Chapter 4

Chapter 4

Richard Smith was standing in the fighter bay gallery of one of the many fighter bays (even though they held no fighters anymore they were still stubbornly called that) of the Martian Drive Yards.  His ship along with the rest of the fleet had come back to the Sol system after the unsuccessful defense of the Mendus System.  Although the auxiliaries had been able to patch up some of the ships in the fleet for the trip back to the Sol system, many of the ships had been damaged so badly that only time in a dry dock could repair those ships.  Some were so badly damaged that repairing them would be cost prohibitive and were sent to the breakers and were stripped for usable parts.  Richard’s ship, the Valiant, was one such ship scheduled to be scrapped.

The yard boys had said that it would take nearly six months to repair the Valiant and nearly four hundred million Human Federation credits to repair.  They had said that the damage was so extent that they were lucky they had limped back at all.  Building a new ship took half that time and nearly half the amount of money as well.

Richard stood there with several bags sitting on the deck while he was watching a shuttle began its final docking maneuvers through a piece of transparent aluminum standing between him and hard vacuum.  Richard watched the inbound shuttle as its pilot made the small craft dance as it approached the docking collar.  Richard looked over to Rachel McFarland and smiled.  He couldn’t hide his happiness to be finally able to visit Earth again.

“When was the last time you were on Earth?” Rachel asked as she looked to him.  Richard shrugged, “I guess it had to be when I was at Annapolis.  After I was done at the academy I was posted to my ship and never got the chance to get back to Earth.”  Rachel walked over to the back of him and put her arms around him.

Richard smiled as he took her hands into his and held them as she looked over his shoulder with her chin resting on him.  He breathed in deeply for the perfume that she was wearing was as far as he was concerned, intoxicating.  He thought back to when he first met Rachel and remembered the perfume she was wearing then, yep… he nodded; it was the same perfume that she was wearing back then.

“Richard?”  He looked to her.  “What are you thinking about?  You seem… lost in thought.”

He turned around and looked at her.  “Don’t worry; I just don’t like being this close to the fighter bay with merely a piece of transparent aluminum standing between me and the vacuum of space.”

Rachel had to agree with him on that one.  Standing so close to the open vacuum of space with only a thin piece of metal standing between you and certain death could unnerve just about anyone, even the most experienced of Space Forces people.  It was something most people could never get over even though there had never been an accident to worry about.

“But I sense something else is wrong,” she looked to him.  “Tell me what’s wrong.”

He smiled as he took her into his embrace.  He was at a loss for words; he didn’t know how to say what he wanted to tell her.  “I don’t know how to put this so I’m probably going to sound really stupid.”

“What is it Richard?”  She looked to him.  “Is something wrong?  Have I done anything wrong?”

Richard smiled.  “No,” he shook his head.  “You’ve not done anything wrong.  It’s just that, now that the ship we were posted on has already been scheduled to be sent to the breakers I can’t help but to think about what is going to happen to the two of us.”  He paused to collect his thoughts.  “I know that we’ve only known each other for a couple of weeks but I feel like I’ve known you for much, much longer than that.”  He opened his mouth but words didn’t come out at first.  He was silent for a few moments and Rachel gave him the time to say what he needed to say.  Finally he said, “I love you Rachel and I don’t want to lose you.”

Rachel smiled as she put her arms around him and kissed him.  “I love you too Richard and no, I don’t want to lose you either.”

“So what are we going to do about reassignments?”  Richard paused.  “You know the odds of us being reassigned to the same ship again is… the odds of that happening is slim and none and slim just went out the airlock.”

Rachel laughed.  “I know the odds of that happening.  But let me take care of that.”

“Just how are you going to do that?” he asked.  Rachel started to say something but he put his hand up.  “Wait, I probably don’t want to know.  The less I know the better off I’ll be and the less confused I’ll be.  Knowing you you’ll probably do some fancy computer stuff that’ll just go way over my head with light years to spare.  Hell, the less I know the less I can confess if it blows up in our faces.”

Rachel laughed again and smiled as she closed in for another kiss.  “Just let me take care of things and you’ll not have to worry about losing me any time soon.”  She stood where she was and looked at him remembering the words that he had said mere moments ago.  ‘I love you’ were the words he said.  She let that roll around in her head; it had been the words that she had been waiting to hear for a long time in her life.  Oh, one or two men had told her that before but none had meant it the way he just had.  Being in the Space Forces also made keeping relationships hard since you never knew where you were going to be posted.  “You love me?  When did you realize that you loved me?”

Richard paused as he thought back to the moment that the two were in the lift on the Valiant with Hoshi staring at them as they were going to the secondary bridge.  It was at that moment that he felt it.  He didn’t know why that it suddenly came to him at that moment but it did and he had been waiting for just the right moment to tell her.  “Remember when we were going to the secondary bridge to investigate why we weren’t getting any communications from the XO?”  Rachel nodded her head.  “That was when I realized I loved you.  That was when I realized that I couldn’t lose you.  All that happened to us made me think about what I really wanted, the things that mattered most in my life.”  He paused as he kissed her.

In the past it was always Rachel that kissed him, not the other way around.  He hoped and prayed nobody would see them like they were for the kiss seemed to go on for… forever.  It felt so right but like all good things in life, it ended.  The only ones that did see them were the two battle-armored marines standing near the door to the rest of the station.  They kept silent, thinking that it wasn’t any concern of theirs.  They simply stood there like the Queen’s Guard that still stood outside Buckingham Palace.  It was said that you could wave your hand in front of the face of a member of the Queen’s Guard and they wouldn’t twitch, they simply stood where they were like statues.

“How long have you been waiting to do that?” Rachel asked as the two stood where they were, forehead to forehead.

“Too long,” Richard smiled.  “I’ve wanted to do that and tell you what I felt about you for some time but it never felt like the right time to do so.”  He suddenly heard the sound of someone walking down the hall towards them and he quickly let go of her.  As the person who walked past them went down the hall and past the point where they could be seen Richard took hold of Rachel again.

“So, you haven’t been back to Earth since leaving Annapolis?” Rachel asked again as she looked to him with mere inches between their faces.

“Nope,” Richard replied as the two stood in each other’s embraces.  He shook his head.  “The last planet I was on was that planet where we met.”

“Well then,” Rachel kissed him.  “What better person than me to take you on a tour of Earth?”

“I can’t think of anybody better than you.”  Richard heard the sound of the personnel tube announcing a confirmed seal and that meant one thing, if they didn’t let go of each other the two of them would be found out and they didn’t want that to happen.  They grabbed their bags and swung out into the tube.  As usual Richard found zero-gee to be comfortable, he had always said that because he had grown up on a space colony zero-gee and low gravity environments were something that he was used to dealing with.  Rachel, however, wished she could feel the same way about it.  She was grateful when she found herself on the deck of the shuttle with its artificial gravity plating.

The pilot walked back from the cockpit, passing the flight engineer as she came forward.  The ensign walked up to the two of them and saluted.  “I’m here to take the both of you to the waiting transport that will ultimately take you to Earth.”  Both of them nodded their heads.  “If you would like, I can assist in loading your bags.”

“Thank you ensign,” Rachel replied as she handed her bags over.  Richard picked his bags up as well and handed them to the ensign.

“No problem at all,” the ensign replied as she took hold of the bags and walked out of the airlock and into the passenger compartment of the shuttle with the two of them following her.  The ensign stowed their bags above the seats and headed forward into the cockpit again.

As the ensign walked into the cockpit of the shuttle, the door to the cockpit closed.  Both of them took their seats and strapped themselves in as they heard the docking collar and the personnel tube disengaging from the shuttle’s exterior.  Richard felt the shuttle rock a bit as the shuttle moved on reaction thrusters to gently slide out of the bay and he watched the white of the space station’s fighter bay slowly get replaced with the blackness of space.

The cutter touched down at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming and the two descended to the tarmac below by a set of stairs wheeled into place.  Now it was Richard’s time to feel relieved.  As a long-time spacer he hated atmospheric reentry.  He knew all of the things that could go wrong during reentry and the thought of any one of them made him one very nervous shuttle passenger.  Rachel had noticed his nervousness and talked to him often in order to keep his mind off the reentry.  Richard was the one that stepped out of the cutter first and looked about.  He gasped as he took in the natural beauty of the Earth once again and the surrounding environment and for the first time in several years breathed fresh air; not that recycled stuff that everyone in space and onboard ship breathed.  He looked up and smiled as he heard birds tweeting and a lone Canadian goose honking as it flew overhead.

“You know Rachel?” Rachel looked to Richard as he scanned the horizon.  “When they design the space colonies, the designers try their best to make them look as natural as they can on the inside but I have to say that nothing compares to the real thing.”  He shook his head.  “I didn’t know what I was missing before I came to Earth to attend the academy.  I have to come here more often.”  Rachel smiled as he had said that.  Richard looked to her.  “Say, where are we?  Looks like we are in the middle of nowhere.”

“We’re about five clicks west of Cheyenne, Wyoming,” Rachel replied.  “I have plans to take you somewhere but I have to go home to get a few things first.”  Richard nodded his head.

Richard heard the sound of the cutter’s pilot walk up towards them from behind for he heard the sound of her boots crush a couple of stray leaves that had found themselves under her boot.  Rachel noticed her and turned to the pilot.  “Where can I arrange transport to Newcastle?”

The pilot shrugged her shoulders in an effort to tell them that she had no idea.  The pilot spoke up, “Ma’am, I don’t rightly know.  I’m not from around here at all, I come from England.”  The accent of the ensign had Richard guessing where she was from all the way from the orbital transfer station.  He kicked himself for not knowing the obvious English accent; the English accent was after all very unique.  “I’m sure if you head over to the command center the people there can tell you.  I can radio for a car to come pick the both of you up or you can walk there, whichever you prefer.”

Rachel looked out across the tarmac and noticed that the command center wasn’t very far off.  It seemed like a lot of distance since there wasn’t much to look at except for a lot of concrete but in truth, it wasn’t very far at all.  She figured that the ensign had set the cutter down as close to the command center as regulations called for.  Rachel turned to the ensign.  “That’s alright, we’ll walk.”

“Hey Rachel?” Richard asked as they started off walking toward the command center.

“Hmmm?” she hummed.

“This might sound stupid,” he explained, “but this wide open space that we saw when coming down from orbit isn’t what I expected.  I kind of expected to see the planet more… built up, like Coruscant from Star Wars.”

Rachel looked at him and had to keep herself from chuckling.  “I have to remember that all you saw was Annapolis and the areas around it.  The Earth doesn’t have too many ‘megacities.’  I know, I know,” she waved her hand in the air; “it’s all you hear about on TV since that is where anything big happens.  There are only a few number of them, yet between them are many regular cities and wide open areas.  I think the people here on Earth would be pretty upset if they urbanized the whole surface of the planet.”

“I see,” he replied as he gave the countryside around the base another long look.  Open spaces as far as the eye could see and miles and miles of miles and miles.  “So where are we going?  Why are we here in Wyoming?”

“I grew up here.”  She looked about.  “Still as dull as I remember it.  Nothing much happens here, at least, nothing really exciting happens in Wyoming.”  She shook her head.  “It’s the back of beyond if you ask me.”

“I see,” Richard replied as he looked about still amazed by what he saw around him as they walked across the base.  Human Federation Air Force personnel paused to salute and look at the two every now and again.  It was strange to see Space Forces personnel on Air Force bases.

“I see,” Richard replied as he looked on.  “Say, you never did tell me why we’re here.”

Rachel looked to him.  “Oh yeah, I need to stop off at my house to pick a few things up.”

“What about your father?” Richard asked before remembering that Rachel didn’t like to talk about her father.  “I’m sorry, forget I mentioned that.  You don’t have to answer me if you don’t want to; I know you don’t like talking about him.”

“Yeah,” her face contorted into something rather ugly.  It was obvious from the look on her face that she still harbored a lot of hate for that man that was her father even after he had told her what he had said in the diner on that rainy and damp world.  Fortunately it passed as quickly as it appeared and he hoped to never see it again, she was a pretty woman and one that shouldn’t at all be wearing a scowl as twisted as that was, at least that was what Richard felt.  “I’ve already called ahead and made sure that he wasn’t there.”  She shook her head.  “I have no intention of seeing that… that… man!”  It was obvious that she had quite a lot of difficulty talking about anything that concerned her father, even if it was an insult.  “If I never see him again, it won’t bother me at all.”  It seemed like she had spit that phrase out as if it was a piece of gristle that was to be thrown away.

Richard thought back to when the two were talking together in the diner on that dreary and wet planet.  He had told her that she should go see him and show him what she had become but it was extremely evident from the way that she was talking about her father that she had no plans whatsoever for doing that.  In fact, it seemed that she was harboring even more hate for her father; if that was even possible.  Richard couldn’t really believe that she held that much contempt for her father and when he had pressed for more reasons Rachel had told him that she didn’t want to talk about it so he left it at that.  He certainly didn’t want to press the matter and push her away; he figured that if she didn’t want to talk about it she had a good reason not to and figured that she’d tell him when she was good and ready to talk about it.

“What do you need to get?” Richard asked as they passed some random office on the base.  “I just need some clothing for our trip,” Rachel looked back at him and smiled.  “I have something very special planned for the two of us to do while we’re here on Earth.”  Richard looked to her with a look on his face that demanded to know more.  “Nope,” she shook her head, “that’s why it’s a surprise.  You’ll find out soon enough.  But trust me, you’ll enjoy it and it’ll be a lot of fun.”  She turned back to look where she was walking and continued to smile.  Richard is going to freakin’ die when he finds out where we’re going and what we’re going to be doing together on Earth.

