ONE FOR THE BOOKS
By Diane Farnsworth (Kachmar)
Harriman Nelson was engrossed in his theoretical formula, and he didn't hear the light knock on his open office door. He'd had this idea for a conversion process for some time, if only he could get the bonds broken. That one had six, and that one two, no way to split --
He threw his pencil down in disgust. He couldn't dissolve the bond there, he would lose all structural integrity. He began digging through his papers. He had something --
"Admiral?" A quiet voice came from the doorway. Harry glanced up swiftly. Lee Crane stood by the door, a paper in his hand.
Harry waved him inside. "Come on in, Lee. I wanted to ask you something, anyway."
Crane's eyes roved over his cluttered desk, strewn with scattered papers. "If you're busy, I can come back later." He gestured at the paper in his hand. "It's not that important."
"What is it, Lee?" Harry asked quickly, pushing the papers aside, and giving Crane his attention. "You need some help?"
"No." Lee stood in front of the desk. "I have a slight problem."
"Nothing serious, I hope."
"Not really." Lee shifted uncomfortably. "I won't be able to complete the testing of the scuba like we planned."
Nelson glanced over Crane. He looked all right. "Why not?" he asked quietly.
"The tests have to be done offshore, and I ..." A slow flush of red crossed Lee's features, and again he shifted. "You're not going to believe this," he said, shaking his head.
Crane raised his eyes, squaring his shoulders. "Sir, there is this sea bass," he began determinedly. "and I think ... think it's in love with me, sir." Lee finally got the words out, his red flush deepening.
Harry knew he wasn't kidding. "Are you sure?"
"It seems to be the only explanation," Lee replied, disgustedly. "It follows me everywhere." Crane shrugged. "It's getting out of hand. We've tried to catch it, but it won't let anyone else close." Lee leaned down on the desk abruptly. "Sir, it gets right down in front of my face mask and tries to kiss me. If you don't mind, I'd prefer to turn the test over to another diver."
"No, I don't mind, son," Harry answered. "That's your only choice if you can't catch the damn thing." Nelson couldn't quite keep his amusement out of his voice.
"Thank you, sir." Lee straightened. "I'm sorry about this."
"It's not your fault," Harry said, smiling. "I'm sure you didn't make the first pass."
"Sir," Lee began, exasperated, but then he shrugged. "I guess it is sort of crazy," he admitted, a slow smile coming to his lips.
"It could have been worse," Harry responded. "It could have been a whale."
"Please." Lee rolled his eyes. "I figured Jenkins could handle it." Crane extended his paper.
Harry took it from him, and signed his name across the bottom. Lee took it back. "Thank you, sir. I'll have a report on what I was able to do on your desk by tonight."
"No rush," Harry answered. "Make sure Jenkins is thoroughly briefed."
"I've already filled him in on the preliminaries."
Harry gave Lee an amused glance. "Very well, I see you've got things in hand."
"Carry on, Captain."
"Oh, Lee." Harry stopped him at the door. "You mind sharing your ‘problem’ with Lucius? He'd find it interesting."
"I bet. He'll have a ball."
"Lu might be able to tell you how to discourage her." Harry grinned. "It is a her?" he asked slyly.
Lee threw up his hands. "Frankly, I don't know." Crane shrugged. "I guess everybody knows about it already. Yes, I'll mention it to him." Lee smiled wryly, giving Nelson a half salute. "See you later, sir."
Harry turned back to his formula, smiling. It was never dull here. Not with his boys into everything.