang out in the woods with his old man anymore,” Neil replied with a wry grin. “Look, I gotta get going. Come to the town hall meeting in the high school gymnasium tomorrow evening at seven o’clock. In the meantime, let me know if you need anything.”

“Thanks, I will,” Mac muttered, his friend’s words swirling around in his brain.

After making quick work of his grocery shopping, MacGyver walked into the local sporting goods store owned by his other good friend, Chuck.

“Mac! How the heck are ya?!” the larger man greeted him with a bear hug.

“Good,” Mac grunted, relieved when his friend backed away allowing him to breathe again.

“Guess you’re here for the big town hall meetin’ tomorrow.”

“Yeah.” At least he was now. “What do you know about that anyway?”

“Not much, I’m afraid. I don’t own property up there so they ain’t interested in me. But they’ve been up there surveying the area.” That would explain the little flags MacGyver had found by his drive. “How much they offer you?”

“They haven’t approached me yet,” Mac told him.

“Whatcha gonna tell ‘em when they do?”

“I’m gonna turn them down like everyone else will.”

Chuck shook his head slowly. “I wouldn’t be too sure about that, buddy. Rumor has it they’re playin’ fast and loose with their cash. Might make ya an offer ya can’t refuse.”

“I doubt that,” Mac replied. “Harry’s cabin isn’t for sale.”

“Yeah, right,” Chuck smirked. “We’ll see what ya have to say after tomorrow night when they offer ya a big fat check for that rundown place. If I were you, I’d take the money and run.”

“Well, you’re not me, and I doubt I’m gonna change my mind,” MacGyver retorted. “Now if ya don’t mind, could ya get me some live bait?”

Chuck’s eyebrows came together as he frowned. “Awful early in the season to be fishin’. Lake’s hardly thawed.”

“Great! Then I’ll surprise the fish!”

Back at the cabin, Mac stowed his groceries before grabbing an old fishing pole from the storage closet and heading to the rickety old pier. The late March wind blowing off the water definitely had a bite to it, but MacGyver didn’t really plan on catching anything. He just needed to think. And soaking a line had always been a great way to do that. He inhaled the clean, fresh air while taking in his surroundings. Pine and spruce trees stood tall and green while sunlight poured down through the still-bare branches of the deciduous trees that also populated the area. While he had planned on considering ways to bring his wayward fiance back to her senses, his mind kept wandering to what Neil and Chuck had told him about North Star Real Estate. The unsullied space around him was a priceless refuge. He would go to that meeting tomorrow, politely turn down any offer that might be made, and spend the rest of the night driving back to Milwaukee. Driving home. End of story.

A soft but steady beeping sound pulled MacGyver from his reverie. He looked to find an elderly man walking the rocky shoreline, a metal detector in hand. Mac smiled, picturing Jack Dalton years from now still searching for his elusive fortune.

The man turned and caught sight of MacGyver. “You livin’ in the old Jackson place?” he asked.

“Nope. Just visiting,” Mac replied. “What about you?”

“Me and the missus live around that bend in the lake,” the man pointed in the direction he had come.

“Finding anything good?” MacGyver asked, nodding his head toward the device in the man’s hand.

“Naw,” he sighed dejectedly. “Just some fishhooks and a couple coins, but this cockamamie thing keeps goin’ off like the Titanic was buried here.”

“Well, keep at it,” Mac encouraged as he pulled his fishing line out of the water. “Maybe I’ll see ya around.”

“Yeah, sure,” the older man replied absently as the beeping grew more frantic. Probably another fishhook, MacGyver thought.

XXXXX

Wednesday evening, Mac slipped into an empty chair in the back of the high school gymnasium shortly before seven o’clock. A small stage had been set up at the other end of the room where a middle-aged man, casually dressed in khakis and a polo shirt, methodically set up various maps and charts and readied his slide projector. The gym was packed to capacity so the man gently tapped the microphone with his finger to get everyone’s attention. Once all eyes were on him, he introduced himself as Bill Lichtman, the CEO of North Star Real Estate. MacGyver leaned back, crossed his arms over his chest, and took in the presentation. He had been to more than one of these things during his time with Phoenix and he had to admit that this guy was good. He warmed up the crowd by praising the fine citizens of Mission City before cracking a couple jokes that native Minnesotans could easily relate to before drawing their attention to his company’s plans and vision for the future.

