From Dreams of Thee
The wildflowers lining the access
road to the Nelson Institute of Marine Research were barely bending in the
soft breeze filtering up the canyon.
It was just another typical summer's day in California, setting sun
creating a pink scrim on the clouds that peppered the sky.
That was the postcard view outside the limousine.
Inside was stormier weather.
"Jamie, I do not need you
clucking over me like a mother hen! I
am perfectly fine!"
NIMR's CMO shook his head with
familiar resignation. "Humor me on this one, Harry," he answered,
preparing himself to defend his actions.
"You received a very serious head injury. You shouldn't even be out of bed, much less apparently
"There's nothing apparent about
it, damn it! You saw--"
"I'm fully aware of the test
results. I just think we need
to make sure we aren’t moving too fast."
Admiral Nelson's snap-eyed glare was
thunderous. "You're the
one that kept me in that hospital bed.
You're the one who approved
my leaving said hospital bed.
Are you now questioning your own decision?"
Dr. William Jamieson's eyes could snap too; he had a will as strong as
the admiral's own and wasn’t afraid to show
it. He would have enjoyed the
sparring on a more appropriate occasion.
Having just passed through the Institute's gates, though, it was
time for the coup
"I'd be doing the same if it was Lee or Chip.
In fact, you'd be damn well making sure of it."
That stopped the admiral cold.
His junior officers had an annoying habit of rushing into danger whenever
it suited them. It
seemed like he spent all of his time in sickbay keeping watch while they
healed from one injury or another. "Talk
about hitting below the belt," Nelson muttered.
"Fine. Lee can come in with me."
Jamie conceded defeat with a heavy,
thoroughly insincere sigh. "I'll
expect a full report, Commander Crane.
Your -- goddess may have
decided that everything was just fine, but I have no intention of
taking her word for it."
"Not my goddess, Jamie, the
admiral's," Lee interjected, honey hazel eyes twinkling.
He quickly sobered as Nelson turned a stony glare on him.
"Never mind whose goddess she is, she's no doctor!
report, Lee. And if you
get any guff for it, you let me know."
The car drew up to the curb and
stopped. Lee got out and
waited for the driver to get the admiral's door open, then stepped around
to the trunk. The young
sailor was fumbling nervously with the key.
"Don't worry, Crosby, they're
really good friends. You'll
find that out when you've been here a while longer."
Startled, Dan Crosby almost dropped
the first suitcase. "SIR,
YES, SIR! I mean, yes,
sir," he said more quietly. "I'll
bring the luggage up."
"Just leave it by the door, I'll
take it in," Lee ordered, and hurried to catch up with his boss.
His mood had lifted now that they were on familiar territory, free
of the hospital with its beeping equipment, medical smells and hovering
nurses and doctors. Sick bays
or hospitals, Lee Crane hated them both.
It was worse when someone he cared about was lying in the bed.
While on a business trip to Washington, DC
Admiral Nelson had been hit by a cab.
It had been a helpless feeling, watching the man he thought of as a
surrogate father struck down on the street.
Then she had appeared -- to save the admiral's life again.
A Grecian goddess, guardian of the Seaview
and her men, as she styled herself. Galené
had used her skills to keep the admiral from dying and then disappeared --
but not without arguing about her involvement in the admiral's life.
"Allow me, sir," Lee said,
using his key to the hydraulic lift that opened the access door to the
cliff top apartment.
The admiral stepped in, the
expression on his face reflecting his pleasure.
"Damn, it's good to be home.
It was certainly an eventful trip to Washington.
Not one that I'd want to repeat any time soon."
Lee paused, knowing how much his boss hated coddling of any kind.
Nevertheless, Admiral Nelson was facing a walk up the spiral
stairway to the living quarters. "Sir,
I'll stand by while you get settled.
I've got to report back to Jamie, you know," he added quickly,
seeing the flush beginning on his boss's face.
Harry's lips thinned, and he bit back
a retort. It was a given that
Lee would want to help. He
couldn't have wished for more attention.
Unless it was coming from a certain female, one that had come to
his rescue yet again and vanished without awaiting a heartfelt thank
you; vanished to wherever sea goddesses went for respite or refuge.
He was just about to remind his young friend that he had already
declined any assistance when a soft voice spoke from the dark recesses of
the second floor.
"He'll have all the help he
requires, Commander Crane."
Galené was standing at the top of
the stairs, one pale green hand on the polished banister of the staircase.
Her long hair was moving gently to an invisible force.
There was a soft smile on her face, growing larger as she stared
Questions formed in Lee's eyes.
"Galené. How interesting to see you again...and so soon."
She had assured him that her
relationship with the admiral was sincere, that he wasn't a pawn in a game
that only goddesses played. That
had only been four days ago. Her
decision to stay out-of-the-way hadn't been very resolute.
"I thought I'd just drop by,
Commander, and see how the admiral was faring."
With an effort, Lee remained
composed. "Sir, if you
The admiral turned to Lee, eyebrows
high, a smile playing on his lips. "I
believe I'll be fine, lad. Don’t
let me keep you."
Lee grinned in spite of himself.
Nelson was almost pushing him out the door.
"Aye, sir. I'll
just put the bags down here, Admiral," Lee said, fully aware that no
one was listening to him.
"What the -- he throw you
out?" Jamie asked, face
darkening, as Lee slid into the limousine after only a few minutes.
"Damn it, he--"
"He wasn't paying any attention
to me, Jamie. Much as I hate
to admit it, I don't think we'll need to worry about the admiral for
"And that would be
“I'll explain it all over a beer at
your place, after we pick up Chip."