Rachel drove the rental car up to a house sitting in the outskirts of Newcastle, Wyoming.  Richard had always thought that Earth was packed with wall-to-wall people and had all but sworn off visiting Earth again because of all the stories of it being overcrowded.  Richard had after all grown up on a space colony and the one that he had grew up prided itself in having spacious room for people to enjoy and live in.  He was happy to know that not all of Earth was overcrowded.  Even so, Newcastle was too small for his tastes.  If it boasted even four or five thousand people he’d be surprised.  Most, if not all of the businesses in town sat along the main road and everything else branched off from that.  It was a quaint little town in the middle of nowhere and it seemed from the looks of the people that they passed while driving down the road that they liked being in the middle of nowhere.

Richard got out of the car and looked about and drew in a deep breath.  He still couldn’t believe just how beautiful Earth was so far.  He couldn’t believe that in a little over two hundred years humanity was able to rebuild and clean up the planet after the Third World War began in 2055 and ended in 2062 with the Treaty of London.  There was lush grass and trees everywhere.  Birds were tweeting and as he looked on he saw two squirrels chasing each other.

“It really is beautiful isn’t it?” Rachel asked as she put an arm around him.

“Huh?” Richard looked to her and then he realized what she had asked of him.  He quickly nodded his head.  “Oh yes,” he smiled and drew in another deep breath.  “It’s absolutely beautiful here.”  He put an arm around Rachel and looked to her.  “Thank you for bringing me here.”

“Come on.”  Rachel stepped forward and with her arm she led him along up the driveway to what Richard assumed was her childhood home.  “Hopefully nobody’s home and I’ll just be able to slip in and get what I need and we’ll be on our way.”

“I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Richard replied as he noticed a shade in the front window move aside and he noticed that an older woman was standing in the window.  The woman ran from the window and the shade fell back into place.  Rachel looked to him as the front door to the house opened.

“Rachel!” the older woman exclaimed as she ran out to meet the two as they walked up to the house.  Richard assumed that the older woman was Rachel’s mother from the way that she ran out to meet her along with obvious likeness between the two of them.  “It’s so good to see you!  I’ve not seen you in years.”  Richard frowned as he had heard that, the thought of not seeing his parents for years disturbed him.  The next time he got leave he promised himself to take the fastest transport back to Alpha Centauri.

“Hi mom,” Rachel replied as she found herself in her mother’s hug.  “Good to see you too,” she barely made out from being nearly crushed to death in the grip of her mother’s hug.  Richard looked and winced as he noticed just how strong her mother’s grip was and hoped he’d never have to endure such a bear hug from his own parents.

Her mother let go of her and she stood back and looked Rachel over.  “It’s good to see that the Space Forces has kept you in shape.  You’ve grown into quite the woman over the last couple of years.”  Rachel’s face turned red as she had said that.  “How long has it been since you’ve been home?  Nearly six years, right?”

Richard knew that she had been away from home for a couple of years but the fact that it was nearly six years astonished him but knowing her history and how she disliked her father as much as she did he wasn’t really too surprised.  It was the amount of time that surprised him.  Plus people in the service didn’t get home often, but it seemed like Rachel didn’t even bother to try to go home on her leaves.  Richard was certainly glad that his own experience with his folks was a lot better than hers.  Wait, that’s not fair, he told himself.  I shouldn’t be glad.  Maybe I’m just fortunate, that’s all.  I have parents that supported me with every decision I made.

“Yeah,” Rachel paused as she looked to her mother.  “It has been quite a long time since I’ve been back to these parts.  Most of the time it was the military that kept me away but it’s also been for personal reasons as well.  I don’t think I need to remind you about all of that.”

Her mother shook her head as she looked to the ground.  “I know why.  Your father.”  She looked back up at Rachel and smiled.  “You’re not going to have to worry about seeing him ever again.”  Rachel looked to her wondering what she meant by that.  “I divorced him nearly five years ago.  He’s been God knows where for the longest time and I’ve not heard from him in just as long.  Doesn’t hurt that I have a restraining order on him in which he can’t come within three and a half kilometers of me and this house.”

Rachel’s jaw dropped.  “Mom!” she screamed.  “You divorced him?”  She composed herself quickly.  “Why?  What did he do to you?  Did he hurt you?  I want to know!”

Her mother shook her head and laughed at her daughter’s surprised outburst.  “You know how he treated you.”  Rachel frowned as she recalled those memories.  “Well, when you left and went your separate way he turned to me and started treating me like that.  I dealt with that for nearly half a year but it finally got to the point when I couldn’t take it anymore.  I contacted our family lawyer behind his back and we signed the divorce papers much to his… disappointment and anger.  A couple months after that I got a judge to issue a restraining order when he wouldn’t leave me alone.  I had the judge extend the same courtesy to you and your younger brother as well.”  She shook her head.  “You know, your father was such a loving man when I married him nearly twenty-five years ago.  I don’t know what happened to him, he used to be such a nice person and then all of a sudden he turned into what he is today.”

“Yeah,” Rachel frowned.  “He used to love me many years ago and then he got resentful.”  She reached up and wiped a tear away from her eyes.  “I just don’t know what happened to him.”  Rachel looked to her mother.  “How did you keep the house?”

“In the divorce it was decreed that I was to keep the house.  He got the car, that ol’ rusty piece of shit.”  Her mother laughed.  “It barely ran anyways.  As for the money, I got quite a bit out of the divorce settlement and have been living on that for the last five years.  Part of your income also comes to me because you put me down as a dependent when you went to the academy.”  Rachel nodded her head.  “Needless to say, I’ve been living pretty well as of late.  I even bought a new car a year ago.  Your father kept insisting on keeping that relic while all the rest of the people around here moved on.  He said that he didn’t like people disrespecting a classic piece of machinery like that.”  She laughed.  “I got one of the latest hydrogen fuel cell cars.  It’s small but it gets me to where I need to go.”

“But enough about him,” Rachel’s mother said.  “Let’s change the subject.”  She looked at Richard, then back at her daughter and winked.  “Say, who’s your guy friend that you have there?”

Rachel’s face turned slightly red as she looked to Richard and then back to her mother.  “I’m sorry; I should’ve introduced you to my boyfriend.”  Richard couldn’t help but to smile as she introduced him as her boyfriend.  It felt so… sophomoric but he didn’t care at all.  Rachel turned to Richard.  “Richard, this is my mother; Leslie McFarland.”  She turned to her mother.  “And this is Richard Smith.”

“Your boyfriend Rachel?” Leslie asked as both of their faces turned dark.

Richard stepped a bit forward.  “Yes, I’m her boyfriend.”

“How long have you two been together?  How did you two meet?” Leslie asked as she looked at Richard and looked him up and down and noticed his rank insignia and several of his service medals.  Leslie looked to Richard.  “It looks like you’re a lieutenant commander, right?  And from the looks of it you have the Space Forces Cross, right?”

Richard was surprised, she knew what rank he was simply from looking at his uniform and even knew some of the medals that he had.  Not many people outside of the military knew anything of the different rank insignias, what they meant, or even what the medals meant.  “Yes I am and yes, I do have one.  You have a good eye Miss McFarland.”

“Please,” Leslie replied as she patted him on the shoulder.  “Call me Leslie, Miss McFarland is so… formal, and besides, that’s his name.  I’ve decided to take back my maiden name, Hall.”  Richard nodded his head in reply as the both of them turned a shade of red again.  She looked to her daughter.  “How long have you been together?  How did you two meet?”

“A couple of weeks,” she shrugged her shoulders.  “We’ve not been together long but after what the both of us have been through and lived through; it has… brought the two of us closer together than anything I can think of.”  She paused.  “We were in the last battle that took place.  I can’t imagine you not knowing about that battle.  It’s been all over the news.”  Leslie nodded her head and then looked at the two of them.  “God knows how we made it through it alive when so many others didn’t.”  She turned to Richard and then back to her mother.  “Richard here had his CPO killed in the battle and from what he told me if it hadn’t been for the fact that he was where he was on the bridge he would’ve been killed instead.”  Rachel put her arm around Richard and drew him closer to herself.  “After living through all of that it tends to bring two people closer together.  As for how we met, the two of us first met when we were at the Repple Depple getting our new orders.  Later that night we went to the local officer’s club and then to a local diner to grab a late night dinner, it was then that the two of us hit it off.”

Leslie couldn’t help but to be happy for her daughter.  “Well, it does certainly show that you two get along great with one another.”  She turned to Richard, “it’s been years since Rachel had any kind of relationship, even when she wasn’t in the military.”

“Mom!” Rachel squealed.  “Don’t say that!  You’re going to scare him away.  Please don’t scare him away.”  Rachel was visibly embarrassed that her mother would say that about her.  She looked to Richard hoping that he wouldn’t think any different of her and it appeared that he didn’t for the next thing she knew Richard’s arm was around her drawing her closer to him.

Leslie had to laugh as she looked at the two of them squirming.  “You know that I’m just giving you both a hard time.”

“I know that mom, but please don’t.  You’re embarrassing me.”

Leslie nodded her head.  “Alright, you win.”  She paused as she watched Rachel let out a sigh.  “So what brings the two of you here?”

“Well,” she looked to Richard and then back at her mother. “Richard here hasn’t been to Earth since the academy, he grew up on a space colony so this is the only time he’s ever seen anything else on Earth.”

Her mother nodded her head slowly.  “Where did you grow up Richard?” Leslie asked as she looked at the two of them.  She couldn’t help but to think back to the days when she had been dating her ex-husband and remembered that the two of them were like Richard and Rachel were now.

“I grew up in the Alpha Centauri Colony Cluster, specifically cluster B.”  He looked to Rachel and then back to her mother.  “Rachel here invited me on a trip to Earth and she is going to take me on a tour of Earth.”  He shrugged his shoulders.  “I have no idea what she’s going to do but she has said that it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

“Well then,” Leslie laughed.  “You are definitely in for a treat.  This planet is a beautiful planet, far better than any space colony if you ask me.  Whatever Rachel has planned for the two of you I will definitely say that you’re going to have a lot of fun here on Earth.”  Leslie turned to Rachel.  “Did you come here to introduce your boyfriend to me or are you here for something more?”

“I had to come home to get a few things before we headed out.”

“You’re not going to be staying here?” Leslie asked.  She was a bit let down for she had been hoping that Rachel would stick around for some time since she hadn’t seen her in a long time.

“No, we need to see about catching a flight from Cheyenne,” Rachel looked back at the rental car.  “And besides, the fees on the rental car for every hour we have it get mighty expensive.”

“Alright,” Leslie walked up to her daughter and hugged her.  “Now that you know your father is gone, don’t be a stranger and come back home more often if you get the chance.  And bring Richard too; he’s more than welcome to come with you.”

“I’ll try to come back more often mom, I promise,” Rachel replied as she returned her mother’s hug.  She turned to Richard.  “Let me go get my stuff and we’ll be on our way.”

Richard turned to Rachel.  “I’ll be waiting in the car, alright?”  Rachel nodded and ran up to the house and disappeared for some time and came back out running towards the car.  He looked to Rachel.  “Did you get what you needed?”  Rachel nodded her head as she looked down at the gear shift and put the car in drive.

Dropping the car off at the rental station at the Cheyenne Airport had been a simple matter.  Richard paid for the car inside and filled out the forms to return it at the depot while Rachel went into the airport terminal to pick up their tickets.  Getting inside the terminal Richard found a fuming Rachel.  He went up to her asking, “What’s wrong?”

“We can’t get there from here!” she exclaimed.  “We’re going to have to take two flights.  It’s going to be a pain in the ass.”

“Where are we going?” Richard asked trying to get that little bit of information out of Rachel.  He had hoped that with such a small innocent-sounding question that Rachel would accidently let where they were going slip without her knowing.  The look on her face told him otherwise.

Rachel looked at him with a smirk on her face. “Oh no, you’re not getting that answer from me quite so easily.  I want this to be a surprise for you.”  She started to walk toward the gate where two Transportation Security Administration officials were checking passengers.  She waved him forward with her hand and made her way over.  As he fell into step beside her she said.  “First we have to catch an atmospheric shuttle from here to Los Angeles and then from there another one to where we’re going.  A pain in the ass since you’d think that shuttles these days can go from Point A to Point B without stopping,” she shrugged.  “I suppose that Cheyenne, Wyoming is too ‘remote’ for this kind of flight.”

The two approached the TSA men and they asked for their identification.  Richard had half a mind to tell the guy off.  He would’ve thought that the Space Forces military uniform would’ve been enough not to ask.  However he watched Rachel calmly reach into the pocket of her uniform coat jacket and pull out her ID card.  Seeing her do that convinced him that he probably should do the same thing.  Besides, if these guys decided to put him on report it could land him in a load of trouble for his efforts.  After their IDs were scanned they stepped through the scanners and proceeded past the security checkpoint.

Rachel swiftly led him through the concourse to the gate that they needed.  Sitting down in one of the chairs by the gate Richard looked up at the ceiling.  Now all there was to do was wait.  And wait.  And wait some more.  The two passed the time by reading print magazines, catching up on some news on their datapads, pacing around, getting a drink from one of the restaurants nearby, and talking.  After more than two hours had passed they heard over the P.A., “Shuttle A-373 bound for Los Angeles, California is now loading at Gate 6.  All passengers please proceed to Gate 6 and have your tickets ready.  I repeat, Shuttle A-373…” the voice went on repeating the message.