MacGyver kept his gaze trained on the audience, watching as people whispered into their neighbors ear while others nodded at what Bill was saying. There was a certain energy in the room that Mac found unsettling. Once Lichtman was done with his spiel, he opened up the floor for questions. At first, most inquiries related to the development itself, but soon a woman wearing a state DNR uniform stood up and asked about the impact the project would have on the lake, game, fish, and waterfowl. Mac leaned forward in his chair, knowing that this was where things were going to get interesting. Bill Lichtman gave a smooth, and obviously well-rehearsed, reply about his company’s shared concern for local wildlife and natural resources and assured everyone that several studies had been conducted in order to find a way to make the transition as harmless as possible. MacGyver scoffed to himself knowing full well how these operations worked, always leaving the land raped and pillaged. A murmur slowly rose from the crowd and Mac waited for protests to arise, but other than a few more head nods no one else spoke up. They couldn’t possibly be buying into this guy’s slick explanations! Were the citizens of Mission City going to allow a heartless development company like North Star run roughshod over Bell Lake and the surrounding land?!

In less than sixty minutes the entire event concluded. MacGyver watched as most audience members headed directly for the exits, many of them chatting happily and even laughing. Others stayed behind and visited in small groups while Bill Lichtman stepped down from his platform and mingled with those remaining. Mac soon caught sight of the developer speaking with an elderly couple. He recognized the husband as the man he had seen the day before scavenging with the metal detector. He waited until Lichtman took his leave before approaching.

“Hi there,” Mac greeted the couple before turning his attention to the man. “I believe we briefly met the other day. I’m staying at the Jackson place.”

“Of course!” the man exclaimed, recognition dawning in his eyes. “I’m Arthur and this is my wife, Maggie.”

Mac smiled and shook their hands. “Name’s MacGyver. Harry Jackson was my grandfather.”

“Ah, good ole Harry,” Arthur replied. “Bit of a loner but a heck of a fisherman!”

MacGyver nodded in agreement. “So what do you make of this whole business with North Star? Have they made you an offer on your place yet?”

“Oh, they’ve been an answer to our prayers!” Maggie gushed. “We just can’t take care of our house like we used to and have been wanting to move to Minneapolis to be with our children and their families, but who wants to buy a place that’s literally falling down? Then Mr. Lichtman came along and made us an offer we couldn’t refuse!”

“So you’re selling, then?” Mac asked feeling both surprised and dismayed.

“We finalized the deal earlier today,” Arthur confirmed. “Just came by tonight to thank Bill again for the generous offer.”

“Excuse me, did you say your name’s MacGyver?”

Mac spun around to find Bill Lichtman standing behind him, a wide, friendly grin on his face. How long had he been there?

“That’s right,” Mac said as Arthur and Maggie politely took their leave.

“I’ve been wanting to speak with you, but you’re a hard man to pin down,” Lichtman said, still grinning.

“If this is about me selling the cabin, you can save your breath. It isn’t gonna happen.”

The developer’s smile slipped just a bit. “Now, now, Mr. MacGyver. Let’s not be hasty. You haven’t even heard my offer.”

“It’s not for sale,” Mac told him firmly.

“Perhaps we could negotiate?” Lichtman handed MacGyver a piece of paper with a price written on it. Mac’s eyebrows shot up to his shaggy bangs. There were way too many numbers before the decimal point.

“Mr. Lichtman, you and I both know Harry’s cabin isn’t worth a fraction of this!”

“On the contrary, your grandfather’s cabin is the only piece of real estate standing in the way of our plan and worth a great deal to my company. I’d be more than happy to add to that number if it would get you to change your mind.”

Mac’s stomach fell to the floor. All his neighbors had sold out to North Star?! But then again, if Lichtman offered them anywhere near what he was offering MacGyver, he could hardly blame them.

“I told you, I’m not selling,” MacGyver reiterated between clenched teeth before heading to the door.

