LEGEND OF ANN BOUNTY
by Anita Louise
Chapter Sixty Six
Saxton was standing near the corral watching Will, the man was putting out feed for the horses he and Gina brought back. They heard the sounds of talking and both men gazed in the direction of the voices. Saxton's mouth fell open, the man seemed to be in shock. At the same time, Will dropped what he was doing to walk over to Saxton. "Will you look at that!" he exclaimed.
Saxton looked at Will. "I can't believe my eyes. I have prayed for this."
Will hopped over the fence, landing nearby. He smiled and waved to the approaching women.
Gina beamed toward the men and said, "You'll never guess who interrupted my soak."
Saxton walked toward Ann, he looked as if he would burst, he was filled with exhalation.
"Annee! You are a sight for sore eyes."
Ann stared at the man then looked at Gina and asked, "Should I know him?"
She nodded. "This is Saxton, an old and dear friend as well as your first mate."
Before Ann could acknowledge the man, he had reached out and gave her a tight bear hug. The man was so excited, he actually picked her up and twirled her. Star as well as Gina tried to hold back the giggles that had already started. Finally Gina stepped forward and grabbed the man's arm. "Saxton, let the woman breathe."
He grinned sheepishly and released his hold. "Sorry, it is hard to contain myself. I have missed this gorgeous redhead more than life itself."
Ann Bounty's face reddened and she found herself feeling things she could not understand.
"It is good to see you also. From your reactions I would say we are close."
He beamed and winked toward Will. "Yep, we are close. It is good to have you back."
He stepped away allowing Will to step forward. Ann gazed at this tall muscular man, he was young probably near Gina's age. There was something about him that touched a spot that sent a warm glow through her.
Emerald green's sparkled toward the man as she asked, "And you, who are you?"
He bowed at the waist, did a sweeping outward gesture with his right arm and said, "At your service, Ann Bounty. I am called Will though my name is William. I am Mary Ready's brother."
His words were followed by a deafening silence. The happy smile on his face faded away to be replaced by fear. "I . . . I . . . "
Gina had to bite her tongue to keep from laughing it was the first time she had ever seen William Ready at a loss for words.
Ann tipped her head then shocked them all by bowing before Will, she did a very flourished bow and when she stood she said, "Though we must have a past, I want you to know I am delighted to make your acquaintance William Ready."
Will's smile had returned. "When your memory returns you will remember me. As well as the others."
He was not expecting the woman's next words, "Where can I find your sister?"
He felt a knot in his throat and it felt as if it would stifle the life from his body. It was Gina that realized Will was in trouble. She dashed forward, and quickly slapped him on the back. This sent the man reeling forward. His coughing should have woken the village of Osara.
Gina reached up and asked, "Are you all right? Will, all she did was ask a question."
He looked at her and doubled over, still trying to breathe. "Ma . . . Does she know about Mary?"
Gina nodded. I told her. She has no memory of this. But Ann will not harm Mary. All we have to do now is get Mary to sit and talk to her. The two need to talk. Settle the past and get on with the future."
He was standing now, and nodded. "Yes, on with the future." He turned to face Ann. "Sorry about that. I love my sister and I have been afraid of what might happen when the two of you met."
Ann looked thoughtful, then said, "I want to meet your sister, take me to her."
Gina nodded. "Go ahead, it will be all right."
He sighed, "All right, follow me. By the way Gina, I took care of the horses."
She watched the two walk toward the hut at the end of the thicket. And with each step Gina prayed the meeting between the two women would be a good one.
Star stretched moving her body back and forth as if to get kinks out of troubled places.
Finally she stood and said, "I can tell by the look on your face as you watch her walk away, you are hurting. I know I would die if something happened and my Ann suddenly did not know me."
"I'm happy she is all right."
"And you are right. It is tearing me up inside that she does not remember our past. But I will be all right. If I am never to know the love we shared again, I will be fine just knowing Ann Bounty is back."
