JANUARY THAW

© 2018 By C. J. Wells

CJWells_2000@yahoo.com

 

Disclaimers: See Chapter One.

CHAPTER TWENTY SIX

NUTBREAD

 

 

Lindsay and Rejeanne entered their room at the inn tired and hungry. As Lindsay headed for the bathroom, Rejeanne dramatically plopped on the bed. Moments later, Lindsay joined her.

“Are you calling Jo?” Lindsay asked as she gently ran her right hand across Rejeanne's midsection.

“She's in the middle of her shift right now,” Rejeanne responded as she gazed into the blue eyes of her love. “I'll call her cell and leave a message to call us back when she's done. It'll be late for us, but I don't care.”

“How did she find out that we're here?” Lindsay asked, although the tone in her voice when she asked suggested that she was not really alarmed about Jo's knowledge of their whereabouts.

“I'm sure that she pried the info from my dad,” Rejeanne said. “Are you pissed?”

“Oh, hell no,” Lindsay cheerily replied. “I like Jo. I'm looking forward to seeing her again and getting to know her better. If she's anything like my ‘memory' of Bahri, I'm sure she's a real hoot.”

“She is,” Rejeanne confirmed. “And I can't wait to hear what she has to say. But all I want to do now is grab a bite to eat and lie down here with you.”

“That sounds like a plan,” Lindsay agreed.

The couple enjoyed chicken and rice dinners at the inn's restaurant before returning to their room to shower and change. It was nearing 11:00 p.m. as the lovers found themselves curled up in a comfortable embrace watching the latest world events on the BBC. At one point, Lindsay turned her head to watch her lover's eyes slowly close. She chose that moment to gently kiss Rejeanne's inviting lips. Rejeanne responded with a soft sigh. Their kiss lasted only lasted for a minute before Lindsay reluctantly ended it and, looking at Rejeanne, smiled at the beauty, her beauty, as she ran her fingers gently through Rejeanne's lush hair. Thick strands of honeyed silk , Lindsay thought as she smiled and drifted off to sleep.

* * * *

It was two o'clock in the morning when Rejeanne's cell phone rang, jarring her awake. She muttered a few curse words under her breath before prying herself from Lindsay's spooning embrace to paw the bed's nightstand in search of the device in the dark.

“Yeah, hello?” Rejeanne irately mumbled into the cell receiver.

“Your message told me to call you, blockhead,” came the reply from Rejeanne's good friend Jo.

“What time is it?” asked Rejeanne in a low whisper as she turned to see her lover still sound asleep.

“A little after eight p.m.”

“Well, it's like two a.m. here, dude,” Rejeanne retorted. “I didn't expect you to call this late. You just got off work?”

“I actually just did, yeah. Do you want to know about this dream or not?” Jo asked.

“Hell yeah I do,” Rejeanne replied. “Do you want to tell me now?”

“No, P,” Jo said. “I typed up what I remembered as soon as I woke up from it last night. I'll send you an email and attach it as a Word document. Do you have your laptop with you?”

“No, but Lin has hers,” Rejeanne advised. “So don't send it to my work address. Send it to my Yahoo email address. I'll download it and read it in the morning. Okay?”

“Sure.”

“Thanks, Jo,” Rejeanne said. “Can I ask you one thing before you go?”

“Yup.”

“Does the dream involve disclosing the whereabouts of a certain set of scrolls?”

“Go back to sleep, P,” Jo said cryptically. “Check your email in the morning.”

“Okay,” Rejeanne responded, slightly irritated that Jo didn't answer her question. “Good night, Jo.”

“Good night from the nutbread,” Jo replied before abruptly hanging up.

Rejeanne quietly placed her cell phone back on the nightstand before resuming her comfortable spooning with Lindsay, who had managed to remain asleep during the entire phone conversation. As Rejeanne gently returned Lindsay's arm to its spot on Rejeanne's midsection, she relaxed her head on the one pillow that both women shared and felt her eyelids weigh down until a word crept into her subconscious; “nutbread.” Her eyes popped back open. Oh my God , she thought.

