Title: Trick or Treat

Author: Jaya

Archives: tayryn’s tower

Disclaimer: Amblin owns them.  I just borrowed them for a bit of fun.

Pairing: Nathan and Kristin

Rating: R

Summary: A bit of fun at a Halloween party

Notes: Monster Mash Bobby "Boris" Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers

(Written by Bobby Pickett and Lenny Capizzi)




“So if you and your command crew could attend the party it would really be a big boost in the public relations department.  The seaQuest rescue of the French submarine has put your names on everyone’s lips.”


“But it’s a costume party, Bill.  How are people going to know who we are if we are in costume?”


Admiral William Noyce rolled his eyes, years of experience dealing with his friend having prepared him for Nathan Bridger’s reaction.  “It isn’t a masked ball, Nathan, just a costume party.  Besides, you will know most of the brass there and I’ll introduce you to the political bigwigs.  Having so many members of the congressional appropriations committee visiting Pearl is a windfall we can’t afford to ignore.  Janet is doing a fantastic job with all of the party arrangements.  All you have to do is show up.”


“Bill…” Nathan shook his head in exasperation.


“Look, I’ll arrange hotel suites for your top officers and scientist.  You could stand to socialize a little, Nathan.  Bring a date.  Get laid.  It’ll be good for you.”


“Bill!”  This time Nathan’s voice was tinged with warning.


Bill held up his hands placatingly.  “I’m not trying to interfere, Nathan.  I’m just making an observation.  You’ve been without feminine companionship for a long time.  You’re grouchy.  You are acting like you always did at the end of a long sea voyage.  I really need for you to come to this party but there is no reason why you can’t enjoy yourself.  Look, Janet is sure to have some single friend who would love to meet you.  I’ll have her set you up…”


“NO!”  Nathan had reached his limit.  “We’ll show up to be put on display for your little shindig but I can find my own date!  Good-bye, Bill.”


“I knew I could count on you, Nathan…”






“One last thing…”


Chairs stopped scraping against the floor of the wardroom as the meeting members looked back to their captain expectantly.


“The UEO is sponsoring a Halloween party for the members of the Senate appropriations committee during their junket to Pearl in a few weeks.  We have been ‘requested’ to attend.”


Nathan took a moment to watch the faces of his crew as they took the information in.  Most of them looked skeptical, Kristin Westphalen and Katherine Hitchcock included, a few of them looked interested and Ben Krieg was positively elated.  That worried Nathan.


“I should probably mention that it is a costume ball.  However… all costumes must be in good taste.  If any of you…” Nathan stared hard at Ben, “…violate this order the punishment will be extremely severe.”


Ben nodded at the Captain in understanding but somehow Nathan didn’t feel reassured.


“That is all that I have.  I believe the last launch brought in the mail bags so remind your departments to call in.”


The crew chattered excitedly amongst themselves as they slowly disbanded and moved from the room.


“Dr. Westphalen, could I speak with you a moment?” Kristin slowed her exit at the Captain’s request and looked back at him.


Nathan waited until the room had cleared then moved to the door and casually pushed it shut.  Kristin watched with amusement as Nathan wondered slowly around the room before finally stopping near her and leaning back against the conference table.


“I was wondering… the party… would you like… that is if you don’t already have someone in mind…but if you do that’s okay… I understand…”


“Nathan…” Kristin shifted to stand in front of him, forcing the captain to meet her gaze.  “Are you asking me to attend the party with you?”


Nathan glanced to either side of Kristin before finally meeting her eyes and nodding.  “I am asking you to attend the party with me.”


“In what capacity?”




“Would I be your escort in an official sense or is this a date?”


Nathan hadn’t expected to be put on the spot and he stuttered over his answer.  “It would be… that is… I am asking you… Will you be my date, Kristin?”


Kristin’s eyes lowered as she smiled.  “I would love to be your date, Nathan.”


Nathan internalized his sigh of relief.  “Wonderful.  Now I guess we have to decide what sort of costumes we are going to wear.  We should coordinate in some way, shouldn’t we?”


“I guess so.  May I ask you a question, Captain?”


“Of course… but just a minute ago it was Nathan.”


“Okay… Nathan.  Who was trying to set you up?”


Nathan was stunned again at Kristin’s perceptiveness.  He grinned ruefully.  “Noyce was trying to set me up with one of his wife’s friends.  But that isn’t why I asked you… really.  I mean… you are beautiful and intelligent and funny and… what man wouldn’t want to take you out on a date?”


Kristin couldn’t hold back a short laugh.  “I’m middle-aged, temperamental and unforgiving of political bureaucracy.  I can think of a great many men that wouldn’t ask me out.”


“Then they are fools.”  Nathan answered quietly.


His response brought a grateful smile to Kristin’s face.  “I’d better go check my mail.  My daughter told me she was sending me a surprise the last time that I spoke with her.  We can give our costumes some thought and discuss it later?”


“Sure… Why don’t we have breakfast in the galley tomorrow morning?  We could talk about it then.”


“Breakfast would be fine.  I’ll see you then.”


Nathan watched Kristin leave the room, an appreciative eye trained to the feminine sway of her hips.




Kristin listened intently to the intense discussion going on at the next table as Ben and Lucas argued vehemently about their costumes for the party while Tim and Miguel looked on, silent and bemused.


She sipped her orange juice absently, pleased that Lucas immediately shot down the idea of going as a Chippendale dancer.  If that idea had persisted she knew that she would have had to call Kreig in for a very unpleasant physical.


Her attention was so riveted to the voices coming from the next table that she failed to notice Nathan’s approach until he sat his tray down on the table beside hers.


“Sorry I’m late.  I had to take a call from HQ.  Have you been waiting long?”


“Not long at all.  I’ve been enjoying listening to the discussion…” Kristin inclined her head slightly toward the table nearby.


“I’m sure you have.  I’ve already had to nix Lieutenant Kreig’s plan to have Hitchcock go as Lady Godiva.  Thank goodness she hadn’t heard about it yet.”


“Lucas was also smart enough to veto the male stripper idea.” Kristin told Nathan in a mock whisper.  “Now… good morning, Captain.”


“Good morning, Doctor.”  The couple smiled at each other as they clinked their orange juice glasses together then sipped.


“So… any ideas?” Nathan asked around a mouthful of scrambled eggs.


“Well, we could go in two directions.  Do we go with the traditional type costumes… witch, vampire, mummy… or do we pick known couples?”


“Like… Sonny and Cher?”


“No.” Kristin answered flatly.  “Not going to happen.”


“Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson?  You could wear your red swimsuit…”


“Nathan Bridger… If I didn’t know you were kidding…” Kristin gave him a side-glance.


“Okay… I give up.  Who did you have in mind?”


“How about Napoleon and Josephine?”


“I’m too tall.  You’re too short.  He was a soldier and I am a sailor.”


“Anthony and Cleopatra?”


Nathan appeared to think this idea over but Kristin saw the covert glances at her chest and knew what was driving his thoughts.  Finally he shook his head.


“As beautiful as I know you would be… I am not wearing a dress.”


“It’s a toga, Nathan.”


“It’s too damned open when a breeze comes along.  Besides, I have knobby knees.”


“You have very nice knees.  Your turn to pick…”


“Fred and Wilma Flintstone.”




“Mickey and Minnie Mouse.”


“Be serious, Nathan.  And no, I won’t go as Daisy Duck to your Donald, either.”


“Popeye and Olive Oyl?  I wouldn’t mind going as a sailor.”


Kristin glanced down at her abundant chest then back up at Nathan, her eyebrows cocked.  “You have a point.” He noted.  “Moving right along…”


“What about Rhett Butler and Scarlet O’Hara?”


“Uh uh.  I’m not wearing a fake mustache.”


“Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt?”


“Wheelchair puts a cramp in dancing.”


Kristin sighed.  “Lancelot and Guineviere?”


“Same problem with the armour.  Roy Rogers and Dale Evans?  I’ve always fancied playing cowboy.”


Kristin wrinkled her nose.  “Possible… but it isn’t really my culture.”


“I guess that Lucy and Desi would fall in the same category, huh?”


“Romeo and Juliet?  I know you like Shakespeare.”


“True, but I think the two of us as star-crossed teenagers would be asking a bit much in the credibility arena.”


“I think you are right.  Any other thoughts?”


“Well… it’s American television straight out of the sixties but since it is Halloween… Gomez and Morticia Addams?”


Kristin’s mouth formed the word ‘no’ but it never emerged.  Instead her brow wrinkled in thought.


“You like that suggestion?” Nathan asked eagerly.


“Well… the suggestion itself is a bit impractical.  A dress like that woman wore would hinder my dancing even more than a wheelchair would yours, and be warned, I intend to dance.  But I do like the idea of combining a couple and the Halloween theme.”


“What do you mean?’ Nathan didn’t understand.


“If I weren’t going to the party with you… if you were going alone… who would be your first choice to dress up as?  A character with a Halloween theme, I mean.”


Nathan grinned.  “When I was a kid I always went trick-or-treating dressed as a vampire.  I used to love those old horror films with Christopher Lee and Bela Lugosi.”


“Then you should go as a vampire… as Count Dracula.  I could go as a female vampire.”


Nathan shook his head.  “In all those movies the Count always had a bevy of buxom females around him.  You could go as my victim.”


“There isn’t much of a costume there.  I’ve seen those movies as well.  Even if I had a costume there wouldn’t be much of it from what I remember.”


“The dresses were very… risqué… but that’s the main reason the movies appealed to teenage boys like me.  We could sort of combine the campy movies with the original story.  It was set around the turn of the nineteenth century, wasn’t it?”


“A bit before but in the same general time.  What do you have in mind?”


“Do you still have the dress from the George on board?”


Kristin suddenly looked a bit uncomfortable.  She still didn’t believe that she’d been possessed by a ghost aboard the sunken wreck they had encountered several months before.  “I have the dress.”


“You looked so beautiful in that gown… so elegant.  You could wear it.  I could get some old-fashioned evening clothes and we could ostensibly be an Edwardian couple.  I know Janet Noyce very well so I can guess that one of the treats at the party will be a costume contest.  I could reveal my ‘darker side’ then.  That way I wouldn’t have to wear the damned fake teeth for the entire party.”


“The idea has merit.” Kristin agreed.  “We can definitely mull it over along with anything else that we might think of.”


“Agreed.  Damn,” Nathan glanced at his watch.  “I’m late for bridge watch.”  He gulped back the rest of his orange juice.  “I’ll come by medbay when I get off and we can discuss the idea some more.”


“I’ll probably be working in my lab this afternoon unless something pops up.”


“Okay, I’ll come there.  Oh, did you get your package from your daughter?”


The smile that crossed Kristin’s face intrigued Nathan.  “I did indeed.  She sent me a Halloween treat.”


“Something nice?”


Kristin gazed at Nathan quizzically a moment before nodding.  “I’m sure that you would like it.”


“Well then, you will have to show it to me sometime.  Until later.”  With one last salute Nathan picked up his tray and headed out.


“I think I’d like that, Nathan Bridger…” Kristin whispered as she watched him go.




“I didn’t plan for the school of fish to divert the seaQuest, Mr. Kreig, but we will be at the hotel by three and the party doesn’t start until seven so you have four hours to pick up your costume.” Nathan told the pouting young man.


Ben glowered from the back of the transport van.  “I appreciate that, sir.  I just can’t believe that this has happened.  Am I the only person who didn’t arrange to have their costume delivered to the hotel?”


Kreig searched every face on the vehicle but no one shared his despair. 


“We just can’t believe that you didn’t think of it, Ben.”  Jonathan Ford told him, a look of smug satisfaction on his face.


“Talk to the concierge when you get to the hotel, Ben.  I am sure that they will be pleased to help out.  How often do they have every room rented out to the UEO plus get to host a wonderful Halloween party.”  Nathan volunteered.


“How are you so sure that this is going to be a wonderful party, Captain?  I thought that you hated dog and pony shows.” Kristin pointed out.


