Day 1 (cont)
Burke had a good view of the table where her helmsman and navigator sat with the new redhead. Before long, half a dozen men joined them. Bugalu always seems to get the first date, though it never takes the others long to move in. For a second, it looked like a fight would break out, but the redhead stopped Bugalu's lunge over the table. Burke shook her head. "Fighting over a new girl already."
Smythe glanced that way, then returned to his roast beef and potatoes. "She's a trouble-maker," he muttered.
"Who?" Dr MacGregor glanced at the other table for some time. "I told her every man aboard would chase her."
"Including you two?" Jane asked.
Smitty seemed aghast. "Certainly not!"
"What about you, Duck?"
MacGregor watched as the redhead pleaded with the leaving Bugalu, then got up and left also. He turned back to his own meal. "I'm too old to be chasing. Even great packages like that one."
"You're hardly in your dotage."
He shrugged, glanced again at the table where the left-behind men were breaking apart. "Maybe I feel old when I see what the competition is."
Smitty nodded. "Lt Bugalu's got her already. You'd have to get in line for that one."
"I'd like to think the lady decides who she dates," Jane muttered. "You make it sound like only men have any say in it."
Smitty stopped eating. Trying to think what to say that won't get him any further into trouble. I really shouldn't tease him, but sometimes his thinking gets stuck in a rut.
MacGregor stirred his coffee. "Actually, she doesn't date."
"Preposterous!" Smitty declared. "Who told you that wild tale?"
MacGregor gave him a sharp look. "What makes you think it's a wild tale?"
"Because of how she acts!" Smitty shoved some beef into his mouth.
"How does she act? What’s she done that makes you say that?" Jane asked. Stare at him in the transport bay? Pull her own duffel bag out instead of asking demurely for help? What has she done?
Smitty carefully chewed and swallowed his bite before responding. "She wasn't on the bridge five minutes before she had a supper date with Bugalu. And he didn't initiate it! I saw it myself."
"Right in front of her superior officer?" Not the kind of crewmember I want on my ship, maybe. And I've been trying not to judge her too harshly.
The engineer hesitated, his face coloring. "I don’t think she realized I was there. And when he saw her, Bugalu completely forgot himself."
"I can believe that," MacGregor stated softly, his brow wrinkled. "But she said she doesn't date."
How do I say this delicately? Men and their fragile egos! "Duck, perhaps she just doesn't want to date you."
"No, she doesn't," he returned at once. "But actually, she made that comment to Temple."
"Nurse Temple asked MacDowell for a date?"
"No, she was -" He grinned. I can almost hear him shifting gears. I wonder what's really going on? "She was trying to determine how much competition Mac will be. Mac said she wasn't competition, because she doesn't date."
"Obviously, she dates old boy friends," Smitty stated sourly.
"What old boy friend?"
Smitty pushed his empty plate away. "They've known each other before, Bugalu and Colleen."
Colleen! Since when has he started calling subordinates by their given name? She turned to her chief physician. "Did she mention that to you, Duck?"
"Nope." He drank the last of his coffee. "But not everything she said made sense.
"I don’t like the sounds of that. A communications officer who doesn't make sense."