By Carol Sandford


Chapter 05


"Do you love him, Deanna?"

I heard her gasp. I felt her dread and smelt her fear.

I hovered above her, feigning interest in the trail of perspiration as it trickled along her shoulder when all along I was being swallowed whole by fear. She shifted her legs that were still entwined around mine seeking freedom but quickly realising that I had her pinned. Another time it would have been erotic. Another time I wouldn't have succumbed to the jealousy that was currently gnawing away at my soul. Another time, she wouldn't have hesitated.

But moments before, as I'd made almost frenzied love to her, something sinister had drifted in between us. Something that I couldn't define. Something that shifted my equilibrium enough to question us.

I met her eyes head on. In the muted light of the bedroom her beautiful eyes were wide, Scared even as they looked up into mine, like a doe caught in the headlights. But even so, the dark chocolate orbs still shimmered with desire in the aftermath of our love-making and I hated myself for doing this to her. I hated what I was doing to us. What he was doing to us.

I knew she had deep feelings for the other me, that was a given. How could she not have feelings for him? How could she even begin to separate us? Even though I was fairly confident that since they hadn't been put in the position to be anything more than be professional, nothing untoward had happened. But I was acutely aware that they didn't need to be in the same room to be something more. I'd seen the proof of that with my own eyes when I witnessed what had passed between them earlier in Ten Forward and it had scared me. It had really scared me.

Could they be having a silent affair? I wondered constantly. Seemed implausible, but not impossible and it hurt to know that they could be strengthening bonds without so much as one word spoken between them. It hurt me more to know that we'd never had that level of love before we became a couple again and even though we were Imzadi, it had to take more than just romance to ignite the spirituality that Imzadi required and I was convinced that it couldn't have happened without us being lovers.

Could they reach that from a just a dance of minds? I wondered.

I held my breath for her answer. I desperately needed her to say 'no, don't be ridiculous'. But more than that, I needed her to be honest with me.

Eventually I got honesty.

"I...I'm not sure, Will."

Sighing with reluctant defeat, I rolled my body away from hers, lay on my back, stuck one arm behind my head and studied the ceiling as I contemplated where to go from here. There really only was one way and moments later, I surprised even myself with my candid response. "I understand, Deanna. If you want to be with him then I won't stand in your way."

"No! no," She cried, pushing herself to her knees to face me, uncaring of her nudity as her magnificent naked body now sat before me, tormenting me further still. "That's not it. That's not it at all, Will!"

Her tiny hand settled upon my chest and I instinctively placed my own much larger one upon it, gripping it as though it were a life line. "Then tell me, Deanna," I plead. "Tell me what's happening between us."

I watched as she battled for reasons, and I watched as she tormented herself to find a way to explain herself without hurting me. She'd already hurt me, even if I understood why she had. She really didn't have a choice. Faced with a duplicate me - a me that loved her more than life itself, what choice did she have? None really. None, whatsoever.

She wilted before my very eyes and my heart broke for her. Pulling her into my arms, I tucked her head against my shoulder and held it there as I struggled against what I wanted to know and searching for a way of my own to not hurt her further. "Forget it, Deanna, I'm sorry I asked. It doesn't matter. I don't want it to come between us. Okay?"

I inwardly groaned as I heard her sniffle against my throat and dragging her body completely on top of mine, I began to rain tiny penitent kisses everywhere that I could reach, whispering my apologies as I did so. I felt her battle against the onslaught of my sudden repentance until eventually desire overrode despair and as I slipped into her desperate body once more, Imzadi took us both over, reminding us that what we had between us was stronger than love.

But was it going to be enough? I wondered miserably as we both somehow climbed back up to heaven, goaded on purely by desperation.

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