Deciphering The Scrolls

part 3

by Azurenon & Savanna Mac

Please see part one for all disclaimers.

Chapter 4


A little while later - which felt like only a few moments, though she knew it had been longer - Mel opened her eyes to see Janice slipping quietly across the living room. In her left hand she held a small candle, her right was shielding the flame, presumably from Melís eyes, so as not to awaken her. Mel watched Janiceís progress towards the open kitchen area, her eyes taking note of the short white T-shirt and a pair of light blue feminine underwear.

At least she doesnít wear boxer shorts, Mel thought, noticing also that one side of Janiceís underwear was hiked up slightly, revealing one white, seemingly firm cheek No wonder she fills out those pants so well, she thought, as Janice now reached up to open one of the cabinets, offering Mel a view of her firm, curvaceous body in profile. As Janice then eased up on her tiptoes, Mel could see the musculature of her calves, as well as, her thighs. One cheek jiggled as Janice dropped her heels back to the floor, upon finding what she was looking for: saltine crackers. Paper rattled, as she pulled the remaining crackers from the box.

"She-it!" she heard Janice hiss, as the latter found the package contained only one cracker. She quickly glanced in Melís direction, but obviously could not tell that her eyes were open.

Mel continued to watch, as Janice once again raised up on her tiptoes for a longer period of time, as she searched the cabinet, apparently for another box of crackers. Melís gaze scanned up the svelte torso; the tight T-shirt accentuating the pert round mounds always hidden beneath the pockets of Janiceís work shirts.

"Damn!" Janice hissed, as she dropped back to her heels.

Mel was so captivated by the slight jiggle of one of the mounds she was admiring, that it didnít register right away what Janice was cursing about. When the latter raised one knee up on the counter, however, Mel knew exactly what she was going to do.

She raised up off the sofa rather quickly. "Hey, wait a minute," she called out.

"Jes-sus Christ, Mel!" Janice exclaimed, as she stumbled backwards. "You scared the shit outta me!"

"Well, I didnít mean to scare you, but... I didnít want you climbing up on that counter," Mel explained, quickly covering the distance between them. "You could fall and hurt yourself. Here... let me get those for you," she added, reaching up to the top shelf, on her own tiptoes now, to get the box of saltines.

"I wouldnít have to climb, if... so-ome bo-ody hadnít put them way up there," Janice grumbled, placing her hands on her hips.

"Well, at the time there wasnít any room on the other shelf," Mel explained, as she sat the box on the counter and then placed her hands on her own hips, mimicking her friendís stance.

Janice cocked her right eyebrow. Mel cocked her left one in response.

"Oh, give me those," Janice grumbled, reaching for the crackers. "You want some?"

"Iíll get the milk," Mel offered.

"Okay, Iíll... Hey, wait... howíd you know I wanted...." Janice paused, as she turned around and saw Mel opening the icebox. Suddenly afforded a view she had not been anticipating, she forgot the rest of her question. All she could do was stare at the firm mound of flesh with its erect protrusion, which was revealed by the thin nightgown her friend was wearing.

"Itís what you usually have when you get up at night, isnít it?" Mel answered, as she turned around with a bottle of milk in her hand. The look on Janiceís face stunned her for a moment. She wasnít sure what to make of it, because sheíd never had a woman look at her like that before.

"Uh yeah," Janice admitted, quickly turning away. "I... Iím sorry I... didnít know I was... waking you up all those times."

"Thatís alright," Mel consoled, as she took the milk to the counter.

"Iíll... get the glasses," Janice mumbled, quickly turning away from her friend once again.

The two were soon seated at the kitchen table munching on their crackers in silence. Mel kept glancing over at Janice, wanting to make eye contact, but the latter would not meet her gaze. She was looking everywhere and anywhere else.

"Is there...something wrong?" Mel finally asked.

"Uh, no," Janice mumbled, then stuffed another cracker in her mouth.

She offered the bag to Mel, who declined. Instead, the latter watched Janice intently over the rim of her milk glass. She could tell something wasnít right. Janice appeared too uncomfortable. After the wonderful day theyíd spent together, Mel felt quite at ease with her, so why was Janice acting as if theyíd just met? Why wonít she look at me? she wondered.

When they were both finished, they busied themselves putting things away. When Mel replaced the crackers in the cabinet, she assumed Janice would make some comment about not putting them on the top shelf, but she didnít. So Mel was now sure something was wrong.

"Okay, what is it?" she finally announced, stepping in Janiceís path; treating her like an old friend.

Janice glanced up briefly, shook her head and then continued around her to put the glasses in the sink.

"Janice, please," Mel said in a pleading tone of voice. "Is it something Iíve done? Something Iíve said.... what?"

Janice ran water into the two glasses, but offered no response.

"You know you can tell me anything," Mel added softly.

Janice shut the water off, then quickly turned around. "Alright then, you tell me... what is it? Do I snore? Do I bite? Do I stink? What?"

Mel blinked several times, quite taken aback by this sudden outburst, and terribly puzzled, as well. "I... I donít know... what youíre talkiní about," she admitted, backing up a step or two.

Janice grunted and crossed her arms over her chest. "You sleep on that damn sofa every night, which I know canít be comfortable, because Iíve slept there before. Iíve offered for you to sleep with me, more than once and... you finally did, last night, as a matter of fact. But now, youíre back on the sofa, so... what gives? Do I snore too loud? Stink too bad? Bite too hard? What?" she finished, sounding exasperated.

"We-ell..." Mel drawled, pausing to consider how best to answer this.

Janice threw up her hands. "Oh never mind," she grumbled, as she started past Mel. "Goodnight!"

"Janice Covington!" Mel heard herself exclaim. "You stop right there! You didnít even give me a chance to answer you! And donít you dare walk away from me, before Iíve had a chance to do so."

Janice stopped and spun around on her heels. Her right eyebrow was cocked, as if waiting for an answer.

"We-ell," Mel drawled again, not feeling half as confident as she had a moment ago.

"Look Mel, whatever it is, itís not gonna make me mad or... hurt my feelings or... whatever youíre thinking. I just..." Janice sighed heavily and plopped down in one of the kitchen chairs nearby. "Iíd just like to know why, is all. I mean... I just... well, I canít sleep good knowing that youíre not. Should I get you a bed of your own? Thereís hardly enough room for one in there, but... maybe we could... move some things around out here in the living room or something."

"So... thatís whatís been bothering you?" Mel asked softly, as she walked over to the table. "You were concerned about me?" She she sat down too.

