By Carol Sandford


Chapter 01


Cooper Landing, Alaska, Earth...

Deanna Troi’s dreams were finally coming true - or so she truly, and wanted, to believe. Surrounded by a gaggle of family, and close, dear friends, all were giggling at the gifts that Deanna was opening, one by one.

With a contented smile, she looked around her; Family - Deanna’s dream. She was surrounded by soon-to-be family, and she was beside herself with joy. Even the surprise bridal shower had meant the universe to Deanna, as it meant she was truly accepted, and welcomed, and she could not wait for her wedding, in one weeks time, to finally belong.

There were two parcels to go; Deanna ripped open the pretty paper and stared bemused at the chrome contraption within, admiring its sheen and its strange shape. She held it up precariously between finger and thumb, tuning it slowly about, her confusion escalating by the second, "It's lovely! What is it?"

The chorus of light hearted banter escalated three-fold at her sweet innocence. Her soon-to-be sister-in-law broke between the giggles to tell her, "Oh, Deanna, darling, they're pasta spoons of course! You are going to cook for Anthony sometimes, aren’t you? You do know it's the best way to get into his good books, and his pants, don’t you, honey?!"

Deanna turned crimson at the sexual innuendo, but it was lost in the cacophonous laughter that escalated to fever pitch. It was many moments before the noise died down and Deanna busied herself opening her final present. She had deliberately saved it until last, because it was from her best friend; the one person who knew her inside and out, and also knew how much the upcoming wedding was going to change her life, for many reasons; Some good, some welcomed, and some very heartbreaking.

But for now, it was all forgotten as a chorus of howls and whistles erupted as Deanna inched out the vibrant red see-through gossamer teddy, eventually holding it aloft for all to admire. Every person in the room oooohed! at its sheer satiny texture,and aaaaaahed at the minuscule red hearts that adorned its edges, and winked at the revealing cut away sections, designed to titivate and excite.

Giggling, Deanna held it against her slender body, swirling it this way and that, capturing the translucence of its colours. It only highlighted just how pretty she really was and Deanna wallowed in the momentary power it gave her, "I don’t think it will fit me, it looks far too small."

Another sister-to-be, Janice, was quick with a response, "What does it matter, sweetie? you wont be wearing it long enough to make any difference!" The room exploded into giggling pandemonium, and despite it all; the laughter, the tears, and the pains, Deanna knew she would always remember this to be one of the happiest times of her life.

These women who stood with her now as they hugged her one by one as they passed through the door had become her life; her future life, along with the man that was about to become her husband. It wasn’t until she watched them all piling into their various vehicles; their engines kicking into life with a roar, drowning everything except their merriment, that Deanna realised that another engine could be heard, only this one was approaching.

As it neared, Deanna’s euphoria of her friends excited leaving began to wither away as the shadowy silhouette of the vehicle’s driver became apparent. It was the last person she expected to see. It was also the one person that she didn’t want to see. Not really. Euphoria turned to dread. Dread turned briefly to joy. And then Joy turned to fear.

Everything Deanna Troi had worked for; forgotten; buried and prayed for, had turned up, out of the blue, on her doorstep, five days before her wedding; Five days before he would have been permanently out of her life forever.

As his engine cut out, the silence became very noticeable. A dozen set of eyes watched the newcomer with unguarded, even approving interest. Every woman on the planet could not have turned their eyes away from the man before them. Even before he stepped out of the land-jeep, their mouths fell open at his classical he-man looks; dark hair, now long enough to sit upon his shoulders. Eyes that were so startling blue, you had to look twice to believe the colour was true.

He looked moody, another trait that seemed to fascinate women. Everyone except Deanna, of course, who knew that look; Knew that it was his way of holding his emotions in check. He was scared, she could feel that; she could see that. Luckily her friends could not. To them he was the epitome of a man; a hunk; a hero.

When he opened the mud-splattered car door and stepped out, he proved it even more so, managing to exude an even larger gasp of sexual awareness; he was tall, so tall, every woman before him had to look up and not one of them minded. In fact Deanna thought bemused, she doubted they would have even minded if they were on their knees in full worshipping mode.

Such was the power of one William T. Riker.

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