* * * *

It was a quarter after seven in the morning when Lindsay rose from a very restful sleep. Releasing a still slumbering Rejeanne, Lindsay stretched her arms over her head and relaxed them on the headboard while letting out a heavy sigh. She felt refreshed, but was eager for Rejeanne to wake up and call her friend Jo. However, not wanting to rouse her slightly snoring lover just yet, Lindsay slipped out of bed, padded over to the guest phone and called for a carafe of juice and pastries to be delivered to their room. She then stood by the door to await the delivery, aspiring to open it before a knock could awaken Rejeanne. When she heard the sound of footsteps outside of their room approaching, Lindsay quietly opened the door to receive the beverage and pastries.

“Put it on my tab, please,” she whispered to a smiling Gwyneth, who nodded before departing.

As Lindsay gently placed the platter on a table next to the television, Rejeanne stirred.

“I have breakfast for you,” Lindsay said cheerily. “Pastries and OJ.”

“Aw, you're so sweet, Lin,” Rejeanne replied as she hoisted herself off the bed and embraced her inviting lover. “I'm starving.”

“I figured,” Lindsay said, smiling as she watched Rejeanne stuff her mouth with a pastry. “So, when do you want to call your friend Jo?” she asked.

“She called me last night,” Rejeanne replied.

“What?!?” Lindsay asked excitedly. “When?”

“She called in the middle of the night, Lin,” Rejeanne advised. “You were out like a light.” She turned her head to eye Lindsay's laptop on a desk. “Go turn on your computer and dial up the internet. What we need to see is waiting for us in an email.”

Lindsay practically dashed over to her laptop and turned it on. Rejeanne, grabbing a second pastry and another chair in the room, joined Lindsay who was already seated and patiently awaiting the slow dial-up internet to connect. Lindsay turned to Rejeanne and planted a loving kiss on her lips. “Almost forgot to do that,” she remarked with a grin.

Rejeanne tenderly combed her fingers through Lindsay's sleek hair and again looked into her lover's eyes. “She knows,” Rejeanne said.

“Who know,” Lindsay asked. “And what?”

“Jo knows that she was Bahri,” Rejeanne replied.

“Did she tell you that?”

“In a way,” Rejeanne said. “Before she hung up, she said ‘good night from the nutbread.'”

“I don't get it.”

“Nutbread was Gabrielle's pet name for Bahri.”

“Wow,” Lindsay was astonished. “Did she say anything else?”

“No, she just hung up,” Rejeanne remarked before turning her attention to the internet. “The dial-up here is so fucking slow.”

Rejeanne and Lindsay looked at each other before returning their attention to the laptop. “COME ON!” they both yelled at the machine in unison. At that moment, the internet powered on and a browser displayed, much to the delight of the twosome. “You do have Word on this computer, don't you?” Rejeanne asked.

“Of course.”

“Type in yahoo mail,” Rejeanne requested. “I'll take it from there.”

Minutes later, Rejeanne was able to download the document that Jo had sent her through email. The two women clasped hands as they began to read with great anticipation Jo's latest “dream journal entry.”

To: Jeannie P

From: Josephine Clark

Date: January 30, 2003

Subject: Dream

 

Hey P and Lindsay…

 

I'm writing this literally seconds after waking up from another Alemnesh dream. It totally blew me away, so I called you, but it kept going straight to voicemail. Called Gus and he told me that you're in the UK at some bed and breakfast near Wales. WTF! I just know it has something to do with these dreams, you two and Xena the Conqueror.

 

Just like the two dreams that I had back in '96, I was once again Alemnesh in this dream. However, it doesn't pick up where the last one left off. But don't be upset, because this dream takes place some years later, and given the dialogue between Alemnesh and Maggie, (who was called Stretch in the earlier dreams) a lot of shit went down. I'm hoping that I can help in answering a lot of those questions that took you two to England. So here I go!