"Well... thatís not all, but... itís whatís bothering me right at this moment," Janice grumbled, crossing her arms over her chest and rubbing one hand over the opposite arm, as if she were embarrassed.

You little sweetheart, Mel thought, but didnít say, afraid Janice might take offense. Instead she said, "We-ell, I didnít hear anything last night, so... I donít know if you snore. And no, you do not stink. As for biting... if you did, I didnít feel it. Do I have any marks?" she asked, pushing her long hair back over her shoulders; a slight grin on her face.

Janice shook her head and smiled. "Be serious, Mel, please."

Mel glanced down. "Okay... I know you didnít really want a partner. I know I just kinda... forced myself upon you."

"Weíre in this together, remember?" Janice reminded. "For better or worse," she mumbled.

"Yes, I know youíve said that, but... well, the truth is... I just didnít want to inconvenience you. I mean... I didnít know how long Iíd be here. I thought maybe only a few days or a week, at most. I mean, I have no illusions that after we find this... whatever... weíll more than likely... go our separate ways, so... I didnít want to inconvenience you and... I didnít want to get too comfortable. And besides..." She paused and frowned. "I do snore," she added. "Though Iím not sure about biting, since Iíve always slept by myself."

Janice glanced down and emitted a slight chuckle. She shook her head, glanced back up at Mel and started chuckling again. Mel got tickled at Janice and soon they were both laughing.

Finally, Janice got up and held out her hand to Mel. "Come on podíner, letís go find out who snores the loudest and... who bites, hmm?"

Once they were under the covers and getting settled, Janice asked, "Now, isnít this much better?"

"Yes," Mel agreed, without hesitation.

"Good. Now... letís get some sleep, shall we?" Janice said, as she reached up to turn off the lamp.

"Janice wait," Mel announced.

"What is it?" Janice paused and lowered her arm.

"I... we-ell, I just wanna thank you for today and... oh just everything. I mean... I havenít had a friend in quite a while and... it... it really feels good to have someone I can talk to again. Thank you, Janice," she added, leaning over to place a kiss on her friendís cheek, as sheíd done so many times with Gwen.

Mel closed her eyes, expecting to feel a cheek beneath her lips. She was quite unaware that at that same exact moment, Janice was turning towards her to say something. And the cheek she expected to kiss, turned into a pair of soft, moist lips.

Melís eyes sprang open as she gasped, "Oh-h-h my-y-y." Her hand went to her lips, which were trembling uncontrollably. "Oh-h-h, Jan-nice, I... your cheek... you... turned... I didnít mean...." Her voice trailed off beneath her fingertips.

Janiceís eyes were wide and staring as well. She quickly rolled back over. "Itís... alright, Mel... really," she stammered, reaching over and turning off the lamp.

"Jan-nice, Iím so... so-ory, I..."

"Good night, Mel," Janice said softly.

Mel lay back, her fingertips still against her trembling lips. Oh-h my-y word, she thought, Swe-et Jes-sus, wh-hat... was that? Oh-h Lor-dee, I nev-ver in my li-ife... oh goo-oodness, itís getting so-o hot in here. Oh dear God, howíd tha-at happen? I never meant to... oh my-y whatís happening to me, I feel so... strange?" she pondered, hearing her heartbeat drumming away in her ears. I donít ever remember feeling this way be-fore.

Felt good, didnít it? her mind inquired.

Yes, it... I mean, No-o... "Oh-h my-y," she said aloud.

"Donít worry about it, Mel," Janice offered, trying to keep her voice calm, although she felt anything but, at the moment. "It was just an accident, right? Itís okay, really." Janice paused. "And if itís any consolation... I enjoyed today, too. Iím glad you... think of me as a friend. Iíd like to think youíre... my friend, too."

"Y-yes, aícourse I am," Mel responded, her voice quivering slightly.

"Good. Then... letís get some shut eye, shall we? Iím bushed."

"Uh... yes... um... good night, Janice," Mel mumbled, as she rolled over on her side away from her friend.

"Goodnight, Mel," Janice said softly, her own lips still throbbing from the intimate contact. Jes-sus, but she has soft lips, she thought, Good Lord how I wish that hadnít been an accident.

Mel was too confused to go to sleep. Just an accident, she told herself. It just... it scared you is all. Yes, thatís it! Thatís why my heart is pounding so fast. It... scared me... I wasnít expecting...."

A pair of soft, wet lips, her mind supplied, as the feel of the experience flitted through her mind, once again. Never felt like that kissing a man, did it, Mel?

Oh my no, she answered herself honestly, her lips throbbing at the memory.

Youíd like to do that again, wouldnít you?

Yes, I... I mean NO, I... oh my goodness, she thought, knowing the truth lay in her first initial answer. Oh swee-eet Jes-sus, I think Iím ... losing my mind.


Janice was already up and gone the next morning when Mel awoke. And although she was somewhat relieved at not having to face her bed mate, Mel wasnít sure she liked not hearing her friend moving around, which usually woke her up. Then again, she had slept soundly last night. Once she actually got to sleep, that is. The latter of which was no small feat.

Mel rolled over to check the time and was greeted by the aroma of the soap and shampoo Janice used, wafting off her pillow. Melís fingers involuntarily went to her lips, as she remembered, in full detail, the accident of the night before.

"Oh-h my-y," she mumbled, then quickly scrambled out of the bed.

She wouldnít let herself dwell on this. It was nearly 8:30 and she had work to do. She had to find out what happened between Xena and Gabrielle; how had they made up?

Yes and maybe today I will find... what weíre looking for, she told herself. Aícourse that would mean going our separate ways sooner than... She shook her head. She couldnít dwell on what might happen. She had to get to work.

Janice was distracted long before she ever reached the dig site, which was within walking distance of the cottage. Her father had spent a great deal of time at this particular site, once he found the piece of parchment, which described Xenaís battle with another warrior woman named Callisto. Her father had always assumed heíd find the rest of the scrolls here. Yet, all heíd ever found was a cave, which he had painstakingly excavated, to no avail. All it contained was rubble from the collapse of part of the caveís roof, centuries ago, and an abundance of fossils, imbedded in the rocks. One fossil, in and of itself, wasnít worth much, but with so many it was possible to have a little money coming in. Which was another reason Janice had returned to this dig site, besides the fact that she was using it as a cover, pretending to still be searching for the scrolls. Of course, the site could not pay for its own excavation, but every little bit helped.

