THE CURSE part 8
LEGEND OF ANN BOUNTY
by Anita Louise
Chapter Forty Five
When Asterea's eyes caught sight of the ship, she turned away. The beautiful blond had not gone unnoticed and it was all she could do to keep from cursing under her breath. "We will be nearing the ship soon. I have sent word ahead and there will be a bath waiting for you."
Sea, heard the woman's words but her eyes were set upon the lovely woman that was gazing toward them. She couldn't understand it, but for some unknown reason she felt something for this stranger.
Asterea's voice seemed to be irritated, "Something got your tongue. Did you even hear what I just said?"
Ann turned her attention to the woman's back, "What's that you say?"
Cursing and trying to remain calm, Asterea, answered, "Said, there will be a bath waiting for you once we are aboard ship. Something have your concentration?"
Feeling a loss within the pit of her stomach, Sea murmured, "I feel strange, do you know whose ship we just past?
Gazing back towards the ship, Asterea, nodded, "Belongs to Captain Silver, do you remember him?"
The woman's eyes were still trying to catch a glimpse of the woman that was leaning against the ships railing, "No, should I? Tell me, who is the beautiful woman that was watching as we past?"
Shrugging her shoulders, Asterea replied, "One of Silver's whores. Don't waste your time thinking about the woman."
Ann bit her lower lip, "I can't shake this feeling. I must go back, I need to see the woman up close, talk to her."
"Can't, not now, after we are aboard ship, settled in, we can talk. There are things I need to tell you about Silver and this woman."
With one last look back, Sea replied, "All right, I want to know everything."
Heaving a sigh of relief, Gina was thankful to feel the solid strength of the boardwalk, under her feet. Silver had given his men orders before he turned to her and said, "If you want, I will come with you."
Trying to act nonchalant, Gina shook her head, "No thanks, I will do this on my own."
He placed his right hand on the woman's shoulder, "If you have need of me, send anyone, I will be at the stables. I mean it, call me, and I will be there."
She managed a smile, "I will be fine. Go on about your business," she turned to walk away.
"We will leave when the moon is full tonight, meet me here, or at least let me know what you have planned to do."
Her words trailed back to the man, "Go about your business, Captain. I am sure Ann Bounty and I will have a lot of catching up to do."
He watched the woman stride away, her self-confidence seemed to captivate him.
"Pretty one, hey Captain?"
He turned to see one of his men standing near the boat, "Aye, that she is, and bullheaded as they come, let's go." Laughing, they both walked off in the direction of the stables.
It didn't take the woman long to make it to the taverna. Standing in front of the building, she took a deep breath. Her eyes surveyed the area and after several seconds, she walked into the room. There were not many people, it was apparent she hit the place between customers. Slowly walking toward the counter, her mind full of questions. The man behind the counter smiled toward her as she approached, "You just get off the ship? Don't look familiar."
Her light brown eyes met his as she replied, "I'm looking for someone?"
He smiled, "What will you have to drink?
Moving her shoulders up and down, she replied, "Port."
As he poured the drink, he spoke, "Everyone is looking for someone. This is a good place to find what you are looking for."
Taking a sip, she muttered, "I am not looking for someone to share my bed, I am looking for a friend."
His eyes seemed to light up as he asked, "Friend, who is this friend?
She took a long drink, relished the feel of it as it found it's way down her gullet, "Ann Bounty, do you have news of her? She might as well have struck the man, his face hardened, eyes widened, and he took several steps back, "Ann Bounty, where have you been lass, the woman was executed."
A stabbing pain struck Gina in the pit of her stomach, doubling over she grasped at the pain.
The man quickly asked, "Are you all right?"
Fighting the pain that was overtaking her body, she stood tall, her eyes brimming with tears, "All right...how can you ask that? You have just taken the light from the sky, the song of the angels, you have ripped my heart from my body."
He was perplexed as he replied, "I have done nothing but answer your question. Why don't you go sit down, try to relax."
Nodding, she grasped the goblet and walked toward a small table near the door. The man watched her as she sat, the woman was beautiful, he could not understand why she was crying for the pirate, Ann Bounty.
Gina had been pacing the room, she would come to rest at a table for a spell, then she would be back pacing. When she neared the counter, he said, "If you would like room, I can rent you one upstairs, maybe if you rest."
Glowering at the man, Gina spout, "Rest, you tell me Ann Bounty has been executed and you expect me to rest? Tell me, I want to know when it happened, how and most of all why?"
