© 2010 By C. J. Wells
Disclaimers: See Chapter One.
THE ICENI, THE DUMNONII AND THE ATREBATES
For a split second, Rejeanne thought that, perhaps, she was still dreaming. That was until Lindsay spoke again. “What do you think? Live with me?”
Rejeanne was unable to answer, silenced by the proposal. That made Lindsay uneasy. “What's the matter?” she asked with trepidation. “Too soon?”
“I don't know… I mean… no… I mean.” A sigh. “I don't know what to say, Lin.”
Lindsay drew in a breath and then released sorrowfully. “I'm sorry,” she said. “It's just that I… I love you so much and I want us to be together, truly, as a couple should be.”
Rejeanne turned her body toward her lover. “I love you too, Lin,” she said. “And I want us to be together as a couple too, but…”
“But?” Lindsay asked, her voice shaking.
“No, honey, it's not you,” Rejeanne said reassuringly. “It's where I am in my life right now. I'll be 26 in a couple of weeks, and for the first time, I feel like I've achieved this independence that I've never had before.”
“I'm not asking you to give up your independence,” Lindsay asserted.
“Yes, in a way, you are,” Rejeanne said. “You're asking me to move in with you, in your mansion.”
“Would you rather that I move in with you?” Lindsay asked. “Because I will, if it means we're together.”
“No, Lin,” Rejeanne asserted. “That's not what I meant. What I'm trying to say is that I worked very hard to get where I am today. My mom helped with my college tuition, and Dad helped with the room-and-board, but I still had to get student loans. I started working at the Gazette as an unpaid intern when I was still in college. It took me five years of shit-pile climbing to get to where I was able to cover your family's fundraiser for the paper. I'm finally getting the recognition and respect that I toiled for so long to obtain. Furthermore, I was forced to do a lot of growing up… dumping Ingrid, buying my place and finding my way... on my own. I'm very proud of who I've become in the first quarter-century of my life.”
“And that's part of what's so wonderful about you, Jeannie,” Lindsay said. “You have such kick-ass strength and determination. I sometimes wonder who or what I would be if I didn't have my family wealth to back my endeavors.”
“You're the reincarnation of Xena the Conqueror, Lin,” Rejeanne said. “You'd probably be the first woman four-star general in the Marine Corps, or a mafia queen-pin, or the prime minister of some exotic south pacific island. Greatness was always your destiny.”
“Well, you're the reincarnation of Gabrielle of Potidaea, the one and only human being who was able to transform Xena the Conqueror from a murderous cunt into a reverent heroine.”
“But you're not a murderous cunt, Lin,” Rejeanne affirmed. “You're already that reverent heroine.”
Lindsay shook her head defiantly. “No I'm not. Not even close. And I don't believe for a second that your role in my life now is to make me a better person. We've evolved from that. What I'm saying is, with you in my life, what we can do together is the sky's-the-limit for both of us.” She took Rejeanne's hands in hers. “I'm not dismissing what you've achieved on your own, my love,” Lindsay continued. “And I'm not asking you to give up anything that you worked so hard to earn; your reputation at your job or the equity in your condo. I'm simply madly in love with you. I want to wake up every morning with you in my arms. I want to eat with you, shower with you, vacation with you, and make mad passionate love with you until you grow tired of me. I'm being selfish, I know…”
“I could never grow tired of you,” Rejeanne declared.
“Well, I know that Xena pushed Gabrielle's buttons a few times,” Lindsay stressed.
“Yeah, but you're not in the habit of killing people for sport,” Rejeanne said. “I will not be pleased, however, if you help reelect Dubya next year.” Rejeanne grinned sinisterly.
Lindsay raised her eyebrow. “Okay, you consider moving in with me, and if the Democrats present a feasible opponent to go up against George Bush next year, I'll consider voting for a Democrat for the first time in my life.”
Rejeanne reset her seat in the upright position and sat proudly up in it. Running her hands over her head and then smugly folding her arms, she turned to Lindsay. “I am Rejeanne Evelyn Piscard,” she announced. “The reincarnation of Gabrielle of Potidaea, and the one and only human being who will… hopefully… be able to transform Lindsay Francis Alastair, the reincarnation of Xena the Conqueror, from a tight-assed, derisive, snooty Republican to an awe-inspiring, philanthropic, and I might add, proudly openly gay Democrat.”
* * * *
Rejeanne and Lindsay disembarked from their flight at 6:30 a.m. London time. Both women were eager to secure a rental car and make their way to Leominster . An airport concierge was helpful in finding a lovely bed and breakfast in Leominster for the women to stay. Lindsay rented a minty-new 2003 M ercedes Benz C-Class 2600cc Silver Coupe. Having never driven a luxury car before, Rejeanne eagerly offered to do the first half of the drive.