Janiceís crew was now digging deeper into the cave, at a snailís pace, however, shoring up the tunnels they were excavating, which branched off each side, with wooden beams, as her father had done to the cave roof itself, to prevent further collapses. She wasnít proud of the lies she had to dish out to the workman, about the real purpose for this dig. Yet, if not for her, these men would have to find another way to scrape out a living. So, on the one hand she felt the dig did serve a purpose, but on the other, she knew the whole thing was one big farce.

And this dishonesty, coupled with the events of the night before, were both weighing heavily on her mind now. So, when she was informed several of her men were out sick this particular day, each having come down with some form of virus (which Janice assumed came straight out of a bottle of alcoholic beverage), she wasnít really concerned about the progress of the work. At first, sheíd even entertained the idea of sending them all home for the day. But then word might get out. She wasnít sure whom she expected to show up looking for the scrolls, since Smythe was dead. But, if heíd heard about them, then there might be others, even greedier and more dangerous. She had told Mel to relax about the Naziís, when Jack, posing as a French Lieutenant, had mentioned them, yet they were a viable threat. Especially since it was known they were collecting and spiriting away anything of value.

It was these thoughts, along with the fact that she didnít need to dwell on last nightís events, which had prompted her to join her workman in one of the tunnels. With a small pick in hand, she was now chipping away at a large chuck of limestone, in which was embedded a series of tiny fossilized sea creatures. Janice wondered if removing the whole series intact might be far more valuable than each individual fossil, which was why she was trying to do just that.

The work was tedious and monotonous, at the same time. And her mind kept straying to thoughts of the previous day. Their walk on the beach had been a welcome change for Janice; something she had needed and enjoyed. Although, she didnít need to be thinking about it right now. Yet, it seemed the harder she tried not to think about it, the more mental pictures her mind conjured up. And most seemed to inevitably center on Melís blue eyes.

They call that color azure, I believe, she thought, remembering a line from a book sheíd once read. This line then lead to the lyrics of a song by the same name: Azure.

Drifting, dreaming... In an azure mood

Stardust gleaming... Through my solitude

Here in my seclusion.... Youíre a blue illusion

While Iím in this azure interlude

Iím not wanted... Iím so all alone

Always haunted... By the dreams I own

But though Iím tormented

I must be contented

Drifting, dreaming

In an azure mood

"Drifting... dreaming... in an azure mood," Janice quietly mouthed the words.

Little was Janice aware that at this same moment, Mel was sitting back at her desk - after reading one of the more tender stories in the scrolls - unconsciously singing a song entitled, "Where or When", while thoughts of the previous day played out before her mindís eye.

"It seems we stood and talked like this, before.... We looked at each other in the same way then.... But I canít remember where or when..." Mel hummed the next few lines, not knowing them well, and coming back in on, "But I canít remember where or when... Some things that happened for the first time... Seem to be happeniní again. And so it seems that we have met before... And laughed before... and loved befo....." Mel stopped abruptly and bolted upright.

An image of Janice, lying face down in the dirt, with blood oozing from the back of her head, flashed through her mind. "NO-O!" she exclaimed, sensing deep within herself that this was not some freak image, but a premonition.

Sheíd had a few of these before, during her lifetime, and knew they were uncannily accurate. She immediately leapt up from her chair and made tracks for the door.

Janice was now working on getting the fossil laden stone loose from its surroundings. She had chosen to use a long chisel, in order to angle her cut in the shape of a upside down V, in the hopes of not cracking the face of the limestone, while removing it, as had happened with the layer directly above it. With the next strike of hammer to chisel, a mettalic "TING" rang out in the tunnel. Janice frowned and glanced around to see if she was the only one who heard this. Obviously, she wasnít; for, two of the workman were looking her way. Without moving the chisel, Janice lightly struck it with the hammer once again. The unmistakable ring of metal striking metal was heard again.

"Help me here!" she said, excitedly. "Thereís something behind thi...." Janice paused abruptly at the sound of stone cracking overhead. All eyes in the tunnel went to the ceiling, braced with timbers. A small crack was inching its way across the length of the limestone ceiling.

"Cave in," one of the workman said in Greek.

Canít be, Janice thought, We havenít had any problems with...

A rumbling sound cut her thoughts short, as the crack in the ceiling started traveling at a faster pace.

"Get out!" Janice yelled, though there was hardly any reason to; for, the workmen were already scrambling towards the tunnel entrance.

Janice hesitated, thinking about the metallic sound. If this tunnel caves in now, it could be days, even weeks before we can get back in this far. She drew back the hammer and struck the chisel hard, driving it into the limestone, while the ceiling above began showing spiderweb cracks that were spreading. She now hit the chisel on its side several times, no longer concerned with the fossilís condition, but only in getting the limestone block out of her way, so she could get to what was behind it.

The chunk of limestone broke free and fell at her feet, and the wall above it began cracking. Janice quickly stuck her hand into the vacated hole. She could feel the metal, cold and smooth against her fingertips, yet she could find no edge to grab hold of.

Suddenly a chunk of the ceiling fell free only a few feet away and one of the beams cracked. The whole cave wall rumbled and a large chunk of limestone above the hole broke loose and fell onto Janiceís hand. She screamed in agony, her hand flattening out beneath the heavy stone. She was in so much pain, she hardly had time to get her thoughts together, before she was hit from behind. And her pain, as well as the world, swam away in darkness.

Mel heard Janiceís scream, as she entered the cave. "Where is she?!!!" she shouted, to the workmen exiting the cave.

"There," one man finally answered, pointing to a small tunnel on the left. Mel was headed towards it, when he called out, "NO! NO! Cave in! Rocks fall!"

"Sweet Jes-sus, I know that!" Mel grumbled, ducking into the tunnel entrance.

She could see a light up ahead and a shadowed figure seemingly hanging onto the wall.

"Janice? What are you doing? Youíve gotta get outta here!" Mel screamed, but Janice offered no response. And as she got closer, she realized why. "Oh my God," she breathed, seeing Janiceís green hat, still on her head, the back of it stained with blood.

Janice was unconscious and not hanging onto the wall, she was hanging from it; her hand trapped beneath a chunk of limestone.

"Swee-eet Jes-sus, howíd you manage to do that?" she grumbled, as a piece of the ceiling fell down behind her. "Donít panic, Mel," she cautioned herself. "Take a deep breath and... think."

Her first thought was to call for help, but everyone else was leaving as she was coming in. Then suddenly another piece of the ceiling fell close to her feet. Glancing down, she spied the chisel. Acting quickly, she jammed the chisel beneath the chunk of limestone on top of Janiceís hand. Pushing down on the chisel, she pried the limestone upwards and freed her friendís hand. The latter slid to the floor of the tunnel face first; her hat tumbling off, revealing blood oozing from the back of her head. Mel realized this was what sheíd seen in her vision and it stunned her for a moment.