He picked up a goblet, poured himself a drink and said, "Caesar, ordered her death. I think Cleopatra was also involved."
Slamming her right fist on the counter, Gina yelled, "Involved! Why in Gods, would they want Ann Bounty dead. The woman has never been a threat to Cleopatra. Are you sure about this?"
He managed a smile, "If you don't believe me, ask the Queen herself."
Thinking over the man's words, Gina replied, "Thanks, I will. " He watched the woman stride from the room, shaking his head as he mumbled, "Fool woman, going to go get herself killed."
It was beginning to get dusk, the mighty rays of the sun would soon be gone. Gina had been walking, her mind full of torment, her body aching more than she ever thought it could. She wondered if Captain Silver could feel her wrath. She cursed the man for being right. She doubted herself, all of her senses told her Ann was alive, yet, this man also said she was executed. Stopping to rest, she sat on a wooden bench. Her heart was beating madly within her chest as she sit, resting the back of her head against the coolness of the high bench. Closing her eyes, she tried to fight off the oncoming tears.
"Can I be of service?"
Sitting up straight, her eyes gazed at the tall man that was staring at her. "No, I have just stopped to rest."
He smiled, "Going to see the Queen?"
"I am enjoying the day."
Sitting beside her, he smiled, "The day is over, it is time to greet the night."
Standing, she muttered, "I am doing just that. Why is it you can never mind your own business."
He stood, gazed at her, a glint in his blue eyes as he said, "I have never met you before now. So I apologize, if I have offended you."
Swallowing hard, as she fought off more tears, Gina replied, "It is I that must apologize, you are a gentleman, and I have been rude."
He had a boyish charm about him, and a recklessness she had not seen in sometime. "Tell me, do you know the Queen?"
He nodded, "Yes, I was on my way there now, care to go with me."
She smiled, gazed at his outstretched hand, bit at her lower lip as she took it in hers, "Yes, I would, thank you."
As the two began to walk toward the palace, he asked, "What might I call you, if the Queen should ask?"
"Gina, my name is Gina."
His words trailed back as they turned a corner, "A lovely name for a lovely woman."
Sitting, she watched the woman in deep conversation with the nomads. Mary Ready was a woman to behold. Smiling, Gabrielle mumbled, "I'll never understand, how you always seem to win."
When they rounded a bend, seeing the raft ahead and quite a few nomads huddled together as if in deep conversation. The two women argued as to which one would approach these people. They needed to get across the river and the nomad's raft looked like the best method. Mary suggested the only way to settle the argument was to thumb wrestle. Gabrielle was hesitant to do this but finally conceded and within moments, Mary had won. Smiling, she said, "I'll be right back. Promise me whatever comes, you will follow my lead."
Nodding, "All right. But I still think you cheat Mary Ready." Gabrielle stammered.
Chuckling, Mary strode toward the nomads.
Now as she watched the woman talk to these people, she found herself admiring the statuesque beauty.
Mary turned and waved for her to come on over. Standing, she brushed off her trousers and headed toward the group. As she approached, several of the men stepped back to allow her to pass. Gazing up at Mary she asked, "Well, are they going to let us cross?"
Mary gazed toward the water before she answered, "Yes, but they want something in return."
Raising an eyebrow, Gabrielle whispered, "We don't have any dinars."
"I know, so I make a bargain, they let us go across and you will visit them tonight."
Her eyes seemed big as saucers, as Gabrielle fumed, "What! Are you out of your mind?"
Smiling toward the men, Mary muttered, "Only way to get across without a fight. You did tell me, you didn't want to fight, didn't you?"
Looking disheartened, she answered, "I did, but I didn't give you permission to do whatever you wished with my body."
Lowering her head, she placed her lips close to Gabrielle's left ear and whispered, "If I was to do what I wished with your body, it would not be this," standing, she continued, "It's your call."
"You are so good at offering a person's body, why didn't you offer yours?"
Mary's eyes were emcompassing Gabrielle's, "I did, they seem to prefer the quiet blond."
Glancing toward the men, that were smiling toward her, Gabrielle muttered, "All right, if this is the only way to get across without fighting," she motioned for Mary to lean down and as the woman neared, she whispered into her right ear, "you owe me big time."
Standing, Mary smiled, "I always pay my debts. Let's go."
The trip across the river was an easy one. There were no problems, except for Gabrielle having to fight off the amorous attentions of some of the men. Mary smiled at the woman's elusive actions.
