Commander Lee Crane stood nervously adjusting his tie. He wished that he had never agreed to take part in the Institutes Valentine Charity Auction. He must have been crazy to let Nelson talk him into it. Although he would never admit to it, he'd always been a bit shy with women. He’d never really had time for a relationship, his career had always got in the way. Right now he wished he was back aboard Seaview. Captaining the world’s most powerful submarine was child’s play compared to this.
There were almost two hundred and fifty people out there, mostly women, who had all paid to come and bid for a weekend with the man of their choice. Every penny of the money raised would go to charity. What really worried Lee was who would bid for him. He was aware that many of the Institute's ladies and their friends were in attendance. Lee hoped upon hope that the successful bidder would be someone he didn't know. It would be less embarrassing.
There was no going back now, Lee heard his name called and forced himself to walk out onto the stage. The bright lights made it difficult to see the faces of the audience, seated at the tables. What made it worse was the fact that Nelson was was out there, supporting the function with his sister Edith and his Administrative Assistant Angie. But did his XO have to attend this humiliation? Chip Morton had escaped being part of the auction, to the disappointment of many of the female staff at the institute, but that wouldn't stop his friend from rubbing it in to Lee's discomfiture.
The bidding was up to $500.00. Eyes scanning the tables nearest the stage, Lee thought he caught sight of Tracey Stewart. The last time they had met he had almost ended up killing her. That was one mission he would rather forget. But what was she doing here? A woman as attractive and intelligent as Tracey Stewart should not need to buy a date. He caught sight of Nelson, embarassed for Lee when Edith blew him a loud smoochy kisss. The bid was up to $1,000.00 from the back of the room. Who on earth would be willing to part with that much money for a date with him? It was ludicrous. And far more frightening than anything he'd dealt with aboard Seaview.
Rachel Burrows hadn’t intended to bid so much for a date with the handsome Captain Crane. But this was an opportunity that she may never get again; truth be told she had no idea what she would do if she won the bid. She had been crazy about Crane as a schoolgirl but Lee had never given her any encouragement. Now she would get the chance to satisfy her curiosity as to whether he was as sexy as he always appeared.
Lee's mother was seated with her, obviously very proud of her son. Rachel had been a little surprised when Lee’s mother had invited both she and Tracey to attend the auction as her guests. But it was for charity, and it was a known fact that Mrs. Crane had vainly tried her hand at gettng her son to find wife for some years now, in spite of his views to the contrary.
When Lee had walked out on that stage in full dress uniform, neither girl could help falling for him all over again. Their classmates would be green with envy if they could see them now.
The bid had gone to $1100 from the front. This was getting serious. Rachel hesitated to raise the bid higher; that was an awful lot of money, even for a date with Lee Crane. However, she had come this far and she didn’t want him to get away this time.
“You can’t stop now,” Mrs Crane encouraged her.
Rachel could hardly believe it when minutes later she had won the bidding.
“Congratulations, dear,” Mrs Crane smiled, raising her glass.
Aboard Seaview, Lee sat in the Observation Nose, nursing a cup of coffee, although he could have used something stronger. He'd left the auction as soon as the bidding had finished, aghast when he'd discovered whom had won the bid. No doubt his mother was involved some way. It was a lot of money for a hotel receptionist to have spared.
Standing, he put down the cup and moved forward to windows. The dock was quiet at this time of day, with just the security guards patrolling.
His thoughts returned to the first time he’d come aboard; he hadn’t exactly made himself popular with the crew. He hadn’t known then that his temporary assignment to Seaview would change his life forever. Now he wouldn't even want to return to the active Navy to command any other vessel.
Turning back to the interior of the control room, he started to climb the ladder topside. After all, one weekend with Rachel couldn’t be that acrimonious and afterwards they would go their separate ways and he would never have to see her again.
Maybe he could pursude Chip to go with him for a drink before he headed home and the dreaded weekend.
Rachel was a little disappointed when the limo picked her up from her hotel; she had expected Lee to come himself. Still the evening was just beginning, she had the entire evening to look forward to. Smiling at the driver, she slid into the back seat and settled into the plush leather upholstery. She had dreamed of this for a long time, though she knew Lee had been coerced into it. Perhaps even ordered by Admiral Nelson himself. No, that couldn't be true but what if it were?
Her musings stopped when the driver stopped at the Nelson Institute's gate and spoke to the guard before proceeding to the Administration building. Lee was coming down the steps just as the limo pulled up. The driver got out and opened the door for him.