* * * *
"I can come down, if you'd
"No. I'll be right up." Harry grasped the teakwood and put his foot on the first step. His head felt find, never better. Reaching the top rung, he stopped for a moment, just looking at her.
She was dressed in a simple chiton,
its silver color matching the striking silver-blue of her eyes.
The grey-green hair that he yearned to drag his fingers through was
clipped back, escaping tendrils curling tantalizingly around her graceful
chin line. Her green skin
glowed luminously in the shadows. Pale
skin, pale hair, fiery heart; the vision he saw in dreams that came
With a grunt of satisfaction, Harry
took two quick steps and captured her in his arms. She responded eagerly by wrapping sensuous limbs about him.
She was warm, so warm that he was momentarily taken aback then
yielded to that warmth, pressing her to him as one hand moved along her
spine in tiny caressing circles while the other encircled the back of her
head and drew her ever nearer. He
pressed his lips to hers. Time
and breathing went into suspension.
There had been only a few such
moments in their past, moments when his desire for her was startlingly
real. The rare intimacies had
warred with the realization that both had been playing a part; she as his
protector in a face that was ever changing, he, the gruff, world-weary
sailor that wanted neither her protection nor her disturbing
presence. Until the
night he had seen her in a little black dress.
No matter that it had been a disguise, another woman's body and
face. What was inside the shell was the fantasy he wanted
The quiet in the room was deafening.
He broke the kiss, pulling away only slightly to drink in her
beauty, then surrendered to her lips again, hands in her hair, to cradle
her face to his. A fragile
thread of life grew between
them, strengthening, taking hold.
* * * *
It had been a bold move, even for a
Any fear that he would
reject her out of hand was tossed aside.
The look in his eyes was enough to reassure
her of his excitement.
Now she was in his arms. Galené
closed her eyes, allowing his hot breath to sweep over her eyelids.
She tightened her grip on his back, melting herself to his shape,
exploring his mouth with wild abandon.
The pleasure that gave her was bewitching, the soft sweetness of
his lips a gift to be savored.
She felt his desire in the brace he
took at the nape of her neck, both possessive and supportive.
Passion leaped from his body to hers, igniting both.
He leaned into her, breathing her name.
Then his hands were raking over her throat, her shoulders, her
waist, tracing the narrowness of her hips.
He brushed the hair away from the side of her throat and kissed her
there. A low moan of surprise
and pleasure escaped her lips. Then
it was her hands exploring, her mouth possessing his.
No longer were they soft and encouraging but bruising and
demanding, taking what she wanted and wanting more.
"Tell me this isn't a
dream," he whispered.
"Only a dream of our own
making," she replied, kissing the rough skin at his temple.
She leaned back to look at his smoldering eyes.
"Tell me what you're thinking."
"Better I should show you,"
he said quickly, and then almost as quickly reddened, the inherent shyness
she knew was part of his nature surfacing from deep inside.
It was an automatic drawing back he
exhibited in private that he never showed as the public man, the leader,
the superior, the admiral.
"I can think of nothing more
pleasurable. Unless you feel
the need to rest after your journey?"
she said, uttering a small laugh.
He was silent. She saw
the caution in his eyes, and empathy replaced amusement. "Believe me when I say I want you as much as you want
me. Come to bed, my
sweet." There was
challenge as well as entreaty in her voice.
He released her slowly, and she took
his hand, caressing the back of it. The
webbing that extended between her long fingers caught on his skin.
Come to bed, my sweet. When he looked at her face he thought of wonder and illusion, of chimera and spirits. Things that one didn't associate with everyday people, but she wasn't everyday. She wasn't even human. She was an elemental, a spectral being, something cosmic and enchanting. Something that could never be constrained to his world. He put that out of his mind immediately. She was to be his now. For now was all that mattered.
went willingly, eagerly to her passionate embrace.
Harry came to consciousness quickly,
as he always did. Forcing his
eyes to stay closed took more effort.
He was afraid if he opened them she would be gone. Then he heard a soft sigh.
He turned slightly to rest his gaze upon her.
She shifted a little, leaning towards
him as he lay on his side watching. The
morning light streaming through the bedroom's windows held her in its
sunny embrace. Her beauty
caught in his throat, and he hoped the clamor of his heart wouldn't wake
her. The thought of staying
in this bed captivated him, emptied his mind of briefings, of stalled
experiments, of cajoling political give and takes.
All he wanted now was to claim the hand that sprawled lazily at her
side. He had thought he had
nothing left to give. She had
shown him he was wrong. He
had never felt as selfish as he did now, and he gloried in the exclusivity
of it. All he wanted to do was lock away the remembrance of her
whispers and shuddering breaths in the darkness, her fingers streaking
across his skin, drawing away his own ragged breath as he drank in all
that she offered.
Her hair spilled across the pillow,
the color of ocean depths. A
few errant strands drifted across pink lips curled up in a secret smile.
He longed to lean over and cover them with his own, but resisted
the temptation. He preferred
to think of how those lips had smiled wickedly up at him as she drew him
to the bed. In that instant
the war-scarred inner demons he carried, ever watchful, ever taut against
disappointment had dissolved away. With
one look she commanded him to open his heart just for her.
She had risen sometime in the night
and replaced her gown. As
carefully as if he was reaching for a snowflake he fingered the trailing
ribbons, soft as water in his hand. He
studied the color of it against her neckline, picturing again how it had
pooled at her feet as he slipped the fabric off her shoulders.