XXXXX

The following morning, MacGyver took his fishing pole down to the dock to think. He couldn’t believe that all the owners of land around Bell Lake had already sold out to North Star Developers. Arthur was once again combing the shore with his metal detector, gently tapping the device against a rock every now and again assumedly in response to false readings. The older man looked up and waved to Mac who smiled and returned the gesture. Just then, the whine of a small airplane engine began to grow louder. MacGyver looked to the sky, shading his eyes with his hand, as he watched the yellow and white plane approach and begin to circle over the lake several times, its altitude never changing until the pilot began making larger sweeps just above the top of the tree line. After ten minutes of making progressively larger circles the plane turned and headed back in the direction it had come, leaving Mac with an uneasy feeling. He needed to talk to someone, and who better than his two life-long friends.

“I’ve just got a weird feeling about this whole thing,” MacGyver insisted as he leaned on the counter inside Chuck’s store while his friend stood on the other side with Neil, in uniform, next to Mac.

“You just need time to get used to the idea,” the police sergeant reasoned. “North Star’s been up here surveying and holding meetings like the one last night for months now. Sure, in the beginning, folks were wary, but most of us have come to realize that this condo development is a real good thing for the town.”

“How so?” MacGyver challenged. “How is polluting our lake and taking away our woodlands a good thing?”

“Lichtman promised his company is just as concerned about the environment as we are,” Chuck pointed out.

“Plus, this project will bring in more jobs which will build a stronger economy,” Neil reasoned.

“I know,” Mac mumbled, jamming his fingers through his hair.

“Then why don’t you tell us what’s really bothering you?” Chuck prodded.

“I guess it’s the idea of losing Harry’s cabin,” MacGyver grudgingly admitted. “There are a lot of good memories in that place and I like knowing it’s always here.”

“We get that,” Neil agreed, “But you gotta think about this logically. How often do you come up here anyway? And you know that cabin is fallin’ down around you. Are you really willing to put in the time and money to keep up the old place when you could sell it and use the money for anything you wanted?”

Mac thought about how much Challengers desperately needed extra funds. Was he being selfish? Keeping a place just to know it was there for him, for when he had to run away? But there were bigger issues at stake also, he argued with himself.

“Thanks for the talk, guys. I think I’m gonna take a drive and clear my head.”

“You gonna be okay?” Chuck asked, his face full of concern.

“Yeah, I’ll be fine,” Mac assured his friend. And he would be, once he drove out to the airport and discovered why that plane had been circling the lake earlier.

Like everything else in his hometown, the Mission City Airport had grown considerably, but he was still able to easily find the small yellow and white plane from that morning. A stocky, balding man in soiled overalls was examining the engine.

“Excuse me,” Mac called as he approached. “That your plane?”

The man looked up, “No sir, this here’s a rental, but I’m afraid it’s booked for the day. Pilot reported some engine trouble so I’m checkin’ it out before he takes it back up.”

“I’m gonna be in town for a while and might wanna take her out. Mind if I look around?” MacGyver asked casually.

“Suit yourself,” the man grunted before returning his attention to the machine.

Mac slowly strolled around the plane as if inspecting the fuselage until he came to the passenger side door. Standing on tiptoe he looked in the window and paused when his gaze fell upon a small black box tucked securely between the two front seats. After making sure the mechanic was still ignoring him, MacGyver opened the door and climbed in for a closer look. On the top of the box were a couple knobs and a small readout screen. Wanting to confirm his suspicions, he pulled out his Swiss Army knife and unscrewed the top panel to look inside. Sure enough, it was a proton magnetometer. Mac carefully re-secured the metal panel and exited the plane, heading back to chat with the mechanic.

“If you don’t mind me asking, who rented this plane for today?”

The man looked up, clearly frustrated with MacGyver’s presence. “Look buddy, I just fix ‘em. All the business takes place in the office.” Mac turned to where the man pointed with his wrench.

“Thanks a lot,” he replied cheerfully. “Maybe I’ll be seein’ ya around.” The man once again returned to his work while MacGyver walked to the rental office.

The little bell above the door jangled as Mac crossed over the threshold and strode to the counter. When no one appeared, he slipped around to the other side and found the reservation book laying open beside a computer monitor. Written in large letters under the day’s date were the words ‘North Star’. The unsettling feeling he had been having since Neil had told him about the development plans came back in full force as he quietly exited the office and headed for the 4X4.

