The Curse


Part 17

by Anita Louise

copyright 09/98

Chapter Seventy One

When she was sure they were out of sight, Ann turned and stared at the dwellings that made up the village.  The makeup was similar to many she had visited.  Staying to the shadows, she carefully made her way to the stable and the horses that were in the corral.

Stopping several times when the sound of people passing by came near. She waited, staring at the sky, knowing that before long it would give in to the rising sun. When she felt the coast was clear, she began making a path toward the stable once more.

There was only one dim light glowing from inside. A lone man stood vigil at the door, his arms were crossed and  held tightly to his chest as he rocked from one foot to the other.  Ann felt this might have been his way of staying awake.  Quickly glancing around the area, she approached taking each step with great pain.  Her intent was to be as quiet as possible.

"You dance well."   Hearing her words, the man whipped around, at the same time his face careened into the fist that was waiting. Catching him as he slumped, she dragged him into the alley.  Crouching down, Ann felt his pulse then removed his weapons. Once she had discarded these she proceeded to tie his wrist and feet, tethering him to a post. "That ought to keep you." She stood rubbed her aching hand and began to gaze upward. "Has to be a rope around here somewhere."

With her back to the wall, she began to edge her way around the building.  When she neared the back, she spied a rope hanging from one of the openings near the top.  "Thanks boys, this is just what I was looking for."  She took several steps back then ran, somersaulting in the air.  Her hands grasped the rope and she began to climb, with each movement Ann hoped she would not encounter anyone else in the stable.

Once inside, she blinked  several times trying to adjust her eyes to the room.  There was a light near one of two stalls.  Besides a  horse happily chewing on some straw, there was no other sound in the room.  Crawling to the edge of the platform, she had been standing on, she quickly surveyed the area then shimmed down a post to the floor. The horse hearing her raised its head and whinnied. Making her way to the animal, Ann reached out to pat its soft nose.  "Sh., it's all right.  Go back to eating."

It didn't take her long to check out the building.  The man she had left in the alley seemed to have been the only guard at the stable.  Once Ann was satisfied there was no one else, she began to make her way to the center of the village.  Stopping when she saw several men standing near two large posts. A chill ran up her back as she gazed at the leather ties hanging from each.  Taking a deep breath, she tried to blend into the shadows within a few feet of them.

"How long do you think, it will take?"  A short peacock of a man asked as he offered the other a bottle of port.

"Soon as the sun greets us, Asterea expects to see Ann Bounty.  The woman will be in for a surprise when she sees her two friends strung up here like some animal, just waiting to be slaughtered."

Sensing a low growl forming deep within her throat, Ann ran from the shadows, jumping into the air, each leg shooting out, each booted foot making contact sending two men crashing to the ground. It happened so fast they had little time to prepare. The third man drew his cutlass, as he tried to call for help but his voice would not surface.

Ann easily landed on both feet, and stood before the man, a grin crossing her lips. "What's the matter, cat got your tongue?"

His eyes bulged, the veins in his neck and face looked like a web as they crossed his skin. He seemed to be frozen where he stood. Eyes darting to his two friends unconscious on the ground and then back to the tall woman that stood before him as if she was a Goddess come to slay them all.

Ann stepped near, reached out and took the man's cutlass, tossing it toward the alleyway she reached out, her right hand grasping his throat as she picked him off the ground. "Little man, I want you to tell me how many are here?  Where Asterea is? What she has planned?  Do I make myself clear?"  Her grip tightened and he reached up to grab her arm in an attempt to keep from choking.

She released her grip and the man fell, his hand rubbing his throat as he gasped for air.  Her right foot pushed him to the ground.  Standing over him, she drew her cutlass, holding it ominously. "Well?  Which is it to be?"

He nodded.  "I'll tell you what you want, just don't kill me."

She stepped back then reached out and helped him to his feet.  "Help me," she pointed to the two men on the ground,  "your friends, we need to get them off the streets, then I know  a place where we can talk."

"Ow!" Gabrielle blurted as the tie that held her to the post gave way. Quickly catching her balance, she turned to stare at Mary.

Mary grinned. "Well, you are half there, how bout the rest?"

Gabrielle glanced around the room, spying an old bottle setting on a desk in the far corner of the room she began to walk toward it.  "I think I have an idea."

Mary watched as the woman picked up the bottle, dropped it and as it hit the floor shattered. Dropping to her knees, Gabrielle quickly found a  sharp piece. She sat and placed it between her boots holding it in place. Carefully sawing back and forth she was soon free of the ties that held her wrists.

