THE CURSE part 3


by Anita Louise

copyright 9/98


Chapter Seventeen

The closer she got to the foliage the louder the sounds. Taking a deep
breath, Gina reached out and moved several vines, her eyes searching the
area. The sounds of the foliage, as it swept across her body with each step
she took, suddenly was all she could hear. Stopping, she stared around the
area, straining her eyes as she listened. Dropping lower, she moved the
vegetation aside with her cutlass. Feeling a chill as she caught the sound
of something moving in the bushes not four feet from where she had haunched

Taking a deep gasp of air, she began to move toward the sounds. Deciding to
veer right and come around in front of whatever it was. Amazement shown
across her face when she stepped out, cutlass ready, feet braced apart and
yelled, "Stop right there!"

It was a man, unlike any other she had ever set her eyes on. He had been
dragging himself through the foliage. His soft gray eyes stared up at her, a
look of dismay crossed his handsome features, as he gasped, "Don't kill me."

She scanned his body, taking in the magnificent physic. His clothes were
torn and dirty but they were of noble wear. The black hair that was askew
about his head, was fascinating. She wasn't sure it was the hair or the
silver tip that seemed to find it's way down upon his forehead, she found
fascinating. Her words were threatening, "Who are you?"

He tried to sit up and fell upon his back. His gray eyes seeming to
penetrate her resolve. "They call me Silver." his eyes were resting on the
water-skin tied to the belt on her waist. "Could use a drink of water."

Gina stepped forward, her cutlass now pointing at the man's throat. "First,
let me remove any thoughts of this." Bending down she withdrew the man's
cutlass and tossed it into the bushes. His eyes followed every movement and
when she was standing, he said, "Not too trusting are you."

She stepped back, untied the water-skin and tossed it to the man. "Pays to
be careful rather than sorry." His hands feverishly sought the cork as he
tried to open it. Falling back he dropped the water-skin and cursed. Gina
slid her cutlass into it's sheath and walked closer to the man. "You are
weak, and from the look of your clothes, I would say you have been faced
with a few problems. Want to tell me a little of it?"

He watched as she dropped to her knees and retrieved the water-skin.
Removing the stopper, she said, "Let me help you."

He nodded as she placed her left hand behind his head and helped him raise
it, her other hand held the water-skin to his mouth. His thirst was evident
and it was all she could do to keep him from taking in too much water all at
once. "Slow down, you will choke yourself, Gods, how can someone end up on
this beautiful island and be so thirsty?"

When he was finished, he muttered, "Easy, you lose your ship and your men."

Placing the water-skin near the man she sat and said, "You are a captain?
What ship? What happened?"

His look was one of admiration as he said, "You are beautiful, have the gods
sent you here to help me?"

Grinning, Gina shook her head, "Oh no. I happen to be with friends. Some
came over to the island to search for supplies. I came over just to look."

His smile was warm as he whispered, "You know my name, will you tell me what
yours is?"

She looked away her voice trailing off, "Not important, but getting you on
your feet is."

At this time, she heard the voices of Sea and Mary. They were calling her
and they both sounded frantic. Getting to her feet, she said, "Have to go."
He reached out and grasped her left hand and asked, "Why?" Standing she
smiled down at the man and replied, "Those are my friends, I will get them
and we can get you to the ship and take care of your injuries."

He shook his head and said, "No, I will be fine."

"Don't be silly as soon as I tell Sea you are here."

He sat up, it seemed to be all the man could do as he swayed and asked, "Are
you talking about Sea Troll?"

Nodding, she asked, "Yes, do you know her?"

He was on his knees as he cursed, "Know her, yeah I know her. Woman will
kill me and I will do the same to her given a chance."

Taken aback at the man's words, Gina said, "Are you mad? Sea is a wonderful
person she will never hurt you. Why would you want to harm her?"

He cursed, "Woman got my father captured, she is responsible for a dark time
in my life. I have to get out of here."

Sea and Mary were very close now as Sea's words rang out, "Gina, I know you
are near, the boat is close, your bootprints led us here. Are you all

Her eyes showed alarm in them as she said, "I have to go, I will leave you
the water. Are you sure you will be all right?"

He nodded, "Yes, go before that she devil finds me and ends my life."

"She wouldn't, Sea is not like that."

He grimaced, "Then you don't know this woman called Sea very well. You are a
godsend, tell me at least, what is your name?"

"Gina, it's Gina, I have to go." He watched her walk away then began to move
deeper into the foliage.

Sea and Mary were standing, their backs to the foliage and both deep in
conversation when the woman came strolling from the bushes. Both women
turned, their faces showed signs of relief. Sea smiled as did Mary as Gina
approached them. "You two came looking for me? I am a big girl you know."

Mary gave Sea the eye and at the same time Sea said, "Oh that is one thing I
am sure of, you are a big girl but even big girls get hurt. Never let me
catch you going off like that again without telling me or Mary or someone."

Gina's eyes bounced from one woman to the other as she said, "I did, I left
you a note."

Sea took several paces to the right as she said, "A note. I was asleep. Mary
was Gods know where, and you, on an island you know nothing about. I don't
know whether to wrap my arms around you or take you over my knee."

Gina was seething as she said, "I have no doubt, You could," Light brown
eyes seemed to penetrate Sea's as she continued, "I've never seen you like
this." She glared at Mary, "You seem to be enjoying this all too much. Tell
her, tell the woman she is taking this too far."

Mary grinned, her blue eyes sparkling as she said, "Can't, it's between the
two of you," her eyes careully exacmined Gina before she asked, "You came
over here without water?"

Gina's eyes were watching Sea as the woman paced. Bringing her attention
back to Mary she answered, "Didn't plan on being over here long."

Sea flared, "Anything could have happened, never go anywhere without water I
thought I taught you better!"

Shrugging her shoulders, Gina said, "You did, I won't let it happen again.
I'm going to go back."

Sea's hands were on her hips as she said, "I think not, you and I need to
settle a few things."

Gina had never seen the woman this distraught and she looked to Mary for
help as she said, "I'm sorry, do something."

Mary smiled, took several steps toward Sea. "Red, it's time."

Turning to face the woman, Sea's expression changed as she asked, "'Red?'
You haven't called me that for sometime. What do you mean 'it's time?'"

Mary glanced back at Gina and said, "Get in the boat, go back to the ship.
Sea and I need to talk."

Gina gazed at Sea, her look was sorrowful as she said, "I'll be in the
cabin. I'm sorry if I upset you."

Sea took several steps to stop her and found Mary's hand on her shoulder.
She whirled, her face full of anger as she spouted out, "What in Hades do
you think you are doing Mary Ready! Get out of my way, blast you!"

The woman's voice was calm as she watched Gina shove the longboat off and
hop into it. "Sea, friend, calm down, she is fine you can see that for
yourself. If the two of you had continued in the vain that was taking place
you both would have done something you would have been sorry for. Stop and
think woman, she loves you, she made a mistake, don't make it into anything

Sea gazed into the caring face of her friend, the woman's words hit home as
she nodded and said, "You are right, sometimes I think I was cursed with
this red hair."

Pointing to a fallen tree, Mary said, "It's not the hair, it's beautiful,
it's the love you carry in your heart for the woman. Let's go sit over

Sea gazed at the ocean and the boat that was nearing the ship as she said,
"All right, since you seemed to find it your place to interfere."

Once the two were sitting, Mary reached out and grasped Sea's right hand,
holding it against the woman's will she said, "Calm down, I know at this
very minute you have feelings of trouncing me. I wouldn't blame you but at
least listen to me, then if you desire to beat me up, do so, I won't raise a
hand to stop you."

Staring at the woman's grip on her hand, Sea muttered, "Maybe not a hand...
I'm listening, and this had better be good."

Mary could tell Sea was becoming calmer and said, "You love the woman, the
woman loves you but you cannot control her every move. Don't even try to
interrupt me because you know it will do no good. If I have to knock some
sense into you then by God I will."

Their eyes were locked, the silence was deafening. Anyone that might have
seen the two would have sensed a battle coming to a head. Instead, after a
few minutes of staring holes into one another the two women began to laugh.
Mary released her hand and said, "That's better, now, there was no harm
done. If you must talk to Gina, tell her about the confounded island, give
her a reason for your fears. She loves you, but she is hard headed just like
you and will defy you. It is best a person never puts themselves into a
position like this. The hurt you can cause one another can be irreversible."

Sea stood, her eyes staring at the ship. She took several paces and said,
"Thanks, I needed that. I was so wrought with fear that something could have
happened to her, I just couldn't take the idea." Standing, Mary stepped up
to the woman and placed her right arm around Sea's shoulder and said, "Then
let's go back. You two take some time to talk, things will be all right."
She noticed a lone tear making it's way down the woman's face. Reaching up
she brushed it away and whispered, "I know, you were frightened you might
lose her. Enjoy the time you have together now, who knows what the future
holds for any of us."

Nodding, she said, "How did I ever get so lucky?"

As they walked toward their longboat, Mary asked, "'Lucky?'"

Wrapping her left arm around the woman's waist, Sea replied, "To have you
for a friend."

Grinning, the woman answered, "You knew a good thing when you saw it." Their
laughter was all that was left on the island as they pushed the boat into
deeper water and jumped into it.


Once the two women were back onboard ship, Mary turned to Sea, "What are you
waiting for, go talk to the woman."

Sea's eyes held a lost look in them as she said, "Can't. I made such a fool
of myself back there. She must surely hate me."

Grinning, Mary chided, "'Hate,' I don't think so. She might be confused but
all you need to do is talk to her. Gina is a level headed woman. But most of
all she is so in love with you, she would forgive you anything."

Shrugging her shoulders, Sea muttered, "I just can't, not at this moment. I
will soon, I promise."

Her eyes still held a sparkle in them as Mary said, "Just don't take too
long, don't let something so small grow into a mountain."

"I won't, just need a few minutes to think."

Mary watched her for a short time then said, "Don't think I have ever seen
you like this, the woman really has a hold on you doesn't she?"