“I know it will be wonderful because I’ve spent the last thirty plus years attending parties planned by Janet Noyce.   I’ll never forget the year that we played bobbing for hot dogs.”


“Shouldn’t that be bobbing for apples?” Kristin pointed out.


“No.  The apples didn’t work well with the beer we were bobbing in.  God, that was a great party!”  Nathan chuckled at the memory.


“What other interesting party tricks has Mrs. Noyce come up with?” Kristin asked.


“Well… the twister Valentine’s Day party still stands out as a classic as does the jingle my bell Christmas party… and ‘you’ aren’t allowed to participate in any stunts like that!” Nathan saw the grin that flashed across Lucas’ face and quickly pointed at the boy as he cautioned him.


The grin quickly faded as Lucas slumped back against the seat and sulked.  “I never get to have any fun.”


“Come now… there will be a lot of very important dignitaries at the party.  I am sure that this one will be much more somber.” Kristin told the boy.


Nathan was about to speak when the breaks of the van squealed, signaling that they were approaching the hotel.  A few minutes later they halted in front of the entrance and disembarked to find a smiling Admiral waiting for them.


“Nathan!  Glad you could make it!  Did you catch a few fish to add to the buffet tonight?”  Bill laughed as he shook the captain’s hand.


“Very funny, Bill.  We could all use a few moments to unwind and track down our costumes.  Are our rooms ready?”


“All ready but… there has been a little problem.  Nothing major,” Bill quickly added.  “A few rooms were already slated for remodeling which left the hotel a bit short of space.  We solved that problem by arranging for a few of you to double up, if that isn’t a problem.”


“Double up how?” Nathan asked.


“I volunteer to share with Hitchcock!” Both Lucas and Ben chimed in at the same time.


“In your dreams!” Katie quickly shot back.


“Every night, sweetheart, every night…” Ben murmured back.


“We have three rooms and a suite available for you so what I thought we could do was put Kreig, O’Neill, Ortiz and Wolenczak in the suite.  Crocker and Ford will share one room and Westphalen and Hitchcock can take the other double.  That leaves the captain with the last room, which is a single.  Does that meet with everyone’s approval?” Bill looked up from the list in front of him to check the crowd’s reaction.


“I’m sure that Katie and I will get along very well.” Kristin answered.


“No problem here.” Ford and Crocker volunteered.


“All right!” Ben pumped his fist in the air.


“Wait just a minute,” Nathan’s voice cut through the din.


“Something wrong, Nathan?” Bill questioned.


“I am just a little concerned.  Let me have a moment with Lieutenant Kreig and Lucas.”  Nathan led the young man and the teenager away from the larger group.  The others watched with interest as a quiet but intense discussion quickly took place between the three men.  Finally Nathan nodded and they returned to the hotel entrance.


“Everything is fine now.” Nathan told Bill.


“Okay, let’s get you checked in.”  Bill led the way into the lobby.


“That looked like a very interesting conversation,” Kristin observed as she lagged behind, waiting for Nathan to pick up his bag.


The captain laughed.  “Sometimes Ben isn’t the best influence on Lucas.  I just wanted them to understand that if I agreed to their rooming together there would have to be some ground rules… no cons, no booze…”


“No women?”  Kristin replied, one eyebrow raised.


Nathan’s eyes widened in thought for a moment then he laughed.  “That was the first condition on my list.  I was just trying to be a gentleman.”


“Would you rather have Lucas room with you?”


Nathan winked playfully.  “Lucas would be my second choice for roommate.”


“Why, Captain Bridger!  I do believe you are flirting with me!” Kristin put on an exaggerated southern accent.


“I was just thinking that you would probably need someone to help you zip up that dress.   I guess that Katie can do that now.”  A mock pout touched Nathan’s lips.


“That is true,” Kristin leaned in conspiratorially.  “But… someone is going to have to unzip the dress after the party and there is no guarantee that Katie will be around then.”  After giving Nathan one last sly look Kristin sauntered into the hotel lobby.




Nathan was closing the door to his room when he heard a voice yell down the hallway.


“Woohoo!  Check out the captain!  Looking sharp, sir!”

Nathan grinned as he straightened the bow tie of his vintage tuxedo then grabbed the edge of the cape and swirled it in front of him as he affected a courtly bow.


“At your service, gentlemen.”


“Uh… who are you supposed to be?” Lucas asked as he checked out Nathan’s costume.  “And why are you wearing a cape?”


“I’m a gentleman of the Victorian era in formal evening wear.”


“Yeah… but ‘who’ are you?”


Nathan thought quickly.  “I’m Bram Stoker.”  Nathan rolled his eyes at the boy’s blank stare.  “He was a writer.”


“Oh… okay.” Lucas was satisfied with Nathan’s response.


“Turn about is fair play.  Who are you supposed to be?” Nathan gestured at Lucas’ Yankees baseball jersey.


“I’m Lou Gehrig, Cap.” Lucas told Nathan as if his identity were the most obvious thing in the world.


“The Iron Man himself… I should have known.  Tim, what about you?”


“I’m just a cowboy, sir.  I haven’t really thought about which one.”


“With your lanky build you should be Roy Rogers.”


“And you can scout out a Dale Evans at the party!” Ben interjected, causing Tim to blush.  “Just try to avoid all of the Triggers.”


“Miguel, you’re an obvious… and you’ve got the muscles to carry off the costume and…” he turned to stare pointedly at Lucas, “… the cape.”


“Nothing wrong with capes, sir,” Lucas held up his hands and took a step back.


“That leaves us all identified except…” Nathan turned to face Ben, looking very dapper in what appeared to be an Armani tuxedo.  “And who are you pretending to be this evening, Mr. Kreig?”


“Well, sir… I decided to let my alter ego free.  Wine, women, fast cars… the name is Bond… James Bond.”  Ben slid open his coat to reveal a firearm.  “And I can’t wait to get my martini glass in hand.”


“You can’t walk into a UEO party carrying a gun, Mr. Kreig!  Don’t you have better sense?”


“No problem, sir.”  Ben drew the gun from its holster beneath his arm and pointed it at a nearby plant.  “See?”


Nathan almost swore as Ben pulled the trigger but breathed a sigh of relief when a stream of water shot out of the end.


“Just make sure that you tell security that thing is fake.”  Nathan cautioned.  “Now if you will excuse me, I have to call for a lovely lady.”


Nathan headed down the corridor toward the elevator, slightly annoyed to find that the pack was moving along behind him.  When he reached the lift he paused and turned.  “Don’t you fellas have somewhere else to be?”


“We’re not following you, sir.” Tim quickly reassured Nathan.  “We promised Lieutenant Hitchcock that we would come by for her.”


“Oh.” Nathan answered shortly, irritated that he was going to have an audience when he saw Kristin in her costume.  She hadn’t actually committed to wearing the dress that Nathan wanted her too and despite her teasing that afternoon he knew that she had received a delivery from the costume shop along with the rest of his crew.  “Don’t just stand there then.  Get on the damned elevator!”


The trip to the floor above was made in silence, his men sensing Nathan’s pique.  When the lift dinged to a stop they quickly jumped out of the car.


“The ladies’ room is down this way.” Lucas gestured.


“Why didn’t you go before we left the room?” Ben retorted.

“Smart ass,” Lucas muttered, daring a quick glance at a disapproving Nathan.


“I wonder who those guys are?” Miguel commented as two costumed figures exited a room and closed the door behind them.  “Great getups.”


“You bet your bananas they are.”  The voice that emerged from the gorilla’s lips clearly belonged to Chief Crocker. 


“Didn’t have a gator costume big enough, chief?”  Nathan asked sternly.


“A swamp rat in elegant clothes is still just a swamp rat.”  The gorilla answered cheekily.


“Is that you in there, Commander?”  Lucas asked as he and Ben prodded at the second figure.


“It’s me.”


“Who are you supposed to be?”


“Use your brains, Lucas.  Every inch of the commander is covered.  Socks, shoes, pants, trench coat, gloves, hat… the bandages around his face and the sunglasses give him form… identify him as human.  But what would happen if he removed everything?”


“He’d be naked?”


Nathan rolled his eyes again.  “You are going to spend some time reading some classic literature.  Commander Ford is obviously the invisible man.”


“That’s right, sir,” came Ford’s muffled voice.  “We were just on our way to escort Lieutenant Commander Hitchcock downstairs.”


“Hey!  Katie asked us to escort her.” Ben protested.


“She was afraid that you would forget her.”  Nathan couldn’t be sure but he suspected that beneath the bandages Jonathan Ford was enjoying his verbal jab at Ben.  Everyone aboard the seaQuest knew that the former married couple fought like cats and dogs but they also knew that Kreig was still sweet on his ex.


“Tonight, gentlemen,” Nathan gestured down the corridor.  “The party started half an hour ago.  If we delay much longer the Admiral is sure to send a search party after us.”


“And all the good looking women are already getting hit on,” Ben added as the oddly garbed group moved forward.




“I think I hear them coming, Kristin.  Are you ready?” Katie asked as she made one last adjustment to her plunging neckline.


“I just want to do a few touch-ups.  Besides, Nathan may not be with the fellows.  You go on ahead.  Wait… your wart is crooked.  Let me fix it.”


Katie stood still while Kristin carefully adjusted the knobby prosthesis on the end of her nose then grinned at her friend, her mouth showing several large black holes where teeth should be.  “Do you think my costume is okay?”


Kristin raised her eyebrows as she looked over Katie’s slinky dress one last time.  “It certainly is a contrast.  That body in that dress… with that face…”


With Kristin’s help, Katie had used a green-based makeup to cover her face then added the hairy wart, bushy black eyebrows and a stringy black wig.  A sequined covered witches cap topped the wig.  But instead of wearing a traditional witches dress Katie had opted for a spangly black sheath that showed off her feminine curves to perfection.


A quick rap at the door along with the sound of chatter in the hall signaled the arrival of Katie’s escorts.


“Have a nice time.  I’ll see you at the party in just a bit.” Kristin told her roommate then moved back into the bedroom and closed the door behind her.


“You guys look fantastic!” Katie told the men as she admitted them into the small sitting area.  Then she saw Ben.  “And just who are you supposed to be?  You look like the groom on a bad wedding cake.”


“The name is Kreig… Ben Kreig… double oh… your pleasure.”  Ben waggled his eyebrows seductively at Katie.


“I think I’m going to be sick.”


Ben didn’t appreciate his ex-wife’s comments.  “Go ahead.  It should match your face!”


“Children!” Nathan interrupted from the door.  “Commander, if you are ready would you please escort this band of ruffians downstairs?  Thank you.”


The group filed slowly past with Crocker bringing up the rear.  “Try to keep them out of trouble, Gator…”


The monkey looked quizzically at Nathan then scratched his head.  “You just gotta swing with the bananas, Cap.”


Nathan shook his head as he closed the door firmly behind the group and slid the privacy bar into place.  He didn’t want any one of the group returning to the room and interrupting his time alone with Kristin.  With that in mind he called out to her.


“Nathan,” Kristin’s voice came from behind a closed door.  “I didn’t know you were here.  I’ll be out in just a moment.”


“Take your time.” He called back then wandered over to the window to check out Kristin’s view.  He could just make out the waves rolling in to touch the beach in the distance.


“Don’t you look handsome, Captain… like some dark exotic dream lover come to sweep me away.” 


The husky comment pulled Nathan’s attention back to the room and his breath caught in his chest as he glimpsed Kristin’s reflection in the window before him.


“You wore the dress.” He stated, relief evident in his voice.  Then he slowly turned around.


Kristin stood in the center of the small room wearing the gown that she’d first worn on the wreck of the HMS George.  Almost every detail was the same except for her hair.  This time she’d swept the front of her silky auburn locks to the top of her head but the back tresses hung past her shoulders.  Long white silk opera gloves covered her arms to just above her shoulders.


