”When Seven gets back, ask her to join me, please,” Kathryn Janeway, Vice President of the large corporation Stellar Ltd had asked her assistant Martha, passing the older woman on her way to her office. Seven had been away for a week, assigned to translate as well as submit important information to the executives in charge at several important negotiations between a French company and one of Stellar Ltd affiliated companies. She had been excited about it and proud of the trust Janeway had put in her, to send her on her own.
On a personal level however, the young woman had not been as pleased spending the week apart. She had hugged Janeway fiercely at the airport, biting her lip hard, when they said good-bye.
“I will miss you, Kathryn,” she had whispered huskily. “I don’t know how I will be able to sleep.”
“Like you have before you hooked up with me. A full eight hour,” Janeway had tried to joke, mostly to cover up her own choked throat.
Seven had regarded her sorrowfully.
“I did not know I loved you back then,” she then said with a tremor in her voice that had reverberated within Janeway since then. Now she was almost giddy, expecting Seven any minute.
Martha looked up from a piece of paper she had been reading and her startled expression caught the executive’s attention.
“Something I should know about?” she enquired, halting before the cluttered desk just outside her door.
Martha cleared her throat, looking decidedly nervous.
“Seven isn’t coming,” she managed. “I think she … left a note.”
“What do you mean, she isn’t coming? I know she isn’t here yet, but she is due in,” she checked her small gold watch, “half an hour.”
Martha shook her head.
“No, that’s just it. She won’t be coming back. She was here while you and I were occupied in that meeting. She left me a note,” she waved the paper she was holding, her hands trembling a little, “and from what she says in here, there is one waiting for you on your desk. She’s gone, Kathryn.”
Janeway glared at her assistant and then walked briskly into her office, immediately spotting the single envelope lying on her desk. She picked it up and a sudden weakness in her knees made her slump down in her comfortable chair.
The envelope was carefully glued together and she regarded it with a sinking feeling before impatiently opening it with her fingers.
It wasn’t a long note. Trust Seven to be blunt and direct, she thought wearily before reading the neatly hand-written lines.
I do not know if you can understand how much my departure pains me. There is not much I can say to apologise for my recent conduct and how sorry I am for everything and for having to leave this way. You have been nothing but good to me by giving me a chance when most people would not have done so. I will always treasure our time together, although I fully understand if you can not. Forgive me for letting you down, forgive me for being a coward and not addressing you in person. I wanted to but there is no way I can face you, I can hardly face myself. I will always carry you in my heart, please trust in that if nothing else.
Janeway inhaled and a pang of fear exploded in the pit of her stomach, travelling up through her throat and making her nauseous. What was going on? What was Seven talking about? In what way did she think she had failed and why had she run away.
She raised an unsteady hand and dragged through her elegant hair, dishevelling it beyond repair. She glanced on the note again.
What recent conduct? And for heaven’s sake, why did Seven think she had done something unforgivable?
Janeway rose from her chair and to her surprise she had to steady herself against the large desk before she could call Martha.
She leaned over to the buzzer and pressed it.
“Martha, get in here right away, please. Bring your note from Seven.”
Martha came in, clutching her letter to her chest.
“What is going on?” Kathryn lashed out, fear starting to spread with every breath she took. The look on Martha’s face was indescribable; the assistant was pale and her eyes huge behind the glasses.
“Read my note, Kathryn,” she whispered and handed it over.
Janeway took it but had to sit on the edge of her desk before reading it. It was written in the same neat way as her own and was even shorter.
First of all, thank you for being so nice and encouraging to me. You have been like a mother to meand I will never forget you.Please take care of Kathryn. She will need you although I do not deserve it for hurting her; she will miss me and what we had – or what she thought we had. I would do anything to be able to do this last week all over again. It breaks my heart and I will be lost without her. You know how I love her you have from the start.Make sure she eats and do not bring her too much coffee. Your friend,
“I don’t understand!” Janeway blurted out, anger and confusion in her voice. “She was fine last week. I admit it has been hectic, crazy even, around here lately, but she seemed happy. Why has she left and why didn’t she talk to me first?”
The executive exasperatedly closed her eyes for a moment and then regarded her assistant as if she had all the answers.
“I am not sure,” the older woman replied, her feelings apparent in her voice as well. “Before she left, I remember thinking Seven looked a bit tired and … preoccupied, perhaps? Like there was something on her mind. I asked her about it, but she just claimed everything was fine. I thought she might not be over her parent’s deaths yet, or maybe the big change in her life, living in the city, was taking its toll.”
“She looked preoccupied? And you didn’t tell me? Why?” Janeway raged, crumbling the paper in her hand. She then seemed to realise what she had done and quickly smoothed the wrinkles again.
“She asked me not to. I thought she’d rather talk to you directly; you are so close …” Her voice trailed off and a couple of tears fell down her cheeks.
The executive sighed and relented.
“I know, Martha and I’m sorry. Screaming at you won’t bring her back. But where do you think she has gone to?”
Martha frowned, hastily wiping her cheeks.
“Back to Raven’s Island?”
Of course. Back to her precious island where she had lived most of her life; the only place she might feel safe.
“What will you do?” Martha asked.
Janeway squared her shoulders and rose from the edge of her desk.
“Follow her there. I just have to do some investigating first. Something happened to Seven or somebody made her feel she failed me. No doubt I am partially to blame, I know how I get when business is hectic. But there is something more going on here and I intend to find out what it is.”
Taken aback at her employer’s tone of voice, Martha nodded. She knew that predatory look in Janeway’s eyes. She was never easy to deal with if she was displeased with something and this was personal. Somebody or something had robbed her of her one true source of happiness and knowing Janeway, she would not stop until all was unveiled and dealt with. Martha only hoped that Seven was not as guilty as she claimed in her letters.
Kathryn Janeway wore her heart on her sleeve for the tall blonde and would be merciless if betrayed.
