The two left in a shuttlecraft for the eight hour trip to Malrata, a tropical planet that was very comfortable for conferences. The week long conference they were attending could have been normally accomplished in two days, but there were so many recreational things to do on the planet that it was almost like being on a vacation. Aria was very excited to be on such an exotic trip, but to be alone with the Captain for such a long time made her very nervous. The whole time she was still trying to figure out the identity of her man in gold.
Once the two were underway, the Captain set in the course into the computer navigation system and Aria pulled out a surprise for him. She had received another recording from her friends. Their music was magical and Picard truly appreciated her sharing it with him.
“I think Starfleet was very impressed with the festivities,” he said.
“I hope so, sir. It was worth all the work.”
“Yes, I noticed that you were stretched a bit thin. When we get back, I want you to go through the files that Riker will forward to you so you can have a staff of three assistants.”
“Oh, Sir. Thank you, but I don’t think that I need three assistants.”
“Yes, you will. Because you are now with your responsibilities of translation and of protocol officer you will be the official liaison between the ship, headquarters and with all cultures we encounter. This is a sizable promotion for you and you more than deserve it.”
“Thank you, Sir. I look forward to working in these new responsibilities as well as the duties I already take care of.”
“I know you are up to it. So, what do you plan to do while on Malrata when not on duty?”
“Not much at all, sir. Some shopping and lounging on the beach.”
“That sounds like a good plan. Have you seen the itinerary for the conference?”
“Yes, I reviewed it before we left. If you need to add anything to my requirements, please let me know.”
“I don’t think I would do that to you. You deserve a nice break after all of the celebrations and all the time you prepared for the conference. I barely saw you since the last delegate left.”
“Thank you, sir. What do you have planned for your down time?”
“I have a few meetings with some Starfleet admirals, but other than that, pretty much the same as you do. Maybe we will meet on the beach one day,” he said lightly.
His relaxed nature was nice but the idea of meeting the Captain on the beach felt a bit awkward knowing that she had only packed three very skimpy bikinis. She then wondered how he would look, on the beach. Her face flushed, thinking of his eyes looking over her barely covered body, wondering if he would react to her dressed like that.
Picard noticed that Aria was blushing a bit. He wondered why. Malrata was an exotic location and if it had not been for the conference, taking Aria there would be a very romantic vacation. Although the conference only had few official meetings, he really did need Aria’s expertise to help him conduct meetings with some races that had just become members of the Federation.
Once on the surface of Malrata, Aria could feel the heat from the sun on her body. It felt so go to have the light hit her skin sending a warm feeling throughout body. She did not realize how much she had missed the sun. The last place she had been warmed by the rays of a sun was on Tomolis over two months ago. Standing next to the Captain, she listened to the officials who greeted them. They got their suite assignments and packets of information. Aria’s suite was next to the Captain’s and the two decided to take advantage of their time off. They planned to meet for dinner once they were settled and changed out of uniform and into more suitable clothing for the climate. Aria was very anxious about the casualness of the planet and with her Captain.
Inside her suite, she was amazed with the luxurious accommodations. The rooms were massive and decorated in a tropical theme, to include several palm type trees. She also had a balcony that had a small table and two chairs and an oversized lounge chair with overstuffed cushions. It was perfect for having breakfast or sharing a late night drink, overlooking the water and beach. The beach itself came right up to the restaurants and bars that belonged to the hotel, but the water must have been half a kilometer away. It was so beautiful and if she were not there on official duties, would be a very romantic spot.
Once she unpacked, Aria changed out of her uniform and into a strapless hot pink dress with matching wrap. It was tight where it needed to be and loose enough to blow gently in the wing when she walked. She left her legs bare and put on a pair of strappy sandals. Next, Aria let her hair down from the bun she had traveled in. Soft curls had formed from being set in her bun all day and now softened her look. When she was almost ready to go, there was a knock at the door. It was the Captain, waiting to go to dinner.
From the bedroom, she called to Picard, “I am almost ready, sir, if you don’t mind waiting.”
“Not at all, Aria. And you don’t need to be so formal.”
“I’m sorry sir. How do I look?” she said as she entered the room, turning around to let him see the entire outfit.
“Wow, you look amazing,” he responded, almost taken aback.
“Thank you, Captain. Are you ready? I’m starving,” she said as she took her shall and wrapped it around her bare shoulders. Picard opened the door for her and escorted out into the early evening. He walked close enough to her to be able to smell the perfume that haunted him since she entered his life.
They went to a small little outdoor restaurant where they were seated immediately. Picard helped her into her chair. Aria could see the ocean beginning to pound up onto the beach. The sun had almost completely set by the time they actually sat down and the colors that came from the horizon where the sun had disappeared were more beautiful than she had ever seen. For the longest time, Aria just stared out at the light show that appeared in front of her. Captain Picard noticed what she was enjoying the sunset and turned around to enjoy it as well. It was all so romantic and she couldn’t help but feel that this was more than just a poshy assignment.
“I’ve never been to such an exotic location for a conference before,” Aria finally said when their drinks were delivered to the table.
“You have done a good job and have earned this,” Picard replied.
“Is this a customary reward for a job well done?”
“No, but I don’t normally need to have an interpreter either.”
“And the tropical climate has nothing to do with your acceptance to this conference?” she said lightly teasing him. It had been months since she had an alcoholic drink and she could already feel the effect from the first one that had been delivered.
“It’s one of the benefits of being the Captain, you have to work hard and you get to play hard,” he took a sip of his drink. “And sometimes you can take your friends along.”
“Thank you, Sir. I’m glad you think of me that way. I do enjoy our time together.”
“So do I, Aria,” he said looking into her eyes. Something looked familiar to her, but she could not quite place it. The waiter delivering their food interrupted Aria’s pondering on this feeling; it was almost like deja vue.