© 2020 By C. J. Wells




Disclaimers: See Chapter OneI started writing this story back in 2003, the year my oldest son was born.  He turns 17 in March, thus this Chapter marks almost 17 years since I began writing January Thaw and 20 years since I began the Embrace/Freedom Conqueror Series.  It is my humble intent to finally finish this story this year.  To my faithful readers, a sincere thank you for your patience in bearing with me all of these years.





Rejeanne cocked her head slightly at the sight of Sir Robert’s pensive expression as he sat with the chakram case on his lap.  “Good morning, Sir Robert,” she said. “Uh, are you okay?”

“I’ve been doing a lot of thinking after you both left yesterday,” he responded.  “I am seventy-one years of age.  The current beneficiaries of my Will and Trust are my only living sister, her husband and their grown children.  If I were to die tomorrow, they would inherit all that is in this home.  I love my sister, and I trust that she and her family will carry on our family legacy honorably.  However, this chakram doesn’t really belong to me.  It belongs to Xena the Conqueror and Princess Gabrielle.  And you, dear sweet ladies, are their legacy.”

Sir Robert stood and presented to Lindsay the case.  “Take this back to the States with you,” he continued.  “As for everything else in this home that bears your likeness, rest assure that I am having my barristers amend my Trust documents as we speak.  Upon my death, you will inherit all that is Stretch, Bronny, Angela, Cella and Valentina.”

As Lindsay took the case and broke down into tears, Rejeanne, overcome with emotion, extended her arms and wrapped them around Sir Robert. “God bless you,” she whispered in his ear. She then released him and looked into his eyes.  “When we find the scrolls, Sir Robert, you’ll be the first to know.  Thank you so very much for all you’ve done to help us.  We are in your debt.”

“No, thank you,” replied Sir Robert.  “Because of you, I’ve experienced something unfathomable; the presence of my lifelong heroines.  The only thing that I ask is that, if possible, I’d like to meet those young ladies who bear the souls of Alemnesh and my Aunt Harry.”

Rejeanne smiled.  “You got it, dude.  We’ll make it happen.”

At that moment, Lindsay handed the case to Rejeanne so that she too could embrace the kind elder gentleman.  “Thank you, Sir… for everything,” she whispered.

As the twosome walked to their rental car with chakram in tow, Sir Robert watched and smiled.  So many thoughts ran through his mind; above all the anticipation of meeting Jo and Heather.  After waving goodbye to Lindsay and Rejeanne as they drove off, he promptly returned to the sitting room where Lady Harry’s portrait hung.  Looking upon the painted face of his beloved ancestor, he smiled.  Soon, my dear sweet Auntie.  Soon, he thought.

* * * *

While Rejeanne packed her belongings for the trip home, Lindsay inspected the chakram’s case and the documents in it.  Sir Robert knew that the women could potentially run into customs issues as they attempt to enter the States with the large ancient object.  Thus, at some point after deciding to give it to them, he promptly had his attorneys draft documentation declaring the chakram and case to be legitimate antiques, which would make them exempt from import duties or other time-consuming bureaucratic hurdles to overcome.

Just as they were about to leave the bed and breakfast, Lindsay opened her laptop and composed an email to Heather.  She then looked over at Rejeanne, who had completed packing and was reclining in a chair and downing a muffin.  Lindsay raised her eyebrow and gestured her head toward the laptop.

“Oh yeah, right,” Rejeanne exclaimed as she jumped up from the chair in order to email Jo as well. 

As the two drove away from Tostig Guest House, Rejeanne took one last look back at the beautiful little inn and the sheep roaming the countryside adjacent to it.  “I’m gonna miss that place, Lin,” she quipped. 

“We’ll be back,” Lindsay responded.

Rejeanne nodded in agreement.  “Yes, my love. We will.”

* * * *

The plane returning the two women to Milwaukee touched down shortly after midnight.  They were fortunate in booking a more direct flight for their return home and were relieved that they weren’t bogged down for hours in airport terminals.  As the two lovers walked out into the crisp, cold Wisconsin night, both were delighted to see the waiting ginger-haired tractor mechanic waving frenetically at them.

“Dad!” Rejeanne yelled as she ran to her dad and gave him a hearty hug and then hugged the silver-haired African-American woman standing next to him. “Hey lady!” she said to Taz.  “Thanks for the banana bread.  It didn’t even make it on the plane.”

Taz chuckled. “Girl, not surprised.  I know how much you love my banana bread.”

