By Carol Sandford


Chapter 05


Dawn broke with a cascade of shifting shadows that crept over the rumpled bed that still held a naked, entwined couple. One was sleeping, the other was not.

Will's finger absently twisted a long errant curl around itself as he stared at the ceiling, his troubled thoughts tumbling along side with those that soothed his soul. The woman snuggled at his side shifted and sighed deeply as she slumbered on oblivious to the tormented man that lay beside her.

Will's movements stilled for a moment until he was sure that she was still sleeping and eventually his own sigh of relief crept quietly from his lips and the thoughts tumbled on. God, what did he do? Did he gently move her from his side onto her back and love her awake? Or did he do what his gut was telling him to do; creep from the bed and run?

Last night he'd wanted to talk to her. Last night, in between her nibbling his ear and setting his body on fire with a desire that he hadn't felt since he'd made love to her a year before, he'd needed to find out if she'd changed her mind about leaving Betazed behind to start a new life with him.

Or, was last night just one that couldn't have been ignored? That what they'd done over and over again until exhaustion had claimed them, was just a desperate ache that had needed soothing. An ache that only the two of them together could have quenched.

And then what about the man she was supposed to have been betrothed to? Where did he fit in between all this chaos? Will turned his head and looked upon features that would go with him to his grave. Deep in sleep she looked completely at peace. He wished he could feel the same way, but peace was as far away from him as it could be. There was only one place he felt at peace and that was when they were in bed and he was embedded deep inside her body as they made the sweetest love.

As quietly as he could, Will gently pulled himself away from Deanna's lingering arms. The palm that had slowly crept across his stomach made his body clench with a need that only she could evoke. But even so, he ignored the longing and slipped from the tangled covers and silently padded his way to the window. Naked, he stood and watched the dawn turn to morning, the moving sight unappreciated by his tormented mind.

Eventually he turned and watched the woman still sleeping in his bed, his mind finally and reluctantly made up. He was running. It wasn't because of a man that he'd never met. Nor was it because she needed to stay and be who she was meant to be; an ambassador for Betazed. He was leaving her because he loved her. His mind was screaming at his insanity, and his soul wept for it's loss. But his heart overthrew each and every reason for being with her.

For keeping her.

But he was a Starfleet officer. He didn't get to keep anything but his job, if he behaved himself. And right now he wasn't. He was toying with danger, and the danger was the Betazed Ambassador, Lwaxana Troi. Deanna's mother. A mother that would tie his balls in knots if she found out that he had toyed with her daughter - again. She had made her feeling very plain on his last visit, he remembered. And she had made her feelings even plainer last night at the ball.

It didn't matter that Deanna was a grown woman. To her she was Betazed's future and a simple lieutenant was even worthy enough to look at her daughter, let alone date her. God forbid she ever found out that they were Imzadi.

But then maybe she already knew. It wasn't something that could easily be hidden, not for a telepathic race such as theirs. He guessed that the pair of them becoming Imzadi had only compounded her determination to keep them apart, a concept that had never settled well with him.

As he quietly slipped on his clothes and crept out of the door with one last lingering look at the only woman he'd ever love, Will Riker heart-brokenly acceded that Lwaxana Troi had won once again.

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