Mary was wracked with pain but seeing Gabrielle free gave her a feeling of happiness.
She always marveled at the woman, Gabrielle was one in a million. "Now, that you are free, make your way out of here, go to Xena and don't look back."

A thoughtful frown crossed Gabrielle's face as she turned and walked toward the woman. "Sweet words will get you no where Ready.  I will not leave you."  She bit at her lower lip and began to survey the chains and manacles that held the woman to the wall.

"Unless you have the strength of Hercules, forget it. These things aren't coming off.  It will make me happy to know you are away from here, go."

Shaking her head, Gabrielle paused before she said, "Nope.  Either we both go or . . ."

"Quit being a martyr. I know what the consequences are and if you want to do something that will make me happy, leave."

Gabrielle pushed her body close to Mary's and stood on the tip of her toes, her eyes gazing into the woman's. "Would you leave me?"

Mary looked away as she replied, "In a heartbeat."

Gabrielle reached up to check the manacles as she muttered, "Sure, that is why you are where you are now, because you would leave me.  In case you think I forgot which I haven't, you are in this mess because of me. Now quit trying to shoo me away and try to come up with a way to get you out of these."

Ann had left the man at the stable, tied and gagged. While searching she found a supply of oil and was just finishing the touches as she poured it on the posts leaving  a trail to the alley.
The sound of a rooster crowing gave her notice the sun would be rising soon as well as Asterea and what men she had left.  During the time Ann had been in the village, she slowly picked off the men.  Her body ached, she had been active, and it was taking a big toll on the woman.  Leaning against the wooden wall of the building, she felt her body slowly descent to the ground.

Heaving a sigh, Ann laid her head back against the wood, closed her eyes and said a prayer to anyone that might be listening.  She wanted to free Mary and Gabrielle, settle once and for all this thing between her and Asterea. And with each prayer she hoped to remember her past, the present and a beautiful woman named Gina.  The man she left tied up at the stable assured her there were not more than five left in the tavern.   The five men did not give  her cause to worry, it was the pirate Asterea.  If she was as cruel as they said, and if they shared a past of  hate, she would be the one to concentrate on.

"Might as well give up these are not going to give, but you will.  Like I said, get out of here."

Gabrielle shook her head, her blue green eyes taking the woman into them. "And like I said, nope.  Would you happen to have a pin in your hair?"

Mary chuckled, "Yeah right, I always carry pins. What do you want with a pin anyway, suddenly in the mood to set your hair?"

"Learned sometime ago how to unlock these with a pin or something similar."

Mary's eyes sparkled toward the woman, her expression softened.  "You amaze me, woman. Is there nothing you can't do?"

Pursing her lips for a minute she answered, "Yes, it seems I can't get you out of these."  Her hands began to pat the woman down as Mary squirmed and said, "Gods woman! What are you doing now?"

"Thought perhaps you had a pin or something, I could use in your clothes."

"Might ask?"  Mary fumed.

Stepping back, her hands on her hips trouble lingering in her eyes she muttered, "Then I am asking? Do you?"

"No."  Mary's solemn look gave way to a warm smile.  "Perhaps. How about a small bone?"

Gabrielle's eyes lit up as she urged, "Yes, yes!  Give."

Mary looked down as she said, "I have a small bone keeping my trousers together."

Immediately Gabrielle's fingers searched and found the shy bone.  Quickly removing it, she said, "It will just be a minute."

Staring at the ceiling, Mary muttered, "Gods I hope no one comes in here. You standing over me, my trousers down around my ankles . . ."

"Admit it Ready, you always wanted to get me this close."  Gabrielle was feverishly working on the manacles in hopes to free the woman before Asterea and her men came for them.

Chapter Seventy Two

Asterea was sitting at a table, her head resting on it.  The empty bottles of port  setting there as well as the few on the floor gave evidence she had been drinking into the night.  Her men were either sitting or laying on the floor, and did not look like they were ready to greet the day.
The rooster crowing and the sunlight creeping into the room gave each one a wake up call.

Leim, ran a hand through his hair, groaned and gazed around the room.  He reached over and poked Alden. "Better wake, won't be long and she will be rising," he pointed to Asterea, "wanting us to get prepared for Ann Bounty."

Alden scratched his underarms, belched then murmured, "The woman is like some devil that is possessed.  All she can think of is this woman Ann.  I don't know if it is to kill her or to love her."

Leim cocked his head to the right, his eyes focusing on Asterea. "Both it seems.  Maybe after this day, she will satisfy her will."

