Disclaimer: The characters of Xena and Gabrielle are the property of Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended. The characters and events in the Seasons Series are the creation of the author.
Special thanks to Pat for her expert knowledge on rescue and firefighting methods.
Thanks also to Sheri for providing the information on the beautiful island of Tobago.
My grateful thanks to the many readers who have traveled with me through the Seasons. You are the best! My deepest thanks to Lisa and Inga, my beta readers, who work hard on my behalf and to Susan for her insightful critiques and for overseeing the character continuity. Lastly, to all those individuals who have written me about their own courageous stories, my respect and my best wishes.
Note: The Seasons stories interrelate and should be read in the order they are posted.
Robbie broke the surface to find herself in a large air bubble beneath the white folds of the sail. She grabbed hold of a piece of the mast and pulled Ryan up close to her. "Are you alright?" she asked, treading water and gasping for breath.
"Yeah," coughed Ryan, reaching out to take hold of the mast as well. "You know, a kid could end up with some deep feelings of social rejection, living in this family. I don't like to complain but this is the third time this year that someone has tried to kill me!"
Robbie was silent for a second. "You don't regret being with us, do you Ryan?" she asked quietly, the pain evident in her voice.
Ryan laughed and reached a hand over to touch her mother's arm where it lay wrapped around the shattered mast. "Mom, I was joking!"
Robbie smiled weakly. She hadn't been very successful at this mother thing, she knew. She only wanted to provide the best for her daughter but somehow things always ended up like this! "Next year will be better," she promised.
Ryan laughed. "It couldn't be better, Mom. This has been the best year of my life. Aren't you having fun?"
Robbie smiled. "Yeah, I've never been happier," the director admitted. "Come on, let's try to get out from under here."
They edged their way along the mast and then dived under the folded layers of sail cloth to pop up amongst the debris. Someone gave a yell behind them and they turned to see a small rowboat making its way towards them.
"You two okay," asked one of the officials, looking worried.
"Yeah, just cuts and bruises. We haven't seen anyone else. Did you pick up the passengers of the power boat?" Robbie asked, as she and Ryan swam to grab hold of the rescue craft. The water was cold and Robbie was starting to feel the effects. She looked at her daughter and saw that her lips were blue and her teeth chattering.
"No. You ladies hold on and we'll pull you over to the launch," the man sitting in the stern replied as he reached over to take hold of each of them. "Pretty cold in there, eh?"
"Yeah," agreed Ryan, through chattering teeth. The shock and cold was starting to affect her now.
Robbie moved closer, cocooning Ryan between her arms and the stern of the rescue boat. Ryan lowered her head to Robbie's arm and they were silent the rest of the trip back to the launch. There, helpful hands reached to pull the two wet sailors up the stern ladder and onto the deck.
"Obby!" called a worried voice and Robbie curled an arm around her little daughter who clung to her tightly. Janet knelt beside her, with Ryan supported in her lap.
"Hi, I hurt," Robbie smiled up at Janet, through the wet hair that plastered her face.
Janet's eyes were filled with tears. She reached out a shaky hand and gently brushed the hair from Robbie's face. "You two have more lives than a cat," she joked weakly. Then blankets arrived and Ryan and Robbie were wrapped up and brought cups of hot tea while the lifeboat and launch searched for any sign of the occupant of the speed boat.
The Williams trooped off the launch, Ryan and Robbie feeling warmer and better after an hour's recovery. They both had suffered some good bruising and a few scrapes but were really in good shape considering. Robbie's last second dive at Ryan had pushed the two of them over the side and deep into the water, protecting them from much of the shattering debris.
To Robbie's surprise it was Ableton who was there to help them down from the launch. " Most people just dock their damn boat after the race," he grumbled. "So are you gonna have another craft for next year?"
"Like I'm going to let you win anything again," responded Robbie, rising to the challenge.
"You ain't got a chance next year, queer. I'm ordering the new 822 snowmobile racer and building a new boat. You and Bartlett are going down!"
"When hell freezes over, Ableton!" teased Robbie, as Janet rolled her eyes and shepherded her family along the dock.
A police officer slipped through the crowd and came up to them. "Robbie Williams?" he asked.
"Yes," responded the director through stiff lips. She could feel her guts tightening into a knot. Janet moved closer and wrapped an arm around her lover. Robbie, she knew, still had difficulty dealing with the police after her arrest and imprisonment.
"Could you come this way, ma'am. Inspector Pateas of the R.C.M.P. needs to see you about a matter."
Robbie gave Janet a quick worried look and then stooped to pick Reb up in her arms so that they could move quickly through the crowds. Janet made sure Ryan was close and they followed the police officer towards an ambulance with its lights flashing, sitting near the Community Centre.
Stepping into the community centre, they found Alberta, lying on a stretcher. One bloody pant leg had been cut away and a white bandage covered a wound.