At that moment, Lindsay approached.  “Taz, this is my boo, Lindsay Alastair,” Rejeanne introduced.

Taz extended her hand.  Lindsay took it in a hardy handshake.  “Nice to meet you, ‘ma’am.’”

Taz’s eyes widened. “Oh no you didn’t.” she quipped.  “I’m Taz, girl.  I ain’t nobody’s ma’am.”

Taz and Rejeanne high-fived while Lindsay smiled and nodded.  “Come on, ladies,” Gus spoke up.  “It’s late late late.  Let’s get you’s home.”

It was nearly two in the morning when Lindsay and Rejeanne entered that now all-too-familiar bedroom at Gus’.  Both women took a moment to look reflectively around the room before deciding to disrobe. 

Lindsay had barely begun unbuttoning her blouse when she looked over at Rejeanne as the latter was removing her blouse and blue jeans.  “You know, it’s been a solid three-plus days since we’ve made love,” Lindsay stated.

“You don’t say,” Rejeanne jibed as she slipped her thumbs into the sides of her panties and slowly and seductively removed them.

Lindsay, who was still fully clothed, sat at the foot of the bed and motioned for Rejeanne to come to her.  When she approached, Lindsay placed her hands on Rejeanne’s lower hips and began kissing her upper chest below her neck.  Rejeanne threw her arms around Lindsay as she did this.  “Do you know how much I love you?” she asked Lindsay.

“Almost as much as I love you,” Lindsay replied.

Lindsay leaned back on the bed and Rejeanne climbed on top of her.  She then brought her lips to Lindsay’s lips in a kiss that cemented the two-millennium bond between them.  Instead of a gritty, rough or fiery kiss, theirs was tender and deeply emotional.  Tears escaped their eyes as they each felt the other’s heartbeat and electricity.  They were not yet making love, but they were still experiencing a profound, forceful and timeless intimacy.  As Rejeanne eventually aided Lindsay in removing her clothing, both women could literally see a light between them breaking through the darkness of the room.

Rejeanne sensuously placed her upper thigh between Lindsay’s legs, where it connected with Lindsay’s saturated clit.  Gradually, Rejeanne began rubbing as she squeezed Lindsay’s thigh with both legs.  Lindsay gripped Rejeanne’s ass as she moved back and forth.  She then began moving rhythmically to Rejeanne’s thrusts; first gently, and then with increased speed and intensity.  Both women intentionally tightened the muscles around their sex to stave off their impending orgasms as long as they could.  Once climax did hit them simultaneously, both women emitted loud throaty wails that were no doubt heard by Gus and Taz two rooms away.

The following morning, there was a knock at Rejeanne’s bedroom door.  Both women had been deep in slumber, but the knocking managed to stir both.  “Yeah?” inquired Rejeanne.

“P, it’s Dad,” replied Gus. “I have Jo on my phone.  She tried calling yours, but she said that it went straight to voicemail.”

Dammit, I forgot to throw it on the charger, Rejeanne thought as she rose, threw on her robe and padded over to the door.  Before opening it, she looked over at Lindsay, who had buried herself under the covers.  Rejeanne shook her head and chuckled to herself at her lover’s bashful behavior before opening the door.  “Hey Pops,” she said to her dad as he handed her his cordless house phone.  “What’s up, Jo,” she spoke into the device.

“Hey P,” Jo replied.  “I drove up last night.  I’m at Kelsey’s.  Your email said eleven a.m. at Margie’s B&B.”

“Can you make it there?” Rejeanne asked.

“Yeah, no problem.”

“Awesome.  See ya soon,” Rejeanne said before handing the phone back to her dad.

Shutting the door, she turned to Lindsay, who was up and looking for her toiletries bag.  “I checked my phone,” she said.  “Heather texted.  She’s here too.  Flew in yesterday and is staying at a hotel near the airport.  She’ll catch a cab to the B&B that you suggested.”

“Excellent,” Rejeanne retorted.  “I apparently need to charge mine.  Jo’s at her cousin Kelsey’s place.  I chose Margie’s because it’s kinda close to both Kelsey’s apartment and here.  It’s not too too far from the airport either.  I don’t know how bad the roads are this morning, so I hope that our little rendezvous goes down without a hitch.”

“It’s going to be interesting to see Jo and Heather meet,” said Lindsay.


“Because of their ‘past,’” Lindsay quipped as she cupped her fingers quotation style.