"Yeah, and the woman Bounty will just ride in here, drop at Asterea's feet and beg for mercy.  More than likely she is long gone by now."

Pointing to the back room, Liam grinned, "Not as long as we have those two back there."

"Those two?  Ann Bounty has lost her memory, what makes you think she will risk her life for two people she does not even remember?  Besides, she has the treasure map, she is probably finding it as we all sit around here waiting for something that will not take place."

The man stood, offered a hand up to Alden then said, "Treasure. That is why we are here. No one beats the captain in anything and when Ann Bounty took the treasure map, she sealed her death warrant as well as her friends."

Ann was at that moment releasing the horses in the corral. Sitting on a white stallion, she herded them down the main street.  Nearing the square, she laid low on the animal, her right hand holding a torch. The loud sounds of thundering hooves passing the tavern brought those inside to their feet. Several ran into each  other, while the others scrambled for the door.  A heavy night of celebration was now playing havoc on their coordination.

Asterea woke so suddenly she knocked the bottles that were on the table to the floor  where they rolled and joined the others. "What is going on?!"  She bellowed stumbling then catching her balance.
Liam ran to help her, but wished he had not.  She gave him an evil eye, grabbed her cutlass and dared him to come nearer.  He backed away, holding up his hands murmuring, "Just thought you might need a little help."

"If I need help, I'll ask for it!  What in blazes is all that racket outside?!  Where are the other men?!"

They all looked around shrugged then headed for the door.

As the white stallion neared the posts in the center of the village, Ann tossed the torch, it immediately touched off the oil she had placed there the night before.  The confusion of running horses, and a large fire were enough to bring five men running out onto the street.  Only to be met by stampeding horses.

Ann waited until the men were coming into  view, it was obvious they were confused. Grinning, she fell to the side of the animal, and as the horse came near  two of the men, she pulled herself up and sit the animal once more.  Her right leg shot out, striking one as her fist caught the other sending him crashing.  Releasing her hold on the horse, she somersaulted backwards, her feet striking two others as they staggered back, then fell.

The man left standing, drew his cutlass, and struck several times cutting the air. Ann shook her head, "If you value your life, you will get out of here now!"

His beady eyes darted around the area, it was apparent he was looking for backup, but no one came. "You . . . Where are the others?"

Ann tossed her head,  allowing her flaming red hair to flow back and forth. She stood tall, squared her shoulders, her right hand on the hilt of her cutlass offering, "There is just you and me, do you feel lucky this day?"

"It's either you kill me or Asterea, either way I will be dead."

"Foolish man."  Ann muttered then turned and began to walk away from him.

He watched her, seeming totally confused then suddenly he charged, his cutlass held high. "You die this day wench!"

Ann dropped to her left knee, as her right hand shot up, burying the dagger it  held deep into the man's crying flesh.

"Not bad!"  The cold words stuck a chord deep within her as Ann gazed toward the tavern door.
Asterea was standing, her eyes surveying the melee in the square.  "Who knew you had it in you to do this. I underestimated you."

Quickly getting to her feet, Ann gazed toward the woman. "You lied to me."

Asterea was now on the street, she walked toward several of her men and kicked at them trying to get them to stand up. "Where are my other men?"

"They are tied up at the moment."

"Much like your two friends were."  Asterea gave her a scowling look.

Ann glanced toward the tavern. "Were?  If you harmed them, you will pay!"

The woman threw her head back and roared, "It will take more than you to make me pay!"

Ann started to walk toward the tavern to be met by Asterea who had now drawn her cutlass. "Oh no! We have a few things to settle, like where is my map?"

"Sorry about the map.  Shouldn't have taken it."

"I want it back, where is it?!"

Ann did not flinch, she met Asterea's gaze with her own. "Don't have it anymore, gave it to two people from another place, they needed it more than me."

"Damn you Bounty!"

"Finally going to admit who I really am? Want to tell me why you lied to me all this time?"

Asterea, glanced at the posts that were burning to the ground. "You just can't leave anything I do alone. Tell me who you gave the map to and after I have finished with you, I will go after them and my map."

To her surprise, Ann grinned as she stepped back. hoping that her smile would unnerve the woman. "They are from another world much like this one."

The woman kicked at the dirt, her face reddened as she spouted, "Tales! You think I am going to believe a tale like that. You probably have it put up somewhere.  Either I get the map or I take it out on your hide!"

Ann stopped moving, drew her cutlass, and held it outward, the sun's rays were bouncing off the metal, her eyes following it straight to Asterea.

