By Carol Sandford


Chapter 02


I felt his gaze; the heat and the questions that lay beneath it bubbling under the surface, impatient to lead me away to ask those questions. It was unnerving, having a man lusting after me, curiously wondering what I was like and feeling that he should already know somehow.

I felt a small smile tug at my lips and I forced myself to concentrate on the ceremony happening around me. It was hard, watching Will marry Deanna. It was harder still because I was supposed to be ecstatically happy for them, and I was, kinda. But I was also unbearably sad knowing that I had lost my chance with Will, forever.

Twice I had felt the stinging tears rise, threatening to choke me, and twice I had managed to summons a wobbly smile and pretend that I was getting over-emotional about my two closest friends marrying. Only they all knew the truth; Will, Deanna, Thomas, and Jean-Luc. Standing in front of the happy couple performing the nuptials Jean-Luc had caught my eye numerous times and had silently reached out and comforted me, realizing how painful the entire ordeal must be for me.

And then there was Will and Deanna, a couple so in love that for them, that day, nothing else had mattered. But the tight hugs they had both given me before the ceremony had said more than words ever could. {Thank you. Be strong. We love you} God, feeling Will's body so close to mine once more had almost brought me to my knees.

And then there was Tom. When he'd first arrived and strolled off the transporter pad, swung Deanna around in a circle, pumped Will's hand within an inch of losing circulation, he had finally turned to me. I saw the laughter in his eyes, no doubt because he'd sensed my horror and unease.

"Bev". He'd said seductively, pulling me up flush against his body in what appeared to the others to be an innocent, brotherly hug. But in reality it had hidden the spark of desire that had instantly flared when he'd got within a foot of me. I had felt it in his arms and had I felt in his body as it had touched mine. And then I saw it in his eyes just before they closed as he nuzzled against my ear under the guise of a welcoming hug.

But he'd felt my desire in return. I know he had because by the time he let me go barely a few seconds later his body was trembling with need, leaving us both wondering what the next twenty four hours would bring.

By the time the ceremony was over, I'd found a peace settling over me. I think the final moments before Will and Deanna officially became husband and wife had become a major turning point for me. He was married now, it was over for us, forever, and as they sealed their union with a touching kiss, I found myself taking an extremely deep breath and finally daring to turn my head to face the man beside me.

And I think the same had happened to Tom. Seeing Deanna finally lost forever to him had been the end of a very, very long one-sided love affair, and he, like me, now felt ready to move on.

The reception had been wonderful. I had danced with just about everyone, except Tom. Somehow we had purposely avoided one another, afraid of the inevitable happening. Afraid of everyone else seeing what was smouldering just below the surface. When I had danced with Jean-Luc I had felt his concern. He didn't say anything, he didn't dare. But I had felt it, none-the-less. He knew what was happening; knew that he'd had, and lost his own chance with me. In his own quiet way, the gentle squeeze he gave me at the end of our waltz simply told me to be careful and that he was there for me, no matter what.

I loved him dearly for that.

But I was beyond being careful. I'd tasted the forbidden fruit and I wanted more. I kinda knew that Tom probably wouldn't stick around for me, but somehow, that didn't matter. I just needed another nibble to satisfy my craving. I couldn't have Will anymore, but I could have Tom. All I had to do was let him know.

But I didn't even have to do that. Later that evening when the lights had dimmed and the excited frenzy of the party had waned, Tom had sought me out. He didn't say anything and he didn't do anything other than reach out his hand and wait for me to put mine into it.

I didn't even hesitate. I wanted this. I wanted to know Thomas. I wanted what I shouldn't have and there was nothing, or no one now to stop me.

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