“Good evening, George."
“Good evening, Captain,” the driver replied, holding the door open.
Rachel’s heart skipped a beat as Lee joined her in the back of the car. Dressed in black pants, white shirt and dinner jacket, was it possible that they emphasised his tan and black hair? Either way, he looked gorgeous.
“Good evening, Miss Burrows,” he smiled politely.
“Oh, for goodness sake, Lee, call me Rachel."
“I hope you're hungry; we have reservations at Rose’s Landing,” he told her.
“Great, I love seafood,” Rachel beamed, delighted, wondering if he's chosen it or if Mrs. Crane or Nelson had.
“I’m glad you approve,” he smiled, “My XO said it was good.”
“Are you always on duty?”
“Sorry, force of habit," he grinned sheepishly.
“So, what does the Captain of Seaview do to relax?”
“What's that?" he laughed. "Not part of my job description…but seriously, I rarely do have time to just let go."
Rachel loved his soft New England accent, his little 'r's soft and fuzzy. Maybe after a meal and some wine he would soften up evan a bit more. “But surely you must get some time off?”
“Yes, of course. But my private life is pretty boring."
“I’d hardly call Captaining the Seaview boring."
“Oh no, never! She's a dream, she…ahh, I'm sorry.Classified."
“I like a bit of mystery, it makes life more interesting."
“And what about you, Rachel, what are you doing here in Santa Barbara?”
“I was invited,” she answered carefully. "I could hardly turn down such a tempting invitation, now could I?”
"Let me guess. My Mom?"
“Then I take it that there is no-one special in your life either?”
"My Mom, the matchmaker."
"She's very proud of you and you've accomplished so much with your life."
Lee looked embarrassed, and then seemed to relax. “I suppose Chip Morton has been telling you tales?”
“Angie & Edith actually,” Rachel smiled.
Lee groaned, and shook his head. “Heaven help me. Those two are impossible.”
“Poor you, it must be difficult, having so many women chasing after you? And here I get to have you all to myself,” she laughed," at least for the weekend."
However much Rachel had heard about Seaview, none of it came close to reality as Crane agreed to take her below with him. The floodlit dock added to the atmosphere. She looked like something from a movie set. A make-believe world of secrets and romance. Lee had wanted to take her back to her hotel, but she'd persuaded him to give her a tour.
“Watch your step,” he cautioned as he escorted her through the Sail Hatch and down into the interior of the sub.
Rachel felt almost as if she should tiptoe so as not to intrude into the silent world unfolding before her.
“This is the control room,” Lee informed her.
Rachel nodded, her attention taken by the appearance of a guard from the aft hatch.
“Captain Crane, sir,” the guard almost saluted, in spite of Crane's civies.
“Evening Jordan; take a turn topside would you?”
“Aye aye, Sir."
Rachel returned her attention to her surroundings. There was a lot more space than what she had expected, and she had never seen windows in a submarine. They drew her forward for a closer look. “Wow, Lee – this is fantastic.”
For a long moment she stood looking out into the darkness beyond the lights reach. “What’s it like, out there under the sea?”
“Fascinating, beautiful, dangerous,” Lee’s voice sounded wistful.
"You've always liked danger," Rachel turned around. Lee was still standing near the staircase, watching her. For as long as she could remember, he had wanted to be a sub captain. But who would have thought that he would become Captain of the most powerful submarine on or below the ocean. “Well, Lee – I’m impressed.”
Lee grinned; those golden-brown eyes made her heart melt. And his smile held a hint of mischief.
“Come on. I’ll give you the grand tour,” he offered.
“Best offer I’ve had since I arrived."
Descending some of the ladders in a cocktail dress was not easy, and she'd been forced to remove her shoes before doing so at times. As Lee waited at the bottom of another ladder she straightened her dress, again, and slipped her feet back into her shoes. “This way,” he led her down the corridor.
“How big is this thing?” she asked.
"Very big," Lee laughed, enjoying himself, welcoming the rare opportunity to show her off, and Rachel seemed genuinely interested. The whole evening had been surprisingly pleasant. Rachel was an attractive woman, he studied her again, her glossy caramel brown hair elegantly styled and complimented by her chocolate coloured crushed velvet dress. She looked almost good enough to eat. Yet in all the years that they had known one another, he'd never given her a second look. He wasn’t ready for serious relationship yet, but maybe one day… “Would you like some coffee? There should be some in the Wardroom," he opened the door.