Sea didn't answer as she walked away toward a group of crewmen. Mary headed
below, she was going to go to her cabin and was looking for a bottle of
port. This had been a confusing day and she was upset at herself as she
muttered, "You had the opportunity right there, why didn't you just let them
go at it? Smiling to herself she answered, "Because I love her too much. No,
Red, if it is to ever be, it will not be like this." Nearing Sea's cabin,
she was met by Gina as the woman stepped into the passageway.

"Pardon me." They both said as they tried to veer past one another. Finally
laughing, Gina asked, "Where is Sea?"

Mary gazed back and answered, "Topside, talking to some of the crew."

Gina turned back toward the cabin her voice falling, "Might have known, the
crew is..."

"Hold it right there young lady!" Mary Ready's voice was powerful and it
caught Gina by surprise as she stepped back, her brown eyes growing wider.
Mary looked at her, she was taken by the woman's demure and fragile look as
she continued, "Sea was worried, I was worried. After all the woman has gone
through she fears something will happen to you."

Gina stammered, "I'm not a child."

Mary's blue eyes shot sparks as she said, "Then quit acting like one. Damn,
woman, get a grip. Take into consideration what Sea has gone through and
just how much she cares. The island holds evil on it."

Gina pointed to the cabin and said, "Want to come in, tell me what you are
talking about?"

Nodding, Mary followed her into the cabin. Once inside, Gina walked toward
the desk and poured a mug of port, turned and handed it to Mary as she said,
"Sit down, have something to drink and tell me about the island."

Mary took the mug, smiled as she pulled out a chair and sat. "Maybe Sea
should tell you, might not be happy if I did."

Sitting on the bed, her brown eyes full of questions, Gina said, "I need to
know, please tell me."

Taking a long drink and savoring the taste, she leaned back in the chair and
said, "All right, I'll fill you in."

She had just finished telling Gina about the island when Sea walked into the
room. Her eyes traveled from Mary to Gina as she asked, "Want to tell me
what is going on in here?"

Gina and Mary stood at the same time and said, "Just talking."

Sea walked toward Mary and as she neared she smiled, "Thanks friend." There
were no words, Mary smiled and said, "Thanks for the port, I'll be leaving

The two women watched as the tall brunette exited the room. Then Sea turned
to Gina and they found their voices echoing the same sentiments, "I'm sorry,
forgive me."

Sea gazed into Gina's eyes, her lips spread across her face in a pleasant
smile as she asked, "Mare told you, didn't she?"

Gina nodded and said, "Don't be upset at her, I asked."

Sea walked toward the porthole, "I was so filled with the fear of losing
you, I would die if Asterea got her hands on you."

Gina stepped up to Ann, wrapping her arms around the woman, she lay her head
against Sea's neck and whispered, "I promise never to do that again, forgive

Turning in the woman's embrace, Sea's voice was soft and warm, "Nothing to
forgive." She placed her hands on the sides of Gina's face, her voice
strained for the words as she said, "I love you so much, sometimes I think
my body will burst from the love it feels for you."

"I will always love you, Ann Bounty, you have given my life purpose."

Slowly bringing her head down, Ann's soft lips caressed Gina's with a warmth
of emotion. Sighing, the brown eyed woman, fell into the kiss.






Anita Louise

copyright 9/98

Chapter Eighteen

Mary Ready had been pacing her cabin, the fear she was feeling for her
brother was beginning to take it's toll. She had finished off a bottle of
port and decided to row back to the island and search for the group. As she
started toward the door, there was a knock, hesitating then opening it, she
gazed into the beaming face of her brother.

Will looked no worse for wear, he seemed to be in high spirits. A lopsided
grin traveled his face as he said, "Missed me huh Sis?"

She threw her arms around him and said, "Scared the dickens out of me. I am
so thankful you are all right," Stepping back a pace, her eyes gazed into
his as she asked, "Saxton, the rest of the crew?"

"Fine, they are all back onboard." He stepped past her into the quarters
saying, "The island, it is wonderful."

Turning to follow the man into the room and shutting the door, she said, "It
may not be as fine as you think. Tell me what kept you so long?"

He walked toward the table, pulled out a chair and sat. "Found a lagoon, and
we decided to take the time to enjoy the water. It was refreshing."

Sitting on the bed, her eyes narrowing as she snapped, "Well, while you all
were enjoying the water, Gina went looking for you."

His eyes widened his words anxious as he spouted, "She, she is all right!?"

"No thanks to you. She is back onboard. I don't think Sea will be to happy
about this."

He leaned back in the chair and stretched his long legs, crossing them at
the ankles. "Nothing happened, we are all back and seems Gina is also. So
tell me Sister, about this beautiful island?"

After Mary told him about the island, he seemed to be deep in thought. She
was beginning to get aggravated at his lack of emotion.

He bit at his lower lip as he said, "Guess I had better go tell the captain.
I would soon look into her face now then have her hand out her fury later."

Leaning back on her elbows, Mary's eyes gleamed as she said, "Bout time, I
was beginning to think you didn't have any feelings. I don't think now is a
good time to go talk to her."

Shrugging his shoulders, he muttered, "Don't tell me they are at it again."

"No, just need some time to discuss a few things."

He leaned forward, his eyes holding all kinds of questions in them as he
said, "Time to discuss a few things, this must have something to do with
Gina going over to the island."

Nodding, Mary replied, "It does. So, let them have some time. Come on, let's
go talk to Saxton."

He stood, "All right, at least if Sea is going to be mad, she has to be mad
at him also."

Mary walked from the room her voice echoing back, "I don't think she will be
mad, she will be happy to know you are all right. Course, might chew you all

He ran to catch up to his sister, "Is there a difference? Being mad at us
and chewing us out?"

Stopping, Mary turned, her face seemed etched in stone, her voice low, "No,
so cross your fingers and hope she is in a good mood. I saw the woman tear
into the person she loves so tearing into you will not pose a problem."

He stepped past her, "In the easing area, you need to work at it a little
longer, let's go talk to Saxton."

She watched him heading topside and followed.

Sea sent Saxton and the crew back to the island to get supplies. Once this
was accomplished, the ship was on it's way once more. They had been sailing
for days.

Mary Ready had just planted her feet topside, her eyes searching the vessel.
She smiled when she spied Gina and Will. The two were standing near the
bulwark, and from the look on her brother's face, they both seemed to be
enjoying the moment. Slowly turning, she searched for Sea, finally spotting
the woman bending over a large crate near the bow. Picking up her step she
headed in Sea's direction.

Sea was busily concentrating on the crate when she heard her friends voice,
"Something mighty interesting in there?"

Looking up, she smiled, "No, just want to make sure it was intact."

Mary stared at the crate, then said, "Haven't seen too much of you these
days, seem to keep awfully busy." Her eyes were delving into Sea's Emerald

Sea pointed to the crate and said, "Sit, we can talk."

Both women sat, the rolling motion of the ship seemed peaceful and Mary
whispered, "Are things all right between you two?"

Turning to gaze at Mary, Sea smiled, "Fine, couldn't be any better."

Mary was pointing toward Gina and Will, her voice soft, "Those two seem to
have hit it off all right."

Sea glanced in the direction, then brought her full attention back toward
Mary. "Your brother has your knack for words. He seems to find Gina

"It doesn't bother you?"

Grinning, Sea replied, "No, Gina is well aware he wants to be more than a

Seeming surprised at the woman's words, Mary stammered, "Knowing this, you
still let them be like that?"

Standing, Sea walked toward the railing, leaning on it, she gazed out at the
vast expanse of water. Taking her time then finally saying, "If I am to be
fearful of everyone she talks to, I would spend all my time like that. I
trust her," Emerald Green's were fixed on Mary as she added, "People are a
free lot. I cannot control every waking movement, it is enough to try and
control the crew. A good friend told me this, although I already knew it, I
let it slip into the back of my reasoning."

Mary had approached her and was leaning on the railing, turning, her eyes
sought Sea's, "You've but to look at a person and you control them, though
you may not know this."

The gentle breeze was sweeping the woman's red hair back from her face and
for a few moments Mary felt lost in Ann Bounty's mystic.

Turning, her face full of mischief, Sea beamed, "There, you have that look

Taken aback at the woman's words, Mary replied, "'Look?' I was born with it.
Do not start to talk riddles, it is hard enough trying to keep up with you
and the flow of things without riddles."

Looking away, Sea's voice dropped softly, "The look so many people seem to
get when they stare at me. The look, I have seen on your face so many times

Shrugging her shoulders, Mary retorted, "So, I am enthralled by the
marvelous woman, Ann Bounty, it is no sin."

"Depends on where you are wanting to go with the look. Your brother wants to
take Gina to new heights and I have the feeling, if given the chance, you
might just want to show me a few."

Mary stepped back, her face full of anxiety and managing to stay calm she
said, "We've been there, I will talk to my brother if that is what you

Sea had turned, her back leaning against the railing, the gentle motion of
the ship, moving the woman's body with ease.

Mary found herself searching for air, she felt as if she was being
suffocated, her eyes traveling Sea's form. The woman wore light colored
cotton pants, the light blue calcutta shirt, barely covering her heaving
breasts. With each sweep, the hands of the breeze pushed the clothes against
Sea's body. The material seemed to want to bond with the woman and it was
bonding in the most delightful spots.

Sea's words were closer, her voice warm against Mary's right ear, "You look
at me with lust in those blue eyes," Before Mary could manage a word, the
woman brushed past her, a few choice words trailing back, "Ever stop to
think, I might also look upon you in the same fashion?"

Finding her voice, Mary turned and watched the woman amble toward the helm,
"Se--Damn it Sea, you just can't say something like that and walk away."


Will had been braiding hemp, he smiled as Gina grasped one end and said,
"Look like you could use some help."

His eyes gazing at the softness of the woman's hands, he replied, "Even if I
didn't, to get you to help me, I would say I need help."

Her light brown eyes glimmered at the man, her voice soft, "Oh you need help
all right, just maybe not this kind."

He was perplexed and asked, "What are you talking about? If it is riddles
you are spouting, I hate riddles."