A cracking sound from overhead, however, put her in motion once again. She bent down to roll Janice over and realized her long skirt was hindering her movements. "Sheís told me about these skirts," she mumbled, straightening up long enough to rip the skirt up both sides.

Bending back down, she gently rolled Janice over. The ceiling began to crumble; bits and pieces raining around them. Mel used her body to shield Janiceís upper torso.

When the falling debris subsided, she found herself face to face with Janiceís hat. "Sheíll wanna kill me if I leave this behind," she mumbled, snatching up the battered hat and plopping in on her own head.

As quickly as possible, she slipped her arms around her friend; one hand behind her head, the other beneath her knees, and gathered Janice into her arms. The latter groaned and mumbled, assuaging Melís fears that she might be dead.

Then with a strength Mel was unaware she possessed, nor even consciously acknowledged she was using at the moment, she stood up with Janice in her arms and began moving towards the tunnel entrance. She stopped only once, when the heel of one of her pumps caught on a rock and nearly tripped her. Acting on instinct, she stepped out of the shoes, without a backward glance.

Soon, Mel was outside the cave, yet still moving with purpose.

"Dok-tor... she save!" one of the men called out, as they all rushed towards Mel.

"Get outta my way!" the tall brunette growled. "You sons-of-bitches left her for dead!"

The men backed away and watched in awe, as Mel kept moving, trudging barefoot over the rocky terrain towards the doctorís tent - which Jancie used as an office at the site - like a woman possessed.

"Nice legs," one of the men said in Greek, unable not to notice the sides of the long skirt, as it separated with each stride, revealing a pair of long silky thighs.

"She doesnít seem to even notice the sharp rocks," another man noted, with awe in his voice.

"Sheís pretty, too," another added, "without those cat glasses."

Then all the men, except for the one who had mentioned the rocks, started laughing.

Solanos, the foreman, shushed them, however. From his seated position, where he was bandaging his ankle he yelled out, "You crazy fools! That is our meal ticket she is carrying! Why did none of you go back in to save the doctor?"

The men grew quiet. All of them looking around at each other; the two who had been working in the tunnel with Janice looked shamefaced now.

"Go and help her!" he ordered, looking at these two men. "The rest of you, go home! We will start clearing the cave tomorrow. Bartola, you will help me to the doctorís tent. I will... try and apoligize for the rest of these... sons of bee-ches," he added, pronouncing the last few words in accented English.


Janiceís eyes fluttered open briefly, then closed again. Her head pounded like she had a hangover, but she couldnít remember getting drunk. Of course, this was nothing unusual. However, the piercing pain at the back of her head was. What had she done, fallen down in a drunken stupor and hit her...? Suddenly, the memory of the cave-in flashed through her mind. Gotta get outta here, she thought, as her eyes snapped open and she started to raise up. She groaned in agony, when a sharp pain shot through her head.

"Lay back," Melís voice soothed, as a hand touched her shoulder lightly.

"Wha... are you do... gotta get ou-out.... ceiliní collaps-siní..." Janice mumbled.

"Relax... youíre safe now," Mel assured. "Youíre out of the tunnel and at home."

Janiceís eyes darted around the room, as Mel eased her back on the bed. The archaeologistís eyes then settled on her friend. "Howíd I... get here?" she questioned.

"Sh-h," Mel admonished. "Just rest. You were hit on the head by... debris. You need to take it easy, okay."

"Umph," Janice grunted. "No wonder... my head hurts."

"Good thing it didnít hit you somewhere else," Mel said teasingly, testing to see if she could get a rise out of Janice. "Any other place might not have been so... hard."

"Ha... ha." Janice retorted, a slight smile curling the corners of her lips.

Mel breathed a sigh of relief. "Rest now. Iíll be right outside if you need anything."

"Wa-ter," Janice requested.

"She is all... right, yes?" Solanosís voice asked from the sofa, as Mel came through the living room, headed for the kitchen.

"Yes," Mel grumbled. "No thanks to your men! She should fire the lot of you!"

"No, no, ple-ease," Solanos pleaded, trying to stand on his bad ankle. "The men they... they... how you say... they pan-nic... they fear..."

"Go home!" Mel ordered, removing a glass from the cabinet. "Take care of your ankle. She wonít fire you. Now go."

"We will... start... work...tomor-row," he promised.

"No!" Mel commanded, running water into the glass now. "No work will be done until Janice is well enough to oversee it. No sense in anyone else getting hurt."

"But.... the men... they need the mon-nies for..."

Mel spun around from the sink so quickly water sloshed out of the glass in her hand and onto the floor. "If they had gotten her out, you might be working tomorrow!" she exclaimed. "Tell your men to think on that! Now get outta my sight!" she added, with more authority in her voice, than even she knew she could muster.

Solanos and the man assisting him, as well as, the two who had carried Janice back to the cottage, moved as quickly as possible towards the door. "Tell Dok-tor... we... sorry," Solanos said, as his assistant closed the door behind them.

"Sorry, my ass!" Mel grumbled, glancing down at the spilled water on the floor. "Oh-h my-y," she added, "did I say that?"

Janice had heard this whole exchange, but even she had not had the where-with-all at the moment, to challenge the authority of Melís voice. The latter of which sounded eerily like that of Xenaís, when sheíd taken over Melís body in that tomb. Janice tried to make sense of this, but her head hurt too badly to concentrate on any one thing at the moment.

Mel soon entered the room with the glass of water. "Here we go," she said, her voice seemingly back to normal, as she gently sat down on the side of the bed.

Janice opened her eyes, wondering if she had been hallucinating, hearing that other voice.

"Take it slow now," Mel added, putting the glass to her lips. "Oops, sow-ry," she added, when some of the water trickled down Janiceís chin. "Iím sure glad to see your eyes open. You had me pretty worried there."

"Umph," Janice grunted, as she pulled back from the water glass. "How... howíd I get here?"

"Oh, letís not talk about that now, you need your rest. Thereíll be plenty of time for that later," Mel responded, sitting the glass down on the bedside table. "You know I thought about taking you to the hospital, but... that road is so bumpy... Aícourse if you hadnít come around soon, I wouldíve risked it."

"Good thing you didnít... we couldnít... pay for it," Janice mumbled.

"Yes, we could. If you needed to be in the hospital, I would have... found the money somewhere."

