THE CURSE part 8


by Anita Louise
copyright 09/98


Chapter Forty Three



Mary Ready had been gazing toward Gabrielle. The woman's movements were captivating, she had been working diligently trying to loosen the ties that had been placed on the two of them. Feeling a smile edging it's way across her face, she whispered, "Loose yet?"

Stopping what she had been thoroughly concentrating on, Gabrielle's blue green eyes flashed at Mary as she muttered, "At least I am trying to get loose. I don't see you doing anything. If it were up to you, we would be here for the rest of our lives."

Trying to shift positions, Mary replied, "Well, it was your words that got us in this fix."

The two women's eyes connected for an instant as Gabrielle spat, "How was I to know that mentioning Ann's name would get us in this mess. And quit that confounded smiling, this is not funny you know."

Glancing around, Mary declared, "The situation isn't...I think your movements are adorable."

Her fingers trying to loosen a knot, she replied,"Yeah, like a wounded animal caught in a villagers trap."

Mary whispered, "You have been working so hard at trying not to be seen as you go about trying to free yourself. Accept it, you are cute."

Heaving a deep sigh, Gabrielle leaned back against the tree and said, "Cute... You are really going daft Mary Ready. In case you do not realize the situation we are in. Any moment those men could have us beheaded."

Mary leaned back, her head resting against the tree. "Nah, you don't really think they would do something like that."

Turning, her lips close to the woman's face she replied, "What is wrong with you? We have to get out of here. If you have no concern for yourself at least don't give me away."

Taking a deep breath then releasing it, Mary turned to face the woman. "You have such fire in your eyes. Is it any wonder you captivate everyone you meet."

All to conscious of the proximity of their lips, Gabrielle turned away muttering, "I hope Xena is all right."

Before she knew what was transpiring, Mary's hands had grasped her shoulders. "You want out of here or are you just going to continue to ramble on?"

"Wha... Wha...How..."

Mary grinned, "Let's debate this after we get out of here," she quickly removed Gabrielle's ties as she said, "Come on."

Glancing toward the sleeping men, Gabrielle asked, "Where? How did you do that?"

Dropping to her stomach, Mary tugged at the woman's right leg, "Come on, lets go, crawl now, talk later."

Dropping beside the woman, she gazed into Mary's eyes and murmured, "I don't know how you did it, thank you. Mary?"

Gazing at the woman, Mary replied, "Yes?"

"It's good to have you back."

Shrugging her shoulders she muttered, "Haven't been anywhere. Come on."

Managing a smile, she followed the woman from the area. Their escape went unnoticed and it wasn't long before Mary stopped, stood and reached down to help the woman to her feet. "There, that wasn't so bad."

Gabrielle dusted off her clothes as she said, "Would have been nice had you let me in on your little secret. I want to know how you did that?"

Mary pointed to her right arm. Within seconds she produced a small dagger. It had been placed strategically on her arm, hidden by the long sleeved leather tunic she wore."

A trifle upset, Gabrielle vented, "You had that all the time and you let me wear myself out trying to get loose."

Sitting on a dead tree stump, Mary replied, "You seemed to be wrapped up in your own world."

Gabrielle walked toward a flat rock and sat. She gazed toward the woman. Mary Ready was a vision sitting there, the magnificence of the moon's rays as they cascaded down upon the land, capturing her in their glow. Leaning back, Mary finally asked, "What is it now? You are staring once more, do I have dirt on my face?"

"Nope, Gabrielle shook her head, "you are amazing. If I didn't know better, I would think Xena was sitting there."

Getting to her feet, Mary replied, "Well, she's not. Let's go."

The tall woman's stride was not unlike Xena's. They had been moving rapidly along the river bank. Both women were thankful for the fullness of the moon, it enabled them to see any unwelcome guests that happened to come across their path. It seemed the Croc was more afraid of these two humans than wanting to take up an argument with them. It didn't take the reptile like creature long to seek refuge in the depths of the water. Mary came to a sudden stop when she heard the younger woman stifle a scream. Attempting to look disgusted, she declared, "What now!"