Shaking her head, Star reached out and tapped Gina on the shoulder, "What say you lead me to a bottle of port?"
The two women began to walk toward Will and Saxton's dwelling. They were just beginning to enter when they heard Will's voice. "Where is she! Mary's gone!"
Both turned to see him running toward them. Gina looked past him to see if Ann was following, she was not anywhere in sight. "Will, what is going on? Where is Ann?"
He stopped gazed down, his eyes wild as he blurted, "Didn't you hear me! Is it always about Ann Bounty with you?"
Star grasped Gina's arm and pulled her back. It was a warning she knew the man was beside himself with worry at that moment. "Come with me," she commanded and began to pull the woman along. They left William pacing, and cursing, he looked as if he might explode at any moment.
Nearing the hut, Gina gazed at Star and asked, "What do you think happened?"
She ignored her question and entered the hut, followed by Gina. Once inside they could see that Ann was walking around the area. She seemed to be looking for something.
Star walked toward Ann, "We just saw Will outside, he is ranting about Mary. What has happened?"
Ann Bounty had been eyeing the bed as she replied, "We came in here and there was no one. Seems this Mary Ready has gone."
Gina walked up to her. "When I last saw her, she was laying down, sleeping. What could have happened?"
Ann handed her a piece of parchment. "This might give you an idea."
Gina looked at the scribing and knew it was Mary's.
Can't sleep anymore. Demons won't leave me alone. Going into Osara to look around.
Her eyes grew wide before she exclaimed, "No! She will be walking into Asterea's hands! We have to go, get to her before . . . "
Ann reached out placed her right hand on Gina's shoulder. "No. I will go. You and Star stay here in case she comes back."
Gina had a perplexed look as she asked, "I should go, I will know her"
Shrugging she replied, "It will not be hard to figure out who Mary Ready is. From all I have heard and all I have seen. I will know. Besides sounds like she is one to stir up a ruckus. I will just look for a dark haired, amazonian woman. One that captures a person's eyes in many ways."
To have reached out and slapped the woman would not have hurt her any more than the word's Sea spoke.
Her lower lip trembled as she fought to keep her composure. Gina walked toward the wooden table. Her eyes stinging as she fought back tears. "You can't go in there. Asterea would love to get her hands on you. You ran off with her treasure map you know."
Ann watched the woman walk away, totally unaware her words had affected Gina. She walked to the bed sat and removed her right boot. It was at this time a rolled parchment fell to the floor.
"Didn't that hurt?" Star asked and walked toward the woman.
Ann pulled the boot on once more and handed the map to Star. "This thing has been nothing but trouble. Maybe there is a treasure and maybe there is not. After all you have told me about your problems I think this treasure will do you and the people more good. Take it."
Star gazed at Ann, she seemed hesitant. "Ann, are you sure? After all you left the life you had to find this treasure."
Running her tongue along her bottom lip, Ann shook her head. "I would have found a reason sooner or later. I was not happy there. Now that I think of it, I was more a prisoner than not."
Gina had brushed the tears away and had now walked toward the bed. "I want to come with you." She sat beside the woman.
Sea turned, her eyes soft, her tone low, "I knew something was missing in my life. I always felt this emptiness. Now that I see you and have been able to talk to you, the gnawing I have had for so long is gone. I don't know where we will go from here but I do know one thing and that is I do not want to see anything happen to you."
"I can take care of myself."
Sea looked at Star then brought her gaze back to Gina. "I have no doubt of that. But I have lived around Asterea for some time now and the woman is evil. She will not wait for a face to face, she will make sure when it happens it will be to her advantage." She stood and walked to Star. "See that she stays here."
Fuming, Gina was on her feet. " 'See that she stays here'! I do not need a keeper and I will do what I want!"
They heard the sounds of riders coming in fast and hard. This broke up the conversation as the three woman headed for the door, weapons drawn.