Nathan ran his gaze over her figure, the heavy white silk molding perfectly to Kristin’s torso before flaring gently over her hips into a generous skirt.  But there was something different… Nathan couldn’t put his finger on it but he sensed a difference in Kristin’s appearance.


“You look… gorgeous!” He breathed.


“You still wanted me to wear the dress, didn’t you?  I have another I can change into if you’d prefer…”


“NO!  You look perfect.  I just wasn’t sure that you’d actually choose this dress in the end.  I know that some of the memories aren’t…”


“They weren’t my memories, Nathan, if indeed they were real memories at all.  I still think the entire episode was inspired by nitrogen narcosis.”


“Nonetheless… I’m glad you are wearing the gown… even if I didn’t get to do the honour of zipping you into it this time.”


A smile touched Kristin’s lips, making her even lovelier to Nathan’s eyes.  “Katie and I helped each other out a bit.  What did you think of her costume?”


“Very sexy… and very hideous.”


“Exactly the look she was going for.”


“But you… something’s missing.” Nathan said suddenly.


Kristin held out her hands as she glanced down.  “Dress, shoes, gloves… I don’t know what.”


“The feather thing for your hair.”


Kristin wrinkled her nose.  I have it in the other room but… I wasn’t sure if it looked all right with my hair fixed this way.”


“Why don’t you try it and see?  I’ll help.”


Kristin reluctantly agreed and moved back into the bedroom, not saying a word when Nathan followed her.  When she reached the bathroom she opened a sturdy cardboard box sitting on the counter and pulled out the feathered hair comb.


“It just seems a bit… much.” She told Nathan.


Nathan took the piece from Kristin’s hand and stared at it a moment then eyed the lay of her hair.  “Why don’t we try it like…” he carefully inserted the teeth of the comb into a thick wave of Kristin’s upsweep.


“How’s that?” Nathan dropped his hand to Kristin’s bare shoulders and turned her to face the mirror, trying desperately to ignore the tingling sensation where his skin met hers.


Nathan had positioned the adornment so that the longest feather swept down Kristin’s hair, the outermost plumes following the curve of her hair to brush at her cheek.  A few of the smallest feathers fanned upward. The effect was to accent Kristin’s curls rather than detract from them.


“That is perfect.  You have a very good eye.” Kristin turned slightly then stopped, suddenly realizing where they were.  “We should go now…”


“One more thing before we do.  I brought you something.  I saw it this evening and thought it might go nicely with your dress.”  Nathan reached beneath the edge of his cape and pulled out a perfect pink rose bud.   The outer petals were just beginning to open.


Kristin smiled graciously as she accepted the offering, lifting the blossom to her nose and inhaling its sweet fragrance.  “Thank you, Nathan.  It’s perfect.”


She offered the bloom to Nathan’s nose and he sniffed appreciatively, his intake of air lodging in his throat as Kristin shifted the flower to run the silky petals over the curve of Nathan’s cheek.  The air between them electrified immediately.


“The others will be wondering where we are…” Kristin forced her lips to move out of the half pucker they had unconsciously slipped into.


Nathan nodded, wanting nothing more than to sweep Kristin into his arms, carry her into the bedroom and try moving the zipper down instead of up.  He forced his eyes down, away from Kristin’s face, only to find himself staring at her more than ample cleavage. 


‘Was her chest that… evident before?’ He quickly jerked his gaze back up. 


“Your flower… I should have bought a corsage instead.  I just didn’t think…”


“If you don’t mind if I trim the stem just a bit…” Kristin reached into a bag and pulled out a small set of scissors.  In a few moments she had trimmed the rose’s stem back to just a few inches.  Another trip to the bag produced a length of pink ribbon and a delicate gold pin that matched Kristin’s necklace and earrings. 


Kristin quickly wrapped the stem with ribbon then pinned it to her waist.  The flower was the last touch the dress needed.


“Is this okay?”




“Well, shall we make our way to the ballroom, Count?”


“Your wish is my command, my lady.”  Nathan answered in his best Transylvanian accent as he bowed gallantly from the waist and gestured for Kristin to precede him.




The mournful tones of a pipe organ, somber and morose, filled the air as Nathan and Kristin approached the entrance to the hotel ballroom.


“I’ve always loved that music.” Nathan commented as he paused to listen.


“Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by Bach.”


“The Phantom of the Opera starring Lon Chaney.”




“What can I say?  I am a child of my environment.  Most of my experiences with classical music come from movies and cartoons.”


Kristin rolled her eyes.  “You are too much, Captain Bridger.”


Nathan inclined his head toward the closed door.  “You know the kiddies are going to be waiting for us?”


“I know.  I am a little curious to see all of their costumes but I’m not really looking forward to another boring brass kissing show.”


“Ah… but then you’ve never been to one of Janet Noyce’s parties.” Nathan whispered conspiratorially.  “I’ve heard them described in many ways but the word boring has never been used.  I guarantee that you will have a fantastic time tonight.”


“I’m sure I will but we have to make an appearance at the party first.” Kristin winked then moved toward the door, leaving a grinning Nathan to follow in her wake.


The music overwhelmed them when they first opened the door but the song soon ended and the next selection was performed by the band instead of the organist so the noise level faded back to tolerable.


As Nathan had predicted the crew of the seaQuest quickly swarmed them and compliments were exchanged all around about each costume.  Ben paid particular appearance to Kristin’s ensemble, his eyes seemingly riveted to her abundant assets.


“Have you seen the Admiral around anywhere?” Nathan questioned but it seemed that the Noyces hadn’t yet made an appearance.  Or so Nathan thought until a large green hand clamped down on his shoulder.  He turned quickly and found himself staring at Frankenstein’s monster.


“Frankie!  I was wondering when you were going to drag yourself out of the castle!” Nathan shook Bill’s hand.


“I’ve been here for ages.  My ‘bride’ dragged me down early to double check the decorations.” Bill gestured to a group standing nearby, the tall stately presence of the bride of Frankenstein dominating the assembly.


“Janet has outdone herself again.  This room looks fantastic.” Nathan told his proud friend.


The effort that had been put into the decorations was obvious.  The ceiling was draped with fake spider webs and flying bats with a large moon dominating one corner.  Fog generated by a dry ice machine drifted lazily along the floor.  The walls of the room were banked with bales of hay accented with piles of pumpkins and cornstalks.  Interspersed among the hay were massive trees with long gnarled arms trailing Spanish moss.  A large bandstand graced on corner.  The backdrop of the stage was a mural of a castle atop a tall mountain.  The pipe organ rested against one wall and a live band dressed as skeletons played ‘Werewolves of London’.


“This is fantastic.  The captain told me that your wife was an expert party planner but these decorations go beyond anything I’ve ever…”


“Why don’t you tell her yourself?” Bill interjected as his bride approached.  “Sweetheart, look who finally made it?”


“Nathan!” The joy in the woman’s made up face was obvious.  She quickly moved to Nathan’s side and wrapped him in a heartfelt hug.  “You didn’t even come see me the last time you were in port, you scoundrel!”


“I’m sorry, Janet.  It was a flying visit.”


“You must come over for brunch tomorrow so that we can catch up.”


“Let me introduce you to my… crew…” Nathan looked around to find that, with the exception of Kristin, the members of his command staff had drifted away to partake of the many delights the room offered.  “Janet Noyce, I’d like to introduce you to Dr. Kristin Westphalen.  Kristin is the head doctor and chief scientist on the seaQuest as well as my date for the evening.”


Bill Noyce’s eyebrows arched in surprise and he glanced furtively at Nathan as Janet greeted Kristin graciously and the two women began to chat. He grabbed Nathan’s forearm and turned them away from the women.


“Westphalen?  What the hell were you thinking?” He hissed.


“I was thinking that I would like to attend the party with a beautiful lady who is also a wonderful dancer.” Nathan replied calmly.


“But… Damn it, Nathan, you need a woman badly and I don’t mean to dance with!  At least not vertically...”


Nathan couldn’t resist responding.  “Last time I checked, Kristin had all of the necessary attributes to qualify.  If the night goes well I’ll let you know for sure tomorrow.”  He turned back to the ladies, leaving Bill standing with his jaw gaping.


“So what delights do you have planned for us tonight, Janet?  More beer bobbing for apples?”


“Bill thought that might be a bit too wild for our more illustrious guests but I do have several interesting activities planned.  The first scheduled event is a costume contest.”  Nathan did a knowing look at Kristin over this bit of information.


“I’m giving everyone an hour to graze at the buffet and get several drinks in them and then the fun will really start.” Janet continued.  “Speaking of which… why don’t the two of you grab a bite to eat and drink.  Try the zombies.  They are fantastic!”


“What do you say, Kristin?  Are you up for a little drinking?”


“I’m game if you are.  We shall see you later?” Kristin directed this question to the Noyces.


“Oh, I can guarantee it.  By the way, Nathan… I suggest that you have several drinks…”


Nathan suddenly looked suspicious.  “What are you planning, Janet?”


“Nothing much.  After the costume judging I just thought that perhaps a little surprise entertainment might give the guests a thrill.  A little Halloween ditty…”


“NO!  UNH UNH!  Ain’t gonna happen!”  Both Nathan and Bill spoke simultaneously while shaking their heads vehemently.


Kristin turned her gaze to Janet with undisguised interest.


“Kristin,” Janet smiled evilly.  “I have some snapshots that I just know you are going to love seeing.  Let me just run get my purse…” Janet turned her back on the pouting men and moved toward the cloakroom.  Kristin could have sworn she heard Janet humming the chorus of ‘Shine on, Harvest Moon’ as she departed.


“Uncle!” Nathan and Bill once again spoke in unison.


A satisfied smile curled across Janet’s face as she turned back and laced her arm through her husband’s.  “I’m so glad that you see things my way.  Now go eat.  Kristin, please make sure that man has at least two zombies.”


“Two… but I certainly don’t want him too intoxicated.” Kristin winked at Janet as she and Nathan moved away.


“Bill,” Janet looked at her husband, “what is wrong with you?  Your bolts are drooping.”




“Perhaps I wanted to see Janet’s pictures.”  Kristin told Nathan as he carefully seated her at a secluded table in the back of a graveyard.


“Perhaps there is no way in hell that you are going to see those pictures,” Nathan groused as he sat down beside Kristin.


“Oh dear.  That bad are they?” Kristin grinned.


“I was young and foolish and extremely drunk.” Nathan lifted his pumpkin glass to his lips and took a long sip of his zombie.  “Unfortunately, I’m afraid that I’m going to have to get a little tipsy to keep you from seeing those photos.”


“Janet invited me to go shopping tomorrow.”


“This time I’m gonna demand the negatives, too.  I’m tired of that woman blackmailing me.”


“Now I’m going to have to get the details…” Kristin quickly grabbed a pumpkin shaped cookie and shoved it into Nathan’s mouth.  “Eat.  I don’t want you to get so intoxicated that you can’t… dance…” 


Nathan groaned quietly as the tip of Kristin’s tongue flicked across her lips.  He was suddenly overwhelmed with the urge to hold her in his arms.  He pushed his chair back abruptly.


“Let’s dance.”


“You want to dance to ‘Flying Purple People-eater’?” Kristin questioned.  “I’m not sure that I know the moves to that.  Besides I might not want to dance.”


“You told me that you had to wear a costume that you can dance in.  You did and I did so let’s get to it.”


Kristin stared quizzically at Nathan.  “Not with an attitude like that.  What happened to you?  You’ve gone from being a wonderful date to a dictatorial bastard in seconds.”


Nathan swore as he turned and faced the wall.  He took several deep breaths then spun back to Kristin only to find that she was weaving through the tables away from him.  He quickly moved to catch up with her.




“I don’t want to talk to you right now.”


“Please… I’m sorry.”


“What?”  She slowed.


“I was a complete bastard and I’m sorry.  I just… Janet got me all flustered by bullying me into going along with her silly stunt and then… I just wanted to hold you in my arms for a few minutes but I went about it totally the wrong way.”


Kristin stopped.  “Nathan, if you tell me what Janet has on you it loses its power.”