Smiling, Gabrielle replied, "Just wanted to see if you were paying attention. The way you have been moving, one might think Zeus himself was after you."

Dropping to the sand, sitting, Mary answered, "Thought you were Xena's partner. Surely the woman does not walk slowly for you," her look was of dismay, "tell me she is not broken, like a fine bottle of port that has been aged to perfection."

Walking toward the woman, she stared down at the blue yes that were sparkling up at her. Within seconds, she was sitting beside Mary. There was silence for a few moments before Gabrielle finally said, "HMMM...I don't think Xena has ever been described as a fine bottle of port before."

Laying back, Mary sighed, "I am tired."

"Can't stay here, to many of those things in the water and I think once we were asleep, they might get brave. We have to go back you know."

Sitting up, Mary asked, "Why? They will be looking for us. Next time we might not get off quite so easily."

"Xena will worry about us, as well as Saxton and Will."

"Woman, they can take care of themselves. And if Xena hadn't gone off like she did, none of this would have happened."

Biting at her lower lip, Gabrielle grunted, "I cannot understand why she went there."

Pursing her lips, Mary replied, "She went there to talk to the woman. I can see it in the way she looks at you."

Gabrielle was getting a might upset as she grumbled, "Tell me, just how do you think Xena looks at me?"

"Like maybe there might still be something there between you and Ann Bounty."

Scoffing, "Of course there is, we are good friends." Gabrielle had begun tossing pebbles into the water as Mary reached out and grasped her right wrist. "Good friends, yes, but once much more. Do you think that Xena has forgotten that?"

For an instant, Gabrielle's eyes seemed to spit fire as she replied, "Past, you are talking about the past. Xena knows this, so don't go starting something that has no truth to it."

Realizing the tight hold she had on the woman's wrist, Mary let go as she replied, "The two of you cut a dashing figure across the sea, in our time and in another time," her face mellowed as she urged, "tell me, it will go no farther, do you still feel love for Sea?"

"Gods! Mary, what are you trying to do? Get me to confess to impure thoughts. You know I have not been with nor have I seen the woman in a long time."

Getting to her feet, the woman gazed down at Gabrielle, "I apologize. It was unkind of me to try and pin you into a corner. Accept my apology?"

Grasping the woman's hand, Gabrielle smiled, "Accepted. Now, tell me just what is it we are going to do?"

Pointing up the beach, Mary answered, "First thing, is to find a dry place, try and get some rest. They will be out in full force come sunup. Then we can decide which way to go."

Gabrielle picked up her step as she said, "You know, loving someone and being in love with them are two all together different things."

Mary's voice trailed back, "Yeah, and thoughts are just thoughts."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ She had been sitting in a darkened corner of the Taverna. It was a slow night, for this Ann Bounty was grateful. Her eyes had been watching the tall woman that had strode to the bar and was now on her way back toward the table, in each hand she carried a tankard of port.

Nearing the table, Asterea leaned over, placed a tankard in front of the woman as she sat. Ann gazed at the drink before she said, "Are you sure this is a good idea? If they are really looking for us like you say..."

Taking a big swig before her eyes met the woman's, Asterea answered, "They are looking for us back there," she quickly scanned the room, "not many in here tonight. How are you feeling?"

Ann leaned back in her chair, green eyes fixed on Asterea, "I have a headache, don't know who I am," slowly she brought the tankard to her lips, took several drinks then finished, "or who you are for that matter. How in Gods do you think I would be?"

Feeling quite comfortable, Asterea pulled a chair forward, leaned back in her chair, stretched out her legs and placed them upon the chair. Ann gazed at the woman and said, "You make yourself this comfortable wherever you go?"

"I told you who you are, when there is time, I will fill you in on whatever it is you wish to know." She was sitting up straight now, both feet on the floor, her full attention was on the woman whose emerald eyes sparkled like rough diamonds laying in the Sun.