Once they were outside, they stopped as if each one had run into a rock wall. Gina dropped her cutlass, Ann's fell to her side and Star's mouth fell open.
Ann Bounty sit a beautiful white stallion. And the woman sitting the paint looked like Star.
They had reined their horses to a sudden stop as they sit and stared at the three women before them.
It was like looking into a mirror, Ann was looking at herself and Star was gazing into her exact double.
"Someone want to tell me just what is going on here and who the blazes are you? Did we run into some sort of Godly scheme?"
Gina shook her head then stepped forward. "I don't know what is happening but it seems . . .
one of you is Ann Bounty and one of you is Gabrielle. The question is just who is who is who and what is going on? If I didn't know better I might think I was in the middle of some dream."
Ann's eyes darted to the blond that was standing beside Gina. "Star? Is that you? What are you
Star took several steps toward the horse, her eyes taking in the woman. "As I live and breathe, Ann Bounty, last time I saw you, you disappeared into a vortex."
Ann threw her head back and let out a shrill cry as she somersaulted from the horse and landed in front of Star. "I don't know how it has come to pass but I have missed you so much!"
The two women embraced and for that moment the two were wrapped in one another, totally oblivious to what was going on around them.
Gabrielle watched for a second before she dismounted and walked toward Gina. "Someone want to tell me what is taking place here?"
They glanced at the two still deep in their own tones of love and Gina motioned to the hut. "Let's go in, seems we need to talk."
Gabrielle was tapping her fingers on the table as she sat and listened. When Gina was through, she leaned back in the chair. Her face was blank, there was no emotion, that is until she began to laugh. The laughter turned to a glowing smile as she said, "Thank the Gods, Ann you are alive, you are here. And sooner or later, now that you are with friends and those that love you, your memory will return."
Ann stood, she looked at Gabrielle then Gina. "I am wondering how you are all dealing with this. It is a great deal to try and understand. I only wish I could remember." She started for the doorway then said, "I'm going to go look for Ready."
Jumping to her feet, Gina dashed to stop her. "We talked bout this. You are not going in there without me."
Gabrielle watched the two then asked, "Go in where?"
Both women turned to gaze at her as Gina replied, "Mary has gone into Osara and Asterea and her crew are there. Actually they will be here soon. Looking for our heads."
"Seems you forgot to tell me a few things." Gabrielle walked toward the two women. "Lets go talk to the others, see what they think."
Ann looked disgusted but she did step back to allow Gabrielle to pass. "After you."
Saxton and Will came walking toward them when they stepped out, Will smiled, "This is some dream, I swear I am seeing double."
Gina grinned, "William, come go walk with me. I will tell you what I know and leave Ann, to tell Saxton what is taking place."
Ann nodded then looked at Saxton. "Gabrielle, Saxton, let's take a walk, I have a lot to talk to you about and I am sure you have plenty to tell me."
Saxton felt for a minute he saw a spark of recognition in Ann's emerald greens. He smiled and said, "Sounds good to me. I have missed our talks. So much has happened."
Gabrielle smiled and joined in, "Sounds good."
The moon was glowing down on the area, it was lighting the way for the mortals that were lost in each other's words.
Star and Sea had found one another. Gabrielle and Ann were deep in discussion as Saxton stood back and watched the two. He felt a warmth seeing the two together again. It was as if time had stood still once more. He walked up to them, cleared his throat and said, "If you two will excuse me, I need to check on something back there."
They looked up at the man both smiling. He knew when he walked away they would neither one miss him. Saxton didn't care, he had Ann back and for now that was all that counted.
Later, they were all standing in front of Gina's hut, after much discussion they had talked Ann and Star to leave. The vortex would take them back to their world where they would be needed. It took a lot of arguing back and forth but finally they agreed to go. Star looked at Ann and at Gina then said, "We will go, as long as the two of you walk with us, and see to it we are at the right spot."
Both women agreed and so they left with Ann and Star. Gabrielle watched them leave then she turned to Will and said, "I'm going to go lie down. Try to get some sleep. Wake me when the others return."