“Yes, thank you. That would be nice."
“Sit down and I’ll get it, how do you like it? We've got sugar, sugar substitute, sorry about the pun," he laughed, "half and half, real cream, or even milk."
“Black with two sugars, please.”
“I hope you’ve had a good time,” he said as he set about getting their drinks ready.
“Yes, it’s been lovely, thank you.”
Lee had to remind himself that this hadn't been a date. Rachel had paid for his company and was a guest of the Institute. For one of the few times in his life he was stumped as to what to say next.
Although they had grown up together in the same town, and attended the same schools until he went off to Annapolis, he had never really known her. Her family owned a small hotel, and Rachel had helped out at weekends. He couldn't imagine being stuck behind a desk all day. He had enough of paperwork as it was.
“You’ve gone very quiet, what are you thinking about?”
“Sorry, it’s a bad habit."
“You don’t have to apologise,” Rachel smiled across the table. "You seemed miles away."
“Just remembering the past…I'm afraid I'm not being a very good host.”
“Don’t be silly. I’m having a wonderful time. Diner was great, and now I have you all to myself, what more could a girl ask for?”
Lee felt himself blush. “It’s getting late, maybe I should take you back to your hotel,” he told her.
“You mean the tour's finished already?"
“No, but I thought you might be getting bored."
"Never," she smiled.
“All right,” he smiled, almost rubbing his hands. The grand tour he'd promised and he always kept his promises.
She hadn’t wanted this evening to end. “Good night, and thanks for a wonderful evening,” she said, giving Lee a quick kiss on the cheek as he stood with her by the limo at the hotel's entrance.
“Let me walk you to your room."
“Thank you. I’d like that,” very much, she thought silently, welcoming the chance of a few extra minutes with him.
Rachel collected her key from the front desk and they took the elevator up to her floor. The corridor was quiet as Rachel led the way to her room and stopped outside. “Do I get a goodnight kiss?” she asked.
“I suppose one kiss won’t hurt," he held her close.
She closed her eyes as their lips touched, and reached up to put an arm around his neck. Her head began to spin and her legs turned to jelly until they were forced to come up for air. Wow, could he ever kiss. “Would you like to come in for a nightcap?” she asked, with just a hint of something else.
“Thank you no, I’d better go. I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said, taking a backward step. “Good night, Rachel.”
“Good night, Lee," she watched him until he stepped into the elevator. She couldn’t help feeling dissapointed that he'd turned her invitation down. The room might be beautifully decorated, but the king sized bed was going to be awfully lonely. At least she had tomorrow to look forward to. And hope.
Lee awoke that night to find himself naked on a king sized bed, his wrists secured to the ornate metal bedstead. Where was he? And what the hell was going on? He struggled against the leather straps holding his wrists firm.
As if in answer, the door to the en-suite opened and Rachel emerged.
“Awake at last,” she smiled. “I thought you were going to sleep all day.”
“Where am I? What's going on? How did I get here?" he shouted, angry.
“Ssssh, no talking,” she answered seductively, walking towards the bed, letting her robe slip from her shoulders, to reveal that she was wearing nothing underneath.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Lee asked, struggling against the leather straps.
“Relax Lee, I’m sure you will enjoy it,” she said, climbing onto the bed. Kneeling over him, pinning his legs she reached out and gently took his manhood in her hand.
Lee tensed, not used to feeling so vulnerable. And embarassed. “Rachel, please untie me.”
“Don’t you like it?” she asked, briefly lifting her gaze, continuing to caress him.
"Uh…aaahhh…Owww, yes - but not here. Not like this." Her touch had already flooded his body with arousing sensations and nature had taken over, his reaction exactly what she'd expected.
“I’ve never seen a man aroused,” she mused, continuing to stroke and tease. “Am I doing it right?”
“Rachel...please, stop… this is all wrong…and if you don’t stop...I won’t be able to control myself.” He gasped. He was getting close to the brink.
“But that's what I want to happen. Just a little longer, love,” she smiled. “Would you like me to touch you here?” Her fingers touched his scrotum.
“Rachel, Stop it! Stop it!” he shouted as his body betrayed him.
Someone was knocking on the door as he shouted his shame. Suddenly Lee opened his eyes, his mind was still half immersed in the dream. 'Oh thank God," he muttered, stumbling out of bed, pulling on his robe, and headed for the door. His apartment was flooded with daylight and he looked at his watch.
"0800?" he asked himself as he opened the door, finding Chip Morton, his face concerned.