Shaking her head, Gina smiled, "No riddles. Have to make sure this is
braided right, Saxton needs it."

He nodded then said, "You and the captain seem to be doing all right. Tell
me, once we get to Egypt, would you go with me to visit Cleopatra?"

Her eyes grew wide as they searched his face then she smiled, "A joke, yeah
like you know the Queen of the Nile."

His facial features did not change but his fingers seemed to turn to jelly.
Reaching out, Gina placed her hands on his, "This way, need to bring the
hemp around this way. Didn't know talking about Cleopatra would spin you out
of control."

He felt his body shake when her fingers touched his and it was all he could
do to maintain himself. "It is not talking about her that caused this, you
have a way about you, you know. I am under your spell and do not want to be

"'Spell?' There is no spell, only your mind and it seems to be on one track.
I have already told you, it is Sea I love."

Finding himself back to braiding the hemp, he said, "Love,' is there no room
in your life for anyone else?"

Her dimples deepened as a warm smile crept across her facial features she
answered, "There is, you are in my life, your sister, Saxton, the crew and
most importantly, Kiera."

He glanced down then said, "I mean..."

Gina brought her right hand up, letting her index finger glide down the
man's nose as she said, "A friend, you are a good friend."

Will smiled, "And so are you." They both went back to braiding the hemp.
Saxton had been watching the two, his eyes gleaming as he watched Sea
approaching. "You seem to be more radiant today if that is possible. Things
all right between you and Mary?"

She stopped, her eyes searching his, "Sometimes you are too smart for your
own good. You have been watching us?"

He nodded, "Couldn't help, the two of you standing side by side, an awesome,
yet beautiful, sight."

Stepping up to the man, Sea said, "I take it you have forgiven Mary?"

His eyes were soft as he replied, "If you can do it, guess I can also,
regardless of the past, she is a good friend and the woman is still in love
with you, how do you feel about her?"

Sea stepped back, she gazed at the man, "You still do it, ask me things that

"I care about you that's all. Things that affect you usually end up
affecting the rest of the ship in someway."

Gazing toward Gina and Will, she said, "Gina has told me the same thing and
Mary might as well a few minutes ago. Yes, I know she still has feelings for

His voice was kind as he asked, "And you, how do you feel about her at this

Turning to look at the man once more, Sea answered, "I love Gina you know

He nodded, pursed his lips and said, "I know that, I mean Mary Ready, she
has been and is still the fascinating woman that captured your heart so long

Running her hands through her hair, she took a deep breath and said,
"Because you are so dear to me and more like family than a crew member, I
will answer you. It must not go any farther."

He nodded, "You are like a daughter to me and I won't say anything."

Walking toward the railing, Sea placed her hands on it, she seemed to be
bracing herself. Taking her time as she searched for the right words, she
turned and faced the man. Her emerald green eyes full of emotion as she
said, "I never thought I could ever feel anything for Mary Ready again
except hatred. You are right, each day I find myself becoming captivated by
her very essence. She always had a way about her and may the Gods forgive
me, I can't help myself."

He smiled, "There is always room in a person's life for more than one
friend. Gina is a warm caring woman, she loves you more than life itself and
if you should ever hurt her I feel the woman would be broken."

Placing her right hand on the man's left shoulder, Sea said, "I won't, being
captivated is one thing but I would never do anything to hurt Gina she has
given me back my life. I love her, before you ask," her eyes glowing with
warm ripples in them, "she is all I would or could ever ask for."

He smiled, "That is good, now maybe you should tell that to the young man
that seems to have made it his goal in life to lay down with her."

Smiling, Sea replied, "I have, but maybe I need to have a little talk with
him again sometime, excuse me friend, I need to speak to Gina."

He nodded and watched the woman walk toward Will and Gina, feeling himself
beaming like a proud father he turned and went back to work.

Gina and Will were deep in the workings of braiding the hemp when Sea
approached. "Could you spare a few minutes for me?" Gina looked up, her face
filled with the look of love, she quickly said, "For you, yes," Gazing at
Will she added, "you can finish this without me can't you?" He nodded,
though his face showed how disappointed he was.

Wrapping her right arm around Gina's waist, she pulled the woman close and
said, "Let's go over to the bow."

Gina smiled, "Is everything all right?"

"Everything is fine, just wanted to spend a few minutes with you, is that
all right?"

Feeling herself reeling from the woman's touch, Gina said, "You've but to
touch me and I become putty once more. If all I ever did in this world was
be with you, it is all I would want."

Will watched the two walk away as his fingers began to finish the braiding
he muttered, "What is it? What's she got that has you so fascinated?"

Mary Ready's voice made it's way to the man, "She loves Ann. It is one hold
you cannot even hope to imagine."

He finished the rope and looked up to see his sister approaching, "Damn, do
you always have to be lurking so near."

Mary smiled, "Be happy it is I that heard your laments, not someone on the
crew or Sea. Get over it brother, the woman is taken and all you can hope to
do is earn the ire of Ann Bounty."

Will was rolling the hemp into a coil as he said, "You may wish to roll over
and play dead, not me. I saw the look in her eyes, she wants me.

Laughing, Mary said, "Yeah, she wants you as much as she wants the plague."

His eyes grew dark as he said, "Don't go anywhere, I have to take this over
to Saxton, I will be back, we need to talk."

She nodded, folded her arms across her chest and smiled as she watched the
man stride toward Saxton. Then her eyes searched for Sea and Gina. The two
were in one another's embrace once more. "The woman's got you again, so
don't go telling me how to act, that is, until you can look at me and tell
me you carry no more feelings toward her."

Turning to gaze at her brother Mary said, "Guilty, so I have feelings for
her, it's not like I keep asking the woman to go places with me."

He grinned, "Maybe not, but your eyes take the two of you there and the
woman must know it."

Mary answered, "She does, and I also know she still has feelings for me."

He seemed caught up in the woman's words as he asked, "Tell me, just what
makes you say that? I know you would love to believe it."

Mary's face held a thoughtful look as she said, "Woman told me."

He seemed taken short as he stuttered, "To--tol--told you? Come on Sis,
dreaming is one thing."

"No dream, actually, she told me not too long ago."

He gazed at Sea and Gina as he said, "If she did, the woman must have been
toying with you because I see a strong bond when I look at the two of them.
There is no place in either one's life for anyone else, not in that way."

Mary said, "I am not blind, I see the way they look at one another. Makes no
difference to me, she is the one at this moment but I know if I play my
cards right, Sea will realize how much she really cares for me."

He laughed, "Sure, and the Sea will part letting men walk to safety. Get a
grip, maybe we need something else to occupy our minds."

"Do you have any ideas?"

He thought for a few seconds then said, "How about all the loot in the

Shaking her head, Mary said, "No, I will never desire treasures again. I
will never attempt to take anything like that from Sea. Now, get over it!"

He shrugged his shoulders, "Just thought the idea of all that treasure might
take your mind off the one you can't have."

Her self assured smile said it all, "Going down to the cabin, just watch
your step."

He nodded, "Fine, I will and Sis, watch that first step before you take it,
it can be a long one."

She shook her head and waved at the man.

Mary knew her brother was giving her warning and didn't want to see her get
hurt. It was plain to see he did not believe the legendary Ann Bounty could
still hold any feelings for her. She now knew better and was going to do all
she could to make this work to her advantage. Smiling she whispered, "I will
brother, I will watch the first step."


Sea had kept herself busy with the crew and had little time for visiting.
She was sitting at her desk staring at the stack of scrolls laying before
her. Her mind had been racing with preparations for their upcoming arrival
near the port of Alexandria. In the beginning, it was a thought, an action,
there was plenty of time to acclimate herself as well as the crew for what
was to come. Now, as she stared at the scrolls, she leaned back in her
chair. A feeling of euphoria as well as a tinge of fear seemed to be playing
with the woman. Gina had noticed her change in personality and there was not
anyway Ann could explain the feeling.

The maps were well charted, she had made all the necessary additions. The
ships log was well documented and yet, Sea felt something was missing.
Hearing a slight humm, her eyes fell toward the stature. It seemed to be
glowing and a steady humm was lilting through the air. Reaching out, she
placed her right hand on the mythological sculpture. Her words were soft,
"And you, I can't wait to get you home."

There had been no further occurrence of anyone seeing Asteria or the thing
aboard the ship. Mary had come to the conclusion it was because of the
closeness Sea and Gina had for one another. Their love was apparent and if
anything was to chase away the darkness that had been plaguing the woman, it
would be the purity of the women's love for each other. Walking the deck,
her dark hair moving effortlessly in the breeze, she stretched. The warmth
of the sun felt good and things were staying on course. Her brother still
took every chance he got to be in Gina's presence and she had to admire his
staying power.

With each step, Mary could feel her body come alive. She walked toward the
railing, placed her hands on it and stared at the looming island. It was
still a good distance. They were nearing Egypt, soon she might get the
opportunity to see Cleopatra. It was a land of many tales, adventures and
most of all, love.

A wily smile crept across her face as she whispered to herself, "The time
draws near, what will you do?"

Taking a deep breath of air, she grinned, her face showed all the hopes and
dreams upon it. Mary Ready was a captivating woman and the glow she seemed
to carry with her these days did not go unnoticed by Saxton.

He had been watching the woman step the deck, her lengthy frame, moving with
ease, the clothes she wore he knew were Sea's, but they fit the woman to
perfection. Catching himself thinking, 'If you were a little younger, you
old sea dog, you would be lapping at her heels.' Hearing his own words,
"Fool, what would one so charismatic want with one like you." He smiled and
for some reason could not take his eyes off the woman.

"She does look beautiful."

Saxton turned his attention to the young man who had approached and was
grinning sheepishly toward the man. "Uh, Will, uh, how long you been
standing there?"






Anita Louise

copyright 9/98

Chapter Nineteen

The man's light brown locks had found their way down onto his forehead
again, his eyes were filled with admiration for his sister. The lopsided
grin he was bestowing on Saxton caused the man to turn crimson, something he
very rarely did.

"Have to admit it son, your sister is ravishing. Fraid you caught this old
sea dog, treading territory he will never know."