“Tell you the truth,” Rejeanne confessed.  “I’m almost afraid to meet Heather.”

“She won’t remember that Gabrielle killed Callisto,” Lindsay said.

“How do you know?”

“Do you remember Gabrielle’s death?”


“I don’t remember Xena’s.”

“I hope that you’re right, Lin.”

* * * *

The twosome, having arrived at Margie’s Bed and Breakfast at about ten minutes before eleven, elected to remain in Lindsay’s idling vehicle to await the other two women.

“So, tell me about this Margie’s,” Lindsay asked as the two women held hands and relaxed in the Hummer’s heated seats.

“It’s a lesbian-owned B&B,” Rejeanne began.  “Margie is this old Cheese-head granola dyke from back in the day.  She started a woman-only commune up near the western edge of Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest about thirty years ago.  The commune fell on hard times back in the mid ‘90s, so she shut it down and sold off the land.  She and her life partner then purchased this old house and turned it into a B&B and restaurant about eight years ago.  I think that you’ll like it.  It’s rustic, but tasteful.  And the food is delish.”

At that moment, Rejeanne noticed Jo’s salt-stained yet stylish ’01 Ford Explorer SporTrac pull into the parking lot of Margie’s.   “Jo’s here,” Rejeanne announced gleefully.

“Love that truck,” Lindsay remarked about Jo’s vehicle.

“Ain’t it sweet?” Rejeanne quipped.  “I was with her when she bought it two years ago.  The seats are major comfy.”

The women exited Lindsay’s Hummer and approached Jo, who was carrying a canvas rucksack.  Lindsay was carrying one of her leather briefcases.  The three women regarded each other for a few rather tense moments before Rejeanne spoke to Jo.  “Nutbread,” she said.  “So, you know.”

“Yeah, I know,” Jo replied.  “I’m a little freaked out right, I have to admit.  This flood of information about Xena, Gab and Bahri.  Did this happen to you too?”

“Were you visited in a dream by someone from that era?” Lindsay asked.

“No,” Jo replied. “I woke up after that Alemnesh dream knowing things about you two… well, not you two, but the Conqueror and her Amazon Princess, as well as the Field Sergeant.”

“Do you remember anything about a blonde psychotic gladiator by chance?” Rejeanne asked, but before Jo could answer, a cab pulled into the parking lot and a slender woman exited.  She wore a tan leather bomber jacket, dark green cargo pants, Doc Marten boots and a Von Dutch baseball cap that concealed her almost shorn blonde hair. 

“Aren’t you getting a little too old to dress like a bad backup dancer in a hip-hop video?” Lindsay asked Heather Courtney with a sinister smile as she approached.

“Clever,” Heather countered sarcastically as she extended her arms to hug Lindsay.  At the moment of their embrace, Rejeanne, feeling somewhat dizzy, began taking deep breaths.  Lindsay, immediately noticing her partner’s discomfort, released Heather and placed her arm around Rejeanne’s shoulder to support her.

“Heather, this is my soul mate Rejeanne Piscard,” Lindsay introduced. 

Heather looked at the shorter blonde. “Hello,” she said before adding, “I feel like I already know you.”

Before Rejeanne could react, Lindsay turned Heather’s attention toward Jo.  “This is Josephine Clark, Rejeanne’s best friend from college.”

When Heather and Joe looked into each other’s eyes, a palpably intense gaze occurred between the two.

“Do you feel like you already know Jo too, Heather?” Lindsay inquired.

Heather didn’t answer.  Instead, she extended her gloved right hand for Jo to shake.  Jo removed her glove, prompting Heather to remove hers.  As they shook hands, for what seemed like an eternity to Lindsay, both and she and Rejeanne observed the two women’s reactions to each other.

“How do you do,” Heather said quietly to Jo.

“Pleasure to meet you,” Jo replied.

“Do you feel like you already know Jo too?” Lindsay repeated to Heather.

“Yes,” Heather whispered.  “Why do I?  What’s going on here?”

Jo spoke up. “She’s Callisto, isn’t she?”

Rejeanne’s eyes widened.  As Lindsay opened her mouth to answer, Jo added in query; “And Lady Harry?”

Rejeanne, who had stood silently trying to slow her pulsating heartrate, reacted, “Wow!” she exclaimed. 

“What the hell is going on here?” Heather demanded again in an exasperated tone.

“Let’s go inside, ladies. Jeannie and I’ll explain everything,” Lindsay responded.