There was no question of restraint for either of them then.
The taste of her kisses, the scent of her skin, alive with a
lingering sea-spent fragrance endured in his memory.
He wanted to take the moments and make them only his, to know no
other time or place. Selfish
in this, he wanted everything and more; more of her smile, more of the
look in her eyes dusky with need, her body shivering under his, her soul,
infinite in its awareness. Her
heart, for his alone.
Somewhere there was a clock ticking,
counting down the hours, the minutes to the next urgent meeting, some
top-secret activity that the highest echelons of government were involved
in, a place that Seaview was
needed. No matter.
For the first time in -- he couldn't recall, actually -- the
overriding urge to be in action had left him.
It all seemed different now. In
this tidy nest, in a room of quiet calm save for the pounding of faraway
surf and the soft breathing of the woman next to him, he could forget that
there was a world beyond the walls. He
resisted the urge to wake her, to hear her voice greet him with shy
though, he didn't need words. All
he needed was her arms reaching out to him and her mouth eagerly seeking
his, as she had done insatiably the evening before.
Harry closed his eyes, allowing his mind to wander and
in the memories.
"It's not fair that you awoke
Her voice contained a smile.
He looked down and found silver eyes studying him alive with
laughter. She took up the
hand that lay across his chest and interlaced her fingers with his, a
simple act that implied possession, triggering pleasure in his soul.
"It's an old habit, hard to
break," Harry replied. He
moved a curl away from her cheek, folding the beautiful hair between his
fingers. "Navy hours,
"Admirals aren't allowed to
sleep in?" she asked, her smile broadening.
"With command comes
responsibility," he said in mock seriousness.
"You old fraud," she
retorted, stripping her fingers from his and punching him.
"You just always thought you'd miss something!"
They laughed together.
He felt the strength of his arms as he drew her close against his
shoulder, holding her secure as his heart leaped to acknowledge the gift
he'd been given. He
took up her hand and pressed the palm to his cheek.
"I'll make an exception
Outside a gull squawked, searching
for his breakfast. Morning
was here, and with it came the remembered dream of her soft mouth brushing
the bare skin of his chest, her fingertips tracing the lines of his body,
adventurous, knowing, desiring. Her
voice had called to him to ascend with her, every syllable echoed by his
own. He kissed the top of her head, then raised himself above her
to kiss her lips.
"Seen enough yet?"
He traced a line down the side of her
face, and his heart burst with longing as she shivered.
"Never, lass. Never."
"You flatter me," she
murmured, fascinated by the unmistakable desire in his eyes.
The man that she had dreamed of was hers to command.
His eyes danced with intensity, deep and blue as sapphires.
She touched his face with the tips of her fingers, following an
invisible line that led from brow to the little cleft in his chin, the one
that was aching to be kissed. It
was his turn to shiver.
His eyes, bold and possessing, also
contained a hint of vulnerability, a softness that had captured her
attention as soon as they had met. She
wanted to hold him, shelter him always.
It went beyond the protectiveness she felt already, the shielding
she felt duty-bound to provide. She
also knew that he felt the same about her, part and parcel of his
personality. They had fought that battle already. She had won by circumventing his protests and remaining true
to her own course. She would
do anything to save him from harm.
The intimacy of the moment washed
over her like a surrounding fog. She
lay still, breathless, full of need.
"Were you expecting to go into the office today?"
"No," he said, and she
could tell he was lying.
"I see. Well, then, you will be late to work," she whispered,
pulling him to her.
"What do you mean he isn't
there? Where the hell is he,
Lee and Angie exchanged glances.
Patience, Lee chided himself,
patience. He glanced out
the windows of the conference room and then back at the television
at home, Admiral Starke." Galené's
smiling face came to mind. "I
guess you could say he hasn't been cleared for a return to work,
"Jiggs" Starke blew the air
out of his cheeks. "He's
supposed to brief me on the proposed design changes tomorrow. I've got assistant secretaries of the Navy on my ass,
Crane!" Starke cried,
and then remembered that Angie was in the room.
"Excuse my language, Miss Williams."
A bit more quietly, he added, "If he's not well enough to talk
to me that's really going to affect the schedule!"
Lee sighed. "He's well enough, sir, but we thought it best--"
"Excuse me, I meant to say Dr.
Jamieson thought it best that Admiral Nelson have a little more rest
before getting back to the office."
Admiral Starke's eyebrows knit
Pass him a message, break out the signal flags, whatever.
I just need to hear from him personally as to how he's doing."
Was there a note of concern in
Starke's voice? Lee softened
and concluded there was. He
and Admiral Nelson had been friends for a very long time.
"I'll remind him, sir."
"See that you do.
Starke out." The television screen faded.
Angie picked up her coffee cup and
turned to Lee. "I'm
sorry you were here when Admiral Starke called.
He usually takes bad news from me a lot easier than from you,"
she said, smiling. "I
did kind of expect Admiral Nelson to come in today, though."
Angie's big eyes widened. "He
didn't have a relapse or anything, did he?"
"No, nothing like that,"
Lee said, taking her arm and heading for the door.
"I wouldn't expect him today, though."
He hid his smile. "He'll remember about Starke, so he'll be in tomorrow.
If she lets him," he added under his breath.
Angie grinned mischievously. "What
are you saying, Lee?"
Lee inwardly cursed the lapse of
discretion. "The admiral
Angie blurted, and then her face blazed as Lee's grin grew bigger.
"I mean, I think I'd know.
He's been working too hard as usual, when would he have had the
chance to meet anyone," she finished lamely.