Nathan glanced around the tables then took Kristin’s arm and gently led her away from the grouping to the relative privacy of a mossy tree trunk.


“One night Bill and I got really drunk,” Nathan’s voice was so low that Kristin had to lean in close to hear, “and we decided to… well… we sort of… mooned someone.  Janet snapped pictures of our bare asses and she’s been blackmailing us for years.”


“Is that all?” Kristin laughed gently.  “I know of several pictures of me from my youth floating around that I wouldn’t necessarily want distributed in polite company.  Besides, you have a fabulous ass in pants.  It could only get better bared.”


Nathan suddenly realized how close his mouth was to Kristin’s and he fought the urge to close the few short inches between them.  He dropped his eyes, only to find himself staring straight down her cleavage.


“Tit for tat,” he muttered.


“What?” Kristin wasn’t sure that she’d heard him correctly.


“Tit for tat.” Nathan said a bit louder.  “You know what’s in my blackmail pictures.  Tell me what is in yours.”


“Well… let’s just say that I once had an unfortunate penchant for having a bit too much to drink and dancing on tables… in my knickers.”


Nathan grinned, a surge of desire sparking in his eyes.  “Let’s go get another zombie, shall we?”




“The time has come!  Let’s have all of you ghosties and ghoulies get ready to get judged on your duds.” The lead vocalist for the band called everyone’s attention to the stage.  “Now I am obviously the coolest dressed person here,” he drew attention to his tuxedo-clad skeleton’s garb, “but the time has come to see who comes in second.  The judges have singled out the following finalists.  When your name is called please come up on stage for the applause-o-meter!”


“You do know that we are going to be on that stage, don’t you?” Nathan murmured to Kristin.  “Janet will have made sure of that.  Hell, she’s probably got blackmail photos on the anonymous judges as well.”


Katie was the first contestant to cross the stage, posing and posturing to all of the catcalls emerging from the audience.  Kristin noticed that one young man, a senator’s senior aide if she remembered correctly, was much louder than everyone else.  It seemed that Katie’s sexy body had made a very strong impression.


The next seaQuest crewmember on stage was Chief Crocker.  He pounded on his chest and made monkey noises to the delight of the crowd.  A few dignitaries came next, the best costume among them belonging to a senator’s wife who was dressed as a bunch of grapes.  She was followed by Kreig… Ben Kreig… who embarrassed the woman and endeared himself to the men in the room by suggesting that they grab some darts and pop a few of the woman’s purple balloons.


Kreig took advantage of his stage time to ham it up and hit on all of the pretty girls that he could see until several large members of the band escorted him from the stage.  Bill and Janet Noyce came next, playing up their Frankenstein costumes to the hilt.  Bill lumbered up the stairs, his hobnail boots treading heavily across the stage while Janet walked with all the poise of a beauty queen.  After their applause was measured Jonathan Ford took the stage in his Invisible Man garb then several more contestants, both couples and singles followed.


Finally, just as Nathan predicted, his name was called along with Kristin’s. When they heard the summons Nathan turned to Kristin.  “You ready?” He whispered as he lifted his hand to his mouth.


Kristin held up a fine linen handkerchief.  “Of course.”


“Come on, Cap!  Scared of a little competition?” Ben called from across the room.  The other members of Nathan’s crew began to chant his name and as he and Kristin moved across the room the rest of the crowd picked up the mantra.


Nathan gallantly helped Kristin climb the stairs, taking care that her long skirts didn’t trip her up.  When they reached center stage the emcee smiled as he checked Kristin out.


“And aren’t you a pretty little girl!  Who are you supposed to be, lovely lady?”


“My date.” Nathan answered firmly as he moved in behind Kristin and clasped her arm possessively.  “Check out the clothes, Bones.  We are an Edwardian couple headed out for a night at the opera.”


“Planning on seeing any phantoms there, pops?”  The skeleton popped back cheekily.


“No phantoms but we might have spare ribs for dinner afterward.” 


The skeleton laughed as he stepped back.  “I do believe the opera dude has an attitude.”


“No attitude.  I’m just… hungry.”


Without warning Nathan swooped forward, his shoulders sliding in front of Kristin’s torso as he leaned low over her offered neck and punctured the blood capsule he’d slipped into his mouth with the fake vampire teeth he’d also added.  His tongue carefully worked the thick red syrup over the points of his fangs, which he then pressed into Kristin’s skin. 


Nathan pressed the capsule against the side of his mouth, emptying the contents completely.  He dipped the tip of his tongue into the mixture then drew it along the curve of Kristin’s neck to simulate a rivulet down her throat.  A moan echoed from Kristin’s lips through the nearby microphone at the touch of Nathan’s tongue on her skin. The final bit of goo was pushed out of his mouth to coat his lips and drip down his chin.


At Nathan’s first movement the crowd gasped and fell silent but in the few remaining seconds the applause and catcalls roared.


The noise level only increased when Nathan lifted his head, a salacious grin on his face, fangs distended and lips bloodied.  Kristin leaned against Nathan’s supporting arm as if she was weak and dazed.  Her handkerchief was pressed to her bosom, insuring that the theatrical blood didn’t touch and stain her dress.


The crowd went wild, applauding madly as Nathan executed a perfect bow.  “Thank you very much.” He told the assembly in his best Dracula accent.


“Okay, folks…” The emcee gestured for Nathan and Kristin to leave the stage.  “Let’s have one last round of applause for all of our contestants and then we will give our judges time to…” The roar of the crowd drowned out the rest of the skeleton’s words causing him to turn to see what the problem was.  What he saw was Kristin standing on the edge of the stage, Nathan one step below her.  As Nathan had turned to help Kristin down she bent at the waist and latched on to the tender skin just beneath his lips, using her mouth and tongue to lick the candied blood away.


“Okay, kids.  Shows over.  Take it back to the graveyard, how ‘bout it.”


Kristin smiled and winked at the host as she licked her lips with relish and flounced down the stairs, Nathan close behind with a sharp eye on the swaying form before him.


The band struck up an old song to fill the time while the judges deliberated and Nathan moved Kristin determinedly toward the dance floor but before they could reach it they were surrounded by people congratulating them on the originality of their costumes. 


“No one guessed that you were supposed to be a vampire.” Bill laughed.


“I thought that you were some dude named Abraham Stoker or something.”  Lucas interjected.


“Bram Stoker, Lucas.  The author of an interesting little novel called ‘Dracula’.” Nathan prompted the boy.


“Oh wow… Dracula!  That’s cool!  What a kick ass idea, Cap!”


Nathan rolled his eyes at the boy. 


“I knew that you were a vampire.” Janet said quietly.


Both Nathan and Kristin turned to stare at her.  “What gave us away?”


Janet shrugged.  “I don’t know.  Maybe it was the fact that you looked like you were dying to bite something,” she told Nathan then, with a glance around the group she moved closer to him and added, “Although I had an idea that your focus was a little bit lower than her neck.”


A fanfare from the band saved Nathan from having to reply, not that he could have spoken in that instant anyway.  He turned to Kristin, half afraid how she might react to Janet’s words but the lady stared back at him with a mischievous twinkle in her eye.


“Gives new meaning to the phrase ‘Bite me’, doesn’t it?”


The crew of the seaQuest applauded when Ben Kreig took third prize in the single contest and went wild when Commander Ford walked away with top honours.  A quick break followed while final deliberations took place in the couple’s contest.  During this time Nathan discovered Ben offering odds on his and Kristin’s chance of beating the Noyces.


Ben came close to losing his shirt when the contest resulted in a tie.  The judges could not decide between the vampires and the monsters so they awarded the grand prize to both.  Nathan and Bill put on a big show about having to share the accolades but their delight was obvious.


“They are like two little boys, aren’t they?” Janet observed quietly to Kristin as they stood at the stage stairs and watched their men. 


“A bit… but it is nice to see Nathan having fun.  He is far too somber.”


“His job carries a lot of responsibility.”


“Of course… and Nathan is a natural leader.  He just always seems so sad.  Seeing him laugh and smile to this extent is a rare treat.”


“I agree.  I see the Nathan of old tonight… the Nathan I was afraid I would never see again.  Bill is delighted although he is terrified to think that you are the person who made him this happy.”


“Me?  Being here with old friends is what has helped Nathan.”


Janet snorted.  “Seeing you in that dress and plotting how best to get you out of it is what helped Nathan.  Don’t look at me that way, Dr. Westphalen.  I see what’s happening between the two of you.  You’d be out of this party and back in Nathan’s hotel room so fast it would make my head spin if you thought your absence wouldn’t be noticed.”


“I… Mrs. Noyce… I assure you that Captain Bridger and I maintain a strictly professional relationship…”


“Then I suggest you use tonight to change that.  It would be a shame to waste all of that lovely sexual tension the two of you are generating.”  With those parting words Janet moved forward to join her husband.




“Is something troubling you, Kristin?  You’ve been very quiet since the contest ended.” Nathan asked Kristin softly as he led her smoothly around the dance floor, enjoying the feel of her in his arms.


Kristin shook her head gently, the wispy tips of the feathers in her hair brushing her cheek.  “I was just thinking about something Mrs. Noyce mentioned to me earlier.  Both she and the Admiral are very glad that you are here tonight and that you seem to be having a good time.”


“I’m having a wonderful time…” ‘holding you in my arms,’ Nathan wanted to add but didn’t.  “Having a bad time at one of Janet’s parties is almost impossible.”


“I think that they were afraid being here might bring back some unwanted memories.”


“My memories of Carol and Bobby are never unwanted or unwelcome.  Just because they are no longer with me doesn’t mean I don’t want to remember them. But tonight isn’t about old memories.  It is about new experiences.  In case I haven’t mentioned it, I am so very glad that you agreed to come with me tonight.”


“I am very glad that you asked me.”  With her words followed by a soft sigh, Kristin laid her cheek against Nathan’s shoulder as they continued to twirl around the floor.


The song ended much too soon.  Nathan was loathe to release Kristin from his arms but the band leader called a break, announcing that the stage had to be set up for a special presentation.


Nathan didn’t realize that he’d spoken the curse aloud until Kristin turned to him, eyebrows raised.  “This special presentation has something to do with Janet Noyce’s blackmail threats, I take it?”


“Yes,” he admitted through gritted teeth.  “And I see her beckoning for me.  I’m sorry to have to abandon you but I’ll be back as soon as I’ve made a complete ass of myself.”


“Mmm… one of your best features.”


Nathan couldn’t believe it when he felt Kristin’s hand caress his bottom as he walked away from her but the smile on his face certainly left Janet wondering what Kristin had done to improve Nathan’s mood so drastically.




“I wonder what is going on behind that curtain,” Lucas peered at the large cloth that had been pulled across the stage as if he might suddenly see through it.


“You’ll know soon enough,” Kristin told him.  “The captain assures me that Mrs. Noyce always has wonderful surprises at her parties.”


Lucas nodded absently in agreement but his curiosity didn’t abate.  He and Ben finally left Kristin to see if they could see anything around the sides just as Katie approached, a handsome young man in tow.


“Kristin, I’d like to introduce you to Stephen Prince, Senator Barrie’s aide.  Stephen, this is Dr. Kristin Westphalen.”


“I’m very pleased to meet you, Dr. Westphalen.  Your work on board the seaQuest is fascinating.”


Kristin smiled at the handsome young man.  “Thank you, Mr. Prince.  Have you enjoyed your time on the big island?”


“I don’t feel as if I’ve seen very much of the beauties Hawaii has to offer.  The conference and the Senator have kept me very busy.  Luckily I have the next few days off, just in time to coincide with Katie’s leave here.  But if you will excuse me, I see the senator beckoning.”  Stephen turned to Katie.  “Don’t wander too far.  I’ll be back in just a few minutes.”


“Isn’t he gorgeous!?!?!” Katie hissed as she clutched Kristin’s upper arm and smiled after Stephen.


“Your young man is very attractive.” Kristin agreed.  “The two of you seem to have hit it off very quickly.”