* * * *

The four women took their seats in a back corner booth of the B&B’s restaurant.  Lindsay purposefully sat next to Heather so that latter could face Jo during their conversation.  She also thought it would be the best way to keep an eye on her lover, who had grown pale after her introduction to Heather.  Once the casually-dressed waitress completed taking their brunch orders, Lindsay cocked her head to look at Heather.  “So, where do we begin?” she asked rhetorically.

“I’ll start,” Rejeanne spoke up as she too turned her attention to Heather.  “You and I have never met before, obviously… at least not in this lifetime.”

“This lifetime?” Heather asked.

“Yes, this lifetime,” Rejeanne responded.  “I don’t know if you believe in reincarnation, but trust me, it’s a thing.  The four of us interacted with each other at various capacities over the course of four sets of lifetimes.”

When Heather smirked in disbelief, Jo spoke up.  “It’s true,” she said. “I’m agnostic. Until a few days ago, I didn’t believe in anything other than that when we die, we’re done.  That still may be the case for a lot of people, but not everyone.  And it’s not the case for us.  I started having dreams about you two, Lindsay and Heather, a few years ago.  You two weren’t you in the dreams, however.  All three of us were earlier incarnations of ourselves; real-life women who lived over a hundred years ago.  I didn’t think anything of it at the time, until Jeannie came to my Super Bowl party and introduced me to Lindsay last Sunday.  They started asking me about those dreams.  I didn’t know what they were up to, but then a few nights ago, I had another dream of those earlier incarnations and recognized Lindsay as an older version of herself in it.  When I woke up, I then started having these disjointed memories about Xena the Conqueror, Gabrielle of Potidaea and Callisto of Cirra, but through the eyes of a woman named Bahri of Napata.  In that last dream that I had, the reincarnated Xena; Lindsay, and the reincarnated Bahri; me, spoke of Xena’s scrolls, her chakram and some Amazonian artifacts.  And while I was dreaming this, Lindsay and Rejeanne were literally in England trying to find the scrolls…”

Rejeanne nodded in agreement.

“…And you’ve been trying to find those artifacts,” Lindsay pronounced to Heather.

Jo continued, “In my dreams, Lindsay was this woman named ‘Stretch,’ you were a noblewoman named ‘Lady Harry,’ and I was an Ethiopian princess named Alemnesh.  When I woke up from the latest dream, I started researching.”  Jo reached into her rucksack and pulled out printed pictures on white paper.  “I found these images on the internet.”

Jo handed to Lindsay an image of Margaret Needham.  “This picture is from a Civil War website about women who fought for the Union.” 

Lindsay eyed the image.  It was not the same photo that hung in Sir Robert’s home, but a picture of an earlier tintype portrait taken of Maggie when she was a student at Columbia College. “Holy shit,” Lindsay uttered under her breath.

Jo handed to Rejeanne an image of Bronwyn Forbes.  “Kinda grainy, but I found this picture on a historical website about Quakers in Pennsylvania.  I circled Bronny’s face.”

The image was a group of Quaker women from the early 1870s. Initially amazed, Rejeanne began to feel a level of sadness upon viewing the photo.  “This was after her and Maggie ‘broke up,’” she said.  “You can actually see the despair in her face.”

Finally, Jo handed to Heather the image of the painting that Sir Robert possesses.  “This portrait of Lady Harriet Hastings is in a book written about her.”

At that moment, Lindsay leaned over to view the picture.  Rejeanne likewise stretched her neck across the table to get a better view. “Oh my God!” she exclaimed. “That’s Sir Robert’s portrait.”

“Who?” asked Jo.

“Sir Robert Malcolm,” Rejeanne responded.  “He’s the author of the book where you got this portrait, right?”

“I think that’s the author’s name,” Jo answered.

“He’s the guy we went to see in the UK,” Lindsay spoke up.  “He provided us with a shit-load of information and artifacts about Stretch, Bronny, Harry and Alemnesh, including this…” At that moment, Lindsay reached into her briefcase and pulled out a scanned image of the vintage photograph of Alemnesh and gave it to Jo.  “This is for you,” she added.

Upon looking at the photograph, Jo placed her hand over her mouth in utter disbelief.  Heather, who had been mesmerized by the picture of Lady Harry, looked at Alemnesh’s portrait and let out an audible gasp.  “She looks just like you,” she observed to Jo before returning her attention to Lindsay.  “What does all of this mean?”

