CN's Tales of Romance

 

|Home|What's New|Book Orders|Egroups|Contact Info|


 The Magic of Egypt


Disclaimers: Miss Covington and Miss Pappas are not mine. Neither are Xena or Gabby and the Gang . I donít write this for money, just the satisfaction of an overactive imagination. This story is about women who are deeply in love. If this offends you lighten up and read something else. If youíre too young come back later and if itís illegal where youíre seated right now Ė hereís a tip Ė change your seat or do something to change your laws because love should never be illegal.

Please e-mail me at cnwinters@hotmail.com I enjoy getting to chat with my readers out there. Your constructive comments are always welcome.


Chapter 1

The University of South Carolinaís Annual Fall Semester Ball Ė 1946

Glenn Miller roared through the crowded banquet hall. It smelled of cigarettes, alcohol and magnolias. ĎAn odd combinationí the honey-haired archeologist deduced. But the joint was jumpiní. And ĎIn the Moodí had people crowding the dance floor.

As she made her way inside she was approached by a colleague Ė Mr. Stafford of the English department.

"Hellooo," he said admiringly. "Whatís a beautiful woman like you doing here all alone?"

Janice did a double-take on the man, who now had his arm draped unwelcomingly around her shoulder; breathing his alcohol riddled breath in her ear.

"Your wife here Dan?" she asked knowingly. "Maybe I should stop by and say hello to her. Iím sure sheís awfully lonely right about now. Shame too. Sheís a beautiful woman."

Upon hearing the voice and the distinctive Ďdonít jerk around with meí stance, he realized just who he was speaking too. "Janice?" he said cautiously. "I . . .I didnít recognize you."

It was an easy mistake to make. The khaki pants and fandora were put to rest for the night. In its place was a spaghetti strap gold number that lifted all the right areas and tucked others. The only thing that Janice did keep from her usual attire was her revolver, which was stuffed away safely in her matching purse.

The outfit made her feel total awkward. She didnít know what to do with her hands. Her leather bomber jacket at least had pockets. But despite her discomfort with her dress she managed to keep her sense of gruffness in tact.

"Dan?" Janice began. "Go find your wife," the last statement was barked more like the order of a drill sergeant from Biloxi.

Quickly the man scurried away and Janice completed her trip to the bar. She reached into her purse and pulled out a cigar. As she went for her lighter, two men on either side of her offered theirs. She looked at each man, sizing them up. Decidedly, she pulled out her own lighter and began to puff. Sensing their defeat they turned, moving onto other conquests.

Janice eyes searched the room, scanning left to right. She looked to the end of the bar to the sight that finally made her smile Ė Mel. She was dressed in a navy blue dress with heels that matched exactly. The dress wasnít too short but it showed off Melís lengthy legs. ĎNavyí Janice grinned wickedly. ĎLove Navyí.

She was going to make her trip down to meet Miss Pappas but she stopped when she seen Mel throw her hands up and walk with Randell McCoy to the dance floor. Janice could feel her upper lip starting to twitch as her jealousy grew stronger. As they danced it up to a Ďservice medleyí which included Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy and Donít Sit Under the Apple Tree With Anyone Else But Me, Janice grew warmer.

As she took a spot at the bar where Mel had been, a curly-haired blonde women walked over. "Howdy stranger," she said.

Janice smiled. "Why Miss Epherson," Janice said in a fake southern accent. "What ever are yíall doing here?"

"Quit yer teasiní," she said slapping Janiceís arm lightly. "Mel didnít say yaíd be back yet."

"She doesnít know," Janice explained. "She thinks Iím still in Spain. I thought Iíd surprise her. But it looks like she already has other distractions this evening."

"Who?" Epherson asked. "Randell?"

Janice nodded, trying to keep her disgust at a minimum. Charleston was a big city with very small circles. Last thing she needed was more speculations regarding her feelings toward Mel. Janice was convinced the tall southern belle was oblivious to her desires and sheíd like to keep it that way. For all practical purposes everyone assumed they were business partners and friends . . . nothing more. And in truth thatís what they were. . .But in Janiceís fantasies however. . .

"Randell wouldnít let up," Epherson replied, breaking Janice's rambling thoughts. "Heís been bugginí her all night long to dance. She said sheíd dance once if heíd agree to leave her alone for the rest of the night."

Suddenly Janice mood perked up. So the brunette bombshell that had stolen her heart wasnít interested in the man that held her in his arms, swaying back and forth. A slow number started and Janice recognized it immediately - ĎIt Had to Youí. She watched as Mel tried to make her way from the dance floor but Randell refused to let her go. He pulled her back into his arms, and being the lady she was Mel tried to gently disengage herself from the situation.

"Should I go in for the rescue?" Janice smirked to Epherson.

Epherson grinned widely. "Janice youíre no stranger to the rumors that fly Ďround here Ďbout you and Miss Pappas up in that big ole house of her daddyís . . .".she winked at the archeologist and nodded toward Mel. "I say go for it!"

"Sounds like a winning plan Eph."

Cautiously, as not to be noticed, she crept up to Mel. As the singer on stage began to croon, Janice did the same behind Mel. "It . . .had . . .to . . .be. . .youuuuuu."

Mel heard the voice and turned sharply meeting the strawberry blonde. Janice swept Mel into her arms and looked toward Randell.

"Mind if I cut in?" she asked. Without waiting for a response she thanked him and whisked Mel around and around, until they were several feet away. He stood on the floor momentarily stunned that he had been rejected. . .and rejected for that unnatural Janice Covington at that.

Mel tried to ask Janice tons of questions but Janice silenced her by placing her finger over Melís lips. "Shhh, Mel. I like this song. . .I wandered around and finally found somebody whooo. . .could make be me truuuuuue. . .could make me be bluuuuuuue. . .Or even be glad just to be sad . . .thinking of youuuuuuu."

 

Mel got into it too and put her fingers over Janiceís lips so she could take the next verse. "Some others Iíve seeeeeeen. . .might never be meannnnnn. . .might never be cross. Or try to be boss. . .but theyyyyy wouldnít doooooo. . ."

Both women smiled and finished together. "For nobody elsssse. . .gave me a thrilllll. . . With all your faults, I love you stillllll. . . It had to be you. . . . Wonderful you. . . It had to be youuuuu."

Mel and Janice stopped singing and began to laugh. They embraced soundly on the dance floor and Janice relished in feeling her body this connected to Melís.

"Can I buy you a drink sweetheart?" Janice asked sincerely, making sure to keep the friendly nature in the tone.

Mel looked deep into Janiceís eyes, almost as if she were searching for something.

"Why Miss Covington, thatís the best offer Iíve had all night!"

As Mel began to walk to the bar, Janice found her feet unable to move to catch up. The heated look in Melís eyes, the sultriness of the reply Ė it left Janice a little awestruck. ĎNever seen that beforeí Janice mused as her feet started in motion to follow the Carolina beauty. ĎMaybe she missed me more than I realizedí.

As Mel ordered wine for herself and whiskey on the rocks for Janice, she turned to the archeologist.

"You said you werenít going to be here until next week," Mel stated, holding Janiceís upper arm to show the joy she felt.

"Well, I wanted to surprise you," Janice nodded, taking a sip of her drink. "Ahhh,í she said after the alcohol floated down her throat. "A lady who knows what I like," she grinned.

Mel laughed. "Ya got the heart of Ďn angel darliní and the grin of the devil himself." She took a moment and looked Janice up and down from head to toe.

Janice felt awkward again at the appraising eye of Mel Pappas. "What?" she asked nervously.

"I almost didnít recognize you when you first walked up. You look so . . .so . . ."

"Feminine," Janice said sharply.

Mel picked up her glass. "You said it. I didnít," she answered in non-committal agreement as she took a drink.

Janice shrugged. "Well, your letter said semi-formal so I stopped into town after I got in last night."

Mel looked put out. "You were here last night? And ya didnít even come see me?"

"I told you Mel. I wanted to surprise you. . .Okay look, next time Iíll come right over and see you. Deal?"

Mel considered it. "Nah. I think I like the surprise more," she grinned.

Janice loved that grin. She said nothing; she simply basked in the glow of it.

Mel mumbled something but Janice didnít catch it. "Hmm?" she asked leaning a little closer.

Mel seemed a bit off-balance as she cleared her throat. "Rita Hayworth. . .You look like Rita Hayworth tonight," she stumbled.

"The pin-up girl?" Janice giggled.

Mel just nodded. She realized was staring at the shorter woman and with a slight jerk, she turned. She tried to grab her drink but missed. It began to tip and Janice made the save. Mel couldnít believe the electricity that coursed through her body as Janiceís fingertips touched the back of her hand.

"Hard to believe this is the same gracefully creature who took on Ares?" Janice joked at Melís clumsiness.

ĎWho are you kiddiní Pappas?í Mel told herself. ĎShe could never love a klutz like youí. Mel could feel her bottom lip start to quiver just a tad. She had to get outta there and fast. She knew she was going to explode into a shower of tears.

"Excuse me," she whispered to Janice as she darted to the ladies room.

Janice mentally kicked herself in the ass. She wanted to impress Mel. Make her happy. But instead she just ended up hurting her feelings with a joke Ė and not a very good one at that. Janice didnít quite understand why, but Melís new past-time was becoming a real problem in their six year partnership.

Lately, Mel would begin to weep at the simplest comments Janice made. Sometimes she tried to hide her tears, at other times, she would run away like this night. Janice downed her whiskey and headed for the ladies room.

"Mel," she asked softly as she stepped into the room. Two women were just leaving as Janice walked inside. "Mel?" she called again. "I know youíre in here, Mel."

Janice walked in front of each stall until she saw a pair of shoes Ė navy shoes. Slowly she pushed the door open. Mel was blowing her nose with some toilet paper and trying to brush off the incident.

"Whatís wrong?"

"Itís nothiní," Mel replied, trying to sound cheerful. "Silly. . .Letís get back to the party okay?"

Janice didnít give in as in times past. She took Mel by the shoulders.

"It canít be nothing or silly if youíre acting this way. . . Youíve been doing this for months now. You always took my jabs in good spirit but lately. . .Lately I donít know if what I say will make you laugh or make you cry. . .You know emotions arenít my strong suit Mel. So you gotta help me out here."

Mel was trying hard not to cry again. She couldnít speak for fear she would spill her tears.

"Is it me?" Janice asked, the depression of that reality sinking into her words. "Have I done anything to hurt you? ĎCause I know Iím not the easiest person to be around. I really respect you Mel and Ė

Mel shook her head and started to walk away to the sink and mirrors. ĎYou wouldnít respect me if I told you whyí, Mel considered silently. Janice watched as Mel splashed some cool water on her face. She waiting as Mel patted her face dry, trying to improve her tear stained appearance. When Mel didnít say anything, Janice moved behind her.

"Please," Janice begged. "Talk to me. No matter what it is weíll work through it like we always do."

Mel closed her eyes against the words. She could feel herself swallow hard. She knew she couldnít go on like this but as she opened her eyes she looked at her surroundings. ĎIím not going to tell Janice I love her in a joní Mel concluded.