Both of them were up and heading for the desk just beside the boarding tube.  They flashed their tickets before an electronic reader and were cleared to board the shuttle.  The first thing Richard noticed was that the civilian shuttle was vastly different from its military cousins.  The coach section was a little bit like a military shuttle but far more comfortable and the backs of every seat offered a screen and a pull-down table below it for passengers.  A bigger screen was in the forward hull beside the portals to first class.  Rachel and Richard flashed their tickets to a stewardess who led them to First Class in the front of the shuttle.  Richard hadn’t expected her to spring for first class seating.  Guess I need to read my ticket, he thought.  He frowned a bit when the ticket had simply said Los Angeles, California instead of their final destination.  He was dying to know where they were going.

As the two of them were led to first class Richard immediately noticed that the seats were fewer in number, were wider, had real wooden arms, and plush leather cushions for the seating and arms.  But just like coach, they still had the small screens and pull-down tables.  “Thank you for flying with us today,” the woman said and proceeded aft to check on the other passengers.  Richard looked about in the shuttle’s cabin and noticed that there weren’t that many on this flight.

A few minutes later the pilot came on over the intercom. “This is your pilot speaking.  We’ll be taking off shortly.  Please watch the video starting in a couple seconds in order to familiarize yourself with the safety equipment on the shuttle.  After the video we’ll be heading to Los Angeles.  The total flight time should be about twenty minutes.  Please enjoy your flight and thank you for choosing Continental Airlines.”

The two of them endured the safety video and locked their harnesses in place.  The military training that they had received for shuttles was much more detailed than anything the airline company could put into a safety video.  The fact was that they hardly needed to pay attention to it, but it was good to know where the emergency exits were at the very least.

As promised the video ended and the shuttle started taxiing for the runway.  The shuttle reached the strip, accelerated down the runway and roared off into the air and soon approached escape velocity.

The time between taking off from Wyoming and landing at LAX passed like a blur.  Unlike in the past where aircraft couldn’t go into space, shuttles were able to go into space and shave hours off of a lengthy flight.  In no time at all the two were swept along the concourse of the sprawling airport and to their next gate.  By then Rachel decided to finally let Richard in on the secret of where they were going, after all, he was going to find out anyways when she handed him his ticket and when they announced their flight.

Pausing before approaching the gate they needed Rachel made a big production of pulling the two tickets out of her carry-on bag.  She stood where she was slowly opening her carry-on bag.  Richard stared at her as she slowly pulled the tickets out and handed a ticket to him.  Richard looked at the ticket and noticed that they were another first-class ticket but what drew Richard’s eyes was the destination.  Honolulu, Hawaii.

Well, she said that it was going to fun and enjoyable.  And if even half of what I’ve heard is true, Hawaii is definitely both.  Sitting down in one of the chairs he asked her while she stood by with a very wide grin on her face.  “Why didn’t you just say that we were going there?”

Rachel’s smile was dazzling and it showed him once again just how beautiful she was to him, especially when she smiled.  “And spoil the surprised look on your face a few seconds ago?  No thank you!  I don’t think I’ve ever seen you that surprised before.”

“But why there?” he asked her wondering what exactly she had planned for the two of them while they were there.

Rachel sat down next to him and took his hands in hers.  She leaned her head on his shoulder.  “Don’t ask such questions.”  Richard looked at her out of the corner of his eye and lifted an eyebrow.  Rachel saw his reaction. “Oh, come on Richard.  There’s no need to ask such questions.  You’re about to take off on a wonderful vacation filled with fun and excitement to one of the most delightful and romantic places on Earth with a woman and you ask, ‘Why there?’  Besides, I wanted to take you there.”

Richard thought about what she said for roughly two seconds before he put his arm around her waist and pulled her closer to himself and took her hand into his.  “When you put it that way, it was worth the surprise.  I guess I don’t have to ask why.”

Rachel lifted a hand and traced a finger up his chest.  “Warm sun, warm ocean breezes, palm trees, knocked-out beaches, and pristine waters.  And you want to know what’s the best part?”

Richard nodded his head very slightly.  Rachel moved to place her mouth near his ear and purred into it.  “It’ll just be the two of us there.  Just you, me, and,” she turned his head to kiss him on the lips before continuing, “no need for a lot of clothing either.”  She then grinned with a smile that would make the Cheshire cat jealous.

Richard gazed into her eyes and desire flared in his own.  “You know what?”  She shook her head this time.  “I think I like the sound of that a lot,” he answered before he kissed her.  “Now, what was it that you picked up at your mother’s house?”

Rachel jerked her head back and gave him a sly grin.  “Now Richard, what is that you, um, ‘like the sound of?’  The idea of this trip or the thoughts and sights of me not covered with a lot of clothing?”

Richard flashed a grin at her before pulling her close and kissing her again.  “Both, but I’m not going to lie.  That last part sounds very appealing.  Now what was it that you had to pick up?”

Rachel looked at him.  “I have to keep at least one more surprise for you.  Or maybe more than one.  Trust me when I say this, you’ll like what it is.”

Richard tightened his grip on her waist and pulled her closer to himself.  “What more could I ask for?  I’m going on a vacation with an exceedingly beautiful, fun-loving, warm, and let’s not forget, a sexy woman in a place like Hawaii with no one to bother us.  I can hardly wait.”

“I knew you couldn’t,” she replied, blushing slightly at his choice of words as she laid her head back on his shoulder and closed her eyes.  “This is going to be a lot of fun, just you wait.”

Honolulu, Hawaii; the home of warm tropical breezes, sunshine, clear waters, black, Filipino, Oriental, Polynesian, and even white women who weren’t overly encumbered by the need for clothing.  Richard noticed–while trying not to be noticed that he was looking–the women around downtown Honolulu and the copious amount of skin on display and instead focus on the woman he was with as she stood next to him waiting for a taxi.  But there was so much to look at, what with the clear sky, the buildings, and the women of course.  Rachel on the other hand affected not to notice her male companion’s darting glances all around him, considering that his eyes did return to her and stayed there for the most part.

The only downside that Richard could see was that if you were fair skinned, which he wasn’t, you’d quickly turn the color of medium-rare meat.  That same bright sunlight that he was currently enjoying could burn anyone lighter than him just by blinking at them.  He looked to Rachel and wondered if that was going to be a problem for her, with her Irish heritage and all.  He figured that if it was going to be a problem, she wouldn’t have chosen to come here and had chosen somewhere else.  Looking at her he saw that she wasn’t that fair skinned after all.  Okay, maybe she wasn’t pure Irish.

“We have to get off the street as soon as possible,” she had told him as soon as they had left the airport.  She was carrying a bag in one hand, her carry-on across her back, and a travel brochure on a datapad in the other hand.  “Carrying luggage around makes us a target for pickpockets, and trust me, these guys here make ones back on the mainland in Los Angeles look like chumps.”  Richard nodded his head as he looked to her while thinking; meanwhile she was already waving for a taxi.

“How do you know?” he asked her as one started to pull up.  The cab driver hopped out of the car and proceeded to help them to stow their luggage in the boot of the cab.  As the two got in and she told the driver.  “To the Hilton Hawaiian Village please.”  Once the driver had gotten the cab in gear she turned back to Richard.  “I’ve been here before with my folks.  My father had his camera stolen without him even noticing.  Luckily it was just the camera and not his wallet.  Plus, we really ought to ditch the uniforms.  We stick out like a couple of hippies at a Nixon rally.”

“Um… Rachel, I don’t have much in the way of clothes here.  You went home to get stuff, I didn’t get that chance.”  He looked down at himself and picked at the uniform.  “This is all I’ve got.”

She looked at him severely before she started chuckle.  “Oh shit.  I’m sorry.  My mistake.”  She turned to the driver. “Sorry, I need to change where we’re going.  He needs some new clothes first, fast.”  The cab driver nodded his head and the cab sped up a bit and cut some poor slob off as the cab got into the left turn lane.  Richard could have sworn he saw his life pass before his eyes as he realized that there were mere centimeters between the bumper of the cab and of the car that they had just cut off.  That and the sound of screeching tires.

Richard walked out of the store and could’ve sworn that he had to have easily spent over two-hundred Human Federation Credits.  Sure, it wasn’t like he couldn’t afford it; he had the money.  The back pay was begging to be spent.  It was just the idea that he had spent so much in so little time that it had disturbed him.  He couldn’t get over the fact that he felt like his credit card was on fire along with his wallet.

“Did we really need to spend that much?” Richard asked as he turned to Rachel.  “Two hundred credits?  That’s a heck of a lot of money in a short amount of time.”  He looked to her as she put her arm around him.  “Trust me,” she nodded her head, “you’ll need it.  You don’t want to be continually having to wash clothes, right?”  Richard shook his head in reply.  “And that’s why you need the clothing.  We are going to be here for nearly two weeks; at least that’s what I figure we’ll be here for.  You need something to wear while you’re here.”  Richard nodded his head in agreement.  He couldn’t help but to think that in these times, Rachel was the sensible one whereas he was the one that wasn’t really thinking.  “And besides, not only that but you don’t want to look like a tourist here.  You have to look different and wearing the same things day in and day out will bring attention to you.”

As they approached the curb Rachel put her hand in the air and waved down a cab.  As she peered into the cab she shook her head.  It was the same cab that had brought them to the mall.  As the two got in Rachel was about to speak when the cab just sped off.  She looked at the tiny computer screen on the cab’s dashboard and sure enough, their prior destination was already set.

Once again Richard found himself nearly clutching his seat as the cab driver pulled stunts with the car that he couldn’t even imagine pulling in his dreams.  He looked to Rachel as the cab cut a person off and the sound of a horn blew and a scream about someone being an asshole was heard from the outside of the cab.  From the looks of Rachel, she too was bit nervous about what the cab driver was pulling off.  The cab came to a stop at a stoplight and as soon as the light turned green Richard felt himself be pushed into his seat as the car sped off.

After what seemed like an eternity in the cab, they finally came to a stop in front of a rather tall building.  Richard peered out of the cab’s window and looked up and saw row after row of tiny windows along with balconies and people standing on those balconies.  Along the exterior of the building were several palm trees, lush green lawns, and gardens.  He looked out the other side of the cab and saw nothing but beautiful clear blue water as far as the eye could see.  He must have been staring for too long out at the ocean for the next thing he heard was Rachel telling him that the view from their hotel room was going to be far more spectacular than on the ground level.

Rachel turned to the cab driver and handed him several Human Federation banknotes.  The cab driver took hold of the money and counted it and smiled back.  “Thanks for the nice tip.”

“That’s for waiting for us at the mall.”

“Hey,” the cab driver shrugged his shoulders.  “It’s the least I could do for people who are saving our butts out there in space every day.”

“Thanks,” Richard replied as he looked to the cab driver.  “Not many people remember the soldiers out there on the front lines.”

With that the two of them climbed out of the cab and the driver popped the trunk.  The two grabbed their luggage and began to walk up the pathway to the hotel’s lobby.  Richard once again found himself being passed by women of every race, color, and creed and he couldn’t help but to find that his eyes were drawn to them, but ultimately back to Rachel.

While Rachel was walking up the walkway to the hotel the thought about her reservation had come to mind.  They had taken a longer time to get to their hotel than they had previously thought.  She had picked out a specific hotel room, one with a view of the oceanfront and she kept hoping to God that it was still available.  Not having that specific room wouldn’t completely ruin the vacation but it would disappoint her.  That and the fact that she had wanted to get out of her uniform and into something a lot less confining.  It was sometime in the afternoon when they had arrived and with the sun high in the sky it was hot outside and wearing the heavy Space Forces Service Dress White uniform, complete with suit coat, made an already hot afternoon even hotter.  When she had told Richard that she wanted to change out of the dress uniform, Richard agreed with her wholeheartedly.  Meanwhile Richard reached up and pulled at his collar as he tried to let some of the heat out.

As the two walked into the main lobby of the hotel the two saw people everywhere.  Some people were coming, some were going.  But what set those other people apart from the two of them was that they were all wearing light clothing.  The two of them walked up to the front desk and Rachel rang the bell.  The clerk appeared out from behind what looked like a black curtain over a doorway and looked at the two of them.  “May I help you madam?”

“Yes, we,” she indicated herself and Richard, “have a room reserved for us at the Ali’i Tower.  I believe that I have it under the name ‘McFarland.’”

“Of course,” the clerk replied while tapping a few keys on the computer in front of him.  He looked back up and smiled.  “Let me check our records.”  A few seconds later he looked back up at Rachel.  “Yes, right here.  Your room is ready for you at any time.  Give me a second Miss McFarland,” he told her as he tapped a few more keys.  “Alright, I see that you entered the reservation system under a government or military discount.  However, before the system will apply the discount I need to see your I.D. for final verification.”

Rachel shrugged and reached into her coat pocket and pulled out what looked like a credit card but with a smart chip in the middle and a magnetic strip on the back.  It served as not only a picture identification card but also a basic military record storage device that was used by everything from physical security to logging into base computers.  She handed it over to the clerk and he swiped it through the credit card reader.  He handed it back to her before returning to the computer.  “Will you need two keycards or just one?”  Rachel held two fingers up and the clerk nodded before scanning two keycards into the system.  The clerk looked up and handed the two cards to Rachel.  “Okay madam, these cards will open the lock on your room.  Please try not to lose them.  In the event of a lost keycard, please notify the front desk as soon as possible.  We will freeze the lost card’s microchip and issue you a new one at cost.  A new card will cost you ten credits.  Room service can be contacted through your room’s comlink, however the military discount doesn’t apply to room service or any other hotel services.  You can find out about all of the hotel amenities through the room’s computer terminal or any Wi-Fi enabled datapad.  The password for our Wi-Fi network is listed in our hotel information packet that’s already in your room.  I hope that your stay is enjoyable and please visit us again on any return trips Miss McFarland.”