Back in town, MacGyver walked into the library and headed for the section dedicated to the history of Mission City. Hours later he feared he would be permanently cross eyed from studying decades worth of historical data and geological maps. He longed to bounce his thoughts off his friends, but he needed more evidence before he shared his accusations against North Star Developers with Neil and Chuck.

Mac had just started a roaring fire and was about to crash on Harry’s old, thread-bare couch when there was a knock on his door. He opened it to find Arthur standing just outside, holding his metal detector.

“Hope I’m not disturbin’ ya,” the older man said in way of greeting.

“No, not at all. Please come in.”

Arthur took two steps into the room and stopped. “Harry once mentioned he had a grandson who could fix just about everything. You wouldn’t happen to be him, would ya?”

“I’m afraid so,” MacGyver chuckled. “That thing acting up on you again?”

Arthur nodded. “Durn thing keeps beeping at me wherever I go. Would ya mind takin’ a look at it?” he asked sheepishly.

“No problem. Put it on the kitchen table and let’s see what we got.”

Using his pocketknife and the few meager tools his grandfather had left behind, Mac dismantled, fiddled with, and reassembled the device.

“I can’t find anything wrong with it,” MacGyver finally sighed. “Let’s take it outside and test it.”

Arthur held a flashlight as Mac swiped the metal detector back and forth over the ground outside the cabin. He had covered a few square feet before the device squawked to life. MacGyver bent down to brush away the twigs and dried leaves from the autumn before that covered his ‘treasure’.

“Just another rock,” Arthur observed dejectedly as Mac reached for the object that had triggered the detector.

“Yeah, just a rock,” he muttered under his breath.

“Sorry to have bothered you,” he heard Arthur say.

“No problem. Maybe you should look into takin’ up a new hobby,” he suggested with a grin.

“Yeah,” the old man laughed as he headed down the path toward his home.

MacGyver sat on the couch and stared at the flames dancing in the fireplace, the rock he and Arthur had found still in the palm of his hand. The puzzle pieces were beginning to fall into place, but he didn’t like the picture they were forming. From everything he had seen, North Star Developers had been doing some serious land and aerial surveying including mineral deposit detection given the magnetometer he found in the plane. That, in itself, was standard procedure. However, the one thing that bothered him most was the extraordinary amount of money they were paying people for run down homes and cabins. And then there was Arthur, his wacky metal detector, and the rock from tonight. Was North Star really doing what he thought they were doing, or was this his psyche’s way of giving him a reason to resist selling the cabin?

Mac leaned his head against the back cushion and sighed. Up until a couple years ago, he had forgotten this place even existed. Since then, it kept pulling him back and unearthing long-forgotten memories from his childhood. This city, these woods...this was where it had all begun for him before wanderlust overtook him and he fled the small town for the far reaches of the earth. But he knew he could always come back. His roots were here and always would be. His tired, traitorous mind then strayed to thoughts of Joanna. There was no doubt she and her family had strong roots of their own. Would he be able to give her the same? He glanced at the telephone mounted on the kitchen wall. He wanted to talk to her. He needed to talk to her. But he knew he had to respect her wishes if he wanted to keep her hard-won trust. Even so, a glimmer of a plan began to take form in his mind, but he quickly squashed it. He had other things to take care of first.

Early Friday morning MacGyver drove to the nearby university and headed straight to the geology department. He knocked on the office door of the head professor.

“Is there something I can help you with?” the lanky, bespectacled man asked.

“I sure hope so,” Mac replied, quickly introducing himself. “I was doing some exploring with my metal detector around Bell Lake and it went crazy over this rock.” MacGyver pulled said rock from his jacket pocket. “I was wondering if you could examine it. See if it’s valuable.”

The man looked at him over the rim of his glasses. “I don’t get these requests very often, but I could take a look.”

Mac followed the geologist into the lab where he inspected the rock with different types of instruments. Finally he returned to where MacGyver stood waiting and gave him the information he had been looking for.

That afternoon once again found MacGyver, Neil and Chuck leaning against the glass display case in Chuck’s store.

“I’ve been doing some investigating and I think Bill Lichtman plans to do a whole lot more than build luxury condos,” Mac proclaimed.