Gabrielle heaved a big sigh of relief when she stepped off the wooden raft. Mary was talking to the men and soon walked toward her. "Well, what is going on now?"
Placing her right hand on the woman's waist, she answered, "They were telling me what time to meet them and where."
"Yeah, and I suppose you told them I would be there."
Walking toward the lights of the city, Mary replied, "I did. And before you go off the handle, let's at least get a good distance from them."
When they entered the Queen's gardens, Gina gazed in wonder at the beautiful flowers. The moon's beams were sprinkling down upon the area, leaving a person to think they were in a wonderland.
"Have you not seen a garden before?" The man's words, brought her out of her reverie. Turning to gaze at him, she answered, "I have seen many, but none as beautiful as this. It seems the moon is shining down upon them in such brilliance. I lost track of time for a moment."
He tightened his hold on her hand and said, "It is not the garden, it is you," His eyes were twinkling down, "Has not one ever told you how beautiful you are? Your beauty gives the garden an air of mystic and unforeseen passion."
Redness was creeping up the woman's neck as she stuttered, "Rea...you... You are quite a smooth talker kind sir."
He bowed, "My name is Paxen, and you dear lady, why is it your quest to see the Queen?"
Walking away from him, Gina felt her heart jump into her throat as she said, "I have need to find out what happened to someone and I have been told she might know the answers."
He watched the woman move with such ease, each step, her body danced a beautiful tune. "Gina, If it is your wish to visit with the Queen, you should be warned, many have tried and most have failed. I hope that this quest of yours is worth what you might be giving up."
Quickly spinning around, her eyes full of defiance, she spouted, "I would give my life for this person. If I can find out what has truly happened, then I will await what is to follow."
He approached her, his face full of concern, "I hardly know you, yet, I feel I have known you all my life. I fear for you but if this person you seek information about is this important, then I will do all I can to help."
Her eyes were taking the man into them, as she asked, "Help? Just what kind of help do you purpose?
"I can tell you that Cleopatra walks among her garden this night and every night. She is accompanied by her ladies in waiting. I will do what I can to stop them from accompanying her. This will give you time to approach the Queen. Be careful, she is like the Asp that slithers along the ground. Let your guard down and she will strike without warning."
Gina smiled, took the man's right hand in hers, "Thank you. I will be careful."
Slowly raising her hand to his lips he placed a soft kiss, "Would that I have met you in another time beautiful lady. I pray you get your answers and whoever this friend is, is, indeed very fortunate." He turned and disappeared among one of the pathways.
Gina had been pacing, her heart beating heavily within her chest. It was not the thought of meeting Cleopatra but the thought she might soon know what happened to Sea and why, that had her body in such an uproar. She had never experienced such nervous, she felt as if she was on the edge of a high precipice balancing, before making a leap, a leap that would either kill or help her.
Gina had been sitting on a wooden bench, her body was feeling the many pangs of exhaustion. She didn't know how long she had been waiting but it seemed an eternity. The moon had changed positions and was not shining down as brightly. Suddenly the garden that had given her such euphoric sensations was now casting an ominous blanket upon her. She felt her body start to drift off into Morpheus's world, she was half way between the two, when the sounds of someone talking woke her. Sitting straight, she listened, the sounds were just around the bend in the pathway and one of the voices was Paxen's. Jumping to her feet, she realized the time had approached and she soon would know her answers one way or the other. Stepping onto the path, her eyes straining to catch a look of the person whose footsteps were coming nearer.
It wasn't long before the woman stepped into her vision. Gina was enthralled at the regal beauty. She took a deep swallow and started to walk toward this captivating woman.
Tossing her long raven black hair and letting it cascade down upon her shoulders the woman stopped in her tracks. She gazed in amazement at the brashness of the lovely blond woman that was walking toward her.
Gina stopped, gazed at the woman, her voice failing, then building as she asked, "Are you Cleopatra?"
Gazing with perplexity on her face, she answered, "I am! And just who are you to dare approach me in my gardens?"
Dropping to one knee, her head bowed, Gina replied, "My name is Gina, it is not important. l have need to ask you a few questions."
"Cleopatra was truly amazed at the woman as she said, "Get up, come forward, I want to look at you."
Standing, Gina stepped toward the woman, her heart was racing and for a moment she felt she might have taken on more than she could handle.