The tall blonde woman was shivering. The wind was cold and she only wore a flannel shirt over her tank top. Standing on the soft sand on the beach of her island, she was trying not to crumble, thinking about Kathryn and how she missed her.
She had been relieved not to have to face the executive just yet. Seven didn’t think she was a coward at heart, but she was not ready to explain or meet those blue eyes that could turn into stormy grey in an instant, if provoked. She knew she must have hurt her lover immensely but for now there had not been any other option but to leave. She needed to think, to go over what happened in her mind; sort it out before going back and explain it all.
Seven embraced herself, too cold and too numb to even cry over the loss she had sustained. She would have given everything to be able to hold that warm, supple body against her own, hide her face in those shiny auburn locks and just forget about everything else.
The last time she had hugged Kathryn, not counting saying goodbye at the airport, the older woman had nuzzled her neck and mumbled words of love and affection against her skin. Seven had put a finger under that stubborn chin and tipped her head back to kiss her.
“You bring me such joy,” Janeway had whispered against Seven’s mouth. “I don’t want to let you go but you are the best person for the job. Kiss me …”
And Seven had kissed her with more passion than ever before, plundered Kathryn’s sweet lips and explored her mouth like it was their very first kiss.
“I love you, Kathryn,” she had whispered and felt the older woman groan and deepen the kiss.
“You are so precious to me, darling,” Janeway had whispered back, her voice huskier than usual, “and I love you too. This week will be agony without you.”
“It is only a week, it will go by quickly,” Seven had said.
And it had. The week had gone by very quickly, but then … heading for inner disaster so fast was perhaps for the better. A slow journey towards such pain would have been even worse.
Janeway sat at her desk, browsing through the documents Seven had left. Reports from the meetings and all the more informal situations where she had been the main translator. Everything seemed in order but she had a gnawing feeling that she was missing something important. It had been three days now, since Seven left and she was no closer to solving this.
Her mind drifted a little as she rearranged the folder to read it again. She had asked Martha what she could recall about Seven’s state of mind before going away. The assistant had been teary eyed but tried her best to remember.
“She was pale, more than usual, and I asked her if she was feeling ill,” she recollected. “She denied it but I could see that she was … preoccupied, I guess is the correct word. She kept fiddling and I have never seen Seven fiddle before. She also lost track of what she said and was clearing her throat all the time. Like she was … I don’t know? A little choked up?”
“I asked her if there was anything I could do for her, as she seemed uneasy, but she smiled, you know, that brilliant, radiant smile she has developed? She smiled and said not to worry, that she would be fine and also that she would talk to you.”
“She said she was going to talk to me? She never did. I wonder why? What kept her from talking to me … am I that intimidating, Martha?”
Martha had the good taste not to roll her eyes.
“Kathryn, you know you scare the pants off most people in this building if you are not pleased with their performance. Don’t you think that Seven has picked up on that?”
“But she and I … we don’t have just a working relationship. I would never have hurt her …”
She broke off, realising the flaw in what she just said.
“That is part of it, isn’t it? I do intimidate her to some degree, don’t I?”
Her voice trailed off and she forced her face not to reveal any emotions at all. She knew she could be a bitch on wheels of provoked and definitely if someone had failed her personally. She didn’t handle pain very well. She withdrew from everybody and worked and worked to keep the agony at bay. Seven held the key to her heart and her happiness and the younger woman knew this. She might have left just to spare Janeway the pain … and herself from having to experience the rejection.
Janeway quietly dismissed Martha and then hid her face in her hands as if literally push the tears back. Then she pulled out folder again and began to read again.
Halfway through the file she stopped, browsed through the pages and checked them over again. Something was not right but what … She read the last page one more time and then she inhaled audibly, slowly raising her eyes from the page.
With considerable force she slammed her right fist on the desk, making the little picture of Seven jump. Now she knew. She realised what Seven had done, or thought she had done and a cold blanket seemed to settle over her shoulders as she realised what she had to do now.
Somebody was responsible for what happened and it wasn’t all Seven’s doing.
And that somebody was going to pay.
The roaring fire lend a warm glow to the pale cheeks of the blonde woman huddling on the rug in front of the fireplace. Her eyes were focused on some secret hiding in the flames and her full lips half open as if she was remembering something particularly sensual. Slowly her head dropped down on to her raised left knee and she took a shivering breath.
At one time her island had been a source of comfort, of security. She had grown up here, made herself a home among the cliffs, the little forest and the two beaches which both had bright white sand that felt like velvet under your feet.
She had spent most of her time here alone, if not oblivious of the world, then not really caring about it either. She had had a thirst for knowledge and her intelligence had made it quite easy for her to learn. She had a head for language and science, her possibilities had seemed endless and her choices too. Then her parent’s deaths had forced her to join the outside world, trying to find a job and fate had led her to Stellar Ltd and Kathryn Janeway.
She would always carry the moment the commanding woman had leaned over hear as she was sitting at their conference table, all soaked by the rain, in her heart. The special scent that was Kathryn’s had engulfed her, enticed her completely.
The older woman had been hesitant, scornful even, at Sevens lack of official credentials but none the less, she had given her a chance to prove herself. It had only taken them two days to wind up in a passionate embrace; it was if their bodies knew before their hearts did.
Seven hugged her knee closer to her body, trying to keep from shivering. She had let Kathryn down and then she had fled like a coward instead of staying and facing up to what she had done. No doubt Kathryn was both hurt and angry now. Apparently their happiness was not meant to last. She was meant to remain here, alone on Raven’s Island.
Janeway stalked down the corridor two floors beneath her offices. People she met smiled at first but her grim expression quickly altered theirs and they averted their eyes and just mumbled a polite greeting in passing.
She was a strong leader and not always popular but she knew that her staff respected her. They were a well-knitted family and she had proved herself to them and they to her on numerous occasions. It was beyond her comprehension that one of her most trusted people had for some reason instigated this whole thing against Seven. How and why, were the first questions she wanted answered.
