683: The Imperfect Evening

by Ashton Ledbetter
After My Shadow


“Two glasses of Champagne. With extra bubbles.” Ashton Ledbetter wiggled his eyebrows back towards his Risian companion as popped the cork and prepared the flutes. Veoda stretched out on his divan seductively, as she awaited her beverage.

Ashton’s apartment was a tribute to the finer things in life. Glass windows surrounded the entire living space, offering him a view of the whole of London, and offering London a view of the whole of him if he forgot to draw the blinds. The living space was wide open with contemporary lighting and furniture, and a full bar set stocked with the best selection from across space and time, and, of course, hand woven oriental rugs.

And what fine bachelors living space would be complete without selections from the galaxy’s most renowned artists on the walls? Not so renowned that any fool would have heard of them, but just renowned enough that one could have an intellectual discussion about them with a true aficionado.

Ashton ordered Gustav Mahler for the evening’s musical accompaniment. It was cliché, he knew, but it did have a way of inspiring the ladies.

Veoda let one knee escape from her terrycloth bathrobe as she shifted her leg to allow Ashton space to sit down beside her. Ledbetter cleared his throat and tightened his own bathrobe around him.

“Yes, I approve.” He said with a snort of laughter as he gazed at her knee. Veoda sat up, linked arms with him, and drank down her glass of Champagne in one gulp.

“More?” Ashton asked, feeling that the young lady would not need any more alcohol to be coaxed into bed this evening, but that it could not possibly hurt his chances.

“Tell me more about how you saved Risa from the time traveling Borg?”

Veoda curled up against him, twisting his hair around her finger.

“Well, I believe when we left off my entire bridge crew was dead and the Borg were about to use their temporal weapon to enslave your entire world as drones. I had no choice but to travel back in time, board their ship, and fight them hand to hand to stop their evil plan.

“So when we arrived in the past, I beamed aboard, snapped the mechanical arm off of one of the brutes, and beat him silly about the head with it.”

“Oh, my brave Ashton. My brave, strong Ashton.” Veoda slipped her hands around his biceps and squeezed them with all her might.

“Ow! Oh careful my love, I bruise easily,” Ashton chuckled again.

“Sorry, sorry.” She slinked back embarrassed.

Ashton picked up the bowl of chocolate covered strawberries from the glass coffee table next to the divan, and held one out to her. Veoda bit into it seductively, sending a squirt of strawberry juice into Ashton’s eye.

“Ah! That’s my sensitive eye. I need to flush it!” Ashton hurried into the bathroom and ran his hand under cold water, using the liquid to rinse his eye. Veoda pulled the robe up tight around her face, embarrassed once again. Here she was sharing a romantic evening with the hero of Risa, and her clumsy mistakes were nearly killing the poor man.

“I’m all right! Have more Champagne.” Ashton tried desperately to calm her down as he came back into the room. “Anyway,” He began, sitting down on the divan and letting her stretch her legs across his lap, “After I defeated the Borg, and their hideous Queen, talk about a freak show, I went down to your world. The people were grateful to say the least. Every woman there wanted express their thanks to me physically, but I refused.”

“But why, Ashton?”

Ledbetter leaned over, lying atop her, “Because my darling, I must have known when I was boarding the Borg Cube, that I was destined to save you. And that you were out there somewhere, the reason why I saved your world, so that we could find each other in this time, and be the lovers we were always meant to be.”

“Oh Ashton!” Veoda moaned as his lips melted into her neck.

Knock knock knock

“Ledbetter, open the door!”

Ashton would have recognized the accent anywhere. It was Keiran O’Sullivan.

He extricated his hand from the folds of Veoda’s robe, where it had been quite busy and happy, thank you very much, before the unwanted visitor came knocking.

“Please, don’t move.” Ledbetter pleaded with the gorgeous woman whom was mere moments from bedding.

Ashton stiffly shuffled to the door, adjusting his robe to conceal his excitement. As he reached the door, he turned, and held up one finger to Veoda, as if to say “this will only take a moment.”

As he opened the door, his eyes flew open in anger and the perfectly shaped tuft of blond hair on the top of his head bobbed up and down as he spoke.

“What do you want? Are you lost? Big Ben is right over there if you’re looking to sight see.” Keiran looked past Ashton out the window towards the clock tower, but his eyes snapped back to the fetching young woman on the divan.

“Recruitin’ a new agent, Ashton?”

“Shut up! My God man, can’t this wait?”

“I understand you have a ship of your own now. You and I are going on a trip.” Keiran waved politely at the young lady on the divan, and Veoda waved back.