“Are you okay? I heard shouting as soon as I got here."
“Yeah, yeah. I’m fine. Bad dream. Overslept. Come in.”
“Why don’t you put some coffee on while I take a shower.” A very cold shower, he thought as he headed to the bathroom.
The smell of coffee greeted him as Lee wandered into the kitchen.
“Well, just what did you get up to last night?” Chip asked with a mischievous grin.
“Just dinner and a tour of the boat,” Lee told him, sitting down at the breakfast bar.
“Nothing else?” Chip teased as he placed a mug of coffee down in front of Lee.
Lee rubbed his eyes and ran a hand through his damp hair. “No, nothing,” he said emphatically.
“So why do you look like you’ve been up all night?”
Lee sipped his coffee, still contemplating the dream. “I didn’t sleep very well. And before you say anything, I went to bed alone.”
“Maybe that’s the problem."
Lee yawned. “Will you knock it off? I have to spend today with her too, and I have no idea what I’m going to do, or where I am going to take her.”
“I find that hard to believe. You only have to look at her," he waved his arms in a parabola.
Lee glared at him. “You know what I mean.”
“Go for it, Lee. Hell you’ve known her long enough from what I've heard. Your mom likes her too."
"I don't have time for an actual relationship and you know it. And keep my Mom out of it will you?"
“Okay. So why don’t you take her up in FS1? I'm sure the boss won't mind. After all getting you to volunteer ," he snorted, "should count for something. Bound to impress the hell out of her. Why not fly down to Tampa. Isn’t the Gasparilla Festival on this weekend? With any luck she’ll be carried off by a pirate and your problems will be solved,” Chip grinned wickedly.
“Oh, yeah, The Admiral would just love that,” Lee retaliated, irritated by Chip’s light hearted attitude.
"Look Lee, she'll be happy where ever you take her. In case you hadn’t noticed, she’s crazy about you.”
“That’s what worries me,” Lee confessed, staring into his mug, hoping for inspiration.
“You are joking, aren't you?”
Lee looked up. “This isn’t just a date, she is a guest of the Institute."
"I get it. You fancy her and you're afraid that something might happen between you two.”
Lee felt himself blush. Maybe Chip was right. Shaking his head, he looked at his watch. “I’m going to be late.”
“Leave it to me. I’ll go on ahead and make sure FS1 is prepped, and I’ll have a car pick you up in 30 minutes.”
“Thank, Chip,” Lee watched his friend depart, wondering just what he was letting himself in for.
Rachel had butterflies in her stomach as she settled herself into the co-pilot seat aboard FS1. She had never experienced anything like this and was not sure that she wanted to. But her nervousness was almost forgotten as Lee leaned close to help her buckle up.
His very nearness sent a flood of desire through her. She lifted her gaze to look into those ever changing golden brown eyes. “Where are we going?”
“It’s a surprise,” he told her, looking extremely pleased with himself.
Rachel smiled, but made no comment; excited and a little apprehensive, about to be whisked away to an unknown destination. But,after last night's failure, if things went as planned, they would be getting to know each other a lot better before the day was concluded.
The Flying Sub was coming to life as Lee flicked on various switches. “Ready? he asked.
Rachel nodded as the bright yellow craft sank below the water. A whole new world opened out in front of her, and she forgot her apprehension. A shoal of brightly coloured fish darted away as they approached. Slowly the colour of the water changed from aquamarine to blue as the light declined. “How deep are we?” she asked.
“We are approaching 600 feet,” Lee replied. “Once we go below around 650, it will get a lot darker.”
Rachel kept her gaze fixed on the view, not wanting to miss anything. A few minutes later they were headed back to the surface and Rachel wondered what Lee was doing as their speed seemed to increase as the craft approached the surface. Then suddenly they were airborne and climbing into an almost clear sky.
Rachel turned to look at Lee and found him watching her with a grin. She shook her head. He was like a boy with a new toy. She still did not know where they were headed. “How long will it take to get there?” she asked.
The sound of his voice did things to her insides. She watched him, his strong hands holding the controls as they levelled off. His eyes looked ahead, his attention on flying. She still couldn’t believe that this was happening, but she intended to enjoy every minute.
The Flying Sub arched across the clear blue sky. Below, the ocean sparkled in the sunlight. It was a magical flight; nothing she had experienced. She could swear she could even smell the ocean. Soon they were their descent, and as the craft skimmed the surface, she could see a chain of small islands, ringed by almost white sandy beaches and pristine clear water.