Asterea looked up then back toward Ann, "I took you into my confidence, I took care of you and you turn on me, seems you need to be taught a lesson."

"In case you haven't noticed it, your men are not here to help you, it is you the two of us. I do not wish to fight you, I owe you that much. Tell me you have not harmed Mary and Gabrielle and I will go get them and walk away."

The woman fumed, her temper was volatile, her expression hardened and her lips began to  twitch as  she growled, "Mary and Gabrielle are not thinking of you any longer. It is just the two of us now!"

Ann stepped toward Asterea, made a leap and somersaulted over her, landing behind the woman. Before Asterea could turn, she kicked out striking  her in the middle of her back.  Quickly catching her balance, she turned to face  Ann. "You fight like a cat, stay put, face a person head on!"

It was at this time Gabrielle and Mary made their way out the doorway of the tavern.  "Ann!"
They both chorused.

The two women turned to gaze at them.  Asterea cursed and  charged Ann who was still watching them.  They looked at one another yelled and tossed two bottles.  The first one struck Asterea, sending her to the ground and the second hit Ann. She dropped her cutlass, grabbed her head and joined Asterea on the ground.

The two women walked toward them as Gabrielle looked at Mary with a questioning look. "We were both supposed to hit Asterea, yet you hit Ann."
Mary dropped to her knees, cradled Ann in her arms and whispered, "Sorry. Gods you will hate me for sure now."

Gabrielle tied Asterea then turned her attention to Mary.  "We have to get Ann inside, Her head is bleeding and have to  stop this and at the same time pray you didn't do any damage."

Looking up at the woman, Mary murmured, "I didn't do it on purpose.  How is Asterea? " She stood, picked Ann up and carried her into the tavern.

Gabrielle glanced at the woman then said, "She is fine, have a headache but she is fine. Where do you suppose the rest of Asterea's men are?"

Mary had already entered the tavern  and Gabrielle ran to catch up.

Mary laid Ann on the floor, tore some fabric from her tunic and held it to the spot that was bleeding.
Gabrielle found some port and dabbed it on the spot then turned to Mary. "How come you to miss?"

Mary wrapped a piece of fabric around the woman's head and after she made sure it would stay, then turned to gaze at Gabrielle. "Something distracted me."

"What . . . Who?"

Getting to her feet, Mary walked toward the counter leaned over reached down and brought a flailing bartender to his feet. "This."

"Put me down!  I didn't mean to!"

Gabrielle was walking toward them and it was at this time Mary's right fist made contact with the man's face. Dropping the man she turned and staggered to a chair.

Immediately Gabrielle was at her side, helping the woman as she slumped in the chair. "Mary, what happened?"

"Fool hit me with something when I was throwing the bottle . . ."  Her head collapsed on the table and it was then Gabrielle realized the man must have ventured out, saw what was going on and hit Mary with something.

Chapter Seventy Three

Time had past, neither Ann nor Mary sustained any permanent damage and both were back on their feet, taking care of loose ends.  Asterea and her men had been handed over to the Elder of the town.  He promised to see that justice would prevail.

Though Gina was upset because Ann left her tied up, she was well on her way to forgiving the woman. Will was still in awe that Asterea and her men had been taken down by one woman.
Mary and her brother were going to ride with Gabrielle to Amphipolis to meet up with Xena.
Ann, Gina and Saxton were making plans to get back to their ship.

Will walked up to Mary who was saddling the last horse. "Sis?"

She turned to smile at him. "I hear my name but I also hear a question there."

"We will be leaving soon, aren't you and Ann going to at least talk?"

Tightening the cinch she uttered, "Nothing to talk about, woman hates me."

"Can't believe that, she risked her life to save you and Gabrielle and she didn't even remember you."

"Right and what did I do in return, hit her in the head with a bottle.  Fine friend I turned out to be."

"Well, I am going to go tell Gina good by, if you are smart, you will at least try to talk to Ann."  He turned and walked away.

Ann was standing, staring at the stream.

"Dinar for your thoughts?"

She glanced up to see Gabrielle walking toward her.  Ann smiled, and turned her full attention to the woman. "You look sprightly today. I hate to see you go."

"Have to get back, I've been gone for sometime.  Besides, you have places to go and things to do."

Her emerald green's met Gabrielle's eyes and for a moment they seemed locked in time. It was Gabrielle that looked away. She walked toward a tree stump, and sat.  Looking up at Ann she offered, "Come sit. It is a beautiful day."

