A Little Romance

By

Linda Delaney
&
Jane Daffron

 

 

Karen Davis stood in the middle of her living room floor, waiting. This last week had been an incredible one of emotional ups and downs. She was, officially, the fiancée of Admiral Harriman Nelson, of the Nelson Institute of Marine Research, and the SSRN Seaview. And it was a heady experience as well as an exciting one. In the 20 months of getting to know him and becoming intimate with him, she had learned he was an amazingly complex man. One of moods and activity and much more….so much so that she often wondered if she was up to the task. However, what was even more amazing to her was that she had allowed herself to love him…fully and completely. The only man, since her late husband, Robert, that she had felt so completely in love with. That he felt the same way amazed her as well.

She looked at the note in her hand, and smiled. He had continued to surprise her all week, with small notes, and time spent with her in special ways. This note was just the latest. It had been delivered to Terri Stiles, her secretary, about two hours ago. It was simple, more like a command than a request, and she chuckled thinking about some of the changes she would have to make in his life.

The note read,

Karen,
Be ready at 1945. I have dinner planned. Something special.
I will have a car to pick you up at your apartment.
Dress is semi-formal
Harry

 

He had piqued her interest if nothing else. He hated dress uniforms, and fuss and feathers, as he called it. But here was a note, telling her to dress for dinner. So, she had gone through her closet and found what she felt was a perfect choice. Her one and only short black sheath. It was a fine brocade satin, black on black. The cut was simple and slightly clinging. It rested just above her knees. She put on her low black satin pumps, sheer hose, and a lacey black shawl, then pulled her curly hair slightly back from her face. Finally, she added simple jewelry, a pearl necklace and earrings.

She looked down at her left hand, at the ring he had given her just a week ago, and smiled. It was a beautiful piece, and to her, a clear demonstration of the depth of his feelings.

There was a sharp rap on the door and she opened it. Kowalski stood in front of her in a business suit.

"Captain Davis, ma’am. The Admiral sends his regards and asks if you’re ready to join him."

Karen smiled at the rating. "Thank you, Ski." She reached over and grabbed her small black needlepoint bag and, closing the door, followed him. "By the way, ‘Ski…do you know what’s going on?"

"Not really sure, ma’am," Kowalski replied, a tone of feigned innocence in his voice. "I’m just following the Admiral’s orders."

Karen chuckled quietly. She knew that the man was fiercely loyal to Nelson. And she surmised that he definitely knew more than he was letting on, but she decided not to pursue the issue. As the elevator door opened, Kowalski stood at parade rest, arms behind him, and waited until she had entered, then pressed the button, to the garage, one level below the ground in the building.

She closed her eyes as the door shut, and tried to imagine what in the world Harry had planned. He seemed to delight lately in catching her off her guard. The dinner on the beach that night a week ago seemed to start it all, considering the next morning he'd asked her to marry him. As the elevator came to a stop, she opened her eyes, stepped out of the door, and waited for Kowalski to lead the way to the car. She watched him go toward a long black limousine and followed, an amused smile on her face. ‘Ski stopped at the door and reached for the handle, then held the door open for her.

From within, a familiar, resonant voice said, "Evening, Karen. Are you ready for dinner?"

Trying to act nonchalant, she smiled happily. "You never cease to amaze me, Harriman!" Taking his offered hand to enter the vehicle, she asked, "So…what’s the occasion?"

He laughed, a warm rumble, "An anniversary of sorts, Captain. One week ago today, you said ‘Yes’!"

Karen slid into the seat as Kowalski shut the door and she bent forward to kiss him warmly. "Well, then, Happy Anniversary, Admiral." Settling into the seat next to him, she arched an amused eyebrow. And just where are we going in this outrageously extravagant means of transportation… and you, dressed to the nines, in mess whites?"

He merely grinned at her, his steel blue eyes sparkling with mischief. "You’ll see…" He leaned forward, tapping the window, "Let’s go, ‘Ski. Take the route I showed you"

"Aye, sir," was the brisk reply and the car started to slowly move from the front of the apartment building.

Inside, leaning into his arms, she asked again. "So, where are we going, Harry?"

"You’ll see Captain...you'll see. Just calm your curiosity a little. It’s going to be a bit of a different place, for dinner at least."

She sighed, knowing, that whatever he had planned, he fully intended to keep it a surprise, so she snuggled closer. Deciding to play along, she slightly exaggerated her accent and lowered her voice. "Okay… so surprise me, Admiral, suh."

He laughed again, "Well, I hope to continue to do that for the rest of our lives together." He leaned over and kissed her… "For the rest of our lives…"

"That sounds wonderful, Harry…the rest of our lives…"

"Mmmm, well, as I see it, we have a lot of time to do a lot together, and this is just the beginning…" He glanced at his watch, and smiled. Tapping on the window, he said, quietly, "Alright, Kowalski, you can take us to the destination, now."