"That one, our own deserted island,” Lee said."I’ll beach the Flying Sub and we can step straight out onto the sand."
This was more than she could ever have hoped for; just the two of them, alone together, an island all to themeselves. A thrill ran through her; she wanted him, all of him. And she was going to have him.
Lee swung round in his seat and stood. “Ready?”
“Yes,” Rachel smiled, unfastening the belt.
Lee moved to the bunk and opened the locker. “I’ve brought lunch,” he announced, producing a cooler.
“Lead the way,” Rachel said, removing the flight jacket that he had insisted that she wear, and hung it over the back of the chair, while he opened the rear hatch.
Lee took her arm and helped her out onto the soft sand.
“I wish you’d told me. I would have worn my bikini,” she complained.
“Sorry, I wanted it to be a surprise.” Lee had to admit that he wished that she had worn a bikini too. She was a very attractive woman.
They walked up the beach and he spread a blanket he had taken from the locker onto the sand. He watched Rachel sink down onto the blanket and stretch out her long legs.
“Is this island really deserted?” she asked.
“Yes, apart from the wildlife,” he answered, sitting down beside her.
“Wildlife?” she asked, turning to stare at him in alarm.
“Don’t worry,” Lee laughed. “It’s perfectly safe."
Rachel shrugged and lay back on the blanket.
Lee opened the cooler, taking out a bottle of wine and two glasses, handing one to her.
Rachel sat up. “Umm, I could get used to this,” she commented, taking the glass as he poured.
"With no electricity or sanitation? You'd have to survive on whatever the island provided."
“I can dream, can’t I?”
“Yes, of course,” he smiled before taking a sip of his wine. He took a moment to study her. She had kicked off her shoes, and shaken her hair loose. Maybe this hadn't been such a good idea, bringing her to an island alone with him.
“You’ve gone very quiet. Is something wrong?” Rachel asked.
“No, everything is fine,” he told her, not quite sure of what to do next.
“You said the island is safe. How? Have you explored it before?”
“A little. Seaview's been here twice before. We brought a team of botanists from the Institute to spend several months here."
“Come on, let’s explore it again, anyway,” she suggested, climbing to her feet.
“Are you hungry?” Lee asked as they returned to their picnic some time later.
“Umm, starving,” Rachel replied, settling herself on the blanket.
Even that simple reply sounded seductive to Crane, so he returned his attention to the picnic. Knowing his love of seafood, the cafeteria had prepared lobster salad, crab cakes, brown bread, cheese and potato chips and a chocolate and walnut cake.
“It all looks wonderful," she said.
“Complements of the Nelson Institute."
Lee couldn't help noticing her bright smile and real enthusiasm for life. He was certainly enjoying her company.
“Aren't you going to join me?” she asked, interrupting his thoughts. She smiled, spiked a piece of lobster with her fork, holding it out to him.
Lee accepted the bite, and smiled back, thoughts of how well the cafeteria had done just about vanished as his attention was on her.
They finished the lobster in no time, washing it down it down with the wine. This was a very romantic setting and Rachel did not want it to end. She debated trying to persuade him to spend the night on the island. She didn't have to return until morning and would have plenty of time to catch her flight.
“Desert?” Lee asked.
Rachel gave him a mischievous smile. “Maybe later. Right now there is something else I want,” she leaned across and kissed him.
He reacted instinctively, his arm circling her waist, pulling her closer. As their lips had touched, she'd closed her eyes. They sank down onto the blanket. His fingers were tangled in her hair. Her whole body pulsed with desire. She wanted him to touch her, every part of her. She wrapped her arm around his neck. “Lee,” she whispered, while her other hand tugged at his shirt. One of his hands moved down, caressing her breast through the fabric of her dress.
But Lee abruptly pulled free from her and sat up. “Rachel I’m sorry. This is a mistake."
“No, Lee; it’s all right,” she encouraged. “Please, Lee. I want you. Really I do.”
“I can’t. Not like this. We hardly know each other.”
Pain stabbed at her heart. He'd refused her after… She choked back the tears that burned her eyes. Disappointed and embarrassed, she scrambled to her feet and started to run blindly down the beach.
She couldn’t face him. She felt totally humiliated now and just wanted to get away from him. Reaching the water she waded in until the waves knocked her off her feet and she started to swim.
“Rachel, come back,” Lee yelled, chasing after her.
She glanced back to see that Lee had reached the shallows. Minutes later, he was beside her, his strong arms around her waist, pulling her back.
