By Carol Sandford


Chapter 01


Will watched from across the room; her head was hung low and her hair half covered her face. But he didn't have to see her face to know that that she was close to tears.

From the moment he had handed her, what he thought to be a romantic gesture, her mood had changed there and then. Will thought maybe she had been touched by the simple gift, but he knew her well enough to know that even if she had cried, Deanna would have grinned with pleasure and launched herself into his arms.

But she didn't. Her black fathomless eyes had fallen to shield whatever traitorous thought had rocked her to the very core, her mental shields slamming into place before Will could even blink. This was not good; here they were, on their way to a party, and the guest of honour was sitting in her quarters, in a dress that dared to defy gravity as it clung to her shapely curves, by what, Will had yet to discover. It was a pleasure he had been looking forward to after a night of wining and dining her, with maybe some dancing, and maybe a little quality time together, alone.

Will heard Deanna's sigh from across the room and he turned to watch her push herself up from the chair and come to a stand in front of the portal to stare unseeing out into the blackness beyond the ship's hull. Will knew that she stared at nothing and glancing at his chronometer, he realised that he had only a few minutes to find out what was troubling Deanna, because as much as he wanted to know, he equally as much, didn't.

Taking a deep breath Will took a tentative step towards her, her name falling huskily from his mouth, "Deanna?"

He saw her head drop forward again, the tell tale thrust of her shoulders telling him that she was ready to face him.

"Deanna, what's wrong, sweetheart?" he asked, nervously.

Will's heart thumped painfully within his chest as he watched her turn. Lord, but she was beautiful with her face already made up for the night ahead, and the blood-red lipstick almost mirroring the red rose that hovered before her and held by two slightly unsteady hands. Her huge eyes shimmered with tears, except for one that clung desperately to her long sooty eyelashes.

He tried again as the need for an answer became desperate now. "Deanna?"

The teardrop fell and Will watched it trickle down her face to the corner of her lip. The room was silent except for the pounding of his heart. He wanted to go to her, but somehow, he knew that she didn't want him to, so he waited.

Deanna's voice was low with anguish when she finally broke the heavy silence. "I know what this rose symbolises, Will. I know it is a token of love."

Will's voice was heavy with dread as he answered her. "You know how much I love you, Deanna, you've always known."

Deanna nodded sadly, releasing another tear, and again, Will watched it slide down her cheek and slip off her delicate jawline and landing on the creamy mound of her half exposed breast.

"Yes, I know, but this symbol means you want more."

Will didn't know whether to laugh or frown and he ended up doing both. "Of course, Deanna, I've always wanted you, I've made no secret of that fact."

Will felt and saw Deanna's misery as she lifted her face to look at him again, and asked with anguish, "Why, Will, why now, why are you going to spoil it all now?"

Will stared at her in amazement. "Deanna! How can I possibly spoil the one thing that has been our destiny? We both know that this moment was going to come. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but it will come, Imzadi, you can be sure of that."

It was then Will knew she was deadly serious and that maybe he had taken their future for granted. Anger twisted itself around his words. "I'm done running, Deanna. My head has finally caught up with my heart and I want us to be what our destiny destined us to be; together."

For many moments Will and Deanna simply stared at each other. Neither took one breath, and neither spoke. Neither dared to.

Then, at last, Deanna took one step towards him, but instead of stepping into his arms like he expected her to do, like he desperately wanted her to do, Deanna placed the solitary beautiful rose back into his own unwilling hand and walked out of the room, and probably out of Will's life.

The only woman of his life, his dreams, his future, and the owner of his soul, had broken his heart, and all it had taken was a rose. One single, blood-red rose.

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