THE COST OF DESTINY

 
 

By Carol Sandford

 
 

Chapter 02

 
 

Will groaned into the snowy white pillow as the alarm jangled beside his head. Reaching out, he slapped the offending time piece and resumed his position, only this time, the things that ran through his mind now became thoughts rather than dreams. Living on the base's campus meant that Will only had to allow himself five minutes to walk from his bed to his office, and he fully intended to make the most of the precious half hour he allowed himself before he had to move.

Rolling onto his back, he found himself staring at the ceiling and thinking about the poker game, and Deanna Troi. Over the two hours or so that they had battled it out, Will had learned a lot about Deanna Troi. About the way she scratched the minuscule dimple upon her chin when she was bluffing. The way her throat turned pink when she was on a winning streak. He liked the way she tucked wayward strands of hair behind delicate ears that just begged to be kissed. And he liked her sassy mouth. The latter a pleasant surprise.

He was a man that had come to fully appreciate the female of the species. With their exotic smells and delicious curves, they fascinated him almost as much as they intrigued him. They were complicated and mysterious; sweet and coy one minute, difficult and confusing the next.

Fortunately for him, women enjoyed his company as much as he enjoyed theirs. He understood the game well enough to know that, as an unattached male, he was open season for all single women. but he was honest and up front with every woman he dated; he wasn't looking for anything more.

He pulled the pillow on top of his head and groaned again. Not until he'd met Deanna Troi.

Damn.

Why now? He'd 'known' Deanna for some time. He'd seen her around and she'd ignored him. At first it bugged him. And then it had intrigued him. And then he'd all but given up. The rumours that he'd heard about her seemed to be true, and he just wasn't up for the challenge - not when there were other women willing to offer him what she clearly had no intention of offering.

Wendy Roper. Nice lady. Great ass. The word easy slipped into his head, but then just as quickly slipped out again. He'd been even easier. She was willing, and he was ready. Heck, he'd been flat on his back, dressed only with a, 'come and get me' smile plastered upon his face. She got him.

Occasionally she sought him out, and occasionally, he admitted to himself, he caved in to her feminine wiles. Okay, he moaned. he, 'always' caved in. He was a man, after all. And she was willing, after all.

But what he wanted - what he really wanted, was a taste of the forbidden fruit, and if he had to play dirty to get it, then so be it.

~*~~*~

"You cheated, didn't you?"

Riker smiled enigmatically, "I'll never tell. I'm much too much of a gentleman to reveal such a secret as that."

Tang propped himself against the desk and folded his arms across his wide chest. Laughter lit up his wiry features, "You cheated. There is no way on this planet that you won against a Betazoid. How did you do it?"

Will shoved the file into its appropriate slot and slammed shut the drawer, "Actually, it was easy. Somehow....I managed to get into her mind just enough to know what she was holding. She obviously figured I couldn't do that and left herself wide open for invasion. I just made the most of the opportunity." he said proudly.

"I bet she was as mad as hell."

"Actually, she wasn't," he grimaced, puzzlement clouding his normally handsome features just for a moment, and then a big cheesy grin took its place, "Maybe she wanted me to win."

Tang barked out his surprise loudly,"Deanna Troi!? Never! Her reputation as ice-queen, stuffy-drawers and snob are not uttered in vain. She is every bit as formidable as her nick-names imply. You think her mother is a tyrant? You haven't seen nothing until you have met the wrath of her daughter!"

It was then that Tang noticed how Will was staring past his shoulders, the look of horror and tension, and embarrassment etched upon his face, "She's here, isn't she?" he groaned, his moustache drooping along with the line of his mouth, the stark terror lightening his already pale, wishy-washy blue eyes.

Deanna stepped further into the room, her face, Will could tell, was hidden behind a well used mask, her words dripping amusement. Bitter amusement. "Glad to see I still have my reputation in tact, Lieutenant Tang, I'll be sure to pass the good news onto my mother, she'll be thrilled to hear my regalness still has some strength around here."

Well done, Will thought to himself, even if Tang wasn't that far off the mark. Still, it had gotta hurt; being tagged with handles, that to a young and beautiful woman, must hurt, it had got to. But she sure as hell wasn't going to let him, or anyone else know.

Still with that same bitter amusement, she brought into his train of thought, "Good morning, Lieutenant Riker. As you can see, I've kept my side of the bet. I am at your disposal for the next two weeks."

As she stood within Will's office, Deanna was still stunned at how Riker had beaten her at poker. NO ONE had ever beat her! Ever! He had got to have cheated, but as she'd lay in her bed, no matter how many times she replayed the game over and over in her head, could she find the moment when he had.

And so here she was, at his mercy. God help her. Tang's cruel words had stung, but she'd heard them before - and had dismissed them just as fast before too. But they still rankled. They still hurt. Sometimes, she liked having that elusiveness - that edge of being, 'different', but unfortunately those differences not only kept tongues wagging, but kept men away. No man dared to approach the mighty Deanna Troi, and as she looked up into the mesmerising gaze of William Riker, she thought morosely, if only they tried.

If only he'd try.

Will watched her blink a thought away and wondered just what had gone through her crazy head. For an instant he thought she was going to cry, but as fast as her eyes shimmered with tell-tale tears, they got replaced by that no-nonsense cool facade again.

How the hell was he going to work with her, for two, whole, damn weeks?

~*~~*~

"WHO THE HELL PUT FLOWERS IN MY OFFICE!?" William Riker's voice echoed around the sparsely spread complex, making his voice carry and sound even louder than it really was. Why he yelled the stupid question was beyond him. It was obvious who'd put them in there; Deanna Troi.

When the person in question stuck her head around the door barely thirty seconds later, it was to see him dumping the beautiful blooms in the bin.

"Why did you do that? Don't you know that having a little piece of nature around you helps your peace of mind. Calms you?" she offered, stung that he'd not even just simply moved the flowers, but had unceremoniously thrown them away. She suddenly felt as discarded as them.

"Ms. Troi, in case you hadn't noticed, this, is a military base. We are supposed to be seen as soldiers of war. Saviours of planets. Men of action. How in God's name do you think I would feel, sat in my office with an admiral - or some other important person, and a bunch of...of...." He grabbed at a name out of thin air, "daffodils waving in their face!?"

"They're not daffodils," she said petulantly, "They're Chrysanthemums - and I did chose a masculine colour." She added for good measure.

The deep green of the foliage only seemed to highlight the beautiful, rich auburn hue of the buds. In another setting, Will would have admired the blooms, but not here, not in his office. And not from her, because every time he'd look at them, he would think of her, and these days, she was never far from his thoughts, anyhow.

And now, as she stood dejected and tinged with anger, he was almost sorry for his childish outburst. His voice softened a touch as he slid behind the safe haven of his desk - only because he'd slid a glance down her slender body and caught a glimpse of creamy breast where her no-nonsense blouse had shifted. The innocent slip on her part, created a masculine, graphic response on his.

Damn, she'd caught him out as her own startled gaze quickly glanced down, and fingers even quicker than her glance, whipped up and covered the now blush-tinted exposed flesh. Her eyes held a hint of apology and embarrassment, and before he could even dismiss it, and her, she turned tail and vanished.

Will shook his head in stunned bemusement as he watched her retreating back. Was she really that shy? Now, if had been Wendy Roper, she'd had been perched on the edge of his desk by now and....

Will slapped the image away. He didn't want Wendy, he wanted...

He wanted...

Deanna.

 
     
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