"Please," Janice pushed once more.

"Okay," Mel agreed. "But not here. Could we call it night? Go back to my place?"

Janice smiled. "Sure. The sooner I get outta this monkey suit the better," Janice replied pulling on the dress she wore. "Come on."

The road to Melís house was relative silence Ė idle chit-chat to pass the time. Janice spoke of her latest dig yet Mel didnít pay much attention to the conversation until Janice asked, "What do you think?"

"About what?" Mel asked.

Janice giggled. "About Egypt. . .The last scroll said there could be more there and Iíd like you to come with me."

"Are you sure?" Mel asked.

"Yeah," Janice agreed optimistically. "I mean the war is over now. I think itís safe for you to come along this time."

Janice spent the last few years of their partnership traveling site to site all over the world Ė some hot spots; some scorching spots. Melinda always asked to go and the answer was always no. Janice didnít want to take the risk of Mel getting hurt or worse. So Mel sat and she waited. Janice would mail her a copy of the scrolls she found and Mel would translate them. When they finally met face to face, only then could they go into great detail on the scrolls together.

The proposition had Mel at the crossroads. It had been years since Janice let Mel come with her on a dig and her heart was flying. There was also this pesky problem of telling Janice what had her so uptight lately. If she confessed her love the trip to Africa, as well as the partnership, could be over. She did the only thing she could do. She agreed to go with Janice and as they drove she considered what lie to use. Well, maybe not a lie but a small mistruth.

Janice parked the car and unlocked the front door. "Iím going to get us a drink," Janice answered as she headed into the kitchen. "Why donít you start a fire?"

Mel did as requested and Janice returned with a wine bottle, whiskey bottle and two glasses. She settled back on the sofa as Mel finished arranging the wood. "Here," Janice said offering the glass and bottle. "Have a drink and start from the beginning."

Janice watched with a raised eyebrow as Mel downed the glass in five gulps and went back for some more. "Thirsty?" Janice teased.

Mel grinned and took a seat next to Janice. "Guess this is the part where I tell ya whatís wrong huh?"

Janice just nodded and let the belle proceed at her own pace.

"Iíve been thinkiní Ďbout my life lately. . .I have this Ďfearí that Iím never gonna find someone to love," Mel stopped herself. "No. Thatís not really it. Iím worried that no one is ever gonna to love me. . .Do you ever feel that way Janice?"

ĎMore than you realizeí Janice considered saying but she held it in. "Yes. Sometimes."

"I guess when I make a fool of myself, like tonight, when I spilled my drink, it makes me realize how unattractive I am; how stupid I am."

Janice frowned and straightened her position on the sofa. "You donít really believe that do you?" she asked sincerely.

Mel only nodded.

"You listen to me Miss Pappas," Janice began. "You are the most beautiful and smartest woman I know. You have the biggest heart of anyone Iíve ever met. And Iím sure whoever you find Ė and you will find someone Ė will not be worthy enough for you in my book."

Mel grinned and turned bashfully from Janiceís gaze.

"See?" Mel began. "I told ya it was silly but ya didnít believe me."

Janice was now the one at the crossroads. Mel was aching because she didnít think she would find someone who would love her. Little did the southern belle know, she already had an admirer that would lay her life down if need be to keep her safe.

"Mel," Janice answered, breaking the growing silence. "Iím sure that someday when you least expect it youíre going to find that special someone youíre looking for and then all this will seem silly. . .I know it isnít silly for you now because itís hurting you. I can see that. . .Just give it time and I think someday youíll be pleasantly surprised."

Mel finally gave Janice a full-toothed smile. "You always know the right things to say to cheer me up," Mel complimented.

"Yeah but Iím also the one who seems to bring you down too," Janice replied, looking sorrowful into her drink.

Mel put her hands over Janiceís hand, which forced the archeologists eyes up to meet her partners. "You never bring me down," Mel said, squeezing lightly to make her point. "Never."

The two spent a few moments smiling and admiring each other. They wondered what was going on in each othersí head, how lovely they each looked, how wonderful this connection felt. They never stopped to consider that the other woman was perhaps feeling the same thing.

"Itís late," Mel replied. "And I think all that drinking and dancing has made me sleepy. . .Iím heading up to bed. . .Your room should be all set Janice," she added as she stood up. "Are you going to call it a night too?"

Janice looked up for one last admiring gaze of the evening. "Iím not that tired yet. I think Iíll stay up awhile longer."

"Well if ya need anythang just let me know Ďk?" the southerner offered.

"Is this was what they call southern hospitality?" Janice teased.

"No. Itís called takiní care of a best friend. . .Good night Janice."

Janice grinned on last time. "Good night Mel."

 

Ancient Egypt 500 BC

"The queen awaits you," the royal guard nodded as an invitation to follow him.

Xena and Gabrielle rose from Gabrielleís bed and left her chamber. The palace was huge, bigger than anything they had seen in Greece. So big in fact that Xena and Gabrielle had separate chambers during their stay.

As the doors opened the banquet diners all rose. Queen Cleopatra herself stood in honor of the warrior and the bard. More the warrior than the bard Gabrielle thought to herself. She never minded playing second fiddle to Xena. She liked the role of sidekick. But this woman. This Queen. Her admiration of Xena ran much deeper than that of a simple rescuer and Gabrielle knew it. Although, during their two day there so far, Gabrielle said nothing to Xena.

But then again what could she say. She would sound like a jealous lover and it wouldnít be right. For one she had no right to feel jealous - Xena was a free, grown woman to do as she pleased. And second, they were not loverís, only partners, fighting for the Ďgreater goodí.

Only when they took their seats at the table did the banquet guest sit as well. Xenaís chair was conveniently located next to the queen. Celoís eyes did more devouring of Xena than her mouth did with the delicious food. Gabrielle picked at her plate, the queenís admiration of her warrior, making her nauseous. The bards lack of appetite didnít go unnoticed by the warrior.

"Feeling okay?" Xena asked politely.

"Yeah. Why?" the bard asked trying to sound cheerful.

"Itís not like you to play with your food," the warrior teased. "Talk to it? Yes. But never play."

"I just a little tired tonight," Gabrielle replied.

Xena felt Gabrielleís forehead. "Maybe youíre coming down with something," the warrior offered.

ĎYeahí, the bard thought. ĎBad case of unrequited loveí. "Really, Iím fine. I think Iím going to call it an early night," she said as she rose. Xena moved to stand as well. "Stay," the bard answered putting her hand on her companions shoulder. "Iíll see you in the morning."

Cleo heard the exchange. "If you need anything Gabrielle donít hesitate to ask someone. I keep my guest well cared for," she added, making sure to throw a seductive glance toward Xena.

"Thank you," Gabrielle replied before leaving. She didnít trust herself to add more than that. After she was well away from the party she grumbled to herself. "I keep my guest well cared for," the bard whispered in a high pitch, sarcastic tone. "I happen to be a queen too you conniving little Nile bitch."

Back at the hall, Cleo and Xena continued to talk. After a few heartbeats of silence Cleo placed her hand on Xenaís. "I have a proposition for you. . .I think you are brave, beautiful warrior who would do wonderful in my guard Ė as my personal guard, in fact. Please donít say anything now but consider this offer. I would feel quite well protected with you near and of course Gabrielle is welcome to stay. I know sheís your best friend and I would see that sheís cared for. Take a few days to think it over. . .And if I may be so bold, perhaps we could discuss this in the privacy of your chambers later tonight. . . I could give you more information. . . Let you know what I had in mind."

The last few sentences came out surpey, a sweet seduction. Xena wasnít a fool. She knew exactly what the Desert queen was up to. She considered the proposition. Not the guard assignment but the proposition of the Ďprivate meetingí. It had been awhile since she had taken a lover and a female lover at that. She tried to think back to the last woman she had had.

ĎThe barmaid in Cierteo six months ago,í the warrior reflected with a grin. ĎWarm honey hair, deep green eyes, well Ė tone muscles. She looked like perfection.í

In truth, she looked like Gabrielle but Xena chalked that up to coincidence. She just Ďhappened toí look like the bard and she wanted the warrior.

After Gabrielle had gone to sleep for the night the warrior was feeling restless and decided to check on Argo. At the stables a young woman approached the warrior. She asked Xena point blank if Gabrielle was her lover. Xena was taken back by the question and answered no before she even considered why she had been asked. The next thing the warrior recalled was the womanís reply.

"Good," she smiled. Seconds later the young lady was welding her lips to Xenaís, pushing the warrior against the wall with the sheer strength of her desire. Xenaís body responded before her mind could issue any argument. Before long fingers prodded, hips strained, mouths searched. Xena gave herself freely to the young lady, bringing the barmaid pleasure, taking all that she herself could take.

Both women knew neither would see each other again. Love wasnít a part of the love making. It was sex. Plan and simple. A primal need for release. And as Xena reached her release she closed her eyes and croaked out her name. The object of her affections. Her bard, Gabrielle.

Xenaís body still contracted as the barmaid laughed. "Just friends huh?" she asked. "Sounds to me you want much more than that."

Xena simple stared at the young woman as her realization of her want for Gabrielle came into focus for the first time. "Iím sorry," Xena blushed, for feeling she offended the young woman.

"Donít be," the barmaid said kissing her soundly and passionately. "You can call me anything you like blue eyes. Iíll be Gabrielle tonight," she whispered in the warriorís ear, sucking lightly on the lobe. "What do you want to do with me? What does your heart desire? Did you like my stories tonight?"

Xena knew what the young woman wanted. She wanted to role-play. Xena closed her eyes and thought back to the events earlier that evening. But for now the warrior was soaking up the young ladies voice that was now so close to her ear, teasing her, tempting her.

The bard brought in twenty dinars telling her stories at the inn and Xena remembered how she admired Gabrielleís body on the stage. The firm abs, the sculpted shoulders and arms. Xena told herself she was just admiring the work Gabrielle did to keep herself fit. She realized now as the bar maidís tongue played with her nipples, it was Gabrielle she admired and wanted. That body. That voice. How could she have been so blind to her desires for so long? As soon the questioned entered her mind so did the answer. It was safer to ignore her longings for Gabrielle than risk everything in a confession. As the barmaid spoke again, Xena realized she needed this role-playing to cool her fires for the bard, whom she felt had no wanton needs for her.

"I have stories," the barmaid cooed in the warriorís ear again. "Stories I could never tell a crowded room. Stories about what this feels like to have you, to take you. . .Oh Gods Xena. Say it. . . Say my name. . .Say it."

Xena closed her eyes and gave in. "Gabriellle," she whispered.

The barmaid groaned and forced her tongue through the warriorís lips. Xenaís passion was overflowing - her undergarments sopping wet, her nipples aching for contact. She had to have her. She had to have ĎGabrielleí.

Xena rolled the woman onto her back and plunge two fingers deep inside her. The young barmaid was so wet, so ready and Xena sucked forcefully on her nipples taking as much as she could fit into her mouth. This only made the woman wetter; her groans deeper, pushing Xena on further.