“Thank you very much sir,” she replied as she took the keycards.  The clerk behind the counter snapped his fingers and a bellhop appeared before the two with a cart for their luggage.  The clerk told the bellhop.  “Please take these two to Room 1826 of the Ali’i Tower on the double.”

“Yes sir!” the bellhop replied before turning to the two of them. “If you’ll follow me sir, madam.”  Richard looked at the bellhop and noticed that he was dressed in what appeared to be a very expensive black suit with a red hat on his head.  Meanwhile Richard was thinking that it was quite interesting that Rachel had asked for only one room.  He’d figured that she’d want to have two rooms, but that was okay with him.

The bellhop looked at the two of them and took hold of their luggage and loaded it onto the luggage cart.  He looked at the two of them.  “If you would please follow me, I will take you to your room.  It is a short walk to the particular tower you’re in so please, stick close.”  The bellhop looked forward and started to walk forward pushing the luggage cart along in front of him.  Meanwhile, the two of them followed the bellhop as they passed through several hallways.  The two of them quickly realized just how big the hotel complex was and how easily one could get lost if you didn’t know your way.

Soon they came to the tower their hotel room was in.  The bellhop approached an elevator and a few seconds later the door to the elevator opened.  He looked back at the two of them.  “If you would please follow me, I will take you up to your floor.”  The both of them followed the bellhop into the elevator and the door closed behind them.  The bellhop turned to the elevator attendant.  “Eighteenth floor, please.”  Richard looked to the attendant as he pressed the button to go to the eighteenth floor.  Since when did any hotel have elevator attendants anymore?  Shouldn’t those positions been rendered obsolete by electronics in Earth’s early 21st century?  Or was this hotel trying for a throwback to less modern times for show?

The bellhop soon brought them to the room.  The bellhop took out his identification card and swiped it in the card reader and the door slid open.  He then proceeded to lead the two of them into the room.

The bellhop turned to the two of them.  “If you would please follow me, I will introduce you to the various features that this room has to offer.”  The two of them followed the bellhop as he showed them the bathroom, the bedroom, the refrigerator, the outside patio overlooking the ocean, and where to find the computer, hotel comlink, and the hotel information packet that was situated on the nightstand.  “And finally, sir and madam, the tower’s private pool, sun terrace, whirlpool, sauna and steam rooms, are located on the second floor.”  Rachel nodded her head.  “I will get your luggage and bring your bags into the room.  Where would you like your luggage to be placed?”

“On the bed would be fine thank you,” Rachel replied as she looked away from the patio.  Meanwhile Richard was captivated by the scene as he looked out across the patio and out over the ocean.  Rachel looked at him as Richard took in a deep breath.  He looked to her as Rachel put her arm around him.  “Isn’t it absolutely breathtaking?”  Richard couldn’t say anything; he was that awestruck, he just nodded his head in agreement.

The bellhop came forth to the two of them.  “Alright sir and madam, your luggage has been placed in your room as you have requested.”  He held out his hand as Rachel reached into her small carryon bag and pulled her wallet out.  Out of her wallet she pulled out a ten credit banknote and handed it to the bellhop.

The bellhop smiled as he took the banknote.  “Thank you miss!” the bellhop said and turned around to walk out of the room leaving the two of them staring out at the oceanfront scene.

Rachel turned back around to find Richard still looking out across the patio.  She snaked her arms around his waist again.  “Alone at last,” she purred into his ear before proceeding to yawn quietly.  “Dang,” she said.

“Yeah,” he said as he took her hands into his own and held them.  “I’m tired too.  Jetlag is a bitch.”

“Yeah,” Rachel answered with another yawn as she stood behind him with her chin resting on his shoulders.  “We went from shipboard time of Greenwich Mean Time, to Wyoming, and finally to here.  Our bodies must be confused right about now with all the time zone shifting.”

“You bet.”  Richard paused and then turned his head to look at her smiling at him.  “I do have to ask one thing though.”  Rachel looked to him already knowing what question he was going to ask.  She drew herself closer to him as he began to ask.  “Why one room and better yet, why only one bed?”  He paused.  “Not that I mind of course.  I know we’re close, but are we this close yet?”

“Richard,” she answered with a sleepy grin as Rachel took her arms from around him and looked at him.  “I wanted it this way.  And besides, is there any better way to get to know one another other than this?”  Richard could find no argument with that and nodded emphatically.  Richard thought that it had to be the safest reply.  Rachel continued, her grin getting wider.  “Besides, you’re at a wonderful island paradise resort with a woman, alone with nobody to bother us and you get to sleep beside said woman.  So for the next two weeks, let’s enjoy ourselves.”  She finished off by kissing him on the lips, long and deep.  He returned said kiss, which stretched on for a few more seconds before she broke away.  “Now, I’m going to go get changed and get ready for bed.”  She went over to her luggage and rifled through it, finding what she needed.  She headed onto the bathroom with its changing station and left the door open a tiny bit.  Poking her head out, she said, “No peeking!”

“Yes ma’am!” he said, while she enjoyed the slight blush rising on his cheeks.  Laughing she closed the door, but still not quite.

Richard thought about what she had said.  There they were going to be, alone, with no one else but themselves.  Why did it matter that there was only one room and only one bed?  He thought about that question and kicked himself for asking it.  Why did I ask that question?  We’re responsible adults after all.  What we do on our off-time and alone with each other is ours to do as we please.  We don’t have to answer to anyone but ourselves.  Besides, it’s not like I’ve never been alone with a woman like this.  But this is different.  This isn’t like those times.  I was young and stupid and did what I wanted.  The girls I knew in high school were often times more than willing as well.  I’d like to think I’ve matured a bit since.

Richard looked across the room and to his luggage.  He walked over to the luggage and pulled out his night clothes.  He reached up and pulled at his neck tie and tossed it aside as he went onto unbutton his uniform coat, tossed it aside, and then unbuttoned his shirt.  As soon as he unbuttoned his shirt he felt relief for quite a bit of sweat had soaked the collar of his shirt.

Just as he threw the shirt aside he heard the sound of the bathroom open and outstepped Rachel.  There she was, standing in front of him with a smile on her face and a light cotton spaghetti strap nightgown that reached down to just above her knees.  His eyes immediately locked onto her body, drinking in as many details as quickly as he could.  He looked at her as if she was a target on his tactical display, and in a way she was.  A target for him and him alone and this was her way of showing that.  Richard had seen her many times before but this was the first time he really got to see the woman under the uniform.  And what a woman she was!  She was, in his opinion, gorgeous.

Rachel slowly spun around before coming up to him.  “You like what you see?” she asked as she walked up to him and put her hands on her hips.

Richard nodded his head.  “And Good Lord, I wish that I could see a lot more than this.”

Her smile got wider even as a blush lighted her cheeks.  “You will, I know you will.”  She reached up and put her hands on his shoulders.  “In time you will.”

Richard’s arms went around her and pulled her closer to himself and kissed her.  “I’m really looking forward to that.”  The feel of her skin beneath that thin nightgown was unlike anything he had ever felt before.  It was heavenly and the cotton of the gown only made things all that much better.  He ran his hands up her back, sending small shivers up her as he did so, to her shoulders.  He gently caressed the skin there and found it to be soft and warm.  Her smile was inviting, with a little nervousness, and her eyes danced with the promise of the days ahead.  All ideas of protesting that they should have two rooms went right out the door and off the edge of the patio.  He knew it before this, but right now it really took hold in his mind.  He wanted her, no two ways about it.  He wished for nothing more than to remove that nightgown of hers and throw her onto the bed and make love to her.  He fought back the urge to just take her right there where she stood.

He leaned in close to her ear.  “I love you and I want you.”

“I love you too and I know that you want me but,” she pressed a finger to his lips, “patience my dear.  Now go get changed and ready for bed.  Then we can go to sleep.  And I really mean sleep.”

The next morning Richard was the first to wake up.  It was the most relaxing sleep that he had experienced in quite a long time, even if the bed was too soft for his taste.  After having slept on Space Forces cots, the ground, or in a bunk aboard ship (both in and out of a vacsuit) for the past five years of his life, any bed softer than those felt too soft and it had taken some getting used to before he fell asleep out of sheer exhaustion.  The bed was also much larger than anything he could get onboard ship, he felt almost lost with the amount of space on the bed in which to relax in.  After having slept alone for so long he took some time to get used to sleeping with somebody else in the bed.  Again, it wasn’t something that he already wasn’t used to, but having been without for four or five years.

He awoke to find his arm still draped across her from where it was when the two had gone to sleep.  Rachel had insisted that she would sleep closely next to him and he couldn’t agree with her more.  Having her that close, in such an intimate way, had been an experience that he had longed for ever since they had started seriously dating.  He pulled her closer to himself and breathed in, taking in her scent.  The fact that she was right there beside him, sleeping in the same bed with her, cemented the thought that he was really there in Hawaii with whom had to be the woman of his dreams.

He moved his head up and brought his lips closer to her ears.  He whispered, “I love you,” before taking his arm from over her and moved back to his side of the bed and laid his head on his own pillow.

Richard stayed like that, staring up at the ceiling as what appeared to be sun light poured into the room.  He shook his head and then looked at the clock on the nightstand to his right.  It read 8:00.  We slept that long? He asked himself.  I’ve never slept more than ten hours like this before in my life, least of all in the service.  He looked to his right and then got up and out of the bed leaving Rachel undisturbed.

He walked over to the window and pulled the curtain back just enough to be able to look outside and across the ocean.  He reached for the handle of the patio door, opened it, and stood there with the door open with the screen door open.  He looked out and breathed in the ocean air, felt the faint ocean mist on his face, and the warmth of the sun.  He couldn’t help but to smile as he took in the scene in front of him as a seagull went flying by.

He must’ve been standing there for some time without knowing how long for the next thing he felt was Rachel putting her arms around him.  She put her head on his shoulder and kissed him on the cheek and went back to resting her chin on his shoulder.

“Good morning,” he replied as he took her hands into his and continued to look out across the ocean before he turned around in her arms to face her and put his arms around her and held her tightly.  He felt like he was in Heaven.  There wasn’t any way that Richard could think that would make this moment better.

“Richard,” Rachel yelped as he had taken her into his tight embrace.  “What’s…” was all that Rachel could get out before she was in caught up in a passionate kiss that seemed to last a lifetime.  As Richard broke the kiss, Rachel quickly took hold of Richard by the neck and began yet another passionate kiss.  They moved backwards, kissing the whole time and soon the two of them found themselves falling onto the bed with Rachel falling on top of him.  If it hadn’t been for the fall the next kiss wouldn’t have been broken.

Richard looked up into Rachel’s beautiful blue eyes and held onto her tightly as yet another passionate kiss began.  Rachel didn’t seem to mind this at all for she simply melted into the kiss as it continued on for what seemed like another lifetime.  The kiss ended but instead of Richard letting her go, he instead began kissing her up and down her neck.

Rachel gasped and moaned as she felt Richard getting a hard-on.  He continued kissing her neck, not wanting to let it end.  “Richard…” she gasped, “stop,” she said in between moans of pleasure.  “Richard, please… stop.”  Richard stopped as he was told but looked at her wondering why.  Rachel looked up at him and took hold of his face.  “As much as I loved that we have to stop.”

“Why?” Richard asked.  He was confused as to why she would tell him to stop even though she had said that she had loved the experience.

“Think about it,” she paused, “we have almost two weeks here in absolute paradise.  Do you really want to jump to the fireworks on the second day here?  Do you really want to jump to the grand finale?”  Richard couldn’t argue with that kind of reasoning.  “And besides, just for having to wait I’ll try and make sure that it’ll be it worth the wait.”  He smiled as Rachel got up off of him leaving him lying on the bed.

Richard looked up at Rachel as she stood looking down at him as he sat on the bed.  “You have no idea the things I want to do with you.”

“Oh,” Rachel winked, “I think I know exactly what you want to do with me.  And the more we wait the better it’ll be.  I promise you that.”  She smiled.  Richard looked to her as she smiled and shuddered as it had to be the most sexy smile he had ever seen on her face.

Richard stood up from the bed and took her into his arms and whispered something into her ear.  “I know you do,” she nodded her head and walked away with more of a sway in her hips as she walked to the bathroom.  She turned back to look at him.  “Get dressed into the workout outfit we got you, we have to go running.”

“What?  You mean now?” Richard asked.

“We may be on vacation but that doesn’t mean we neglect our physical conditions.  Besides, running up and down the beaches and having the cool sea breeze will be a wonderful experience.”  With that Rachel walked into the bathroom leaving Richard in the bedroom to get dressed.