She stopped at a desk further down the corridor and a very nervous secretary looked up from her computer.
“Ms Janeway! I didn’t hear you. Ms McDunn is in but she is in computer conference with …”
“Tell her I’m here, please”, Janeway said in a low, throaty voice that anyone who knew her would not disobey.
“But … certainly, Ms Janeway,” the secretary squeaked and buzzed her boss. “Ms McDunn? Ms Janeway’s here to see you.”
There was a silence and then a careful voice was heard over the speaker.
“Thank you, Celia, show her in, please.”
It was a pleasant voice but Janeway knew about the strict and ambitious nature behind the madonna like face. She was a brilliant businesswoman but she was … ruthless in most aspects of the word.
Janeway stepped inside the office, looked around the walls and the shelves displaying little personal things. They were not family pictures or anything that could be interpreted as being of sentimental value. Only elegant little figurines and extravagant art served any purpose in this woman’s office. Diplomas of course covered a lot of space on the far wall.
“Marion,” Janeway dipped her head and greeted the brunette, frostbite in her voice.
“Kathryn, what can I do for you?” the other woman asked casually as she apparently put her conference on the computer on hold.
“Are you all done?” Janeway asked, nodding at the computer.
“Yes, we will meet again in an hour.” She looked carefully at her C.E.O.
The executive kept standing up and clasped her hands behind her as she weighed back and forth on her feet a couple of times.
“Why are you trying to frame Annika Hansen? What are your reasons for trying to get rid of her?” she asked in a quiet tone of voice that cut through the room like a well-planned and calculated missile. Marion McDunn just sat there, completely stricken.
“What on earth are you talking about, Kathryn?” she asked, her eyes narrowing.
“Don’t give me that. You know I know or I wouldn’t come barging in, disturbing your conference and demanding answers.” Janeway nailed the other woman with her fiery grey eyes, feeling oddly satisfied to watch her squirm almost imperceptibly in her luxurious armchair.
“I don’t know what that blonde has told you …” McDunn began before realising her poor choice of words.
“That blonde happens to be a valuable key member of my staff and so are you. What I fail to understand is why you have kept feeding her misinformation for more than two weeks before I sent her on that business trip. She was bound to make mistakes and now she has … quit, thinking it was all her fault. Granted she should have double checked her material, but I am sure she would never even begin to assume that someone would deliberately do this to her … to anyone. For heaven’s sake, Marion! What the hell were you thinking? It was subtle, I’ll grant you that, but didn’t you understand that I’d find out about it?”
Janeway’s voice had turned into a fierce growl and now she was leaning on her hands across McDunn’s desk, hovering over the other woman.
“I … I …” the other woman stuttered, afraid of this menacing image of her superior and also outraged about being caught.
“Why?” Janeway asked.
McDunn rubbed her forehead and swallowed hard.
“She … she was so damn annoying. She waltzed in here, so sure of herself, giving orders, coming up with so many new routines and you did nothing to stop her. You just let her take over things that had been handled perfectly fine before and she was … making herself impossible to work with. She wouldn’t listen to reason so Eric and I …” McDunn’s voice trailed off as she realised her second mistake.
“Eric? Eric Avery was in on this? Of course, he was the one who gave you the just slightly off information to forward to Annika. And when she tried to put it to use during the meetings where she was on her own, she inadvertently helped make a deal that was not as good for this company as it was meant to be. Damn it! No wonder she feels like she has failed. She was perhaps naïve, but you were the one at fault here … you were supposed to help her!”
She glared at the other woman.
“If you wanted me to help her, you should have told her that I will not stand for some little blond, found on the nearest street corner, coming in here telling me how to run my department!”
“She was being enthusiastic. She never said anything but nice things about you, how helpful you were, how much she appreciated all your insightful advice. She actually admired you.”
Janeway felt her knees buckle at the betrayal against her lover and against her company. She had never been this weak and she would be damned before she gave herself away to this woman or anyone else for that matter.
“She admired me?” McDunn asked incredulously, her expression equally confused.
“Yes. Annika is a special woman, she grew up under very different circumstances and she was no match for you when you decided to set her up. She might think that she is to blame, but unless somebody would have blatantly told her, she would have assumed you were her friend. She probably still does and thinks she let you down too.”
She paused and then frowned.
“Martha says Seven was uneasy even before she left. Can you perhaps shed a light on that too?”
McDunn paled and then slumped back in her chair.
“Apparently you can,” Janeway growled through clenched teeth. If she didn’t control herself she would throttle the other woman, she thought, trying to calm herself.
McDunn sighed. “Erik was coming on to her. I told him to stop, honestly, but he was quite adamant about it. Of course, she is beautiful and he thought he really stood a chance with her. I think she told him off before she left; I saw her storm out of his office the day before. She wasn’t upset exactly but she was as you said … uneasy.”
Janeway closed her eyes briefly. This was worse than she could ever had imagined. Two of her senior staff had deliberately tried, and so far succeeded, to get rid of Seven. And now the young woman was on her own, hopefully licking her wounds on that island of hers, thinking she had failed.
“I will deal with you and Eric later. Until I tell you otherwise you are both suspended and on temporary leave of absence without pay. You can let Eric know, I don’t think he wants to hear it from me. Understood?”
Janeway turned and walked out, thanking some nameless god who let her wobbly knees carry her to the elevator. Inside she leaned against the wall, letting the surface of it cool her hot face. She couldn’t fathom how somebody within her company could be so callous and let their jealousy rule in such a devious way.
A little voice inside her wouldn’t be ignored. She knew that her own strict way of conducting business and her strive for success was part of the problem. If she had not been so ambitious, Seven wouldn’t have considered the outcome such a disaster and consequently not felt that she had failed Janeway so badly.