Will glanced toward his sister then brought his attention back to the man.
"I could challenge you to a duel, for looking at her like that," Saxton was
standing tall, the man was prepared for what was to come. Will beamed,
"won't. I think it is a fine tribute to Mary. She is ravishing, she knows it
and if I were to go challenging every man or woman that eyed her, or thought
certain things, that is all I would be doing." He laughed and the man joined

Mary heard the laughter and turned to see what was so funny. She could see
Saxton and her brother, they seemed to be sharing some sort of secret
between them. Shrugging her shoulders, she smiled and waved at the men then
turned her attention back to the island.

Gina spied the woman and was making her way toward Mary. She had been
chewing over a few things this day and one of them was this remarkable
woman. Nearing, she cleared her throat. Mary turned her head and when she
saw Gina, a brilliant smile shown on her face as she said, "Hello there,
haven't seen too much of you lately, Sea been keeping you pretty busy?"

Standing beside the woman, Gina answered, "No, she has been so deep into
those scrolls, she hardly has anytime for anything except the ship."

"Do I detect a feeling of dismay in that lovely voice?"

Gina stared toward the island and answered, "No, she spends time with me, I
just worry for her. Sea is putting too much thought into this blasted statue
and finding it's resting place. Her thoughts seem to abound with problems we
might encounter."

Mary placed her hands on the railing, gripping it tightly, she said, "Has
to, if she doesn't Gods know what we will all come across."

Gina seemed apprehensive as she asked, "What do you mean? Surely we should
be able to find out where the statue comes from and once it is back in
place, should be smooth sailing."

A slight smile crossed her lips as Mary said, "You young people always seem
to think things will just turn out fine, not always the case. The stature
was taken from here, probably stolen, there will be Gods to deal with, and
possibly the wrath of Cleopatra."

Grinning, Gina said, "Sure, like she would really care we wanted to put
something back we never took in the first place."

Mary's blue eyes were searching Gina's as she said, "Tell me, I think you
are just saying all this. Surely, you are smart enough to realize the
problems we might all face."

Sighing, Gina answered, " I know, I just was hoping you would set any fears
to rest. You haven't and somehow I think this might be a really bad idea."

"Too late for that, look." She was pointing to the island. "We will be
dropping anchor soon." Gina turned to walk away and Mary called out, "You
and Sea, stay close."

Gina nodded and started toward the steps leading below.

Mary had noticed the look on the young woman's face. She had seen it before,
Gina seemed to be fighting some sort of torment within her. She didn't know
if it had anything to do with Sea or something else. She knew that Sea was a
very complex person and one sometimes hard to figure out. Maybe the statue
was causing the looks, although if it was to be anything, she had hoped to
see the love between the two women wain. When they were in sight, it was
plain to see their love was even stronger.

She could hear the sounds of the crew as they dropped anchor preparing for a
lengthy stay. Voices of men shouting and the sounds of footsteps traveling
the deck. Turning her attention toward the helm, she watched as Saxton began
to shout out orders. She decided to go below to the cabin, get what
necessities she thought she might need. From the frantic movement around
her, Mary felt anytime Sea would be making her presence and the journey
would commence.

Once she was in the passageway she looked around, she couldn't seen anyone
but there were sounds coming from the direction of the hold. Beginning her
trek to the cabin, she stopped when she saw the door to Sea's open. Glancing
in she could see the woman, sitting at the desk. Her arms folded on it and
her head laying on the pillows they made.

Thinking about it for a minute, she stepped into the room. Gina was not
there, closing the door she quietly stepped toward Sea. From the parchments
spread about the desk, she could easily assume the woman had been working on
these and tired out. Mary was within inches of the woman's back as she
stopped. Her eyes gazing down at the sleeping form of her friend. Sea was
dressed in a pair of light cotton pants, an off white calcutta blouse that
was leaving little to the imagination. The woman's glistening skin was
enthralling as her body moved with the sleep that seemed to have invaded it.

Mary was brought out of her thoughts when she heard the tired, yet sensuous
voice of her friend.

"Gina, is that you? Sorry, I have been so preoccupied." Mary didn't know
what to do, say and so she said nothing. Sea moved her head to the left and
lay quietly as she mumbled, "Have some knots in my neck, you are so good at
relaxing, would you be a dear and take them out for me?"

Mary's eyes fell on the magnificent red hair that cascaded down the woman's
back. She was deciding what to do when Sea groaned, "Please, I need to feel
your hands on me."

Slowing reaching out, she brushed the hair to one side. Her delicate fingers
touching skin she never thought she ever would again. Sea moaned in relief,
"Bless you, your touch is so wonderful."

Swallowing with some difficulty, Mary Ready massaged and eased the tight
muscles, her fingers so deftly glided over. She smiled when she heard the
even breathing and knew Sea had fallen into a deeper sleep. Staring at her
hands resting on the woman's skin, she stepped back, turned and left the
room. Once out of the quarters she hurried to her own cabin, thankful not to
have run into anyone. She knew that Sea would probably mention this to Gina
and the woman would have no idea what she was talking about, Sea would
probably think she had been dreaming.


The longboat was within close proximity of the island. Ann Bounty was
standing at the bow, her flaming hair illuminating in the sun's rays. She
wore her black boots, white cotton trousers, and a light blue calcutta
blouse. The blouse was low-cut, the material traveled across the woman's
bosoms and seemed to be barely holding it's place. Mary Ready definitely
liked the transformation. Seeing the woman in the close necked blouses was
fine but when Ann Bounty wore her blouses like this, it was plain to see she
was all woman. Her full breasts seemed to love the material and deviously
Mary wished it might relinquish it's hold on those lovely breasts.

Gina had been eyeing Mary and now her eyes were planted on Sea. The slight
breeze seemed to be willing the woman's trousers to take refuge against
flesh that was noticeable through the material. The light blue sash she wore
around her waist only added to the woman's charisma, and the sun seemed to
gleam off the cutlass she carried at her right side.

"She's beautiful." Mary Ready's words caught Gina's attention and she turned
to gaze at the woman. "If you are talking about Sea, yes she is."

Sea was motioning for Saxton to row toward a certain spot and with each
movement, her body sent out the most fascinating presence. Mary found
herself, as well as the others, spellbound by the woman. They were all
awakened from their dreams when Sea jumped into the water and said, "Let's
get this ashore."

Crew members followed and soon the boat was on land. Sea walked toward Gina
and Mary, her step was lively and the two women found themselves lost in the
easy bouncing her breasts were doing as the material moved up and down with
the movement.

Mary stepped back as Sea approached, her emerald green's going from one
woman to the other. Finally she placed her hands on her hips and said,
"Someone want to tell me what has the two of you standing there with those
ridiculous smiles on your faces?"

Gina stepped back, her eyes darted to Mary than back at Sea. "What do we do
now? How do we find out where the statue came from?"

Sea grinned, "Oh no, we are not moving from this spot until one of you
fesses up. Tell me what has the two of you looking like you swallowed the

Mary took a step forward, she had noticed the dismay in Gina's face and knew
the woman was trying to find the words to tell Sea. "I'll tell you."

Turning her full attention on the woman, Sea smiled, "All right, talk. It is
a beautiful day, we are off the ship but you two have been looking like that
almost since we left, The Bounty."

Shrugging her shoulders, Mary gazed at Gina and said, "It's you. Damn it
Ann, you are just too beautiful."

Stepping back several paces, Ann's face began to slowly change colors. The
red that was creeping into her face only added to her presence. She glanced
at Gina and could see the woman was digging the sand with her left boot. "Is
she telling me the truth? The two of you have been staring at me like some
sick lovebirds."

"Err, uhh..." Gina's toe began working harder at the sand and Mary said,
"It's the truth, we, as well as members of your crew were just, just

Sea's eyes were locked with Mary's as she said, "It's that damn hormone
thing again, isn't it? When I was wearing the close necked blouses, the
loose pants, no one looked at me like this."

Grinning and winking at Gina, Mary quickly reiterated, "You just didn't
catch anyone doing it. We looked, they all looked. Just because you chose to
wear loose fitting clothes, does not change the woman they adorn. This is
you, the dashing pirate, Ann Bounty. The woman who has set many palaces
aglow with her presence. The woman who has left broken hearts across the
seven seas."

"All right, all right, I get the picture. Do I have to take all of you and
dunk you in a cold river to bring some sense into your heads?" She noticed
Gina had dug out a good sized hole in the sand as she said, "And quit that!"
Gina abruptly stopped, her eyes gazing at Sea. Mary Ready bit her tongue and
said, "At least we can find the spot easier, if nothing else, the hole will
be a sight not to miss."

Throwing her hands in the air, Sea exclaimed, "All right, you two give me no
choice." She turned and walked toward Saxton. They watched the woman talking
to the man and both felt uncomfortable when the man's eyes gazed in their
direction. Saxton grinned as he removed the leather shirt he was wearing and
handed it to the woman. Sea easily pulled it on over her head.

Gina looked at Mary and said, "She's not mad is she?"

"Nah, she just doesn't want any distractions. Woman doesn't know that just
by being in her presence a person tends to get distracted."

Gina's brown eyes glimmered at the woman as she said, "You still love her. I
knew from day one."

A warm smile crossed her face as Mary replied, "Loving someone does not mean
I will do anything to come between the two of you. Of course I love Sea, who
wouldn't, she has given me another chance at a friendship I thought I had
lost forever. I will never do anything to cause either of you any problems.
Surely you are not upset I was fascinated?"

Shaking her head Gina said, "No, as I am and the crew, the woman sighed,
"just sad to see her resort to covering up once more."

Mary placed her right hand on Gina's shoulder and said, "Won't last. The
climate here is hot, she will soon begin to shed that leather top."

Sea was approaching now, a confident smile on her face as she said, "Get
your packs, let's go. We have a far piece to walk today."

Mary nodded and started toward the longboat. Gina watched as the woman
walked away then she turned her attention to Sea. "You are going to get
awfully hot with that on."