Gina stopped within inches of the woman, her eyes never faltering. The woman's heavenly scent was permeating her nostrils, as she stepped back several steps.
"What is your problem, you move away from me as if I were a snake and was going to bite you."
"It's not that, I...I do not want to offend you. It has been awhile since I have been able to bathe."
Throwing her head back, the woman chuckled, "You are in the sweetest smelling garden that there is, and if it were offending me you were worried about, you would not be here. Now, tell me, what is it you are doing here, before I call my guards."
"I need to find out what happened to a friend of mine, Ann Bounty, I have been told you know?
The Queen's facial expression changed as she said, "Seems that the pirate has made other conquests."
Feeling perspiration break out on her face, Gina was thankful for the cover of night. "Conquests?"
Smiling, the woman approached her, reached out and cupped Gina's chin in the palm of her right hand, "I look at you, and I know that Ann Bounty is more than a friend. Tell me, am I not right?"
Biting her lower lip, the Queen's touch was almost too much, as she whispered, "It is not important, I need to know what happened to her, please tell me."
Releasing Gina's chin, Cleopatra replied, "She is the most ravishing woman I have ever set my eyes upon. Come, sit with me, I will tell you what I can, that is, after you tell me just what Ann Bounty is to you. I need to know just who I am confiding in."
Nodding, Gina followed the woman toward the wooden bench.
Chapter Forty Six
This chapter contains depictions of love between two women, if it makes you uncomfortable you may wish to read the next chapter and not this one...
The steam from the water was spiraling upward. Ann Bounty leaned against a flat rock, her body enjoying the many sensations of the hot springs. She closed her eyes, trying to relax from the stressful pangs of the day.
Gina had been watching the woman, her eyes taking in every facet and with each look, she felt her body succumb to Ann Bounty's charm.
The trip had been long, they had faced many obstacles but neither seemed to care as long as they had the other standing beside them. She waited until Sea closed her eyes then walked into the opening. Clearing her throat, "Looks mighty relaxing."
Ann Bounty's face lit up, a warm smile crossed her lips, her eyelids opened and the woman's emerald green's reached out and touched Gina with love. "What took you so long?"
Smiling down toward the woman, Gina answered, "Things to be done, I wanted nothing to interfere with us this evening."
Sea stared, her eyes transfixed on the woman, "I take that as...you will be spending some quality time with me then?"
Grinning, Gina replied, "How is the water, not to hot is it?"
Sea slowly began to move toward the edge, her eyes never leaving the woman, "Not as hot as it will be."
"Hmmm...I like the sound of that."
"Well, am I going to have to come out and get you, or, are you going to come in?"
The look on Sea's face was one she had grown used to seeing, the woman was teasing her and she loved it. "I will come in, but, first I need to remove a few clothes."
Sitting back in the water, Sea murmured, "By all means, remove. I want nothing between you and me but skin."
Gina began to move slowly, her body sensing Sea's desires. Each movement was a ballet of love, each piece of clothing that she touched was done in such a sensuous way that Sea thought she would die right there. Gina was breathtaking, her movements were certainly getting the pirates blood boiling. "Woman, do you know what you are doing to me?"
Gina had just tossed her tunic to the ground, her eyes teasing as she replied, "I certainly hope I am doing to you what you do to me every second of the day and night."
Sea was quite close now, she gazed up at Gina, "This is one pirate's heart you have taken."
Gina's fingers were teasingly sliding her trousers to the ground. She gazed down at the libidinous look on Sea's face, "Tell me pirate, are you hungry?"
Reaching out, Sea placed her hands on Gina's legs, she began to guide them upward, with each movement she found herself standing, water dripping from her body. "Gods, woman, you tempt me in the most pleasurable ways."
Gina answered, "Do you know what you are doing to my body as your hands move so softly upon me"
Gazing into the woman's eyes, Sea whispered, "Loving you with all that I am. Come, join me, we can linger here as long as you want." She reached out, grasped Gina around the waist, picked her up and brought her into the water. They stood, water swirling around them, each gazing into one another's eyes and for that moment, time stood still.
"You going to sleep all day!" The words, caused Sea to groan, "Go away." She was having the most wonderful dream and did not wish to wake from it."
"I said, are you going to sleep all day, we have things to do!"
Slowly opening her eyes, she stared up at the face of the woman who she now believed to be Ann Bounty. "Why are you making such blasted racket, I was very happy where I was."
Asterea gazed at the look on the woman's face as she said, "Which wench is it now, you seem to bed so many?"