Just as Richard walked away from the curtains after closing them to sit down on the bed to get dressed, Rachel walked out of the bathroom wearing only her sports bra and panties.  He desirously took in the sight Rachel.  Every feature, every curve, every bit of her was on display for him to see.  He immediately noticed that the muscles on her arms were toned.  Soon his eyes found their way down her body as he scanned her from top to bottom.  Her legs were long (she was nearly two meters tall) and just like her arms, the muscles were toned.  Her hips appeared strong as well from years of working out and running.  His eyes came up her front and found her chest; her breasts which were large yet appeared firm under the fabric of the bra.  He shuddered as he watched her slowly pull her shorts on and it took every bit of him to control himself.  He wanted her but Rachel had insisted that they wait for a special moment.  But seeing her like that got him going like none other.

“Did you like what you saw?” Rachel asked as she walked over.  Richard nodded his head, “Very much so.”

“Thank you,” she smiled with a blush as she leaned up against him and kissed him.  “Remember what I said earlier.”

Rachel led the two of them through a 9.66 kilometer run around the island of Oahu.  First it was onto Waikiki Beach for the first leg of the run.  Richard feigned being unable to quite keep up with Rachel at times, mostly so that he could keep an eye on her backside as she ran ahead of him.  Doing so made it for more than enough of a distraction to keep his eyes from wandering too much at the other women already on the beach who were wearing as little as the perfect weather demanded.  The two of them got some odd stares from the people on the beach but other than that they were left alone to their run.  After spending some time on the beach Rachel led them up into the city.

Richard stepped into the hotel room and threw his sweat soaked shirt aside.  He couldn’t believe how hot it had become as the noon day sun had come up along with the humidity that ensued.  He was tired, hot, and sweaty and the only thing he wanted to do was to take a shower and cool off.

Rachel turned to him.  “Do you want to take your shower first?”

“Doesn’t matter to me,” he replied as Rachel threw her tank-top shirt aside leaving her wearing only her sports bra.

“Alright,” Rachel replied as she looked in the direction of the bathroom and then back at him.  “I’m going to go take mine first, alright?”  Richard shrugged his shoulders.  She then sat down on the bed and proceeded to get undressed as Richard looked at the television that was in the room across from the bed.

Richard grabbed the remote from the nightstand and sat down on the bed.  He pointed the remote at the television set and turned it on.  When it turned a news channel came up and on the screen was a picture of Admiral Megan Kimery and she didn’t at all look very happy.

He turned the volume up and began listening as the camera panned to the left to a set of nine people sitting at a rather long table with microphones situated in front of them.  One of the people sitting at the table spoke up.

“Admiral Kimery, you have stated in your testimony that it was a computer virus that had infected many of the computer systems belonging to the ships in your fleet.  Is that an accurate description of the issue that eventually led to your fleet’s defeat against the Allied Colonies of Freedom?”

Richard’s jaw dropped as the question was spoken.  “Oh shit,” he spoke out, “they’re raking her over the coals.”

“Raking who over the coals?” Rachel called from inside the bathroom.

Richard looked to Rachel as he saw her head poke out of the bathroom door.  “They have Admiral Megan Kimery on the television and it appears she’s being questioned about our fleet’s defeat.”

Rachel shook her head.  “Like she’s the one to blame for that defeat.  We couldn’t help it.”  Richard cut her off.  “I know that, you know that, but they are looking for a scapegoat to blame it on and the admiral is as good as anyone to put the blame on.  They just want someone to take the blame so that they look better in the eyes of their constituents.”

Rachel shook her head.  “Assholes.”

Richard looked back at the television as the door to the bathroom closed.  This time it was Admiral Kimery’s turn to speak.  “Yes, that would be an accurate description of the issue that ultimately led to our defeat.”  Richard looked at the admiral on the screen and she appeared to be calm, cool, and collected; something he knew damned well that if he was in her shoes he‘d be a nervous wreck.

“Admiral Kimery,” the person spoke up, looked down at something, and then back up to speak.  “Your testimony also states that you did not know that anything was overtly wrong with your computer systems until the battle began.  Is this correct?”

“Yes,” the admiral nodded her head.  “That statement is accurate.”

“Why is that Admiral Kimery?  How did you not know something was wrong before the battle took place?  Don’t you have your staff of computer security personnel to look for these kinds of things?”

The admiral looked at the person across the room and spoke.  “I can assure you that we were monitoring all computer systems up to beginning of the battle.  Nothing out of the ordinary was detected in our systems leading up to the battle.”

“So why wasn’t it found before you had lost so many of your ships and so many of the people who had served on those ships under your command?  Isn’t it your job to make sure that things like this don’t happen?”

Admiral Kimery spoke up, “Like I said before, we were monitoring all computer systems up until the beginning of the battle and we detected no anomalous readings.  We did not detect any kind of virus until it surfaced as the battle began which caused many of the ship’s computer systems to fail.”

“You have also stated in your testimony that your own weapons were firing on friendly ships.  Is this correct?”

“Yes,” the admiral replied with no hint of hesitation.  “That statement would be correct.”

“No further questioning of the admiral will take place.  We will now adjourn for a recess.”

Richard sighed and spoke out to no one in particular.  “Damn, she’s screwed.”  He pointed the remote at the television and turned it off.  “If she makes it out of that,” he stood up and shook his head in disgust, “I’m going to be very surprised.  They’re going to make an example of her, I just know it.”

“Well,” Rachel looked to her.  “How did the admiral do?  What did they ask of her?”

Richard shook his head and sighed.  “If she makes it out of that meeting with her career intact, I’m going to be astonished.  They asked all of the damning questions.”  He shook his head again.  “And for what?  To make themselves feel better for their own stupidity?  It was after all their stupidity that got us into this war in the first place.”

“What do you want from politicians?  They want to save their own asses and to hell with whomever they drag down in the process.”

“I know that but the admiral doesn’t deserve this at all.  She couldn’t help that the damn virus was that good as to only make itself known at the very last minute.”

“Yeah,” Rachel replied as she called from the bathroom.  “That’s what you get from politicians.  All they care about is their own asses as long as they, themselves, look good to their constituents so that they’ll be re-elected by them.  It really all comes down to public appearance.  It doesn’t matter if the admiral isn’t the one to blame, they’ll still find some way to pin the failure on her.  She’ll be lucky if she keeps her job after this.  I’ve seen people get drummed out of the service for things smaller than this.”

“So where do you think we’re going to eat?” Rachel asked as she came out of the bathroom with just a towel around herself and a towel on her head.  She shivered as the air came towards her from the open patio.

Richard looked to her and shrugged his shoulders as he continued to look at his datapad.  He was still browsing the web on his datapad that was connected to the hotel’s free wireless network.  “I’m still looking,” Richard replied as he clicked a link on the hotel’s restaurant index.  He soon found a place called the Rainbow Lanai and was close by on the resort property.

The page for the Rainbow Lanai came up just as Rachel looked over his shoulder.  “Where’s that place?”

Richard scrolled down the page and found a link to the page that mentioned where they were located.  He quickly read it and found that it was very close to where their hotel room was.   It was only a short walk past the main lobby and the hotel’s main pool complex.  “It’s close by,” Richard replied as he looked up to her as she was peering over his shoulder.  “It’s only a short walk from this tower.”

“That’s great,” Rachel replied as she continued to look at his datapad.  “Looks like an interesting place.”  Richard nodded his head in reply.  “Let me get dressed and we’ll get going.”

“Alright,” Richard replied as he continued to look at the web site in question and began to read the menu that they had on the web site.

As Richard put the datapad down after reading it for some time, he looked up to see Rachel standing in front of him.  He looked her over and found that she was wearing a black tank top shirt.  About half of her cleavage was on display as the shirt dipped down the middle of her chest.  The top was tight against her body and he could’ve sworn that she wasn’t wearing a bra.  His eyes wandered down her body and found that she was wearing jean shorts.  They were a little loose but still managed to mold themselves to every curve of her body and as she turned around he found they molded to every one of her curves.

“Well,” Rachel spun around.  “What do you think?”

Richard opened his mouth but nothing came out at first.  He was at a loss for words as he drank in every line and curve of his beautiful girlfriend.  “Breathtaking,” he said as he found his voice.  “Wow,” he said as he looked her over once again.  “I have no idea what I did to deserve you.”

Rachel smiled as she looked down at him.  “You deserved me by simply being your charming self and being a decent upstanding guy.”

Richard sat up and took her in his arms.  “Why thank you.”

“Good,” she purred softly into his ears.

“However,” he turned serious but kept a smile on his face as he said, “lose the tank top and maybe the jeans too.”  He pinched her ass as he reached around to her backside.

She squeaked and squirmed in his arms which felt pretty damn good if you asked him.  “Richard, you’re being bad but I rather like it.”

“I’m glad that you do.  Now, how about you lose the shirt and jeans?”

Rachel smiled at his boldness, “Well, okay.  I can do that, but what else do you want me to lose?” she purred again.

“Hmmm… tempting my dear.  I can think of quite a bit more,” he answered as he ran a hand over her ass.  It just begged to be squeezed.  In fact, he did just that.  “Yes, indeed, quite a bit more.”  Keeping one hand on her backside he held up his datapad in the other so she could look at it.  “The Rainbow Lanai is a family-type place.  As much as I like seeing you in what you’re wearing right now, I highly doubt that that would be appropriate attire for where we’re going.”

She gaped at the datapad and started giggling at what just happened.  “Oh, I see now.  That’s why you told me to lose the outfit.”  She looked down at her shirt and nodded.  “Yeah, beachside or poolside this would be fine but yeah… the tank top is a little much.”  Richard nodded his head even though he would’ve loved to have her wear that.  “What about the jeans?” she asked as she slid her hands slowly up and down the side of her thighs.  “I don’t think they’re that bad.”

“Alright,” he paused as he eyed her, “maybe you can get away with the jeans.”

“Good,” she smiled.  “At least I can wear something that’s nice.”  She walked across the room to where her clothing was and while she walked away Richard watched her walk and couldn’t help but to notice how her backside moved as she walked.  It was damn near hypnotic as he watched her hips sway from side to side.  He watched her pull her shirt off and as he had guessed, she hadn’t been wearing a bra.  She knelt down to pick a bra up and proceeded to put it on much to Richard’s dismay.  After doing that she had picked up a simple white t-shirt and pulled it over her head.

She turned back around to him and walked over to him again.  “What do you think?  Think it’ll pass?”

Richard looked her over and found that the t-shirt wrapped around her but at least the shirt didn’t reveal too much skin.  It still clung to all the right places, especially around her ample chest.  Richard smiled as he put his hands around her starting at her thighs and ran them up her body and soon to where her breasts were and gave them a slight squeeze.  “Perfect,” he said as she squirmed in his hands.

Rachel took hold of his hands that were still on her breasts and held them there cupping them with his hands.  “Good,” she purred.  “Since I really have nothing else to wear here.  Just things like this and some other… nicer things for later on.”

Richard got up and took her into his arms and pulled her close to himself and felt her heaving chest against him and ran his hands up her back.  “Now let’s go before I want to take you right now.”

“Oh, really?  Seems to me that you want to anyways,” Rachel pointed out and then quickly kissed him.  “Patience, that’s all I ask for.”

The restaurant was a short walk past the main lobby and a huge pool complex called the Super Pool.  Rachel herself expressed a desire to go there and to, as she said it, treat Richard to a feast for his eyes.  The more he thought about it, the more he couldn’t wait.  There they were seated along the outer edge of the restaurant, right up against the white marble half wall.  From there the two could look out over Waikiki Beach and the tropical plants that separated them.

Breakfast consisted of sumptuous cuisine from all over the Human Federation.  Most of the food however was what would still be called Western food.  Some Oriental food was on the buffet along with a lot of tropical fruits.  The best part of it all was that you could have as much of it as you wanted, all for the “low” price of twenty-five credits.  Richard balked at the price but Rachel quickly squashed his complaint by telling him that it was an island and that they had to ship in all the food by either ship or shuttle.  Even modern transportation couldn’t defray all the costs.

“Even on Earth it’s this expensive?” he asked incredulously.  “I don’t remember prices being this high in the Alpha Centauri colony.”

“Yes, even on Earth,” she said with a nod.  “It’s especially expensive in the resort areas like here.  It’s worse on some of the Outer Colonies and Fringe Worlds.  Maybe your colony had special agreements with the shippers for lower import rates.  It also helps that your star system also had a fully settled planet to draw from so they didn’t have to bring in much.  Now eat up, it is twenty-five credits after all.  Get your money’s worth.”

With a will like none other, Richard hit the buffet.  He filled his plate almost to overflowing with real scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes, ham, smoked salmon and mini bagels (with onions), French toast, and chunks of pineapple and watermelon and some fruit that he couldn’t identify from one of the colonies.  To top it off he got a bowl of miso soup and cups of Kona coffee and pineapple juice.

Rachel got almost the same except she went for pancakes, turkey sausage, hash browns, and passed on the lox and bagels.  Together they dug in, got seconds, and ate until they were groaningly full.  Richard leaned his chair back.  “Man, I haven’t eaten like that in months.”

“I know what you’re talking about,” Rachel replied.  “Almost makes you want to go back to bed.”

Richard flashed a grin at her, “I wouldn’t mind going back to bed with you.”

Rachel blushed brightly at the sudden suggestion then giggled.  “I know you wouldn’t.  This is why I opted for the one room.  It’s a lot more fun and intimate this way.”

Richard leaned forward onto the table and pointed at the datapad there.  “So, what next my dear?”