Xena kept her eyes closed as she continued to drive into Gabrielle while tasting her flesh. Gabrielle matched Xenaís rhythm striving for all the pleasure she could get. Xena could feel the erotic movements against her hand.

"Oh Gods yes Gabrielle," the warrior whispered. "Do you feel this? Do you realize itís me doing this to you?"

"Yes Xena," Gabrielle replied. "Do me. . . do me," she whispered huskily, fighting for breath.

Before long, the woman arched. Her legs shook and a soul-shattering cry filled the stable. Once her body subsided, only then did Xena open her eyes. The young lady looked like Gabrielle. But she wasnít Gabrielle and that left the warrior with a mix of conflict emotions Ė disappointment that it wasnít really the bard and relived because . . .it wasnít really the bard. Xena did want Gabrielle. She knew that now for a fact but the idea of losing her friendship over her passions outweighed her desire.

The barmaid sensed this conflict. "Come on warrior," she teased. "Weíve got to until sun up to sort this out, that is of course if you still want to play."

Xena grinned and nodded slowly.

Cleoís voice interrupted Xenaís thoughts. "Are you coming back sometime soon?" the queen asked. "You look like you just went miles and miles away."

Xena shook her head to get her focus. "Iím sorry," she said sincerely. "What were you saying?"

"I said is it alright if I come to your chamber tonight."

"Sure," Xena replied trying to sound neutral. "Itís your palace after all. You can go anywhere you like," she teased.

"Is that so?" Cleo asked raising a mischievous eyebrow. "Iíll have to remember that for . . .future reference."

Cleo motioned a guard. "See that a bath is drawn for me in the warriorís chambers after desert is served."

With a quick nod, he scurried away. Xena watched him leave and turned back to Cleo.

"I believe negotiations should always be a comfortable experience. Donít you?"

Xena simple grinned and took drink of her wine as she leaned closer to Celloís ear. "Always," she whispered.

 

Chapter 2

International London Airport, England - 1946

"Cheerio Dr. Covington; Miss Pappas!" the short man exclaimed as she and Mel approached. "Looks like you made it in early Iíd say."

"I always love his accent," Mel whispered to Janice as they walked. "He sounds so funny," she giggled.

Janice laughed openly. "Look whoís talking," she rebutted with a friendly grin.

Mel playfully swatted Janiceís arm as the two women were within a few feet of the English gentleman. "How the hell are you Rollows? Itís been awhile."

They shook hands then Mr. Rollows offered his regards to Mel too. The three walked as they talked. "I managed to get us a flight into Cairo tomorrow courtesy of an old friend of mine who flew during the war. He owes me a favor."

"Well thanks for spending your favor on us. I really appreciate it," Janice said sincerely.

Rollows stopped and faced Janice. "You took that bullet for me in Rome two years ago. Itís the least I could do," he replied seriously before breaking into a smile. "What do you say we grab a bit to eat? It is tea time."

As Rollows went to the concession stand, Mel and Janice took a seat at some nearby benches. "You never told me youíd been shot Janice."

The archeologist could hear the worry and disappointment in the belleís voice. "I didnít want you to worry," Janice replied, matter-of-factly. "See why I never let you come with me during the war?"

"You could have at least told me later."

"Maybe," Janice replied, looking away from Melís scrutinizing eyes.

"No," Mel said defiantly. "Not maybe. You should have told me." ĎI could have lost youí Mel thought silently.

"Look Mel," Janice began. "I got hurt. Thatís all. But Iím fine now. . .Thereís hardly even a scar."

"Where?" Mel asked.

"My right thigh okay?" Janice replied growing annoyed with the questions. "It wasnít bad. . .Of course it hurt like hell but Iím okay now."

"How did it happen?"

Janice sighed in frustration. Mel wasnít going to let this go. "Rollows and I went into town to get some supplies to take back to the site. A fire fight broke out and we got caught in the middle. I spotted a Nazi ready to take a shot at Rollows and I leapt up and pushed him out of the way Ė hence getting my leg shot. There wasnít a hospital too far. The bullet went through and I didnít lose much blood all in all. Is there anything else youíd like to know?. . .Oh wait - my nurses name was Roselyn. There. That should cover all your questions."

Mel didnít reply. She only watched Janice as she twiddled her thumbs impatiently. The archeologist caught the glare from Pappas and got defensive. "What?!"

Mel turned away and said, "Why does my caring for you scare you so much?" Mel didnít wait for an answer. She got up and walked over to help Rollows with the tea and crumpets.

Janice knew why. Her mother cared for her and she left. Her father cared for her and he died. ĎIf you care Mel,í Janice thought silently. ĎThen someday youíll go to. And that I could not bareí.

 

Guest quarters of, her Royal Highness, Queen Cleopatra Ė 500bc

Gabrielle laid on her bed looking at the mural, too tense to sleep, too unfocused to write. She heard Xena return to her chamber a half-candlemark before. She considered going there then but what would she say? What could she do?

She knew the Queen of the Nile had her sights set on the Warrior Princess, and it gnawed on her mind. Hercules; Ulysses. They had been different. They were men and if thatís what Xena wanted, it was something she couldnít offer. So she supported Xena in whatever decision she would make

But Cleopatra was a woman. Just like her. She did have what Cleopatra offered. She even had a throne of her own.

Gabrielle wiped her tears from her eyes for the hundredth time that night. She made her decision. This had to end this one way or another. She would give Xena her heart to do with as she pleased. She didnít believe that Xena would shun her if she didnít feel the same but she also understood things could never go back to what they were once her confessions were made. She knew, as well, that this pain she carried was a burden and getting too heavy to carry in silence. She made her decision. Yes. She would walk into that chamber and let the warrior princess know all.

Gabrielle quickly knocked twice and opened the door. She saw Cleopatra in the tub but her eyes found no trace of Xena. The two queens locked eyes and Gabrielle asked softly, "Whereís Xena?"

Almost as if on command, Xena appeared from under the water. "Ah ha!" she said triumphantly to Cleopatra. The queen didnít move her head but her eyes gestured toward the door. Xena looked over to see Gabrielle glaring at them.

"Gabrielle!" Xena said a bit shaken, trying her best to mask her surprise. "I thought you went to bed? Are you alright?"

"I just came to speak with you," she said apologetically. "I assumed you were alone. Guess I assumed wrong."

"Wait!" Xena replied, making the bard stop. "What did you want?" the warrior asked.

"Nothing," Gabrielle croaked. "Itíll keep until tomorrow."

Xena could feel Gabrielleís distress. "No it wonít," Xena challenged. "Itís late and if itís brought you here it must be pretty important."

Gabrielle cast a glare meant for only Cleo before looking back at Xena. "Iíve decided to go home to the amazon," Gabrielle uttered. "Iím leaving first thing in the morning."

Panic flooded Xena. "Wha.. . .What do you mean? For good?" she asked.

Gabrielle nodded. "Iíll see ya tomorrow."

This time Gabrielle didnít stop for Xenaís pleas to stay. Xena looked at Cleopatra for a moment. Then she handed the queen her lost earring she found at the bottom of the tub. Cleopatra accepted it then pulled Xena into a passionate kiss.

"Youíre the best lover Iíll never have," Cleo grinned before looking serious again. "She loves you Xena. Go to her."

ĎCould it be true?í Xena wondered silently. She didnít spend anymore time considering it. She exited the tub and donned her robe. She looked back at Cleo once she was at the door.

"Go on. Tell her before you really do lose her."

Xena nodded and made her long journey to the end of the hall.

Chapter 3

Cairo, Egypt Ė 1946

"Covington!" Rollows shouted. "Covington!"

The war had been over for about a year but her first thoughts was ĎNazi!í. Quickly it subsided and Janice knew that her name pronounced with so much excitement meant they found something.

Janice and Mel looked at each other and abandoned the vase they were working on. Both women broke into a run down the hill. They had been there for two months already but only found some Egyptian pottery. Not that it was a bad find. This could very well help finance their next dig. Janice had worked out a deal with the National Museum of History. They had agreed to pay her for each item she returned. So far they had a large assortment of items to impress them.

Janice eyes widened as she looked inside the trunk Rollows had been working on.

"Did you open this?" she asked.

"No," he said nervously. "When we tried to lift it, the bloody thing broke. Weíll be more careful next time Janice. I promise."

Janice wrapped her arm around Rollows neck and kissed him soundly on the cheek. Being the stand-offish Brit that he was, he found himself leaning away as best as he could from the small womanís vise grip. Janice ignored his reaction, too absorbed by the contents of the trunk.

"Oh my word," Mel said from behind Janice looking over her shoulder.

The trunk, about five foot by three foot, was about two feet deep with scrolls. Janice shook her hands and arms trying to free some of her excitement before reaching for them. Carefully she took them out one by one, laying them on a near by tarp.

"Take them to my tent," she instructed the staff. As the workers did as they were told Janice turned to Mel with her sly grin. "Looks like youíve got some late night reading material sweetheart."

Mel couldnít contain her excitement any longer and the two embraced. "Come on," Janice said pulling her partner by the arm. "We got work to do."

 

 

Ancient Egypt 500bc

"Gabrielle," Xena called from the other side of the door. "Can I come in?"

Gabrielle sniffed and wiped her eyes trying to get herself in check before she opened the door.

"Give me a minute," she replied, buying some time. Finally with herself more together she opened the door. "What did you need?" she asked. Her voice was cold and hollow.

"To speak with you about your recent decision." Xena replied as calmly. "May I come in?"

Gabrielle stood a moment looking at the warrior - the wet slicked back hair the blue robe that brought out her eyes. By the Gods she was a sight to see. . .and Gabrielle felt the ache all over again. She walked away from the door leaving it open as an invitation.

"I didnít mean to interrupt you early," Gabrielle said trying to sound neutral. "I knew that Cleopatra had a deep interest in you but I didnít know it was mutual. . .I wouldnít have just walked in on you and I apologize."

Xena could finally hear the pain in Gabrielleís voice, the longing. Gods why didnít she ever notice it until now. And why did it take an incident like this which she was sure broke the bards heart? She wondered if Gabrielle would believe her if she told her the true feelings of her heart at this moment so she paused, planning her words carefully. Words were important to the bard and she knew, now more than ever, these words would be etched in the amazons memory forever.

"Are you sure about going back to the amazons?" Xena asked softly.

Gabrielle nodded slowly. "I think itís for the best."

"Yes but is that what you want?" Xena asked, stressing the sentence with urgency.

"Itís for the best," Gabrielle repeated. "We both know the day would come when I would go home and take the throne."

Xena took a seat on the bed and played with the quilt as she began to speak. "Celopatra offered me a position here in her royal guard Ė as her personal royal guard in fact."

Gabrielleís mind went into panic but she quickly pulled a few words together. "Iím sure sheíll be quite well protected," the bard complimented the warrior, doing her best to keep the friendly, matter-of-fact tone.

Xena finally looked up with a grin. "I turned her down. . .She asked for a lot of things tonight," the warrior continued, "and I turned her down . . .on ALL of them."

Gabrielle didnít add anything she simply watched and waited for Xena to continue. And Xena wasnít going to dance around the subject any longer.