"Are you going to tell me what this dinner is all about?"

"Nope… you’ll have to wait a bit longer to satisfy that insatiable curiosity, Captain." He kissed her warmly again, and when he finished the kiss, he whispered, "I’m very much in love with you, Karen. And I hope to prove it to you every single day that we’re together."

She smiled warmly, and before she could respond, the car stopped, and Kowalski was opening the door. As she got out, she looked with surprise at the gangway that led to the Seaview. "We got dressed for dinner here? On the boat?"

Amused, he placed a finger on her lips, "Shhhh… wait and see, will you?"

Laughingly, she said, "Yes, sir!" and stood and waited as he gave Kowalski specific orders to wait for them, then he took her arm and walked her down the gangway to the deck of the boat. They both paused at the colors, out of habit, and then went to the hatch in the sail, going down the gangway to the Control Room. The collision doors were closed, and once they both were on deck, Karen turned to him, questioning, "Is that where we’re having dinner?"

"Good guess, Captain." Nelson reached for the wall mike, "Cookie?"

"Yessir?" the disembodied voice answered.

"Is everything set?"

"Yessir!" Nelson could almost hear the man grinning.

"Very well, Cookie. Thank you for all your hard work. You’re dismissed."

"Thank you, Admiral. I hope you and the Captain have a nice evening!"

"Thank you… I’m sure we will. Have a good liberty."

"Aye, sir, thank you sir." The mike clicked off and Nelson turned to Karen. He took her arm, and gently guided her to the Crash Doors. He reached and pushed the button that made the doors open.

The Nose of the boat had been transformed into an elegant dining room. Gone were the standard issue table and chairs, replaced by a set of fine, cherry Queen Anne chairs and a similar table. The table was covered in with a light pink damask tablecloth with matching napkins. The table was set with the Carlyn pattern of Wedgwood china, white bone that was trimmed with platinum. The matching crystal, also trimmed in Platinum, gleamed with the candlelight from the two 3-candle, crystal candlesticks. Rich heavy silver place settings and serving pieces also gleamed in the light. The hull plates had been draped with translucent curtains that allowed the night light from the stars in, but prevented a clear view of Seaview’s dock. On the deck, a fine carpet lay, and to the side of the hatchway to the FS-1, stood a buffet table with silver covered dishes. Several of them had small candles beneath, keeping the food warm. Next to one of the chairs at the table stood a wine cooler and a bottle of champagne rested in it. Behind the table, against the bulkhead, rested a fairly complex audio system and the soft music of a piano emanated from it.

Karen turned to Nelson in disbelief. In the entire time she’d been aboard, she’d never seen anything like the scene before her. "It’s beautiful, Harry…I’m speechless!"

He drew her into a warm, gentle embrace, "Just for you, Karen… a special dinner for a special lady."

She returned the kiss, "Thank you…thank you very much."

Blue eyes sparkling, he smiled as he held her chair, "Ah, but wait…I’m not finished yet."

He waited until she sat down, and then he stood next to her as he opened the champagne and poured the sparkling liquid into two crystal flutes. He handed one to her and took the other in his hand. Holding the glass to her, he tapped her glass, and said, "To the lady who’s changed my life. Thank you."

He nodded to her and sipped the wine, then leaned over and kissed her with just the breath of a kiss. Standing up, he moved to the audio system, placed a CD in the player, and turned a switch. He returned to the table and sat down, reaching for her hand.

He held it for several moments and then looked deeply into her eyes. He cleared his throat, and grasped her hand more tightly. "Karen, you know I don’t do romance very well, and while I can write a scientific paper with the best of them, putting down how I really feel…well, I don’t do that well." He paused a moment and then continued, "I was driving into town for a meeting the other day and heard this song on the radio…so I guess you could say I found this quite by accident. Anyway, it seems to say all I would like to say to you… and all that I have a hard time saying…"

The music grew slightly louder, and notes of the piano began to play, and a voice began to sing…

 

You are the air I need to breathe,
The river of life inside of me
You are the half that made me whole,
You are the anchor of my soul

And you are strong when I am weak
You are the words that I can’t speak
You never fail to see me through
That’s the love I found in you

You are my shelter from the storm
You are the road that leads me home,
Baby with you here face to face
Oh I know I found my place.

Cause you are strong when I am weak
You are the words that I can’t speak

You never fail to see me through
That’s the love I found in you

Once in every life you find the
one that’s right
and when you say forever it’s true
That’s the love I found in you

And you are strong when I am weak
You are the words when I can’t speak
You never fail to see me through
That’s the love I found in you
That’s the love, love I found in you….

