Chapter 2

“Jim, it’s so good to see you,” Shayla greeted him with the briefest of hugs. She was part Orion, part Human, and exotically beautiful with light green skin and raven hair. They’d met on the Enterprise during their second mission and had been together ever since. They’d never talked of marriage, though it was plain they were committed. Jim was sure Bones was firmly in the never again category.

“You look radiant as usual.” He kissed her cheek.

She patted her stomach then with a smile. “We’re expecting.”

“Fantastic. I’m ready to be an uncle again.”

“Where’s my present?” Joanna asked.

“Jo, that’s not nice,” Bones told her.

“Well.” She pouted a little. “He said he had one.”

Jim laughed. “It’s okay. Come, help me open my bag. It’s inside.” Joanna ran to his bag and opened it up, taking out the box with the “Build Your Own Enterprise” in it. She squealed with delight and then ran off with the box to get online to show her mother.

Bones smiled. “Come on outside to the grill.”

Jim followed him outside. “How long is Jo staying with you guys?”

“For the summer. Basically until it’s time for her to go back to school. She’s been a big help to Shayla.”

“God, you’re so damn domesticated.”

Bones  nodded. “Kind of sickening, I know. How are you doing, Jim?”

Jim leaned against the patio wall. “Keeping busy.”

“Working too hard, you mean.”

Jim shrugged. “What else can I do right now?”

“Not work too hard?” Bones sighed. “When was the last time you had a physical?”

“Um, I don’t know?”

“You aren’t eating right. Hell, you look like you aren’t eating at all.”


Bones poked his ribs. “What are you eating?”

“I eat.”

“That’s not an answer. Is it the admiralty?”

“I am the admiralty.”

“You know what I mean. They give you about six billion different things you’re responsible for.”

“Just tactical stuff.”

“Just.” Bones rolled his eyes. “Inspections, too. How many ship inspections have you done in the last few months?”

“A few.”

Bones quirked his brow.

“Okay, a lot. But let’s talk about you. Are you ready for this shindig?”

“It’s not actually a shindig. It’s pretty small. Most of our friends are in space and she hasn’t seen her dad in over a decade. Her mom will be here though.”

“It’s going to be great, no matter how big it is.”

Bones flipped several burgers. “Jim—”

“Bones. Don’t start, all right?”

“I worry about you. In San Francisco all alone.”

“I’m fine. Really.” Jim smiled. “And that reminds me. I gotta check in. I’ll be right back.” He went inside for his PADD.