"Nev-ver mind," Janice said, waving this conversation away. "Now... tell me... what happened today."

"Well, the tunnel you were in collapsed, I suppose and..."

"I know that part," Janice frowned. "Who got me... out? I heard you... in there." She gestured towards the living room.

"Oh... well," Mel looked down at her hands in her lap. "I did," she finally admitted. "Or at least, I think I did."

"You think... you did?" Janice queried.

"Wu-ull, yes, I... I mean I know I..." She paused and glanced up at Janice. "I donít know how I did it, but... I carried you outta the cave."

"Yo-ou? By yourself?" Janice queried, frowning, because this was making no sense. And trying to make sense of it was causing her head to hurt worse.

"Wu-ull yeah," Mel answered.

Janice grunted. "Would you... get me some aspirin?" she asked, closing her eyes now. "My head is... killing me."

"Oh sure, Iíll be right back," Mel said, as she eased up from the bed, so as not to jar Janiceís head.

"And Mel..." Janice called, her eyes still closed. "My hat? Did it... survive?"

"Yes," Mel answered with a smile. "Itís a bit worse for wear, but... itís intact."

"Thanks Mel," Janice mumbled. "Youíre a... true friend."

Chapter 5


By nightfall, Janice was sitting up in bed, being fed a bowl of soup Mel had prepared. She knew she was quite capable of eating with her left hand, but Mel insisted on feeding her and Janice put up no argument. Besides, feeding herself wouldnít be nearly as much fun. The thought even crossed her mind that she could easily milk these injuries for all they were worth, since she definitely enjoyed the attention Mel was lavishing on her. Yet, in the back of her mind, she could still hear that "ting" of metal striking metal, as well as, feel the cool surface beneath her fingertips.

She glanced down at her right hand all swathed in bandages. "How bad is it, doc?" she finally inquired, knowing it wasnít broken, because she could move her fingers a little.

"You have a cut across your knuckles," Mel answered. "And I expect it will be pretty bruised."

"So why all the bandages?" Janice questioned, raising the aforementioned hand.

"Guess I... got a little carried away," Mel responded, a bit sheepishly.

"Um-hm," Janice acknowledged. "I assume my head looks like my hand?" She reached up with her left hand and gently followed the progression of the bandage covering her entire head. "You have me wrapped up like a... Swami."

"Whatís that?" Mel inquired.

"Never mind. Just... when you get through feeding me, howís about... .lightening my load, hmm?"

Mel glanced down at the bowl of soup. "I never claimed to be a doctor."

"Itís alright, Mel," Janice consoled. "So, how does it look?" Mel glanced up, a quizzical expression on her face. "My head? Much damage?"

"Oh, well... I suppose not." Mel responded. "You do have a small gash back there. I thought it was bigger by the amount of blood, but..." The brunette shivered. "I think your hat absorbed some of the impact."

"Hmph," Janice grunted. "My lucky hat. Where is it, by the way?"

"Dryiní by the fire." Mel frowned. "I tried to... get the blood off."

"Did it work?"

Melís frown deepened. "Uh... no, if anything... I think I made it worse."

Janice sighed. "Well, other than that, itís still wearable, right?"

"Well, the back brim is... sorta crushed and... now itís kinda dark on the back side. The bloodstain... it kinda spread."

"Hmph," Janice grunted. "Iíll look at it later. Maybe it just needs to dry."

"Here... have some more soup," Mel offered, holding out the spoon.

Janice swallowed, then said, "Who came and told you about the cave-in?"

Mel frowned. "Um... one of your..." She paused and sighed heavily, deciding she didnít want to lie to Janice, especially when she knew sheíd find out the truth sooner or later. "No... one," she admitted hesitantly.

"Then howíd you...?" Janice paused, as Melís blue eyes met hers. Their intensity quelled the rest of her question.

"I... I canít explain it, Janice. I..." Melís gaze fell back to the bowl in her hand. "Sometimes I just... know things."

Janice stared at her friend. "What are you saying? Are you telling me that... you knew what had happened?"

Mel shrugged. "Not everything. I... I get these... pictures... images of...." She paused and glanced up at Janice.

"Are you trying to tell me... you have... visions or something?"

Mel nodded and glanced back down at the bowl rather quickly. "It doesnít happen often," she offered, hurriedly.

"Hmph," Janice grunted. "Well, I guess Iím lucky it did this time, hmm?"

Mel glanced up at her again. "You mean... you donít think Iím... weird for... seeing things before they happen?"

"Weird? No," Janice answered without hesitation. "Gifted perhaps. But certainly not weird."

A smile slowly crept onto Melís face and then her eyes began to fill up with tears.

"Mel, what in the world did I say that...?"

"Youíre the very first person... who ever said that. Everyone else..." Mel paused, as her voice broke and tears began easing down her cheeks.

"Mel, look at me," Janice said, reaching out with her left hand and lifting the other womanís chin, in order to make eye contact. "Iím here now, because of your... specialness. I can see it as nothing less than a gift. One I wish I had."

"No, you donít," Mel countered. "Sometimes, itís not... a gift. Not when... you canít stop what you see will happen."

"You did this time," Janice noted.

"No, I... didnít. You were hurt, just like I saw."

"Yes, but if you hadnít come to the cave, I may be... dead now."

Mel shrugged and wiped at her tears. "I guess youíre right."

"Of course I am," Janice said. "Have you ever known me to be wrong?"

Mel glanced up at her and sniffed. "Howíd you get... your hand trapped... in that hole?"

"Long story," Janice grumbled.

"Iíd like to... hear it," Mel sniffed.

"Um, Iím getting a little tired," Janice responded, changing the subject. "I best finish that soup," she added, not wanting to admit to Mel that sheíd been foolish in staying in the tunnel too long; that her greed and stubborness had almost got her killed.

Mel quickly fed her the few remaining spoonfuls.

"I need to use the bathroom, too," Janice announced. "And change these clothes," she added, already having noticed that Mel had removed her jacket and boots, but nothing else.

"Let me put this away," Mel said, gesturing to the bowl. "And Iíll be right back to help."

"Uh, Mel, I... I think I can handle the... bathroom detail," Janice commented.

"Well, yes, but you need help getting there and changing your clothes," Mel countered, as she abruptly left the room.

Might be nice having her change your clothes, Janiceís mind suggested.

Might be, but... No, Iíll handle that myself.

Ashamed of your body, hmm?

No, not really, Janice thought, just modest.

Oh, let her change your clothes. It could prove... interesting.