 

Alemnesh was lying in a bed in a stately English manor. It was a little over one hundred years ago, 1902 I think, so she was even older than before. I think that she was dying. I could actually feel her struggling to breathe as she talked and I felt really scared during the entire dream. Did not like that! Stretch, a.k.a. Maggie, was sitting bedside holding Alemnesh's hand. She didn't look like the mean old bulldyke of the earlier dreams. Her now gray hair was pinned up in a bun and she was actually wearing a dress. One more thing, and somehow I think that ya'll already know this, Maggie looks like a 70-year-old version of Lindsay. Yo Lindsay, you're gonna be one hot old lady in forty years.

The entire dream consisted of the two women having a conversation. Lady Harry isn't in the dream at all, and based on parts of Alemnesh and Maggie's dialog, I have to assume that Harry likely died sometime prior to this interaction. Somehow I remember their conversation verbatim.

 

Alemnesh: I need you to promise me something, Maggie.

Maggie: Yes, my dear. Anything.

Alemnesh: After I'm gone, I need you to take the artifacts from the Nation and place them where you have the scrolls hidden. Don't leave them here with the Windoms, and don't even tell the Windoms where they are.

Maggie: Why not?

Alemnesh: They aren't meant to have them.

Maggie: What do you mean Al?

Alemnesh: Remember when you told me that you have had dreams of a future soul and that Bronwyn used to dream of her past?

Maggie: Yes.

Alemnesh: I have dreams too. I dream of a past soul. It happened the first time years before I met you. There were little bits and pieces of information that made little sense to me then. That went on for years. But when I was in Gondar three years ago, I had the first of several elaborate dreams that I was an Oromo named Nuru Alameyhu and I worked as a female watchman for the Erasmus estate in the 1500s. I was also madly in love with a woman named Guilia Francesco. She was a devoted kitchen maid for the family. We were both also close friends with Angela Delia.

Maggie: Angela Delia? What are you saying?

Alemnesh: Just hear me out. In this dream, it was Nuru, Guilia and Angela who decided together to remove the Xena scrolls from the Erasmus vaults and conceal them in Gondar.

Maggie: Why? Where was Cella?

Alemnesh: In the series of dreams, Nuru, Guilia and Angela were of middle-age. Cella had succumbed to peritonitis two years earlier. Her brother Andreas was pilfering the Erasmus estate and was plotting to do something nefarious with the scrolls.

Maggie: But Al, why would he do that?

Alemnesh: Cella's other brother Cosmo had just died as well. Andreas was in charge of the estate, but he didn't have Cosmo's business intellect to operate it. In addition, his wife Zehra was capitalizing on his incompetence and emotional vulnerability. She was slowly ruining him, Maggie. She was also scheming to sell off the scrolls behind his back. Angela always believed that Zehra somehow caused Cella's illness and thus, was responsible for her death. No one could prove that, however. Throughout the dreams, Nuru voiced her loyalty to Cosmo and Cella as well as her contempt for Andreas. Her job as the family's watchman allowed for her to use her skills in surveillance to uncover Zehra's nefarious plot. Together, Nuru, Guilia and Angela spirited the scrolls out of Italy before Zehra could get to them.

Maggie: How do you know all of this, Al?

Alemnesh: The dreams, Maggie. The dreams. That priest in Gondar, Abba Yordanos, that took Harry, you and me to the scrolls; the one who told you that an angel named Delia had spoken to him wasn't the only one getting clues about the scrolls. I was getting clues too. I just didn't know it at first. Do you remember what he said to you?

Maggie: He said that Delia told him that they were hidden so that the protector of the scrolls could claim them.

Alemnesh: He also said that you were the protector of the scrolls.

Maggie: Yes, I remember.

Alemnesh: Do you believe it?

Maggie: I don't know. Do you?

Alemnesh: Yes.

Maggie: It's so far-fetched. How can it be?

Alemnesh: You know, Maggie. Deep down you've always known. Just like Abba said, you are the soul of Cella Erasmus, who was the soul of Valentina Xerxes. You are all Xena the Conqueror. The Angela in my dreams looked just like Bronwyn in your photographs. I truly believe that both women and Valentina's only love, the farm girl Gisela, were Gabrielle, the Amazon Queen and Bard of Potidaea.

Maggie: And who does that make you Al?

Alemnesh: You know who I am, Maggie. I'm Bahri of Napata.