“How didya kill the Borg Queen this time, Ledbetter? Strangle her with her own spine again?” O’Sullivan said through gritted teeth.

“I didn’t get that far, I didn’t need to,” Ashton grinned.

“Well, you’ll have to take a rain check on this one. Get packed, we’re leavin’ in one hour for Lethus IV.”

Ashton slammed the door.

“Ledbetter!” O’Sullivan bellowed. “What would Maris say about your lack of proper manners?”

“Who’s Maris?” Veoda asked.

“Who? Maris? He was a New York Yankee back in the nineteen hundreds. As far as I know.”

“Maybe you should let him back in, I think he wasn’t done talking.”

“Oh, he was done, darling,” Ashton placed his lips back on her neck, ignoring the pounding on the door.

Veoda tried to get back in the mood but the sound of fist on wood just did not accompany Mahler very well in her mind. Ashton sensed her unease, and shuffled once again back to the front door.

“I swear the next time I travel back to 1641 I’m telling Charles to wipe your silly little country off the map,” Ledbetter cursed, his blond tuft bobbing even more. “Look, Keiran, I don’t know why you are in such a hurry but it will have to wait.”

Ledbetter turned towards Veoda and ran a quick calculation in his mind based upon the length of her legs, hair, and the size of her chest.

“It will have to wait at least one hour,” Ledbetter concluded.

“I need to get to Liis. She’s on her way to Lethus, and I need your help to do it. Nice new place you've got here, by the by. Quite a step up from your last flat. Must cost a pretty penny, a place like this."

Ashton ignored the compliment on his new living arrangements. “I take back everything I said about her being wrong for you. You are just as insane, self centered, and utterly impossible as she is. You are perfect for each other.”

“You know, Ash, I got to thinkin'. Your promotion in TI came with a hefty pay raise, if yours was an'a'thin' like the one I got. I’m sure you reported that increase to Maris’ lawyers right away so they could adjust her alimony withholdin’, didn’t ya?”

“Alimony lawyers?” Veoda, was standing now, with her hands on her hips. “You told me you’ve waited all your life for a woman like me.”

“Well, I have darling. I never said that while I was waiting I happened to marry a woman for several years. But it ended in bitter divorce because I knew you were out there darling, and,” Veoda disappeared into the bathroom, where she had left her clothing before changing into the bathrobe Ashton had left for her.

“You wouldn’t want me to have to send a note to the courts, indicating that you may be concealin’ income from Maris, would ya?”

“You wouldn’t dare!” Ledbetter hissed.

“Not if ya get dressed, say goodbye to the lady, and beam up to your ship with me in the next ten minutes. I would not dare.”

Veoda reappeared, fully dressed now, and heading for the door. “I think I should be going. If you’re ever on Risa, which I’m sure you have been, don’t look me up.” Rather than leaving him with nothing, Veoda pressed Ashton against the wall, and gave him a deep passionate kiss that left him breathless, just so Ledbetter would know exactly what he had missed out on tonight.

O’Sullivan rubbed his eyes, occasionally peeking out to see if she was quite finished torturing the poor man. When she was finally through, Veoda reached into her bag, pulled out a small Hor’ghan, and dropped it to the floor, letting it shatter. Despite all the stress and fear within him, Keiran could not help but grin at the expression on Ledbetter’s face.

Veoda left, and Ashton swept up the pieces of the broken statue.

“I’m holding you personally responsible for that scratch,” Ashton declared, pointing to a small knick in the hardwood floor. “Let’s get one thing clear, I am not a taxi service, but I do expect to be compensated for the time you’ve stolen from me.”

“Your compensation is that you get to keep the money that you should be payin’ to that ex wife of yours. To support, what is it, her four cats?”

“Five cats, and a home shopping addition,” Ledbetter corrected. “The sooner we get this over with, the better.” Ashton gathered up the pieces of his uniform that Veoda had so lovingly removed from him a short time earlier.

“Tell me again, O’Sullivan, why I must ferry you to Lethus IV?”

“Because Liis is already on the way, and Lair Arie is in trouble.” Keiran lowered his voice, speaking one word he knew would seal the deal. "Taris."

“Well why didn’t you just say a damsel was in distress and the Romulan bitch is back? That changes everything. But you still owe me for the scratched floor.”

Ashton Ledbetter
TI Agent
London, England

NRPG: "I swear the next time I travel back to 1641 I’m telling Charles to wipe your silly little country off the map." ROFL. Best line of Ashton dialogue ever written, IMO. ~ZL