Ann bit at her lower lip, her eyes gazing and seeming mesmerized by the woman. "All right, I'll sit.  Are you all packed?"

"Yes, Mary is finishing at the corral.  We will be leaving soon.  About Mary . . ."

Ann interrupted,  "Don't," The woman does not wish to talk to me."

Gabrielle reached out touching Ann's right hand, "You know Ann Bounty you are just as hardheaded as always."

Ann looked skeptical. "Hardheaded?  Well I guess my head is pretty hard."  She reached up to touch her head.

Grinning, Gabrielle nodded, "It is that.  She didn't mean to hit you, you know."

Nodding, Sea acknowledged what she had said. "I know. And before you say anything else, I know what happened, how she picked me up and carried me into the tavern, treated my wound all the time being hurt herself.  I know it all."

"Then quit trying to be so pigheaded, go and talk to the woman.  She is in pain, she values your friendship. The two of you have a bond, the same as I have to you.  Never let a day go by without letting the people, you care about know."

"I am hardheaded and now I am pigheaded?  It takes two people to talk, or would you just wish to see me muttering to the wind?"

"Someone needs to get the two of you to at least acknowledge the other.  You might give it a try, what is the worst that could happen?"

Ann looked deep in thought before she answered, "Well, I'm not sure."

"There, and you will never be sure until you take the first step."

"Tell me Gabrielle, why is it so important that the two of us talk?"

"Because in this life you never know from day to day, what will happen.  If something were to happen to either of you and you have not made piece, the one left behind will always hate themselves for not taking the . . ."

"I know, the first step.  All right. For you I will attempt to talk to Mary Ready. When did you get so worldly?"

"I think the day a certain pirate shanghaied me."

Standing, Ann walked toward the bubbling stream. "I'm sorry about that.  From all you have said, I wasn't very nice."

Gabrielle got up, walked to where she stood.  "Had this not happened, I would never have come to know the wonder of a woman named Ann Bounty."

Ann tossed a pebble into the water.  "Seems you  probably would have been a lot better off had we not met."

There was silence and she turned to gaze at Gabrielle.  She was staring at her in disbelief, tears were forming in her eyes and all Sea wanted to do was reach out and hold her. "I did not say those words to hurt you. I just thought . . ."

"Don't just think, the Ann Bounty I know always acted, sometimes impulsively but still acted."

"Hey you two, Mary has the horses saddled and we are ready to go!"

They looked up the path and could see Will waving to them.    Both waved as Gabrielle called out, "Be there in a few minutes."  They watched him leave then she turned her attention back to Ann. "I have to go, but remember Ann Bounty, I carry you in my heart always and if you ever need me, I will be there."

Impulsively, Ann reached out and hugged the woman. "And I will carry you with me always. Promise me, if you should need me you will let me know?"

"I promise."  She pulled back, smiled turned and began to walk away.

"I have heard that once you stare into a person's eyes as we have, we are destined to meet many times."

Stopping, when she heard Sea's words, she turned and stared at her. The only sound was the stream journeying along its way.  Cocking her head to the left, then the right, her eyes surveyed the woman.

"What?"  Ann seemed confused as she asked this.

Pursing her lips, Gabrielle slowly smiled. "I've heard those words before. And you are right, we will meet again."  She placed  a hand over her heart then turned and walked away.

Ann watched her until she was out of sight. Mulling over Gabrielle's words, she wondered where the woman had heard the words before.  Shrugging she began to make her way back.
She was just nearing the clearing when she spied Mary Ready walking toward the well. She seemed to be in a hurry  and this gave Ann reason to walk faster.

"I guess you are all ready to leave?"

Ann Bounty's words startled Mary and the woman dropped the water skin. She turned to face the woman she never thought would speak to her again.  "Ann . . . Bounty."

The woman's red hair was gently falling on her shoulders. She wore black leather trousers, a black tunic that was open at the neck and black boots.  The cutlass that hung from her side looked at home, as did the dagger she carried in her belt.   Crossing her arms, she gazed at Mary, "Now that we have that settled, my name, want to take a walk?"

Mary glanced toward the horses.  Gabrielle, Will and Gina were staring down at them. "I think they are wanting to go."

"Surely you have time to talk to an old friend."

Mary was beside herself she didn't know exactly what Ann had in mind but finally attempted to smile and said, "Lead the way."

Ann noticed the woman looked hesitant and so she began to disarm herself.  "There, I will leave my weapons, you do the same. I only wish to talk."

They had been walking for a while.  Ann stopped, leaned back against a tree and said, "This looks like a good spot."