She got out of the elevator and walked up to Martha’s desk.
“I am leaving now. Let Charles take care of anything that comes up.”
Martha nodded. “Are you going to …”
“To Raven’s Island? Yes.”
The assistant looked pleased. “Did you find out?”
Janeway sighed. “Yes, it is not a pretty story. McDunn and Avery are on temporary unpaid leave of absence. I will deal with them later.”
Martha winced. “I see. Well, get going, Kathryn. She needs you.”
There is no way she can need me as much as I need her, Janeway thought. What if I can’t convince her to come home?
The drive to where the ferries to the outer archipelago were located was uneventful. Janeway let her little sports car do what it did best, go way past the speed limit and she was their within an hour.
The lady selling tickets had no idea how to get to Raven’s Island but directed her to a couple of fishing boats anchored far out on the pier. Janeway walked along the water, it was cold this afternoon and she congratulated herself for wearing her warm Henry Lloyd jacket.
When she reached the fishing boats, at first she thought they were empty. Then she could hear someone muttering and a middle aged man appeared from below decks on the closest one of them.
“Hello there,” she called and waved to him. “I need to go to Raven’s Island. Can you take me there?”
He squinted at her and came closer. Leaning on the railing he looked her over.
“Why would you want to go there?”
“My friend is out there and I need to talk to her. It is very important,” Janeway answered honestly.
“What is your friend’s name?”
Janeway smiled wearily. It was like being interviewed for job or something.
“Annika Hansen. She is called Seven.”
Now a bright smile emerged from within his beard.
“Sure I’ll take you. If you call her Seven, you must be a friend.”
“Doesn’t everybody call her Seven?”
“Nope. Only the special ones. I call her Seven and her parents did of course. If she told you about her nickname you must be special to her.” He looked closer. “I think you might be the reason she was in such a hurry to get back out there. She was a mess when she came to fetch the key to her boat and then she damn near ran me over on her way out of the harbour.” His eyes narrowed again. “Are you going to set things right? You are not going to make more trouble for her, are you?”
“I will try my very best to set things right, sir. If it was up to me, nothing would have been wrong in the first place, but all I can do is ask her to forgive us … forgive me,” she added with a wistful smile.
“I don’t begin to understand, but hop onboard, lady,” the man said and extended a rough hand.
I hope I make everything right, that you still want me, Seven, the executive thought, as she stepped onboard the old fishing boat. I sincerely hope you will listen, because I don’t know what I would do without you.
“My name is Jacob,” the fisherman said, keeping her small, elegant hand in his, squeezing it warmly.
“I figured you must be.”
Then he issued an order into the air and all of a sudden there were two younger men there, preparing the boat to embark.
She had fallen asleep on the rug in front of the fireplace and woke up just in time to add some more wood. She knew she should get something to eat but she had had very little appetite these last days and now wasn’t any different.
Seven got up and stretched her aching muscles. She had expected the house to render her at least some comfort; the feeling of being home ought to be soothing to her frayed nerves.
But instead the place was desolate, lonely. This wasn’t home anymore, home was where Kathryn was. The apartment on the top floor their refuge.
The tousled blonde closed her eyes, imagined Kathryn’s face, her soft body and her body ached with a bittersweet desire. She wanted her here, wanted the older woman’s touch, demanding and soothing at the same time. Kathryn was a formidable woman as well as lover and now that she had not had those strong arms around her for more than one and a half week, she was hurting inside. How could you possibly remain a whole person after something like this? How did you stop the wanting, the loving?
Seven had no tears left, only the pain in her midsection, like an invisible belt being tightened more and more with each passing hour.
Food seemed even less desirable now, she went into the kitchen to drink some water. She had to start making some new plans for herself.
Not just yet.
The evening was cold, but the sky was beautiful. Glittering stars on a vast, dark velvet sky not ruined by the reflecting light from the city; it’s beauty was almost sacred.
Janeway was standing at the railing looking up at them as the fishing boat was taking her to Seven. Her stomach was in knots and she realised she had never been so nervous in her entire life. Many things had gone wrong and Seven must be so hurt and confused. Janeway herself had been nauseous on and off, from feeling helpless, which she decidedly hated, and lost.
She had been instantly attracted to the tall blonde arriving soaking wet from the rain to her office three months ago. Her first thought had been that this woman was too good to be true and she had kept her distance. Well, tried to, anyway, but Seven’s disarming personality had melted the her new boss’ defences and their accidental kiss in the elevator had ignited a steadily burning flame that had consumed them both since then.
What kept Janeway coming back for more and falling deeper and deeper in love with the young woman was however more than the physical part of their relationship.
She could lie awake in the mornings, looking at the deliciously dishevelled blonde next to her in bed, marvelling at her beauty. The sort of special innocent intelligence Seven possessed enticed her. She never ceased to be surprised and impressed by the younger woman’s brilliance and her gentle heart. She looked at the world and at people with true amazement and curiosity which in turn refreshed Janeway’s outlook on life in general.
Seeing things through Seven’s eyes were something she had sorely missed for a while now. And how she ached to hold her.
Her life had been exiting and her career more than a success. She had set her goals early in life and she had stayed on the same track, never hesitated to sacrifice just about anything to get where she wanted to go in life. Now this precious, beautiful being had been handed to her, it seemed, by some benevolent God and she was not going to let Seven be taken from her by some scheming bitch that imagined her to be a threat to her and her vassal’s position. She had to explain this to Seven, she simply had to.
Leaving Raven’s Island without the one person that meant everything to her was simply not an option for Kathryn Janeway.
The only light in the house came from the open fire. It was not roaring anymore, just a soft crackle that soothed the girl in front of it to some extent.
She was staring at the flames, wondering what Kathryn was doing right now. She was probably trying to correct the mistakes Seven had made and … The blonde sighed and shifted on the rug in front of the fire. She had pulled down a soft blanket and some cushions; she didn’t want to leave this somewhat comforting place.