Managing a look of disgust, Ann replied, "I have your word, I am some woman named Asterea and you are, Ann Bounty. I do not think either of these women are too well liked at this moment. You say, we both escaped from a place of confinement, people are looking for us, yet you tarry like you own the place."

Glancing around the room, Asterea said, "I felt it would be safe. They are looking for us back there, anyway in that getup, no one would recognize you."

Ann smirked, "Why did I have to hide my hair and wear this confounded thing you call a turban? You look the same, cleaner clothes but still the same."

Trying to keep from grinning, Asterea muttered, "Woman, there is no disguise that could ever hide the beauty you possess. Just promise me, you will try to keep from having eye contact with anyone."

Gazing at her arms, Ann replied, "I hope this color will come off, I do not want to go through the rest of my life like this. It is uncomfortable and is beginning to itch."

Finishing off her tankard of port, Asterea answered, "Let's face it, that beautiful head of hair you have, the color of your skin, the green eyes, you would have been spotted immediately. I am just a woman, not unlike many." Scoffing, Ann muttered, "Sounds like a feeble excuse to me. But I will give you the benefit of doubt. I might add though..."

Leaning forward, Asterea waited for Ann's words, "Add what?"

"Never call yourself ordinary, you are a beautiful woman, even I have noticed a certain air about you."

At loss for words, Asterea's face reddened and she quickly got to her feet, started to walk away then turned and asked, "Want another drink?"

Smiling, Ann finished her port, held out the tankard and said, "It is good, yes, I would like another. Tell me, do you always get so flushed when someone pays you a compliment?"

Grasping the tankard from Ann, Asterea, muttered under her breath and walked away.

Ann leaned back in her chair and watched the woman move toward the bar. Her eyes taking in the few men in the room. Smiling to herself as she noticed they all were eyeing the woman. Shrugging her shoulders, she wondered way this woman didn't realize just how lovely she was. Without realizing it, her fingers had traveled upward and she found herself reaching under the turban trying to let a little air in. Her head was hot, her body ached and the itching was becoming unbearable. If they didn't find somewhere she could remove all of these things, she felt she might soon begin to dance across the room, she was squirming so much."

Asterea leaned against the bar, her right elbow, resting as she glanced back toward Ann. Even in the shadows of the corner, she could see the woman moving about. "What is she up to now."

"What's that you say?"

The man behind the bar was gazing at her and she raised her eyebrows asking, "What are you talking about?"

He smiled, "You just asked what she is up to? Who is this, she, you are talking about, should I know her?"

Shaking her head and taking the two tankards of Port, Asterea replied, "No, just me, talking out loud, forget it." She began to start back, feeling her face still flushed, and amazed the woman could have such an effect on her. Nearing the table she said, "Have you gone daft back here, even in the darkened corner, I could see you moving about?

Ann stood, and took a tankard of port from the woman, the minute it touched her lips, she began to drink it. Never stopping until the last drop had been consumed. When she finished she gazed into Asterea's amazed eyes. "I have to get out of these clothes, this stuff you had me put on, I am hot, itchy and if I don't get some relief soon, I will attract more attention than you might want. "

Asterea, took several gulps of the port and said, "Let's go, we can leave out the back door, I have a boat waiting at the dock."

Smiling, Ann replied, "Can't be soon enough for me."

Pointing toward the door, Asterea said, "I'll follow." As Ann walked from the room, Asterea had to hold back a chuckle, the woman was squirming, her body was moving in many directions. It was evident, Ann Bounty could not handle camouflage very well. She was brought out of her thoughts by the words, "Come on, are you going to stand there all day?"

Happy for the darkness, Asterea replied, "Nope, I am right behind you."


Chapter Forty Four

A warm breeze was caressing the island with its many tentacles, a slight rustling of the trees was the only sound that could be heard. The woman sat, her knees drawn to her chest, light brown eyes catching the sprinkling of the moon's rays, staring out, beyond the reef.

Digging her bare feet into the sand, she looked like a child, enjoying the beach for a first time. She was deep in thought, her toes moving freely in the warm sand.

