“Aria, darling. How are you?” Claudia exploded in the room and gave her daughter a big hug and kiss.
“It is nice to see you too. Mother, I would like you to meet the Captain of the Enterprise, Captain Jean Luc Picard,” Aria said.
“Captain Picard, it is so nice to finally meet you. Aria has told me a lot about you.”
“It is my pleasure, Mrs. Swenson,” he said as he shook her hand but Claudia took the opportunity to not only hug but kiss both cheeks of her daughter’s commanding officer.
“Please, call me Claudia, Captain. Now tell me, I hope my daughter is doing a good job here.”
“Rest assured, we have found her to be a most valuable member of the crew, but you can see for yourself during your visit. You have arrived during our ship’s anniversary celebrations.”
“Aria, you didn’t tell me that. Oh, I hope I did not put you to any trouble?” she told her daughter.
“No, Mother, not at all,” Aria responded less than enthusiastically.
“Since you are here, would you please be our guest at the festivities, beginning with tonight,” the Captain said.
“Thank you very much Captain. In return for your hospitality, I would like to add to any scheduled entertainment.”
“That is very gracious of you. Lieutenant, could you schedule your mother in to the entertainment.”
“Aye, Sir. I think tomorrow night, after dinner would be an opportune time,” Aria told them both as she made some notes.
Claudia interrupted Aria’s note taking, “and Aria, you should join me. That is if you are up for it.”
“Claudia, I am sure your daughter is quite busy, she has planned everything for the celebrations. Anyway she has already preformed for the crew,” Picard told the elder of the Swenson women.
“Captain, that is okay. I would love to perform with my mother,” Aria said as she shot her mother a look, half in confidence and half in annoyance.
“You see, Captain, it is no problem. When did my talented daughter perform?”
“At a birthday celebration several weeks ago and we were all very impressed. Lieutenant Swenson, I am looking forward to your performance.”
“Aye, Sir. If you will excuse us, I would like to get my mother to her quarters before tonight’s reception.”
“Yes, please. I look forward to seeing the both of you there,” said and he left the two ladies alone.
“Let me get you settled, Mother. I do have to get back to duty before tonight.”
“Certainly, Aria. Is there a problem?”
“No, Mother. I just have a lot of work to do. It is not everyday that the Enterprise has her fifth anniversary.”
“Oh, darling. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Would it of changed your plans?”
“No, but I had no idea.”
“Come on, Mother. I’ll show you to your quarters and get you a schedule of events. If you want, we can practice a bit tomorrow,” Aria said smiling and putting her arm around her mother as she guided her down the hall.
The two ladies headed down the hall to the guest quarters where Aria got her Mother settled in and returned to work.
Later that evening, at the cocktail reception, Aria looked amazing. She wore a sleek dark gray spaghetti strapped dress with a fucia wrap. It made her look glamorous but it also was very comfortable, making it easier for her to work that evening. There were many people at the party and it was another success for her. Aria looked around the room at all of the faces. She wondered whose eyes were behind the mask that was now on her nightstand. Fashionably late, Aria’s mother made her grand entrance. Aria introduced her to her friends and some of the honored guests. Her mother was the hit of the party.
When Aria finally had a chance to sit down that night, she watched her mother work the room. That woman oozed confidence and she did not care whom she spoke to, be it an admiral or a petty officer. In a way she envied her, being able to make herself the center of attention and be at ease with everyone she spoke to, but Aria was very happy with the path her life had taken.
She was deep in thought and did not even notice that someone sat down next to her.
“Penny for your thoughts, Lieutenant.”
Startled, she turned to see Commander Riker sitting next to her as he handed her a drink. “What?” she replied.
“It’s an old Earth expression. It means something like, what’s on your mind.”
“Oh, I was just thinking that this party’s running smoothly.”
“Really?” knowing that there had to be much more running through her mind to be unaware of him taking the seat next to her.
“Well, I was also watching my mother. She’s quite a remarkable woman.”
“She seems so, but her daughter is pretty remarkable too and your mother seems to feel the same way. Claudia is very proud of you and so am I. Aria, you have done a great job here. We never could have had done any of this without you.”
“Thanks, Will. I just want to do my best.”
“Keep it up, kid. But it will be hard to top last night. That was amazing.”
“I’m glad you thought so. That was special for the crew. The Captain and I worked very hard on it for everyone.”
“Who was that man you were dancing with at the end of the evening?”
“I don’t know, do you know who he was?”
“No, but he seemed very taken with you.”
Aria wondered how serious her man in gold was about her and who he was.