"You keeping track, Angie?"
"You know it’s part of my job
to look after him, just the same as you, Lee Crane! He's my boss. And
a big 'ol teddy bear. If he's
found a girlfriend, well -- she better be treating him nice or she'll have
to answer to me."
Lee liked this pretty girl, with her
soft skin, chocolate-colored hair and a trace of magnolias in her speech.
That voice could turn to bands of steel if anything threatened to
upset her beloved admiral.
"I'll keep that under
advisement, if I ever do anything to incur your wrath."
"You have already, but I get
over it pretty quick in your case. No
woman can resist it when you use those puppy dog eyes.”
They grinned at each other.
There had been a time in the past when something had sparked
between them. But Lee had
been on too many nerve-wracking ONI missions for Angie to ever be
comfortable with the unpredictable danger, and they had settled into a
deep friendship that satisfied them both.
"I'm going down to the boat, Ang.
If the Old Man does manage to wander in, call me."
The morning lazed itself away as they
spent it in each other's arms. It
had been a long time since she had absconded from her myriad
responsibilities, a long time since she had tasted such freedom.
She surmised that Harry was feeling the same; his face reflected an
ease mirrored in her own. She
loved him; there was no doubt about that.
And she thought, was almost sure, that he had fallen in love with
her. The uncertainty was how
much he would allow someone else to control his personal happiness. She did not want him to change for her -- but how much was he
willing to give up? One thing
was certain, she thought to herself, as she watched him stare into space
-- she could almost see the same ideas flickering behind his eyes.
"Much as I'd love to spend the
day right here, your absence has been noted.
C'mon, get up and get dressed.
We're going to work."
His eyes twinkled up at her.
"You've read my mind. I've
been laying here for a while thinking about how I was going to address
and some other things.
"I thought as much. To
the office we go. Go take a
shower. I'll be ready when you get out."
"You're sure you wouldn't like
to join me?"
Galené made pushing motions with her
hands. "We need to go in
today, not a week from today. Move
It was a unique feeling, a welcome feeling, being ordered about.
He did not mind it at all.
Rising slowly from the bed, Harry
cupped his hand under her chin and kissed her thoroughly again, his tongue
caressing the outline of her upper lip.
She uttered a tiny moan. Chuckling,
he went into the bathroom.
Dragging his hands through his hair,
letting the hot water cascade over his head and shoulders, he remembered
with chagrin that the plan -- his plan, one that Jamie wouldn't
have approved -- had been to drop off the luggage and go right to the
office to dispose of the paperwork piling up on his desk.
In a flash, he thought shamefacedly, he had completely discarded
any notice of his regular routine. Responsibilities, he reminded himself. He had responsibilities.
A couple of hours ought to
take care of most everything.
the water off, he grabbed a towel and turned towards the sink and his
She was fiddling with her gloves as
he started down the stairs. "It
is so very true about a man in uniform.
You're absolutely the most handsome man of my acquaintance.
How do I look?"
she asked, turning in a small circle.
She was dressed in a simple twin set of soft peach wool, the
slimming skirt skimming over her hips.
A single strand of pearls adorned the sweater's boat neck.
Missing was the soft green pigment of her skin and her distinctive gray
hair. It was now blonde, the
color of marigolds.
"I think I prefer you without
clothes, but this will certainly do."
His face came alive with laughter as she gasped.
"You look beautiful."
"And my fingers aren't webbed,
either. I think I told you
once that little green girls are hard to explain away."
She put a hand to her head.
"Do you like my hair? I'm
not sure about the color."
"It's beautiful as always,"
he said noncommittally.
"You don't like it."
"Not at all!
"Remember -- the truth,
She was here, in his house, and
relying on him for honesty between them.
"My eye has always been caught by women with dark hair."
The blond hair piled on top of her head instantly turned glossy
black. "I just wasn't
sure if the blonde hair was important to you, if you wanted me to remind
you of someone...."
He could suddenly think of nothing
more physically satisfying than just pulling her into his arms and
nestling his chin against the top of her head.
"That wasn't someone else, that was you.
The face doesn't mean a thing.
I like you the way you are meant to be.
I would take you green if it didn't require a hell of a lot of
"A good answer, my darling.” She
handed him his cover, then grabbed up her purse from the Oakley sideboard.
"You sure you want to come
along? It's definitely just a
She squared her shoulders.
"Yes. I need to
meet Angie. I need to let
your secretary know I'm not a threat."
"Of course she would, silly man.
Secretaries get very close to their bosses.
I know I'd want to meet my boss's newest fling."
"You're not a fling," he
She searched his face.
"No, I can tell that I am not."
She leaned forward and kissed him lovingly.
She was silent through the short
drive to the office, mind racing. She
had met Angie, just not as herself. Why
did this feel so different? There
was nothing to be frightened about. Goddesses
don't get frightened, she
reminded herself. She
swallowed and breathed deeply as Harry pulled into his personal spot, then
put a big smile on her face as he opened the car door.
Obeying the conventions, she did not take his arm as they walked
towards the building, and was thus surprised when he shifted his briefcase
and tucked her forearm through his, pulling her close for the short walk
to his private entrance.
Angie stared in surprise as the pair
walked in, then quickly regained her composure. She stood up.
"Angie, this is Galené.
Galené, this is my secretary, Angela Williams."
Angie thought to herself, Lordy,
she looks like a movie star. "Very
nice to meet you, Galené. Just
call me Angie."
Galené stuck out her hand.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Angie."