Sitting, Sea ran her right hand through her hair, yawning, "You keep telling me all these stories and I am having a hard time buying many of them. The woman in my dreams was more than a mere wench, she meant something to me."
Laughing as she turned to go topside, Asterea said, "You tell me that every time you have one. Get yourself freshened up, Captain Silver is coming aboard."
Sea stared at the woman as she yawned, "And I am supposed to become excited about this?"
"He is an ally and I want this to be a good meeting, see you topside."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Cleopatra gazed at Gina, her eyes taking the woman into them.
Gina was tired and when the Queen invited her into the palace, it took little encouraging. Cleopatra was seated on a lush bed of pillows, as she watched the young woman walk about the large room. Gina was like a child in a honey shop, her eyes were enjoying every statue, every piece of tapestry. Leaning back, Cleopatra smiled, "I assume you have not been to many palace's."
Turning, her attention now focused on Cleopatra, Gina smiled, "None like this. I have never seen so many beautiful treasures in one place."
"Come, sit down, have something to eat and drink. I apologize for earlier, I had to attend to something in the palace. A beautiful woman such as yourself out on a night like this, filled with questions regarding a pirate, has to have some personal involvment, want to tell me?" The queen cajoled.
Walking toward the woman, Gina said, "I want to thank you for not having me thrown out or worse. As I told you before, we are close friends."
Pouring a goblet of port, the woman answered, "I was in a forgiving mood this night. Had you caught me at another time, things could have been different." Patting a cushion with her left hand she added, "Sit, here, take this drink, it will soothe your aches."
Sitting, Gina held up her hand saying, "Thank you for the offer, I really am not thirsty and all I want to know is everything you can tell me about Ann."
Taking a sip of her own drink, Cleopatra answered, "You told me in my gardens, that you and the women were close. For someone to have gone through what you have and still be looking for this close friend of yours, speaks a great deal to me. If I should tell you that your friend is no longer of this world, will you go and leave well enough alone?"
Shaking her head, Gina's eyes seemed to be frozen with Cleopatra's, "No. I can feel it way down, deep inside me, Ann is out there somewhere. I need to know where, I need to go to her."
"All right, I will tell you. But you must make me a promise."
Gina's eyes lit up as she said, "Anything."
Smiling, Cleopatra set her goblet down and said, "You are young, never promise a person anything until you know what they are asking in return. The woman's eyes were fixed on Gina's as she added, "I am a person who will hold you to a promise..."
Fidgeting for a moment, Gina bit at her lower lip and said, "I know... I am at your mercy. I have come a long way, please, I beg of you to tell me what happened?"
Before she knew what was occurring, Cleopatra had reached out and grasped Gina's right hand in hers. "I can feel your life beating within my hand. I know that you are speaking the truth. I will tell you."
When the woman had finished relating the past events to Gina, she said, "I don't know how this is going to help you, but there, you have the story. Would you like a drink now?"
Gina nodded, "I...I...yes, please. I cannot believe Ann went and got herself captured once more by that witch, Asterea. Gods the woman almost killed her not so long ago."
Cleopatra handed her a goblet of port as she said, "The woman Asterea has been good to our people. We do much trading with her. She has always been welcome here." She could tell by the dismal look on Gina's face the woman was deep in thought. "From all I have gathered, your friend Ann put up an amazing battle. I believe you would have been proud of her."
Gina took several swallows of port, her eyes still fixed on the Queen. "How? I have been in battles with Sea and she is so careful, everything she does is well thought out and planned."
Seems a woman named Mary Ready, a supposed friend of Ann's made a deal with Asterea. She led your friend to the spot where Asterea's forces were waiting."
"What!!" Gina almost choked on the drink she was taking. "Mary and Ann are good friends. How? Why?" "I'll kill her!"
Cleopatra waited until the woman quit spurting words of astonishment before she answered, "I cannot see into the future nor can I read minds. I only know what I have been told. So I am afraid I can't answer your first two questions. And what you decide to do to Mary Ready, is your business as long as you do not interfere with my government here."
Gina's eyes were spitting fire as she asked, "Where can I find Mary Ready?"
"I don't know, she now commands the ship, Ann Bounty once did. I have not seen the woman, so don't go asking me questions I cannot answer for you."
Taking a deep breath, Gina asked, "Ann, you told me that Caesar ordered her death. I don't understand how the man could do that to his own daughter."