"Thereís only one queen I want to spend my life protecting Gabrielle," she whispered. "Only one queen that I want to be champion for Ė one queen that I have championed. Any ideas on who that might be?" the warrior teased.

The indecision was written so strongly on the bards face - the nervous licking of her lips, the darting movements of her eyes. Xena rose from the bed. She looked deep into Gabrielleís eyes and whispered four words.

"Do you love me?"

Gabrielle studied Xena for a few moments. She knew exactly what the warrior was asking.

She could feel herself starting to sob and all she could do was nod.

She turned away and went to the window. Xenaís heart leapt in her throat. Slowly she walked up behind Gabrielle. The bard felt her approach but did nothing to stop it. A single tear ran down her right cheek but she refused to wipe it away. At this point the warrior couldnít see her face. Gabrielle didnít want Xena to know she was crying so instead of wiping it away she let it fall, landing on her bosom.

Gabrielle felt Xenaís arms encompass her upper body, the warrior resting her cheek on the back of the bards head, deeply inhaling the smell of her hair. "Oh Gods," Xena whispered, "I love you too. . .Not just as a best friend or family. But as a woman with needs and desires that only a lover can share."

The warriors voice fell silent and Gabrielle could feel the warrior womanís powerful arms beginning to shake. Gabrielle realized Xena was crying now too. Gabrielle turned to face Xena but remained locked in her arms.

"Please," Xena choked. "Please stay with me. If you really do want to go back to the amazons then take me with you Gabrielle. Iíd live the rest of my life there, or anywhere, as long as it was with you."

Gabrielle began to cry openly too. But this time the sorrow had lifted completely and a smile washed over her ruby lips. "By the Gods Xena," Gabrielle whispered, taking the warriors face in her hands. She brought the warrior down to her lips, stopping just shy of contact. "I love you too," she whispered.

Xena finished the journey.

The first kisses were slow and delicate. Senses of taste and touch taking precedence over anything else. But soon the taste and touch of the lips werenít enough. The connections became more passionate and roaming. In a matter of minutes Xenaís robe laid in a crumpled pile on the floor after the warrior helped her bard with her green tunic. Once the skirt joined the other garments, Xena picked Gabrielle up in her arms and began to carry her to the bed.

The bard stroked the long, wet, black locks and nibbled on the ear conveniently located by her lips. Xena was unsure if her legs would be steady enough to reach her destination. The feel of those lips and that tongue was unlike anything sheíd ever felt in her life. Battlelust was nothing compared to this. This was utopia.

Gabrielle moved back once she rested on the bed, she reached out her hands which the warrior willingly took. "For so long," the bard whispered, examining Xenaís naked body for the first time with lovers eyes. "Iíve wanted you for so long."

"Iím all yours," the warrior answered. "My soul.. .My heart. . .My body. . .Always remember that Gabrielle. . .Always."

Their lips locked once more and they made their descent to the mattress, together, in unison, as one.

 

Chapter 4

Mel and Janiceís Tent in Egypt Ė 1946

"Youíre still up?" Janice asked, as she entered the tent. Mel turned to find her partner dressed in a wet towel. She watched as Janice rushed over to her side of the tent pulling an undershirt and a pair of boxers from her travel bag. She was naked for only a matter of seconds but long enough for Mel to see the archeologist firm nipples and curly red hair that matched the color of the hair on her head.

Mel realized she shouldnít let the silence linger any longer. "I got caught up readiní," Mel said pulling her glasses off to rub her eyes.

Once dressed Janice walked over and placed a concerned hand on Melís shoulder. "Itís late. You should get some rest."

"I suppose yer right," Mel said, standing up and stretching. She carefully collected the scrolls and put them in the safe. When she turned she saw Janice picking up what the archeologist assumed were her notes. Mel looked at the journal cover. In a panic, she rushed back over. "Iím not done with them yet!" Mel exclaimed ripping the notebook from Janiceís hand.

Janice, who was not a nervous person by nature yet always alert, jumped at the urgency of Melís voice. They had often covered the scrolls together, even though they werenít completed, so Melís reaction startled her.

"So what?" Janice teased, taking the notebook back from Mel and jumping over a cot.

Janice began to open the notebook. "No!" Mel shouted. "Thatís mine!"

"Yours," Janice said raising an interested eyebrow. "I thought these were our scrolls. Are going to claim ownership again?" As Janice started to thumb through the pages, Mel leapt. She swiped the notebook from Janice yet she wasnít graceful enough to steady herself and fell to the floor. Janice took the opportunity and snagged the book back. She quickly darted away from Mel who was still sprawled out.

Janice cleared her throat as if to read and opened a page as Mel darted to her feet. "Letís see what we have here shall we?" Janice teased.

"Thatís my diary!" Mel finally confessed as Janice began to read. "It has nothing to do with the scrolls. Please give it back!"

Janice could hear the desperation in Melís voice but the words on the page made her refused to look up. As Janiceís jaw dropped lower and lower, Mel realized the archeologist found something she never expected the honey-haired woman to see. Janice finished but she still couldnít look up. So she began to read the page aloud.

"September 13, 1946. Janice arrived this evening. Sheís in the next room in fact. I wish it was my bed she slept in tonight but I realize Iím just kidding myself. I should move on Ė find a nice, stable fella with a nice, stable job and raise nice, stable kids. Thatís what women do right? If so, why are my dreams filled with an emerald eyed, copper-haired goddess? Why do I wonder what her lips feel like? Why do I look at those callused hands and wonder what they would feel like running over my body? I almost told her tonight. Almost. But I realize if I did, Iíd lose my best friend. My friendship is worth more than my desires so Iíll admire her in silence. Iíll keep Janice in my dreams as my lover and in my waking life as a best friend. Itís difficult though. Especially on nights like tonight. She wore a gold dress that brought the blond out in her hair, making those emerald eyes shine even brighter than usual. She whisked me away from Randell on the dance floor tonight and I thought, just for a moment, that maybe. . .Maybe she loved me too. But I know Iím just kidding myself. . ."

Slowly as she closed the book she lifted her gaze to Mel. Neither woman said a word at first.

"I donít believe it," Janice whispered, more to herself than Mel.

Mel began to cry. Her shoulders rising and falling rapidly.

"Iím sorry Janice," she wept. "Iím sorry I didnít tell ya the truth. I . . .I was gonna but then ya asked me to come here. And I knew if I told ya that night yaíd leave and Iíd never see ya again. . .Iíll leave first thing in the morniní. . .Iím sorry Janice. I know what yer thinkiní right now and I donít blame ya. Iíve never quite understood it myself. Itís unnatural - I know. . .but it feels right to me," Mel felt like she was rambling and yet she considered starting her explanations over. The silence was growing too large. She opened her mouth again but closed it when Janice spoke.

"You love me? I mean, youíre IN love with me?" The shock was still evident in the archeologistís voice.

Mel only nodded, adverting her eyes from Janice. She closed her eyes and kept her head low, even as she felt Janice closing the distance between them.

Janice was in front of her now. Mel could tell by the smell the recently shampoo hair. Her body tensed, waiting for the smack across the face she was sure would come. But it didnít. Instead, she felt Janice wiping away the tears with the back of her fingers.

"Why me?" Janice whispered. "How could someone like me capture the heart of someone as beautiful and lovely as you?"

Melís eyes widened at the words. "You mean-

"Sweetheart," Janice grinned. "Iíve had it bad for you for a really long time now. Iíll admit at first it was physical but as the years went by Iíve realized itís not just the dazzling blue eyes or legs that go on forever that really hooked me.

Itís the way you walk. The way you can take my best shot and send it right back at me. Itís your courage to stand up to every stuffy suit at that university and defend my honor. . .Oh yeah, Eph told me about the last department meeting when they wanted to dismiss me instead of give me this research time off . . . I canít believe a woman like that would ever love me. But here it is in black and white," she added waving the journal.

Finally Mel grinned too and released a nervous giggle. "Well, what do we do now?" she asked quietly.

"Well first," Janice replied, tossing the journal on a near-by table. "First Iím going to kiss you like youíve never been kissed before."

Mel put her hands on Janiceís shoulders to stop her approach. "Iíve had other lovers," Mel confessed. She didnít want Janice thinking she was a novice to all this.

Janice stroked Melís face. "I didnít say you hadnít," Janice teased with that devilish grin fully in place. "I said ĎIím going to kiss you like youíve never been kissed beforeí."

"Awfully cocky arenít we?" Mel replied, with a grin.

Janice took Melís face in her hands and pulled close, barely touching her lips. "Tell me later if you still think Iím cocky."

Janice didnít wait for Melís next argument. Her lips were feathery soft, lightly nipping at Melís mouth; teasing the top and then the bottom lip. When she finally made full contact, Mel felt her knees, literally, buckle.

As the kiss continued, it began to deepen. Janiceís tongue teased Melís lips, lightly circling the tender flesh. Mel wanted to wrap her entire body around Janice. Suddenly her clothes felt burdensome and her whole body ached with desire. When Janice finally decided she would tease Mel no longer, her tongue found Melís instantly and the dark-haired translator, moaned long and deep. Mel felt dizzy and warm. And she realized yes, Janice did keep her promise.

As they broke away, Janice rested her forehead on Melís. "Told ya," Janice breathed in a final tease.

"Ya certainly did," Mel complimented, trying to catch her breath. "Tell me some more," she whispered.

 

Gabrielleís chamber, Ancient Egypt Ė around 500bc

After their first night of love making, Gabrielle awoke tightly wrapped in Xenaís sleeping arms; their naked bodies intertwined. So many nights she watched the warrior sleep, longing to feel this connection. She often played with the warriorís hair as Xena slept, feeling the softness between her fingertips, hoping she wouldnít get caught. This morning she did the ritual once more without worry Ė only contentment.

Xena stirred slightly and tightened her grip on the bard. She mumbled something intelligible but it made the bard grin just the same. Xena, herself looked content too with a small grin on her slumbering lips.

Gabrielle brought her warrior to consciousness with soft kisses to the neck and shoulders. Kisses that turned into caresses; caresses that turned into squeezes and so on. Soon they were making love again, stroking each other to the heights of passion.

Gabrielle fell back asleep soon after peaking and the warrior let her rest Ė satisfied in the fulfillment of her body and her mind. The ĎGabrielleí she made love to months before didnít hold a candle on the real one. The fiery look in the red-heads eyes as they touched each other and the look of utter joy as she watched the warrior climax was unlike anything Xena had ever seen in all her days.

She laid next to her bard stroking her porcelain cheeks, still in amazement that someone so righteous, so pure could ever love a battered soul like hers. But she knew as well as she breathed that this woman did love her. Not because she felt protected, not because her needs were met. Simply because it was Gabrielle; her nature of finding the good in everyone. ĎEven someone like me,í Xena thought as she grinned.

Gabrielle awoke to the gentle caresses and an apology from Xena, for waking her up. Gabrielle Ďkissedí her reply and climbed out of bed. Xena watched with admiring eyes as the bard dressed in her amazon attire.

"We should get going before long," Xena commented, rising as well.

