The following morning, Aria was woken by a communicator beep.
“Yes,” she said as she tried to shake off the sleep.
“Lieutenant, I’m sorry to wake you. You have a call. She says she’s your mother.”
“Put her through,” she replied.
“Aria, darling, how are you?” her mother said with her usual chippyness.
“I’m fine Mother.”
“You sound so tired. You not working to hard are you?”
“No, I was up late last night. How are you?”
“I am fabulous and I am coming for a visit.”
“When? I thought you were on tour?”
“I am but we are taking a small break and I realized you were close by. Anyway, I want to see where my baby is living now.”
“Mother, I am quite busy here, but I would love for you to come to visit.”
“When are you not busy, my dear? So then, it’s settled, I will see you later today then.”
“Today?” Aria said completely shocked.
“Is that a problem?”
“No, no,” she said rubbing her head. “I’m just surprised. I will see you when you arrive.” Aria cut the communication after saying good-bye to her mother. With the news that her mother was coming for a visit was going to make the next few days even busier than they were already going to be.
Aria pulled herself out of bed and got ready for work. Not only was her mother coming now, but so were the dignitaries and high brass and the official celebrations were to begin the following day. Just when she felt completely overwhelmed, Aria looked back at her bedside table and saw the gold mask. Seeing it made her smile and remember how she felt when she as held in the arms of her man in gold. It made her, in some way, feel calmer and open to the possibility that anything can happen. That was something she was going to need to feel with all the events that were scheduled over the next few days.
Once in her office, Aria forwarded the Captain and the rest of the senior staff the newest arrival schedule of the honored guests, which now included her mother. The next task for her was to find some sort of quarters for her. Normally, that was not a problem, but with all the guests coming, finding a spare room would be more like a treasure hunt. With some rearranging, she finally found a room for her mother, the diva.
An hour after she had begun to work, her communicator beeped and she heard, “Lieutenant Swenson?”
“Swenson here,” she responded.
“Lieutenant, this is the Captain. I just got a chance to review today’s arrivals and I was surprised to see that your mother is now on the list.”
“Aye, Sir. She called me very early this morning to let me know she was coming for a visit. I don’t think she knows about the celebrations going on.”
“Oh, well, I will join you when she arrives. I would like a chance to meet her.”
“Certainly, Sir. Is there anything else?” she asked. She was a bit nervous and jealous that he was enthusiastic in meeting her mother because she knew that her mother could be very flirtatious.
“Just that I was very please with the way last night’s party was such a success and that I look forward to the upcoming festivities.”
“Thank you. I do have to say, Sir, that nothing in the next few days will be as elaborate as last night. Very traditional, very reverent.”
“That is probably for the best,” he paused as if he wanted to say something else. “Please let me know when your mother arrives.”
“Will do, Sir. Swenson out.”
Aria sighed. There was just so much to do and with the arrival of the mother threw another wrinkle into the plan. She was glad the Picard was happy with her work. He did look so handsome in his costume, but when didn’t he look handsome.
The hours before the arrival of Aria’s mother flew by as she worked on finalizing menus, finishing seating arrangements and checking on accommodations for the guests. Although the ceremonies did not begin until the following day, most of the guests were arriving that day and she had planned a casual cocktail reception for later that night. Starting with that party, Aria was going to have to be the master of the quick change. She was going to have to go from her regular uniform to her mess dress to formal gowns and to casual clothes.
After the celebrations were over, Aria looked forward to quietly working on preparing for the conference on Malrata. Most of her time could be spent in her quarters learning the languages she needed to serve the Captain in his meetings. Luckily, the trip to Malrata was not all work and she was planning to spend as much time as possible lounging on the beach or strolling through the shopping district. It was almost like a vacation, but she was nervous about being in such an exotic place with Captain Picard. For one week, the two of them were going to be practically alone, which both terrified her and excited her. The friendship that had grown between them pleased her, but she ached for so much more. Aria knew that there was barely a chance that anything was going to happen between them although she really wanted something to happen.
Before she left for Malrata, Aria hoped that her man in gold would contact her. Living on the ship, she figured that is was only a matter of time before she found out who he was. She wondered if she would be as interested in him once she found out his identity and would she be able to let go of her feelings for the Captain. A reminder went off while she was contemplating her future love life. The reminder was to let her know that the first of the guests that she had to welcome aboard were about to arrive.
About an hour later, Aria’s mother was about to arrive. Aria alerted the Captain that her mother arrive was imminent and headed off to the transporter room to greet her, praying her mother was not in her “Diva” mode.
Aria had been waiting for five minutes before her mother showed up when the Captain walked in. They nodded politely to each other, just as Claudia Swenson made her appearance.