Driving the wintry British countryside afforded the two women the opportunity to engage in much needed small talk. Driving such a sleek luxury vehicle led Rejeanne to commence a conversation on the topic of cars.
“This is a major stretch from my Subaru, boo,” Rejeanne started. “What was your first car? Let me guess. A Bentley?”
“Oh, heavens no, Jeannie,” Lindsay responded. “I didn't buy my first car until I was a sophomore at Dartmouth . It was a used '83 Ford Escort.”
Rejeanne's eyes widened. “Your first vehicle was a fucking Escort?” she asked surprised.
“Yeppers,” Lindsay responded. “It had just under one hundred thousand miles on it when I bought it, but the body was in mint condition. I drove it throughout the remainder of my undergrad years and all through Harvard Business. The body eventually rusted to pieces, but the engine was still working when I donated it to charity.”
“My first car was a Ford as well,” Rejeanne declared. “Dad gave me his '94 Mustang as a gift for graduation from college.”
“That was really nice of him,” Lindsay stated. “
Yeah, it was,” Rejeanne agreed. “He had taken really good care of it and did all of the maintenance on it himself, of course. The only problem that I had was that my Mustang, like all Mustangs, drove shitty in the winter. I was constantly sliding around in that thing and even ended up in a ditch a couple of times. That's why I drive a four-wheel-drive Subaru now.”
“I totally know what you mean,” Lindsay agreed. “My Mustang never sees the light of day from November to mid-April.”
The automobile conversation lasted for the entire first half of the drive. Pulling into a petrol station, Lindsay re-fueled and both women used the facilities before grabbing drinks and munchies to sustain them for the remainder of the trip.
Eating junk food allowed for the conversation about cars to segue into a conversation about the males in their lives.
“Tell me a little bit more about Keith,” Rejeanne asked.
“Oh, he's a trip,” Lindsay said. “I can't wait for you to meet him. In many ways, he's the quintessential gay man… flamboyant, neat and totally in love with Barbra Streisand.”
“But on the other hand, he's the toughest and strongest man that I know,” Lindsay continued. “He's gone up against many homophobes in his life and has never wavered in his resolve to champion for the gay community.”
“What does he do for a living?” Rejeanne asked.
“He heads a non-profit for at-risk gay teens,” Lindsay replied.
“Tell me a little bit more about your brothers,” Lindsay asked.
“What would you like to know?”
“I don't know? Things that they like to do? Your relationship with them? Whatever.”
“Well, Devin was kinda wild in his late teens,” Rejeanne started. “When he moved back to Milwaukee , he started messing around with drugs, but not because of my dad. He was getting into heavier stuff; snorting cocaine mostly. When he was 19, he got busted possessing coke, but the judge gave him a break and allowed for him to prove that he could clean up his act. That was Devin's wake-up call. He totally changed his life around. Did a semester at community college and then joined the Air Force. He's 23 now.”
“And your other brother Haley?”
“Haley's a waste of space,” Rejeanne proclaimed angrily.
“Well, you don't know him,” Rejeanne said. “I mean, don't get me wrong. I love the guy. We get along great. But Haley has no qualms about throwing it in Dad's face his shortcomings to get Dad to produce whatever Haley wants from Dad outta guilt.”
“What does Haley want?”
“Money, usually. He can't keep a job to save his life. He's worked as wait-staff to every franchise restaurant on the planet. I think that he's at Applebee's now.”
“Haley's totaled two cars, and both times Dad came to his rescue to replace them,” Rejeanne continued. “In addition to money, he's always hitting Dad up for free weed, but then he turns around and sells it, which pisses my dad off to no end. And he's always dropping his latest relationship woes on me, but Haley's my queer-in-arms, so I can never stay mad at him too long.”
“As an interior decorator,” Rejeanne announced comically.
“And what about Chase,” Lindsay asked.
“Chase is six,” Rejeanne responded. “I've seen him maybe four times since his birth.”
The conversation about Rejeanne's brothers eventually led into a conversation about Augustin.
“I didn't see any evidence of your dad's place being a stoner pad,” Lindsay said. “His home is very nice.”
“Dad's not one to use a bong to smoke his stuff, and he'd rather read ‘Car and Driver' than ‘High Times,'” Rejeanne said. “But Dad knows how to grow the best mowie-wowie around. He's almost artistic in his grow operation. He'll infuse blueberry or blackberry extract in the seeds or soak them in fruit juice. He waters the plants with different types of organic extracts and juices to produce these really mellow tastes. The man is master gardener.”