"Where are we going?" Gabrielle asked, handing Xena her robe.

"Arborea," Xena replied. "I thought you wanted to go to the amazons."

Gabrielle grinned "I only said that because I didnít want to get in the way around here."

"Well, letís get outta here anyway. With all these people waiting on me, I might get used to it. Then youíll have a lot more work to do on the road," Xena teased.

"We wouldnít want that now would we?" Gabrielle answered, hooking her hands around the back of Xenaís neck as she stood on her tip toes. "I wouldnít have as much time for . . .more important things," she whispered suggestively.

Desire swept through both of their bodies just thinking of Ďmore important thingsí. The kisses that started casual were becoming deep and heated. Both women stopped and took a step back.

"Okay," Xena said putting her hands up. "Gotta calm things down or weíre never gonna get outta here," she grinned.

Gabrielle didnít reply. She simply looked at Xena. Thatís all. She just looked at her. Of course her breathing was still ragged, her skin still deep pink from arousal and her eyelids still heavy with unspent passion. Xena studied the look for a few more seconds.

"Oh Tartarus," she sighed, sweeping the giggling bard into her arms, taking her back to bed.

By the time they did leave to board the ship, the sun was quite high.

Chapter 5

Janice and Melís tent, outside of Cairo, Egypt Ė 1946

 

Mel was basking in the feel of Janiceís second round of kisses when she felt a gentle tap on her shoulder. "Mel?" she heard Janice say. "Mel?"

Melís eyes shot open and she realized she fell asleep on the desk. Janice was dressed in the same garments as her dream Ė undershirt and boxers Ė but she knew the archeologist would have no Ďrecollectioní of their budding romance. It was simply another illusion in Melsí overactive mind.

"That cot is much better for sleeping than that desk," Janice joked. "Of course, not by much," she added with a grin.

Mel turned to look at the cot Janice pointed to but she felt a sharp pain up her neck. "Ahhhh," she reacted as she clutched at the muscle.

Janice moved quickly behind Mel and began to work at the sore muscles. Mel tensed up even more when she felt Janiceís finger prodding into her, making skin on skin contact. Mel had to mentally tell herself to breathe and she relaxed her shoulders. Janice felt Mel let go and start to move her head back and forth slowly, almost seductively.

"Great God oí Mighty this woman will be the death of meí, Janiceís mind screamed as she watched the erotic movements.

Of course, in and of themselves, the moments were quite normal. However, as Janice watched Melís head sway to and fro, she imagined what Mel looked like as she climaxed. The simple gestures took on a whole new meaning.

Janice felt herself, leaning forward, feeling magnetized to Melís neck. She let go and pulled back sharply before she did anything she was sure they would both regret. Mel felt Janiceís abrupt departure and opened her eyes.

"Hope it feels better now," Janice grumbled as she walked away. "Just stop sleeping on desks and youíll be just fine."

Mel was about half-way done with the third scroll and she was surprised that Janice didnít ask about it. She usually wanted to know what she had discovered but for some reason Janice seemed distracted; off-centered. She watched as the archeologist, smoked her last cigar of the day and thumbed through an old Life magazine. She heard Janice giggle.

"What?" Mel asked, with a chuckle.

"This," Janice said, holding her cigar with her teeth, showing her the book. "Is this a great shot or what?"

Mel recognized the picture and smiled. A sailor in dark uniform, kissing a girl in white. Her body bent back; his hand firmly on her hip. Two people in Time Square, celebrating the end of the war. Janice turned the magazine back and looked at the picture again.

"He made it home," Janice grinned. Mel watched as the joyous expression scurried from her face. "A lot a boys didnít," she whispered.

Mel knew this is what she loved most about Janice. Under that tough, gruff exterior there was a compassionate, caring human being who, as Rollows could attest to, would lay their life down without question for another human being. Janice didnít talk much about her trips overseas during the war and Mel didnít ask. But she knew. She knew Janice saw things that most women never saw. She did things that most women never did. And although she knew Janice wouldnít trade a single day of it, she knew it haunted the strawberry blonde woman, aging her more than her actual years.

Mel rose and shyly disrobed, putting on a nightshirt. She thought Janice was still buried in the magazine. Little did she know the strawberry blonde watched the skirt fall, taking in the site of those long legs. Janice knew her preoccupation with Mel had to come to an end. She had to find someone soon who would take these longings away from her, if only for a night. She sighed in frustration and Mel picked up on it.

"Feeliní okay?" Mel asked as she took a seat on her cot, across from her partner.

"Just tired," Janice replied as she put the book down and snuggled into her blankets.

Mel turned down the oil lamp, dim enough to sleep but bright enough to see in the darkness of the massive tent. Mel began to climb under her covers as well when she heard Janiceís voice.

"How far did you get on the scrolls tonight?" Janice inquired.

"Iíve gotten through the first two. Turns out theyíre numbered," she remarked.

"Really!" Janice replied, her exhaustion taking a back seat for the moment. "What do you have so far?"

Mel knew exactly what she had, but she didnít feel comfortable disclosing anything this late. "I wanna to go over them again tomorrow before I say anything. I wanna make sure Iím reading things correctly."

"Could you at least give me a hint?" Janice prodded.

Mel smiled. Janice was like a kid at Christmas every time they found a new scroll and with this trunk she really hit the motherload.

"Tomorrow." Mel said firmly. "Letís get some rest Ďk?"

"Okay," Janice agreed reluctantly. "But you promise that after breakfast weíll go over them together, deal?"

Mel grinned at Janice. "Deal," she answered, reaching her hand out. The two partners shook hands and both women enjoyed the short contact of skin against skin immensely. "Good night Janice."

"Goodnight Mel."

 

 

Arborea Ė around 500bc

"Well, itís about time!" Ephany exclaimed quietly in the amazon royal chambers. It was nothing like Cleopatraís royal chambers had but it felt more like home to Gabrielle.

"Shhh!" Gabrielle replied putting her finger over her mouth.

"I am being quiet!" Ephany whispered. "At least as quiet as I possibly can. . .This is wonderful news! Iím so happy for you Gabrielle. Youíve wanted this for a long time I know."

Gabrielle smiled at the regent. "I know. I canít believe it myself sometimes. . . but . . . itís the greatest feeling in the world."

"Sheís pretty good, huh?" Ephany teased the bard about her lovers prowess.

"Ohhhh Ephany," Gabrielle whispered, shaking her head side to side. "You have nooo idea."

They both began to giggle uncontrollably like young girls before a small knock at the door cut them short. "Come in," Gabrielle ordered.

Xena walked inside and both amazons began to laugh again. The warrior examined herself from her bangs to her boots.

"Why does the sight of me invoke such laughter?" she grinned.

"Itís not you," Gabrielle replied, pulling the taller woman down for a quick peck on the lips. "Really. Itís us. . .well, actually more Ephany than me."

"Hey!" the regent defended. "I have Ďnooo ideaí what youíre talking about Gabrielle."

Gabrielle started to laugh again. "Inside joke?" Xena offered. The two amazon started to giggle once more. Xena through her hands up. "I donít wanna know." Gabrielle gained enough composure to ask what Xena needed. "Oh, yeah. Solari wanted me to go to the practice field and work with some young amazons. I wanted to know if that was okay?"

Ephany couldnít hold it. Her laughter bursts so loud the guards outside could hear her. Gabrielle and Xena both looked at her. She quieted herself down and walked closer to the couple.

"Look at this! The Warrior Princess, feared by the bravest of men, asking permission from the amazon bard to go play with her friends. Iíd never believed it if I hadnít seen it."

"Alright Ephany," the warrior remarked through the regentsí growing giggles. "For the record, I asked because I didnít know if Gabrielle had any plans for me this afternoon."

"Oh, I have lots of plans warrior princess," Gabrielle said seductively interrupting the two, "but they can wait until tonight. . .Go play dear," she added with a pat to her loverís head.

Xena leaned down to Ephanyís ear. "Say what you will Ephí but whoís sleep in the royal chamber tonight with that beautiful creature. If I didnít know any better, someone could say you were just jealous." Xena leaned back with a wide condescending smile on her face. "Iíll see ya later," Xena replied sweeping the bard closer by the waistline. The kiss was passionate; siring. So much so it made the regent blush with embarrassment . . . and arousal.

"Tonight," Gabrielle whispered.

Xena shot one more smirking look at Ephany before leaving. ĎYeahí Ephany decided with her grin back in place. ĎIím jealous. . . but of who, Iím not sureí.

Chapter 6

The conference/communications tent in Egypt Ė 1946

"Ah, hereís Miss Pappas now," Janice said as she waved her into the room full of associates. Rollows , LeMonde (from the French Institute), and Jackson (from the Smithsonian) along with a few Ďskilledí diggers sat in the room.

Mel was going to address the room regarding the recent finds but she had yet to talk to Janice about them. She looked nervous and Janice could see her anxiety.

"Jan-Dr. Covington? Do yíall mind if we talk about these scrolls. . .in private?" the translator asked timidly.

"Sure Mel," Janice nodded. When no one began to move Janice addressed the room calmly. "You heard the lady," she said slowly. In an instant, her face turned harsh. "Move! Everybody Out! Now!"

Suddenly bodies were in motion, chairs squeaking, papers shuffling. Almost instantly the tent was cleared with only Janice and Mel remaining. Slowly the archeologist walked over and put her hands on Melís shoulders.

"Whatís wrong Mel? Did you find something wrong with the scrolls?" Janice asked concerned. "Are they fake?"

"Oh know, as far as I can see theyíre real. Itís not the quality that Iím worried about itís the . . .the content."

Janice quirked her head. "What on Gods green earth are you talking about?"

Nervously, Mel took a seat and motioned for Janice to do the same. When the archeologist sat down, Mel cleared her throat.

"Where should I start. . .Letís see. . .I read two scrolls last night. I read them again this morning and Iím now convinced that I did get it right the first time."

"Get what right?" Janice asked impatiently.

"I thought maybe I was readiní things wrong. Forgettiní a word or an expression but . . .how do I say this. . .Xena and Gabrielle were lovers."

Mel let the sentence hang. And hang it did for a long time until Janice spoke. "Are you sure?"

"Iím almost positive. . .Turns out Marcus wasnít the love of Xenaís life. . .Thatís why Iíve been re-reading them over and over. I thought maybe Iíve made a mistake but I . . .I donít think I have. As a matter of fact the other scrolls that I managed to start, three and four that is, get even more. . .graphic."

Janice studied Melís expression but began to grin. "You mean Iím the descendant of a lesbian, erotica writer?"

Mel laughed out loud. "It would appear so, yes," she said formally.

"Well, Iíll be goddamned," Janice whispered, looking at Melís notebook. The translator could tell her partner was deep in thought.

"Thatís why I wanted to talk with ya first. I donít think we should disclose these," Mel offered.

"Mel it was ancient Greece. Things were different then," Janice argued.

"Youíre telliní me," Mel replied in reaction. She wished she could take the words back. Janice was now examining her with suspicious eyes. "I mean look what happened in Germany Janice," she answered. "Jews werenít the only ones to die in those camps. . .And you donít hear much outcry for the homosexuals who were murdered there, now do ya?!"