Now it was Cleopatra's turn to be surprised, the woman's face was filled with rage as she asked, "You are telling me that the pirate, Ann Bounty is Caesar's daughter? Surely you have heard wrong."
Shaking her head, Gina said, "No, I have heard right. Though Ann would never acknowledge him as this, she is his daughter."
Cleopatra was standing now, it was apparent what the woman had said was hitting her hard. Gina quickly got to her feet, "I am sorry if this upsets you. I don't understand."
Turning to face Gina, the Queen replied, "Caesar and I have been talking about having a child. One to succeed me on the throne of Egypt. He has told me this would be his only child."
Gina wanted to say something, she found herself at a loss for words, she was afraid anything more she said would make the woman angrier than she already seemed to be.
Cleopatra walked around the room, the woman was deep in thought and when she finally stopped to stare at Gina she said, "I allowed Caesar's daughter to live. What you have told me is hard to believe. If this is true, he must have been quite young when he fathered the child."
Nodding, Gina muttered, "I think he was a young soldier. Ann never talks about this part of her life. Her mother never speaks of the man either."
Reaching out, Cleopatra placed her hands on Gina's shoulders, "You are telling me that Caesar has a wench out there. Tell me, I want to know just who this woman is?"
Hurting under the woman's grip, as Cleopatra's fingernails dug into her shoulders, she managed to say, "There is nothing there, the woman hates Caesar. You do not have any competition."
"My competition lies in Rome. Caesar is still tied to his people and a woman there. I have overlooked this for the time because he has promised to leave her and to give his time to my people and to the thoughts of having a heir. Now I find out that Ann Bounty is his daughter. If you love this woman as much as you have said, be happy I did not know this before I was feeling so generous." As Gina grimaced under her grip, Cleopatra released the hold she had on her . "I think it is late, I have ordered a room to be prepared for you, rest and I will talk with you in the morning. I may have more news regarding your friend."
Drawing upon her courage, Gina asked, "This news of Ann, I pray will not be bad."
Managing a smile, the Queen answered, "It will be news. Then we can discuss your promise to me."
"But, I never heard what it is I promised."
A handmaiden entered the room as Cleopatra said, "Go with Sheba, she will tend to your needs. You did say, 'anything,' now go, I have things to do."
As Gina left the Queens presence she was sensing a sinking feeling in her stomach and all the way to her chambers, she muttered, "Learn to keep your mouth shut, learn to keep your mouth shut..."
Gina tossed and turned. Her head was so full of the recent talk with Cleopatra, it would not allow her to sleep. Just when she felt the sensation of finally going over the edge, drifting off, her eyes would open and thoughts of Ann, Mary, Cleopatra, Caesar and the woman Asterea, would be playing across her mind. She was in misery, praying for sleep and yet sleep would not come. Now on top of everything else, it seemed she had made a promise to the Queen and it appeared the woman was going to hold her to it. "Gods, Sea...Where are you? I need you." If she expected to hear a reply, it didn't come. Instead, the emptiness of the room sent chills up and down her body. She felt as if she was in a tomb, surrounded by ghosts, ghosts that wanted to haunt and possess her.
Sitting up she could feel her heart beating rapidly within her chest. Getting to her feet, she began to pace the room. Finding her way to the open window, she glanced out. It was quite a distance down and she was contemplating making an escape. Silver was in the port and he would help her..."No," she heard herself say and added, "he would never help me find Ann."
She was filled with thoughts for Ann's safety. Cleopatra seemed nice but she had also seen the other side of the woman, she could become venomous in seconds. Gina was pacing the room when the man entered her chambers. He stood in the doorway, his eyes watching the woman. "Are the accommodations not good enough for you?"
Stopping in her tracks, Gina whirled prepared to meet the person whose words brought her back to reality. "Who are you? And what right do you have to enter my room, unannounced?"
The man smiled, "I have every right to enter any chamber I wish. Though you may be a guest of Cleopatra's you are also a guest of mine."
The hair on the back of Gina's neck began to prickle as she said, "I may be a guest of the Queen's but I am not a guest of yours. Whoever you are, I am asking in a polite way, leave my quarters."
If she expected the man to do as she asked, he didn't. Instead he lit a candle and held it out. "You ask me to leave your quarters, you talk as if you just got off a ship. The Queens, palace has no quarters, but there are many chambers. Would you like to see a few of them?"