The vortex was still there and it seemed even bigger than before. The two women held hands as they gazed at it. Star turned to Ann. "It has been an experience, coming here, meeting the two of you. I will not forget you."
Gina smiled. "Same here, meeting you has been an experience. I wish you both a safe trip back." She hugged both women then walked away.
Ann watched her walk away then turned to the two women. "Like Gina said, have a safe trip."
Star reached out and touched Ann's arm. "She is hurting."
Ann had a surprised look. "What do you mean? She didn't seem to be hurt."
"No. Not physically but her heart is aching."
"Oh. Because I cannot remember what we had."
"No. Because of what you said about Mary Ready."
Ann thought for a few moments. "I never meant to hurt her."
Star replied "Maybe not but you did. I saw it in her face, yet, you didn't." She smiled up at Sea, "Shall we try?"
Sea nodded in agreement as Star called out, Gina, we are getting ready to go, will you come say goodby."
Gina turned and walked toward them. As she neared, they turned to Ann. Star swallowed then said, "It might not work but then it might. We cannot give you back your memory Ann Bounty but maybe we can give you back the love you share for one another in some sense."
Gina was confused, Ann looked at them questioningly and asked, "How is that possible?"
"You gave us the treasure map. Our worlds seem so alike, I feel we will find it there. The treasure will help in our cause. We have nothing to offer you but we can leave you with this. Do as I say, shut your eyes, hold hands, each to one another. Where true love exists, the heart will find a way."
As they gazed into Star and Sea's eyes, they formed a small circle. The women smiled then closed their eyes. There was a flash, a tingling warmth traveling their bodies as Gina and Ann both felt the powerful charge. When it stopped, and they opened their eyes, Sea and Star were gone.
Chapter Sixty Seven
The two women had been standing in the same spot for some time. Both shaken by what had transpired earlier. It was Gina that broke the silence. "We had better start back. They are probably wondering what happened to us."
Ann turned slowly, her eyes searched the beautiful woman standing beside her. "They know we are together. I am not sure what happened here, my body is still feeling the force that traveled my limbs." Her eyes held a wistful expression in them. "Are you all right?"
Gina shivered as she replied, "I felt something. Do you know what she meant by, 'where true love exists, the heart will find a way.' "
She was now gazing toward the swirling vortex. "I think the love they have for one another is a deep and lasting love. Perhaps they wanted us to feel this also."
Shrugging, Gina muttered, "Loving someone can be painful. I am glad they have found one another. I pray nothing ever happens to change that."
Sea grasped Gina's right hand, she held it with tenderness. "I am sorry for your pain. Though I might not remember the love we have shared, I am here now, and I will do all I can to never hurt you again."
Gina pulled from the woman's grasp. " I don't want your pity. I will be fine. We have to go back."
Ann tilted her head to the side, then reached up and rubbed her neck. "My head feels as if a million demons are inside each trying to find a way out. Maybe we could just sit for a while."
A thoughtful frown crossed her face, as Gina nodded. "All right, there are some flat rocks over there, we can sit until you get to feeling better."
Ann stared toward the sky. Gina sat near by, she had to keep pinching herself to be sure it was not a dream. There sit the fiery redhead, the woman to whom she had given her heart. Through all the dark times, she had never given up. Now, she was within an arms length, Sea's radiant beauty enhanced by the moon glow, each ray reaching down, wrapping Ann Bounty in its tender, loving embrace.
Closing her eyes, she breathed in the heavenly fragrance as her mind took her to a time when Ann Bounty looked upon her with love.
Traveling with the crew of, The Bounty, was an experience, getting to know the captain, was much more. It was a brand-new adventure. Each day her body rejoiced to be in that place and time.
They had become close, she and the flaming redhead that captained the ship with an iron will, yet she had seen the tender side of Ann Bounty.