Janice knew Mel spoke the truth. She had almost worn a pink triangle herself. In a moment of reckless abandon with a serving girl in Paris, a pair of SS officers came across them in an alley. If not for the courage of that young lady, Janice would have been on the next boxcar out of town. The archeologist could tell this was a hot issue with the raven-haired beauty. There was a fire that flashed through her eyes as she spoke of the injustices. Melís devotion to civil and human rights was just one more aspect Janice grew to love.

"No," Janice answered quietly. "You donít here about that. . .Maybe youíre right. Maybe we should hold off."

Mel grinned. She was happy that Janice agreed with her and took her advice. But one problem still remained. "What are we goiní to tell them?" Mel asked. "Theyíre gonna ask about the content."

Janice reflected for a moment. "Youíre pretty creative Mel. Make something up to please them. Then weíll hide the scrolls and say they were stolen last night. Thatís why you wanted to talk to me alone. Iíll put on a big, maniac rage for the boys. . .Then a few years down the road, when things have cooled down, weíll Ďfind themí at another site."

Mel smiled. Janice was smart. It was admirable trait that made up for the archeologist hot temper. She could think on her feet with originality, that Mel had never witnessed in all her years. Mel was going to speak but Janice interrupted her.

"Iíll do this but on one condition."

"Whatís that?" Mel asked.

Janice took a step closer. As she took a deep breath she could smell the translators intoxicating perfume. Even in this god-forsaken heat, Mel's scent was alluring. The archeologist gripped Melís arms as she spoke.

"Promise youíll read them to me tonight. No editing. Word for word the way you see it. . . Deal?" she whispered.

Mel looked deep into Janiceís eyes, unblinking. "Deal," she whispered.

 

Arborea Ė around 500bc

"Oh Gods. . .yes Xena," the bard moaned. Her hand was fused to the back of the warriors head; the warriors face resting on one of the wide spread thighs. Her body shook, almost violently. Slowly, Gabrielleís breathing began to relax into an easy, soft rhythm. Only then did the warrior make her way back up the body of her beautiful, young lover with tender kisses filled with lovers trust and devotion.

"Hi there," Xena said casually as she supported herself over Gabrielle, coming face to face with her. "Back from your little trip," the warrior teased.

The bard always seemed like she was worlds away as she climaxed. Xena didnít mind. In fact, it was one of the many things the warrior enjoyed about their love making. Gabrielle could be so focused and attentive but once her release took hold of her she was gone Ė floating miles away. Xena liked the fact she could send Gabrielle to these heights. She also like the fact Gabrielle had this power over her as well. The look in the bards eye now told her that her time for sailing would soon be upon her.

"Let me show you where Iíve been," Gabrielle whispered huskily in her ear. With that the warrior was on her back.

It still amazed her how strong Gabrielle really had become. Not too many people could say they could flip the warrior princess but the little bard could. It was almost as if her passion tripled her physical strength. This time was no different as Gabrielle now leaned over HER; that strawberry-blonde hair, damp with passion, trickling down one side, teasing both of their breasts. Xena moved to kiss the bard but she pulled away with a grin.

"Ask nice," Gabrielle cooed. In that moment, the bards fingers found the warriorís clit, making both women groan at the contact.

"Please," Xena asked, her hips beginning a rhythm with the bardís hand.

"Please what?" Gabrielle asked innocently, knowing full aware what the warrior wanted.

"Kiss me," she asked, breathlessly.

Gabrielle applied more pressure and quickened her pace. She wanted to feel those lips of the warriors on hers but she held herself in check.

"Beg," Gabrielle teased. "I wanna hear you beg."

Gabrielle loved the little power game. Xena had to admit Ė she loved it too. She was never able to submit to anyone. Her honor, her pride, her control needs - they always came first before anything or anyone else. Being able to relent Ė to hand Gabrielle the reins, and knowing she would be safe Ė was the greatest feeling she ever knew. Power wasnít the greatest victory in the world. It was giving. And by giving into Gabrielleís request she knew she could feel true victory.

"Iím begging," Xena whispered. "Please kiss me."

"Thatís not good enough," Gabrielle continued to tease.

Xena grinned. "What do you want me to do?" Xena said between pants. "Get on my knees?"

Xena recognized that sly smile and soon felt herself being lead up by Gabrielle. They both kneeled face to face and Gabrielle continued her movements with her hand. But she still refused the warrior her request. Xena grind her hips faster; harder. Gabrielle could tell she was very close so she took her hand away. Xena whimpered a protest and gripped the bards wrist.

Gabrielle said not a word but her disapproval, of Xena confining her wrist, showed on her face. Xena released and steadied her breathing.

"Letís try this again Xena," the bard offered. Her voice was so domineering; regal. "What do you want?" she asked slowly.

"You," Xena replied. "I want you to kiss me. . .like itís the first time; like itís the last time Ė all the power; all the passion you can muster. . . I need you to touch me. . .feeling every hill and every valley of my burning flesh . . . Iím begging you. . .Please."

That did it. Gabrielle gave Xena all that she asked for. Their lips locked, fiery and hard as Gabrielleís hand shot back to Xenaís center.

"Guide me," Gabrielle whispered, looking down at her hand which was now pumping in and out of the warrior. "I love it when you guide me."

Xena reclaimed Gabrielle lips in a moan as her hand took the bardsí wrist once more.

Gabrielle, for her part, loved it. Watching Xena use their bodies together, as one, excited her to no end. She had caught Xena once Ė masturbating in the woods not far from camp. The sight still played in her mind. Xena, her head thrown back as her fingers moved fast and high under her skirt, was a vision of true erotica.

She had never spoken of the incident, despite the fact they were now intimate. It wasnít embarrassment that brought on this decision. It was privacy. It was a private moment Ė for the bard, not the warrior Ė and it didnít need to be disclosed. She wanted memories of Xena that were unknown to the warrior. And later that sultry evening, as the warrior slept, she herself brought herself to release.

Xenaís strong, callused hands now wrapped around the young amazons small wrist, holding tighter. She drove those petite fingers deeper and deeper, delving into the sensations of the bards digits working their magic. She remembered seeing those digits moving on the bard herself. The amazon assumed Xena was deep asleep but the warrior with her acute hearing noticed the bards breathing one night as they shared a bedroll. She remembered the smell of Gabrielleís growing arousal. When she was sure the bard was caught up in the sensations of her own body she opened one eye and watched.

Gabrielleís body swayed Ė the bardsí fingers teased both her clit and her breast at the same time. Xena opened both eyes to study the bard as the storyteller brought her breast up to let her tongue play with the harden nipple. Xena could feel her own saliva increase at the sight, along with another wetness. It took all the strength the warrior ever had to not reach out and touch the shaking bard. Xena had never told Gabrielle of that night. And she probably never would. ĎSecrets arenít always a bad thing to keepí the warrior mused with a grin. She loved the idea of seeing Gabrielle so raw, so openly sexual. . .so unsuspecting. ĎNoí the warrior had decided. That was something she would keep with her forever Ė with her and her alone.

The memory of the bard and the present feel of the bards fingers pushed the warrior closer and closer to the edge. Gabrielle could tell Xena was close Ė the warriorís bangs were wet. Gabrielle couldnít hold back the grin. She knew when the warriorís temperature increased enough to make her hair damp, she would slip over. Gabrielle leaned into Xenaís ear.

"You asked please," Gabrielle muttered, her voice filled with passion. "Are you pleased?" she asked in a knowing coo.

Xena nodded quickly and lead Gabrielleís hand quicker. "Yes," the warrior answered fighting for air.

"Good," Gabrielle said smugly. She knew she had the warrior right where she wanted her Ė approaching the pinnacle fast. "Now come for me," she whispered softly, sincerely, lovingly. "Iím begging you now. . .come for me Xena. . . come for me."

Gabrielleís voice gave Xena the last push she needed. And the warrior found herself gripping the bards shoulders.

"Yessss. . . for youuuu. . .yessss," Xenaís compilation of a moan, a cry and breath poured out of her throat like the honey that poured from her center.

Gabrielle wrapped her arm around the warriorís waist and stopped her movements so she could feel the warrior contractions around her fingers as the warrior shook.

Slowly Xena returned from HER trip to find herself, lying on her back and the bard nestled snuggly in her arms. She had not the faintest clue of how she went from kneeling to being here.

Being someone who always kept her physical guard up, these little excursions were unlike anything she ever knew. With Marcus and with Hercules, she experienced the heights of passion too but the loss of self, the giving of her state of being . . .now this was something new. She kept telling herself that this should scare her but as she looked down at the admiring green eyes she knew things were right. And for the first time in her life she had nothing to fear. Nothing except losing this precious bard, amazon, best friend and now lover. Reflexively, Xena tightened her hold.

"Never," the warrior whispered.

"Never what?" the bard asked, resting her head on Xenaís shoulder; playing with the long black hair wrapped around her fingers.

"Iím never going to let you go," Xena whispered, kissing the top of the bards head. "Never."

Gabrielle burrowed deeper into the strong shoulder as a response. As she drifted off the sleep a thought occurred to her. ĎThis is going to make a great storyí.

 

Chapter 7

Mel and Janiceís Tent, Egypt Ė 1946

"Well," Janice said growing irritated. "Iím waiting."

Mel scooted her glasses up higher on her nose and cleared her throat. "Ready?" she asked.

They each sat on their respective cots facing each other, dressed in their night clothes Ė Mel in her long night shirt and Janice in her undershirt and boxers.

"Yeah Iíve been ready for the last half-hour. Get on with it," Janice demanded.

Mel smiled. After six years she could tell when the archeologist was joking about her temper or dead-serious. It took a while - almost two years - but Mel had learned. As long as Janiceís lips were slightly curved and the mischievous twinkle was still in her eye, she was kidding. Janice still had that twinkle but the grin was starting to slip and Mel knew she could postpone things no longer.

She had to do this. She had to tell the woman she loved more than life itself a tale of undying, smoldering love between two other women Ė their own ancestors in fact. Mel didnít believe in the fates Ė she believed people made their own destiny. ĎBut if they do exist, they certainly got it in for me tonightí the translator thought silently.

"Okay," Mel finally said; her voice filled with nervousness. "Here it goes-

"Look Mel," Janice offered. "If this is too uncomfortable for you to read out loud, let me see your notes. I know youíre kinda native and I donít want to put you on the spot."

Suddenly Mel felt offended and determined. ĎNative huh?í Mel thought sarcastically as she studied the archeologist.

"Listen here ya damn YANKEE," Mel insisted, pointing her finger for emphasis. "I am NOT native! JUST Ďcause I happen ta look for the light Ďn things instead of the darkness and JUST Ďcause I accept people up-front for who they are without judgement, that does not make me native. I understand that I have not traveled the world like you - Dr. Covington - but one does not have to see the world to be a part of it. So if ya donít mind, sit down; shut yer mouth and ya just might learn something!"