Sea reached out and caressed the woman's cheek with her right hand as she
said, "For you, I would take it all off. If I get hot I will remove it. Have
to do something to get you and Mary to quit acting like a couple of..."

"I know, I just can't help it and as for Mary, the woman is so in love with
you, she sees nothing but stars."

Chuckling to herself, Sea muttered, "Yeah, right. Come on let's go get our
packs." The two started toward the longboat and crew.


Saxton and Will had taken the lead. Sea, Gina and Mary followed. The walking
had been slow as they crossed a delta and had come upon a plateau. Their
eyes gazed at the desert that lay before them and how it came down close to
the marshes that edged the river.

Sea pointed to the ground as she said, "Let's sit, my legs are feeling a
little shaky."

Gina and Mary plopped down as Gina said, "It was a long walk and from the
look of things, I have to ask where do we go from here?"

Sea had sat and was removing the water skin that hung from her left hip,
handing it to Gina she said, "Drink, then give it to Mary."

As both women partook of the water, their eyes had rested on Sea. She was
covered in perspiration, as were they. Mary tossed the water skin toward her
and said, "Are you getting hot yet?"

Sea caught the skin and took a long drink. After she placed the stopper in
it, she answered, "Yes, and if the two of you are waiting for me to take
this off, then I only ask you remove yours also."

Both women glanced at one another as they stuttered, "Bu--but we don't have
another blouse on under these."

Grinning and leaning back on the palms of her hands, Sea said, "Too bad but
when a person gets hot, they begin removing clothes."

Mary glanced toward Saxton and Will before she said, "Highly unlikely. My
brother has strong feelings toward Gina and seeing her walking around
topless would not be good."

Gina stared at her as her eyes drifted toward Will. The man was stretched
out on the ground, he was holding a water-skin in his left hand as he gazed
in her direction. "Don't you have any ideas that I might use to convince him
I am taken?"

Mary glanced at the expression on Sea's face then toward Gina and said, "He
is strong willed. I have no answer."

Sea had scrambled to her feet, tossing her head back and running her fingers
through her moist hair.

Once more, Mary caught herself enthralled in the woman's movements. Gina was
still staring at Will and was totally unaware of either woman. The young man
had motioned to her and she decided to go see what he was up to.

Standing, Mary walked up to Sea, taking a long breath she finally said, "If
you don't take off that confounded shirt, I'll take it off for you."

Turning, her face held reddish tones to it as Sea muttered, "Yeah, you and
what army?"

Mary could see the woman was taken off guard by her comment. She smiled, a
twinkle in her eye she whispered, "Just me, I don't want to see you collapse
from heat exhaustion. Look at you, covered in perspiration. Your body is
probably ready to burst. If you take it off, I promise not to look at you
like that."

Grinning, Sea shook her head sending the luscious damp hair flying back and
forth. Mary closed her eyes as the moistness found it's way to her face.
"You did that on purpose."

Sea smiled, "Just trying to get off some of this excess, perspiration."

Mary reached out and grasped Sea's right hand, "You did, now, the shirt, do
I have to remove it?"

Glancing down at the woman's hand on hers, Sea thought for a second, her
eyes staring toward Will and Gina as she said, "Might be interesting, I
don't think it would be a good idea though." She turned and walked several
paces away from Mary, her back to the woman, she reached down and pulled the
leather shirt over her head. The blouse she wore underneath was so wet, her
skin was all that could be seen. It was as if the material had bowed to the
woman's lovely assets. Mary grasped the leather shirt and took it from Sea's
hand as she stammered, "Gods, woman! Put this back on."

Sea reached down and tugged at the blouse but it was bound and determined to
stick to her wet skin. Turning, her emerald green's twinkled at Mary Ready.
The woman was flustered and it was apparent the way she looked, the way she
tried to speak. Mary's blue eyes had already settled on the beautiful
breasts that were no longer a thought, they were in full view. Feeling Sea's
hand on hers, she looked up, her eyes full of desire.

"I take it after seeing me, you are speechless?"

Mary placed the leather shirt across Sea's chest and held it there as she
said, "All right, I apologize. Just don't blame a woman for knowing a good
thing when she sees it. I might now add, Saxton and Will also."

Sea was amazed when Mary made the attempt to cover her up. She stared at
Mary's hands holding the shirt against her breasts and said, "Mare, you
leave me speechless at times. I think I have you figured out and you go and
do something totally unselfish."

Seeming upset at herself, Mary Ready replied, "You have me figured out all
too well. I just don't want, I don't want them to see..."

Sea stepped back and said, "Take the shirt and give it to Saxton. I'm going
to go down to the river, take a dip."

Mary watched the woman walk away. The thin material and all the perspiring
had pretty much done away with the clothes. The ravenous form of Ann Bounty
was walking away from her and with each step she took, Mary could feel her
own heart follow.






Anita Louise

copyright 9/98

Chapter Twenty

Gina rolled over, her right arm searching for Sea. When she found nothing,
she opened her eyes and gazed around the area. The woman was nowhere in
sight. Sitting, she rubbed her eyes trying to get the sleep to leave them.
The lean-to they had put up, was empty, she found herself to be the only one
in the shelter.

Slowly getting to her feet she stepped out into the night air. It was warm
but nothing like earlier. The sky was glorious, it held many different
lights and patterns. She smiled when she caught sight of the large moon. It
was beautiful and sent it's light down on the land with a beauty she hadn't
seen in a long time. The only thing missing was the warm body she went to
asleep against.

Her eyes roamed the campsite, she could see Saxton and Will sleeping.
Walking toward Mary's shelter, she glanced in and could see the woman
sleeping soundly.

Turning she began to walk toward the river's edge. It was a beautiful night,
maybe Sea couldn't sleep and went there.

She heard the soft humming as she neared. Smiling, she knew it was Sea. The
moon in all it's splendor was lighting the area, and the form of Ann Bounty
was one to cause her to stop. After this amount of time, Gina's heart still
seemed to do it's own thing whenever she saw the woman. The flaming red hair
was highlighted in the moon's beams as were the woman's other well known

Smiling as she gazed at the most perfect form she had ever seen, Gina softly
called out, "Are you all right?"

Sea turned and when she saw the young woman nearing, she waved. "It's just
such a lovely night, I needed to enjoy the essence, we sometimes forget." As
Gina neared, Sea held out her right hand and said, "Come sit with me."

She smiled as she grasped Sea's hand, "It is all right, I came looking for

Sea watched her sit, never releasing her hand, her eyes gazing into Gina's
she said, "You can come looking for me anytime." Her eyes held soft warm
tones to them and the smile she gave Gina, melted any other thoughts she
might have had. "When you look at me like that, I lose all thoughts of

Leaning forward, Sea's lips nibbled at Gina's as she whispered, "Then don't
say anything." Gina's lips seemed to quiver as they met Ann's. At first it
was as if a tease, a few strokes each testing the other. Gina felt she would
die as she entered the blissful realm of Sea's kisses. What started so
quietly had now become a raging flame of desire. Their bodies melded as one
and fell softly on the sand, all the while their lips never parted.

The lone woman standing near the river's edge, stared at the two women. Her
face held a look of distress as she turned and walked back toward camp.


The next morning when Ann and Gina walked into camp, they could see Mary
Ready putting out the campfire. She looked up as they neared. Sea removed
her arm from around Gina's waist as she said, "What's for breakfast?"

Mary looked at the two women then went back to dousing the fire. "Looks like
you two already had yours."

Sea reached out and grasped the woman by the shoulder, the force swung Mary
around. Her eyes glowing as she said, "Get over it Ready!"

Mary looked at her and said, "If it will make you feel better to hit me go
ahead. We both know what your problem is."

Her fist struck before either could do anything and Mary Ready's head
snapped back from the blow. Realizing what she had done, Sea released the
hold she had on the woman. A trail of blood was trickling from the right
corner of Mary's mouth as she reached up and brushed it away. Her blue eyes
locking with Sea's as she said, "Breakfast is in your shelter. I covered it
so it would stay warm."

Sea stepped forward, her face full of sorrow as she stuttered,
"Ma--r--for--g-ive me."

Mary looked at Gina then Sea, turning to walk away she said, "Nothing to
forgive, I shouldn't have taken you there."

Gina reached out and grasped Sea's right arm, her voice shaky, "Sea, what is
Mary talking about? Why did you hit her?"

Sea had been watching Mary walk away, she turned her attention toward Gina
and replied, "Guess I am just on edge."

Gina stared at Mary Ready, the woman was taking each step with ease, her
hips moving sensuously. "It's her, you have gone and fallen for her again."

Sea made a sound deep in her throat as she said, "No, I love you. Mary is a
friend and sometimes I let my moods dictate my actions. It has been a long
journey, the walk was taxing and now we have that blasted desert."

Smiling, Gina grabbed the woman's left hand and said, "Let's go eat. Mary
said she put the meal in our shelter."

Sea followed the woman and with each step her face was showing dismay. Her
mind swirling with thoughts, Why did she hit the woman? Was it Mary's
self-satisfied look? As she entered the shelter she knew the woman was
right, her feelings for Mary Ready were causing her a great deal of
discomfort. At a certain time in her life she could have handled it with
ease. Ann Bounty would have faced the woman and before the other could have
said a word, she would have found herself in the woman's embrace. Her mouth
exploring Mary's, her hands caressing. "Sea! Are you going to just stand
there like some sort of Mummy all day?" Gina's voice was reaching out to her
as Ann shook her head and said, "Sorry, mind was on something else, let's

They had just finished their meal when Sea heard Saxton's voice, "Better
come out here, Ann, there is a strange looking sight headed this way!"

Sea looked at Gina and said, "Finish, I'll go see what he is yelling about."

Gina smiled, "I'm coming with you."

The two stepped out into the sudden warmth of the day. She could see the man
gazing toward the dunes, his hands on his hips. Will was close by. She began
to walk toward the two men and nearing them, Sea glanced in the direction
Saxton was looking toward. She grinned when she saw the caravan. "That what
you are talking about?" He turned to gaze at her, nodding his head he
replied, "Dangdest thing I have ever seen, the men I can make out but what
are those huge brown things following?"