As the song played, Karen listened to the words, the feelings in her heart felt like a dam about to burst as she felt his hand over hers. He had known but one true love before her and he had tragically lost her. Afterward, he had built up a shield around his heart, and for some strange twist of the fates, she and he had found one another and he opened the shield and let her in. Tears formed in her eyes with the final words of the song. They sat, holding hands for a long while, as the CD went into another soft song. Finally, as the trail of tears flowed slowly down her cheeks, she whispered, "Thank you. For the song, for the feelings, and for you…thank you."

He grasped her hand tightly in return, and leaned over to kiss her, murmured huskily, "No, Karen, thank you…" He sat back in the chair and sipped at the champagne, as she carefully wiped the tears from her eyes.

"Harriman," she said softly, "The way that you make me feel…."

"… is the way that you make me feel, I suspect."

"Then the two of us are in for quite a ride, Admiral… quite a ride," she smiled through glistened eyes.

"Well, I for one am looking forward to it, Karen…" He rose and went to the small buffet, and taking a plate, filled one from the serving dishes, and placed it in front of her, and then filled one for himself. Sitting down opposite her, he smiled, "Now…I think we’d better eat this dinner that Cookie fixed at my request… because if we don’t, we’ll never live it down."

She laughed lightly and picked up her fork, preparing to taste some of the dinner that he had placed on her plate. The dinner was a light filet of sole, florentined, with tiny asparagus in a light lemon sauce and baby potatoes in a butter sauce.

"Looks like Cookie outdid himself this time. I didn’t realize he was such a gourmet chef. Maybe we should get him to cater the wedding."

"Maybe, but we do have some time to think about it…" Nelson poured her a glass of white wine, Sweet Mountain Laurel, to accompany the dinner. "Besides, this was more of a collaborative effort."

Fingering the glass, she raised an amused eyebrow and glanced around at the unusual surroundings. "Uh, I would say so. May I ask as to who supervised? Or should I venture to guess?"

"Well," and he sat back down at the table, "let’s just say that this isn’t the first time Sharkey’s had to deal with unusual situations. After all, we’ve had to play host to VIPs before."

Karen chuckled, "Oh, this one must have taken the cake, tho. Somehow, he just doesn’t strike me as the type that would come up with some of this on his own. ‘Course…then again…with Sharkey…who knows?" She smiled softly and then whispered, "Remind me to thank him. He did a beautiful job." There was then a slight glint of mischief in her eyes. "I guess this is one of the ‘perks’ of owning the boat, right?"

Harriman Nelson broke into laughter and nodded. Raising his glass to her in a mock toast, he acknowledged, "Yes…I guess you just might call it that. In addition…I’ve also heard some underground scuttlebutt that ‘if the admiral isn’t happy, no one’s happy’. So, I guess you could say, I’ve very happy…and the reason for that…is you. " And with that, they passed the rest of the meal with light talk and soft music.

At the end of the meal, Nelson produced the dessert, lemon mousse with whipped cream in a sweet pastry cup. He poured coffee from the small urn on the buffet and they finished the meal in quiet. When they were done, he rose, and held her chair.

She reached up, touched his face with her hand, and asked softly, "Would you mind if I went to my cabin for a minute… to ‘freshen up’?"

"No, not at all. I’ll wait for you here…"

She nodded. "I won’t be long."

Karen went up the gangway to Officer’s Country and down the corridor to her cabin. Once inside, she went to her collection of CDs and found the exact one she wanted. Taking a sheet of paper from her desk, she composed a brief note. She ‘freshened up’ as she’d said and then a few moments later, she left her cabin and walked back to Nelson’s, leaving the CD and note just inside the door. That done, she quickly went back down the gangway to the Nose and moved behind Nelson. He had been standing, staring out the translucent window, his hands shoved into the pockets of his formal dress uniform.

"Looks like a beautiful night…" she murmured in his ear as her arms surrounded his waist and she rested her chin on the back of his shoulder.

"Mmmm…" His head rested back against hers. "What say we go to the beach and get a better look at it?"

"Sounds like a plan to me… is ‘Ski still driving?"

"Yep," he replied, "Why?"

Karen broke away and snatched the bottle of wine, then smiled as she held it out before her. "So we can finish this…and not have to worry about driving home!"

He laughed and slid his arm through hers. "Then let’s go and see what we can do!" He picked up the two wine glasses and releasing her arm, followed her up the stairs to the deck.

 

š š

 

The next morning, Nelson was on the boat at 0715. The only other people on the boat were the delta watch security, so they merely nodded to him, and he went to his cabin. He opened the door, and went to his desk, and saw the CD case and note from Karen.