His two friends groaned and rolled their eyes.

“Would you just stop with this nonsense, Mac?” Neil implored. “You don’t wanna sell Harry’s cabin, we get that. But don’t go making trouble where there isn’t any!”

“I’m not making this up,” MacGyver retorted. “Now just hear me out.”

Chuck and Neil sighed but gave Mac their undivided attention.

“Yesterday before I came into town I saw a small plane circling the lake. After we talked I went to check it out. Turns out it’s a rental and North Star had it booked for the entire day.”

“That’s not a crime, Mac,” Neil interrupted with a scowl.

“I know that,” MacGyver replied sarcastically. “But when I looked in the cockpit I found a portable magnetometer.”

“A what?” Neil asked.

“Think of it as a souped up metal detector. It measures the earth’s magnetic field and records the data. Geologist use them to find mineral deposits. I went to the library and did some research. This whole area of the state used to be the largest producer of iron ore in the country, but since all the high grade ore is now gone, the mining industry is turning its focus to taconite, an iron-bearing rock. North Star isn’t planning on building condos, they’re planning on stripping and mining this land!”

“Mac, that’s a pretty serious accusation you’re making,” Neil cautioned.

“I know that,” MacGyver concurred. “But it makes sense, especially when you consider how much Lichtman is paying for properties!”

“But you don’t have any solid proof!”

“I have this.” Mac held out the rock from the night before. “I found it by the cabin and took it to the university and had it examined. It contains trace amounts of taconite and if my neighbor’s metal detector is accurate, there’s a whole lot more all around the lake.”

“Sounds like he’s onto something,” Chuck observed.

“I’d have to agree,” Neil conceded.

“What all do you know about North Star Developers anyway?” Mac asked.

Neil winced, “Apparently not enough. I’m going back to the station and do some digging, no pun intended. I’ll let you know if I find anything interesting.”

MacGyver had just finished heating up some canned stew for a late supper when there was a knock on the door. He opened it only to come face-to-face with Bill Lichtman.

“How many times do I hafta tell you I’m not selling?” Mac asked, his frustration mounting.

“That’s not why I came,” Lichtman replied coldly. “I came here to get rid of something that’s in my way.” The developer reached into the front of his overcoat and pulled out a small handgun.

MacGyver instinctively put up his hands and slowly backed away as Lichtman moved forward into the cabin keeping the weapon trained on Mac’s chest.

“Hey, let’s not be hasty here,” Mac urged. “Everyone’s got their price, right? Can’t we negotiate?”

“It’s too late for that, Mr. MacGyver. I don’t have the time nor the inclination to let some environmentalist tree-hugger get in the way of my real estate project.”

“Don’t you mean your mining operation?”

The words were barely out of Mac’s mouth before two well-built men in ski masks slipped into the room, each grabbing one of MacGyver’s arms.

“Ya know, a gunshot can echo for miles up here. There’s no way you’re gonna get away with this,” Mac argued as he struggled against the men holding him.

Lichtman’s laugh sent shivers up and down MacGyver’s spine. “You think I’m that stupid? No, you’re going to die and everyone will believe it was simply a tragic accident.”

Mac watched as the developer once again reached into his overcoat. This time he pulled out a neatly folded white handkerchief and a small bottle of clear liquid he instinctively knew was chloroform. He quickly weighed his options. He could easily take out Lichtman, but the two other men were a bit more problematic. He could try and fight all three. That could be very problematic, but he was out of time. As Lichtman raised the cloth, MacGyver began to try and extricate his arms from the masked men while kicking out at the developer as well. The man on his left landed a hard karate chop to the back of Mac’s neck. His knees buckled and he slid to the floor. That was the opening Lichtman needed to press the chloroform soaked handkerchief against his mouth and nose. MacGyver held his breath until his lungs burned and he had no choice but to inhale the slightly sweet poison.

“Go ahead and toss him in the lake. Everyone will think he drown.” These were the last words Mac heard before unconsciousness claimed him.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

It was mid-morning when Neil pulled his cruiser up in front of Chuck’s store.

“Hey Chuck, have you seen Mac around today?” he asked upon entering and finding his friend stocking shelves.

“Naw, he’s probably fishing up at the lake. Why?”