As the glow from the candle found its way to Gina, it made her feel susceptible to the oncoming man. "Leave me alone, must I call Cleopatra?"
Throwing back his head he laughed, "Go ahead, she is dead to this world. Gave her a potion when she retired, it will keep her out of my hair until I get done what I have come to do."
Her right hand had found the saber which was laying on the wooden dressing table. Quickly arming herself she held it in a menacing way and demanded, "I don't know who you are but if I were to make a guess I would say Caesar. There is no one else with the guile to do something like this."
He was coming closer. Stopping he replied, "That's right, and there is no wench that dares to defy me. At least more than once. Do you really think that by brandishing that sword in your hand it will scare me?"
As his last words trailed off, the sound of a swish, swish was all that was heard as Gina, quickly lopped off the top of the candle. He was stunned to see the woman had such agility about her. He immediately set about pursuing the piece that was still burning, as it left a trail across the floor. "Fool woman, what are you trying to do set the whole place on fire. Cleopatra will have your head."
Smiling as she watched the man chase the elusive candle Gina said, " I would much rather watch as she had yours."
He was stamping the burning wick out. He turned to scowl at the silhouetted form of the woman standing near the open window. "I understand you are a friend of Ann Bounty's, any friend of hers is an enemy of mine. I wanted to make sure you understand just where I am coming from."
Gina watched as the man started toward her once more, "Stay back, I mean it, I will not hesitate to use this."
He stopped as the tip of her blade touched his tunic. "I am not afraid of you woman, I could call the guards and have you subdued easily. But I think it will be more rewarding to do this myself. Having sent your friend to live in eternity in Tartarus. I look forward to finding out just what she found so interesting in you."
The two were both outlined by the moonlight coming into room. As their eyes met, Gina said, "Ann deserved more than you for a father. I can now understand why she hated to hear even your name."
He held up his hands and said, "Your sword is too sharp, you win, I will leave your quarters." He began to step backwards and Gina smiled. Sensing she had won, she felt her body relax and it was at this time, the man yelled toward the open window, "Now, get the wench!"
Whirling, she prepared to meet whoever he was addressing. And at this moment, Caesar, kicked her behind the right knee, sending her crashing to the floor. His left foot kicked the saber from her hand as he scooped it up and held it at Gina's throat. "Now who has the upper hand...Get up!" A satisfied smile crossed his face as he smirked, "After tonight, my name will give you much more to remember."
Her leg pained her but she managed to get to her feet. It was obvious the way she was standing, she was maintaining her weight on the other leg. "What now, you have shown me how deceitful you are, killing me is that your next thing?"
The tip of the steel blade still close to her throat, he reached out and ran his left hand down the side of her face, "Oh no, I am going to enjoy taking you, and making you suffer every step of the way."
She felt she would heave as she heard the man's words and felt his hand on her face. "You are a big talker, as long as you hold that at my throat."
She had no warning but felt the solid jab as his fist met her stomach. "How's that for action? I have a lot more I am dying to give you. I only ask one thing, I want you to stay awake, I want to see and hear you as you plead with me for mercy."
He had tossed the saber and was holding Gina up, as he pushed her against the wall. Her legs felt like the waves on the ocean, they would not stand still, nor hold her weight. If he had not been holding her, she would have collapsed to the floor. Glaring into this eyes, she managed to ask, "Is it true?"
He was surprised at the woman's question and asked, "Is what true?"
Glancing downward she answered, "Your feet, they are small, I suppose this means something else is also."
He snarled, "When I finish with you, you will be begging for small."
His left hand had grasped her tunic and had commenced to rip it from her body. His many slaps upon her face, as he held her against the wall, caused her to finally quit fighting the man. His eyes grew wide as the last few remaining strands of material were removed and two full breasts lay in front of him. Gina felt revolted as she watched the lust in the man's face. It was as his left hand grabbed her right breast, that she quickly brought her knee up, striking him between his legs. He groaned, released his grip on her and crumpled to the floor.. Grasping her saber she kicked the man, sending him onto his side. Dropping to one knee, Gina stared at him writhing in pain and said, "My, my, the great Caesar is nothing but a baby. I have taken you down with one blow."
The blow she gave him was more than she had thought, for he soon passed out. Gina looked around the room but could not find anything to put on and so she did the next best thing. Dragging him toward the bed, she quickly removed his clothes. Putting his tunic on, she whispered, "You won't miss it." Then she removed the rest of Caesar's clothes. Turning her eyes away when she saw the swollen mass that was now between his legs. Gina knew that Cleopatra would be mad. She also knew that the woman was blinded by this man and anything she said, would be ignored. So she decided to do the next best thing.