"Beautiful night, but none could ever match the beauty that sits before me."

Glancing up, Gina smiled, "You, *are* a silver tongued pirate."

Her smile was captivating and within seconds, Ann Bounty eased herself down beside the woman. "Why do you sit out here, gazing toward the ocean? Are you sorry we have put up here for a spell?"

Turning, so she was facing the woman, Gina replied, "It is a beautiful night, I just wanted to unwind," a look of concern crept across her face, "you're not upset are you?"

Reaching down to remove her boots, Ann replied, "I missed you, that is all." Even with the ruckus the crew was making, I felt alone," emerald greens reached out and caressed Gina's eyes with tenderness, " I love you, " she whispered.

Suddenly finding it difficult to swallow, Gina looked away.

Ann had burrowed her own feet into the comfort of the sand as she queried, "What is it? Tell me, have I done something?"

Gina stood, turned and gazed down at the beautiful redhead. The moon's rays were illuminating the woman's hair, it seemed to be in tune with the gentle breeze that was sweeping it about Ann Bounty's shoulders.

"What is it?"

The woman's voice seemed strained and it was then that Gina smiled. "Nothing, is wrong. Not the way you are thinking anyway."

Jumping to her feet, Ann reached out placing both hands on the woman's shoulders, "There is nothing we can not say to one another. Is it the men? Someone giving you trouble?"

Stepping back, pulling away from the woman's grasp, Gina turned and walked toward the water's edge. "The men have been wonderful, even if some feel having women aboard a ship is a bad omen."

Throwing up her hands, Sea walked after the woman and as she neared, demanded, "Then confound it, what is the matter with you?"

Her feet, now feeling the warm water upon them, the blond asked, "Sea, do you ever get homesick?"

"Is that what this is about? You want to go home?"

Her eyes widened, as her voice quavered, "No...Gods Sea...I am home. As long as I am with you, I will always be home."

Completely perplexed, Sea began to remove her own clothes. Gina watched for a few seconds then asked, "What are you doing?"

Tossing her breeches to the sand, she gazed toward the woman, "I think I need to go for a swim."

Gina watched the woman as she strode into the deepening water. With each step, Ann Bounty took, Gina could sense her own body, sending her many signals. She knew that there had never been a person in her life that could bring all the wondrous feelings she felt, when she was near this amazing woman. Her eyes were brimming with tears as she watched the woman relishing the water. "Sea, don't go too far out, I will tell you." It didn't take long before, Sea was swimming toward shore. As she stepped from the water, Gina walked toward the magnificent form. "Good thing it is warm out," she murmured.

Ann Smiled, she could see that the woman was gazing at the water as it trickled from her body. The fullness of the moon, left nothing to the imagination, as she walked past Gina, picking up her clothes, she began to put them on. "Well, tell me, it cannot be all that bad."

Gina walked toward the woman, hesitating as she said, "It's you."

Raising an eyebrow, Sea muttered, "Me?" She Plopped down on the sand, leaned back on her hands, and gazed up at the woman, "Here I sit, a mere mortal, totally under your spell fair lady. Now that you have me under you control, tell me what it is I can do to make your life happy?"

Dropping down beside the woman, Gina bit at her lower lip, "Do you know how beautiful you are?"

Grinning, Sea laid back on the sand, her right hand patting her stomach, "You my love are beautiful. I never give myself a thought one way or the other. I know one thing though?"

Gina's eyes took in the length of the woman as she asked, "Oh, and just what is that?"

"I am so in love with you, I think sometimes I will die from the pleasure it gives me."

Seeming to be amazed, Gina's voice quavered, " Die? To love me, makes you think you will die?"

Sitting up, Sea reached out, placed two fingers under the woman's chin as she said, "No darling, I am so full of love for you, that I think I might explode all over the sea, and lands."

Laughing, Gina said, "Won't happen, I should know, I love you so much Ann Bounty, sometimes I too think I might burst from all the happiness you have given me."