She picked up the datapad and started to page through websites.  A few seconds later she said, “Well we’ve got to see Pearl Harbor Naval Base and the Arizona Memorial.  After that we can visit the USS Easton which is one of the few serviceable Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruisers from the Third World War and the USS Missouri, a surviving Iowa-class battleship from the Second World War.  Apparently we can setup our tours here at the hotel and get a ride to the visitor center there.  We can grab lunch somewhere in the city and then maybe come back to Waikiki Beach or jump in the Super Pool for some fun.  If anything comes up that you want to do after that just let me know.”

Rachel handed the datapad over to Richard who glanced at the sites open on the pad.  “Sounds like a good idea.  The Pacific Aviation Museum, Iolani Palace, and Waikiki Aquarium look interesting as well.”

Rachel smiled knowingly.  “That they do.  Now, let’s get going.”

Every student in the Human Federation had, at one time or another, learned about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  December 7th, 1941 was certainly a date long removed from the current 2315.  Yet it was still a very sobering event to visit the Arizona Memorial.  A tour guide gave an account of the events leading up to the attack as they were on their way to the visitor’s center.  After getting off the bus the tour group was taken into a small holo-theater where computers and imagers recreated the attack in stunning holographic detail.  The experience left Richard speechless as he wondered how such a disaster could occur.  Then the group was taken onto a shuttle boat to the memorial itself.

There they saw the shrine room where the names of the deceased sailors were etched into a marble wall and then led to a place where they could look down at the ruined battleship itself.  Finally it finished off with a tour of the WWII Museum inside the visitors center.

After that they were taken over to the USS Missouri for that portion of the tour.  Walking the deck of an already 371-year old battleship felt like a trip back in time.  The ship was preserved in excellent condition, as if she had just come from the builders the day before.  Wooden planks on the deck certainly felt odd to a spacer who was used to nothing but metal all around him or her on modern warships.  The two got the inclusive tour and got to see the surrender deck where the Japanese had signed the surrender documents ending World War Two.  Standing by the 16 inch main armament he tried to imagine what the sound of those going off must’ve been like.

From there it was over to the USS Easton where the tour guide talked about how the ship, along with four other Aegis missile cruisers and six Aegis missile destroyers had valiantly helped to defend Pearl Harbor and Oahu in World War Three from multiple Chinese, North Korean, and Russian air and naval attacks.  The attacks had happened in the first four weeks of WWIII after Guam and Midway had fallen.  The ship had survived an impressive five waves of attacks the first day until a Russian submarine put a torpedo into her aft quarter, narrowly missing the magazine.  The torpedo hit and a missile hit from earlier combined put the ship out of commission and close to sinking.  The ship had limped out of line and back to port for emergency repairs.

Almost four months later the ship was part of an American, Australian, Canadian, and Mexican fleet which eventually retook the American’s Pacific holdings and started to drive the Chinese, North Koreans, and Russians back toward Vladivostok.  After almost a half a year of fighting the fleet helped to try and retake the Japanese island of Kyushu, the southern part of Honshu, the Ryukyu Islands, and Okinawa.  Brutal ground fighting occurred there over the next six months as the Neo Axis forces continued to fight after being cut off.  At the end of the war the ship returned to Hawaii and received a massive celebration at its return for helping to save the Hawaiian Islands and the West Coast of the United States.

After that tour they were taken over to the Pacific Aviation Museum and given a full tour there and finally were able to sit down to a late lunch at the museum’s café.  Then it was back to Oahu from Ford Island for a drive through downtown Honolulu and the Punchbowl National Cemetery of the Pacific.

By the time the two of them got back to the hotel it was almost 1800 hours and the two were exhausted from the day.  Getting into the hotel room they kicked off their shoes and while holding onto one another, fell onto the bed.  They lay there, not doing anything, for the better part of an hour.  Who knew that walking in a tour group could be so tiring?  Yawning and laughing together Richard leaned forward and kissed Rachel.  “Hey, why don’t we put off anything else until tomorrow?  If it’s all the same to you, I just want to get dinner and then relax.”

Rachel yawned again.  “Yeah, I’m all for that too.”  She reached up and stroked his cheek softly.  “Then after dinner we can come back up here and get undressed.  Not all the way mind you,” she said as she saw desire dance in his eyes.  “And then we can sleep.”

“You tease,” he said.

“You like it.”

The next day found the two of them quite refreshed from the events of the previous day.  Richard was about to start dressing in his PT outfit when Rachel stopped him, mostly by standing in front of him while he was still seated on the bed.  This just so happened gave him a wonderful view of her naked breasts.  He made a confused noise when he saw her wearing the bottoms of her bikini and she said, “There are other ways of doing PT besides running.  I said that I wanted to check out that Super Pool and that’s what we’re going to do today.  Water cardio is amazing and besides,” she leaned forward until she was bare centimeters from his face, her breasts swaying ever so gently as she moved.  “I know that you’ve been wanting to see me in a swimsuit.”

Richard grinned at her and nodded his head.  She leaned farther forward and kissed him.  “Good, now I’m going to get ready for that and breakfast.  Why don’t you do so yourself?  I expect you to be ready to go by the time I get out.”

“Yes, ma’am!”

With a laugh Rachel went to her bag and then to the bathroom.  It was only a matter of moments for Richard to be up, out of his boxers and to find his swim shorts in the drawers.  After getting those on he then threw on some jeans and a shirt and sat in one of the luxurious leather armchairs near the balcony doors.  Rachel came out of the bathroom about a minute later.  “Good.  You follow suggestions rather well.”

“It comes from my days at the academy with petty officers screaming at us,” he chuckled as he got up to turn and look at her.  She wore a simple tee-shirt much like the day before and a set of jean jeans.  “Plus, I didn’t want to disappoint you.”

“You learn well,” she replied with a laugh.  “Now let’s get going.  Some food sounds good right about now.”

The two retired to their room after breakfast where Richard sat down and flipped on the news stations again.  So far there were no new updates on the war.  Most likely due to communications lag and the times it took for fleets to move there would be no new news for quite a while.  The big story was still about the Joint Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War.  They still kept trying to find some way to blame Admiral Kimery and she kept right on countering them.  He couldn’t help but to be happy for the admiral, he knew that the politicos were the real reason why they were losing this war; they weren’t being given the military budget to fight a proper war.  Not enough money and not enough ships.

Meanwhile Rachel sat down with her personal datapad (not the military issue one) on the balcony and started up some of her more specialized programs.  Programs that might get her court-marshaled if any of the higher ups knew she had them.  A lot of the programs she wrote herself and they were still up to the task of what she needed to do.  A few dozen clicks and keystrokes later and she was already piercing the outer defenses of BuPers’ firewalls.  It was easy if one knew what they were doing.  And BuPer’s systems weren’t as secure as some other ones and weren’t often updated.

Endless hours behind a computer back home when most teenage girls were out having fun with their friends had turned Rachel into a pretty fair jackleg hacker.  Granted she wasn’t as good as some of the professionals out there but for what she needed to do she was skilled enough.  Hopefully she was good enough to cover her tracks.  Access this, bypass that, and she was almost into BuPers’ personnel database.

Richard chose that moment to come over and wrap his arms around her from behind.  She hastily locked the screen as he turned her head to kiss her on the cheek.  “Ready to go yet?  It’s been an hour.”

Has is it really been that long?  She asked herself.  I’m getting rusty if stuff like this takes this long.  Ah, what am I thinking?  I have no chance to practice hacking like this.  I’m usually the one trying to prevent hackers, not be the hacker.  All those thoughts passed through her in a moment and she smiled at the man who was being so good to her.  Yeah, what did I do to deserve this?  “Maybe another half hour.  I’m in the middle of something,” she said as she quickly looked to him and then back at the datapad in her hand.

If Richard was disappointed by her answer he masked it rather well.  He’s learning patience.  He knows that all he has to do is wait for a bit and he’ll get the show I promised him.  But… she shrugged internally, where her self-doubts resided, he says that I’m beautiful and sexy but am I as good as some of the other women who will surely be there at the pool?  I mean Hawaii is the land of supermodels just after Los Angeles and Paris.  And this hotel!  Definitely supermodel quality.  And I keep saying that later on the wait will be worth it, that the sex will be amazing, but has he had any other women in his life?  I don’t want to be compared to somebody I don’t know.  Will he be disappointed that I’m not a virgin?  Ah, why should he care?  A virgin at my age?  Ha!  Fat chance!  Like any exist in these days.  She looked at him again, and will the sex be that good?  I don’t know, I guess that does depend on him too.

Richard’s thoughts unsurprisingly mirrored hers.  I hope she isn’t doubting herself again.  I know that some of the women here are hot as all hell, but doesn’t she know that I’m only looking at her?  Well, okay, that’s not all true, but for the better part of me, it’s the truth.  But whatever she’s doing seems important.  I do have all day to see her at the pool and beach.

Richard walked across the room and gave her another kiss and went back inside to relax on the bed.  Rachel let out a very small sigh and unlocked the screen.  Hopefully her session hadn’t timed out.  She checked.  It hadn’t.  Just a few more firewalls and attack barriers were left.  She worked on getting past those and got into the database.  Once in there she checked for any orders that pertained to herself and Richard.  Finding the necessary files she found that indeed BuPers had assigned them to different ships when their leave was over.  She nodded her head quickly.  These things happened.

By the time she logged out of the system she had a conspiratorial grin on her face.  Assign us to different ships?  Not if she had anything to say about it.  The automated system which cut the orders were hardly checked by their human operators so nobody should even know.  Their orders would come down and they’d be on the same ship.  She didn’t know which one but the same ship nonetheless.

Getting up she stretched and went back to the bed where Richard was relaxing and reading his own datapad.  She dropped her own datapad into the bag and after picking up a towel she asked, “Ready?”

Richard looked at her over the top of the datapad. “Yes I am.”

One morning Richard woke up to find Rachel up close next to him with her arm around him just like so many other mornings that he had while spending his vacation with Rachel.  The pool was always crowded all day and the two couldn’t get in quite as much PT as they would like to get there.  Richard had put paid to the idea that all “spacers” couldn’t swim by doing just that.  He also put paid to any self-doubts that she had by keeping his eyes on her for the most part.

When the crowds had gotten well past annoying the two would retire from the pool and head back up to the room to change into their workout clothes.  Then it was down to the hotel’s gym to run on the treadmills and pump some iron.  One evening they found a place that did a wicked Hawaiian pizza for dinner and went back a few more times.

He picked his head up from his pillow and kissed her gently on her forehead and a smile crept across her face as she opened her eyes and she too picked her head up and looked down at Richard.

“If we could stay like this forever, it wouldn’t bother me one bit,” Richard said as he pulled her closer to himself.

“I know,” Rachel said as she kissed him.

“So what do you have planned for today?” Richard asked as he watched Rachel sit up, leave the bed, and walk across the room.  “Or do you have anything planned at all?” Richard asked with a smirk on his face.

“As a matter of fact, I do have something planned for today.”  Richard looked to her waiting for her to continue.  “We’re going to go scuba diving.”

“Sc… scuba diving?” Richard asked nervously.  “Are you sure?”

“Richard,” Rachel came over to look at him while he was lying on the bed.  “You sound nervous.  Why?”

“That’s a hell of a lot of water you know.”

“And the both of us have spent time in zero-atmosphere for hours at a time during ship combat and we’re both EVA certified.  And you’re afraid of a little water?”

Richard thought about that.  Zero-atmosphere was worse if not just as bad as being in water.  You had nothing to breathe and if you lost your vacsuit in zero-atmosphere you were just as bad off if not worse than if you had drowned.  “Alright, you have a point there.”  He paused.  “When do you want to go?”

“I have it planned for about two o’clock today.  We’re going to go out to one of the major coral reefs and go diving there.  And don’t worry; we have a certified diving instructor going with us just in case something goes wrong.”  Richard breathed a small sigh of relief at that though.

Richard was the first to emerge from the bottom of the small boat that they had chartered to take them out to the coral reef.  He looked down at himself and looked at the slick black rubber suit that he had detested every moment while struggling to pull it on.  It was worse than the vacsuits they wore aboard ship and he didn’t think you could get worse than that!  Then he heard footsteps and looked about when he saw Rachel walk up the stairs to where he was standing.

Suddenly the thoughts of hating to have to wear a skin-tight black rubber suit went away as he took a look at Rachel.  If wearing a bathing suit had revealed a lot of her magnificent body, this made that experience pale in comparison.  He saw every last line and curve and the skin-tight outfit only made everything stand out more.

Rachel came over to him and leaned up against him.  “Ready to go?” she asked.

“I guess.”

Rachel chuckled as the professional diver came over and stood by the railing of the boat.  He quickly reviewed how to use their gear and other safety procedures before he rolled backwards off the boat.  Rachel went next while Richard checked everything one last time.  Then he too rolled backwards into the warm waters of the Pacific.

Once underwater the instructor guided the two of them farther down.  Over the past two hundred years the Human Federation had worked almost tirelessly to restore the oceans of the Earth to their former glory.  Centuries of overfishing, oil spills, illegal dumping of hazardous chemicals, and other forms of pollution had scarred the world’s oceans and waterways.  The entire ecosystem of the oceans had been threatened during the twenty-first century and World War Three had certainly not helped things.  Only the combined efforts of a united planetary government had been able to do as much work as it had.

Most of the damage had been repaired by now, but even so there were dozens of species of marine life that had gone extinct because of Man.  The species that had survived everything had adapted to live in the restored environment and filled in some of the gaps left by missing species.