Nope, Janice thought, that kiss was enough distraction. I donít need anymore. At least not right now.

Mel and Janice argued over the changing of her clothes, until Janice finally won out, by promising not to stand up by herself, and to call Mel when she was finished.

As Mel helped her out of the bathroom and into the bed, Janice noticed her friend limping slightly. "Whatís wrong," she inquired. "Why are you limping?"

"Oh, itís nothing," Mel assured, pulling the cover up over Janiceís bare legs and trying her best not to stare at the front of the latterís T-shirt.

"Nothing doesnít make you limp," Janice countered. "Whatíd you do, hurt your foot or something getting me out of that tunnel?"

"Uh... really itís nothing," Mel persisted, as she turned away, headed for the door. "Iíll get you another aspirin," she added.

Janice was very conscious of Melís limp now and she wasnít going to let it go. She noticed the white socks Mel was wearing, which were very uncharacteristic, as was wearing that skirt Xena had ripped up the sides. Wait a minute... didnít Mel try to mend that? Janice wondered. Yes, she did, she answered herself, so why is it ripped again?

Mel walked back in with a glass of water and an aspirin. Janice could tell she was trying not to limp. The latter made no comment, however, as she took the proffered medicine, washing it down with a swallow of water.

"Get some sleep now," Mel said, as she turned to walk away.

"Where are you going?" Janice queried.

"I have dishes to wash."

Janice offered no argument; for, her head was hurting too badly at the moment. But she would not forget. Sheíd get her answers sooner or later.

Later on, Janice felt Mel climb into bed beside her. She didnít offer to open her eyes, as she asked, "You gonna tell me about your limp now?"

Mel sighed heavily. "Itís nothing, really."

"What happened?" Janice persisted.

"Itís not really worth..."

"Arguing with you is making my head hurt, Mel," Janice interjected. "Now just tell me for peteís sake."

"O-kay," Mel sighed. "I merely... bruised my feet."

"How?" Janice prodded.

"Um... I was barefooted."

"Barefooted? When?"


"Hmph," Janice grunted. "This is like pulling teeth. Mel, just... start at the beginning and donít skip over the good parts."

Reluctantly, Mel spilled the tale of finding Janice, ripping her skirt, carrying her out of the tunnel by herself, leaving her shoes and carrying her to the tent. She had also walked home barefooted while the men carried Janice.

"You... carried me... all the way from the dig site to the tent?" Janice asked, hesitantly.

"I know... I canít believe it myself," Mel offered. "I guess it isnít really that far."

"I wanna see your feet," Janice announced.

"Not now," Mel countered.

"Why not?"

"Because... theyíre... bandaged."

"Hmph," Janice grunted, finally glancing over at her friend. "So thatís why youíre wearing the white socks then. And theyíre not just bruised, are they?"

"Theyíre fine. Please, Janice, Iím tired. Letís discuss this tomorrow."

Janice merely grunted; for, she too was tired, too tired to argue anymore.


The next day, however, she pestered Mel until she got a look at her feet. They were cut and swollen on the bottom and she didnít see how her friend could even walk.

"I have tough feet," Mel explained, then added. "Quid pro quo, doctor." Janice cocked one eyebrow. "It means I told you something you wanted to know, now you tell me something I wanna know."

"Iím well aware of what it means," Janice admitted.

"Well, then... howíd you end up hanging from that wall?"

Janice then explained about the chisel hitting metal and how sheíd felt the metal on the other side.

"Janice Covington, you could have been killed!" Mel grumbled.

"And so could you... coming in after me," Janice countered.

"Yes, but that was different. You are worth more than any... piece of metal," Mel announced, then suddenly seemed embarrassed for some reason.

"Iím glad you think so," Janice commented, wondering why Mel was acting so embarrassed.

"Well, you are," Mel said and then limped out of the room; her feet obviously more sore today than yesterday.


The next few days passed quickly at times and slowly at others, as the two women recovered from their injuries. The first day Mel would hardly even let Janice get up out of bed by herself. But the latter was determined to be back on her feet and was up, sitting by the fire by the end of the day.

By the second day, Janice was trying to take care of Mel, whose feet were quite sore. She even changed the bandages and doctored each cut, as if they were severe wounds. Mel was pleasantly pleased to see this tender side of Janiceís nature, which sheíd always assumed was there from the beginning, but her friend just wouldnít let it show. And to be the recipient of such attention was indeed a thrill. Mel soon found herself craving a physical closeness with Janice that she could only assume originated from the fear of nearly losing her friend in the cave-in. She took every opportunity that presented itself to be close to Janice. And basked in the warmth of their mutual friendship.

By the third day, each woman was able to fend for herself and yet, they both continued to attempt catering to one another. And before long, they were getting on one anotherís nerves. Having played their share of card games, dominoes and checkers - the only games Janiceís father had possessed - they were each at a loss for some other form of entertainment. When Mel turned to the scrolls, Janice followed suit, reading right alongside her friend; the latter teaching her more about ancient syntax, as they followed their daring duos escapades.

Soon, Janice was caught up in the tales and asking questions better answered by the previous scrolls Mel had already read. And so, they backtracked; Mel rereading alongside her friend; leaning over Janiceís shoulder at every opportunity, though not understanding why she liked being so decidedly close, only knowing she enjoyed every moment of it.

Janice, on the other hand, although enjoying this as well, was also uncomfortable with it. For, she knew why she liked this and why she wanted more of it. And more importantly, how much she wanted a more intimate contact than she assumed Mel was willing to provide. She could hardly deny how the feel of Melís breasts against the back of her arm, made her hand itch with the desire to touch this part of her friendís anatomy. She had to turn away whenever Melís face moved too close to her own, for fear sheíd act on the nearly irresistible impulse to taste those luscious looking lips once again. And so by the end of the day, Janice was so tense, so filled with pent up desires, she even considered sleeping on the sofa. Yet, she knew this would only prompt questions that she was not prepared to answer.

To take her mind off things, she concentrated her energies on a bath and much needed hair washing. So desperate was she for the latter that she did not even stop to consider the consequences of this action on her wound, as she applied the shampoo to her hair.

Mel was in bed reading one of the scrolls, when she heard Janice cry out. Tossing the scroll aside, she was up and entering the bathroom door in seconds flat, afraid of what she might find within. She gasped upon seeing her friend laid back in the half filled tub of water, her eyes closed and the area around her head tinged pink. She saw movement and heard moaning, so she knew Janice was alive, yet, feared she had injured her head again. In one swift movement, she crossed the distance between them and pulled her friend up by her shoulders.

