This part is dedicated to my grandparents, because without my visit to their house last summer, I never would have gotten this idea for a chapter! This part is copyrighted March 1999 by Jane Griffen. All feedback welcome at JaneG100@rocketmail.com. I don't own Britney Spears or the song 'One More Time'. See the main page for the rest of the disclaimers.
CHAPTER ELEVEN: ONE MORE TIME
“Magnificant,” breathed Alyssa Paris from her perch on top of a twelve foot ladder. She had just finished putting up paper lanterns around the outdoor patio, where the party would be held. Neelix, who had arrived earlier to help set up, had led Tom and Lisa off on a wild goose chase as soon as the couple had arrived back at the house some hours earlier. Now everyone was finishing up with the decorations, since the guests would be arriving in a little over two hours, and they all wanted to be ready in time.
“Yeah, it is,” Samantha added as she surveyed the entire scene. The mahogany brown wooden-floored patio went the entire length of the house, with three entrances from the backyard and two from the house. The view from the porch was awesome. You could look out and see the entire backyard, as well as the Pacific Ocean. The patio was large enough to double as a dance floor, and Heather and B’Elanna were setting up the sound system around the patio. In the kitchen, Dana Paris and Kathryn were busy cooking away to help fill the buffet table which was off to one side of the porch. Chairs and card tables were set up on the sides of the dance floor. There were two large tables set up in the large dining room off of the kitchen. Owen Paris, Chakotay, and Harry were barbequeing various kinds of meat on the grill out on the dock. Seven was setting up what seemed to be hundreds of vanilla-scented cream pillar candles on the wodden ledges of the porch, which would look lovely when the sun set. Tall pine-woven pillars held candles designed to keep away the few bugs which lived in the shrubs and bushes were set up at the entryways of the porch.
On the other side of the porch, B’Elanna finished rewiring the stereo. Small cube speakers were set up in plants and on the ledges and were hooked up with the stereo as well. “That should do it,” she told Heather.
Nodding, Whitney picked a CD from the large stack and placed it in the stereo system. Pressing the play button, she picked up the microphone that she had talked B’Elanna into setting up. No way was she going to miss this priceless oppurtunity at the party. Taking her cue from the music, she began singing ‘Baby, One More Time’ by Britney Spears.
Partway through “I must confess, that my loneliness, is killin’ me, yeah...” Heather’s eyes narowed as she saw Alyssa staring at her with a shocked expression on her face. Then Whitney realized that Alyssa wasn’t staring at *her*, she wa staring at something behind her. The science officer slowly turned around to see Owen Paris leaning against the porch rail with an amused expression on his face. Chakotay and Harry, equally amused, stood next to him.
“Oh, sorry,” Heather managed to stammer through her embarrasment. Behind her, she could hear Torres snickering. Heather briefly turned to glare at the engineer, and B’Elanna stopped laughing, although she continued to smile.
“No, actually, please continue. That was nice. Your voice certainly hasn’t changed since the Academy,” said Admiral Paris, then walked off of the porch back down to the grill on the dock.
Heather was surprised to say the least of the compliments. For some strange reason -- which she still hadn’t managed to figure out -- Owen Paris had taken a special interest even before her days at Starfleet Academy.
After Heather had left Betazed to go live with her father’s side of the family in a small town outside San Francisco, California, when she was only fourteen, she had transferred over to Juniper Mason High School, which was one of the most prestigous high schools on the West Hemisphere. Tom Paris had gone to JMH as well, but the two had never associated in the same crowds.
During their last year there, she had received an invitation to go to the Paris’ for dinner. She had been more than a little surprised at the invitation, but in the end she had gone. It turned out that she had a fun time with Tom and some of his other friends at his parents’ cocktail party. Their paths had never crossed after that -- until the Academy.
During their sophemore year, she and Tom had become best friends, and they had been ever since. Throughout her days at the Academy and her career, Admiral Paris had always showed up at the right moment, helped her out, gave her his advice or opinion when she asked for it, and chipped inn whenever she needed a good recommendation.
One time, during her last year at the Academy, she had almost been kicked out due to one of her nemesis’ practical jokes, which everone except Whitney’s closest friends blamed on her. Owen Paris had managed to save her that time, too.
Samantha laugehd at her father’s comment. “I will never forget when I chaperoned at *that* Sadey Hawkins Dance,” she teased.
Heather blushed, remembering the time she had sung at the Sadey Hawkins Dance, then set down the microphone. “Are we almost done?” she questioned, glancing around.
As if sensing Heather’s eagerness to be done with the work, Dana Paris popped her head out of the doorway and hinted with a knowing wink in Heather’s direction, “We could use some more help in the kitchen!”
Everyone laughed as Heather groaned good-naturedly and headed for the kitchen.
Chakotay ran up the steps of the porch and entered the house. None of the women were in sight. “Hello?” he asked.
“We’re in the kitchen, Chakotay!” came Kathryn’s reply.
Upon entering the kitchen, Chakotay stopped dead in his tracks at the sight that lay before him. Dana and her two daughters were preparing salad for the large crystal bowl on the table, Kathryn was bent over kneading dough, Seven was literally up to her hands in potato peels, and B’Elanna was busy stirring a large mixture of something in a red cooking bowl. But the most comical sight of all was Heather Whitney, whose lips were covered in chocolate as she licked the mixers over the sink. Meeting Chakotay’s gaze, she grinned sheepishly at him.
Laughing, Chakotay shook his head. “Come on! They should be at the front door by now.” he said hurriedly.
“Oh, sh-” Whitney was interrupted by B’Elanna wordlessly handing her a paper towel. Heather quickly wiped her mouth, then threw the paper towel away. Everyone washed their hands and followed Chakotay. Admiral Paris and Harry were already in the front foyer.
The doors opened, and Tom, Lisa, and Neelix stepped in. Neelix was busy chatting about the different types of plants in the Delta Quadrent. From the helpless look on Lisa’s face, Seven guessed that Neelix had chosen the topic -- not her.
“SURPRISE!!!” they all yelled.
Tom did a doubletake as he glanced around. The house was sparkling clean, and banners and decorations were strung everywhere. Then he smiled. “Thanks a lot, guys,” he said.
Lisa leaned against Tom, grinning with delight. “This is perfect,” she whispered happily. *Absolutely perfect.* *****
To Be Continued...