"Have the two of you known each
"Quite a few months,
actually," Galené replied smoothly as the admiral hesitated.
"We met formally when the admiral was in San Francisco for the
trial." It was not the
time to explain to Angie that she had been in the body of the doomed
Victoria Wynn at the time.
"Did you know Vicky?
It was so awful, what happened to her."
Angie's face reflected a fleeting sadness, replaced by quiet
Quickly Harry spoke up.
"Who's been checking up on me, Angie?"
"Well, sir, Admiral Starke's
been calling. Lee's been
holding him off."
"I haven't forgotten about the
briefing tomorrow. I'll study
my notes toni--uh, in the morning. Speaking
of Lee, his car's not in his spot."
"He's down at the boat, sir.
He and Chip are going over evals.
Let me call him--"
"I don't think I'll disturb him
right now," Harry said hastily.
"Who hasn't called, sir?"
she replied, grinning. "The
phone's been ringing off the hook."
Harry growled, would have said
something, then Galené cleared her throat.
"Oh, alright, have Michael make up some silly press release.
Let everyone know that the reports of my death have been greatly
Angie held up her
calendar. "I pushed all
your appointments to next week, sir, including your lecture at the
university, the reception for the scientists from Cal Poly, and the visit
to Washington Elementary. Dr.
Hannity's retirement party is also next week and I've taken care of the
gift, as well as arranging for hamburgers for the kids' lunch at the
Harry turned to Galené.
"She's a treasure, wouldn't you agree?"
Turning back he smiled warmly at his secretary.
"Thank you for handling everything, Angie.
I'm in the office, if anyone calls."
He looked at the woman who had brought a new awareness to his life.
She shook her head.
"No, I think I'll leave you to it.
You'll get a lot more done without any interruptions.
I'll stay outside and visit with Angie for a few minutes, then go
for a walk." She took
him by the elbow and kissed his cheek, letting her lips linger for a few
moments. "Do what you need to do.
I'll know when you're ready to leave," she said softly.
He nodded decisively.
"Alright. It shouldn't take more than a couple of hours."
Focusing on Angie, he said, "Get Michael busy on drafting that
press release. I'll call you
for dictation when I'm ready."
As soon as the door
closed the two women sized each other up.
Angie's initial impression hadn't changed. The more she looked at Galené, the more the word
"glamorous" came to mind but, she thought, there was a bit of
mystery behind the woman's eyes, mystery and sadness, she concluded.
Is she going to break his heart?
Maybe. But some
wayward feeling told her it wouldn't be because she wanted to.
The thought saddened Angie suddenly, and she stared past Galené's
shoulder as she considered her reactions to the other woman.
"You've worked for Admiral
Nelson a long time?"
Angie started, embarrassed that she
had been caught in a moment of inattentiveness.
"Yes, since he took over here.
He's the best boss anyone could ever have," she said, throwing
her chin up defiantly.
The dark eyes studied
her appraisingly. "You
won't get any arguments from me, Angie.
I agree with you. He's
a wonderful man." She
had seen him at his most charming and elegant,
and when he was being headstrong and stubborn, blue eyes throwing fire.
She imagined that Angie had, too.
The other woman adopted a chagrined
tone. "I'm sorry.
I get defensive when it comes to Admiral Nelson."
"I'd think less of you if you
didn't. I know he thinks the
world of you. The daughter he
never had," Galené she said impulsively.
Angie's skin reddened.
She put her hands to her cheeks.
"Honestly, that's the nicest thing you could have ever said to
me. I just love him
as a fa...." She stopped, flustered, not believing that she had revealed
such intimate thoughts to a woman she had only met a few minutes
"Don't be embarrassed, my
dear. He's someone that
deserves to be loved. He's
going to call you for dictation in a moment or two. Tell him I've gone out for that walk, would you?"
"Yes -- of
stepped around the desk and gathered Angie into her arms. "Thank you for taking such good care of him."
She turned, picked up her gloves and headed for the door.
"I'll be back when he's ready to leave."
Angie stared at the door
long after it had closed. Who
was this woman? How did she
know so much? What was it
about her that had opened Angie’s private thoughts to her scrutiny?
It was eerie. Did Lee
know anything else about her? Did
he consider her suitable for the admiral’s affections?
She would have
to find a way to discover the answers.
The buzzer on her desk went off,
forcing her back to reality.
"Angie? I've got some letters here that need to go out."
"I'll be right in, sir."
Shaking herself up and down, Angie gathered up her steno pad and
walked toward the inner office.
As he had predicated, they worked for
two hours. The afternoon was
coming to a close when Harry threw down his pen, stretched his shoulders
and rubbed the tiredness from his eyes.
"Angie, that is definitely
enough for today."
She closed her steno pad and arranged
the backup materials onto his desk into neat little piles.
"I agree, sir. We
got to about ninety percent of it, I think.
I'll go see if Galené has come back.
If not, I'll start look--"
The office door opened and Galené
stepped in. "Did I hear
a heavy wooden door? I don't
see how-- The thoughts
disappeared as Angie caught the expression on the admiral's face.
He was grinning up at Galené as if the world had suddenly become a
better place. It stopped
Angie cold. He's
in love. He's really in love.
Boy, this changes everything.
"Ready to head for home?"
Harry slapped his briefcase closed
and stood up. "Absolutely.
Angie, get all this ready for me tomorrow.
I'll sign everything before Jiggs and I talk."
"Excuse me, Admiral?"
across the room to the couple with a baby carriage in the doorway.
