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CHAPTER 1 B
In the square outside the Space Administration building, the restaurants and shops were getting ready for the lunch crowds that were starting to make their way from their jobs. What ever their taste was, there was a restaurant or vendor for them. Multi hued awnings and umbrellas covered the tables, so that the patrons were not subjected to the brilliance of the afternoon sun. Strategically placed fans kept the warm humid air moving. Benches lined the pedestrian walkway on both sides. Marble tables in the garden allowed those who wanted to commune with nature during their lunch, the chance to do so. The Cafeteria opened onto the garden in good weather. The walls and ceiling would close when it rained.
The marble and glass edifice looked out over the Atlantic Ocean. Sea gulls swooped over the water. Fishing and pleasure boated dotted the surface with their multicolored sails, bobbed on the waves. Bathers were few at this time of day. Later when the work and school days ended the beaches would be full, for those who did not have their own pools.
Bella and Rhea Torino walked out of the building after the briefing and headed for their favorite table. Ties loosened in the heat. They held hands comfortably.
"We have three hours to kill before we have to report to the ship for the Grand Tour." Rhea stated. How about a nice leisurely lunch and a walk on the beach?"
"Did you bring a spare uniform? I know what happens when we stroll on the beach. I sure did not and I have no intention of spending the afternoon in wet trousers." Bella responded.
"Well how about we get a jump on the shopping for the items we have to bring with us. That was some list they gave us." Rhea countered.
"Sounds like a plan." Bella smiled. Hey, Rhea what is the deal with our new First Officer? Is he really the Captain and Colonel's father?"
"He is the Captain's step father." Rhea corrected.
"All right spill it. I know you and the Captain grew up together. Tell me."
"Not a whole lot to tell. The Captain's father died when she was six. Her mother remarried a year or so later and the Colonel was born. The Colonel resembles her father in height, hair and eye color, while the Captain favors their mother."
"That can not be the whole story." Bella protested.
"Well my dear, if your read some of the reams of files we were sent, it just might calm you very inquisitive mind."
"Hey, did you just call me nosey?" Bella demanded.
"Hell no. I will let you read the file later. It's not top secret or anything. But do not get used to that, as there will be times I will not have the luxury of sharing. Now how about Mexican for lunch?"
"Is that what was delivered the other day?"
"That is only the beginning of the files. Once the crew's orders are cut I will get a file on each and every one of them. As Chief Security Officer it is part of my duties to make sure there is not an axe murderer or serial killer on the team. I hope they put the family files together or you may not see me until the launch." She laughed.
Hand in hand they walked into the square.
Patricia O'Malley sat outside the Kelly's Irish Pub and Restaurant, as she waited for her husband and daughters to join her. Green grey eyes looked out over the square as the workers filled the restaurants. Her dark hair show a few touches of grey and was stylishly cut. She was not a tall woman. Reaching barely five and a half feet without shoes, her head barely reached her tall husband's shoulder. But her carriage made her seem taller. She was a woman who ruled her family with love rather an iron fist, most of the time. She commanded respect from all who met her.
After finishing her mandatory two year service where she became a chef, she was content to remain in the background and take care of her family and home. Even that day when the Admiral and Chaplain came to tell her that her husband had died in an accident, her will kept Kate, her young daughter and herself together. Then lightning struck a second time in the form of a tall, smiling, good natured Irishman. His thick dark hair and laughing blue eyes drew her to him. They married and within a year later a daughter was born to them. A daughter who was christened Kirsten Campbell O'Malley. A name that was as long as she was. It was quickly shortened to Kacey.
Patricia smiled at the memories. Over the noise of the crowd, she heard the distinctive voice of her husband. His height made it easy for her to pick him out of the crowd. Their daughter was also easy to spot due to her height, as was Kate's wife Anya. Both of whom stood close to six feet. Kate's auburn head was barely visible. What ever Liam was saying had them all laughing. She stood and waved so that they would see her. Liam spotted her and directed them to where his wife waited.
"Hi mom" Kacey said as she kissed he mother's cheek. She was quickly followed by Kate and Anya. Then her husband had her in his arms.
"Patsy me darling have ye been waiting long?"
"Just a few minutes. Please everyone sit down." They followed her directions. The waitress quickly left menus and filled water glasses then left.
"From the five seats it is evident you were expecting us. What is going on?" Kacey asked.
"Liam and I have some exciting news to tell you all."
"Well we know that Liam is shipping out as my First Officer, mom. You do know that this voyage will last at least three years that could easily stretch to four." Kate stated.
"Of course I know. That is not our news. Our surprise is that I will be shipping out with you also."
"What?" Kacey stared at her mother.
"Well after they named Kate the Captain , Anya the Science Officer, you the Head of the Marines, then offered Liam the First Officers position, there was no way I was going to let my entire family go off galavanting in space with out me, I applied for a position on board ship. My acceptance came yesterday."
"Patricia what position will you be taking?" Anya asked.
"One that I am completely qualified for. I will be the Chief Cook and Bottle washer. Someone has to make sure you all eat properly. No offence to your cooking Anya, I know you love to cook, but a vacation from cooking once in awhile is nice. Don't you agree?"
"Certainly. It will be fantastic to have the whole family together. The girls will be happy to have their grand parents around. Right Kate?"
"I think both the girls are a little shocked at the news lassie." Liam said with a laugh.
"I think you are right Liam. They both are a little pale and very quiet." Anya countered.
Kacey reacted first. "I like the idea mom. But please do me a favor. Do not go cleaning my quarters. I really am glad you will be coming with us."
"I am too, mom. I know the kids will love having you both around. We all will." Kate finally said when she got over the initial shock. "Liam as your commanding officer I am going to give you, your first order. Make sure mom does not give the girls all sorts of junk food before dinner."
"Ah Katie darling, I do not believe that is an order I will be able to obey. You know how your mother is. Now lets eat." He signaled the waitress.
"Lassie we will have wine for the beautiful lass at the end of the table, and for this beautiful lass beside me. Me beautiful daughters will each have a Brandy with ice on the side. As for myself, I will be having a small Irish Whiskey." He moved his fingers apart to show her just how big his small was....
To be continued...
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