"Mel-l!" Janice screeched, opening her eyes and facing her friend. "What... are you doing?"

"I... I heard you scream," Mel explained, eyes wide with concern. "Did you slip and hit your head? Itís bleeding again."

"No, I..." Janice paused and quickly crossed her arm over her chest. "I... just got shampoo in the wound, I guess," she concluded sounding and looking embarrassed, as she glanced away from her friendís gaze.

"Shampoo?" Mel said slowly. "Well... that would explain it. Janice, why didnít you just call me instead of doing this on your own? I could have prevented this."

"I... I didnít want to bother you," Janice mumbled. "I thought I could handle it on my own."

"Serves you right then." Mel reached for the wash cloth lying on her friendís leg. "Here, let me take care of this, hmm?" She dunked the cloth in the water and brought it up to the back of Janiceís head.

"Ouch!" Janice winced, as the water stung her wound.

"Youíre too stubborn for your own good, you know that, Janice Covington?" Mel admonished. "All you had to do was ask me. You know I wouldnít mind helping you. Now youíve got it bleeding again. What am I gonna do with you? Turn your head that way, so I can get to it better. I swear, anyone so stubborn theyíd..."

"Okay, okay," Janice grumbled. "Donít rub it in. Iím stubborn, I admit it. Just... get the shampoo off, okay?"

Mel worked in silence, holding her hand over the wound while rinsing the shampoo out of her friendís hair with water squeezed from the washcloth over and over. Several times she caught her eyes wandering to her friendís arms over her chest, wondering why Janice felt this was necessary. Could she possibly be that shy? she wondered. She didnít act shy most of the time. Then again, Mel had never seen her naked before. Nor had Janice ever undressed in front of her. And I thought I was the shy one, Mel thought, as she ran her hand over her friendís hair, one last time, to be sure all the shampoo was out.

"Thanks," Janice murmured, when Mel removed both hands from her head.

"Iím not through yet," Mel corrected. "now I need to clean the blood off the bottom part."

"How bad is it bleeding?"

"Not bad, but enough to mess up your... cleaning job. Iíll need to put something on this to keep out infection and... bandage it again."

"Umph," Janice grunted, knowing the iodine Mel had used before - which was all they had - would burn. "Can I finish my bath before you do that? Canít you just stop the bleeding for now? Itís getting a bit cool in here. You can do that when Iím dressed, canít you?"

Me grunted acknowledgement, as she applied pressure to the wound to stop the trickle of blood. Janice closed her eyes, gritted her teeth and moaned. Mel couldnít help reacting to the urge to touch her friendís cheek, as she watched her jaw muscles work. On the back of her fingers she could feel the fine soft hairs of her friendís cheek, as she stroked it. She was unaware of why she liked this or why it elicited such strange sitrrings within her. Mothering instinct perhaps? she wondered, gently brushing the hair back from her friendís face now and tucking it behind her ear. Janice leaned toward her ever so slightly, as Melís nuckles grazed her ear.

"You missed your calling," Janice murmured. "You should have been a nurse."

Mel started to object, when something akin to a memory flashed before her eyes: She saw Janiceís long blonde hair and her own hands using a wash cloth, of sorts, to clean her friendís ear.

"Her boyfriend has a crush on you, ya know?" a voice a bit higher in tone than Janiceís said. "I guess Iíll have to straighten this one out, too."

"Why you?" Mel heard herself ask, in a voice much deeper than her own.

"Because I always handle the sensitive chats," the higher voice said, as this person turned to face Mel. Only it wasnít Janice, like sheíd thought. Although her eyes were the same, the face bore a much younger and more innocent look. And she found herself staring at a pair of ruby red lips that she desperately wanted to kiss.

"Mel... Mel... Hey, you alright?" Janiceís voice inquired.

The memory vanished into thin air, and was quickly replaced by the reality of Janice staring at her, a concerned and quizzical expression on her face. "What?" Mel asked soflty.

"Where were you?" her friend questioned, arching one light brown eyebrow. "I said I can do the rest myself," she added, glancing down at her upper chest, where her hand was covering Melís own, the latter of which was holding the wash cloth.

"Oh-h," Mel drawled, "A... aícourse." She handed the cloth over to Janice and quickly got to her feet.

Janice watched her friendís retreating back, still puzzled over Melís previous actions. Her friendís eyes had been glazed over, as if she were in some sort of trance. "Iíll call you when I get dressed," she offered. "Then you can doctor my wound."

"Oh...okay," Mel responded, as she glanced around. "I..." She paused, her gaze falling to Janiceís now bare chest. The firm round mounds with their dark pink, taunt aureolas and slightly raised center points, capturing and holding her attention.

Janice noticed where Melís attention was centered; her own breath catching in her throat at the intensity of her friendís gaze. When those light blue eyes met her own, she swallowed audibly, knowing this look intimately; for, sheíd been on the giving and receiving end enough times in her day.

"Iíll... be right outside," Mel finally concluded, forcing her eyes away from a sight that still drew her attention in a way she did not understand.

What is heavenís name was that? she questioned herself, as she closed the door behind her and leaned against it. It felt so much like a memory and yet... weíve never bathed together before. Good Lord, I must be losing my mind.

Power of suggestion," her mind supplied. Remember you read over Xena and Gabrielle bathing together the day Xena killed that giant, Gareth.

Oh yeah, thatís right. Yes, that must be what it was. Not a memory at all, just a scene from Gabrielleís stories. Yes, thatís it! It has to be! she concluded, heaving a heavy sigh of relief. Besides, I was almost asleep when Janice cried out. Yeah, Iím just tired and.. I was scared and... reading those stories... My life is revolving around those stories, here lately.

"Whew-wee, that was strange," she murmured aloud. "And silly... just plain silly. A waking dream, thatís all. Guess I shouldna had that drink right before bed."

"Okay, Iím ready to be doctored," Janice called out a few moments later.

Once Mel took care of her friendís wound, they climbed into bed and Mel picked up the scroll she had been reading.

"Find anything?" Janice inquired, as Mel rolled up the scroll.

"Not what I was looking for," the brunette answered softly. "I still think there are scrolls missing." Janice grunted, as she watched her friend put the scroll aside on the night table. "I mean... your father found that piece of one here, right? So, maybe there are more."

"And maybe not," Janice added.

"You havenít read all of them," Mel countered. "If you read them closely, youíll see that there are stories missing. Gabrielle often refers to other things that have happened; things that I have yet to find stories about. Sheís also referred to a personal journal. So.. it stands to reason there are, or at least once were, more scrolls. Think maybe that metal you hit in that cave could be... I donít know, some sort of box or something containing more scrolls?"