The man's face was drawn and weary, as if some great trouble was
bearing down upon him. "Just
wanted to come by and say goodbye. I've finished cleaning out my office. We're leaving tomorrow, as you know."
"Yes, John, I know," Harry said heavily.
"Galené, this is the Carter family, Dr. Lisa and Dr. John
Carter. Lisa works -- worked
-- with Jamie at Medical, John in the oceanography lab."
"Nice to meet you," John
Carter said as he looked at the beautiful
"All the arrangements taken care
"Yes, sir," Lisa Carter
answered. She too, looked as
if some tragedy was playing on her mind.
She bent down and adjusted the pink blanket that filled the
interior of the baby carriage. "Thank
you so much for taking care of everything.
We really, really appreciate the private plane.
The baby...it'll be easier for us."
She took notice of the woman standing beside Harry for the first
time. ""Did I hear
your name right? Galené?"
"Our daughter is named for
Grecian mythology, too. Her
name is Anthea. It means
flower. You probably know that.
God, I sound like a five-year-old." Lisa Carter found herself speaking only to the other woman.
Everyone else had faded away, so caught was she in the stare of
Galené's eyes. "We
found out about the cancer on her first birthday," Lisa said, her
voice breaking slightly on the last word. Her husband placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.
"We're actually on our way back east to consult a
specialist...another specialist...to another appointment, to find out if
there's anything else...that can be done...." Her voice faded away.
"May I hold her?"
"She's not very good with
strangers, strangers mean needles and--"
"But I'm not a stranger, am I,
reached in and picked the baby up. Anthea
was dressed in a little pink outfit, the color startlingly brighter than
the child's white, sickly skin. The
baby's eyes were unfocused, and she seemed disinterested in her
surroundings, limp in the arms of this dark-haired woman.
Galené saw the pain reflected in the mother's eyes, the distress
as Lisa chewed on her bottom lip. "Look,
she likes my pearls."
As if awakening from sleep, the baby
focused on the necklace just within reach.
A tiny hand closed on the shiny orbs.
Squirming around, she turned towards her mother and held out the
pearls for inspection.
"Harry, unclasp these, would
you? Thank you."
As he made to let the necklace loose, Galené whispered a few words
and pressed her lips against the child's forehead.
"A gift for a beautiful baby -- and her beautiful
mother," Galené said, gathering up the pearls and handing them to
John. She gave Anthea back to
her mother, planting a kiss on Lisa's check.
Through the tears she could no longer
hold back, Lisa mumbled, "Oh, no, I couldn't, you can't, they're
"I can and I have," Galené
said gently. "It was a
pleasure to meet you all.
I hope that any news you receive about her condition will be
positive.” She shook John's
hand, then turned to Angie. "Thanks
for the conversation. We'll
see each other again soon. Time
to go, Admiral."
Harry held the outer door open and
they emerged into the sunlight. "How
old are those pearls?" he
"Oh, a few hundred years or
so," she answered, the frown between her brows fading away.
"The woman I took them from won't miss them.
I'll just get another set."
"Jamie's told me that Lisa has been beating herself up,
blaming herself for the baby's condition, even though she knew better as a
doctor. John's been
distracted as well. A healthy
baby will mean everything to them."
Her head swiveled towards him, the
frown returning. "I have
done nothing. Perhaps the
doctors will have good news, perhaps not.
I do not know."
Harry stopped as if he'd run into a
wall. She followed suit a
step or two later. "I
don't understand, you've saved my life, you've hinted that you've saved
many lives. Why can't you
save the life of this one child?"
"She is not my charge.
My bond in this life is with the Seaview
and her men. The Moraie will
let me do nothing else."
"Oh, damn the Moraie!
A life -- any life is precious!"
Harry said, and saw the alarm flare in her eyes.
"I have offered up a
prayer to Iaso for her help. All
I can do is hope that it is heard and measured.
Please, Harry! Don't
ask me for anything more."
"You can't mean to
leave this as it is!"
They had reached the car
and Harry, being the gentleman that he was, opened her door and she slid
By the time he got around to the
driver's side and got in, she was gone.
The ocean rumbled in the background,
breakers slapping the shoreline as they finished their long journey.
The smell of seawater was heavy in the air, the water itself hidden
in fog. As much as he was
used to it, having sailed across both above and
beneath, Harry was always humbled by the immensity of the Pacific, endless
waves rolling in from the wavering horizon to an eternal rhythm.
The coast stretched away on both sides, golden sand
interspersed with clumps of the hardy vegetation that managed to survive
salt and air. Ghostly wisps
of vapor wrapped around his legs and rolled up towards the rocks that
formed the high tide line. An
occasional forlorn piece of kelp floated in, to throw itself onto the
This is where he came when he needed
to think a problem through. The
private beach was accessible to Institute staff only.
He had come here once before when her presence had angered and
frustrated him. Anger that he
had been feeling something he shouldn't, frustration that she kept herself
so tantalizingly close yet emotionally
distanced. It had all boiled
over to the desire that captured them both, only to see it threatened when
he'd made a demand too far of her.
The sand shifted under his feet.
Removing his jacket, Harry threw it over a nearby group of boulders
forming a granite necklace as they marched to the waterline.
He took off his cover and laid it carefully down, then stared back
out to sea again. His hands knotted into fists.
She'd come eventually, he was sure of it. Unless the stubbornness that matched his own won out.
He'd wait a few more minutes.
Stubbornness. Once he got hold of a problem or idea there was no stopping
him, if he believed what he was saying and feeling was true.