She could still feel the ocean spray that was carried by the wind as it anointed her face, and the roll of the deck beneath her feet. Feeling her body sigh, she felt warm, comforted and home.
"Ann?" Gina asked shakily.
Sea's lips were kissing her tenderly, She held her face between her hands, her mouth glided over Gina's lips, glided over soft skin, each touch carried with it a fire, and each touch more fervent than the last. Her face anointed by the soft bushes of love Ann Bounty placed on each cheek, each time falling back to allow lips to caress, dance and savor. A touch so soft, so warm so filled with ecstasy.
Gina could still feel and see that moment, she hoped to keep her eyes closed forever, this way maybe she could keep Ann close to her heart. A slow sigh escaped her lips and it was then she felt the soft touch of lips on hers. The pounding of her heart, as she tried to wake herself from what she thought was a dream.
Opening her eyes, it was Sea's lips that were moving slowly, each touch sending her pulse soaring, and each touch taking her to paradise. The kiss lingered, as Gina wrapped her arms around the woman, it was as if she was afraid she would evaporate any moment. Ann pulled back but not far, her eyes sparkled down, the smile that danced across her face turned Gina into a quivering mass.
"I didn't offend you did I?" Ann asked, as she brushed Gina's face with her fingertips, each time tracing an imaginary journey, each time the touch was new, each time as if a treasure found. The warmth, the joy, the softness, the tenderness. Love shone in her eyes, and it reached out invading every pore, every sense as she gazed at Gina. Their eyes met, and it was as if they were falling into each other, welcoming, longing, home again.
Shaking her head, reaching over and pinching herself, Gina replied, "No. Surprised me, yes. Are you all right?"
Ann beamed, "It is a beautiful night, and for some reason I felt . . . "
Gina tried to pull away from her but Ann would not release her hold. "Don't. Stay with me a little longer. I felt something the first time I saw you, I felt something the last time I saw you, before Asterea intervened. I am feeling something now. The feeling reaches into my depths, and I cannot help myself. If the fates allow, you, Gina will know the Ann Bounty you felt you lost. Give me time, time to get reacquainted with this new world, with our life."
Gina caressed Ann's hand, it was soft, and warm. With each caress she felt her body move in mysterious ways. Tears formed in her eyes. "I don't know what they did," she gazed toward the vortex, "but I thank the Gods they did. I shall love you Ann Bounty till my dying day and on."
Ann was mesmerized as she gazed at her. "I vow I will do all in my power to see nothing bad happens to you. To be here for you."
Gina smiled, sighed, "If I never see or know this again, this moment will be with me for all time."
She pulled Gina close, their lips touching, hands gently caressing, their bodies melding. "Give me this moment, to hold you, feel your heart beat with mine, then I promise we will go back."
Gina nodded as she fell into the woman's embrace, at that moment she had no desire to be anywhere else, ever.
The sound of Will's voice calling our their names brought the two out of their reverie. Ann kissed Gina then said, "Seems we are missed."
Gina snuggled closer as if to bury herself into a soft warm cocoon. "Don't want to leave this spot, it is magical."
Ann sighed as the man's voice was becoming louder. "We must, let's go see what Will is about."
Will was just starting through a thicket of underbrush when he saw the two women walking toward him. He grinned and waved. "Hey you two. I was beginning to think you went with them. That vortex is bewitching they say."
Gina smiled as did Ann and as they neared, Gina asked, "I can tell by the look on your face something is up, what has happened?"
His face grew serious as he replied, "It's Gabrielle. I went to check on her and she is gone. Left a note said she was going to fetch Mary."
"Gods!" Both women chimed.
Ann stepped forward, reached out placed a hand on Will's shoulder, "It will be all right, I'll go after them."
Gina stepped forward, "If you go, so do I."
The woman's face grew somber then she said, "Let's get back, talk to Saxton, we all need to talk about this."
He was in agreement as they started back to an uncertain future and what lay ahead.
continued in chapter 68
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