She thought about all the things she had done wrong, chastised herself for not checking her information properly and most of all for not punching that man, Erik Avery in the nose to begin with.
She inhaled and a throbbing headache reappeared behind her eyes. She had to eat something.
A sudden sound startled her. She got up on her hands and knees and listened.
A scraping noise was heard from the porch, this time there was no mistake. Since nobody ever visited her without calling first over the radio, she cautiously got up and stood there, ready to get her baseball bat which she kept behind the door in the living room.
She almost gasped out loud when there was a determined knock on the door. Carefully she approached it and after clearing her throat twice she managed to speak.
“Who is there?”
“Seven, it’s me. Let me in, please?”
Seven’s knees almost gave in.
“Kathryn?” she yelped. “Is it you?”
What was she doing here? Why had she come? The blonde’s thought whirled through her mind, making her pulse increase in frequency, her heart pounding almost painfully against her ribcage.
“Yes! And I am damn cold, please let me inside.” The voice was as commanding as always but the undertones of uncertainty was apparent to Seven.
She hastily opened the door that had not been locked in the first place and stared at the compact woman in front of her. She has come for me, her joyous little heart claimed happily. Her more objective mind told her otherwise. Perhaps Kathryn was here to tell her off.
Janeway walked past her and stood in the hallway just staring back at the tousled girl in jeans and a worn out sweater.
This is how she had looked the day she had first met her. Seven wondered if she should change into one of the neat suits she used to wear at work. She looked down at her jeans that fit her like a glove. No, clothes would not sway Kathryn if she had come to yell at her.
“How did you get here, Kathryn?” she asked quietly, not daring to look into her eyes, instead looking down at her own fiddling hands.
“I caught a ride with Jacob,” she smiled gently. “He is a very nice man and so are his sons. They even gave me some coffee.” She made a face, indicating that Jacob’s coffee had not been up to her usual standard when it came to her favourite beverage.
“Jacob took you out here? You must have had very convincing arguments for him to do that,” Seven said tensely.
“Yes, I did. I told him I was here to make things right. Will you allow me to do that, Seven?” Janeway asked and walked closer, cupping the taller woman’s chin.
“I do not know what you mean, Kathryn,” Seven whispered and a small tear freed itself from her long lashes and slid down her alabaster cheek. “I just do not understand …”
“May I hug you?”
The question startled her. She looked at Janeway and saw only gentleness in her eyes, only warmth. Her confused thoughts clashed and she backed away from the older woman’s arms.
She has not received my letter, Seven thought, feeling panic rise inside her. How can I tell her? Did not Martha give her the letter?
Janeway was frowning now, she had gone quite pale when she was rejected by the younger woman.
“Seven, I need to ask your forgiveness but first, please let me hold you, I have missed you so much and seeing you here … dressed like that, brings back how I felt when I saw you for the first time. How you overwhelmed me by being so beautiful and so incredibly special.”
Seven shook her head.
“You do not understand, Kathryn,” she tried to explain through the lump in her throat. “You do not want to hug me or hold me. I have … failed you. You have to go. I will have to radio Jacob and ask him to …”
Her voice trailed off when she was rapidly pulled towards the smaller woman’s body, hugged with a fierceness that shocked her as much as she revelled in it. Still she was convinced that this was just another horrendous mistake, designed to enhance her pain. Seven pulled back, or tried to, as Janeway held her firmly against her smaller frame.
“No, I won’t let you do that. There is no way I am leaving here without talking to you first. You will have to tell me in much harder words than that, darling. Actually, you will have to throw me out.”
Seven hugged the other woman closer for a trembling second but then freed herself, stumbling back from the unrelenting embrace.
“Kathryn, there is something … I need to tell you. I …” Her face was distorted from trying to keep the tears at bay. “I wrote you a letter … you need to … read the letter …”
Her breath was ragged, hurting her as the air gushed out of her lungs with every word.
“I did get you letter, my darling,” Janeway whispered with a catch in her voice. “You broke my heart writing me that note, you know. I could feel you agony, I could taste it and you were so wrong! You didn’t fail me and you have to let me hold you. I need you, sweetheart. Don’t push me away. Don’t.”
Seven’s mind was whirling. Kathryn had read the letter and still wanted to hold her, she still needed her?
Carefully, so afraid that she had misunderstood, so sure of her own failure and still positive that she had forfeited her happiness, her claim on Janeway’s love, she took a tentative step towards her.
Her arms moved as of their own volition and cautiously held the smaller woman close to her ample chest. The feeling of her was like pure energy permeating her every cell, every corner of her soul.
“That’s it, darling,” Janeway moaned. “This is where you belong. Don’t ever do this to me again, I won’t survive it. What ever mistake you ever think you have made – do you never ever do this to me again!”
The throaty voice was raw against Seven’s nerves and if Janeway had felt Seven’s agony; she could definitely feel the older woman’s pain now.
“Oh, Kathryn, I have missed you. I know I made a terrible mistake and that you will lose a lot of money … I am so sorry. I have failed you.”
“No, you didn’t. You were set up by a member of my staff and even though you should have doubled checked your information, you had no reason not to trust her. She was in error, so was Eric Avery. Not you.”
Seven flinched at the mentioning of the man’s name and shivered.
“He is not a pleasant acquaintance,” she said flatly.
“No, he’s not,” Janeway agreed. “He won’t have as bright a future with Stellar Ltd as he initially thought. I will sort Marion out, but Avery is history. He just doesn’t know yet.”
Seven realised that they were still in the cold hallway.
“Please come inside. I have a fire going in the living room.”
Janeway lit up and pulled her jacket off and casually tossed it on a chair.
“A fire! I’d love a cup of coffee to go with that fire,” she said hopefully and glanced at Seven.
“If you will make the coffee, I will make us some sandwiches,” she conceded and nudged the executive towards the large kitchen. “We can have it by the fire.”