Meeting the Carters, seeing Galené interact with the child,
knowing what the goddess was capable of... he had certainly made
assumptions and spoken out of the heat of the moment.
she was capable of....
To his credit, he did not flinch when
the fingers curled around his wrist.
"I told someone once that I
didn't know what I saw in you. You're
impatient and stubborn and ill-tempered."
The voice came from behind him.
He closed his eyes for just an instant, and then turned.
"My emotions get the best of me sometimes.
At least they do where you're concerned."
She came forward and put her hands on
his chest. Another flicker of
electricity flowed through him.
"I am sorry that I cannot be
everything you think I should be, Harry.
You've just seen an example of how I can
fall short of expectations." The
fog rose up around them until there was only a cone-shaped opening facing
the sea. As soon as they were
closed in, she changed out of her human form to that of the goddess.
"You are a white knight, charging into battle, fighting the
dragons that threaten everything -- and everyone -- you care about.
But you cannot save everyone, Harry.
And neither can I. Come,
sit with me."
Harry looked over his shoulder, to see a fantastic array of
pillows, and low tables filled with serving dishes.
"Dinner is served," he added wryly.
Settling, he surveyed the various cold cuts, vegetables and fruit
that had magically appeared. "I
feel like a sultan at his table."
Galené picked up a large beaker of
wine and poured for both of them. "Let
us steal a few short hours more together, Harry.
Then, it will be back to our lives, the one that destiny has chosen
for me, and the one you are comfortable with -- and love
more than you care to admit."
He took the glass and stared towards
the fog. "It's been a
satisfying life. I never
wanted to do anything except join the Navy.
I made big plans from a young age; the
Academy, duty stations, special commands.
I was going to be Chief of Naval Operations someday," he said,
chuckling. "Along the
way science became more fascinating to me. I just wanted to know
more about what I couldn't see, or feel, or taste.
I got lucky; I met the right people, people who helped me put Seaview
together. It became
all-important, to see this dream of mine come true.
Since then I've been on a mission to explore realms that are at the
limit of human understanding."
She knew how to read a face.
"In the company of men. I
can't begrudge you that, nor would I want to change that for you."
She poured him another glass of wine, smiling at him with
affection. Going to her knees
she settled against him, leaning into his chest.
Harry focused on that word. What
would a continuing relationship be like with this woman? There would be nothing normal about it. Here one minute and gone the next -- the old trite phrase
fit. The word impossible threatened, but he refused to allow it into his
"It hasn't left room for much
else -- until now."
He turned to look intently at her. "I
could change, adjust to a new situation...we could be together...."
His voice trailed off, as if he was musing, thinking, contemplating
a million ways of doing something.
"Did you think I have been
asking for something in particular, Harry?"
"I don't think it
was you asking. I think it
"There's no need for either of us
to ask. I think we both know
the answer. Which makes it all the more delightful.
We can make the discoveries together." She looked up and they stared into each other's eyes, with no
thought of deception or untruth. "When
you love someone there's always the possibility that hurt will come, that
your heart will be broken. It's
almost like a weight on your back, one that you feel deep inside.
But along the way, if you're very lucky, that weight turns to
wings. And then you
finger traced a line along her cheekbone.
"Are we close to flying yet?"
close, my love." Galené
smiled as she kissed the tips of his trailing fingers and settled into him
again, gazing into the future.
The fog thinned a little and Harry
looked out to the water. A
pod of dolphins was making its way swiftly south. Harry felt the woman next to him quiver.
"You want to join them, don't you?" he asked softly.
"I don't conceal my feelings well, do I?"
"Not from me.” He
her to him again and kissed the side of her mouth, then as she arched into
him teased the rest of it with his tongue and his own lips.
Drawing her closer he nibbled
her ear, then moved to her jaw line as she curved herself like a cat to
receive every delicious sensation.
Moving upwards, he kissed her
eyelashes, reveling in the sensations he was inspiring.
Her lips found his, lustfully giving, taking, needing the
sensuous contact. They took
their fill of each other, aware of nothing outside the moment.
Her skin glowed warm under
his touch. She was real.
Not a façade, not an illusion.
And they were together.
be here when you get back."
Flushed with passion she pulled away
slowly, trailing a hand along the side of his face, smiling with gratitude
for his understanding before turning toward the watery depths.
She took some
long-limbed steps and threw herself into the cool water.
He caught a flash of bare green skin before she disappeared into
the waves, reappearing a half minute later with dolphins on either side.
got comfortable again on the pillows, sipping his wine.
The ocean purred and lapped a few yards away.
He watched her swim, lithe strokes that cut the water.
One of the dolphins broke the surface with a great slap, and she
followed suit, imitating the creature's jumps.
They dived below, disappearing in the foam.
Long minutes went by. Finally,
a good fifty yards out, she surfaced and waved to him, then swam closer,
the dolphins cutting in and out in front of her.
One last great leap brought her fully
out of the water, spinning like a top, her hair whipping around her like
flames on a witch's cauldron, her face beaming with incandescent joy.
This was her natural habitat, her shelter.
Could he take a sea nymph from her familiar surroundings and make
her happy? Time was what they
needed now, time to understand and explore.
Something pulled him from his dreams,
dreams of Galené in his arms, her silken hair draped across the pillows
as he stared into her eyes. Her
fingers dug into his arms as he demanded her kisses, kisses at first soft
and then strongly urgent as she responded.
But this wasn't a dream. He
was replaying the events of the past evening, when they had made love into
the early hours of the morning, their mutual desire flash-born, like
striking sparks. There had
been urgency to it; she had drawn him to the bedroom as soon as they'd
driven back from the beach, practically tearing his clothes
from his body as they tumbled into bed.