Mary looked apprehensive as she said, "I'm sorry."

"Sea reached up and touched her head. "The bottle? Gabrielle just told me I am hardheaded, I think she is right. It was an accident, I am happy the two of you are all right."

Mary looked at the woman as if she did not quite understand what was happening. "Do you know how long I have prayed we could talk?  I know you must hate me, it is my fault you . . ."

"Don't go there.  For I know there is enough fault to go around. From all I have been told and what  I have been able to gather, you did what you felt would save me.  I just hope in the future you will at least talk to me before you go off and do something pigheaded like that again."

"Pigheaded?"  Mary was totally confused.

Ann pointed toward the horses. "Gabrielle said I was pigheaded and I think perhaps you are also.
Face it Ready, with all we have been through, to come out alive is a miracle. I wish you and the others a safe trip."  She stood and walked toward Mary,  offered her right hand to the woman. "Friends?"

Mary's face relaxed, her blue eyes lit up as she grasped Ann's hand, held it tightly and said, "Friends always. You're not mad at me?"

Ann smiled, "Life is too short to be mad, sides you didn't do it on purpose."

Gabrielle looked at Gina and said, "She will come back to you. Ann loves you."

Gina sighed, her eyes still gazing in the direction where she had last seen Mary and Sea. "I know she tied me up because she wanted to save me but . . ."

"No but. Whenever you feel angry or upset stop and think you almost lost her completely.  Let your heart do the talking."

Nodding, Gina smiled at her.  "I can see why Ann loves you so."

Gabrielle hugged the woman, turned to Will and said, "Let's get mounted, they will be back soon." As she put her foot in the stirrup, she looked at Gina and offered, "She loves me as a friend. It is you that have her heart."

It was at this time Mary and Ann came into view, they were walking side by side, their arms around one another.  It was apparent they had made amends.

Mary said her good by to Gina then mounted her  waiting horse.  They waved and galloped from the area.  Gina and Ann watched until they were out of sight then Ann turned to the woman and said, "I sent Saxton on ahead, get The Bounty ready for us. Are you ready?"

Chapter Seventy Four

A soft warm breeze was gliding its way across the foliage.  Everything it touched seemed to come alive in song.  High in trees, birds set together in close harmony, their night sounds echoing to one another.
The  full moon's magnificent rays  graced the area, lighting it in golden splendor.
Even the ocean was at peace this night. The water ebbed onto the sandy beach, leaving its mark as it trailed, its way back out to sea.  No big waves, no foaming surf, just gentle ripples . . .

The two women walked hand in hand, both enjoying the beautiful night and each other.
Ann could  feel the warmth of Gina's hand in hers. Gazing toward the woman,  she was able to see that Gina's eyes were attentively tracing her form.
Stopping, Ann turned to face her. Gina's beautiful hair moved ever so slightly by the gentle breeze and she was captivating.

"The moon is beautiful this night." Gina's words greeted Ann like  a beautiful melody.

Nodding, Ann's eyes never left Gina's as she replied, "It cannot hold a ray of light to your beauty."

Gina seemed flushed and for a moment, speechless. With ease, Ann brought Gina's right hand to her lips and placed a tender kiss upon it.

"Sea . . . This time has been precious to me.  If you never get your memory back, I will always carry this with me.  I just do not want you to feel you have to be with me. Do you ever wish you were somewhere else?"

Gina's words surprised Ann, her  hand griped Gina's tightly.  Her grip was not enough to hurt, just allow her to know how much she was loved. "I am with you because I wish to be, because I feel the love we have more every day. Sweet Love, I have no desire to ever be anywhere that you are not."

Ann's words brought a radiant glow to Gina's face. "And I have no desire to ever be without my dashing pirate," Gina's eyes were dancing with Sea's and each tune spoke of passion, love, always.

Sea grinned, "You have a way about you. I have but to gaze at you and I feel as if a million angels have found their way to my heart," I never knew a person could feel such joy from being with another."

Gina's right thumb was tracing the back of Sea's hand, she seemed pensive. "I still am not happy that you left me tied up.  But I am trying to understand you did this to save my life.  Do you think in the future you might give me the opportunity to make this decision.  My life is nothing without you.  Since we  boarded The Bounty and traveled to this island you have been wonderful to me, I will never be able to repay you."

Dropping her hand, Sea stepped back, her face furrowed with concern, "Is that what this has been?  I do something for you and you feel you must repay me?"

Seeming surprised at Sea's words, Gina's eyes widened, "Oh, no! Never that! Please forgive
me, if I have said something to upset you."