Neil rubbed his brow that had furrowed with concern. “I thought he’d be chomping at the bit to find out what I learned about North Star. You know how he is once he gets an idea in his head.”

“Yeah,” the other man chuckled. “What did you find out anyway? I mean, they’re on the up-and-up, right?”

“I wish that was the case,” Neil said, blowing out a breath. “Turns out North Star Real Estate Developers is a shell company, and ‘Bill Lichtman’ is just one of many aliases the man uses. He’s been running schemes across the country for a couple years now. There’s a federal warrant out for him so I called the FBI and they’re sending someone from the nearest field office before this yahoo can bolt again.”

“So was MacGyver right? About the mining, I mean,” Chuck asked.

“I couldn’t tell, but we’ll find out when we get Lichtman, or whoever he is, in custody.” Just then, the walkie-talkie on Neil’s police utility belt crackled to life.

“Dispatch to Sergeant Ryder.”

“This is Neil. What’s up, Betty?”

“I figured you’d want to know we just received a 911 call requesting an ambulance up at the Jackson place.”

“Thanks, Betty. I’m on my way!”

“Something must’ve happened to MacGyver!” Chuck exclaimed as he grabbed his jacket and followed Neil out the door, locking it behind him.

“We don’t know that. It could’ve been Mac who made the call, but I still wanna check it out.”

The two men piled into Neil’s cruiser and arrived at Harry’s cabin just in time to see MacGyver’s unconscious form strapped to a stretcher that was being loaded into the back of the ambulance. Neil sprang out of the car and jogged toward the emergency vehicle.

“What happened?” he demanded from one of the EMT’s.

“Won’t know for sure until we get him to the hospital. The guy over there found him lying on the shore this morning and called it in.”

“Thanks,” Neil said, clapping the EMT on the shoulder. “Take good care of him, okay?”

“You got it, Sarge.”

Once the ambulance pulled away, sirens blaring even though the road was deserted, Neil walked over to the man who had found MacGyver.

“Hey Arthur, looks like you’ve had a pretty exciting morning. Mind telling me what happened?”

The elderly man looked pale and frazzled. “I was taking my daily walk around the lake and a few yards past the old pier I found MacGyver lying face down on the rocks. His clothes were wet and there was a gash on his forehead that was bleedin’ pretty bad. When I couldn’t wake him up I called 911. What do ya think happened to him?”

“I don’t know,” Neil admitted. “Hopefully he’ll be able to tell us when he regains consciousness.” Then the police officer turned his attention to Chuck. “C’mon, let’s head for the hospital.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

It was dark and cold. So very cold. MacGyver clawed at the water surrounding him but his limbs were stiff and heavy. A jackhammer was going off in his head. His survival instinct told him he had to keep moving, but he was tired. Just a little further, his gut told him. He clawed some more. It felt like hours before his almost completely numb hand touched a rough rock. The shore! Fighting the exhaustion that threatened to claim him, he pulled himself out of the water and groaned as his head hit the jagged edge of a boulder and he drifted off into oblivion once more.

XXXXX

Home. MacGyver was in his childhood home watching his mother prepare the traditional Sunday pancakes for his breakfast. Harry sat at the table grumbling about the weather, but Mac didn’t care. He was safe and warm.

A cloud drifted over the scene, blocking it from view. When it passed, MacGyver stood in his houseboat. No, wait. His houseboat had burned down. He was in his apartment, but it was much larger than he recalled. More like an actual house. Joanna was there, beaming as she prepared his favorite pancake breakfast. Each of them wore a gold wedding band. She gazed lovingly at him and opened her mouth to speak, but when the words came out, it was not her voice.

“Mac. Hey Mac, can you hear me?”

He knew that voice. Had heard that voice since his childhood. He peeled one eyelid open but immediately slammed it shut as harsh, bright light assaulted him along with the antiseptic smell of what he knew was a hospital. He took deep breaths to calm the pounding in his head and reached up to touch his temple, only to feel a heavy gauze pad taped to him. Not again. He did a quick mental inventory and when the events of the past few days came flooding back he breathed a sigh of relief. At least this time he didn’t have amnesia.

“C’mon Mac. It’s me. Chuck!”

MacGyver slowly opened his eyes and looked up into the face of his friend who was leaning over the bed.