“I can think of other things to have by the fire, too,” Janeway smiled innocently.
Seven blushed but started to pull out some bread along with butter and cheese.
“I am sure you do.”
One pot of coffee and one tray of sandwiches later, which they had ate under silence, Janeway turned to her lover and caressed her long hair.
“I am partly to blame too, you know,” she said softly.
Seven looked puzzled. “You? You were not involved with the business deal.”
“No, not directly. But it was the way I presented my expectations and my priorities that led you to believe that I would shun you for making a mistake. And perhaps some of your own pride?”
Now the younger woman was thoroughly confused.
“I mean, you are used to being so good at everything you do. You have a brilliant mind that learns very easily. You have hardly ever failed at anything. You had a minor setback now and you panicked, didn’t you?”
Feeling her cheeks blush, Seven nodded reluctantly. She had panicked.
“I could not face you,” she whispered. “I could not bear to see the disappointment in your eyes and know that I did not fulfil your expectations of me. I knew I made a serious error and I also knew I had been preoccupied with Mr Avery’s … advances at me. He seemed to think he was entitled for some reason I can not begin to comprehend.”
Janeway’s eyes darkened. Obviously Mr Avery’s days at Stellar Ltd was counted.
“Marion set you up by changing some numbers in a way that was hard even for me to understand,” the older woman said. “I think she is quite ashamed of herself and when I explained how you had praised her so called kindness towards you, she took on a shade of grey that I have never seen before. I think she might actually apologise to you when we return … You are coming back with me, aren’t you Seven?” she asked worriedly.
Seven’s heart jumped.
“Do you really want me to?” she asked carefully.
Janeway growled softly at the base of her throat.
“I will, I will,” Seven said hastily. “I do not deserve it, but I do not think I ever want to be this lonely again.”
“Me either, darling. Now, there is one more thing I want to ask you.”
“What?” Seven tried to not look too nervous.
“There is a certain way I can ensure that you are by no means lonely.”
“Yes?” the blonde said curiously.
“If I am on your lap, darling?”
Seven scooted closer to the executive and pulled her close. Without too much effort she suddenly had her arms full of one determined, desirable woman with auburn hair. Janeway’s arms went around Seven’s neck and pulled her face down to catch her full lips.
Seven moaned as their lips brushed and then the older woman’s insisting mouth parted her lips, letting an eager tongue enter.
Their bodies eagerly reacquainted themselves with each other as their hands tried to cover as much of the other woman as possible during that first blazing kiss. Seven became dizzy and fell back against the cushions, dragging Janeway with her.
“I love you,” the blonde murmured in Janeway’s ear, almost startling her.
“Oh Seven, my darling. I love you too, I have missed you so much. Don’t ever run away again,” she sobbed quietly into the blonde’s hair. Burying her face there, she inhaled the sweet scent of Seven’s shampoo, relishing in the feeling of the silky tresses.
“I will not,” the younger woman breathed. “I still think I was seriously in error, but I will not be such a … coward if it happens again.”
“I can’t help but notice that you said ‘if’ and not ‘when’.”
“I do not plan to let you down ever again,” Seven stated solemnly. “However, I might do it anyway as some of my work involves … improvising.” Her voice betrayed her dismay about having to improvise and Janeway chuckled again.
“I am being funny?” Seven asked with a mock growl, her eyes shining as she regarded her lover’s happy face.
“Not funny, really, but I am just so happy to hear you talk and to be in the same room with you … and then on top of that to be in your arms … I am happy.”
“I am happy also. I have found that Raven’s Island is not what I remember. Before I met you, this was my haven, my sanctuary … my paradise even. But this time, until you knocked on the door it was just a house on an island. The magic is here again, but only because you are here to share it with me.”
Janeway was all choked up to hear her beloved share this with her. She had been terrified standing outside the door but as soon as she saw Seven’s pale face and the dark rings under her eyes, she knew that she would be able to make everything alright.
She had been scared at first when Seven had backed away from her embrace, but realising that Seven feared she had not received the, Janeway had relaxed and just followed her heart.
“I like your house,” she said casually and tried to distract Seven from the fact that she was slowly undressing her as she talked. “Well, I like the kitchen, the hallway and the living room, since that is all I have seen so far.” She was now caressing the other woman’s back under her sweater and was pleased to find nothing to prevent her from reaching that flawless skin. Her hand slowly moved over to Seven’s side and caressed along it in a slow, sensual movement. The younger woman shuddered and closed her eyes.
“I missed touching you,” Janeway whispered in a low, husky trill, “and I missed how you taste.” She pushed the sweater up, freeing the alluring breasts underneath it. Her mouth watered at the sight of the plump, pink nipples and there was nothing in the world that could have prevented her from lowering her head and suck the closest one into her mouth.
Seven cried out softly and arched beneath her. This pushed the nipple further into Janeway’s mouth and she sucked at it in long languid movements.
“Kathryn!” the blonde exclaimed, grasping for the auburn head on top of her chest. “Oh, Kathryn …”
Janeway smiled around the nipple and let her hands roam freely down the silky smooth stomach. She reached the leather belt Seven wore on her jeans and her trembling fingers tried to open it, but had little luck.
“I need to hold you really close, darling,” she groaned. “Let’s get undressed. I need you now …”
Seven apparently needed no persuasion. She yanked off her sweater and her jeans were lost just as swiftly. Then she reached for Janeway’s silk blouse and ripped it open, buttons flying all over the room. The older woman gasped and just held on to the wonderful body suddenly hovering over her own, as her slacks were pulled off with the same determination. When they were both nude she could finally revel in the feeling of feeling Seven’s hot skin on hers.
“Oh, my God … Seven, I need you to kiss me.” She groaned happily as Seven’s mouth descended on hers, tasting her thoroughly. Their tongues danced and caressed each other, adding to the fire within them as the fire in the fireplace was turning into a lovely, warm glow.