“I was attracted to him instantly.  I mean, who wouldn’t be with a body like that… but he’s sweet and funny too.”


“Then I’m glad that you will have a few days to spend together.”


“Kristin… I was wondering… do you think that there is any chance that you might… that the captain and you…”


“If you are asking what I think you are asking then I would have to say that is none of your business.”  Kristin answered gently.


“No… I don’t mean to pry, really… I just thought… Stephen is also having to share a room with another aide and… we might want to… you know… be alone…”


Kristin frowned.  “Katherine… I’m not your mother and I’m not going to preach to you but you just met this young man this evening.  Please… be careful if you decide to… get closer.  Promise me that you won’t act precipitously.”


“No problem there.  I came prepared.”  Kristin was stunned when Katie reached into the neck of her low cut dress and pulled out three brightly colored foil packets and pressed them into Kristin’s hand.


Kristin flushed, a bit embarrassed at Katie’s openness.  “Okay.  I believe you.”  When she tried to push the packets back into Katie’s hand, Hitchcock pulled away.


“Keep them.  I’ve got plenty and who knows.  You might find a use for them.”


“We almost got a look under the edge of the sheet but Mrs. Noyce’s heel moved in a bit close.”


Kristin’s blush deepened as Lucas and Ben rejoined them.  Not knowing what else to do, she quickly turned her back and coughed as she hastily tucked Katie’s gift into the recesses of her bosom.


“Are you okay, Doc?” Lucas asked.


“I’m fine, Lucas,” Kristin turned back to the men.  “I was just thinking that I should have brought a small handbag.  So Mrs. Noyce tried to puncture your hand?”


“I swear it was an accident.  I didn’t realize that my hand had slipped beneath the curtain.” Ben said.


A fanfare from the band cut off any reply but the disbelieving looks on Kristin and Katie’s faces told Ben that he wasn’t fooling them for an instant.


As the music faded, the bandleader appeared around the edge of the curtain and took the microphone. 


“The next selection is an oldie but definitely a goody so just settle back and enjoy…” The lights lowered as he walked across the front of the stage, dragging the curtain with him.


Spotlights slowly popped on, accenting specific points on the stage.  A large painted backdrop had been pulled in front of the band simulating a laboratory, the even larger castle canvas still visible behind it.  Smoke poured from a boiling beaker.


A distinctive drumbeat sounded as a soft light focused in on the back of a figure standing next to the counter.  As other instruments joined in the form turned, revealing Janet Noyce in a white lab coat.  Her voice was low and husky as she began to speak.


“I was working in the lab late one night when my eyes beheld an eerie sight for my monster from his slab began to rise and suddenly to my surprise…” 


As Janet sang the words with a throaty accent a spotlight hit a sheet-covered stretcher to one side.  At the appropriate time the hulking shape beneath the cloth moved, the fabric sliding down as Bill sat up with his hands stretched out before him.  As the chorus started he jumped off of the gurney and began to dance.


“He did the mash

He did the monster mash

The monster mash

It was a graveyard smash

He did the mash

It caught on in a flash

He did the mash

He did the monster mash.”


The band joined in the chorus, providing the vocals to back Janet up.  As she sang the next verse Bill continued to move around doing something that resembled a modified version of the ‘Mash Potato’ and spotlights whirled around the room to land on some of the more gruesome looking costumes.


“From my laboratory in the castle east

To the master bedroom where the vampires feast

The ghouls all came from their humble abodes

To get a jolt from my electrodes.”


Electricity arched from one point to another as the crowd cheered and another chorus started.


“They did the mash

They did the monster mash

The monster mash

It was a graveyard smash

 They did the mash

 It caught on in a flash

 They did the mash

They did the monster mash.


The zombies were having fun

The party had just begun

The guests included Wolf Man

Dracula and his son

The scene was rockin',

all were digging the sounds

Igor on chains,

backed by his baying hounds

The coffin-bangers

were about to arrive with their vocal group,

"The Crypt-Kicker Five"


Colored lights beamed down on various members of the band, the fluorescent paint of their skeleton costumes reflecting the different hues.  In keeping with the lyrics of the song, one of the percussionists was shaking a long metal chain while another musician imitated a wolf baying at the moon.


“They played the mash

They played the monster mash

The monster mash

It was a graveyard smash

They played the mash

It caught on in a flash

They played the mash

They played the monster mash.”


“Oh my Lord!” Kristin gasped as she realized what Nathan’s part would be.


“Out from his coffin,

Drac's voice did ring

Seems he was troubled

by just one thing

He opened the lid

and shook his fist

And said…”


At that moment a blinding light locked on a large wooden box previously hidden in the shadows on the opposite side of the stage.  A loud creak echoed through the ballroom as the lid rose.  Nathan sat up and stuck his fist in the air and shouted in accent, “Whatever happened to my Transylvania twist?”


“It's now the mash

It's now the monster mash

The monster mash

And it's a graveyard smash

It's now the mash

It's caught on in a flash

It's now the mash

It's now the monster mash.”


As the group sang through the chorus once again Nathan climbed out of the coffin and joined in, matching Bill’s movements in a dance that now looked suspiciously like the shag.


“Now everything's cool,

Drac's a part of the band

And my monster mash

is the hit of the land

For you, the living,

this mash was meant too

When you get to my door,

tell them Janet sent you.”


As the final chorus started Bill and Nathan moved down off the stage, encouraging the onlookers to join in the strange dance.  Nathan quickly worked his way through the crowd to the small gathering of his crewmembers and grabbed Kristin’s waist, dancing her around the floor to the cheers of the others.


“Then you can mash

Then you can monster mash

The monster mash

And do my graveyard smash

Then you can mash

You'll catch on in a flash

Then you can mash

Then you can monster mash.”


Janet finished with a flourish, finishing the last line and handing off the microphone just before she leapt off of the stage and into Bill’s waiting arms.


Wild applause and cheers rang through the rafters.


“It is a good thing that the UEO reserved the entire hotel for the next few days.” Bill huffed to Nathan as he slowly lowered his wife to the floor.  “Otherwise we’d probably have the police in here.”


“You were fantastic, Cap!” Lucas exclaimed.  “And the Noyces too…” he continued at Nathan’s pointed look.


“A presentation that the three of you have done before?” Kristin asked, already knowing the answer.


“A time or two,” Nathan responded as he rested his arm casually at her waist.  “So Janet… what’s next on the agenda?”


Janet glanced down at her watch.  “The band is going to play for about thirty minutes while I take care of some things and then the next bit of fun will begin.”


“And that might be?”


“No hints, Nathan.  You know the rules.”  Janet shook her finger at him with a smile.


“Better be ready for anything, kids.” Nathan told the rest of the crew.  “And if all of you don’t mind, I am going to take this opportunity to dance with my date.”


He swept Kristin out onto the dance floor before anyone could respond.




“You really were very good.” Kristin murmured into Nathan’s ear as he held her close.  “You are a much better dancer than Admiral Noyce.”


“At least that is some consolation for making an ass of myself.”


“I told you… I like your ass.”


“I’m pretty fond of your ass as well, Doctor, particularly the way it fills out those tight blue jeans that you wear.”  One of Nathan’s hands dropped from her waist to rest lightly on the top curve of Kristin’s buttock.


“There you go, flirting again.” Kristin’s nose nuzzled the strong line of Nathan’s jaw.


“Just telling the truth, Kristin.”


Unsure of how far she wanted to push the gentle teasing, Kristin remained silent for a moment then attempted to change the subject.


“What do you think Janet has planned next?”


“I’m not sure… I do have an idea though.” Nathan recognized Kristin’s ploy and went along with it, knowing the night was still young.


“Aren’t you going to tell?”


“I could tell… but it will cost you.”  Nathan responded as his lips brushed across Kristin’s ear.  “Are you willing to pay the price?”


“That depends on how high it is.”  The feminine hand that lay at Nathan’s hip slipped around to lightly rub his bottom beneath the flowing cape.


Nathan’s breath caught as he fought the urge to find Kristin’s lips and kiss her senseless right there on the dance floor.


“We are playing with fire, you know.” Kristin’s words were barely audible.


“I’ve been cold for so long.  I’m enjoying the heat.”


“May I cut in?” The words came at the same moment that Nathan felt a gentle tap on his shoulder.  He lifted his head to see Senator Barrie waiting.


“Of course, sir.” Nathan released his hold on Kristin reluctantly, his glance telling her that he was doing so under protest.  Her eyes answered in kind, but reminding him that they were also there to schmooze.


As the senator whirled Kristin away Nathan moved to the side of the room and settled back into a dark crevice by a tree trunk to glower at the dancing couple.




“And now for our next activity.  The band is going to be taking a break while we participate in a… scavenger hunt!” Janet announced excitedly.


The crowd alternately cheered and groaned in response to her announcement. 


“There are a few rules that we should go over first. All of the items on the list are available at some place in the hotel.  Because of this anyone trying to leave the hotel will be automatically disqualified.  How you get those items is up to you as long as no physical force is involved.  You may barter, bargain or borrow. You may compete alone or as couples but no more than two people are allowed in any group.”


“Shall we make a couple, my dear?” the white-headed senator asked Kristin.


“I’m sorry, Senator, but my escort will be expecting me to partner him.”  Kristin answered at the same moment that Nathan appeared at her side.  “Perhaps Mrs. Sheffield is in need of a partner.  I heard that her husband… overindulged a bit and had to retire early.”


“Thank you, Captain Bridger.” Senator Barrie offered.  “And may I say that you have exquisite taste in women.  Doctor Westphalen is both lovely and brilliant.”


Nathan inclined his head in thanks as the older man moved away to find a helper.


“You knew!” Kristin accused.


“I suspected.  I have known Janet Noyce for thirty years.  A scavenger hunt seemed logical.  I took advantage of our unfortunate separation to gather up a few things we might need.”


Kristin glanced at the table nearby, a bowl of candy resting in its center.  “And I’m going to take advantage of this moment… I’m starving.”  She reached out and snagged a chocolate bar from the center of the display.  “I loved these as a child in England.”


“We can always go grab some food.”


“And miss the fun?  I don’t think so!”


“Attention, people!” Janet called over the microphone.  “I’m going to do a quick run through of some of the items.  Your handout will include a complete list with point values for each item.”


Stacks of orange handouts began to circulate through the crowd.


“As you can see there are some items that have several rankings.  For instance a flag will bring you two points but if you get one of the specialized flags listed you can earn up to five points each.”


Nathan and Kristin quickly glanced over the list as they took a sheet and passed the stack on.  It read as follows…


Flag - 2

Hawaii state flag. - 5

UEO flag - 5

Union Jack - 5

Feather - 9

US state quarter – up to 5 different states – 10 (2 points apiece)

Set of fake vampire teeth - 8

Six shooter - 7

Cork screw - 8

Water gun - 4

Compact Disc -10

Pocket knife - 5

Swiss army knife - 4

Opera gloves - 6

Deflated balloon - 4

Lace Handkerchief - 4

Pulltab from a can - 5

Fingernail polish - 5

Black lipstick - 2

Boatswain’s whistle - 7

Aero Candy Bar – 15

Stuffed Monkey- 13

Jalapeno Potato Chips-6

Dental floss – 3  (Cinnamon flavour - +2)


Music box - 10

Witch’s hat-7

Sunglasses - 9

Painted Pumpkin with five teeth - 6

Carved pumpkin with a purple candle inside - 10

Anything the national colours of Canada - 10


See back of page for more items


“We’ve already got several of these,” Nathan murmured to Kristin.  “This should be a piece of cake.”


“You’ve got that right, sir.” Neither Nathan nor Kristin had noticed Ben moving closer to them until he spoke.  At the same time that he responded to Nathan’s words he reached up and yanked Kristin’s feathered comb from her hair.


“Hey!”  Kristin protested as she felt a sharp tug.


“I’m just borrowing it, Doc.”  Ben laughed as he disappeared back into the crowd.