Gina was standing beside Sea, her eyes staring at the caravan that was
closing in on them. Sea turned when she heard Mary come up behind. Her eyes
speaking volumes to the woman as she said, "I really am sorry."

Mary stood beside Gina, her eyes gazing at the formation approaching.
"Smart, you already sent word."

Nodding, Sea replied, "Better way than trying to walk in all that sand."

Gina stepped in front of the two women, she stared at them both and asked,
"Someone want to let me in on what in blazes you two are talking about?"

Saxton grinned, "Might help, what do you have up your sleeve now?"

The man leading the caravan, raised his right hand as they stopped. He
stared at the group. Ann softly said, "Stay here, I will go talk to him."

They watched as the woman approached the man. They were deep in conversation
for a few minutes, finally, Sea turned and waved for them to join her. As
they neared, Gina looked at the seven foot animal that stood behind the man,
it had the longest legs she had ever seen. It's knobby knees, other leg
joints and chest seemed to have pads of callus. It's body was covered with a
shaggy, sand-colored coat. A dense fringe of hair hung from the long, curved
neck. A long, double fringe of interlocking eyelashes adorned it's eyes. The
animal's nostrils were slanted slits, and a grove from each nostril ended in
the split upper lip. It had a long jaw and the teeth looked sharp. She
watched as the animal's lower jaw swung from side to side as it chewed.

The man's voice rang out to her, "Don't want to get too close young lady!"

Gina turned her head to look at him as Sea beckoned for her to join them.

They watched as Sea grasped the man's forearm in friendship. Smiling, she
turned her attention to the group. "This is Amir, he and his friends will
guide us to our next stop."

They all greeted the man.

He smiled at Gina and asked, "Haven't seen a camel before have you?"

She shook her head, fascinated by the huge animals. Sea asked Saxton and
Will to visit with the man and learn all they would need to know about the
trip. Mary had walked toward the end of the caravan and was placing her hand
on a camel's left leg. Will had motioned for Gina to join them and as Sea
watched her walk toward the men, she patted the camel standing in front of
her. Glancing back, she could see that they were all listening to Amir.
Moving her neck as if to remove kinks that might have settled there she
began to walk toward Mary.

Busily stroking the animal, Mary never even turned her head as she said,
"What did I do wrong now?"

Sea reached out and placed her right hand on Mary's. The woman stopped
stroking the animal, she turned and gazed into Sea's eyes.

"I--I needed to talk to you."

Quickly pulling her hand away from the woman's, Mary stepped away as she
said, "I think you have said it."

"I told you I was sorry. I really am."

Mary gazed toward the group and said, "This is turning out to be a circus.
All we need now is good old Joxer or his cousins."

Sea stared at the camel then she asked, "Ever ride one of these?"

Shaking her head the woman replied, "Nope, but don't think it will be too
difficult." Sea chuckled as she said, "It is not like riding a horse. I have
ridden them a long time ago."

Mary stared at her and said, "What is this about? You have your young blond,
she seems to keep your bed warm. So tell me why are you here?"

Sea bit at her lower lip, her eyes darting to Gina then back to Mary. "If it
will make you feel better, hit me, get even."

A smile crept across the woman's face as she said, "Oh no, I have no
intention of hitting you. I will challenge you to a race though."

Stretching, Sea asked, "A race? Can't run in this sand."

Her friend stared at the two closest camels and said, "But they can. How
about I challenge you to a race to those two dunes over there."

Sea glanced in the direction. There were two huge sand dunes setting beside
one another a good distance from where they stood. Now looking at Mary, Sea
snapped, "Ridiculous, you don't even know how to ride one of these. Might as
well declare defeat."

Mary took several steps and stopped, her nose was almost touching Sea's,
their eyes locked with one another's as she said, "Make it worth my time."

Sea shrugged, "Don't have anything to offer."

"Oh yes, if I win, I get to take you anywhere I want for one night."

Sea shook her head, "Can't, would lose Gina if I ever did anything like

Mary stepped back, her eyes darting to Gina and Will as she said, "My
brother has been wanting to talk to Gina, get her to go somewhere, say she
goes, what is to stop you?"

"Won't. I know her and she just won't."

Her voice was taunting as Mary said, "Awfully sure of yourself, how about
putting all that talk on the line?"

"What if I win and chances are high I will?"

Mary was glancing up at the two humps on the camel's back as she said, "Do
with me what you want at least for one night."

Grinning, Sea uttered, "Would love to, all right, I'll race you to those
dunes and if I win, you will pay up."

Mary's blue eyes sparkled in the sunlight, her voice lowering, "And if I
win, I expect you to pay up."

Sea glanced at the woman's swollen lip and said, "I would feel a whole lot
better if you would just hit me."

Shaking her head the woman whispered, "We both know it is not my fist

Sea turned and began to walk toward the group, her words echoing back, "I

Attempting to smile, Mary watched the woman stride toward Amir and the

Gina looked up as Sea approached, her eyes had caught the two women in deep
conversation. "Everything all right between the two of you?"

Nodding, Sea answered, "Yes, woman has challenged me to a race."

The conversation among the others ceased as all heads turned and were now
staring at the tall woman. Before anyone could say anything, Gina said,
"Race? As hot as it is, you two are going to race?"

Amir had been watching the tall brunette checking the camel's leg. He gazed
at Sea and inquired, "I will assume you are not talking about a foot race?"

Pursing her lips, Sea replied, "No, actually it is the camels we will be

Saxton, Will and Gina in unison yelled, "Are you two crazy?!"

Ignoring their question, Sea turned to Amir and asked, "It is all right?
Taking the camels?"

He nodded, "Seems the two of you have something you need to settle, does
your friend know how to ride one?"

Grinning, Sea replied, "Nope, said it couldn't be too difficult."

They all were looking at Mary now, the woman was trying to figure out how to
get on the animal's back. Amir looked at Sea as the man said, "Someone
should show your friend how to mount."

Mary had stepped away from the animal, she was scratching her head as if
contemplating just how she could make it. Sea reached out and stopped Amir
as she said, "Let her think about it. I have never known anything Mary Ready
could not turn into her own way of doing."

Mary had now walked away from the animal, her steps leading a good distance
away. Mouths fell open as they saw the woman make a run toward the animal
and as she approached, she somersaulted through the air and landed on it's
back. The camel moved back and forth as Mary called out, "What are you
waiting for?"

Saxton muttered, "I'll be." The others were too shocked to say a word. Sea
removed the cutlass from her waist and handed it to Gina. "This shouldn't
take long." her words light as she headed for the closest camel. Nearing,
she tapped the animal behind it's left knee. It ignored her but after
several tries, it fell down onto it's knees and she easily mounted. Mary
watched in amazement as the huge animal stood. Sea turned it toward the
woman and as she neared smiled, "Your way was flashing and certainly worth

"I certainly hope you don't know anymore secrets to riding camels. Do they
sprout wings and fly away or something?"

Laughing, Sea answered, "No, but they can cover a lot of ground, so be






Anita Louise

copyright 9/98

Chapter Twenty One

They all watched as the animals began to run. It was the side to side motion
that almost sent Mary Ready falling. Her adept skills were all that kept her
from crashing to the sand. Sea slowed the animal she rode and turned it to
go assist the woman. Before she neared, Mary was seated once more and was
urging the beast forward. As the camel she rode passed Sea she yelled, "Not
too bad once you get used to it."

Quickly turning her animal, Sea sent it after Mary.

Saxton and the others were delighted at the antics playing before them. Gina
was appalled as Will walked up to her and said, "They are just like a couple
of kids, let them have their fun. Sis needed to vent and looks like Sea as
well." Smiling up a the man, Gina said, "Guess, seems so dangerous though."

He reached out and placed his right hand on Gina's shoulder, "What those two
do for a living, this is probably mild. Let them get it out, a race is a
good way."

Amir was standing close, his arms folded across his chest. "Those two ride
well. I hope they can dismount as easily."

The women's wild yells were all that could be heard as their animals raced
toward the looming sand dunes.

They were now neck and neck, and as Sea glanced toward Mary, she could see
the woman's face glowing. Her mind took her back to times the two of them
had challenged one another. It always was a time of fun and excitement, they
both thrived on it. Then all she saw was the backside of Mary's camel as it
raced past her. She tried to urge her animal faster but knew she had already
lost. The slip of her mind for that instant had cost her the race. Mary
pulled the reins as the animal slowed. Turning it, she could see Ann
catching up to her. Glancing at the dune near, she reined the camel toward
it, urging it to run once more.

Sea watched in horror as the animal abruptly stopped sending the woman
plummeting from it's back onto the sand below.

As the camel she rode slowed, Sea leaped from it's back and landed near
where Mary Ready lay. Crawling through the deep sand, she hurried to the
woman's side. Mary was laying on her back, eyes closed. "Mare! Mare!"

No movement and Sea was becoming worried. She reached out and patted the
woman's face, fear shown on her own features as she whispered, "Gods, Mare,
you have to be all right."

Still no movement as she uttered, "I will hate myself forever if anything
has happened to you." Without a thought, she placed her mouth on the woman's
and began to breath life into her. After several attempts, and frantic words
coming from her mouth, Mary Ready began to stir. Her eyelids fluttered and
when she opened her blue eyes they were staring into the face of her friend.
Dazed, she started to move and Sea reached out, placing her right hand on
the woman's chest, she pushed her back. "Don't move, you might have broken

Mary groaned, "Just my dignity. Fraid I am not such a good rider."

Sitting beside the woman, Sea whispered, "You are, camels are not the
easiest to ride. Tell me, do you hurt anywhere?"

"All I feel at this moment is humiliation."

Sea glanced toward the group, "You won, I lost, I am the one should feel

Mary sat as Sea helped her. "Which one of us fell off, *me* there is no need
for you to feel anything except satisfaction."

Sea's right hand reached up and caressed Mary's face, "Satisfaction you
almost got yourself killed, no. Satisfaction you are in my life once more,
yes. Now, let's get you to your feet and back up on my camel. Need to get
back before we have the entire group riding out here."