"Shit! What happened?!" asked Robbie. Alberta looked pleadingly at Janet. Janet nodded slightly.
"I need to talk to you, Robbie," Alberta said quietly. Janet took Reb from Robbie's arms and gave a jerk of her head to indicate to Ryan that she should follow. She led the girls over to sit on a couch by a window and wait while Alberta talked to Janet's partner. She wasn't sure what the news was but she knew that whatever it was, Alberta needed to deal with it one on one with Robbie.
From where she sat, she could watch Robbie's face. She saw the shock and sorrow register there and then the caring as her partner reached out and took Alberta's hand. She watched them talk for a few minutes and then the ambulance attendants came and took Alberta away. Robbie followed behind the stretcher but returned a short time later and walked over to where they sat. Janet looked up.
"Alexandria is dead." Robbie stated. "So is Isabella Selo. Her body was just picked up by the police boat." Janet reached up and took her partner's hand, pulling her down to sit with the rest of the family on the couch. It had been hard times for them. But now the hate and secrets that had bubbled for all those years were over. She squeezed her partner's hand and waited for Robbie to tell her story in her own way.
Janet knew later, after the girls were safely in bed, she would need to hold Robbie and help her come to terms with Alexandria's betrayal. They had all gone through so much this year, but Robbie carried the added burden of a mother who was truly evil and a father she didn't know. Janet realized that only in her arms would Robbie be able to find the comfort she needed after today.
They walked hand in hand along a beach of golden sand. The warm Caribbean breeze caressed their skin and rustled the greenery of the lush rainforest hills beside them. The waters of Englishman's Bay glistened in aqua and diamonds and lapped softly on the beach.
"I love you," Janet said, smiling up at her lover in happiness.
Robbie wrapped her long arm around Janet's shoulders and gave her a quick hug. "Love you too. Are you enjoying your belated honeymoon, Mrs. Williams?"
"Very much so, Mrs. Williams," chuckled Janet softly.
Robbie had brought Janet here a few months after the funerals of Alexandra and Isabella. It was November and the month when the Hindus on the island of Tobago celebrated Divali, the Festival of Lights. The night before, they had rented bicycles and toured around parts of the island, stopping to marvel at the fields of thousands of small clay oil lamps that lit the beautiful countryside and made it a fairy wonderland. They had got their own lamp and placed it with others to honour the goddess of light, Lakshmi, who brought love and all things good into people's lives.
Robbie had told her about the marvelous Carnival that occurred in March and promised that they would return with the girls to celebrate with the friendly islanders once more. "You just want to see Brian's face again when you tell him you are going back to Trinidad and Tobago and he isn't!" Janet had laughed.
"He was pretty put out wasn't he?" laughed Robbie. "Hey, if I hadn't forced him to cancel his holiday to the islands last year, he might not have been there to put the moves on Gwen!"
Janet had laughed. "You can try that argument, Robbie, but I don't think he's going to buy into it!"
When they had returned to the small, intimate resort of Kariwak after their bike ride, Janet found a collection of items set in a bowl of orchids and ferns in their garden guest house. There was breadfruit, rice and corn, and a small canister containing two lace pillow cases.
"During the Heritage Festival down here, they celebrate weddings in the traditional pioneer manner. The wedding takes place at the old Moravian Church I showed you, and the whole community has a hand in the planning and celebration. These are the symbols that are always present. The breadfruit is a sign of the bride's purity, the rice and corn symbols of the prosperity that the groom will bring to you and our children, and the pillowcases are part of the bride's trousseau, showing that she comes with wealth and is an equal partner in the marriage."
Janet looked up from the bowl with laughter in her eyes. "What a wonderful tradition!"
Robbie smiled and wiggled an eyebrow. "Well there is the "mauvais langue." The bad talk, as the French say! The village Macos are free at weddings to make malicious remarks about the wedding party and the wedding gifts! But it is all part of the fun and no one lets it ruin the good times!"
"Robbie," Janet whispered, moving close to her wife. "Take me to our wedding bed."
Today, Robbie had rented a yacht and they had sailed around to the secluded bay. Alone, they had swum and picnicked on the beach and then had gone for a stroll along the shore.
"It doesn't seem like it was just a year ago that I met you in Toronto," mused Janet. "I feel like we have always been together."
Robbie stopped and looked down at the woman she loved. "We are soulmates. Our souls are part of the same tapestry of the universe. We have and always will travel through this world together," she promised.
Janet nestled deeply into Robbie's arms and breathed in the heady spicy scent of her lover. Robbie buried her head in the soft hair that smelt of warm herbs on a summer's day. The sun shrouded them in warmth, the breeze caressed their hair mixing gold stains with chestnut, and the warm sea washed around their ankles. The eternal sea. An eternal love.
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