By Carol Sandford


Chapter 02


Will placed himself in the best vantage point at the swimming pool's edge the following morning, so there was no way he could miss her. He had an air of expectancy about him, but by the time 4.00 p.m. came and went, his expectancy had turned to a deep disappointment.

He found himself beginning to pace around the pool area, then slowly, he ambled around the complex, oblivious to the beauty of the flora and fauna that had made the planet become so well known in the universe as the nearest thing to heaven. Better still, here there were women.

By 6.00p.m. Will was back in his own room, quietly sulking. It wasn't part of Will's nature to be dumped. His reputation as a ladies man followed him where ever he went. But his real pride was of all the women he had...had, none had hated him afterwards. His ability to be, 'the perfect gentleman' came as part of the Will Riker seduction stratagem, and he had NEVER been stood up, ever. Until now.

Will didn't bother going out to the bar or the casino that night, his heart wasn't in it as he slowly came to realise that the beautiful, mysterious woman, had probably no intentions of meeting him. So by 10.00p.m. he found himself tucked up in bed, laying back, with his hands behind his head, contemplating his next few lonely hours, and the thought that maybe, one day soon, his loneliness would be cured by the infamous redhead. He fought with himself not to fall asleep, knowing that within ten minutes or so, his nightmares would start.

Will had managed to find some soothing jazz to listen to, and had even managed to hum along to the tunes, and he didn't know he had drifted offto sleep until the scream came. As usual, he flew up into a sitting position, his body already soaked with perspiration. He lay his face in his hands as he tried to erase the dream and settle his ragged breathing with the breathing techniques that Beverly had taught him, but he struggled to dismiss the terrors that shook his body. After a few painful moments, Will felt a soft hand upon his shoulder. It wasn't restrictive, and if he'd been on board the Enterprise he'd have known who it was, and for a long moment he thought it was. She had come to him. He had called and she had come. "Deanna?" He whispered hoarsly, lifting his face to hers, starting when he looked into sympathetic green eyes rather than ebony ones. "You!"

He felt her gentle tug as she tried to get him to lay back down, her eyes never leaving his. Will felt nothing but a quiet concern from her as he allowed himself to be pushed back. Her hand moved to his forehead and she continued the soothing stroke. Nothing was said with words, but he heard her thoughts, Shhhhhh...go back to sleep. I'm not leaving you.

Will watched her until he felt his eyelids grow heavy, and before he knew it, he had woken to a sunlight that almost blinded him. He groaned as he turned away from the glare, cursing profoundly at not closing the drapes. Up until now he hadn't had the need, as he had been awake long before dawn broke, if indeed, he had slept at all.

He swung his legs around, effectively turning his back to the window, and as he sat on the edge of the bed, his eyes fell to the slight indentation on the spare pillow and his memory came back in a rush. She had stayed with him throughout the night and had sneaked off like a thief before he'd woken. He hadn't even been given the chance to thank her.

Will showered and dressed with the sole intention of getting out there and finding his mystery woman. He hadn't felt this alive since, well, if he was truly honest with himself, since he chased an equally young Deanna Troi, when he himself was a young upstart of a Lieutenant on Betazed in his late teens.

Will had felt the same connection with this woman as he'd had with Deanna,and he knew it was solely based on her being a Betazoid. He felt spiritually connected with the race, and even if a relationship didn't evolve, he wanted her as a friend. Anyone who could keep him asleep for more than hour was a friend for life as far as he was concerned, and he wanted desperately to tell her that.

Fruitless hours later, Will made his way back to room even more disheartened than he'd been the previous night. He flicked the light switch as he passed through the door, illuminating the room in a soft glow. He came to a standstill when he saw his long sought after quarry sitting apprehensively on his couch.

Again Will had been lost for words, until she spoke for him, "Hello."

Will swallowed nervously. There was something about this woman that reduced him to a blithering idiot, and he visibly cringed when he stuttered out his surprise, "Hello, I...I..How did you...?"

Carleena watched the giant man's discomfort, and immediately felt contrite for her assumption that he would be pleased to see her. She tentatively patted the sofa for him to come and sit beside her. Moving slowly over to her, his eyes never left her face. Will sat nervously on the edge, his hands clasped tight to hide their shaking and waited for her explanation.

"I'm sorry," she said with an apologetic half smile, "I told them I was your wife. I know this is hard for you to understand, but I promise you, I only want to help. I know that you are deeply troubled, I can see it in your eyes, and I know you know I'm partially Betazoid, so you also know that I can sense your troubles too."

She let him digest the information before carrying on, "I, too, am...getting over a personal loss. I was very much like you when I first came here," she chuckled nervously, "Actually, worse. I hid in my room for three days before venturing out to see what this great place had to offer. I didn't want to come to Risa, but I was coerced into coming, and then unceremoniously, dumped."

Will watched her intently as she spoke, and once again he found himself thinking about how pretty she was. He wondered how long it would be before that mane of hair was spread across his pillow. He mentally kicked himself when he heard her soft laughter as she had 'heard' everything he had just thought. It broke that final barrier. "I'm sorry, that was unforgivably rude of me. I should have remembered my manners. I'm not usually so...open-minded."

Her laughter made him smile, but the laughter stopped when she looked at him. He was an incredibly handsome man as his blue eyes lit up with merriment. She also noticed that after his good nights sleep, he had lost some of the blackness from beneath his eyes, and the haunted look had dimmed some-what too.

Carleena knew this man needed her, and for the time being, she was happy enough to help. She had no doubts that one day, he would be there to help her.

Will's word brought her out of her reverie, and she fixed her attention back on his grinning face, "So...do you have a name? I'm Will, by the way."

She returned his grin and stuck out her hand, "Hello Will, my name is Carleena."

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