Tying the man's hands and feet, she waited for daylight to make it's arrival. Whenever the man would begin to wake, she would send him back into darkness.
Before daybreak, she had untied Caesar, and laid back on the bed, waiting for a new day. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A loud clamoring noise brought the woman wide awake, Gina sit-up, staring around the room. A servant was on her knees picking up a pan she had dropped.
Gina gazed at the disarray of the bed. Caesar was fast asleep and it appeared the man had slept with her, She quickly grabbed a cover and held it over her body, "What are you doing in here?"
Getting to her feet the woman gazed at Gina, then Caesar, "I was bringing you water so you could freshen up. The Queen will have my head."
Standing, a cover wrapped around her, Gina walked toward the woman, "It is all right, leave the pan, the Queen never needs to know, go now."
The woman was so grateful, that between her thank you's and bows, Gina was not sure she would ever make it from the room. Once she was gone, Gina walked toward a mirror and gazed at her reflection. She smiled, "I may not have killed him but he will be sorry for some time." She was surprised she had fallen asleep, her plan was to remain awake. Now all she had to do was wait for the servants to begin spreading the rumors.
After she freshened up, she walked over, gazed down at the man so many were in fear of and said, "Neither one of us will forget this time."
It wasn't long before Gina was led to the Queen's chambers. She had a good nights rest and was looking forward to meeting with the Queen. She smiled, hoping she would have word of Ann, this day.
When she entered the magnificent room, her eyes gazed once more at the splendor. She was deep in thought.
"I hope you had a good night's rest."
Turning, she found herself staring at the Queen, "Yes, it was wonderful, thank you."
Cleopatra pointed to a lovely pile of plush pillows on the floor as she said, "Come sit with me."
Following the woman, Gina asked, "Ann? You said you would have more news?"
After they had sat, Gina waited in anticipation.
With a heavy sigh, Cleopatra spoke, "I sent a courier last night and he has just returned."
Excitement was all over the woman's face as Gina asked, "And?"
"I hoped to have news for you."
The minute the woman's words were out, Gina got a sinking sensation in the pit of her stomach once more, "I cannot take much more of this, please tell me, something is wrong."
"Seems your Ann has escaped, she and the woman Asterea are now fugitives."
Jumping to her feet, Gina fumed, "Escape, how could something like this happen?"
Attempting to smile up at the woman, Cleopatra said, "Sit, eat, drink something, I will tell you all I know."
When Cleopatra was finished, Gina sat back and said, "So, Ann could be anywhere and with that terrible woman."
"Seems so and your friend is being hunted. So it did no good to give Xena the order to release Ann Bounty."
Her light brown eyes were filled with worry as Gina said, "Thank you."
Seeming perplexed Cleopatra asked, "For what?"
"Because you did not carry out Caesar's orders and have Ann executed."
Leaning back on several pillows, the queen said, "I should have. Your friend carried out treasonable acts against my people and my country. When the time came, I...just couldn't, so I changed the order. Caesar does not know, and I would prefer it stayed this way."
Nodding, Gina replied, "Ann is a good person, she would never intentionally do anything to hurt your people or your country. I know she can clear this all up."
"Maybe so, but if she shows her face around here, she will be executed on the spot, so if you love your friend, better pray she is far away from here at this moment. Now, have something to eat. We need to speak of your promise."
Trying to look calm, she looked into Cleopatra's eyes and asked, "What is the promise? If I am to carry something out, I need to know what it is?"
Leaning back, the Queen replied, "I have a good place for you here, but I am not a total monster, I will allow you to leave, hunt for your friend but you must promise me when you find her and she is fine, you will return here to discuss your position."
Gina gazed at the woman, she was every bit as beautiful as the stories she had heard. Heaving a sigh, she answered, "I will eat something, then I will leave, I must find Ann."
Smiling as she poured Gina a goblet of wine, Cleopatra said, "This woman, Ann Bounty seems to have many people mesmerized. I pray you find her, before others do. And I look forward to your return."
Accepting food and drink, Gina smiled toward Cleopatra. She thanked the Gods under her breath. She was joyous to hear Ann had escaped for she was in fear all night. Fear that Cleopatra would now have the woman executed.
Continued in chapter forty seven
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