By Carol Sandford


Chapter 06


Will felt the slight resistance on his fingers as they walked along. The only sound that could be heard was their feint footsteps on the path and the night's creatures. They said nothing. Nothing needed to be said. Something was about to happen between them. They both knew it. They both accepted it, until Will felt the gentle tug on his fingers as Deanna tried to stop him from walking on.

He slowed his pace, realising that his long strides were probably too much for her much shorter legs, until he finally took a glance at her and saw the look of fear upon her moonlit face. She was beautiful, he thought. He'd always been aware of her beauty, but now, in the moonlight, with her hair pulled away from her face, her make-up, and that dress, she was exquisite. Slowing to a reluctant stop, he turned towards her and drank in her features as she looked up at him with huge eyes.

"What's wrong?" he murmured, seriously.

Deanna melted with the low, husky, almost drugged tone as he searched her face for a reason for her fear. And she was afraid, she realised. Not of him, or of what they were probably about to do. But of what her mother had told her the previous night. It still over-shadowed her thoughts. Still thrummed through her senses. Still scared her.

She didn't feel ready to share her soul with a man that she had only kissed, even if her mothers prophecy was right, and he was her intended Imzadi. It wasn't just about becoming Imzadi, it was about after. It was about how their lives were going to change afterwards. She was certain that Will was not going to remain on Betazed and become her life partner, in any sense of the word. He was a Starfleet officer. He wanted to travel. He wanted freedom. He would want more than her.

The Imzadi bond was going to mean nothing to him. It couldn't. Will would never understand or comprehend what it would mean to both of them. Or cost.

Deanna looked up into her future lover's blue intense gaze, her eyes unable to hide her feelings, her passion, or the fear that now sparkled within her own dark orbs, "I...I mustn't do this, Will. If you have any feelings for me at all, you won't do anything more than kiss me tonight."

Will's eyes creased in concerned puzzlement and Deanna felt his disappointment rush through her, quickly meshing with her own disappointment at never knowing what it would be like, or feel like, making love to the one person that destiny had promised to you.

For a long moment, Deanna thought Will was going to agree to her terms. And for an even longer moment, Will silently promised her that he could just give her a kiss, or two. Slowly, delicately, he lowered his mouth to hers. Lips that matched one another's fitted perfectly together and they both drank the bliss that poured from deep within.

But as slowly and delicately that they had meshed, they broke apart. Will raised his palm to her chest and settled it gently against her pounding heart, his breath laboured, much like her own. He whispered hoarsely, "Do you feel it, Deanna?" he questioned, "What's happening here will not settle with a kiss. We are going to make love tonight, and I don't think either one of us can stop it." Will watched as her eyes, and her heart, finally accepted that he was right.

Deanna studied Will's face in the muted moonlight, taking in each feature and imprinting in upon her heart, helping her come to the only conclusion available. Her one simple word set the last shred of fear tumbling down. "Where?"

As they both stood on the sidewalk with their hands laced and their hearts beating with anticipation, Will looked around at the surrounding area searching for somewhere that they could call their own for a little while. They didn't see the magnificent houses standing tall and regal. Nor did they see the moonlight's rays, shining down on them; two solitary people. Two lovers to be.

Will spied the huge glass dome that was the town centre's pride and joy; the arboretum. It was warm, and it was mutely lit with tiny colourful lanterns amongst the flower beds, casting its rainbow coloured beams across the blossoming array of exotic blooms. The air was heady with every essence of flora imaginable. It was romantic and deliciously quiet. It was also open. And it was perfect.

To the eyes that watched the couple enter the glass doors, they looked like any other visitors. The only thing that gave them away as lovers was the linked hands and the speed that their feet were moving.

The oppressive heat and aromatic aroma of moistened earth, along with the floral scents, hit their noses as soon as they entered. Will slid to a halt, pushing the door closed behind him. He released Deanna's hand and began searching the immediate area.

Bemused, Deanna asked, "What are you looking for, Will?"

Reaching down, he picked up a length of watering hose, testing its flexibility, his forehead wreathed in a vexed frown, "Something to secure the door with, Sweetheart," He deftly wrapped the hose through the handles. "I don't want any, 'surprise' visitors creeping up on us."

Deanna blushed with just the mere image, but her chuckle still left her mouth anyhow as he continued securely knotting the door shut. "Will, we are surrounded by telepaths," she said, "they'll know that someone is in here making out."

"Hell, I know that, Deanna!" he said, exasperated, "I also know that there are a few nosy, and very un-empathic Terran's around too. Better to be safe than sorry." he reasoned.

Satisfied that he'd tied the knot so that not even the devil himself could squeeze through, he took a deep shuddering breath and turned himself back to the woman who was waiting. The joviality of the moment vanished, along with the last chance to go back, and somehow, it made all the difference.

Capturing her eyes, Will reached for her hand once more, and she slipped hers into his and they both walked into the shrouded canopy of the thick, overhanging vines and small trees. They both seemed to know where they were going, even though Will had never entered the glass dome before. For a moment, Will wondered if Deanna had been here previously, with someone else. It briefly made him falter, uncomfortable with the thought, until he threw her a quick glance and found the answer he was looking for in her eyes. She hadn't.

Somewhere in the centre of the complex, the thick density of foliage opened out into an area that took Will's breath away. A pool shimmered in the moonlight that spilled through the overhead glass, the accelerated sound of tumbling water, louder because of the quiet, cascaded from a figurine placed strategically in its centre.

Deanna kept on walking past the alluring feature, the gentle tug on Will's hand leading him back into the what seemed to be the depths of foliage again. But after only a momentary blackness, they came across another feature, and Deanna pulled Will straight into its heart.

It was a gazebo. A beautiful gazebo. But it was no ordinary gazebo. It was almost overrun with trailing, heavily scented flowers. Will thought it was Jasmine, but he wasn't sure, only that its scent was intoxicating, heightening his already heightened body. And better still, it had a never ending bench running around the inside, and Will imagined that on a glorious day, like so many were on Betazed, that this was a magical place to be. It even had a small drinking fountain, its trickle echoing once more in the stillness of the night.

But it was the object in its centre that had captured his attention; it was a chaise longue. A very largish chaise longue. Its presence painfully clear and leaving only images to ponder on. He turned questioning eyes towards Deanna. "Is that what I think it's for?" he asked, his voice raising with humorous surprise.

Deanna swallowed as she too, stared fascinated at the thickly cushioned seating area. "I...I guess," she said. "I've heard people say they come here for...for..." She couldn't finish the sentence, searching his eyes in the moonlight, " comes highly recommended." she finished bravely.

Will laughed out aloud at her incredulous announcement, the hearty, rich sound resounding in the vast silence, "Highly recommended!? Miss Troi, have you been eavesdropping on your friends romantic discussions?"

She sniffed derisively, "I go to college. I hear...things." She trailed off lamely, ashamed at revealing a little more of her natural curiosity, and her innocence.

Will reached for her hands again and tugged her towards him, pulling her closer than before. Close enough to kiss her, if he wanted. His voice held a hint of pride. A hint of challenge. A hint of hope, "And you wanted to see if the rumours were true, eh?" he grinned at her upturned, smiling face.

Deanna didn't answer him. She couldn't. But she didn't need to, her silence said enough, and at last - at long last, Will finally settled his lips against hers and let the night begin.

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