Breathless from the passionate kisses, they clung to each other, whispering terms of endearment in husky voices.
Seven let her left leg fall between Janeway’s, feeling the abundant moisture there coat her thigh, urging her on. Immediately the older woman’s hips started undulating against her, caught in the flames of passion.
The blonde let her fingers move along the executive’s stomach, through the auburn curls at the apex of her thighs and sliding easily between her swollen folds.
Janeway inhaled deeply with half a scream forcing its way from her throat and arched her back against the touch to feel even more.
“Am I doing this right, Kathryn? I am not hurting you?” Seven asked cautiously, not used to her lover being quite this vocal.
“Oh, don’t stop, Seven … oh, you do this so well, don’t stop.”
And she didn’t. She caressed her lover, over and over, and when she let two long fingers slide inside, all the older woman could do was moan and grasp at the blonde. She pulled herself up, closer to her lover’s face and caught her lips with her own, kissing Seven senseless.
Then she was there. Seven could feel her fingers being squeezed in the most delicious way as Kathryn’s body convulsed over and over.
“Oh, dear Lord …” Janeway managed between gasps. “Oh, now … Seven, now …” Then she became completely incoherent and was only able to mumble random words of love against her lovers neck where she hid her face.
Falling off the cloud of desire and ending up in the protective arms of her beloved, Janeway sighed and hugged her weakly.
“Oh, darling,” she said huskily. “That was incredible. You are so good to me.”
“I love to touch you. You have a very beautiful body and the sounds you make do strange and wonderful things to me.”
Janeway gave a lopsided smile and gazed at her flushed partner.
“You mean, I turn you on by being vocal about my own desire?”
“And when I come? That turns you on too?”
“More than anything, Kathryn. You look amazing when you come.”
The executive blushed faintly but kept her eyes locked with Seven’s.
“So, I take it you are … very turned on now?”
“And you would like me to take care of that? Hm?” She quirked an eyebrow teasingly.
Seven nodded, suddenly looking very young and very shy.
“I need you, Kathryn.”
Janeway relented and lowered her lover down onto the blanket on the rug, pulling off her panties in one fluent movement. Seven’s body was glistening in the light of the fire, giving the alabaster skin a soft golden tint.
“Tell me what you want, my darling,” she urged gently. “It has been so long and I want you to feel as good as I did.”
Seven blushed again.
“You always make me feel good, Kathryn,” she said wearily, her eyes huge with desire mixed with a hint of apprehension.
Janeway hugged her gently. “I know, sweetheart, but I want this time to be special. You can have anything you want. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for you.” She caressed Seven’s back with long, lingering strokes.
Seven shuddered and hugged her back. Feeling very safe and very loved she dared to ask but hid her face while doing so.
“Would you, I mean, I would like us to taste each other, you know, at the same time?” she whispered.
Janeway’s heart melted at the very cautious tone in Seven’s voice. The image the bashful words created in her mind was igniting her desire immediately. They had never done this before, she didn’t know why. Perhaps it was the ultimate intimacy and maybe they had not been ready to share it earlier.
“I would love that,” she smiled and kissed the younger woman’s temple tenderly. “Lie back and let me caress you. I need to touch you.”
Seven complied and Janeway started a seductive journey down her body, not missing anything on her way. She paid special attention to the abundant breasts before her, kissing and licking them until Seven begged her to do more than that. Then she sucked them in, made them stiff and aching with need.
“Kathryn …” Seven moaned.
Janeway cupped the breast she was devouring and brought it closer to her eager mouth. Biting the nipple and then soothing it with her tongue she drove the blonde almost over the edge but then slowed down and began kissing a trail of open mouth kisses down her stomach.
Reaching the damp, blonde curls below, she nudged Seven’s legs apart. Glistening with moisture, the swollen folds enticed her, begged her to touch them, taste them.
Carefully the executive moved around and cautious not to catch any long blond tresses of Seven’s hair, she straddled her lover.
Immediately she felt the young woman reach for her thighs and hold on to them. The touch made her shiver, knowing how good it would feel once Seven started tasting her.
Janeway lowered her head, steadied herself against the rug, and without any hesitation kissed her way along the slick folds before her. This caused Seven to flinch and then she was pulled down a little and full lips were devouring her, not being careful at all.
Oh, you are one passionate woman, my love, Janeway thought with an inner grin and retaliated. She parted Seven’s folds and found the aching little nubbin, sucked it into her mouth and let her tongue go to work. Instantly Seven did the same to her and soon they were both in some delirious heaven, tasting each other like they had been starving for a lifetime.
The executive didn’t know who initiated the roll but all of a sudden she was on her back and Seven was on top and perhaps it was for the best, because Janeway’s head was spinning and she was losing all sense of direction. All she could focus on was the pleasure she was giving and receiving.
A slow tremor started in the pit of her stomach, spreading like wild fire through her entire body, permeating her veins as she was clinging to Seven, letting her mouth convey all that she felt for this incredible woman. Seven’s body answered by lowering itself, giving Janeway easier access to the drenched area she was exploring. Then lightning seemed to strike them both and as if they shared the same mind, both of them entered their partner with eager fingers, feeling the other woman convulse around the invasive digits.
Janeway buried her mouth into Seven, silencing a scream into that yielding, soft flesh, drinking the passion from her.
The younger woman let her tongue play mercilessly with the shivering bundle of nerves of her lover and not until Janeway huskily begged for mercy did she relent and let go. She pivoted on trembling hands and knees, searching blindly for Janeway’s mouth, kissing her over and over.
“Kathryn … oh, Kathryn … “ she gasped between breaths and kisses. “Oh, hold me …”
“I am here, darling, come here … I’ll hold you for as long as you want,” Janeway promised. “I will never let you leave me like this again. Never. I told you before, what I take; I keep.” She held the shivering blonde close and kissed the top of her head.