"Then why, do your eyes tear up?"

Grasping Sea's right hand, Gina held it tightly as she replied, "Because I think I will wake up and you will be gone, it will all have been a dream."

"I gaze at your beauty, I hear your sweet voice, I yearn for your touch, there will never be a dream that will take you from me. This is real, I am real, I thank the Gods every day for bringing you into my life," Sea's eyes seemed to hold a sadness about them as her voice trailed off, "for without you, I would perish."

Gina's lips softly caressed, Ann's hand, as she laid her cheek against it. "Never talk like that, you were a force to be reckoned with before me. I am just a village woman, and you are, the legendary Sea Troll. I know you would be fine with out me, we come from two different worlds."

Ann's eyes locked with Gina's, and for an instant they touched one another with love as she said, "We might not have been born to the same family, the same kinship, but you are so much a part of me, I would cease to breath if you were not with me," she removed a dagger from her belt and said, "here, take it, end my life now, for without you in it, I cease to live."

Trying to move as Sea held her fast, Gina stuttered, "That swim must have loosened something in your head. Don't be silly, I would never harm you."

A faint smile crossed Sea's lips as she whispered, "There you see, you said it, 'you would never harm me,' so I know that you would never leave me, because to do so would hurt me deeply."

Gina's face reddened as she said, "That was not fair."

"I love you, you love me, what is not fair about that. And now I want to know who has been talking to you, someone put all this in your head, I want to know who?"

"Why do you think that, can I not have a thought myself?"

Gazing away for an instant then bringing her full attention back to the woman, Ann said, "I lived many years on and off the sea, met many people, loved some hated some. You and I have been closer than any two people I have ever known, we have been through many things, some good some bad. I would fight what may come, if I knew that at the end of the day, you will be with me. Why are you doubting yourself now?"

"It is not that, it are so vibrant, you can have anyone you want, and I am afraid you will tire of me."

Trying to supress a grin, Sea softly whispered, "Never," she placed her hand over her heart, "here, you will always be with me. If you are wanting to walk away, then this is the time to do it. For I swear on my life, I, Ann Bounty, pledge my love to you for all time. I will never leave you, count on this."

Swallowing hard, Gina said, "I promise, I never will walk away from you, and pledge my love to you forever and a day."

Beaming, Sea said, "Then we are all right, no more of those thoughts of my leaving you"

Shaking her head, Gina answered, "No more thoughts, you are surely stuck with me pirate."

Leaning forward, her lips gliding across the woman's lips, Ann sighed, "And my Love, you are stuck with me."

Gina started to say something as Sea murmured, "Shh, no more talk." Her lips, teased, cajoled, and soon Gina's met the woman's in a raging heat of passion.


"Land ho!"

The man's words brought Gina out of a beautiful reverie from the past. Immediately her eyes caught sight of the shoreline. Glancing around the ship, she could see that they had already dropped anchor.

"Won't be long now," Silver was approaching her, a smile across his lips, "are you prepared for the truth?"

Scowling at the man, Gina snapped, "I am ready to find out where she is. You can just have someone drop me off at shore."

Shaking his head, he replied, "Nope, I have a few things to take care of and someone needs to be there to pick you up after you find out I spoke the truth."

Brushing past the man, Gina said, "Why must all you men be the same."

He followed, asking, "All men, what do you mean?"

She stopped, turned sharply, her eyes flaring up at him, "Act like you know it all."

He smiled, and said, "Could be, cause we do. We will leave in a bit, be ready."

Fuming at the man as he strode past her, Gina walked toward the rail and cursed. She was right in the middle of a few formidable words when she noticed the longboat that was rowing past the ship. It appeared to carry, two men, one woman and one native. Her mind began to try and envision just what the person might look like that was in the long robe, and turban, whose skin was bronzed as if the person had spend quality time in the sun. For some reason she could not shake the vision of this person from her mind. Captain Silver's voice bellowed toward her as she shrugged her shoulders, turned and walked toward the man and the waiting longboat.


continued in chapter forty five

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