Another story in my continuing series featuring Serena Harrison.
I walked down the spiral staircase into the observation nose of Seaview and automatically glanced around the control room. Great. There he was. Who the heck did the admiral have working in his Human Resources department? Representatives from Hunks-R-Us? I was here to do a job. I could not afford to get sidetracked, I donít care how cute his . . . damn it, there I go again. Youíd think Iíd never seen a man in uniform before. Iíd like to see him out of his uniform . . . Get a grip woman. Yeah, Iíd like to get a grip . . . WOULD YOU STOP IT! This line of thinking was going nowhere. It was suddenly too warm in the control room.
Hoping not to attract his attention, I slipped past the plot table to the nose where Admiral Nelson was waiting. If I could get a good conversation going with the admiral, maybe, just maybe, I could get my gutter-bound mind back on track.
"Dr. Harrison, I was beginning to worry. Have a seat. Cookie has made an excellent dinner. I thought you might be hungry. You skipped lunch."
"I got wrapped up in the logbooks from the San Isabella. I canít help but wonder what weíre going to find."
"Thatís precisely what we intend to find out," Nelson was saying. The San Isabella went down in heavy seas almost six hundred years ago. Iíd been researching her for years when the admiral had granted me the chance to look for the wreck. Naturally I jumped at the opportunity. But that also meant I was the only woman onboard a boat of a hundred and twenty five men. No problem. I had worked with a male crew before.† And then I met him.
I made a point of sitting with my back to the control room. What I couldnít see wouldnít distract me, right? I smiled at my cleverness. I lost said smile when I realized that the dark waters outside those magnificent windows acted as a mirror, reflecting the entire control room back at me. Oh hell. I had a perfect view of the plot table. Fortunately he had his back to me and I couldnít see those sky blue eyes. Unfortunately, that meant his back was to me . . . his whole back, the back of his, oh hell.
He ran a hand through the back of his hair. Can I try that? Serena, youíre not focusing . . . who can focus, wait heís moving. He just walked over to the periscope island. No, wait, donít do that! Ah, man, he just propped one leg on the ledge, leaning against the banister. I could see the outline of his wallet in his back pocket. Oh my stars, maybe I should give up this archeology stuff and become a pickpocket. On second thought, the way those pants fit, that wallet is not going anywhere. I noticed Captain Crane checking his watch and reaching over, touching Mister Morton on the shoulder. Captain Crane then called over Mister Oí Brian. They had a brief conversation in tones too low for me to hear then Crane and Morton headed for the nose, in our direction. I swallowed and tried not to stare. Nelson was saying something. I managed to pull it together long enough to make sense of what the admiral was saying.
"I hope you donít mind, Iíve invited Captain Crane and Mister Morton to join us for dinner. You havenít had much of a chance to meet my senior officers. They'll be in charge of the dive parties later and you should really get to know them better," Nelson said.
Wonderful, I was dining with the command duo of Stud-view, I mean Sea-studs, oh hell, there goes my appetite.