“You gave us quite a scare there, buddy,” his friend said, his voice more relaxed now.

“Yeah, tell me about it,” Mac groaned. “Where’s Neil?”

“He’s talkin’ with the FBI.”

“What?! What’s happened? How long have I been out?”

“Your neighbor found you about seven hours ago. We were hoping you could tell us the rest.”

Mac squeezed his eyes shut. “Get Neil. He needs to hear this,” he commanded weakly.

MacGyver gingerly raised the head of his hospital bed as Chuck, Neil, and the FBI agent gathered around him while he recalled his encounter with Lichtman and his thugs the previous evening. When he had finished, Neil told him what he had learned about Lichtman and North Star and the FBI agent assured everyone that the con man was in custody and currently being questioned.

“I’m sorry about what happened to you, Mr. MacGyver,” the agent said. “But if not for you refusing to give in to Lichtman he could very well still be on the loose. The government has offered a reward for his capture and I’ll see to it you get your share.”

“Thanks,” Mac mumbled as his eyelids slid closed and his head lolled to one side indicating he had fallen asleep.

XXXXX

“When can I get outta here, doc?” MacGyver asked Sunday morning as the physician examined his pupils with a bright penlight.

“Slow down, Mr. MacGyver. You haven’t even been conscious for twenty-four hours. If you continue to improve, I’ll sign your release papers first thing tomorrow. You do have someone to check on you, right?”

“Yep! I got that covered!” Chuck proclaimed as Mac glared daggers at him.

“What’d you go and say that for?!” MacGyver scolded his friend once they were alone in the room.

“Geez, take it easy,” Chuck drawled. “If you wanna get outta here, you hafta tell the doctor what he wants to hear. And trust me, I have no intention of playing nursemaid.”

The next day, Neil drove MacGyver home from the hospital.

“Are you sure you’re gonna be okay out here?” he asked.

“I’ll be fine,” Mac promised dutifully. “What’s gonna happen to all this property now that Lichtman, or whoever he is, got caught?”

Neil sighed as he guided Mac into the cabin. “That’s up to the courts and it’s a pretty complex case. I suppose some landowners will be able to opt to turn over the money they were paid and keep their places. Of course, some people have already started spending the payout they received from North Star. It’s gonna be a sticky situation.”

“No kiddin’,” MacGyver agreed as he gingerly lowered himself onto the couch. “I’m glad I don’t have to deal with it.”

“So, what’s next for you?” Neil asked.

What was next for him? It was now two weeks since Joanna had asked him to leave. Being back in his hometown had gotten him thinking.

“I think I’m gonna hang out here for a few more days before heading home. I have some plans I need to hammer out.”

Neil looked at him expectantly, but that was all Mac planned on sharing.





















Jody~

"I've found from past experiences that the tighter your plan, the more likely you are to run into something unpredictable" ~ MacGyver (The Heist)

 
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Dragondog
Posted: 2 April 2020 - 01:44 AM                                    
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Before I start reading, I just want to say I really want to have a talk with Jo. I just want to be like "Answer just yes or no. Do you trust Mac With your heart? You've trusted him with your feelings over and over, and has he betrayed you? Would you trust him again? Then trust him with his own heart. If he's given his old life up for you, then you have to be enough to make that worth it. And if you trust Mac to protect and take care of you, and he has, then don't you think you can entrust him with taking care of and knowing what's best for himself? Or are you letting fear get in the way of the destiny God picked for the both of you?"

On to reading tongue.gif

Funny how it's only a day away from being today's update (different year, of course) .

As soon as Mac said he hoped the cabin would always be there, I knew what was coming XD

I somehow doubt that's just a fishhook...