“Leave me alone,” she spluttered, taking a mouthful of water.
“Don’t be stupid,” he told her, swimming them back towards the beach. As soon as he could touch the sand, he scoped her up into his arms and carried her back to the beach and blanket. “What on earth do you think you were you doing?” he removed his soaking shirt and tossed it aside.
“It was the only way to get your clothes off," she said after a moment.
He wasn't sure if she was joking. But seeing her gaze drawn to the tanned skin of his chest, he knew otherwise. Droplets of water dripped from his wet hair as he knelt beside her.
“There are some towels and more blankets in the Flying Sub."
Before he could return to the craft, Rachel sat up and silently started to remove her wet clothes. “Don't you understand I want you,” she whispered, grabbing his hands, placing them on her breasts. Her nipples peaked at his touch. This time, he didn't pull away. He found himself kissing her, hands kneading her breasts,his thumbs stroking the hardened nipples. Electric sensations ran through her. She wanted more. “Ohh, Lee,” she breathed, her hands exploreing his muscular back. “More, more, oh more”, she whimpered, clinging to him. He lowered his head to take one nipple in his mouth while his other hand almost moved of it's own accord downwards, down, to the flower of her most intimate of places. When his finger entered her, she gripped it desperate for fulfilment. “Ohh, Lee – now! Do it now,” she pleaded. Her hands groped the wet material of his pants. She felt his manhood respond to her touch and he groaned.
"I shouldn't be doing this," but her provocative touch made him want more. His tongue tormented the hard nipples and he sucked greedily.
“Ohh, Lee, take me, take me,” she pleaded.
He moved his fingers more deeply inside her, find the centre of her passion.
“Oww, yes,” she encouraged.
Her leg moved against his and her hands moved delightfully over his body, unzipping the material trapping his engorged member.
Stop it, stop it, stop it, the voice in his head reminded him that he was not his own man here. He was representing the Institute. Representing Nelson. There would be hell to pay, if only to himself, if he caved into his passions. No, lust. Simple, primal lust. That's what it was. Even the stupid dream had been erotic if unwelcome. It took all of his will power to stop and get to his feet.
“No, Lee – don’t stop! What's wrong? I want you! Don't you want to make love to me?”
“I’m sorry, Rachel. I can't," he zipped himself up, the bulge in his pants almost painful to look at and giving lie to his words.
“Just give us a chance,” she begged. “I love you, I’ve always loved you.”
“That's impossible. We barely know each other. It's lust, that's all it is. You know there's only one lady in my life, surely Mom warned you. Seaview's got my heart. I'm not ready to commit to a relationship. It wouldn't be fair to you. I'm sorry I let my..my..male instincts get the better of me."
"I wouldn't have minded."
"But I do."
"Well, I guess I can’t compete with your stupid honor and submarine!" she pouted, pulling back on the wet clothes and blanket over herself as she headed to the flying sub, leaving Lee to gather up the picnic supplies and time to cool down his private parts.
Standing in front of the mirror in her hotel bathroom later, wrapped in a towelling robe, Rachel studied the image looking back at her. Conscious that Lee would be picking her up in thirty minutes, for the last of their 'commitment', she smoothed moisturiser over her face and neck and left the bathroom to dress.
The pant suit was lying on the bed ready. Remembering the difficulties she’d had on her last visit to Seaview, she had decided on a pair of red leather court shoes with gilt trim. She had been really lucky to find them and they fit perfectly. She loved shopping, but common sense had prevailed and she had settled for just one outfit.
Returning to the bathroom, she applied her makeup and brushed her hair, leaving it loose. As a finishing touch she applied a gloss over her lip-stick. A very special lip gloss. It had some very interesting properties, her studies in herbology had taught her, along with a mild narcotic to 'help things along'. For she wasn’t ready to give up on Lee yet. Turning, she checked the finished result in the mirror. Satisfied, she returned to the bedroom and popped the gloss into her handbag in case she needed to re-apply.
She was almost ready; all she needed now were a few more things. She slipped the blue glass bottle into her bag, along with a miniature bottle of brandy infused with Wisteria extract. If it worked on Lee, he would be helpless to resist her wants.
After their last meal together in Seaview's Wardroom, Lee suggested that they have coffee in the Observation Nose. As they made their way forward, Lee took her hand and she felt a tremble of excitement. Lee had been the perfect host, kind, considerate, handsome and unattached. However, it was quite obvious that she didn’t have a part in his future plans.