She had been grasping, pleading, wantonly taking and generous in
her giving. Harry had fallen asleep, spent and fulfilled.
The dream faded with the realization
he was alone in the bed. He
opened his eyes then.
She was standing at the window, arms
crossed, staring out to sea. Her
hair hung long down her back, the ends silent.
That was enough. What
he had thought about the day before cracked and disappeared.
There would be no time, at least for now. He propped himself up on his elbows. "You're leaving."
She spoke without turning around.
"Someone else whose life you
need to save?"
Her head settled back on her neck,
and she sighed deeply. "Something
"When will you come back?"
She took a deep breath,
deliberately remaining away from him
as she heard the confidence in his soft inquiry.
"As soon as I can. But
remember I am never
more than a dream away, my love."
Her resolve to avoid contact failed.
She moved to slide in beside him, settling into his embrace.
"How I wish that was true,"
he murmured, brushing his lips over her forehead, sending hot blood
coursing through her veins. She loved hearing him whisper, the low rumble that was
his beautiful baritone modulating to a tone that was for her ears only.
"It is as true as I can make
"Being in love with a sea
goddess does present its challenges," he said with
a small grin, and was gratified when he felt the sides of her face
curl up in a smile.
"There are responsibilities I
face every day. You have the
same. Neither one of us can
step back from what we feel is our commitment to make the world a better
He searched for words, knowing the
truth of what she was saying. If they were to fly, both would have to make accommodations.
The knowledge that the future could be theirs blossomed.
He pulled her closer. "I've
come to believe that there are some things that don't require
I will always want you, when I can have you."
He drew her away so that he could bring her hands to his lips.
The simple gesture quickened her
heartbeat. She replied in a
voice filled with desire. "I'll
be back soon, my love. I want
to be with you as much as you want to be with me.
So I will do all that I can to keep this promise."
Slowly, tentatively, she touched his
lips with hers, then kissed him more urgently as need rose up on a wave of
passion. Her breath shortened
as he crushed her to his chest and rolled over in the bed until she was
above him, her hair a waterfall about them both.
Their eyes held each other as they floated together on a roller
coaster of emotions. Her lips played under his
jaw. He wove his fingers into
her hair, pushing the curls behind her ears, then pulled her down and
kissed the warm skin beneath her earlobes.
As her breath stuttered in tiny gasps his kisses continued, moving
from her ears to the nape of her neck, then to the shadows between her
breasts. This was not to be an ending, not a goodbye.
She loved him. And he had said he loved her, accepting all that she was.
slow, knowing smile transformed her face.
"We will lie together, and then you will sleep.
You will awake refreshed and ready to
conquer the world again. All that I ask is that you keep me in your heart – safe in
your heart until I return. You
will, won't you?"
crushing kiss was her answer.
They popped out of their respective
cars together, Lee and Angie, and stared at the automobile in the
admiral's spot. Angie was the
first to give voice to what they were both thinking.
"I can't believe he's here.
Do you think they had an argument?
I wanted this to happen for him, Lee.
She seemed so nice...and I could tell she really cared about him.
And he felt the same way, believe me."
Lee smiled grimly.
The nagging doubt pushed to the surface of his mind again. I
hope you're right, he thought. "Let's
go see, shall we?"
Crossing the outer office quickly,
Lee knocked and opened the door. The
admiral was sitting at his desk, his face untroubled, ruffling through
paperwork, dictating into his machine.
"Morning, you two.
Jiggs at 1000, I believe, Angie?"
"Yes, sir," Angie replied,
casting a sideways glance at Lee.
"Put him through as soon as he
She hesitated for a moment. Was
it her place to ask? She
looked at Lee, mentally sending the thought to him.
She'd find out more later. "I'll
bring in your coffee, sir. Would
you like something, Lee?
"Coffee will do just fine,
Angie." He waited until
she had closed the door, and then said, "Got a minute, Admiral?"
Harry looked up abruptly, his
emotions torn, then grinned as another thought struck him. He could hear Galené talking to him, even then.
Harry, choices. It's all in
how we end things, not how we start them.
"Of course, lad, sit down.
I think it's time to discuss the schedule for the week, don't you?
We're somewhat behind," Harry said, pulling the papers on his
desk closer to himself. "I
see that Carter in Facilities is still dealing with that nagging
electrical problem. Got any
ideas on that one, Lee?"
Lee had been prepared to discuss
anything. That the admiral
seemed his old self was comforting. Lee
liked it when Nelson was happy. Hell,
everybody did. Galené
brought that out in him, at least.
"Well, sir, that whole building
needs its electrical grid replaced. It
hasn't had any real upgrades since the 50s.
Little repairs aren't going to cut it.
I suggest that as our next big project."
Harry's mouth formed a smile as he watched his captain and friend.
Lee was itching to ask but good manners and maybe a little
reluctance to upset his CO tied his tongue.
"She'll be back, Lee. Just
thought you'd like to know."
you're sure about it, then I'll believe it. "I'm glad to hear it,
"Okay. Have Carter draw up the Procurement Request."
He pulled up a binder and flipped it open.
"Let me throw something at you in regards to that cockamamie
idea that Jiggs has for these design specs."
Harry began shaking his head vigorously, staring down at the page.
"It boggles the mind what those boys in the Pentagon think is
Back to business as usual.
I arise from
dreams of thee
I arise from
dreams of thee,
And a spirit in my
Hath led me -- who
To thy chamber
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