Mary smiled as the woman helped her to her feet. Sea watched as her friend
mounted the camel then she said, "We will just walk back."

Nodding, she emitted a few groans as the animal got to it's feet, Sea
mounted the other camel and the two started back toward the group.

Once they were near, they reined the animals in and as the camels knelt,
dismounted. The group walked toward the women and Gina stopped when she saw
Sea place an arm around Mary Ready. As they neared, Sea looked at Gina and
said, "I will be right back."

She watched as they walked toward Mary's shelter. Will stepped up to her and
said, "From the way my sister is walking I will take a wild guess she got

Turning to stare at the young man, Gina spouted, "Fool thing to do anyway."

Will smiled at her as his mind drifted to thoughts of just how lovely she
looked when she was jealous. "Amir brought us all some clothes, let's go get


He spoke once more, "Clothes, let's go get ours."

She nodded and followed Will.

Sea helped Mary down onto a mat on the floor. "Sit, lay, just rest. Is there
anything I can get you?"

Mary laid back, "At this moment even my greatest wish would be just that.
Better go see to Gina."

Sea was kneeling beside the woman, her eyes warm as she said, "Always
worried about Gina and me, you need to concentrate on getting some color
back in that beautiful face." Without hesitation she lowered her head and
placed a tender kiss on the woman's forehead, stood and left the area.

As Sea approached she noticed Will and Gina in deep conversation as they
played with the turbans that each was placing on the other's head. "Ahemmm."
The sound of Sea's voice stopped their playfulness and they turned to stare
at the woman. Will spoke first, "Sis all right?"

Stepping up to Gina, Sea answered, "She will be. Took a dive off the camel.
The Gods were with her today, she could have been seriously injured or

A grin traveled the woman's face as she gazed at Gina. The young woman
seemed aggravated as she said, "What is the matter with you? Do I have
something on my face?"

Placing her hands on the woman's shoulders, her eyes sparkling, Ann
answered, "No, you just look so darn cute in that thing."

Gina reached up and removed the turban that was dangling precariously on top
of her head. "There are clothes for you also."

Gazing at Will, Sea spoke, "Need to borrow Gina."

He smiled as Gina said, "Borrow? I am not someone to borrow."

Sighing, Sea whispered, "I need you to be with me, now, at this time."

"In that case, lead on." She smiled at Will as they walked past and pointed
to her head. He grasped the action and reached up to remove the turban from
his head, a warm smile traveling his face. Watching the two walk away, he
started toward his sister's shelter.


The caravan had been traveling for days, they had not only been battling the
heat but also the sudden sandstorms that would come up. Amir raised his hand
as the group came to a stop. His camel knelt and as the man dismounted he
signaled the others to do the same thing.

It was nearing nightfall and they had come to a lovely oasis and everyone
was happy to touch the ground once more. After setting up their camp, and
tending to the camels, the group headed for the water to fill their
waterskins. Sea sat a good distance away, her eyes watching Gina as the
woman replenished their water supply. She smiled as Will slowly made his way
toward the woman. Hearing her before she sat Ann asked, "How are you
feeling?" Mary had just stretched her lengthy legs on the ground and
replied, "Still a little sore, I am not sure it is the body or the backside
that pains me most."

Turning to stare at the woman, Sea grinned, "Probably both. Sorry you chose
to take this journey with us?"

Leaning back on the palm of her hands, Mary was quick to say, "Nope, I am
enjoying the chance to spend some time with you once more. I only hope I can
be of some assistance."

Laying back on the sand, Sea said, "You already are. Have you forgiven me

Turning and staring down at the woman, Mary answered, "No." Sea's face held
a look of loss as Mary continued, "Nothing to forgive but if it will make
you feel any better, I can deal out my own brand of punishment."

Sea was sitting as she asked, "And what might that be?"

Mary answered, "Spend some time with me tonight. Seems to me I won that race
and you need to pay up."

Sea bit at her lip as she muttered, "Going to hold me to that aren't you?"

"Of course, after the evening meal, Will is taking Gina down to the oasis.
He wants to spend some time with her. If she goes, then I want you to spend
some time with me."

Sea grinned, "Won't happen."

Mary got to knees, her eyes gleaming at the woman as she said, "So sure of
yourself aren't you Red?"

Sea chose to ignore the woman's question.

Will had been watching Gina and had slowly made his way toward the woman.
She smiled when she saw the man crawling toward her. "Looks like you have
all your skins filled."

He nodded and asked, "Let me help you?"

She shook her head, "I can do it, almost got them all done."

His eyes had darted toward Mary and Sea as he said, "Looks like Sea is too
busy to help."

Gina glanced toward the woman and said, "Told her I could do it. She does so
much it is the least I could do. Besides, get Sea and I near water and we
usually end up in it."

He stared at the deepening dimples on her cheeks as she obviously was
conjuring up some mental picture in her mind. "Seems the two of you have
both worlds, love and enjoyment."

She dropped the waterskin and as it floated toward Will, he reached out to
grasp it, lost his balance and fell head first into the water. Gina rushed
to grab the man, he held the waterskin in his left hand and reached for her
with his right. Gina grabbed his hand and began to help him, Will was almost
out when he slipped and fell this time taking Gina with him.

Mary turned to Sea and said, "Looks like a couple of children down there,
are you still so sure she won't go?"

Sea pursed her lips as she watched the two frolic in the water, standing,
she answered, "Won't."

As Mary watched her walk away she whispered, "We'll just see won't we?


Sea was talking to Saxton when she saw Gina heading toward their shelter.
Excusing herself she headed in the direction. Gina had just set the
waterskins on the ground when the woman entered the small area. Gina looked
up at her and walked toward a leather pack. Ann watched as she removed a new
change of clothing. Sitting down, she said, "You're wet, looks like you got
more water on you than in the skins."

Gina looked sheepish as she said, "Ended up in the water."

Chuckling, Sea said, "That is obvious, what happened?" Gina began to remove
her blouse followed by trousers that were so wet they were still dripping.
Reaching for a towel, she found Sea's hand on it at the same time. Gina
didn't protest as Sea began to dry the moistness from her body.

"Will fell in and I tried to help him out. He slipped and we both ended up
in the water."

Sea was standing behind the woman, her hands were gently gliding the towel
across Gina's chest. Stopping, she let the towel drop, her fingers resting
on full breasts. Wrapping her arms around Gina, she pulled her body to hers.
placing soft kisses on the top of her head, she whispered, "I fell for you a
long time ago, seems Will has also."

Laying her head back against Sea, Gina felt herself crumbling once more. She
drew in the warmth of the woman's body, relishing the woman's arms, hands on
her. Swallowing, she uttered, "Sea?"

The woman's voice was soft as she replied, "Yes?"

"Will has asked me to go down to the oasis tonight. He wants to show me

Releasing her hold on the woman, Sea took several steps back as she scowled,
"I'll just bet he wants to show you something!"

Gina pulled on a dry blouse, stepped into another pair of breeches. Picking
up the towel, she said, "It's not like that at least for me it isn't," Her
brown eyes searching Sea's, she added, "told him no."

Sea reached out, the fingers on her right hand cupped the woman's chin in
them as she said, "If it is something you want to do...

Gina grasped the woman's hand and held it as she brought her lips down and
kissed each finger. "Never, I will never get enough of you. He did seem
sincere though."

Sea could feel her eyes misting as she said, " I love you so much, it is
hard to fight the will of a young man that does also. Maybe you should go,
it will probably do you good to get away from me at least for awhile.

Gina smiled, "I know Will acts like he wants that, I think he is just a big
blowhard. If I were to make an advance toward him, he probably would run for
the nearest sand dune." Gina had placed her hands on Sea's hips, slowly
moving them, she easily pulled the blouse Sea wore from the waist of her
breeches. Gazing downward, Sea said, "I didn't get wet, it was you, I have
no reason to change."

A devious grin crossed the woman's face as she replied, "Then it is time you
do, woman."


Mary and Will were standing nearby. Will turned to walk away as he muttered,
"Damn, just when I think the woman might agree to meet with me, she goes and
does this."

Mary stared at the figures of the two women as they melded onto the floor.
Following her brother, she placed a hand on his shoulder and said, "Hard to
take, I know. Their love is too strong, face it brother the woman looks at
you like family, it is better than nothing."

He smiled, "If I ever had another sister, I would like her to be like Gina
but it is not sisterly thoughts I carry for her."

"Maybe not, but you had better let the other's rest. I've never seen Ann
this deep in love and I would not want to face her wrath." The woman's voice
trailed back to the young man that was now heading toward his lean-to.


Mary Ready had been tossing and turning, her mind filled with unsettling
dreams. Feeling the hand over her mouth and the words, "Wake up, I want you
to take a small journey with me."

She opened her eyes, her right hand grabbed at the one putting pressure over
her mouth.

"Shh, want to wake everyone in camp?"

Ann Bounty was leaning beside her, the woman's hand was on Mary's mouth.
Mary pushed Sea's hand away and said, "If this is just some Gods idea of a
joke I do not find it very funny. Be away with you, go, scat!"

Sea's hand found it's way over the woman's mouth once more as she said,
"It's me, now be quiet."

"Yeah sure." The woman spat out and tried to roll over. It was then she felt
the pinch on her arm. Eyes wide her voice muffled she said, "Oww, that

Sea sat back, "Now do you believe me?"

Sitting, Mary answered, "It's you all right, what are you doing here?"

I have something I need to do and thought you might like to go along for the

Mary gazed at the woman, she was dressed in a pair of black leather
breeches, a dark leather shirt and black boots. "This is the Ann Bounty I
knew, aren't you afraid of being seen out there, wearing that outfit?"

Grinning, Sea answered, "Nope, it's still dark. Who would see me, besides

Rubbing her eyes, the woman replied, "Anyone with eyes in their heads. Where
is Gina and why isn't she going with you?"

Sea glanced around as she said, "Sleeping, needs the rest. I plan on taking
this statue," she held up a leather pack, "and putting it back where it
belongs tonight."

"Out here in all this blasted sand, just where does it belong?"