Deeper and deeper they went, past schools of fish that seemed interested in the human intruders.  Truly people didn’t belong here.  Humans were land dwellers and yet they were intent on going into the oceans for pleasure or profit.  If Richard remembered correctly a few miles down and offshore of Oahu laid an underwater town.  It, and others like it, had been built for the express purpose of handling Earth’s burgeoning population without building too far upwards on the surface or having to put people in orbiting space habitats.  Many of those complexes also boasted undersea farms to support the people of the Earth.  Those cities and towns had been built with great care as to disturb as little of the natural ecosystem as possible.

There was no way that the two or their guide could get to one by diving alone.  Instead, trains ran in underwater tunnels to the underwater habitats.  Those same trains could actually take people across the oceans in hours and they boasted better accommodations than any shuttle ever built.

After spending most of that day diving, jet skiing, and parasailing the two of them traveled not far from the ocean and stopped at a small restaurant near the northern beaches.  Once there Richard got a big plate of spicy barbeque ribs and a beer.  Rachel contented herself with a pulled pork sandwich and a beer as well.  All told it was almost less than half of what they’d pay at the resort hotel.  Rachel commented that the sauce was good but it wasn’t a spot on what places like Saint Louis and Nashville could do.  Seeing his confusion she added, “I’ll take you there next time we get leave.  Then you’ll see what real barbeque is like.”

Whatever she said Richard still found the food to be excellent.  It put to shame anything that tried to claim to be barbeque back in Alpha Centauri.  It was hard to get good food like this in a space habitat!  It was even worse with the cooks aboard warships.  Hell, the food aboard ship sometimes met with mutinous behavior from the crew.  Richard himself remembered on his old ship where somebody had painted the walls of the quarters of the ship’s quartermaster with what was allegedly creamed chipped beef on toast.  Richard, being the XO, had tried to track down the culprits but nobody–naturally–had come forward.  Having had the “shit on a shingle” himself Richard hadn’t put in all that much effort into finding them despite the quartermaster’s protests.  He had admired the perpetrators nerve and couldn’t decide if when he caught them if he would punish them or recommend them for a medal.  He had never found them anyways.

Despite their best efforts (with napkins and just being careful) neither of them could keep from getting barbeque sauce on themselves.  They would smile and chuckle when they spotted the other dripping more of the deliciously spicy stuff on their clothes.  Richard figured that his shirt could be washed easily enough but he was more worried about Rachel’s low-cut yellow sundress.  He had other reasons for looking in her direction as the dress offered a pleasant view of her skin.  When he asked her what she planned on doing about it she replied with, “I’ll just take the dress off at the hotel for you and then I won’t worry about it for a bit.”

Richard had to keep from choking on some slaw when he heard her say that and saw the smile on her face.  Something about that smile and the way her eyes glittered said quite a bit.  He knew that look from previous women.  It was a promise alright.  She leaned closer to him to give him a barbeque-tasting messy kiss on the lips.  If she held it for a few more seconds that would’ve been proper in anything other than this nearly empty restaurant, then so what?  Nobody said anything.

They paid their bill and then stepped out onto the restaurant’s patio that overlooked the beach.  The sun was getting lower in the sky but not close to setting just yet.  The bus wasn’t going to be coming for another five or ten minutes so they had some time to kill just standing there by the rail watching the surf come in.  It was pleasantly cool out this evening and the wind suddenly kicking up made Rachel press herself more to him.

They took the bus back into the city and had to transfer to another one to get back to the hotel.  Nobody had said a word to them about having sauce on their shirt and dress.  A look at them then the sauce and people understood.  It wasn’t like they hadn’t done the same themselves.  Once back on the resort property Rachel put a bit more sway into her hips as she walked.  Only a blind man could’ve missed what she was doing.  She kept it up all the way up to their floor and to their room; even somehow managing to add a bit more the closer they got to the room if that was even possible.  Richard’s heart began to pound a bit harder at the mere thought of what they were going to do once there and he had to fight down his anticipation.

Once the door shut and locked behind them, along with a handy “do not disturb” light turned on, did Rachel reach up to her shoulders to pull the straps of her dress down, guiding the dress down off her body.  Richard wasn’t surprised to find her breasts bare as she slid the garment down.  He knew she wasn’t wearing the top half of her bikini all day.  Down it went past her stomach and then it just dropped over her hips to puddle at her feet.  She then quickly slid her bikini bottoms off and stepped into his waiting arms.

“Oh, baby,” he said as he folded his arms around her.  “You are a naughty girl.  I like this.”

“Hmm… I can tell you are pleased,” she purred again as she brushed her hand over the front of his pants.  “And you have no idea how naughty I can be.  But first,” she reached over to the nightstand to pick up a bottle of cabernet sauvignon that he hadn’t seen as they came in.  She nodded her approval, “2261.  A fine year for France.”

Richard let her go so she could pour the wine into two glasses.  She held them both up, “I called room service using my comlink and had them put it up here.”  Richard took the glass in his hand, noted how much was still in the bottle, and sipped.  It was smooth, not like many of the red wines that he had ever had.  Most of the red wines that he had had always had a strong bite to them but definitely not this one.  This one was almost as smooth as Rachel’s skin was.  “I also had them send this up,” she held up a bottle of almond massage oil and indicated a long white towel on the bed.  Richard was shocked that he had missed all of that on the way in but he had been paying attention to something else.

Rachel set her glass down just long enough to spread the towel out on the bed.  She turned around to look at him and asked, “What are you still doing dressed?”  Rachel all but tore his shirt up and off of him and reached for his belt.  Richard managed to take hold of her hands to make her stop.  “Allow me,” he said with an amused grin.  He undid his jeans and yanked them off along with his swim shorts.  She looked him over as he all but snapped to attention in front of her.  He was very much at attention in other ways and getting more so now that he was naked too.

She reached down to gently take him in her hand, “Now, let’s get started.”  Her hand left him and picked up her wine glass again.  She raised it and made a small noise that said that he should do the same.  “To us.  May this night and the next few be a lot of fun.”

“I’ll drink to that!” Richard exclaimed and suited words to action.

Draining her glass she waited until he had done so himself.  Rachel felt bad about tossing back a fine wine like that so quickly but there was more and they could take their time with the rest of the wine.  Besides, they could always order more.  “Now,” she said while tracing her finger across his chest.  “I want to go have a shower.  And I don’t want to be alone in it.”

She put her arm around his waist and led him to the bathroom.  In the bathroom was a bathtub big enough for three people let alone one.  Then again, when your basis of comparison was a shower head on the wall of a warship’s head anything bigger than that looked to be too big.  Richard had always been amazed at the amount of space that a hotel would give to a person.  Fancy places like this could afford to dote on their guests.  Gold faucets and fixtures were everywhere and the towels were made of real cotton, not polyester or other synthetic fibers like the towels onboard ship were made of.

Rachel started the water and made an inviting gesture for Richard to follow her.  He stepped into the tub and closed the curtain behind them and stepped under the stream of water.  He looked into her blue eyes and found just about everything he wanted there.  Love, acceptance, caring, understanding, and warmth were all there.  Desire danced there too, hot and flaming.  It was all there and a promise for a whole lot more tonight and tomorrow.  As Richard was looking into hers she too was looking into his and found a reflection of everything that her own eyes told him.

Rachel slid her arms around him and pressed her lips against his.  Richard slid his hands around to grasp her butt making her squeak very slightly.  He pushed his tongue forward, probing at her soft lips until she parted them to grant him access.  As their tongues danced she ground her hips against his, reveling in the feeling of the close contact and what it was doing to him.

They reluctantly broke away from each other after two or three more kisses and allowed the other to bathe.  Richard enjoyed running his hands through Rachel’s short hair, working the shampoo and conditioner into it and wishing that her hair was longer.  Regulations only allowed females to wear their hair to just below the ear.  The Space Forces were really strict about enforcing that rule since longer hair often interfered with the helmets of their vacsuits.

Grinning at each other they bathed the other, simply relishing the feel of the other person.  To be honest, it did make washing their backs easier.  The two lingered in the shower longer than they normally would have otherwise, but when you’re with a person you love and you’re both naked you have an excuse.

Toweling off afterward the two headed back into the bedroom where Rachel promptly threw back the blanket and laid the towel on the sheets.  Richard uncapped the bottle of massage oil and sniffed it.  “If it’s all the same to you I do prefer cocoa butter with shea instead.”

“We can get that sent up here if you want it.  Room service is but a quick com call away.”  Rachel reached over to the nightstand and her fingers brushed a button there.  “Room Service.  How can I help you?” the person on the other end asked in a British accent.

“Yes, this is Room 1826 of the Ali’i Tower,” she probably didn’t need to say it.  The com system should’ve already told Room Service where the call was coming from.  But it never hurt to make sure.  “My companion and I,” she flashed a grin at Richard who had to fight to suppress a brief laugh, “would like to have a bottle of cocoa butter with shea body lotion sent up to our room on the double.”

“Of course madam.  We’ll have it there as soon as possible.”  The worthy on the other end cut the link.  How soon was as soon as possible to the hotel staff Richard wondered.  If it was the military he’d expect it to be there almost as soon as the comlink shut off.  With civilians, who knew?

As soon as possible proved to be soon indeed as somebody pinged the room from outside only a few minutes later.  Richard was about to get up from the bed when Rachel got up, wrapping the towel around herself, and went over to the door.  Richard got up on the bed to look over to find her coming back with the bottle in hand.  “Well, I suppose that was a welcome that that woman wasn’t expecting.”

“Rachel,” Richard started, “it could’ve been a guy too.”

She unwrapped the towel from around herself and laid it and herself back on the bed.  “It’s just as well though my love.  I had the towel and you didn’t.  It’s that simple.  That is, unless you wanted to answer the door naked since I was going to keep the towel.”

Richard felt his face heat at the idea of greeting that woman at the door the way he was.  Rachel nodded her head slowly and hummed, “Uh huh, I thought so.  Right about now the only one who should be seeing you as you are is me.  Now how about you get to work?  A massage sounds good right now and after you’re done I’ll do you.”

Richard snorted a laugh, “Do me?  Do you mean–”

Rachel rolled her eyes at him but she was smiling.  “Men!  Sheesh, I mean that I’d give you one too.”

Richard moved over to her and positioned himself so that he was sitting on the backs of her legs.  He reached down to caress her thighs before coming back up to take the bottle of cocoa butter in hand.  He squeezed some onto her back which caused her to shiver a bit.  Setting the bottle back down, he leaned forward and moved up from the center of her back to her shoulders, slowly rubbing in a circular motion as he moved and listened to her sigh in relief.  Then down to the small of her back before moving on to her backside.  That brought a short laugh from Rachel, “I’ve never actually had somebody massage my ass before.  Usually men like to pinch it or slap it.”

“That’s because you haven’t had the right kind of man before,” Richard answered while he kept on working.  He moved down her legs to the back of Rachel’s thighs which brought another short laugh from her.  “What?” he asked.

“Just ticklish,” Rachel replied and then her face turned a bright pink, “Uh…oh, I don’t think I should’ve told you that.”

“Too late now,” Richard told her before he started to tickle her.  She tried to get away and make him stop but he all but had her pinned to the bed.  And besides, she was laughing too much.  “Oh, I’m… going to… get you,” she managed to say between bouts of laughter.

“Oh, you won’t,” Richard said as he continued to tickle his girlfriend.  He paused just long enough to say, “I’m not ticklish.  Not in the least.”

Rachel gave him a humorous glare, “Isn’t there something in the Geneva Convention against this?”

Richard shrugged his shoulders.  “Damn if I know.  I doubt they considered tickling a form of warfare,” he replied before he started back to tickling her legs and sides (he found that out not too long before).  Finally, with Rachel’s chest and back heaving from the tickle torture he stopped and let her calm down before finally massaging the rest of her legs.  He stayed away from her feet, afraid that she was ticklish there and that she could, in fact, get back at him by kicking him.  Instead he turned her over onto her back and started back up the front of her legs, listening to her laugh quietly as he worked his way over her thighs again.  Then up her stomach and sides to the swell of her breasts then her shoulders, gently massaging and rubbing the cocoa butter into her skin.

“You know, you smell wonderful and you look amazing too,” he commented as he took a long sniff of her.  “You smell like chocolate and it just makes me want to take a bite.”

Rachel giggled as his choice of words, “If you do that I’ll bite back and you might not like that.  Now come on, let me up so I can work on you.”  Richard did so and lay down on the towel.  Rachel got up and moved around to get the bottle of body lotion and proceeded to return the favor.  By the time she was done the both of them, the towel, their sheets, even the pillow smelled of rich, delectable chocolate.

Lying back on the bed Richard poured more wine into the two glasses and handed hers over.  Sipping slowly he asked her, “Well, what now?”

Rachel reached over and took him in her hand, “I think I might have an idea or three.”  She moved her hand up and down his length before sipping her wine.

“Wine and a hand job?” he asked her as she continued.

“Why not?” she asked with a startled chuckle as she continued to do both.  Before long she had emptied her glass of wine.  How had that happened?  Richard proceeded to fill her glass again and she sipped it.  Oh, yes, that must’ve been how that had happened.  Was the wine really going to her head that fast?  She supposed so.  It had been a few hours since they ate and she was smaller than Richard and he didn’t seem all that affected and he had had as much as her.  Another few sips and the glass was nearly empty again.  Richard filled his and hers one last time, finally setting the empty bottle on the nightstand.  “You mister,” she said slowly, “are trying to get me drunk.  And I think it’s working.”

“Me?” he said, putting his hand to his chest–the image of innocence personified.  “Perish the thought.  You bought the bottle of wine yourself.”