Maggie: According to the scrolls, she was Xena and Gabrielle's very good friend. She was also a police sergeant in Xena's Realm.

Alemnesh: Yes, Maggie. Gabrielle's scrolls said that Bahri loved solving mysteries, as did Valentina's writings about Weldia of Axum, who helped her find the scrolls 1400 years ago. Nuru helped Angela. I brought to you Xena's cherished Chakram. And Bahri pledged unyielding fealty to the Conqueror, as I pledge my fealty to you, Maggie. We are all connected.

 

At this moment in the dream, Maggie took Alemnesh's hand that she was holding to her lips and kissed it.

Maggie: My undying loyalty is also with you, my dearest friend. Always.

Alemnesh: Do you know whose soul Harry possessed?

Maggie: I'm assuming the kitchen maid.

Alemnesh: Guilia, yes. But who was she?

Maggie: I don't know.

Alemnesh: Guilia was Cella's redemption. Cella didn't personally wrong Guilia, but she made sure that the wrong in her life that was done to her was remedied. In that Italian book about the Erasmus family that I've been translating for you, do you remember when it mentioned that Cella had used her wealth and influence to make sure that the men responsible for the rapes and murders of Guilia's mother and two sisters were brought to justice? Cella probably never knew this, but it was within her soul to do this, just as it was within you to reunite Harry and me. You gave us both the greatest gift; each other. Like you, I suspect that Valentina had a similar task with Guilia's soul before her. And for Xena the Conqueror, one of her greatest accomplishments during her Era of Peace was the rebuilding of the beautiful Greek village of Cirra. My dearest Harry was Callisto of Cirra, a woman who Xena wronged in so many ways, but who she eventually honored.

Maggie: This is all so overwhelming.

Alemnesh: And deep within you, you know that it's true. That's why it is important that you take the artifacts to your hiding place in America. Hide them with the scrolls.

Maggie: I still don't understand, Al. You know John and Nora. They're good and loving people. They would never betray us.

Alemnesh: They are good people, and you are free to leave to them and their dear child Gracie whatever worldly possessions you hold dear. But you must trust me on this, Maggie. The only two people who should ever possess the Xena scrolls and the artifacts of the Nation are the souls of Xena and Gabrielle.

Maggie: But if all of this is true, Bronny is dead and I am old. I have no heirs. And other than Peyton's grandson, Reuben, no living relatives with whom I have any close ties.

Alemnesh: That doesn't matter Maggie. You will return, as will Bronny. The souls of Bahri and Callisto will return as well. They will work together, as we have, to protect the scrolls and the legacy of Xena and Gabrielle. And they will defeat the enemy of that legacy, as you and I did in Africa. As Nuru, Guilia and Angela did in Italy. As Valentina and Weldia did when they avenged the betrayal that Gabrielle suffered from she who is tasked to destroy that legacy.

Maggie: Cynthia.. Zehra.. Najara of Tarsos. That evil heifer.

Alemnesh: Yes, Maggie! Yes. And I sincerely believe the next time we return will not be that long from now. It took 500 years from Xena to Valentina, a millennia from Valentina to Cella and four hundred years from Cella to you. I'm confident that your next incarnation will return within the next one or two centuries.

Maggie: How can you be so sure?

Alemnesh: Remember that dream that you told Harry and me about when we were in Africa together? The one where you were Xena dreaming about being in another place and time?

Maggie: Yes, I remember.

Alemnesh: Xena wrote about the very same dream in her scrolls, when she was in Germany fighting Shaikheti. Do you recall my translation of that?

Maggie: I do.

Alemnesh: Valentina spoke of a similar dream in one of her writings as well, although she wasn't very descriptive. But the way that you described the surroundings in your dream had to have been out of the realm of possibility to Xena, but it didn't seem so far-fetched to you mainly because some of the inventions we now enjoy didn't exist then. Tell me again about that dream.