Standing, Sea answered, "A temple not too far from here."

Mary had gotten to her feet, she was searching for clothes as she said, "I
will assume we are taking camels, I'll meet you there."

Nodding, Sea left the area.

Mary was still grumbing when she approached Sea, but she followed the woman
to the waiting camels. "Are you sure this is safe, what kind of temple is

Sea mounted one of the camels as she said, "Never known Mary Ready to let
anything scare her much less some temple."

As Mary mounted, she asked, "Does anyone know we are doing this?"

Sea smiled, "No, we should be back before anyone wakes."

The sky was beautiful, the stars so low it felt as if they were able to
reach out and grab one, as an enormous moon lit their way. The camels,
walked, ran, walked and before they knew it they found themselves staring at
the magnificent edifice that set before them.






Anita Louise

copyright 9/98

Chapter Twenty Two

After dismounting, the two women walked toward the circular steps that made
their way toward the entrance. Sea was carrying the statue over her left
shoulder. Side by side they took the steps and as they neared the top, Mary
said, "It's a beautiful night but this place gives me the creeps."

Sea reached out and removed a torch that was setting near the entrance.
"Better take one, might be dark inside."

Grabbing a torch and holding it in front of her Mary said, "Want to tell me
why you opted to ask me to come here with you?"

Turning, her green eyes, dancing in the light from the torch she held, Sea
smiled, "Didn't think you would mind."

Following the woman into the enormous entrance way, Mary called out, "You
know me all too well. Let's put the statue back and hightail it out of

The interior was dark and with each step they hesitated, the torches they
carried lighting their way. Expecting to smell a musty odor both women were
surprised the place held a lovely fragrance.

Stopping as they reached two passageways, one leading to the right and the
other left. Mary looked at her friend and asked, "Now what? All those
parchments you been studying tell you about this?"

Shaking her head, Sea replied, "No, just have to guess."

Mary furrowed her brow and said, "So if we take the wrong one..."

Quickly Sea cut in, "We just try the other, come on."

Mary followed as Sea took the passage to the right. They had been walking
for what seemed an eternity when she said, "Stop! This is ridiculous, we
could be in here for days."

Walking toward a large rock, Sea looked at her and said, "Let's sit, get our

Didn't take Mary long to sit. Her long legs stretching out as she said,
"What happens after you put it back?"

Turning her head and staring at the woman, Sea answered, "Go back."

"Don't think so."

Raising her right eyebrow, Sea asked, "And just why not? Don't tell me you
like the atmosphere in here?"

Mary grinned, "It's not the atmosphere in here that seems to captivate me,
it is you."

"Oh, well you see me every day."

Mary stood, looking down at Sea she said, "That's it, I see you, I think it
is time I called a certain bet in."

Biting at her lower lip, Sea muttered, "Not going to forget that are you? I
told you to just hit me and get it over."

"Nope, if it is punishment you want, I can deal that out."

Sea was standing now, her voice dropping as she said, "Just what do you have
in mind?"

"Mary's eyes lit up as she said, "First, you have to agree, the night is

"It is, I made the bet, I lost."

Walking past Sea the woman said, "Good, now that is settled, let's put that
baby you been carrying over your shoulder to bed."

They soon found themselves in a bigger chamber. The walls, seemed to hold
many astrological signs on them, and represented an image of the universe.
Their eyes took in the magnificence. Finding themselves coming to the end of
the room, they found a huge statue, representing, Mithras slaying the bull.
An action itself which seemed to be watched by a Raven. Feeling a chill
travel her body, Sea whispered, "Let's find the spot this came from and get
out of here."

"I'm right with you." Mary retorted.

They had almost looked at the entire area and were just about to give up
when Mary said, "There, the space, it looks perfect!"

Glancing toward the area, Sea said, "That's it, come on."

Standing in front of the huge statue, Sea reached in the pack and removed
the smaller one, and quickly placed it in the empty spot. The second it was
seated, the larger statue began to glow. Both women stepped back, their eyes
wide as they gazed at the transformation taking place before them. A loud
whirring noise could be heard as a white mist rose up from the floor
enveloping both statues. It lasted briefly and when it dissipated, a
beautiful woman was standing in front of them. She wore a flowing white
robe, her hair was long and the color of gold. It shone toward them as she
said, "Thank you, the statue has been gone for a long time. It is good to
have it returned."

Mary stared as Sea asked, "It was our pleasure to return it. Who are you?"

"The name is not important but you can call me Serapie. Now that the statue
has been returned, let me grant you a wish."

Shaking her head, Sea said, "Glad to do that, there is no wish I would ask

The woman glanced at Mary, "And you?"

Mary looked at Sea and said, "Like she said."

Her lovely features took on a glow as Serapie said, "The room at the end of
the passageway to your left, go there."

"Look, maybe you don't understand, we will just be going on our way."

A puff of smoke and the woman vanished. Mary looked at Sea and asked, "What
do you think is at the end of the passageway?"

Sea glanced in the direction they had just come from and answered, "Who
knows, don't tell me you want to see what's there?"

Shrugging her shoulders, she answered, "Couldn't hurt, after all, I have
your company all night."

Thinking it over, Sea muttered, "You do, all right, lead on."

They found they did not need the torches any longer, the area was radiant.
Reaching the end of the passageway, they stepped into a smaller room. In the
center they could see steam rising and as they neared, Mary cried, "A bath!
It's been so long."

Sea's eyes took in the magnificent artwork on the stones that were placed
around the water, and the flower petals floating. She turned and said, "This
is too much. It might be tainted."

Mary ran, skimmed the top with her right hand as she said, "It is just
heavenly smelling water, come on, we both could use this."

Shaking her head Sea growled, "You go ahead. I can't."

Mary had already began to remove the leather top she wore, her words
taunting, "The great Ann Bounty, afraid to get in the same water with me?"

Turning, Sea replied, "It's not...," Mary had removed her clothes and was
stepping into the water. 'it's you and I in the same--we shou--area." Mary
had laid back in the water, her hands bringing water up and letting it
cascade down upon her face as she said, "Never known you to be afraid of

Pursing her lips, Sea said, "Afraid? Are you saying I am afraid?"

Totally enjoying the sensation of the water, Mary replied, "Yep."

Ann glanced around, then easily shed her clothes. Stepping into the warm
water, she eased herself into it. The steam was rising and sending
fascinating curls upward. Mary glanced at the redhead, her eyes lowering she
smiled "You look beautiful."

Sea ignored her and went about bathing. She had just dropped the sponge and
laid back in the water when Mary ventured toward her. "Going to hog the
sponge all night?"

Raising her head, she smiled, "You seemed to be hogging the oils."

"Well that can be rectified. I take the sponge and you can take the oils."

Sea looked up to see the woman holding a bottle of oil in her right hand.
She reached up as Mary said, "Where is the sponge, give it up."

Sitting, Sea began to reach around until her hands fell on the soft object.
Bringing it to the surface she held it toward Mary and said, "Here, now the
oil." Grinning, Mary tipped the bottle, sending the heavenly fragrance down
upon the woman's head. Sea spouted, "Wha--what are you doing!?"

Moving away from the woman, Mary beamed, "Giving you the oil."

Sea grinned when she saw the devilish look on her friend's face. It didn't
take her long to make it to the woman's side. Reaching out she grabbed
Mary's shoulders and pushed her under the water. When she let the woman
re-surface, Mary was spitting water and trying to catch her breath as she
exclaimed, "That was not nice!"

Turning to swim away, Sea called back, "I know."

She suddenly found Mary Ready on her back as the woman took her under. They
playfully fought with one another for a brief time neither one winning. It
was their need for air that finally brought both of them to the surface,
gasping and flailing their arms. Mary reached out and brushed Sea's hair
back from her face. Each stroke, gentle. Sea reached up and grasped the
woman's hand, she held it as their eyes met. There were no words, just the
look that held them spellbound. Before Sea could move, Mary moved her head,
her mouth finding Sea's. The woman held back but Mary's lips would not let
go of this rapturous moment.

Sea was lost in a haze of feelings as she managed to say, "Can't, Mare we

Mary's eyes were the bluest she had ever seen as the woman whispered, "Shh,
we can, we have tonight." She kissed Sea with a passion long lost and the
woman found herself being transported into another time as she met the kiss.


When the two women woke up, they found themselves laying outside the temple
fully clothed. Sitting, Sea gazed at Mary as the woman sat. Her eyes darting
to the entrance of the temple then back at her friend.

Mary seemed dazed as she asked, "How?"

Shaking her head, Sea replied, "I don't know, we were in there and now we
are out here."

Reaching up to touch her head, Mary said, "Something strange is going on. I

Noticing the look on her friends face, Sea said, "It did, didn't it?"

Standing, Mary laughed, "Impossible, I think some God sent us out here and
we had some--dreams."

Sea was standing now and said, "One thing for sure is the statue is no
longer with us, the curse is over, let's get back to camp, unless there is
still something you want me to do?"

Grinning, Mary said, "Oh, you have paid your debt, I'm ready."

They found the camels, mounted them and headed back toward camp. They saw
the devastation at the same time. "Gods!" Mary cried and at the same
instant, Sea cried, "Gina!" They urged the animals faster and after reining
them in, both dismounted with ease, running toward the remains of what once
was camp. There was no one in sight, everything had been destroyed.

Mary left Sea sifting through the remains and went to the oasis. She
frantically searched for a sign. Finally making it back to the campsite, she
could see that Ann was sitting in a heap, the woman was holding her head in
the palm of her hands. As she neared, the sounds of Ann Bounty's cries sent
chills throughout her body. Kneeling beside the woman, she said, "They were
attacked, outnumbered."

Sea raised her head, her face wet from the tears that had found their way
down. "It's all my fault, I should have been here."

Placing her right arm around Sea's waist, Mary whispered, "No, it is not
your fault. Not your fault."

Sea lay her head on Mary's shoulder, her voice weak, "I let Gina down, Gods
help me, I let her down." She began to sob and all Mary could do was hold
the woman close. "We'll start out first thing in the morning, we'll find
them. We will."


Continue to Part four


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