The party was in full swing when Tom Paris noticed the too-polished looking fellow bearing down on him.
He groaned inwardly. One of the banes of writing holonovels, he decided, was putting up with agents. And this fellow was definitely a bane.
“Tom! Congratulations! Love the novel, even if you aren’t my writer,” Mr. Polish enthused, pumping Paris’s hand.
“Thanks, Frank,” he offered, hoping he would go away quickly.
No such luck. Frank turned his attention to the sandy-haired man next to him. “Frank Delot, I’m with Mandalay Publishing,” he said, sticking out his hand.
“Michael MacLeod,” replied his victim, who actually looked amused.
“Mike, glad to meet you,” Delot said.
Paris had trouble keeping a straight face. He doubted anyone – not even the admiral’s mother – ever called him “Mike.” This should be good.
“I thought we’d see a number of Starfleet folks tonight, Tom,” Delot boomed. “What’s wrong, are they all on duty or something?”
Paris was about to nod toward MacLeod, but the admiral slightly shook his head. Couldn’t blame him.
“Well, Frank, they’re here,” he finally said, “just undercover.”
That at least amused the agent, who, unfortunately, decided to hang with them for the time being. He prattled away, his eyes sweeping the room all the time. Paris fervently hoped that he’d find someone else more interesting.
Bingo! Delot’s eyes stopped their sweeping, and focused on the far side of the room. “Who is that?” he asked appreciatively.
“Who?” Paris asked, clearly puzzled.
“The redhead. In the green dress.”
Both men followed his gaze to see the woman who, at the moment, was deep in conversation with B’Elanna. Auburn hair, swept up in a French roll that accentuated the graceful curve of her neck and shoulders. Maybe it was the emerald green dress, perhaps it was the lighting that reflected off her silver earrings … but she looked, well, simply radiant.
“Gods, she’s beautiful,” Delot nearly whispered.
“She certainly is,” MacLeod agreed, almost reverently.
Paris allowed himself a peek at MacLeod’s face. Yep, there it was – that look. The one of a man desperately in love.
He understood. Kathryn Janeway had that effect on men. Even when she didn’t intend it. Hell, he’d had that adoring look once or twice. He’d certainly seen it enough on Voyager – on Harry, Neelix, Chakotay. Especially Chakotay.
Delot’s voice snapped him back to reality. “You know, I usually like them younger, but this one …. Excuse me, fellows, I’m going to go introduce myself.”
MacLeod’s eyebrow shot up. Uh, oh, Paris thought. This isn’t good. MacLeod never seemed outwardly jealous – Janeway probably wouldn’t put up with it – but he was definitely protective of his wife. Paris’ mind raced, then, thank the gods, the solution presented itself.
“No need. Here she comes now,” he said.
Delot stood there, entranced, as MacLeod stayed neutral and Paris held his breath. Janeway walked up to them, oblivious to the storm she was causing.
“There you are,” she said to her husband, then noticed Delot. “Hello,” she said pleasantly, but somehow, in that split second, she’d picked up the vibes. Her eyes shifted quickly, from her husband, then to Paris, asking silently for an explanation.
Delot, however, wasn’t going to be denied. “Frank Delot, Mandalay Publishing,” he said, offering his hand.
MacLeod, who had quickly moved to her right, caught Janeway’s free hand in his, ignoring his wife’s upraised eyebrow. “Mr. Delot, I’d like to introduce Admiral Kathryn Janeway, my wife.”
“Janeway? Of Voyager? Well, we’ll have to talk about a holonovel ….” He paused, his face showing that something else had registered. “Your wife?” he asked, turning to MacLeod.
“That’s right,” the admiral said pleasantly, but Paris could see the sudden hardness shading his gray eyes.
Janeway saw it too, and cleared her throat. “Thank you, Mr. Delot, but I do have an agent. I’m afraid, though that I’m going to be a bit too busy to write for a while.”
Delot turned back to her, and for the first time, saw the slight bulge of her abdomen, softly draped in emerald satin. He turned red. “I ... I see,” he stammered, all pretense of polish gone. “Congratulations.”
Whatever was going on, Janeway wanted no further part of it. “Thank you,” she politely replied, then looked at her husband. “Michael, I could use some air. Come with me.”
She gave Paris a slight wink as she turned to leave.
The late fall air was slightly chilly, and Janeway allowed her husband to draw her close.
“Michael,” she said quietly. “I get the feeling I was the butt of a joke in there.”
His hands tightened on her shoulders. “Absolutely not,” he said firmly.
She turned in his embrace. “Then what the hell was going on?”
He thought a second. “Biblical interpretation.”
“What?” She pulled back and gave him a look that quite clearly questioned his sanity.
He merely grinned. “Yep … it was one of those covenants ... or was it commandments in the Old Bible? Something about not coveting your neighbor’s wife,” he said, bending down to kiss her.
As the admirals left, Delot staring in their wake, Paris couldn’t resist a bit of deviltry. He clapped the agent on the shoulder, ignoring the man’s start. “You know, Frank, there’s something you should know. Old ‘Mike’ there, is in Starfleet Special Ops. When I want to write about particularly nasty ways to kill people, I ask him how it’s done.”
Delot was slightly green now. He nodded, swallowed hard, and fled toward the door.
Paris was laughing quietly to himself when B’Elanna walked over to him.
“And what’s with him?” she asked, nodding in Delot’s direction. “He looked as if he was about to choke.”
Paris laughed. “Oh, he’ll be OK, B’Elanna. I think he just bit off more than he could chew.”