“From everything that we’ve learned in the past week or so,” Lindsay started, “it’s obvious that the four of us are connected, despite space and time, and the one thing that binds our souls together are these missing scrolls.  But it’s not just the scrolls.  Bronny, Rejeanne’s soul from the 1800s never knew about the scrolls nor did she ever meet Lady Harry or Alemnesh.  Cella Erasmus, my soul from the 1500s had died before your three souls from that time period decided to spirit the scrolls away from Italy.  And as far as we know, it was only my soul and Jo’s soul who had anything to do with finding the scrolls back in 500 AD. I cannot think of any other explanation.”

There was a lengthy silence as all four women studied the various photographs in front of them.

“We were meant to be together; all of us,” Rejeanne finally spoke up.  “The souls of Xena and Gabrielle have spent two thousand years in various times and places trying to consummate a love that was always meant to be, but without the violence and drama of their original pairing.  Sadly, our prior souls following Xe and the Gabster fell far short of that goal.  With our declaration of love, both in words and intimacy, Lin and I have finally accomplished that.”

“Conqueror and slave to me and Jeannie P,” Lindsay added smiling.

“Correct,” Rejeanne replied.  “Xena was also always meant to be in Callisto’s life as well. She was tasked to redeem herself in Callisto’s eyes from that early betrayal and to evolve their close friendship.  That appears to have been accomplished with Maggie and Harry and now with Lin and Heather.  As for Bahri, she formed a strong sisterly bond with Gabrielle and then later with Xena.  Bahri replaced the sister that Gabrielle lost and gave Xena a sister that she had never had.  The fact that Jo’s soul during Valentina’s and Maggie’s times never met Gisela or Bronny, respectively, emphasizes the imperfections of those times.  My loving friendship with Jo fixes that, and I don’t doubt whatsoever that going forward, Jo and Lin will become besties as well.”

At that moment, Rejeanne reached across the table and grabbed Heather’s right hand with her right hand.  She then took Jo’s right hand and joined all three hands together.  “Xena and Gabrielle’s lives together were rife with imperfections.  Xena was a colossal bitch who brutalized Gabrielle for years before coming to her senses.  Gabrielle may or may not have suffered from Stockholm Syndrome, but I like to believe that her love was sincere.  Xena betrayed Callisto, Gabrielle killed Callisto, and Bahri never knew Callisto beyond the murderous sociopath that she presented herself to be.  They were all a hot mess, so yeah, it needed to take a couple thousand years for the four of us to happen, to get it right, right here, right now.”

Rejeanne took a deep breath before pressing on.  “Marcella and Angela, our souls from the Renaissance era, never acknowledged their love for each other.  Nuru, Jo’s soul, and Guilia, Heather’s soul from that same time did, however.  As did Alemnesh and Harry.  Harry almost gave up her British peerage to be with Alemnesh.  Maggie and Bronny, however, ended their intense friendship after freaking out over one fucking kiss.  Lin and my past souls were apparently a little slower on the lesbo-love uptake.”

At that moment, Rejeanne removed her hand, leaving Jo and Heather’s clasped together for a few seconds before each woman, blushing, removed them nervously.

“And that’s why you are the Bard, Rejeanne.” Lindsay announced proudly. 

The women’s food orders conveniently arrived at that moment.  Each woman ate her respective meal in silence for several moments before Lindsay realized that they had not discussed the core reason for the meeting.  “Jo,” she began, “You had mentioned that you had possible leads on Reuben Needham.”

“Oh, yeah!” Jo exclaimed as she again reached into her rucksack and pulled out a stack of stapled documents.  “Two of the three dudes were dead-ends,” she continued, “but this third one might be the guy that we’re looking for.”

She presented her documents to Lindsay, who read over them as she chewed her turkey-cheddar bagel.  The other three women began engaging in small talk about Wisconsin weather as Lindsay read in silence.  After flipping over the third page of the documents, she leaned in closer to read as she was finishing the last bite of her sandwich.  She then read something that caused her to nearly choke on her food. She began coughing frantically as her eyes watered.  Heather, concerned, began delivering gentle strikes to Lindsay’s back.

“Lin, what’s wrong?” Rejeanne worriedly asked.

Lindsay reached out her arm motioning Heather to stop hitting her back.  “I’m fine,” she croaked between coughs.  She then looked at Rejeanne. 

“Stone Hills was built by Reuben Needham!”



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