3 ONCE IN A BLUE MOON

Kristin couldn't take her eyes off Nathan.

He lay asleep, off the cot, beside hers, with his hand touching her shoulder when she awoke.

She hadn't dreamed it. He really was here!

Kristin remembered his voice, but in her mind, she had interpreted his appearance as a dream. To roll over, now, and see him right there beside her made her heart feel like it was going to pound its way out of her chest.

She reached down and ran her fingers gently threw his hair, separating the strands. Watching his chest move up and down seemed the most miraculous thing she'd ever seen. Tears started to inch down her face, catching on her lashes and she wiped them away with sleeve of her shirt.

"Thank you, God; thank you, God; thank you, God," was her mantra. It was all she could think because right now, rational thinking was out the window and she couldn't process how the man before her had seemingly not aged at all, and yet here he was—alive and well.

Suddenly Nathan's eyes flickered open and like a magnet to iron, their eyes met.

Without speaking, he smiled lovingly at her and she clapped her hand over her mouth and began to cry, heart wrenching sobs torn from a damaged soul.

Nathan sat up and pulled her down to him, clutching her tightly; all the while, Kristin's body was wracked with years of sorrow pouring out.

He held her, whispering to her, wondering if her well of heartache had a bottom.

Finally, her tears taped off, and she pulled back and smiled, her amber eyes full of love.

"I can't believe you're here," she rasped, throwing her arms around him again.

"Oh, I'm here, and the only place I am going is with you. Or you with me—if that's what you want?"

"Nathan Bridger, are you out of your mind?! I'm never letting you out of my sight again," the British woman declared, as she pushed him onto his back and kissed him on every available inch of skin she could find.

********************************N & K**********************

There was a full moon overhead as the two lovers sat on a large set of boulders that had once belonged to the terraced home of the ancient Incans. The top of the mountain was now an island.

The tide was going out and the waves were crashing far enough from them that they could still talk without trying to be heard over the crashing surf.

All day long, Nathan had tried to explain as best he could what had happened to him and the crew of the seaQuest. He told the doctor about the crew members who didn't return, those that had, and he told her about Michael and what that meant. Robert was still alive—somewhere.

Kristin played down the pain she'd endured, not wanting to burden Nathan with more than he already carried. She didn't know that he and Cynthia had already discussed the details, only the larger picture.

The two sat pressed closely together, his arm encircling her, taking in the bewitching evening.

"You know, I imagined you giving me a little rougher time for being gone for so long, I have to say, I am thrilled to be greeted like a conquering hero. Just to be clear, you know, I'm just a bumbling old sea dog who happened to luck out and get to return. I didn't have a whole lot of control over the when and how, but I sure am glad to be back."

He leaned down and pressed his mouth to hers, and she opened hers, gladly welcoming him.

"I don't care how you got back; I'm just happy you're here now, Nathan."

"Do you know how much I missed that accent of yours? I could hear it in my head and your voice was so clear. In my dreams, I guess that's what they were, I tried to tell you where I was and that I loved and missed you. I'm sorry you didn't get the message. I wish I could go back and take away all the hurt you've suffered."

"Right now," Kristin said, "Let's just concentrate on being. Shall we?"

Nathan kissed her on the forehead and pulled her close.

"I did have one more thing to say, well, ask, before we go back to the colony, if you'll permit me," he smiled mischievously in the moonlight.

"If you're asking for your shirt back the answer is 'No;' ownership is 9/10th's of the law, mister." She wrapped it tighter around her, and he laughed.

"No, I think that's a moot point."

Nathan reached down into his pocket and pulled something out.

"I, uh, had this before I left for that eight week tour, you know, the one that lasted ten years."

"Yes, I'm remembering something about that adventure," she answered, her manner cheeky.

"How would you like to be Dr. Westphalen-Bridger and a grandmother?"

Nathan held out a pear shaped diamond, so large that it caught the moonlight, flashing it back at her.

Kristin froze, not saying a word, just staring at the ring.

"Uh, if you want to think about it, or the name, or-"

"Yes." Her eyes looked so mysterious in the evening and glistened with unshed tears. "Yes, I'll be any damn thing you want, right now, so you better put it on!"

Nathan slid it onto her finger. Perfect fit.

The platinum and diamond ring danced in the moonlight as Kristin moved her hand around, admiring it.

"It was my mother's ring. When Carol and I married, my parents were still alive, and Carol never wore it. I was in the service when my mother passed and all her things went to storage. I remembered it before my…..trip, and I had just gotten it from-"

"It's the most beautiful-"

She turned into his chest, crying, again.

"Hey, it's not supposed to make you cry! I want to hear some laughter, lady!"

"I'm not crying because I'm sad; I'm crying because I'm happy, you big American Yankee dolt!"

Laughing, he pulled her back to him. "Finally! Now that's the woman I know and love."