I can't not laugh at Mac's "Oh no, not again" when he realized he had a head injury laugh.gif


Still in a cliffhanger, I see biggrin.gif



"If at first you don't succeed, get a bigger hammer" - Hank The Cowdog

"You have the heart of a chief, and the soul of a dragon"- How to Train Your Dragon 2

"[T]he more we try to understand one another, the more exceptional each one of us will be" - Zootopia

"Love makes you do strange things." - Charlie Brown

"When something looks too perfect, it probably sucks" - Dreamworks Dragons Race to the Edge

 
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uniquelyjas
Posted: 2 April 2020 - 10:01 AM                                    
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QUOTE (Dragondog @ 2 April 2020 - 01:44 AM)
Before I start reading, I just want to say I really want to have a talk with Jo. I just want to be like "Answer just yes or no. Do you trust Mac With your heart? You've trusted him with your feelings over and over, and has he betrayed you? Would you trust him again? Then trust him with his own heart. If he's given his old life up for you, then you have to be enough to make that worth it. And if you trust Mac to protect and take care of you, and he has, then don't you think you can entrust him with taking care of and knowing what's best for himself? Or are you letting fear get in the way of the destiny God picked for the both of you?"


I get that you're getting frustrated, but I feel I have to keep some type of tension between Mac and Jo because I think the whole thing will tank if they suddenly live happily ever after. All I can say is...keep reading!!! wink.gif



Jody~

"I've found from past experiences that the tighter your plan, the more likely you are to run into something unpredictable" ~ MacGyver (The Heist)

 
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Posted: 2 April 2020 - 10:51 PM                                    
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QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 2 April 2020 - 01:01 PM)
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 2 April 2020 - 01:44 AM)
Before I start reading, I just want to say I really want to have a talk with Jo. I just want to be like "Answer just yes or no. Do you trust Mac With your heart? You've trusted him with your feelings over and over, and has he betrayed you? Would you trust him again? Then trust him with his own heart. If he's given his old life up for you, then you have to be enough to make that worth it. And if you trust Mac to protect and take care of you, and he has, then don't you think you can entrust him with taking care of and knowing what's best for himself?  Or are you letting fear get in the way of the destiny God picked for the both of you?"


I get that you're getting frustrated, but I feel I have to keep some type of tension between Mac and Jo because I think the whole thing will tank if they suddenly live happily ever after. All I can say is...keep reading!!! wink.gif

Hey getting frustrated with the characters is have the fun of reading tongue.gif



"If at first you don't succeed, get a bigger hammer" - Hank The Cowdog

"You have the heart of a chief, and the soul of a dragon"- How to Train Your Dragon 2

"[T]he more we try to understand one another, the more exceptional each one of us will be" - Zootopia

"Love makes you do strange things." - Charlie Brown

"When something looks too perfect, it probably sucks" - Dreamworks Dragons Race to the Edge

 
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uniquelyjas
Posted: 3 April 2020 - 07:59 AM                                    
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QUOTE (Dragondog @ 2 April 2020 - 10:51 PM)


[/QUOTE]
I get that you're getting frustrated, but I feel I have to keep some type of tension between Mac and Jo because I think the whole thing will tank if they suddenly live happily ever after. All I can say is...keep reading!!! wink.gif [/QUOTE]
Hey getting frustrated with the characters is have the fun of reading tongue.gif

Glad you feel that way!! Mac and Jo can definitely frustrate you! Heck, they frustrate each other!!



Jody~

"I've found from past experiences that the tighter your plan, the more likely you are to run into something unpredictable" ~ MacGyver (The Heist)

 
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Posted: 4 April 2020 - 12:20 AM                                    
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QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 3 April 2020 - 10:59 AM)
[QUOTE=Dragondog,2 April 2020 - 10:51 PM]

[/QUOTE]
I get that you're getting frustrated, but I feel I have to keep some type of tension between Mac and Jo because I think the whole thing will tank if they suddenly live happily ever after. All I can say is...keep reading!!! wink.gif [/QUOTE]
Hey getting frustrated with the characters is have the fun of reading tongue.gif [/QUOTE]
Glad you feel that way!! Mac and Jo can definitely frustrate you! Heck, they frustrate each other!!

I mostly just want to pep talk her more than scold her tongue.gif

I'm kinda used to slow burn/frustrating love stories laugh.gif



"If at first you don't succeed, get a bigger hammer" - Hank The Cowdog

"You have the heart of a chief, and the soul of a dragon"- How to Train Your Dragon 2

"[T]he more we try to understand one another, the more exceptional each one of us will be" - Zootopia

"Love makes you do strange things." - Charlie Brown

"When something looks too perfect, it probably sucks" - Dreamworks Dragons Race to the Edge

 
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