The Control Room and Observation Nose were just as amazing as the first time she’d seen them, even with most of the instruments swithched off
A pot of coffee, and 2 cups awaited them. She smiled as she walked towards the table. “Shall I pour?” she offered. With her back to Lee, she placed her bag on the table, retrieved the blue bottle and poured the brandy into a cup, then topped it up with coffee, before pouring herself a cup. “I’ve had a wonderful week-end, thank you.” She returned to face him, handing him the coffee.
“My pleasure,” he smiled and took a sip fof the coffee. “Hmm, great coffee, Cookie must be using a different brand.”
Rachel smiled and sipped her own coffee as she watched him – god the man was gorgeous! She had been surprised that he had agreed to dinner aboard Seaview after events on the island. She had expected him to take her some place more public, if even. She'd been surprised he was going to honor his auction duty to the finish. If only she had a few more days. “Life is certainly going to seem dull after this,” she said, thinking aloud.
“When are you leaving?” he asked.
“Tomorrow,” Rachel turned and walked forward to look out of the windows. She didn’t want to think about tomorrow, she wanted this evening to last forever.
“Rachel, I know things went bad on the island, but..is something else wrong?”
She felt his hand on her arm and turned to look into his captivating eyes . Oh those chamelian eyes. “No, of, course not,” she forced a smile. "I understand completely."
“You must be tired. I’ll take you back to your hotel,” he offered, taking the cup from her and returning it to the table.
“No, please – not yet.”
Lee shook his head. “What am I going to do about you?” he smiled, slipping a 'brotherly' arm around her.
Looking up into those eyes, Rachel had to fight to keep control. She was heads over heels in love. It had to be love, not the smutty kind of lust Lee had chosen to call imply. Taking a step closer, she slipped an arm around him and snuggled close; it felt good to be in his arms. “You know, Lee, there is one place you didn't show me on my grand tour.
“I don’t think that would be a good idea,” he knew darn well she meant his cabin.
Rachel took a step back to look back over her shoulder at the hatch. “Well, I do."
Before he had time to react she turned and ran towards the hatch. If should couldn’t find his cabin, maybe she could find somewhere else suitable for what she had in mind.
Admiral Nelson put down the radio message he’d been reading and called “Come,” in response to the knock on his office door.
“Chip Morton is here, Admiral,” his secretary announced from the door.
“Chip, come in,” Nelson greeted Seaview’s exec. “I’m sorry to cut short your weekend, but this is an emergency,” he continued.
“What sort of emergency, Sir?” Morton asked, walking towards the Admiral’s desk.
“There has been a quake in the East Pacific and the Nazca Lab has been damaged,"he explained. “Round up as many of the crew as possible and prepare Seaview for departure as soon as feasable.”
“Yes, Admiral. I’ll get right on it,” Morton nodded and turned on his heels to leave.
“Oh, and Mr Morton?"
“Get Captain Crane. Tell him to get back here right away.”
Lee started down the ladder after Rachel when he suddenly felt a wave of dizziness. Losing his footing, he felt himself falling.He tried to grab the rail but missed. A few seconds later he hit the deck hard. He heard Rachel call to him, then everything went black.
“Lee, can you hear me?”
Through a haze of pain, Lee opened his eyes and tried to get up, but fell back with an involuntary groan as everything started to spin.
“Lee, are you hurt?” Rachel asked, gently touching his arm.
He heard someone coming. Who? He wondered. Everything seemed hazy and he couldn’t think straight.
“Oh, thank heavens you’re here, Commander Morton,” Rachel was saying.
“Chip,” Lee managed weekly. He felt like he had a hang-over, but that was impossible.
“He fell,” Rachel told Chip.
“Lee, are you okay?” Chip asked.
“Dizzy...don’t think I can stand,” Lee admitted.
“Stay there, I’ll see if Doc is aboard yet, we're recalling everyone we can. Emergency mission,” Chip explained to Rachel. "I'm sorry if things are going to be cut short for you."
Rachel was still beside Lee, watching him. She looked scared and he gave her a reassuring smile. “It’s okay, Rachel,” he told her.
Jamieson arrived with a Corpsman and a stretcher. “Captain,” he greeted, “Chip said you took a dive downthe ladder; hurt anywhere?"
“Don’t think so…just so damned dizzy."
“Umm, you are lucky,” Jamieson commented after poking and prodding as he knelt beside him. "I don't believe anything's broken."