"I can fight with the best, yet when it comes to matters of the heart, it seems I am lacking."

The moon's rays were shining down upon them and in the light, Ann Bounty was more beautiful
than ever. Her fiery hair casually moving about the woman's shoulders, brilliant emerald green eyes that always took Gina into them with love and tenderness. And the woman had the smoothest skin she had ever seen, her face was flawless. Her lips  spoke of love, captivating and enticing. Sea was wearing a muslin, low-necked tunic, it rode the top of her bounteous breasts like a wave upon the ocean, and Gina was entranced.

"Gina! Gods woman what are you staring at?  Haven't you heard a word I have said?"

Completely befuddled at the woman's words, Gina stammered, each word making little sense. Her face was beet red as she gazed up at Sea.

Ann took a step toward her as Gina backed away. "What is the matter with you, tell me Gina, what have I done?"

Taking a deep swallow, trying to get her body to settle down. "You are so beautiful, I find myself
lost in you," her voice was low and soft.

Ann had watched the woman, feeling an ache within as she uttered, "Beautiful? I am pleasured you find me so but the most beautiful woman in the world is standing before me at this moment." Ann glanced toward the ocean, her eyes misting as she said, "I find myself falling more in love with you each day,  it's plain and simple."

Stepping close to the woman, Gina felt her own body grip her in tumultuous spasms of wonder. Her legs were weak and she was feeling unsteady. "Sea, I know it has been a long journey, trying to recall your past, our love.  Though I knew it within my heart, now I know it in my soul. I see it in your eyes, my Ann is coming  back."

Sensing the woman's closeness, Sea felt her jaw harden as she clenched her teeth. Taking a deep
breath she whispered, "I could live like this forever, as long as I knew you would be beside me."

Gina pressed against Sea's back, her arms wrapping around the woman, holding her close. "I
love you Ann Bounty, and come what will, I will always be standing beside you."

Turning in the woman's embrace, Sea gazed down into Gina's light brown eyes, "This has been a
beautiful night, if you are ready, we should find our way back."

Gina beamed up at the woman, "I am ready."

Slowly, Sea lowered her head, her lips brushed Gina's in a soft yet sensual kiss. The two women,
were beautiful standing there, the ocean, and a glorious moon as a back drop against the millions of stars that were smiling down upon them.

The women's laughter was echoing through the forest as they made their way toward the lone
wooden shack set deep amongst the trees. Once they had entered the room, Sea volunteered, "I
will start a fire in the hearth. warm the room a little."

Gina smiled, "And I will fix us some tea."

Turning to gaze at her, softness in her eyes, Sea replied, "I think I would like some port, need
something to warm my insides."

Chuckling, Gina replied, "Tea would do the same but I will get you some port."  She walked toward a wooden shelf and retrieved a bottle. Turning she found herself mesmerized once more by Sea. The woman  had already started a friendly fire and was adding a few pieces of wood to it.

"How would you like it?"

Raising an eyebrow, Sea turned to stare at Gina. "How would I like it?  Like what?"

Holding the bottle in her left hand, Gina answered, "The port."

Her eyes glancing toward the large bed in the corner of the room, Sea bit at her lower lip, "Changed my mind. I think I will go for a walk."

Setting the bottle on a small table, Gina approached the woman, "Ann Bounty what has possessed you?"

Seeming surprised at Gina's words, Ann asked, "Possessed? What makes you think
something has possessed me?"

"We have had the most beautiful days here. You promised me a retreat and this has been
wonderful. Tonight was so beautiful. I feel as if I am in heaven, here with you. Now, you wish to
leave me? How could you do this to me?" The woman's eyes were fighting back tears, as Ann
turned to look away.

"I do not wish to cause you any pain. I just thought a walk would do me good."

Trying to catch her breath, Gina sobbed, "We just walked the beach, Gods Sea, now you wish to go off and leave me."

Sea muttered under her breath, "Need to go and get some more kindling. You look tired, why don't you turn in."

Feeling her body racked in pain, Gina replied, "You do that, go get your kindling."  It was obvious she was upset.

Ann turned to see Gina walking toward the bed.  "I'll be back," she murmured and  left the

Stepping out into the fresh air, Sea stared up at the brilliance of the sky, "Don't look down upon me like that! What would you do if you were in the same position? I must give Gina a chance to rest. I cannot force my attentions on her."
It was as if the woman expected the sky to open up and give her some sort of reply, instead, all she heard was the sounds of a forest creature in a nearby grove.

