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A Halloween Interlude

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Skye didn’t hesitate to sit in front of Taylor’s desk. She sat forward eagerly. Her smile was a combination of hopeful and shy. “Please, Commander.”

Taylor just stared at her, his mouth a hard line. However, the stern expression didn’t quite reach his eyes. He grunted. “All right.”

Skye jumped to her feet. She ran around to his side of the desk. She barely hesitated before throwing her arms around his neck and kissing his cheek. “Thanks,” she whispered earnestly.

Taylor patted her hands. Despite himself, a small smile slipped through. “You’re welcome. But how are you going to pull this off? Tonight’s Halloween.”

Skye grinned cheekily. “We’ve been planning for a while,” she admitted unrepentantly.

Taylor arched an eyebrow. “And if I’d said no?”

“I was fairly sure you wouldn’t.”

Taylor rolled his eyes. “Sometimes, you’re just a big kid.”

Skye stuck her tongue out at him. “What’s wrong with that?”

“Get out of here,” Taylor mock growled.

“You’ll see. It’ll be fun.” With that, Skye kissed his cheek again and ran out.

Taylor watched her leave. He drummed his fingers on the top of his desk. His mouth barely twitched. “Not a word.”

Guzman appeared from the balcony over Taylor’s right shoulder. “I don’t know what you mean, Sir,” he said blandly.

Taylor glanced over his shoulder to see Guzman fighting a grin. He swallowed a chuckle and stood. “Let’s take another sweep around the perimeter.”

Guzman nodded crisply. “Yes, Sir.”

It was a cool night with a bright full moon and a sky alight with stars. Taylor stood on the balcony outside his office/quarters. He leaned against the railing. He took in the sight of the colony transformed. Dozens of small fires created a soft, warm glow. There were lights strung up through the compound. There were jack-o-lanterns carved out of gourds and any other fruit and vegetables big enough to suit the purpose. Children and adults ran about in costumes made of leaves, brush, and dinosaur skins and teeth. Skye and her friends ran a bobbing for zuzu fruit booth.

Taylor felt Guzman’s presence before he saw him. He waved an arm. “Why aren’t you running around in all that with Tasha?”

Guzman appeared at Taylor’s side. He mirrored Taylor’s relaxed, but ready, posture. “She’s seventeen. She’s with her friends. She doesn’t want to hang out with her dad.”

“What are they using for trick or treat candy?”

Guzman grinned. “Jellied fruit.”

They were both silent after that, watching and listening to the party. When Guzman broke the silence, his voice was barely above a whisper. “Thanks for letting them have this.”

Taylor tilted his head to look at Guzman. “They need the break and a chance to unwind.”

Guzman held Taylor’s gaze. “Everyone does.”

Taylor didn’t answer. He faced forward again. He didn’t react when Guzman inched closer to barely brush against his shoulder.

Guzman’s voice was low but intense. “Everyone deserves a little fun now and then.”

Taylor inhaled sharply. He straightened up and turned to face Guzman. There was a spark in his ice blue eyes. “Inside.”

Guzman bared his teeth in a predatory smile. “Yes, Sir.”