“Where does he grow the stuff? In his basement?”
“He used to,” Rejeanne responded. He has a greenhouse in his backyard. He grows exotic tropical plants around them to hide them. When he did it in his basement, he had hellacious electric bills. He worried that it would draw attention to law enforcement.”
“Does he sell the stuff too?”
Rejeanne did not want to answer, knowing that doing so would implicate her father in felonious activity. “Can I trust you?” she eventually asked.
“Once a year, and only once a year, he sells about thirty pounds of his best stuff to a head shop in Madison ,” Rejeanne responded. “The rest of it is free, for him, his friends and those of us in his family who so indulges. Maybe one day Wisconsin will legalize medicinal marijuana. Dad could make a mint in pharmaceutical pot.”
“I have to confess something, Jeannie,” Lindsay said. “When your dad reached into his car to get that banana bread for you, I almost said something.”
“I though that he was, I'm embarrassed to say, giving you a bag of marijuana,” Lindsay confessed. “I'm sorry for thinking that.”
“Dad would never, ever, give me a dime bag of his primo mary jane in front of you, Lin,” Rejeanne responded.
“I know. I feel terribly bad for… “
“But he did sneak a couple of joints for us in my carry-on while you were in the shower yesterday morning,” Rejeanne responded. Since she was no longer driving at this point, she reached into her carry-on bag and pulled out a one-pound bag of coffee while Lindsay gasped in exasperation. Rejeanne opened up the coffee bag and dug into the grounds until she was able to pull out a neatly rolled joint. “I purchased the coffee at the duty free and shoved the joints inside when you were in the bathroom.”
“Goddamit, Jeannie,” Lindsay was enraged. “What the fuck were you thinking?”
“I was thinking that I wanted us to get high together during our little adventure in the land of the Iceni, the Dumnonii and the Atrebates,” she said as she pushed in the car lighter. “Wanna join me?”
“I don't fucking believe you. How could you do something so entirely stupid? Do you know what would have happened if someone in Customs had caught your little act of recklessness?”
“Yeah, I would have been in big trouble. Me.” Rejeanne pulled the lighter out, cracked the passenger window, lit her joint and took a deep drag. “Still want me to move in with you?”
Lindsay fell silent, which frightened Rejeanne. She's going to dump me right now, Rejeanne thought. Resigned that the end was near, she felt the need to explain. “This is me, Lindsay,” she started. “I've got my great qualities, and I appreciate that you acknowledge them, but I'm not perfect.”
“I never insinuated that you were,” Lindsay said.
“Yeah, but you have to acknowledge that if you want me in your life, you're going to have accept all of me, the things about me that you admire and the things that you disapprove. I don't want to be on anyone's pedestal.”
“I haven't put you on any pedestal.”
“Okay, then why are you so angry?”
“Because you did this colossally stupid thing when I know that you're way smarter than that,” Lindsay said. “Because you continue to feel the need to numb whatever issues you may still have with this shit and because…”
“Because I'm not living and acting up to your standards,” Rejeanne interrupted.
Lindsay opened her mouth to respond, but nothing would come out. Rejeanne was correct. Lindsay was angry over the fact that Rejeanne smuggled marijuana oversees. However, she was angrier over the fact that, in her mind, Rejeanne still needed to smoke marijuana when the perfection of their relationship provided no excuse for her to do so.
“We've had this argument before, Lin,” Rejeanne continued. “If you want me to live with you, then you going to have realize that it'll be ‘me' showing up with the U-Haul.” She took another drag of her joint.
Lindsay's eyes began to well. “What am I doing wrong that you still need to smoke that crap?” she asked.
“Dammit, Lin, you're not doing anything wrong,” Rejeanne replied. “Why can't you get that through your thick skull? My smoking weed has nothing to do you with you or any ‘issues' in my life. My childhood wasn't traumatic. I was never molested by any perverted uncle or stepdad. I wasn't raised in a Jesus-freaky Pentecostal church. And trust me; I don't hate being a dyke. I love it actually.” She pointed at her joint. “This thing I do,” she continued, “is no better or worse than drinking a couple of beers or eating a caloric bowl of ice cream. It's not that good for me, but I like it. The only difference between this and ice cream is that our silly government refuses to legalize this.”
“And therein lies the problem, Jeannie,” Lindsay said. “It's illegal here too, and I don't want to spend the better part of our lives visiting you in a British prison.”
“You'd do that for me?” Rejeanne asked.
“Yes, I would,” Lindsay said. “But I'd rather not. So get rid of it, please.”