“That son of a bitch!” Nathan snarled as he started after Ben but Kristin grabbed his arm. 


“There are other things on the list.  We don’t need my comb.”


“It’s the principle of the matter.  He stole it.”


“And if the opportunity arises, we will steal it back.  In the meantime, Janet is giving out more instructions.”  Kristin’s words drew Nathan’s attention back to the stage.


“When time is up you must be in the ballroom.  Anyone who is late is automatically disqualified.  Ladies and gentlemen, you have one hour.  Begin your search.”



Nathan and Kristin had made a quick inventory of the items that they had on their persons, surprised to discover that several high point items were already in their possession.  The reverse side of their list had continued about thirty common items worth one point apiece so they spent twenty minutes gathering a variety of napkins, cups and activity flyers.


“You’d be amazed at how much these small items can help you out.  I once lost one of Janet’s hunts by just two points.  If I’d taken the time to grab a plastic fork or a jelly spider I might have won.”


“Thank God there are no jelly spiders on this list,” Kristin shuddered slightly.  “Perhaps we should look for some bigger point items though.”


“We should find Ben and let me beat the crap out of him then steal your feather back.”


Kristin smiled as she opened the folded list.  “What do you think we should go for?  We could probably find a deflated balloon or dental floss in the gift shop.”


“If we could go outside I would steal the official flags off of Bill’s car.”


“I noticed that the hotel had a small flag display from different countries in the welcoming area but they have probably been cleaned out.  The gift shop might have a postcard with the state flag on it.”


Nathan glanced around the room.  “The gift shop is probably mobbed with people trying to buy anything that meets the criteria.  Why don’t we search for one of the pumpkins?  I know how Janet’s evil but brilliant mind works so I know that they will be hidden somewhere in the displays.”


“Let’s start from this corner and work out.”


Almost ten minutes passed before Kristin found a tiny pumpkin with the remnants of a purple candle flickering on top of a stack of hay bales.  At her happy cry, Nathan abandoned his search and ran to join her, running off several competitors who thought to take Kristin’s discovery away.


“Come on,” Nathan took hold of Kristin’s elbow and led her toward a set of double doors near the back of the ballroom.  They ducked through the exit and found themselves in a service corridor.


“People are getting a little too crazy in there.  Let’s find some place to tally up what we have and decide on our next target.”


“That sounds like a grand idea.  Perhaps I could nibble on my chocolate bar while we look.”


“Sure.  Lets…” Nathan suddenly stopped talking and held his hand up in warning for Kristin to be quiet as well.  After a moment he moved silently down the hallway, motioning for Kristin to follow.


When they reached the corner Nathan stopped and pressed himself flat against the wall.  Kristin imitated his movements.  Nathan carefully stuck his head around the bend, drew it back quickly then returned to peer down the perpendicular corridor one again.


Kristin heard a whistle from some distance down the hall and gripped Nathan’s arm, sensing that he didn’t want to be discovered.  He glanced back and nodded reassuringly then, after a few more moments motioned her forward.


Nathan tucked Kristin’s arm through his as they entered the other hallway, projecting the image of a couple on a casual stroll.


“Are you going to tell me what this is all about?” Kristin murmured through a clenched smile.


“I saw Ben go into that door down there with your feather.  He hasn’t come out yet and I intend to get it back.”


“Nathan, the feather is only worth a few points.  We have several items with higher value.”


“This isn’t about the points.  I like the feathers.  They are part of the costume.”


Kristin shook her head in exasperation.  After months serving aboard the seaQuest she had learned when her Captain wasn’t going to back down.


When they reached the closed door Nathan once again motioned for Kristin to be cautious then he grabbed the knob, turned it, and rushed inside the room.  Kristin followed close behind only to slam into Nathan’s back when he slammed into a wall.


Even stunned, Kristin felt the movement as someone brushed the back of her dress and she turned and grabbed at the figure.


Ben shoved Kristin back, harder than he had intended because she fell into the captain, knocking them both against the wall again.  He took advantage of the opportunity to slip back into the hallway and slam the door then wedged a piece of wood between the bottom of the door and the jamb.


“All’s fair in love and scavenger hunts,” he murmured as he gave the teenager waiting at the opposite end of the hall a thumbs up.




“Will you please try to move?  Your elbow is digging into my side!”


“I’m trying to move but you are stepping on my dress!”


“Kreig!  Get your sorry ass back here and let us out!” Nathan bellowed as he finally managed to get his feet off of Kristin’s dress, push her upright and stand himself.


“What are you doing?” Kristin yelped.


“I’m trying to find the door knob and get us out of here.”


“Well that isn’t it so you can just stop twisting!”


Nathan jerked his hand back, unable to see anything in the almost total darkness.


“Okay, let’s just calm down,” he muttered to himself as much as Kristin.  “That idiot can’t leave us in here all night.”


“Oh no.  He only has to leave us in here another half hour or so.  If we don’t make it back to the ballroom we are disqualified from the contest.”  Kristin reminded Nathan.


“Why us?”


“Because we had a head start on everyone else.  My feathers and opera gloves; your vampire teeth…”


“I’m still going to bust him back down to seaman.”


“You are off duty, remember?  Janet told you to leave your ranks at the door.”


“Whose side are you on anyway?”


“I’m just telling you the truth.  Could you please back up a little bit?  You are crowding me.”


“I’m as back as I can get, baby.  There is a wall behind me.  Trust Kreig to lock us up in something the size of a broom closet.”


“I think that’s exactly what this is.  Something that feels like a handle is poking me in my leg.”


Nathan shifted, causing several brooms to fall away from the wall.  He swore as wooden handles hit him around the head and shoulders and threw his arms up to try and shield Kristin.






“You stepped on my foot!”


“Look, let’s both just stand perfectly still for a minute and see if we can get our bearings.”


After a few moments their eyes began to adjust to the tiny sliver of light shining through the crack at the bottom of the door. 


“I’m going to reach into one of the pockets in my cape.  I think I have a small flashlight.  Try not to move so I don’t hit you.” Nathan warned Kristin as he carefully moved his right hand between them to probe his left pockets.


“Damn!” Kristin swore as his elbow caught her breast.


A beam of light cast a soft glow through the small cupboard as Nathan flicked the flashlight on and lifted it from his cape.


“There.  Maybe we can keep from making each other black and blue now.”


“We wouldn’t be in this mess if you hadn’t had to follow Ben.  You should have known that he was up to something.”


“Well pardon me for not being psychic!”  Nathan sat the light on a box then lifted his head to meet Kristin’s glare.  “I was just trying to get your hair bob back for you!”


“When I’d already told you I didn’t want…” Kristin’s voice trailed away as she dropped her gaze away from Nathan’s face.  “I’m sorry.  I don’t know why we are fighting with each other when we should be tarring and feathering Kreig.  Besides, when I grabbed on to Ben I did manage to hang on to this!”  She held up Ben’s fake 9 mm pistol, expecting Nathan to be delighted at her bit of retribution but instead his eyes held a funny look.


“What!?!  I thought that you would be happy that I managed to filch Kreig’s gun, unintentional thought it was.”


“Stop trying to change the subject.  You know why we are fighting just as well as I do.” Nathan’s hands reached out to clasp Kristin’s upper arms.


“No… I don’t.  What the bloody hell are you talking about?”  Kristin returned her gaze to stare at Nathan blankly.


“We are fighting in an attempt to stop ourselves from going what we both really want to do.”


“Wha…” Kristin’s words were cut off as firm lips pressed into hers, strong hands drawing her closer until she was pressed completely to a firm muscular body.  The gun clattered to the floor unheeded.


“Nath…” The moment Kristin opened her mouth to murmur his name; Nathan slid his tongue into the warm cavern and the gentle kiss exploded into so much more.


Kristin’s hands moved beneath the flowing black cape to clutch at Nathan, one hand grasping the front of his white shirt while the other slid behind his back to claw at his shoulders.  Nathan’s hands were also on the move, the left one sliding beneath the heavy weight of Kristin’s hair to cup her neck while the right moved low to palm the smooth curve of her bottom, driving her hips up and in to his.  All of the evening’s flirting culminated in the kiss.  There was no mistaking the feel of his arousal or the scent of hers.


Kristin moaned heavily into Nathan’s mouth as her nails clawed his back.  Nathan pushed her back against the solid door and thrust his hips against hers


Within seconds they were bumping around the closet, hands tugging fiercely at recalcitrant fasteners.  Nathan’s cape fell to the floor and his necktie quickly followed.  Just as Nathan finally managed to get a firm grip on the zipper of Kristin’s dress something hit him in the head then bounced loudly to the floor.  Another rain of broom handles followed as the flashlight slid off of the box and to the floor.


“Shitshitshit!!!!” Nathan swore loudly as he released his hold on Kristin to push the falling cleaning items back into place.  Thankfully the flashlight hadn’t broken so he was able to settle everything back into place and secure it quickly.  Once that was done he turned back to find Kristin pressed tightly against the door, one hand clinging to her heaving abdomen as she struggled to catch her breath.


Nathan’s hand came up to stroke Kristin’s cheek and she whimpered as she turned her head slightly to brush her lips across his palm.  He was astounded when, after doing so, she turned her gaze back to his and began to… giggle.


Kristin’s laughter was infectious and although Nathan was offended in the first few moments he quickly began to chuckle himself.


“So how long do you think we will be stuck in here?” He finally managed to ask.


“At least half an hour.  I think that Ben wants us disqualified but he wouldn’t be so cruel as to leave us in here all night.  Once they’ve announced a winner he will send someone to let us out while he disappears into the night.”


“I’m still going to pay him back for this.  Oh, I won’t use rank, I promise.  There are other ways…”


Kristin laughed again at the determined look in Nathan’s eyes.


“So what do we do now?”


Even in the dim light Kristin could see the flicker of lust that flared in Nathan’s blue orbs but he quickly dampened it.


“First, let’s see if we can get a bit more comfortable.”  Nathan bent carefully and spread the folds of his cape out over the floor then sat down.  He pushed his legs out straight, his feet sliding beneath her full skirt just to the left of hers.


“Care to join me, milady?”  Nathan held a hand up to her.


Kristin surveyed the floor carefully, trying to decide where she would be most comfortable.  “As large as the skirt of this dress is, I’m not sure exactly where to sit.”


“I have an idea.”  Nathan pulled his feet up slightly and nudged at her calves.  When Kristin parted them he slid his legs between hers then held up his other hand as well.


Kristin took both with no hesitation, allowing Nathan to help her as she lowered her body down to rest on her knees.


“That isn’t going to be comfortable very long.  Why don’t you stretch your legs out?  I can move up just a little and you can loop them behind me.”


“Now I know that you are flirting with me!” Kristin laughed as she rocked to one side then the other, pulling her knees out from beneath her body to stretch in front of her.  The shortness of the room didn’t allow them to remain straight so in moments she did have her legs wrapped loosely around her captain’s hips.


“I adore this dress,” Nathan told Kristin as he fingered the hem of the wad of material bunched between them, “but at this moment there is entirely too much of it.”


Kristin fluffed the skirt out then pulled as much of the material to the sides as she could.  “Better?”


“Much,” Nathan slid his hands around Kristin’s hips to grasp her bottom and pull her closer, stopping only when her mound was pressed tightly against his erection.  “Much, much better.”


Kristin gulped as her hands moved to cup Nathan’s cheeks.  “What in the hell are we doing?”


“We’re… exploring… testing the waters so to speak.”  His lips moved in to brush across hers.  “We are discovering each other… how far this incredible attraction between us goes…”


Kristin couldn’t resist feathering her fingers through Nathan’s hair as she returned his kiss just as gently.  “Somehow I think we… already… know…”


“I know… I dream of you… in my bed… touching you… loving you… wanting you so desperately…” Nathan punctuated his phrases with kisses as his hands roamed the contours of Kristin’s back.


The kisses remained gentle; both of them holding a tight rein on the flame of passion that had sparked between them minutes earlier.  They each sensed that the other didn’t want their first intimacy taking place as a hurried encounter in a broom closet.