Harriman,
This is my answer to your lovely evening…thank you again
Love

Karen

 

He took the disc out and placed into the tray of the small stereo unit in his bookcase. Forwarding to the appropriate track, he listened as the music played.

It’s not the flowers
Wrapped in fancy paper
It’s not the ring
I wear around my finger
There’s nothing in the world I need
When I have you here beside me.

Here beside me

So you could give me wings to fly
And catch me if I fall
Or pull the stars down from the sky
So I could wish on them all
But I couldn’t ask for more
‘Cause your love is the greatest gift of all

In your arms
I found a strength inside of me
And in your eyes
There’s a light to guide me
I would be lost without you
And all that my heart could ever want
Has come true

You could offer me the sun, the moon
And I would still believe
When you gave your heart to me
I couldn’t ask for more
‘Cause your love is the greatest gift of all

Harriman Nelson sat at his desk and slowly shook his head. He was amazed… and considered himself a very, very lucky man….

 

š š

 

CPO Francis Sharkey sat at his desk in the NIMR complex that same morning. He was exhausted after yesterday’s assignment for the Admiral. After setting up the dinner for Nelson and his ‘Lady’, he waited until they were finished so he and a crew could set the boat to rights again. He was writing a note to a long time friend, George, bringing him up to date on his own current events.

 

George,

How’s it going, pal? I hear that "Ole Joe" is one ripping commander. The scuttlebutt is that he’s a spit and polish CO. I just hope that you’re getting on with him - You’ve only got 18 months left in and once you’re retired, boy, have I got a job for an old seadog like you…

Lemme tell you what the OOM had me doing for him this time.

I told you that he’d gotten himself a lady, right? Well, Captain Davis is one hell of a broad, if you know what I mean. I think I told you about her before. She’s the boat’s Mission Specialist and head of the Deep Water Dive teams. Anyway…the OOM’s been seeing her for over a year now and be damned if he didn’t pop the question to her about a week ago and she said yes. She’s not the typical ‘Admiral’s wife’ material, to quote ‘Cap’n Bligh’ Stark, but hey, she’s right for Nelson and that’s good enough for me.

Anyway, he gave her a ring when he popped the question and he’s been planning this special dinner since. Ms. Pierce called down here and said he wanted something different. Well, guess what? I ended up redoing the nose of the boat. The whole frigging, damn nose of the boat! I had to move all the furniture out and then hang curtains, of all things, over the observation ports, and Cookie was to fix this special meal…he wanted it all to be perfect, she said, and I sure as hell tried to get it that way for him. You know, we’ve had dignitaries and such aboard here before, even down to State Dinners…but man, I don’t ever think I’ve had to do all this, even for them. HE even took one of the limos and had ‘Ski drive’em to and from. Made him wait for them to be done, too. Not only that, Ski said the Admiral was dressed in Mess Whites and I know for a fact that he hates those damn things. Ain’t that always the way? I mean, a guy does things for a woman he wouldn’t ordinarily do. There’s no way in hell I’m going to get back into those things if I can completely avoid it.

Well, they came off the boat, smiling… and ‘Ski took’em someplace else after, he wouldn’t tell me where… and then he came back alone. A few hours later, he gets paged to come back and pick them up and take’em home.

Ya know…I think this is the right thing for the OOM… Cap’n Davis is okay in my book…she can definitely hold her own with him. No doubt about that. Even her kid’s okay… not a pest like some… She’s in college back East and comes back here to intern during her breaks. Even comes down here and helps work on the computer systems. They’re just plain, regular people, both of’em. Not stuck up at all and not afraid to get their hands dirty, if you know what I mean. That’s what the Admiral needs, George. Somebody real in his life.

Now…if we can only get the Skipper to come back to the land of the living… I guess it’ll be a long time, tho before he ever comes out of it. His wife’s death hit him real hard. Maybe if he could find somebody like Cap’t Davis…well, at least the Admiral’s happy and she’s exactly what the Doc ordered for him. No doubt about that at all.

Anyway, pal, talk to you real soon and the next time I see you, you owe me $20 for that last round of drinks up in Frisco. Remember?

Hey, stay out of your cap’s way!

Sharkey

 

Sharkey signed the letter, put it in an envelope, and sealed it. Shaking his head, he rose, left his office, and walked down to the mailroom to mail the letter to his pal. He had to admit that his duties here were a bit more unusual than he’d ever dreamed. But then again, that’s why he came here…to get away from the ‘usual’ stuff. As he left the building and headed back down to the ‘A’ dock, he started whistling and breathed in the fall air. Yep…George definitely needs to come here when he retires. He needs some excitement in his life.

 

Author’s note:

Lyrics for The Love I Found in You and Your Love by Jim Brickman

 

                            

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