By Carol Sandford


Chapter 04


Will took another deep breath as he stood outside Deanna's door. But before his knuckles could rap its surface, it was opened. The door swung wide and Homm stepped back, bowing slightly in his usual way and indicated for Will to enter. He took two steps inside and stopped.

Deanna stood apprehensively across the other side of the room. She had changed into a softer, long shift instead of the heavy dark outfit that she had arrived in. Her hair was down, now cascading down her back in ebony waves that caught the sunlight as it streamed through the window behind her. She looked ethereal. She looked gorgeous, Will amended, as he stared across at her. The slight smile that lit up her features told him that once again, she had known what was racing through his mind.

Beckoning him in with her fingers, Deanna spoke, laughter lightening her words. "Come on in, Will, we have a lot to catch up on."

Taking another step into the room, Will turned when he heard the door close firmly behind him. Expecting to find Homm hovering at his back, he was surprised to find him gone. With raised eyebrows, he turned questioningly back to Deanna.

"We have half an hour." she clarified, sarcasm lightening the sudden tightness in the air. Moving to the couch, she sat, inviting Will to sit at her side. He went gladly, sliding onto the seat, nervously linking his hands together, afraid that they'd reach out and do what they wanted to do; pull her into his arms and then onto his lap and hold her close while he kissed her deeply.

Her soft and lilting voice tore him away from his daydream. "It's been a long time." she smiled gently. He smiled back, hiding the memory of them parting. It wasn't a long time ago. It had only been six months. But then, he wondered, it had been a long time since he'd held her, kissed her, made love to her, and gave his heart to her. But a long time? It felt like only yesterday to him. But he wasn't going to admit that to her.

"Yes, it has." Taking a deep breath, he looked deep into her dark eyes and asked quietly, "Why are you here, Deanna?"

He didn't miss the way her eyes darted away from him briefly. She hadn't expected such a brutal question from him so soon, that was clear, but he'd never been one for beating around the bushes. Her being here was going to cause him no end of grief and, in the end, he figured he had a right to know.

"I took your advice." She told him with a brave smile, a smile that didn't quite reach her eyes.

"My advice?" he queried, as he slipped further back into the seat and studied her, feeling safer away from the aura that surrounded her, seemingly pulling him in, wanting more than he was ready for.

"Yes," she suddenly grinned, taking his cue and settling her own taut body further back, feigning comfort now that the ice was broken. "You made me realize that there was more out there than home, and that I could do some good for other people - other cultures. I'd finished my studies," She explained, with a light shrug, "mother was nagging, always going on about her role in society and that it was my duty to follow her, but it was not what I wanted anymore." She looked him squarely in the face. "You made me see that, Will. You made me see what was beyond my own doorstep. So," she took a deep shuddering, nervous breath, "here I am."

"Why Starfleet?

"Why not?" She countered back, and then a shyness and a smidgen of shame crept into her features. "And besides, it was at mother's insistence. 'Little One' Deanna mimicked her mother to perfection, 'if you're going to abandon me, then at least find a job where I can keep an eye on you, and keep an eye on all those men that are going to be constantly drooling all over you.'"

Will suddenly grinned at her, shaking his head in agreement. "Oh, yeah, men are definitely going to drool all over you, Deanna. I can just see the headlines now. 'Betazoid temptation drowns in dribble.

"They are not!" Deanna cried indignantly, laughter slipping through, quickly reminding Will of times past when he'd deliberately goaded her, knowing that her naivety would get the desired results from her. Things were no different now and Will was shaken to realize that without him by her side here on Earth, she was going to get into trouble. A whole lot of trouble.

Still, he had two, maybe three weeks to clue her in on the mating habits of young, Terran males, and on that thought he began to enjoy the chance to have some fun, even if it was at her expense. He was looking forward to seeing how she coped with dissuading ardent young, virile men. Hell, she'd managed to keep him away from her for a while, but only for a while, and he silently preened at his prowess at finally getting under her skin, and her clothing.

But then again, he was different. He was Will Riker and he was going to keep his word, simply because he had no choice. It was either Deanna or his career, and his career still came first. He could do this mission, of that he was certain now - providing Deanna kept her side of the bargain. All he had to do was stay away from her soul, the one place that he knew he couldn't fool.

  Book index   Previous chapter   Next chapter