They took their time.
Behind the doors of her suite, Mara straddled Jonathan’s lap—he bare-chested, she in a thin camisole. The chair beneath them creaked. Jonathan’s warm hands ran down her arms, her thighs. Mara played her hands along his wide chest and hollows of his collarbone. Feather soft, her fingers found the different textures of his skin. She gazed into his hazel eyes, watching the color shift. Jonathan studied her face, his eyes moved, stopped, moved, stopped. He caught up handfuls of her hair and pulled her to him. Their kisses slowed. Each placement of mouth and lips needed full exploration. They tasted of ale and whiskey with sweetness underneath. They smelled of hanji smoke and Mara’s perfume.
Even when their desire drove them, they took their time. Patient and careful with each other, they discovered the right touch, the better position. They whispered encouragement and delight. And when they dissolved into ecstasy, time stopped altogether.
When the present reformed, Jonathan and Mara curled together on her big bed.
“What are we going to do?” he asked her.
She held him close. “Just this.”
His thumb stroked her shoulder. “Maybe…” He pulled back to look at her. “A comm system, maybe. Some way to send letters back and forth.”
She cupped his thoughtful face. “You want to write me a letter?”
“No.” He sounded surprised by his own answer. “I want you. But, I’ll write a letter.
A messy circle of crumb-covered plates, half-eaten apples, and the evening editions of half a dozen newspapers surrounded them on the sitting room floor.
“This one’s great,” Mara said. She passed Jonathan The Daily News.
He studied the front page. “The Queen and The Captain,” he read. “Yeah, great picture.”
The image showed a profile of Archer and Mara at the soccer match. Light from the windows highlighted the Captain’s prominent nose.
“I’ll take it anyway.” He put the newspaper in a pile on the floor next to him.
“Here’s a story about Kerner.” Mara spread the paper flat in front of her. “Oh, dear.”
“What is it?”
“He’s making a lot of enemies with his reform campaign. His advisors don’t seem to be helping him at all. I should talk to Collier about this tomorrow.”
“Yes, tomorrow.” Archer pointed. “Hand me that one.”
Mara turned away from the disturbing article and fumbled through the pile. “The Reporter?”
The front page showed a clear picture of the Queen, the Captain, Commander Tucker and First Aide Adrianna cheering at the match.
“Oo, that’s good, too,” Jonathan said around his sandwich. “Maybe I should get another one for Trip.”
“Adrianna will get papers for him,” she said. “Give me your pile.”
“What? No. I’m taking them to the ship.”
“Give them to me. I’ll bundle them up.”
“You’re awfully bossy when you’re in your underwear,” he told her.
She waggled her outstretched fingers.
Reluctantly, Jonathan surrendered his cache.
“And you better get dressed. It’s almost time to leave for the shuttles.”
“Bossy,” he repeated, getting up. “This is not a pretty side of you, Marapura.”
“I’ll show you my pretty side,” she grinned as he started for the bedroom.
Under a pile of clothes, Jonathan’s communicator trilled. He groped through the pile and pulled it out.
“Archer,” he said.
“Captain,” Sub-Commander T’Pol said. “I have finished my investigation of the Callindan archives. I need to speak with you and the Queen immediately.”
“Where are you?”
“The archival office.”
Mara hurried through the room, grabbing up her clothes.
“We’ll be right there.”
In the basement of the Assembly Hall, cramped storage shelves spilled the smell of old paper into the dusty dark. A narrow path wound through uneven rows, around crates, wrapped artifacts, and stacks of labeled boxes. Yellow light bled weakly from the end of the huge room—a single lamp on a scarred table.
Light from the lamp shone up into Sub-Commander T’Pol’s face, casting uneasy shadows. Mendelsohn Mbutu shuffled through a pile of documents on the table.
“Here,” he said, pulling out a memo padd. “Here’s the original manifest.”
“Wait,” Marapura thrust out her hand. “Stop. What?”
Even though she sat at the table, the room started to spin. She sat forward to keep from toppling from her chair. In the seat next to her, Jonathan gripped her arm.
“We compared the information in the archives here with Starfleet and Vulcan databases,” T’Pol repeated. “We learned that a colony ship left Earth fifty years ago with fifteen couples.”
“That can’t have anything to do with us,” Mara complained. “Our civilization is over a thousand years old.”
“We charted their flight plan,” T’Pol continued. “They were headed toward the Delta Quadrant. If they stayed on course, their ship, calledThe Callinda, would have passed close to a wormhole. It is possible that the wormhole threw them into this sector and, theoretically, back in time. They would have lost all contact with Earth.”
The Queen stared at T’Pol.
Mendelsohn slid the reader across the table to her. “This is the personnel list.”
Mara started to read it, gasped, then looked back at Mendelsohn.
“It’s The Fifteen,” he said. “The captain was Reginald Gibson, Callinda’s first king. Your ancestor.”
Mara read the names, all of them so familiar to her from history and myth. A picture accompanied each name. She touched the image of Reginald Gibson with her fingertip. His blue eyes gazed back at her. “So, we’re human?”
“I’ve made several scans of your people,” T’Pol said. “You are completely human.”
She couldn’t take her eyes off Reginald’s picture. “What happens now?”
“We need to brief Starfleet,” Archer said. He pointed to a reader in T’Pol’s stack. She handed it to him.
“Since only fifty years has passed on Earth,” he said, “most of the original colonists still have members of their immediate family at home.” He consulted the padd. “Brothers, sisters, even parents. They need to be notified.”
Mara swallowed. “I won’t do anything, then, until you hear back from Earth.” She looked up at Mendelsohn. “Not a word to anyone.”
He dipped his head. “Of course, Majesty.”
“And keep these materials safe.” She stood and turned to Jonathan. “It’s very late. Are your shuttles still here?”
“Yes, I told them to wait.”
“Then, you should go.”
Archer passed his hand down her arm. “And you should try to sleep.”
She smiled wanly. “That ship has sailed.”
When Archer’s lips tightened, she asked, “Did your father used to say that, too?”
And when he nodded, she burst into tears.
◊ ◊ ◊
Click here to read Chapter 7.