"Doubtful," Janice murmured, although this thought had crossed her own mind. But sheíd pushed it aside, afraid this was too much to hope for.

"And that reminds me of something Iíve been meaning to ask you." Mel rolled over on her side to face Janice.

"And whatís that?" Janice inquired, glancing over at her friend, unable to resist a chance to look into those blue eyes.

"Well, that Iíd like to start helping you at the dig."

"No!" Janice said, decisively and without a moments hesitation. "Absolutely not."

"Why?!" Mel nearly screeched.

"Because Mel, you know nothing about archaelogy."

"True enough," the brunette admitted. "But neither do most of the men working for you. And besides, who was it that saved you the other day? It wasnít one of your men, thatís for sure." Sea-green eyes cut in her direction and Mel knew she had made her friend angry. "I.... I really think I could be.... of help to you," she concluded in a much softer tone.

"Too dangerous," Janice said flatly, looking up at the ceiling now. "I would always be worried about you getting hurt."

"As if I donít worry about you," Mel retorted, a bit more forcefully than she intended. Janice crossed her arms over her chest and stared at the ceiling, her mouth set in a grim, determined line. "Look Janice, I really believe there are more scrolls and... I just wanna help you find them. I think I could be of more help at the dig than... sitting around here."

"Youíre doing your part by deciphering the scrolls... thatís equally as important. Maybe even more so, because if there are indeed more scrolls then these may tell us where to look for them."

"Youíre saying you donít believe they are here, at this dig?"

"Well... I just donít know. I mean... maybe that piece of scroll got lost in a fight or something, ya know. You have found another story about the same incident right?"

Mel nodded agreement and grunted.

"Then she may have rewrote it, because it... got destroyed or... lost somehow."

Mel rolled over on her back and crossed her own arms over her chest. "Youíre treating me like Iím a helpless female again," she grumbled. "I really expected more from you than this, Janice. Youíre acting like a man!"

Janice sat up in bed slowly and turned towards her friend; her eyes shooting daggers. "I am NOT acting like a man," she growled deep in her throat. "Iíll have you know Iím merely being a concerned friend. I donít want you getting hurt, Mel, thatís all."

"Well, neither do I," Mel shot back, as she too sat up, her voice rising in pitch again. "How do you think I felt finding you in that tunnel hanging from that wall, huh? You think I wasnít scared half out of my mind, afraid Iíd lost my best friend?!!"

Janice blinked several times, taken aback by Melís pronouncement.

"Well, I was!" Mel continued in the same vein. "And donít you think Iím scared of you going back in there? But, you donít hear me telling you what to do, now do you?"

Janice swallowed audibly, as it hit her just how beautiful Mel was when she was angry. The urge to lean over - span the short distance between them - and kiss her friendís pouty lips, was almost unbearable.

"Well, do you?" Mel prodded, her eyes darting back and forth, searching Janiceís and seeing the anger in their depths dissipating.

Janice quickly turned away before she did something outlandish. "Look Mel, if... if you knew what happened between Xena and Gabrielle - how they made up - would you be satisfied and not want to help at the dig?"

Mel frowned. "Whaddaya mean, if I found out...?"

Janice interrupted her. "Just answer the question Mel, would you?"

"I... suppose I might..."

"Fine," Janice interjected, as she rolled over towards her nightstand.

Mel watched as her friend opened the bottom drawer, fumbled around inside for a moment, then produced a scroll, which was a bit smaller than the others. "What in the world...?" she gasped, as Janice handed it to her. "Janice Covington, whe-ere did you get this?"

"Read it," Janice said flatly.

"Youíve been holdiní out on me," Mel accused, her fingers busying untying the ribbon around the scroll. "Why, Janice? I thought we were part...."

"Just read the damn thing, Mel," Janice growled, as she laid down and rolled over on her side, putting her back to her friend. "I think youíll see why."

"Think Iíll see why," Mel repeated, as she unrolled the scroll. "Janice, I canít imagine anything this scroll could contain that would even come close to explaining why you have lied to me."

"Please, Mel, just read it, will ya?" Janice grumbled. "When you finish then you can pass judgment on me, okay?"

"And you accused me of holdiní out on you," Mel mumbled, "when all the time you... had this..." Her voice trailed off, as her eyes began scanning the words on the faded parchment. "Oh-h my-y," she drawled, a few seconds later. "Jan-nice, whereíd you find this... dirty story?"

"It came from the same place as the others," Janice murmured.

"Oh, this canít be right. I canít believe... Oh-h my-y wor-rd, someone has written... nasty stories about Xena and Gabrielle," Mel concluded. "Who would do such a thing?"

Janice offered no response; for; she had no doubt who the author of these scrolls had been.

"Jan-nice!" Mel drawled.

"Canít you read quietly," Janice grumbled. "My head is hurting enough as it is."

"Uh, sorry, I just canít believe..."

"Now you see why I never shared it with you?"

"Umm-hmm," Mel murmured, sounding distracted. "I canít believe anyone would write..."

Janice rolled over abruptly. "Here, give me that Iíll..."

Mel quickly removed the scroll from her grasp, as if it were some prized possession. "Let me finish it," she said, haughtily.

"I will... I just wanted to show you the part youíre looking for. It starts around the middle... right there," Janice pointed out.

"Who do you think wrote this?" Mel inquired, her eyes scanning downward to the place Janiceís finger indicated.

"You tell me when youíre finished," the tired archaelogist suggested, as she rolled back over.

A little while later, Janice was nearly asleep when Mel gasped out. "Oh-h-h my-y-y Gow-wod! Gabrielle did write this, didnít she? Her... her style is unmistakable, isnít it?"

Janice merely grunted, as she once again rolled over toward her friend. "Forgive me for holding out on you?" She reached out towards the scroll. Once again Mel kept it from her grasp; only this time, she also got up from the bed. "Hey, where you going?" she inquired, watching Mel take off around the end of the bed.

"Iíll read the rest in here so I wonít disturb you," she responded, hobbling towards the door. "You can turn the lamp off, I can find my way in the dark," she added.

"But Mel, thereís nothing else of interest to you in there, itís just more... of the same... erotic... stories." Her voice trailed off as Mel disappeared through the doorway. "Ah well... go ahead and shock your socks off, see if I care," Janice grumbled. "Just donít come complaininí to me when you donít like what youíve read."

Continue to Part 4

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