Rejeanne looked around, rolled down her window some more and threw what was left of the joint out. Rolling up her window, she turned to Lindsay. “You know,” she said. “Gabrielle may have seemed perfect in Xena's eyes, but Gabrielle allowed for Xena to treat her like shit for years before she was finally able to break through to the bitch. In contrast, there's no way in hell that I would let you lay a finger on me. You could probably take me out, but the hell if I wouldn't go down defending myself.”
“I would never raise my hand to you, Jeannie,” Lindsay protested.
“I'm not saying that you would,” Rejeanne responded. “I'm only saying that Gabrielle's saintliness wasn't all that saintly when you consider that she didn't put a stop to Xena's treachery, for years, when I believe that she could have. And that's to say that she, nor I, are perfect.”
“I don't agree.”
“What, that I'm not perfect?”
“No, that Gabrielle could have broken through to Xena before she actually did,” Lindsay said. “All I've read about Xena, and all that within me is telling me, is that there was so much darkness in her that it was a miracle that Gabrielle reached her at all.”
“What about you, Lin?” Rejeanne asked. “Do you have any of that darkness within you?”
“No, I don't believe so,” Lindsay responded. “Gabrielle freed Xena of her darkness as Xena was freeing Gabrielle of her bondage.” Lindsay took her lover's hand. “And you freed me,” she acknowledged.
Rejeanne smiled. “We both are free.”
* * * *
Upon reaching Leominster , the women proceeded directly to the bed and breakfast, which was situated on the outskirts of the village. The Georgian structure was over 200 years old and was surrounded by country gardens and a large sheep pasture.
“Welcome to Tostig Guest House, Madam,” greeted the inn's proprietor. “Your name please?”
“Alastair, Lindsay. I have a reservation.”
“Ah yes, you've requested the Harold suite,” the innkeeper confirmed as he typed away at his desk computer. “Excellent choice, Madam. This suite has a lovely king-sized bed, an en-suite WC and a perfect view of Leominster 's sheep valley. I anticipate you'll find the full accommodations to your utmost satisfaction.”
“I'm sure we will,” Lindsay said.
The innkeeper began to eye the smaller blonde next to the tall, beautiful patron before him. “Your reservation does indicate accommodations for two, Madam,” he said. “I was expecting…”
“That's right,” Lindsay interrupted.
“You do realize, Madam, that our luxury suite has only one bed.”
“I know,” Lindsay said as both she and Rejeanne smiled at the man devilishly. The innkeeper insolently returning his attention to the computer as a young woman entered the main room. “G'day, ladies,” she greeted.
“My daughter, Gwyneth,” the innkeeper rudely announced.
“I'll take your bags, ladies,” Gwyneth said.
“Thanks,” responded Lindsay as the young women escorted the twosome to their room. Upon entering the room, Lindsay and Rejeanne were overcome with the lovely scents of oak and pine needles. The room itself was flawless in its layout. The walls were painted in a soft off-white color, and the trim and moldings were blond oak. The room also had two 19 th Century armchairs, a 19 th Century oak butler desk and a deluxe king-sized bed with an antique headboard. The adjacent bathroom had a marble water basin and an antique cast iron tub.
“Here ya go, ladies,” Gwyneth said. “Just in case Dad didn't mention, there's internet service. It's dial-up, but it's better than nothin'. We just got it at the new year.”
“Awesome,” Rejeanne said enthusiastically.
“And don't mind m'Dad,” Gwyneth continued. “He's a bit of a wanker, y'know. Has a very blinkered view of life, he does. It could be because he's always lived here. Never went to away to uni or anything. I have only one year left at Aberystwyth, m'self. ” She began giggling. “Or it could simply be because he and m'Mum haven't shagged since 1982.”
“When were you born?” Rejeanne asked Gwyneth.
“1982.” All three women burst into laughter. “Enjoy the room,” Gwyneth said as she departed.
Rejeanne wandered over to the large multi-pane window to look out at the view. Lindsay approached her and, positioning herself behind the smaller woman, slowly wrapped her arms around Rejeanne's waist and rested her chin on Rejeanne's shoulder. “See anything?” she asked Rejeanne.
“Sheep and snow,” Rejeanne responded. “It is a pretty spectacular view, though.”
Lindsay began kissing Rejeanne's neck. “You aren't tired, are you?” she seductively asked.
“I'm still a little stoned.”
“Too stoned for…”
Rejeanne quickly turned her body to face Lindsay and wrapped her arms around the taller woman's neck. “Never too stoned,” she responded. “When's that appointment with Sir Malcolm?”
“Three p.m.,” Lindsay replied. “We have roughly four hours.”
Rejeanne kissed Lindsay's neck. “Perfect,” she whispered.
TO BE CONTINUED IN CHAPTER 20
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