Maggie: Let's see… In the dream, I am Xena and I'm dreaming about her and Gabrielle in a different place and time. We're in a rather small but nicely adorned bedroom. The bed is small as well; a cot-sized bed with a lovely headboard, a thick mattress and nice soft linens. There are several small very fragrant lit candles on a table in the room. The room smells quite fruity. There are also a couple of very odd-looking incandescent lamps; one on a night stand next to the bed and another smaller one on a taller dresser. There is a painting on one of the bedroom walls of a large blossoming flower. It's quite pretty. There is also a very large painting-sized photograph on another wall. In it, a young white gal is holding an odd-looking guitar. The photograph is in rich colors and the words “Melissa Etheridge” is scribed in very big and bold letters in front of the gal. Her name maybe? There is a phonograph somewhere in that room playing very bizarre music, but I never see it. And there are other things in that room that I see that I've never seen before, like this flat box with a charcoal gray colored glass on one side of it situated next to that odd lamp on the dresser. The box is neither wood nor any metal. I'm sure that it's a futuristic mechanized device of some kind. And the strangest thing is that I'm thinking throughout this dream that I'm not me; that I am Xena and the girl with me, who looks just like Bronny, is Gabrielle. We're just situated in some time in the future, but we're both also very young, maybe 25 or 30 years old at most. So, we're lying under those soft linens in that little bed together. We are both naked and Gabrielle is on top of me. She is doing thing to me, Al; sexual things that I would have loved to have experienced with Bronny. My entire body quivers at the feel of her naughty bits rubbing against mine. I am feeling her heat‚ her passion‚ and her love for me. We are so wild in our intensity that the springs in the mattress of that bed creak to the rhythmic movement of our slapping bodies. It is so very powerful, so very blissful, Al. At one point, Bronny, I mean Gabrielle, runs her luscious tongue across my lips and then looks at me with those sea-green eyes that Bronny had. "I'm coming‚ Warrior Princess‚" she says to me in a voice that sounds like Bronny's in both tone and accent. At that moment‚ I am awakened with a powerful orgasm.

 

Rejeanne abruptly stopped reading as she turned and watched Lindsay fall out of her chair and land on the floor with a hard thud. Rejeanne immediately sprang from her chair and knelt down beside her unconscious lover. She began shaking Lindsay frantically as she called out her name. “Lindsay, wake up!” she shouted repeatedly. Just as she was about to rise and seek help, Lindsay began regaining consciousness.

“Oh my God, are you okay?” Rejeanne asked desperately.

“What happened?”

“I don't know, Lin. I think you fainted.” Rejeanne ran her trembling hand down Lindsay's cheek. “Please tell me that you're okay.”

Lindsay sat up and threw her arms around a still startled Rejeanne. “I think so,” she replied as she looked up at the table, the laptop and the document that she had been reading on the screen of that laptop. “That was the dream that I had before I met you,” she continued. “The dream that became our reality at your dad's house.”

“I know,” Rejeanne said. “Is that as far as you got?”

“Yes”

“Can you get up? There's still a little bit more yet to read.”

“Yes.” Lindsay rose and both women returned to their chairs. They continued.

Alemnesh: Those two women that you dreamt about were not you and Bronny, nor were they Xena and Gabrielle. They are another incarnation of you both, hopefully the next. And the good news is that they'll actually consummate their love; your love.

Maggie: So what do we do now Al?

Alemnesh: I don't have much longer in this world, my friend. It's important for you, for however long you have left, to keep your story alive. You are a most remarkable woman, Stretch. We know about Cella and Angela, Valentina and Gisela because they told their stories and their stories lived on. John and Nora adore you, and little Gracie idolizes you. Tell them everything, especially Gracie. Promise me Maggie. Gracie can be your voice for future generations. One of those generations may be our reincarnations.

Maggie: I'll do that Al. I promise.

Alemnesh: One more thing, Maggie, I need to know.

Maggie: Yes my dear?

Alemnesh: Where are the scrolls?

Maggie: Reuben has them.

 

That's it, girls. Hope it helps.

 

BTW, did you two slap nasties in Jeannie's bedroom at Gus's place? Because that was totally the room Maggie described in her dream. Well done, ladies. J

 

I don't know how much you know about any of these women, but if all of this stuff is real, you need to find those scrolls before Ingrid does. She's Najara, right? I suspect it because that bitch called me out of the blue yesterday ranting about Jeannie being in some kind of danger. She also told me that you two are in the UK, so she found out somehow not from Gus and NOT FROM ME!