Janice had never seen Mel make such a stand against her. Janice could feel her jaw hanging and she cleared her throat. "Iím sorry I-

"Shhh," Mel said dropping the notepad to her lap. "WHAT did I say?! BE QUIET!"

Janice put both hands in her lap and only nodded. She didnít even what to breath because that might constitute a sound.

Mel pushed her glasses back up. "Okay," she began feeling more at ease. "I have two scrolls. One that was written by Gabrielle and one that was written by Xena, I believe Ė actually Iím almost positive itís Xena but weíll need conformation on that. If we find another scroll-

Janice didnít say a word but the roll of the archeologist eyes let Mel know she was being long-winded.

"Anyway," Mel stated. "Which do you want to hear first?"

"I can talk now?" Janice grinned. Mel gave Janice an arched eyebrow and a disapproving glare. Janice lost her grin. "Xena first, of course," she answered quickly and politely. Mel flipped through her notes. When she stopped she cleared her throat once more and began to read.

"Iím not sure why Iím doing this. . .actually I do. . .Love. . . The woman I loved asked me to write something to take back to Egypt where it all began five years ago. I loved Gabrielle from afar for a long time. I kept my feelings shrouded; hidden deep inside. . .I considered myself a brave woman. At least until I felt my love for Gabrielle. When that happened I realized I was perhaps the biggest coward the world had ever known.

I think it was the time she decided to return home to Potidaea when I realized Gabrielle was much more than a friend. She was my center. My source. With her by my side I could achieve anything I set my mind to. I was always a determined woman. But when this little bard from Potidaea stole my heart something changed. I was no longer just determined. I was driven. I had a purpose in life unlike anything I had ever known. And that purpose was love.

I had plenty of lovers before Gabrielle but none compared to her. None reached in and touched my heart, my soul, like Gabrielle. And that first night when we made love under the Egyptian moon I knew no one would ever compare. Every touch, every caress was filled with gentle warmth yet fiery passion. Words fail to describe just what she meant to me that night Ė the things she did that night. . .and every time since. My desire refuses to subside even in light of all our years together. I can anticipate her climax. I can predict her every touch. I always believed these things hampered love making (becoming familiar with a lover) but with her it doesnít. It only makes my love and passion for this beautiful red-haired woman stronger.

When we ride our mare or sleep in the comfort of each others arms we fit perfectly together. Iím much taller than she when we stand but still . . .we fit. . .perfectly. If I live to walk this earth without her, I know Iíll spend the rest of my days walking alone. For no one will ever replace my Gabrielle. I once wished to rule the world. My only wish now is for Hades to keep us together in this life for as long as possible and see that we find one another again in the next life. I made a promise that I would never leave her. Itís a promise I will keep for all my days. . .and beyond."

Melís voice trailed off. Slowly she looked up to see Janiceís reaction.

"I guess the useless, tag-a-long had some uses after all," Janice muttered. "She made a good bed warmer."

Mel shook her head in disgust and threw the notebook on the cot. "Why do you always insist on puttiní Gabrielle down? Itís obvious she meant a lot to Xena. . ."

Janice watched as Melís nature changed from anger to one of. . .realization? She didnít quite understand the look in the southerners eyes. "What is it Mel?"

Mel locked eyes with the honey-haired archeologist. "You. . .For years ya spent your time lookiní for these scrolls, thinking you were a descendant of Xenaís, but the truth was you were Gabrielleís kin."

"Yeah. Thatís been established. Whatís the point?"

Mel chuckled and shook her head. "Your quest of all these years hasnít been because of Xena has it? Itís been Gabrielle. . . Your great, great, great, great, great, great Ė so on and so forth Ė grandmother wrote these scrolls ages ago. Now itís your job to find them and, how should I say, keep them in the family." Mel found herself giggling again. "All these years itís not Xena youíve been searching for. Itís Gabrielle."

"Youíre nuts!" Janice argued rising from the bed. "My father-

"Not your father," Mel interrupted. "You. Youíve been wanting to know about Gabrielle just as much as Xena and what you found out worries you."

"Me?" Janice smiled, pointing at herself. "Worried? About what?"

"You found out that Gabrielle wasnít a tough talkiní, aggressive-natured, staff weldiní bard. She was soft, compassionate and caring woman. Yer worried because yer a lot more like her than Xena, deep down. Youíve always thought that Xena was the strong one and Gabrielle was weak. The truth is out now.

Gabrielle gave Xena her strength, which in fact proves that Gabrielle was the stronger of the two. . .And maybe, just maybe. . . yer scared because ya realize that under that gruff exterior of yers lies someone whoís just as soft, compassionate and caring as her ancestors."

Janice studied Mel for a few moments. "Iím not a useless tag along side-kick and I never will be."

"No. Youíre not," Mel replied softly before going back to sit on the cot. "But I am. . .Funny how things change yet stay the same."

"Listen to me Mel," Janice said taking a seat next to Mel. "Hey," she whispered pulling Melís chin up gentle so they locked eyes. "You are not a useless tag along side-kick. Youíre much more than that."

Mel pulled her head away from Janiceís hand. "You donít need me here. . .You donít need me period. Xena needed Gabrielle to keep her focused; centered. You can read these scrolls almost as well as me now and you were doing just fine on your own when we met. . . Unlike Gabrielle, I serve no purpose here."

Janice could feel her tears beginning to well up but as usual she pushed them back down, afraid the let her heart show.

"Mel," Janice began pausing briefly. "When I was shot my first thought was you. I wondered if Iíd ever see you again. . .and the whole time I was tended to all I could think about was you. The pain as they prodded around inside my leg would have been unbearable if it wasnít for you. . . I kept thinking ĎCome on Covington, if you die on Mel youíll never hear the end of ití."

Both women grinned and chuckled. "It sounds silly I know," Janice added with a grin before a look of dead calmness washed over her face. "But I loved you. I . . ."

Janice wished she could have taken the words back but soon she heard them reflected back at her. "You love me?" Mel asked with a huge grin. "Youíve never told me that before."

Janice knew there was no denying her words but she still had the option to be evasive. "Yeah," she said falling back into her gruff style, rising up and putting her hands on her hips almost like a challenge. "I love you. Is that a problem? Because I canít guarantee that Iíll stop caring about you."

Mel picked her notebook back up with a smile. "No. Itís not a problem," Mel said, pushing her glasses back into position again. "Should we begin again?" Mel asked, sensing Janiceís uneasiness.

"Letís," Janice said thankfully, taking her seat back on her cot again.

"Okay," Mel sighed. "This one is Gabrielleís. I must warn you sheís much more graphic about their Ďcouplingí than Xena but, after all she was the writer in the family-"

Janice motioned Ďget on with ití, that ceased Melís ramblings.

"Okay. Here it goes. . .I donít know at what point I fell in love with Xena. Point is I loved her and do love her. And I know I will always love her.

We were here in Egypt five years ago. After saving Queen Cleopatra from an assassin, she asked us-well actually Xena-to come to her kingdom. She prepared a heroís welcome for her and offered her a position as a private guard. She also offered Xena her body which my warrior refused. And that night instead of making love to the Queen of the Nile, she made love to me, the Queen of the Amazons. As I said that was five years ago. We have returned here to Egypt. Not for a celebration of Cleopatraís but her funeral. It seems odd that such a strong woman could be so broken by a man, a Roman of all things, that she would take her own life. Itís a pity too. She was a beautiful, intelligent, graceful woman, much like my Xena.

My Xena. It feels wonderful to say that. I think back to the first night we shared in this room together. Her first kisses were soft, tentative. For a woman who is so confident in many areas of life the kisses caught me off guard. But soon they deepened and we connected.

Grapes. . .she still tasted of the sun ripened grapes as her mouth moved against mine. Her scent was familiar that evening Ė jasmine lingered in her wet hair along with a ting of her natural scent, brought on by her nervousness and her arousal. Her distinct smell drove me wild on many occasions afterward, especially at times when defeating an enemy on the road. Sometimes we find ourselves on top of Argo, after traveling well enough from the trouble, and soon be making love. At other times we wait, letting our passion simmer all day long until nightfall. I canít say which days I enjoy most Ė the immediate urgency ones or the lingering desire-filled ones. Both bring a smile to my face and make my heart overflow.

They say the first time isnít the greatest but if I did have to pick one moment . . .it would be that first night. . . .She gathered me in her strong arms and carried me toward the bed. Gently she laid me down and I couldnít take my eyes off her beautiful body. She too admired me before her lips claimed my neck. The feel of her tongue tasting my flesh, the feel of her teeth lovingly grazing my breasts was pure ecstasy. I can still recall how familiar yet how new her long, black tresses felt as my fingers buried behind her head, pulling her closer, wanting her deeper. I would have embedded her in my soul that night with just the sheer force of my well-toned arms.

I remember as she worked her way down my stomach and the soft whimper she herself released as she breathed in my arousal. My want for her seeped from my body, running toward my backside, soaking the sheet below me. She sighed my name seconds before claiming me with her mouth. That first contact shut down all rational thought. My body began to move at itís own accord; my hips grinding against my goddessí sexy face. Her sounds of desire and satisfaction rivaled my own as she worked my body skillfully. She often says she has many skills. I never realized just how true that was until that night. My body has never been the same since.

Xena is unlike anyone Iíve ever known. The slightest touch; the smallest of glances and Iím captured. Sometimes at night as I write, Iíll watch her sharpen her sword, the same way I did for years before our love making. But now I no longer have to advert my eyes as she looks up and I can see all the love and all the passion I have for her reflected back onto me. I feel I am truly loved and I, myself, have never loved like this in my lifetime.

We are in unison. We are two half making one whole. Iíve found my soul mate and I will never let her go. . . Never."

 

As Mel finished she looked up for Janiceís reaction but she wasnít there. Mel had gotten wrapped up in her reading and didnít even notice Janice had moved. Suddenly she recognized the two strong yet petite hands on her shoulders, working at her muscles.

"They really loved each other," Janice whispered as she continued her ministrations. "Needed each other. . .Desired . . . each other." Mel could tell that Janiceís breathing had changed. Her voice had grown deeper; huskier. "Be honest Mel. . . Do you love me the way Gabrielle loved Xena? Do you? I have to know."

Janice could feel the muscles tense under her fingertips at the question and that was all the answer she needed. She stopped rubbing the dark belleís shoulders and turned her head back to face her, resting two fingers on her cheek. "Itís okay," Janice reassured her.

Mel felt like the weight of the world lifted off her and she found herself starting to cry. Janice gathered the translator in her arms and rocked her gently. "Shhhh," Janice repeated softly. A thought occurred to the archeologist Ė Melís cry. It was similar to the ones that would pop up on a moments notice. ĎIíll be goddamned,í the archeologist thought, ĎSheís been in love with me.í

"Iím all yours," Janice whispered out loud. "Iím all yours Mel." The words only made the woman cry harder. And Janice just let her get it all out.

Finally, the translator pulled back and wiped her tears. "Iím sorry Janice. I look like a moron-

"Hey!" Janice argued. "No one calls the woman I love a moron. Not even the woman herself. You got that sweetheart?!"

"Yeah Janice," Mel grinned. "I got that."