Gradually the kisses became something more, deeper… more probing.  Nathan groaned loudly when Kristin’s hands caressed the bare skin of his chest.  He had no clue how the buttons had parted and suspected Kristin didn’t either.  He rocked his hips against hers, the iron rod of his erection pressing demandingly into her lower belly.


Kristin pulled back to stare at Nathan through the shadows of the dim light, her fingers still curled through the mat of graying hair on his chest.


“We should slow down.”


“We should.” Nathan agreed.


“I don’t want to.”


“Neither do I.” He pulled her back into his embrace and his kiss.


Kristin whimpered when Nathan pulled back to rest his forehead against hers.  His fingers toyed with the back closure of her gown.  “Let me see you, Kris… please?  I’ll stop whenever you say.”


By way of an answer Kristin pushed Nathan’s elegant jacket and shirt off of his shoulders and down his arms.  He obliged her by pulling his hands free, baring his body to the waist before bringing his fingers back to the zipper.


Rather than think about the downward slide of her zipper, Kristin kept her attention firmly focused on Nathan’s hard chest and abdomen, her fingers exploring each hard ripple.  She reveled in his gasp as she tweaked his pebbled nipple, delighting in the power that she had over his body.


Nathan gently grasped Kristin’s hands and pulled them away from his chest and down toward his abdomen.  Kristin gripped his waist tightly as he lowered his lips to the sensuous curve of her neck and began to nibble his way down the line.  He paused in the hollow of her throat to lap at some invisible essence lingering there.


Kristin arched into his touch, inviting more as his lips drifted lower.  When his hands moved to the tiny sleeves of the gown, Kristin twisted her shoulders to help in their removal.  Her head fell back as Nathan kissed and suckled his way across the generous swell of first one breast and then the other, following the slipping neckline of the gown until it would move no further without help.


One gentle tug was all it took for the fabric to slide over Kristin’s breasts and down her body to pool around her waist.  Nathan never lifted his head, his tongue continuing its path down as he now traced the contours of her bra.


What sounded remarkably like a sob filled the tiny space and Nathan jerked his head up to see Kristin’s head back, her lips pressed tightly together as she struggled to remain quiet.


“Kris… did I hurt you?  I swear I didn’t…”


“No…” Kristin opened her eyes and raised her hand to Nathan’s cheek, her thumb tracing across his full lips.  “I am hurting… but not…”


Kristin’s lips pressed together again and this time Nathan felt the spasm rock through her body, experienced the clench of her lower lips against the fabric covering his iron rod.


“I can…” Nathan offered but Kristin shook her head.


“Just give me a moment…”


Nathan took advantage of Kristin request to inspect the torso that he had uncovered, a chuckle coming to his lips as he stared at her chest.  Her breasts were just barely encased by a black corset, the half cups barely covering her nipples.  Nathan could see dusky rose against creamy white peeping over the top of the garment.  The boned black satin ended just a few inches beneath Kristin’s breasts; the entire bit held together by a tightly laced black satin cord tied at the bottom.  A tiny strip of orange lace ran along the scalloped edge.  What Nathan saw enflamed him almost to the point of release but then he noticed something else.  A bit of embroidery was stitched across the bra.  Bright orange thread spelled out the word ‘trick’ on Kristin’s left breast, ‘or’ in smaller letters in the valley between, and ‘treat’ on her right breast.


“Is this what they call a merry widow?” Nathan asked, a quirky grin on his face as he toyed with the satin ribbon holding the structure together.


“Not exactly but… I suppose that a widow might wear one if she wanted the opportunity to find some merriment.”


“I thought that something looked a bit different about this dress.  I didn’t remember you being quite so… out there… the last time you wore it.  I’m taking a stab in the dark here but… does this happen to be the ‘treat’ that your daughter sent?”


“What can I say? My child has a very warped sense of humour.  She thought that I needed something to spice up my Halloween.”


“Well she has definitely spiced up mine.  And I can’t wait to sample ‘my’ treat.”  Nathan yanked the bow out of the closure, his fingers deftly loosening the lacing.


“Nathan… wait… what if someone opens…” and then her half-hearted protests weren’t necessary because the last crossing was undone and the bustier fell away, revealing her fully to Nathan’s gaze.  Three multi-coloured foil packets fluttered to the ground, the metallic material shining against the black of Nathan’s cape beneath them.


Nathan eyed the prophylactics with a gleam in his eye.  “Were you ever a boy scout, Dr. Westphalen?”


“They’re Katie’s!” Kristin stammered out, completely and totally embarrassed.  “She gave them… no… she wanted the room to herself tonight and when I cautioned her to be careful she…  and then Lucas walked up and I didn’t have anywhere… Bloody hell!” She finally ended, her arms crossed across her breasts.


“So Katie and the young Mr. Prince really did hit it off well.  I thought I sensed something going on there.”  Nathan gently pried Kristin’s arms away from her chest and draped them around his shoulders.  “I guess that means that you need someplace to… sleep… tonight, hmm?  And we won’t be needing those…” His head bent low, warm breath rushing over her already peaked nipple.


“Then you’d better damned well stop doing that!” Kristin protested as Nathan teased her nipple.


“Unh unh.  I only mean that you did my physical so we both know I’m clean.  I’d stake my life that you are, aren’t you?”  Nathan grinned around the puckered flesh that he was loving at Kristin’s nod.  “So the only reason that we would need to use one of those is if it is a bad time of the month.  Could I get you pregnant, Kristin?”


The words sounded more like a request than a simple question and Nathan was struck by the wellspring of emotion that bubbled up inside him at the thought of a child with his blue eyes and Kristin’s auburn curls taking his place at the breast he was suckling.


“Yes,” Kristin moaned as Nathan suddenly increased the strength of the pull at her breast.  “You could…”


Permission?  Nathan’s heart leapt.


“… but not right now… I’m safe.  My cycle just ended yesterday.”


“Then tonight we shall love each other with no barriers between us,” Nathan shifted his head to Kristin’s neglected mound, one hand rising up to tease the tight nipple his mouth had abandoned.


The situation was once again threatening to spiral out of control but both were helpless to stop it as they were swept along in the wake of their passion. Somehow Kristin managed to work her hand into the back of Nathan’s trousers to clutch at his naked rear.  Nathan’s free hand fell to the hem of Kristin’s dress and crept beneath, starting a steady climb up her inner thigh.


Kristin’s head fell forward to rest on Nathan’s shoulder as he continued to work her breast with his mouth.  His fingers sensed the heat emanating from her core and then he was there, brushing the damp silk barrier, probing beneath it to feel the swollen folds beneath.


Light flooded the small room and a vehement “OH SHIT!” was heard, as Bill Noyce stood dumbfounded in the doorway, watching the half-naked captain of his flagship and his chief scientist making out like horny teenagers.  Janet stood in the background, a satisfied grin on her face.


Nathan opened one eye and glared at Bill.  “Go find your own damned closet!” He murmured around the breast in his mouth.  “This one is taken!”


Bill seemed to be frozen so Janet stepped forward and pried the knob from her husband’s hand then gently pushed it closed.


“Come on, Bill.”


“But… but… that was Nathan… and Dr. Westphalen… and they were… Janet… they didn’t have any clothes on their tops!”


“I have eyes, dear.  Leave them alone and let’s go back to the party now.”


“But… He’s her captain…”


“And a hell of a lot more… or at least he will be before this night is over.  Dr. Westphalen isn’t in the military, Bill… and Nathan desperately needs to get laid.  Your friend is going to get lucky and he’s big enough to handle it.  Don’t you dare make trouble for them.”


Janet leaned back to the door and tapped gently.  “You have five minutes to get to the ballroom,” she called gently then gave her husband a stern look and pointed him down the hallway.




“Bloody hell,” Kristin swore vehemently as the closet door closed behind her.


“They didn’t see anything,” Nathan offered, “just a bit of your back.”


“Nathan, the ranking admiral of the UEO navy just caught a captain and his civilian doctor playing patty-cake in a closet!  I’m not really bloody worried about what he saw.  I’m worried about what he is going to do!  Admiral Noyce could yank me off of the seaQuest so fast it would make your head spin!  What would happen to my research?  My experiments?  Oh God, what was I thinking?  I could lose everything just because of a roll in the hay!”


“Okay,” Nathan reluctantly released his hold on Kristin’s delectable body to cup her face with both hands.  “First, nothing is going to happen to your research.  You won’t be removed from the seaQuest.  Second, this is a hell of a lot more than a casual fling to me.”


Nathan sensed the tenseness in Kristin’s body before she spoke.


“Nathan… what exactly… I thought that you wanted me to spend the night with you… to sleep with you?”


“What I want is to make love to you… I’m asking you to make love to me.  In my mind that is something entirely different from sleeping together.”


“Tonight… but what about tomorrow?”


“Tomorrow we wake up and love again.  I don’t know where this is going, Kristin, but there is obviously a very powerful attraction between us and I think that we owe it to ourselves to explore that.”


“But the boat… the UEO won’t like…”


“I don’t give a damn what the UEO likes.  There is absolutely no reason why the two of us can’t become involved as long as our relationship doesn’t interfere with our work.  Since both of us are professionals I don’t see that happening, do you?”


“I… no, I don’t.  But…”


“No buts!” Nathan kissed Kristin firmly then released her cheeks.  “Now come on.  We have about three minutes to get back to the ballroom and someone is sitting on my legs.”


Kristin pushed to her feet with Nathan’s help then moved toward the door, stopping when his hands slid around her torso to cup her breasts.


“Aren’t you forgetting something?  As magnificent as these are, I think I would be very jealous if anyone else saw them.”


Nathan felt the heat rise in Kristin’s skin as she blushed.  He helped her pull the tiny cap sleeves of her dress up her arms then secured the zipper in place.  “Make sure everything is tucked in.”  He told her as he grabbed his shirt and thrust his arms into the sleeves.


“Tucked… my bra!  We forgot to put it back on!”


“Too late now.” Nathan shoved the tails of his shirt into his pants and stooped to the floor.  “Open the door, will you?”


Kristin cracked the door and peered down the hall then pushed it completely open to let light shine in.  Nathan quickly grabbed Kristin’s corset and the flashlight and thrust them into another deep pocket in the inner lining of his cape then stood. 


“Can you hold the cape while I button my shirt?” Kristin reached for the garment then watched with delight as Nathan nimbly fastened the closures on his shirt and tugged his jacket on.


“Your tie?”


Nathan spied it on the floor and picked it up, shoving it in his pocket as he motioned for Kristin to exit.


“The dress works better without the corset,” he told her as they moved down the hall.


Kristin glanced down at her chest tucked securely beneath the lace neckline.  “You think so?  I feel like I’m sagging too much.”


“I know so.  I’ve been worried all night that you were gonna pop out of that thing and I wasn’t going to be there to see it.”




Nathan and Kristin managed to sneak back into the ballroom just seconds before one of the waiters turned the lock on the door.  For a moment Nathan thought the young man might challenge them but after looking them both over carefully, he nodded and allowed them to enter, a smug grin on his face.


“That young man was being entirely to impertinent!” Kristin told Nathan.


“That young man was jealous as hell!” Nathan replied.


“Time is officially up.” Janet announced as she took the stage.  “Time for totaling up the results.”


Amidst the booing and cheering, couples fell to the wayside as the low point items were finished and higher value items began to add up.  Laughter filled the room when Jonathan presented Crocker, his partner in the hunt, as their offering for a stuffed monkey.  When Janet wavered, Gator offered to let her unzip his costume so that she could see for herself exactly how stuffed it was.  They were quickly awarded the thirteen points with no more questions asked.


But one by one the groups fell away until finally only Nathan and Kristin facing Ben and Lucas were left.  A quick last minute move by Nathan – grabbing a coke can from the buffet tablet to represent the national colours of Canada, left them trailing Ben by only four points - fifty-four to Ben’s fifty-nine.