 

Just so you know, I spent the better part of tonight trying to locate a ‘Reuben Needham' who lived around 1900. I narrowed it down to three possible dudes. Call me when you get a chance.

 

TTFN,

Jo

Lindsay and Rejeanne looked at each other. “Do you want to call her now?” Lindsay asked.

“Yes, but I suspect that she's still asleep.”

“Let her sleep,” said Lindsay as she grabbed her cell phone and called a number in her contacts. When the voice on the other end answered, she tapped a button on the phone. “I'm putting you on speaker,” she said to the voice.

“Sure thing,” the voice answered before continuing. “Well hey darling. How the fuck have you been? I've missed you.”

Upon hearing the voice, a sharp chill went down Rejeanne's spine, her face flushed and she started breaking out in a cold sweat. Callisto , she thought.

Rejeanne's change in appearance was not lost on Lindsay. “Are you okay?” she whispered.

Rejeanne simply nodded as Lindsay continued with her conversation. “Heather, I've got you on my cell speaker. I'm here with Rejeanne… my… my… soulmate.”

“Your soulmate is named ‘Rejeanne?'” replied Heather chuckling. “Ha! I always suspected that you were a let's-be-friend.”

“Well, aren't you?” Lindsay asked bemused.

“Uh, I don't care for labels,” said Heather. “Do I like the ladies? Hell yeah. But I still do enjoy an occasional dick now and then.”

Rejeanne cringed, but remained silent. “But, if the right lady came along,” Heather continued, “I'd gladly give up cock forever.”

Lindsay continued. “Are you still in the Middle East?”

“Naw, my excursion there was a total fucking bust. Everything that I was looking for was already pilfered probably over a century ago. I'm in NYC now. Why? Where are you?”

“The UK,” Lindsay replied.

“Well that explains why you're calling me at fucking zero dark thirty,” Heather quipped.

Both women snickered before Lindsay continued, proceeding on a hunch. “Let me guess why you were in the Middle East. You were looking for either the Xena scrolls or evidence of the existence of the Amazon Nation.”

“Whoa!” exclaimed Heather. “I haven't told hardly anyone that. How'd you know?”

“It's in your DNA,” Lindsay said before providing a general recitation of her and Rejeanne's mission to locate the scrolls. As the two women talked over speaker, Rejeanne tried to figure out in her mind why Heather's voice alone was having a profound negative physical effect on her. The conversation between Lindsay and Heather went on for about ten minutes before both agreed to rendezvous in Milwaukee.

“Looking forward to meeting your precious soulmate, Lindsey,” said Heather before ending the call. Lindsay turned to a still shaken Rejeanne.

“You're as pale as a ghost, Jeannie,” Lindsay asked. “What's wrong?”

“I don't know,” Rejeanne replied. “But I feel like I'm going to puke. I don't get it. Harry and the soul before her were allied with the previous souls of Xe and the Gabster.”

Lindsay thought for a moment. “Harry never met Bronny,” she said.

“What does that have to do with anything?” Rejeanne inquired.

“Well, it's been some 500 years since the souls of Gabrielle and Callisto interacted.”

“So?” Rejeanne asked confounded. “What's your point?”

“Don't you know how Callisto died?” Lindsay asked.

“No,” came Rejeanne's answer.

“Gabrielle killed her saving Xena's life.”

* * * *

The two lovers knew that their last visit with Sir Robert would be bittersweet. They had become very fond of the stately gentleman, and felt that the information he provided was invaluable to them. But they also felt a sense of urgency after reading Jo's email. Both women, feeling the weight of their combined destiny, were very anxious to return to the States. They also decided together that they would not share the information that they gleaned from Jo's dream with Sir Robert. Frankly, they were concerned that he might be hurt by the fact that his family was deliberately denied information about the scrolls.

They arrived at Sir Robert's residence at midmorning. Paul let the women in and directed them to Sir Robert's study, where he was seated with the case containing the chakram resting on his lap.

 

CONTINUED IN CHAPTER 27


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