It was much later when Ann finally made it back to the shack. She had gone to the lagoon with
thoughts of taking a moonlight swim, thinking it would ease her body. Instead she was more
pent up at that moment than she had been all day.

The two women had become so close, one would give their life for the other and during these days of trials and triumphs, they had found love again.

Having lost her memory for so long, and having been terribly hurt by affairs of the heart, Sea had sworn to take it slow. And now she found herself hopelessly falling in love with Gina. She played Ann's heart like a fine-tuned harp. Her words were soft, melodic strands of love. And with each touch, the pirate Sea Troll, was being reeled into a world she swore she would never go again.

Carefully opening the door, Sea peeked into the room, her eyes came to rest on Gina. She was
laying on her stomach, and from the easy way her body was moving, she felt the woman was

After stepping into the room, Ann closed the door with great care. Then she walked toward the
wooden table. Sitting, she heaved a sigh of relief. The bottle of port was still setting there.
Glancing toward Gina, Sea reached out and took the bottle into her hands, removed the cork and took a long swallow. Leaning back in the chair, her body felt weak and the port had done nothing except fuel the already raging fire that was consuming her.

She glanced at the hearth and the fire she had made earlier, it had died out, but  there were a few embers still hanging on. "Like me, you just don't know when to quit." Her words were soft and meant for the fire but it was Gina that she heard answer. "No, I will never quit. If you have had enough of outside, come to bed, it is warm, I am not."

Glancing toward the bed, she could see that Gina was sitting up, holding the cover to her breasts. A tremor of excitement ran through her body as she replied, "I do not think I should share your bed this night."

"My bed, our bed and yes you will pirate."

Sea was taken aback at the authority of Gina's words. She reached down and removed her boots, slowly removing the leather belt that held her cutlass. Placing it on the table, she stood, walked toward the fire and laid a few more pieces of kindling upon the embers. "There that should warm you."

Gina was standing, the cover wrapped around her body as she stepped toward Sea. "A lovely fire it will make. It is not that kind of fire I am needing. Sea, what is wrong. Have I displeased you?  Do you not want me any more?"

Sea stared at her, the woman was beautiful and it was evident she had nothing on under the cover.

"Feeling a bit flustered, Sea mumbled, "I thought you had gone to sleep."

Gina was close and reached out, her left hand tracing the woman's cheek, "I couldn't sleep with
you out there and me in here. Tell me, please what have I done?"

Sea could feel the heat from the fire as she took Gina's hand in hers, holding it close to her heart.
"You have done only wonder for me. You have been tolerant of my loss of memory. I am amazed you are in my life. But I cannot come to bed at this time."

"Why? If you do not tell me, I will forever feel I have done something."

"You have."

The shocked look that came over Gina's face was followed by the words, "What? Gods Sea, What have I done?"

"It is not you, it is me. Each day I gaze at you, each day I fall more in love with you. I don't want to hurt you."

Pulling her hand away, Gina asked, "How can being in love with me, hurt me? Have you
been into the port again?"

"Sometimes, I am so full of love for you, I feel as if I will burst. I want to hold you, touch you, kiss you, love you forever more," Sea's voice was soft.

Gina smiled toward her. "And that is a bad thing?  Sounds heavenly to me."

"It is," Sea was searching for the right words, "I am afraid I will start to love you and my own
selfish desires may cause me to hurt you."

Gina beamed, "Oh, is that all it is," she stepped close to Sea, reached out and grasped her tunic,
pulling it from the waist of her breeches, "first, you must remove these clothes. Then my dashing
pirate, join me in our bed. After all it will not only be you that will be doing all the loving.  And there is not a selfish bone in your body."

Sea watched the woman walk toward the bed, Gina turned, smiled at her as she let the cover drop to the floor. Sea's mouth fell open, the desire in her eyes evident.

"Well, are you going to stand there all night."

Gina's words caused Sea to step backward, hitting the table as the bottle of port hit the floor, spilling its content. "Blast it!" Sea hopped around for a second then she said, "You must think me a total klutz."

Beaming at the woman, Gina answered, "It is but a table and the port is much better on the floor. I will be here whenever you decide to come to bed."

Removing her breeches, Sea quickly pulled the tunic over her head and tossed it into a chair. She
turned, her eyes gazing at Gina, "I love you." It didn't take her lengthy legs long to make it to the bed. She smiled down, her eyes filled with love as Gina held out her arms. "Come to me my pirate. I want to feel your passion this night."

The End

Continued in the next adventure

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