“Come on, Kris.  We have to have something else.  I refuse to allow that thief to win because he took your feather.”


“We are still in the running because I lifted his gun,” Kristin reminded Nathan gently.


“But that was unintentional, not out and out theft.  He stole all of the little welcome flags out in the lobby, for Pete’s sake!”


“Borrowed!” Ben called out, having eavesdropped on the conversation.


“The clock is ticking, Captain.  Do you and Dr. Westphalen have anything else to offer for your point total?” Janet asked.


“I’m sorry, Nathan.  I didn’t bring a purse.  The only other thing I have is the chocolate bar I put in your pocket earlier.”


“Chocolate bar… there was an Aero bar on the list… is that?”  Nathan whooped triumphantly as his hand emerged from a cape pocket holding the necessary confection.


“Very good, you two.  There was only one Aero bar in all of the chocolate displays.  That gives you fifteen more points and the lead.  Mr. Kreig, you need ten points to tie the Captain and Doctor.  Can you do it?”


Nathan’s grin grew as he watched Ben clutch his hunting list, searching it front and back for something… anything that would give him the necessary eleven points. 


“You have ten seconds, Mr. Kreig.” 


“Wait… I must have… quarters… maybe I have…”


“You are only allowed ten points from state quarters, Ben, and you’ve used all of those.” Janet reminded him.  “Five seconds.”


“I…” Ben halted as his eyes lit on the final item on the back of the list, the item with the highest point value of all.  “I do have one more item.”  He grinned slyly as he pulled his leg up then hiked up his trousers to reveal black and orange-striped socks.  “Halloween underwear!  Twenty points!!!”


Janet eyed the loud socks skeptically.  “Socks were not considered to be part of this particular category.”


“You wear socks under your clothes,” Ben protested.  “Therefore they are underwear.”


After another moment’s thought Janet called a conference with her other two judges, both hotel employees and therefore completely impartial.  They argued quietly for several minutes before coming to a decision.


Janet cleared her throat before taking up the microphone to address the crowd.  “While socks are not listed on the judge’s list of options, they could be considered underwear.  Because of this we have decided to award a total of fifteen points for your offering.  This brings your total to seventy-four points.  Unless Captain Bridger can offer any more items this makes you the winner.”


All eyes turned to Nathan.


The grin on his face told them that he had one more trick up his sleeve.  Little did they know that the only reason Nathan and Kristin even knew about the item was because of Ben’s last-ditch display.  His hand slipped into the pocket of his cape then stopped.


Nathan turned to Kristin, eyebrows raised.  “This one is up to you.  I don’t want to whip that boy’s ass enough to embarrass you or make you angry with me.”  He murmured for her ears only.


“You’d leave the corset in your pocket and let Ben win?” Kristin asked in disbelief.


“Yes.”  The single word was simple but heartfelt, revealing to Kristin the depth of Nathan’s feelings toward her.


“Captain, ten seconds…”


Kristin shrugged.  “Oh, go on… give the kiddies a thrill.”


Nathan whipped the satin garment out of his pocket with a flourish and held it up.  “I’m pretty sure that this is worth a full twenty points in the Halloween underwear category.”


The crowd gasped as speculation ran wild as to where the corset had come from.  Several sets of eyes locked on Westphalen’s chest and nodded knowingly.


“This most definitely a twenty point garment.  That makes your final total eighty-nine points.  Since there is nothing else on the point list that could bring the Kreig/Wolenczak team even I hear by declare the Bridger/Westphalen team the official winners.”


All of the members of the seaQuest crew, with the exception of Ben and Lucas, cheered as Nathan grabbed Kristin’s hand and pulled it into the air in a victory salute.  When Janet beckoned, they made their way to the foot of the stage and accepted the envelope that she offered them.


“I hope it comes in handy,” she smiled.  “And now, let’s have some more music!”


Nathan swung Kristin into his arms as the strains of ‘Witchcraft’ filled the air but he hadn’t made more than a few steps when he felt an insistent tap on his shoulder.


“Bug off!” He demanded without turning his head.


“I don’t think so.” Bill Noyce answered back.


Nathan and Kristin stopped dancing as they both turned to face Bill.


“Would you do me the honor, Dr. Westphalen?” The Admiral asked politely.


“Of course.” Kristin moved easily into Noyce’s arms, unwilling to anger him any more than he might already be.


“Bill…” Nathan warned.


“Get lost, Bridger.”


Kristin braced herself to accept whatever censures the admiral chose to heap on her but to her surprise, Noyce remained silent.  The Admiral led her smoothly across the floor in time with the music without speaking a word until the last chorus started.


“Nathan Bridger is one of the best friends that I have in the world.” He stated quietly but emphatically.


“I’m sure that the captain feels the same about you.”  Kristin answered.


Silence stretched out for a few more moments before Noyce spoke again.  “I worry about him.  He’s a strong man but with all of the tragedy he has seen in recent years, Nathan’s emotions are still a bit… fragile.”


Kristin closed her eyes in despair, knowing that Noyce was warning her away from Nathan.  “But he seems very happy tonight… with you… and I’ve missed that… Janet and I both…  Please be careful with him.”


“I understand emotional fragility, Admiral.  I swear to you that I will never intentionally hurt Nathan.”


The music came to an end and Bill and Kristin stopped to applaud the band.  As the next song began Bill offered his arm to Kristin.  “I think I’ve kept you from your date long enough.  May I escort you back?”




“What did Bill say to you?” Nathan asked the second the elevator doors closed, the couple having made their escape from the party as soon as they were reunited.


“He told me that you were his best friend and he asked me not to toy with your emotions. I think… I don’t know that he was giving us his approval but he certainly didn’t forbid our involvement.”


“He wouldn’t… not if he ever wants to share his wife’s favors again.  Janet has taken a liking to you, I could tell.”


“She did say…”




“Well, she told me it would be a shame if you and I wasted all of the sexual tension we were generating.”


Nathan laughed.  “I swear the woman is psychic or something.  There is no way that she knew what our costumes would be and the scavenger hunt list must have been prepared well in advance but you have to admit, it seemed to be weighted in our favour.”


“Now that you mention it…”


“And there is also this…” Nathan held up the envelope that Janet had given them for winning the scavenger hunt.  As Kristin took the paper and slid it open, Nathan reached out and hit the emergency stop button.


“It’s a key card… but to what?”


“The explanation is still in the envelope.  Our prize for winning the game is a three night stay in the hotel’s honeymoon suite.”


“But… what if Ben and Lucas had won?”


Nathan shrugged.  “Somehow I suspect the reward would have been different.  As it is… it seems to me that we have a decision to make.”


Kristin was puzzled.  “I don’t understand.”


Nathan sighed and sank down on the upholstered bench running along the back of the elevator and held his hand out for Kristin to join him.  She was surprised when, instead of pulling her into his lap, he gestured to the space beside him.  Kristin sat down nervously.


“Are you regretting what happened earlier?”


“Oh, Kris…” Nathan brushed his fingertips across her cheek.  “I don’t regret a second of what we’ve shared.  But… what started out as a somewhat innocent flirtation this afternoon has rapidly developed into a hell of a lot more.  I don’t want for you to feel like you are being rushed into something that you aren’t ready for.”


“Or that you aren’t ready for?”


Nathan shifted in his seat, the movement drawing Kristin’s attention to the reason for his discomfort.


“Me being ready isn’t a problem.” He grinned naughtily.  “So I guess what I’m asking is would you like to go up to the honeymoon suite alone and get a good night’s sleep or would you like for both of us to go up to the honeymoon suite and make this a Halloween to remember?”


Kristin moved her hand to Nathan’s upper leg, her fingers deliberately tracing over his inner thigh in an upward path.  “They say that during Celtic times All Hallow’s Eve was the night when witches danced naked around the fire invoking a horned god for good crops and increased fertility.  Some of the witches even danced with a broomstick between their legs and thanks to some interesting mind altering drugs, thought they were flying.”


“I’ve heard the old legends… but what do they have to do with my question?”


Kristin’s fingers finally reached their destination.  “That’s a hell of a broomstick you’ve got there, Bridger.  Do you think if I danced with it between my legs you could make me fly?”


Nathan grinned lustfully as Kristin massaged his heavy sacs through the fabric of his pants.  “I guarantee it, lover.”


“Then let’s go to our room.”


Nathan stood and popped the start button, relieved that the alarm hadn’t gone off yet.  “I should probably tell you that Janet is the only person who knows about this and she swore not to tell anyone where we were or even that we were together.”


“I like your friend, Janet, very much.” Kristin smiled as Nathan punched the number to the top floor of the hotel.


The lift slowly traveled six more floors before stopping, the doors sliding open to reveal a couple locked in each other’s arms, kissing ardently; a black evening cape swirling around both of them.


When the doors stopped Nathan bolted from the elevator hauling Kristin behind him.  They fumbled with the key card, finally managing to get the door to the room open, and pushed inside, falling back against the door to close it.  Nathan fumbled with the locks while Kristin yanked at the buttons on his shirt, finally managing to rip them off in her haste to reach Nathan’s bare skin.  Neither of them noticed the dimly lit but elegant sitting area, a merry fire crackling in the fireplace that divided the parlor from the bedroom.


A trail of clothing marked their progress to the bedroom – cape, jacket, shirt, slippers, feathered hair comb.  By the time that Nathan lifted Kristin up the shallow step near the fireplace he was clad only in his shoes and trousers.  Kristin’s gown hung precariously at her waist as Nathan tried to work it over her hips.


“Your shoes!” Kristin gasped as she tugged the open waist of Nathan’s pants past his hips. 


At her gentle push Nathan fell back to sit on the bed.  He tugged furiously at his boots as Kristin turned her back and slid out of the gown then gathered it from the floor and laid it carefully across a chair.  His boots hit the floor with loud thuds as he stared at her perfectly curved bottom exquisitely framed by the thin black strings of the tiny thong she wore and the tops of her spider web stockings beneath.


“If I’d have known…”


“What?” Kristin looked back over her shoulder at Nathan, an innocent look on her face.


“You know damned well that if I’d realized you were only wearing a thong we’d have missed the end of the scavenger hunt and stayed in that closet.”


“But then we would have missed this wonderful room.  I’ve always wanted to make love on a bearskin rug in front of a fireplace.  But later…” Kristin told Nathan as he smiled and stood, taking a step toward the carpet.  “Why don’t you lose your pants and let’s see if that big bed is as comfortable as it looks?”


Three seconds was all the time it took before Nathan stood completely naked before Kristin’s appraising eyes.  “That is a hell of a broomstick, Bridger.”


“Ready to ride?”  Nathan pumped his hips at her.


“Mmm… just let me…” Kristin bent at the waist and slid her fingers into the stops of her stockings but a quick protest from Nathan stopped her.


“Will you leave them on?  The gloves, too.”


Kristin smiled sexily, please to indulge Nathan’s wishes, as she turned to face him.


“Oh… Baby!” Nathan gasped at Kristin as she stood before him in stockings, gloves and panties.  His eyes were riveted to the black satin triangle covering her most intimate secrets.  Tiny orange Boo’s were sprinkled around the edges of the thong and right in the center, just above Kristin’s mound, a colorful orange bowl had been embroidered, the word candy scrawled in black across the side.  Gaily wrapped pieces of hard card could be seen peeping over the top of the bowl and a few were scattered around the bottom.


“Come here!” Nathan demanded and Kristin obliged, finding herself lifted up and then flat on her back on the bed before she realized what was happening.  Nathan loomed over her, placing a heated kiss on her eager lips before pulling away and slipping down her body.


“Nathan?  Where are you going?” Kristin protested, shocked that her soon-to-be lover could kiss her that passionately and then leave her.


“Well… it is Halloween…” Nathan smiled up at Kristin wickedly as his fingers traced over the candy dish and then pushed the fabric in just beneath it.  “And…” His teeth closed over a thin elastic strap and pulled.  “I can’t wait any longer to unwrap my treat!” 





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