“That I did,” she answered, finally setting the still full glass on the other nightstand.  “That can be saved for later.  I’ve got something else to do.”  She moved to lie on her side with her head next to his hips and pushed herself up.  Then, her hand still on him, she dipped her head down and wrapped his lips around his member.

Richard certainly was not ready for that quite that swiftly.  Rachel’s breath was hot against his skin as she worked, her head slowly moving up and down, building a rhythm.  He gently set his hands on the back of her head to help guide her.  Her tongue danced across his flesh as she worked and he was surprised by how well she was doing.  It was even better than when Alison Waters had first given him head hastily in his bedroom’s closet at his sixteenth birthday party while everyone else had been downstairs.  He supposed that it was different in the fact that he loved Rachel and she loved him.  Oh, he had loved Alison, but not like he loved this woman right here and now.  And if this was any indication as to how later was going to be it would be even better than when he first had sex with Alison in the back of his car about two weeks later.

All of it combined to get him off a lot faster than he thought possible.  Richard knew that he had gone a long time without but he thought that he had enough stamina in this regard!  I guess I was wrong, he thought.  He tried to say something, anything, to let Rachel know that he was close but she kept going.  She knew what she was doing as she moved faster and finally it was over.

“Liked that didn’t you?” she asked as she dabbed at her lips with a tissue from the nightstand.  Richard nodded his head, unsure about quite what to say.  His head was still buzzing from what had just happened.  Dropping the tissue on the floor she took the wine glass and raised it to her lips.  She sipped the wine and swirled it around her mouth before drinking it.  After another sip she lay back on the bed and said rather simply, “Now, show me what you can do.”

Richard thought he knew what she was saying as he got up to position himself above her.  The wine was hitting him too and he simply forgot about what to do with a woman before putting it in her.  How had he forgotten about foreplay?!  Rachel wagged a finger at him, “There is time enough for…,” she sought after the word she wanted.  The wine was buzzing around in her head after all!  “…for… intercourse in a bit.  But first I want you to do something else too.”

“Oh, I know what you want now,” Richard said as he moved back from her a bit.  He laid his hands on her thighs and gently pushed her legs apart.  He lay down between her legs and rested his head on her thigh.  He breathed in, taking in her scent but it was covered up by the cocoa butter.  Not that he minded at all!  His experience with women before had left him with a certain… wary respect for such matters.  He gently reached forward and traced her opening with his fingers.  Rachel sighed gently as he continued to tease her and then he stopped and dipped his fingers inside her.

Rachel moaned softly as he worked.  It felt as if she had been a long time without as well.  He kept probing with his fingers, finding the spots where she responded the most to.  Listening to the sounds coming from her mouth drove him onward.  He must’ve hit a good spot for Rachel sighed out, “Ohh…, right there.”

Before long he withdrew his fingers and Rachel whimpered at the sudden lack of contact.  That whimper became a deep moan as he moved forward, pressing his lips to her opening.  Rachel gripped the sheets and it was all she could do not to climax right there.  It dawned on Rachel slowly that he actually knew what he was doing, that this couldn’t be the first time–hell not even the second time–that he was doing this.  She wasn’t a virgin so why should she care so much if he wasn’t?  In the end, she didn’t care one bit.

Finally her back arched, pressing herself to his face as her hips rose off the bed.  His hands came around to cup her ass and hold her in place.  When she climaxed, it came hard.  Her hips bucked in his hands and she threw her head back and screamed his name at the top of her lungs.  She was so loud that Richard wondered for an amused moment if the people next door to their hotel room could hear her despite the sound-proofing.  If they did, they’d be jealous if anything!

Richard guided her back down to the bed with his hands.  Drawing in a ragged breath she said, “Wow!”

“You said it baby,” he answered as he moved up the bed to lie next to her.  Richard noted how she was keeping her legs spread in obvious anticipation for the next part.  He reached to tilt her head towards him and kissed her on the lips softly.  “Was that what you wanted?”

Instead of words Rachel kissed him again so it must’ve been.  Richard looked her over as he got up.  She was sweating slightly and her chest was still heaving a bit.  But she had never looked so beautiful before.  Cupping her breasts with both hands, idly rubbing his thumbs over her nipples, he asked her, “Ready now?”

Rachel nodded her head, “More than anything.”

“Well, alright then,” he said as he moved to position himself above her.  Rachel smiled hungrily up at him as he eased himself into her.  He stopped as soon as he was all-in and his eyebrows rose just a tad.

“What?” Rachel asked, trying her best to sound innocent and failing at it.  “Surprised that I’m not a blushing virgin?  I would’ve thought that the blowjob would’ve put paid to that idea.”

Richard shook his head as he tried to clear the idea from his brain.  “I guess it should have.  Man, I can be stupid sometimes.”

Rachel giggled at him before saying, “Well, don’t take this the wrong way.  But hurry up stupid.  I know that we have all night but I do want it badly.”   Richard grinned wolfishly down at her, bent to kiss her, and before getting up he said, “Well, in that case, I can only oblige you.”

He started moving inside her, building a smooth but rapid pace.  It had been a long time since either of them had had sex before and it showed.  Both of them climaxed soon after they got started.  Afterwards Richard rolled off of her and reached for the nightstand.  He took his almost empty glass of wine in hand and finished it off before lying back down beside Rachel.  Before either of them knew what had happened sleep came up and claimed them.

The next morning Rachel found the perfect way to get Richard awake.  He had missed their first alarm and the wake-up call too.  The man could sleep through just about anything this side of a general quarters klaxon.  Richard was enjoying a dream about him and Rachel being away somewhere, possibly alone on an island in the South Pacific where nobody was around to bother them for hundreds of kilometers.  Just the two of them, the sea, a small cottage by the beach, and no need for clothes at all.  In his dream he pictured Rachel giving him head as he woke up one morning.

Then his eyes snapped open and he gazed up at the ceiling of the hotel room.  However, the sensations of the dream were still very real.  He peered down at what Rachel was doing and found that it was no dream after all.  She was giving him head!  What a way to wake up!

Smiling widely at her he voiced just that opinion and she came up to say, “I thought you might think so.  I’ve been waiting for almost twenty minutes now.  I’ve been touching myself while I waited for you to wake you up you know.  I only got started doing this,” she gestured at him, “for about a minute or two.  But now that I have you wide awake and up,” she grinned at him as she indicated his erection, “I’m going to do something now.”  Instead of telling him what she was going to do she went ahead and did it.  Rachel quickly rose from the bed to face him, threw a leg over his hips to straddle him, took his manhood in her hand, and guided herself down with her other hand.

Richard was almost impressed beyond words as she leaned forward to brace herself against him.  Rachel rode him like a cowgirl with just about every ounce of strength that she had in her.  Richard watched mesmerized by the sight of her breasts bouncing with each movement.  He reached up, took her hips in his hands and helped guide her along.

Both of them lasted much longer than the previous night.  She ground her hips against his, wiping sweat and her hair from her brow as she sighed his name out and how good it felt.  Both of them wanted to enjoy it for as long as possible.  Rachel varied her pace, slowing at times, speeding up at others.  Every time she thought that he was close she’d slow down to make it last that much longer.  Finally, she leaned forward onto both hands and went for broke.  She was close herself and the quicker pace got her there soon.  She threw her head back in a loud scream as pure ecstasy washed over her body like a wave.  Anybody who was close by couldn’t mistake that scream at all.

She climbed off of him, her hair sticking to her face as sweat glistened on her skin.  Pushing her hair back she said, “God, I haven’t done that in ages.”

“Done what?” Richard asked, wondering just what she meant.  “That position or finishing like that.”

“Both,” she answered with a somewhat tired grin as she started walking over to the kitchenette counter in the room.  Richard followed her as she started the coffee maker there, her nose wrinkling at the smell of the stuff.  Richard checked the trash bin and found it to be something called Taster’s Choice.  By the smell of the coffee he could tell that it wouldn’t be his first choice.  Or even his second.  He remembered it from too many MREs and his stomach did a slow lurch at the thought of downing that awful swill.  But bad coffee, even vile stuff like that, was better than no coffee he supposed.

Rachel turned around to look at him, “I could call room service and have some fresh breakfast and some real coffee sent up here.”  Richard made a sound of agreement as he put his hands around her to grasp her ass.

“But before we do that we can do something like this.”  Without any more warning then that he effortlessly lifted her off her feet and set her on the counter.  He spread her legs slightly and then slid into her once more.  Rachel gasped at the suddenness of it all.  Once her surprise cleared she gave him an amused look, “Now this is a new one for me.”

Richard kissed her once more before setting his hands on her breasts.  “I thought it would be.  To be honest, it’s new for me too.  Now,” he idly traced his fingers over her skin, “we have all day, right?”

Rachel’s eyebrow rose and her mouth quirked up in an amused grin, “That we do.”

To say that breakfast was late would’ve been an understatement.  The two ended up skipping breakfast and had to take a late lunch.  They had taken that awful cup of coffee after doing it on the kitchenette counter then went back to the bed, to the shower, then back to the bed again.  They would take a ten to twenty minute break between having sex.  They went for a few more rounds and different positions before physical exhaustion got to them.  The human body could take only so much and the two of them were trying their hardest to find that limit.

They discovered whole new worlds of passion, romance, and ecstasy that they hadn’t even known had existed.  The whole time Richard was careful to make sure that she was pleased; he knew from past experience how hard it was to get a woman off.  Sometimes it was too hard!  Everything had to be just right.  He’d touch her and caress her in different spots, never the same twice so that she could experience the full joy of the act and not get frustrated.  Sometime around 1400 hours they had collapsed on the bed, panting and sweating.  By then they were wolfishly hungry.

Rachel paged the room service and ordered Canadian bacon and eggs.  The man on the other end didn’t even so much as hesitate as he placed the order with carafes of fresh coffee and juice.  It was their job to get you whatever you ordered no matter the time of day.  Again, Rachel answered the door of the room, but not before checking the admittance camera outside the room.  She had a towel ready just in case, but Richard gaped at her as she answered the door naked.  She came back in the room and set the serving tray on the kitchenette counter (well away from where they had coupled) and poured coffee for the two of them.

Rachel turned back to him and said, “It was the same woman from yesterday.  I doubt she was expecting me to get the door like that but she didn’t seem all that surprised.  It makes you wonder how often it does happen.”

Richard thought about that as he took a cup of coffee in his hands and sipped it.  “I bet more often than she’d admit, that’s for sure.”

Rachel sat down across his lap with her back against the headboard of the bed as she sipped her coffee and checked her datapad.  She quickly scrolled down the news there and a smile bloomed on her face.  She explained that the Joint Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War had ruled that Admiral Kimery was blameless for the defeat at Mendus, that there was truly nothing that she could’ve done or predicted that they would be defeated in such a way.  It was literally unheard of to hear that a fleet could be taken down so completely by a computer virus.

It was only by the grace of God and maybe a compassionate Rebel admiral that allowed their fleet to get away instead of being crushed in detail.  Granted the ACF should’ve destroyed their entire fleet rather than let it escape.  Rachel tried to picture herself in a POW camp and shuddered at the mere thought.

But even now the ACF held an apparent technical advantage.  If they could indeed shut down entire fleets it wouldn’t matter if they did have fewer ships.  They had the bit between their teeth and were running with it.  If they could keep the Human Federation off balance enough they might win the war through attrition alone.

Rachel shook her head to clear those thoughts from her head.  It was too early to think like a defeatist, but she couldn’t help it.  Unlike Admiral Kimery she was intimately aware of just how vulnerable their ships were to that kind of attack again and that plugging every single security hole on every ship in the fleet would take time.  She had filed reports up the chain of command multiple times in the past and practically pleaded to have the resources allocated to fix those issues but every time the request was shot down due to time and money, both of which the Human Federation didn’t have a lot of.

She felt anger inside, maybe if she had pleaded a little bit more with her superiors, tried harder to make them listen… maybe, just maybe, that defeat might not have happened.  She turned to Richard as she put the datapad aside with disgust.  “You know Richard,” he looked up as he slid his hands up and down her hips, “not to spoil the mood or anything but I had sent reports up the chain of command describing in detail many of the system issues that led up to our defeat and the computer virus that caused it.  Nobody wanted to listen to me.  Nobody.  They always said that they didn’t have the time and money to fix it.  That at the time the worst we had to worry about was pirates and they could be defeated in detail eventually.”

“What do you want from the top brass?”  Richard smiled as he dismissed them with a wave of his hand.  Sometimes the top brass was just plain stupid and ended up hurting their own side more than the enemy did.  By experience most soldiers and sailors hated the top brass.  “But enough about that, they got what they deserved, a bloody nose from the admiral.”  He lifted her off of himself and got up from the bed.  “Come on, let’s eat before our food gets cold.”  Rachel smiled as she thought about what he had said.  Maybe with some food, more coffee, and more sex the world would start to look better.  She certainly aimed to find out.  Together they sat down at the small table in the room and gratefully started to eat.

By dinner they were all but worn out from their exertions and she ordered a round of beers from room service to go with their steaks and potatoes and salads.  Even after all that they didn’t make any more love until just before falling asleep.  It was a light spooning and felt infinitely more intimate than anything they had done before.  After that, yawning with obvious exhaustion, they fell asleep in each other’s arms.

Author’s Notes: Whew.  This was our first lime/lemon that we’re actually proud of.  We hope that you enjoyed it for it might be the last one that we do in such detail for a long time.