By Carol Sandford


Chapter 02


Even though he was intent on approaching the woman he had spent a long time searching for, Will still managed to find himself throwing a grin to the ladies that had all but stopped in their tracks to witness his arrival. He silently chuckled when he heard one of them whisper to her mate, ’Call 911, I’m having a heart attack.’ But he didn’t stop walking until he reached his goal; until he came so close to Deanna he not only could see her fear, he could smell it too.

She was scared to death of him and he knew why. He had come to upset her perfect little world and she knew it. They both knew it. Nothing was said, but what could be said? Will wondered belatedly if Deanna even knew why he’d come? Her heart told her he had come for her, but her head told her he’d come to finalise what they’d left hanging so long ago.

As she watched Will walk towards her stunned position, Deanna wondered how he had found her, it couldn’t have been easy. Deanna’s days on the Enterprise were long gone, but never forgotten, she’d never do that. Her whole life was nothing like what she’d left behind. But she couldn’t go back, because along with the good memories, were some of the most painful ones she’d ever had to endure, and they all involved the man now standing still before her.

Will couldn’t believe he was finally standing in front of her. He didn’t care that she was about to be married. He didn’t even care that she had run away from him all those years ago, leaving him heartbroken, beside himself with grief at not only his own loss, but Deanna’s too; A time when hopes and dreams disappeared along with practically everything else that they’d had between them.

Except for the love, that was still there. That would always be there. And it was that that Will was clinging on to even though his Imzadi was about to marry another man. Will shuddered as he realised at just how close he’d come to losing her for good.

Unable to stand before her any longer and not hold her, his eyes dropped to the article in her hand and he couldn’t resist reaching down and removing it from her frozen fingers. He dangled the transparent scrap of material at shoulder height between them, both eyes drawn to it as intimate images of seeing her wearing it heightened the sexual awareness already evident between them. It was highly erotic.

It was that very thought that snapped Deanna back to the present and reaching up she snatched the teddy from his hands, but not before he’d said, ’Very nice, Deanna." He gave her the old cocky grin, the one that used to reduce her to a puddle, and still did.

It took only a moment for Deanna to come to her senses and demand, her cheeks stained pink with her embarrassment, "What are you doing here, Will. Why have you come, today of all days?"

But she couldn’t break her gaze away from his. Even as her harsh words were being spoken, she was taking his appearance in; imprinting it on her mind once more - just in case today ended with him walking out of her life for good, a thought that sent a pain to her midriff, leaving her to add a desperate plea to questions that she already knew didn’t need any answers. She asked again, firmer this time, "Why have you come, Will?"

A movement behind them reminded them that they weren’t alone. Her fiance’s entire family and friends sat enthralled at the events unfolding right before their very eyes, disappointed that they had been caught out listening in on a reunion between two people who had obviously been more, much more than past acquaintances.

Showing an unconvincing grin that clearly hid an assortment of feelings, Deanna reassured the onlookers that Will wasn’t some crazy man come to enact his revenge on her, "It's okay, Will’s a very old...friend of mine. I’ll be fine, honest. You can all go."

It was clear that not one of them wanted to leave, not only because they were worried, but because they wanted to know just who and what the big man was to her. But when Deanna waved to them and turned to head back indoors, and the big man followed her in, it was very clear they were being dismissed, and reluctantly, they began to move off to their own homes.

Once they were inside away from prying eyes, Deanna stood her ground in the centre of the living area, still littered with the remains of her bridal shower; gifts, wrapping paper, and hanging from the door, was her bridal gown. Its whiteness was so striking it almost glowed, the glittery sheen within its folds glistened with the last remnants of light that streamed in through the windows.

But none of it was noticed as the couple stood before one another once more. Each devouring each others features, both wanting to say much more than the cursory conversation they were about to have. Their bodies strained against the desire to leap into each others arms. It had been so long. Too long.

Snapping back to reality, Deanna swallowed loudly and broke the silence, staring up into his eyes as he hungrily took in her features, "You really shouldn't have come, Will." She let her voice trail off. Her mouth dried up, her thoughts scattered, and her heart pounded so loud she was sure he could hear it.

Steely eyes snapped to attention, capturing hers and making it clear he wasn’t going to be swayed that easily. Will was determined, "Nope, Deanna, won’t work. We have unfinished business to discuss and I’m not prepared to do it here. This place is..." His eyes flitted around the room, his gaze settling on the wedding dress. He swallowed convulsively as he swallowed the bile that rose as his mind conjured up an image of her wearing the dress for another man. "I can’t do this here. I want you to come to my place...just to talk. All I want you to do is listen, help me through this and then I’ll bring you home, okay?"

Deanna was horrified, not with revulsion but sheer terror at what he could do to her sanity, and her heart, "Wh...what!! Are you mad?!" She cried. "I can’t go anywhere with you, Will Riker. I am engaged to another man - a wonderful man. I’m not going anywhere with you!"

Closing his eyes to hide the wave of disappointment, he raised his hands in a defeated gesture, hurt written all over his face, sadness overtaking his soul. Taking a deep breath, he tried another tact, "Okay, okay, you win. Just grant me one meal in a little diner near here. Let me have my say and then I’ll leave you in peace. Deal?"

Deanna pondered for only a moment before deciding. "Deal." She wasn’t quite ready to see him walk away, never to see him again without at least finding out what he was up to these days, or if he had any news of her long lost colleagues and friends. And even though she was scared senseless about what he had to say, Deanna knew she owed him that, at the very least.

By the time she had found her purse and checked her flushed face in the mirror, with his hands jammed hard into his pockets, Will was already outside, unease radiating from every pore at being in her house. Within a minute he had helped her into the passenger side of the jeep and was speeding off towards town, leaving a trail of dust obliterating the picturesque little house that Deanna called home.

Will drove into town and for all intent and purpose, he appeared to be looking for a parking space in the long but narrow street. Deanna’s mind must have been totally lost in the day's happenings, because Will had hit the suburbs before Deanna registered that they hadn’t stopped, "Wh...where are you taking me Will? There isn’t a diner this far out of town."

Will’s quick glance at her was stony and determined before he turned his eyes back to the road ahead, his voice taut with tension, "We’re not eating at the diner. I’m taking you to my place. What we’ve got to discuss shouldn’t be done in public."

He turned to glance at her strickened face again before continuing, his voice breaking at her sudden tears, "I don’t think I want people to see my face when you tell me why you ran out on me after our baby died."

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