Neither woman said a word or made a move. They sat silently, clinging to each others arms. "Iíve loved you for a very long time Mel. I never dreamed in a million years you would ever feel the same," Janice finally whispered.

"Tell me Ďbout it," Mel grinned. "I almost told you Ďn Carolina Ė that night of the ball. . .You looked so beautiful. . .But . . .you asked me here and I knew if I told you how I felt Iíd never see you again and. . ." the belle trailed off and began to sob again.

"But you were wrong," Janice whispered. "Please donít cry. I promise Iíll never leave you. I promise."

Janiceís lips covered Melís with feather softness just once. She tenderly wiped the tears from the belleís cheeks, lowering herself again to connect with Mel. The second kiss wasnít quite as delicate. By the third kiss, their mouths were welded together. Mel broke the barrier of their connected lips first. As her tongue darted into Janiceís mouth, the archeologists eyes widened in surprise. Melís eyes were still closed; her tongue searching. There was much more to Mel Pappas than she realized but she didnít dwell on it long. She found it much more satisfying to be lost in the kiss. So, in closing her eyes again, she did just that.

Moments later Janice was vaguely aware of the fact she was now shirtless. She didnít know at what point the dark beauty began to undress her but suddenly she was naked from the waist up. As Mel began to nuzzle her neck, Janice basked in the glow of loving someone and being loved in return. And with that warm thought also came a tension. Mel sensed it and pulled back with an apology.

"Iím sorry," Mel whispered. "Iím moviní too fast for ya but I couldnít help it Janice. I want ya so much."

Janice studied Melís eyes and stroked her face. "Itís not that," the archeologist explained. "I want you too but Iím. . .scared."

"Oh Janice," Mel said sympathetically. "I would never hurt you Ė ever."

Janice shook her head before hanging it low, staring into her lap. "Everyone I ever loved, every cared for. . .they all left me Ė my mother, my father. Iím afraid that if I . . ."

"Janice," the translator said taking the archeologist by the upper arms. "Listen ta me. Iím not goiní leave you. Great God OíMighty woman! Donít you realize Iíve searched my whole life for you?!"

Janice grinned as tears welled in her eyes, refusing to fall. "Do you really mean that Mel?"

Mel had a sly smile on her face as she pulled her glasses off, tossing them on Janiceís cot. She stood up and pulled her nightshirt off, exposing her lovely peaks and valleys.

"I could tell ya that all night," the southerner cooed. "But Iíd much rather show ya if yaíd let me."

Janice released a nervous giggle. Sheíd had lots of women Ė actually lots and lots of women Ė in her bed but none so beautiful, so sexy, as Mel. Her discomfort came from the fact she was about to make love for the first time in her life. She knew that. She wanted it. And she realized it had been a long time coming.

Mel closed the distance between them. Her body blanketing Janiceís. Her tongue driving forcefully into the archeologist accepting mouth. Mel nipped at her ear playfully, seductively. And once again Janice found herself unclothed without suspicion; her boxers joining her undershirt on the floor. ĎHow does she do that?í Janice wondered in admiration.

Mel began to work her way southward and Janice sighed as Mel caught the archeologist areola between her lips and began to manipulate it.

"Oh god Melinda," the digger whispered at the sensations.

"Umm," the belle answered, not quite ready to release the nipple. Gently she pulled it with her as she raised her head before letting it snap back into place. "I love the way ya say my name. . .It makes me wet Janice. . .Feel."

Mel led Janiceís hand to her center.

"Oh god Melinda. Youíre soaked!" the archeologist answered looking at her hand in astonishment before meeting those gorgeous, laughing blue eyes.

"Told ya," Mel replied as her own hand darted to Janiceís center as well. "It seems Iím not the only one," she added coyly.

Janice smiled but it didnít last long. Melís circular movements of her fingers made desire course through Janiceís veins at a maddening rate. Her smile fell and the look of ardent want replaced it.

"So sexy. . .so sexy," Mel said appreciative as she watched Janice moving against her hand.

"Look whoís talking," Janice antagonized.

Janice made her caresses against Mel harder and faster. She watched, entranced, when Melís head fell back as she arched, exposing her neck and breasts to Janice. The archeologist couldnít resist. She had to touch that perfect body. She had to taste it. . .taste her.

Janice maneuvered herself into a sitting position with Mel straddling her hips. Given the dark womanís height, the archeologist was perfectly level with those beautiful breasts that were teasing her moments before. Janice took both nipples into her mouth at once and delighted at the sound of Melís sigh.

"Oh Melinda," Janice sighed looking up at Mel. "I wanna taste you. Will you let me taste you?" she asked, practically begging.

Mel grinned mischievously. "Only if you let me taste you too. . .at the same time. . .It isnít fair that one of us should go before the other. Weíve both wanted this forever."

Janice could have sworn she felt the onset of her orgasm right then. Mel wasnít as native as she thought. She had to admit . .she liked that.

"So," Mel said maneuvering Janice until the archeologistís back was on the cot again. She began to lick and suck on Janiceís earlobe as she spoke. "Who gets ta be on top?"

Janice could feel the tingling deep within her building, brought on by Melís racy words.

"It better be you," Janice warned. "Iím close to exploding as it is. And I donít think I could move if I tried," she added with a sincere grin.

Mel chuckled softly. "Grin of the devil, heart of an angle," she whispered before she flipped around.

Suddenly, Melís tongue claimed Janiceís hot, sopping core. Janice, in return, captured Melís fleshy lips with her own. Both reviled in the taste of the other, licking and sucking all the nectar they could find. Janiceís fingers entered Mel first and the translator gave a muffled whimper of approval yet refused to give up the task her mouth had found. Once they established a gentle rhythm with each other only then did Melís fingers join her lips and tongue.

Mel was a woman who truly loved to give pleasure and for the first time in her life Janice felt herself lowering her guard, letting the woman above her take her body. But more importantly she felt Mel take her soul, lick by lick, caress by caress. Janice for the first time in her life felt connected to someone in the present; in her arms. With that realization firmly in tack, her orgasm crashed over her in wave after wave.

"Yes. . .Oh God yes. . .Melllllindaaaa," the smaller woman cried out, clutching tight to the body above her. Even as the contractions ran through her body, she continued stroking Mel. She had to bring Mel the same joy.

Mel, for her part, felt her climax building just moments before Janice but she calmed herself to listen to Janiceís release. Now she rested her weight on her forearms with the feel of Janiceís tongue batting at her clit and her fingers giving her the pumping of her life.

"Harder," Mel whimpered. "Faster. . .So close Janice."

The raw, needful voice of her lover sent Janice into another sexual frenzy Ė not one built around herself but a frenzy of wanting to give Mel the most pleasure she possibly could. Janice did as Mel asked and when she felt Mel go rigid and her back arch, throwing the dark mane around, Janice thought that she, herself, just might swoon.

"Ohhh Jan. . . Ohhh Jan," Mel replied as her orgasm took her. Her hands gripped the side of the cot, the steel feeling colder than normal against her burning palms.

Finally as the quakes subsided Mel collapsed next to Janiceís side, facing her feet. Janice disengaged herself of the tangle of limbs and grabbed a blanket from her cot. She covered the resting woman, making sure she was snug and secure before cuddling next to her in the small space.

Slowly Mel turned her head and smiled when she saw Janiceís beaming face, lying next to her. "Always lookiní out for me huh?" Mel replied motioning to the blanket.

"Always," Janice smiled. "Come mere," she added opening her arms as much as the small space would allow.

Mel snuggled into her loverís shoulder. "I love you Janice," she whispered as she felt sleep trying to claim her.

"Love you too Mel," she replied, stoking the long black hair. Mel raised up and planted a slow, powerful kiss on Janiceís lips that spoke volumes of what was in her heart.

"I do have one complaint though," Mel said seriously.

"Whatís that?" Janice asked concerned.

"If we make this a habit we gotta get a bigger cot."

"Oh yeah?" Janice smiled. Mel nodded with her grin back in place. Softly she settled down into Janiceís embrace once more. "Well, then. Looks like weíre going shopping tomorrow. Doesnít it sweetheart?"

The last sensation either woman felt was Melís fingertips lightly caressing Janice's arm. And the next morning as the crew searched high and low for the Ďmissingí scrolls, Janice and Mel went shopping.

 

Ancient Egypt Ė around 500 BC

"Tell me again why weíre doing this," Xena asked as she continued to dig the hole. "You made me write something only to stick it in the ground. I should have included this crazy story," the warrior added.

Gabrielle smiled. "You can stop if you want," the bard offered. "Iíll do the digging."

Xena gave her the look and continued to dig in silence. What sensation overtook the bard to feel she needed to bury her work was beyond the warrior. But she found herself digging the hole just the same Ė and all because Gabrielle asked.

"I told you Xena I want something left here from our time together. Then years from now someone will find it, maybe after were long gone, and a part of us will be here forever. "

"But we will have a legacy. Our children will remember us."

"Well, with the luck Toris and I have been having I donít foresee that happening soon, if ever," the bard answered with frustration. "I mean you and Autolycus get together one night and bam itís over and done with."

Xena rose from the dirt pit and dusted herself off the best she could. "Hey," the warrior said pulling Gabrielleís chin to meet her eyes. "It will happen. Weíll have another child. Youíll see," the warrior grinned. "And sheíll have beautiful green eyes and her mothersí short temper," Xena teased.

"Which mother?" Gabrielle shot back, grinning.

Xena grinned and shook her head. "Great comeback!" she complimented.

"Canít think of a reply can ya?" Gabrielle teased, sensing her victory.

Xena paused and looked up to the heavens before meeting the bards eye again. "No. I canít but at least Iím honest."

Gabrielle threw her arms around the warrior and gave her a big kiss, making a smooching sound in the process. "Whatís that for?" the warrior asked.

"A thank you," Gabrielle said coyly. "For cheering me up. . .and moving that trunk into the hole you just dug."

Xena chuckled. "Thatís what I thought. Thereís always an ulterior motive."

It only took a few moments but the trunk was soon in place and Xena began to refill the hole.

"I miss Lye," Xena said as she shoveled, reflecting on her son Ė their son.

"Iím sure he misses us too. But Iím also sure grandma is taking good care of him."

"And spoiling him rotten," Xena added sarcastically.

Gabrielle giggled. "Yeah youíre probably right. Cyrene makes a habit of over indulging the kid."

Xena had a smile on her face as she finished putting the last of the dirt in the hole and patting it in place.

"Alright," Xena sighed. "Can we go now?" she asked impatiently.

Gabrielle simply smiled and pushed the hair back that had fallen in Xenaís eyes. "I love you. You know that donít cha?"

Xena smiled. "Yeah. I love you too. After all, it isnít anybody whoíd dig a whole for ya out in the middle of nowhere, for now real reason whatsoever."

"I told you-."

"Yeah. Yeah," Xena said starting to make her way up the trail. "Legacy. I get it. . . .I just hope that whoever does find them appreciates all my hard work."

Gabrielle smiled and took Xena by the arm. "Iím sure they will Love. Iím sure they will."

The End