“I do not ever want to leave you,” Seven whispered, basking in the warmth of the embrace and the love radiating from her beloved. “I love you.”
“I love you too.”
And it was true. After a long career and long time building Stellar Ltd to what it was today, she had struck pure gold in letting this young woman get close. She was the first thing on the executive’s mind when she woke up in the morning and the last thought in her head before she went to sleep. The thought of losing Seven was too terrifying for words.
“It’s really comfortable here in front of the fire,” Janeway said huskily. “What do you say, is it okay if we stay here in the living room for a while? I don’t think I want to move.”
“I think this is perfect,” Seven smiled against the soft neck she was nuzzling. “As long as you are here with me, that is.”
All Janeway could do was pull the tall body really close and just smile.
The tall blonde walking down the corridor was dressed in an immaculate plum coloured power suit with a short skirt. She walked with confidence and more than one person she met wondered how on earth she managed to walk at all in those high heels pumps without falling over or at least staggering now and then.
She stopped at a desk and smiled politely at the secretary.
“Hello, Celia, is Ms McDunn in?” the blonde asked.
The secretary swallowed hard.
“Um … oh, yes, she is. Let me buzz her,” she offered hastily and pressed a button on her desk. “Ms McDunn, Annika Hansen is here to see you.”
A silence that could only be interpreted as stunned followed.
“Show her in please, Celia,” a cool voice finally replied.
A fiddling Celia showed Seven to Marion McDunn’s office and then took a quick step back, relieved to not have to get involved any further.
“Annika, how … nice. Come in,” McDunn said and gestured towards a chair. “Please, take a seat.”
“I prefer to stand, Marion. I will not take up too much of your time.”
“Oh … okay. What can I do for you? You did get my apology, didn’t you? I sent you a memo …”
“I received your memo,” Seven interrupted. “I came in person to respond to it. Which is what you should have done. An apology shows more sincerity if it is delivered face to face instead of in an impersonal, brief memo, do you not agree?” She quirked an eyebrow.
“Ah … yes. You see, I have been really busy …”
“I know,” Seven interrupted again. “Ms Janeway explained to me that the only reason you are still working here is because you were assigned to sort out the misunderstanding with the information I received from you. I understand that the contract with the other company is being renegotiated under different circumstances and that you are not receiving any extra payment for the extra hours you have to put in to complete this assignment?”
The other woman only nodded, a lot paler now and looking like a deer caught in the headlights of a truck.
“Annika, I am sorry,” she managed and to Seven’s surprise, tears began to fall down her tanned cheeks. “I was behaving like a bitch as far as you were concerned and all I can say to explain it is that I was … afraid.”
Seven cocked her head, honestly puzzled. “Afraid? Of me?”
McDunn sighed and dragged a hand through her perfect hair, severely dishevelling it.
“No, not you personally. But you have Janeway’s ear, she likes you a lot and you came out of nowhere and landed this great position. I felt threatened. Like I was going to lose everything I worked so hard for to you, some – excuse me, but – nobody from nowhere.” She made a face at herself. “I was projecting my fears on you, on what I thought you would do. I never realised that you actually … admired me in some way.”
“I did. I still do to some extent. I admire your knowledge and your ambition, but I was not aware that that very ambition was also part of why you acted disloyal to this company and to Ms Janeway. Even if you dislike me, you should not jeopardise the welfare of this company on which existence you rely on for your livelihood and your career.”
McDunn had the good taste to blush and then she swiftly dried her tears.
“Will you accept my sincere, face to face apology, Annika?” she asked quietly. “I do regret stabbing you in the back like that. I will try and make up for it if you will let me. I think in spite of everything we could work well together.”
Seven considered this and then nodded.
“Kathryn, uh … Ms Janeway says everyone deserves a second chance and since you do not any longer have Mr Avery to assist you, I will be happy to do so. I recently made the error of not apologising in person to somebody … important to me and if I could be forgiven, so can you. However, if we are to work together, I do expect to learn from the experience. Should you deliberately act in a deceitful manner again, this agreement would no longer be valid.”
McDunn stared at her, apparently speechless for a moment.
“I am grateful that you have such a forgiving soul,” she then smiled self-deprecatingly. “And I am equally grateful that Janeway is almost as forgiving as you which means I still have a job.”
“She is a resourceful leader, this company is lucky to have her.”
“That is an understatement,” the brunette nodded. “Thanks, Annika. I won’t forget this.”
“Neither will I,” the blonde replied and turned to head for the door. Halfway there she shot the surprised executive a look.
“By the way, since we are going to work closely together, you might as well call me Seven.”
McDunn’s half open mouth was the last thing Seven saw as she closed the door behind her.
“This is nice,” Janeway stated and snuggled close to Seven on the couch in their living room. “I could get used to this.”
“You are used to this,” Seven replied bluntly.
“I suppose I am, but it’s still nice.”
The executive sighed contentedly when the tall blonde lowered her head and kissed her.
“Mm … wonderful.” She loved the feeling of Seven’s lips brushing across hers. “I liked your living room in the house on the island too.”
Seven nodded. “It was wonderful to be there with you. The sunrise was even more beautiful when we were watching it together.”
Janeway gazed up at her.
“Seven, will you miss your home there very much, since our jobs keep us here in the city? I don’t want you to be missing it too much.”
The young woman shifted and tipped Janeway’s head back with a finger under her chin.
“My home is with you. When I was out there alone, I was miserable, like I was the only person on the planet. Once you had arrived, I realised one thing very quickly.”
Janeway blinked. “What?”
Seven used both her hands to gently frame the older woman’s face. Taking in the sight of the slightly tousled auburn hair, the light complexion, the softness of her blue-grey eyes and the wine shaded lips of her beloved, she carefully said:
“I understood that in the future, whenever I dream of Raven’s Island, the dream is really about you.”