“Come on, Rachel. I’ll have somone from Admin. take you back to your hotel,” Chip said, taking her arm.
“No, please – I want to stay with Lee,” she protested. "I need to stay with him."
“Rachel, I’m fine," Lee assured her. “Go on with Chip.”
"No, please, don’t send me away!” she cried.
“I need to get the Captain to sickbay,” Jamieson signalled the Corpsman to place the stretcher next to Lee.
“I don’t need a stretcher!” Lee complained. It was bad enough that he had to go to sickbay, without being carried there. And in front of a woman. “I’m sorry Rachel. I guess neither of us has a choice."
“Well?” Lee asked Jamison, looking up from his sickbay bunk.
“Well, minus blood test results yet, I'd say you're suffering from the effects of too many pink elephants."
“That’s ridiculous, I have only had one glass of wine. My only other drinks were coffee."
“There's only one other option, Captain. Your wine must have been spiked."
“No, it’s impossible,” Lee said. He could not believe that Rachel would actually go that far, just to get him into bed.
“What’s impossible?” Jamieson asked impatiently, frowning at him. “If there is something I should know about, Lee, tell me. It might be important.”
“Rachel may have put something in my wine or coffee,” he blushed, hesitant, “She’s been trying to..to…well, if you must know, most of our time together, she's been trying to seduce me.”
"What?" Jamieson was agog. Oh, he knew most females were head over heels with the image of Crane at first sight, but so far none had actually tried anything quite so…blatent. "Well, you’re secret is safe with me, Captain. Now let’s check that blood test, just to be sure.…"
“What happened to him ? Is he all right?” Nelson raced into sickbay.
“I’m fine, Admiral,” Lee told him; smiling at his commanding officer and boss. Having everyone fuss over him was something that Lee was getting used to. But he did wish that it would happen to someone else for a change.
“Doc?” Nelson turned his attention to Jamieson, clearly not convinced by Lee’s standard answer for everything from cracked ribs to concussions.
“He had a fall. Nothing's broken. A few bruises, some contusions. But I have no problem clearing him for duty tomorrow.”
Nelson looked from Jamieson to Lee and back again. “Then why do I get the impression that you’re not telling me everything?”
“I assure you,"Doc said, "I'm just keeping him here for observation. Routine."
“You’ve been up and down that ladder hundreds of times, Lee. Yes, I know, Chip told me. So, what happened?”
Lee shrugged, “I just lost my footing,” he replied, trying to sound innocent.
“I want a full report,” Nelson told Jamieson, not quite beleiveing Crane, “I’ll see you tomorrow, Captain.”
“Aye, sir.” Lee knew that when Nelson called him 'Captain', he was usually in trouble, and that he had not heard the end of this. “Thanks Jamie.”
“Just doing my job,” Jamieson told him. “Now, let’s discuss your test results,” Jamieson unfolded the paper he was holding. “I found Codonopsis, Ginseng, Shan Zhu Yu and Hyoscine, that’s Mandrake to you. With that lot in your blood stream it’s no wonder you were dizzy,” Jamieson told him. “No, don’t worry, you’ll be fine once they are out of your system. The more water you can consume, the faster they'll be flushed out.
"What are you going to tell the Admiral? "
“That you fell, cause undetermined, and as I've already said, that in my humble opinion, you'll be fit to return to duty in the morning." Jamieson smiled, “Whatever happens in here is confidential unless it affects the safety of the crew or Seaview, so stop worrying and get some sleep. Besides, Rachel's already back home. Do you want a police investigation? In effect you were drugged. Though she's probably dumped the stuff in her possession by now.”
"Was any of that stuff illegal?"
"Technically? No. The best a lawyer could do would be practicing alternative medicine without a licence. What do you want to do?"
Lee closed his eyes; it had been a long day. He was comforted by the thrum of the engines and Seaview's slight movements that told him she was underwiegh.
"Have Chip tell my Mom to speak with her. It's one thing to force women on me, quite another to space her son out so much that I almost break my neck. I don't think Rachel will bother me or anyone else quite the same way again….you know something, Will? I almost caved in to her. A couple of times, and without any leafy persuasion… Damn, I wanted to. Thank God common sense won out."
"Or maybe it was Seaview…Go to sleep Lee. It'll be tomorrow soon enough."
Tomorrow, Lee pondered. He would want a full briefing regarding the emergency mission, but for now he would leave Seaview in the capable hands of Chip Morton. One thing he did know, he'd never 'volunteer' to be the prize at an auction again!