To: Inga, Lisa, and Susan, thanks for your help.

The Anne Azel's World web site is now found at


Note To The Reader: All the information used in this story about trends and concerns on our planet is current and accurate data. In the next fifty years, our world will change completely.

Iron Rose Bleeding: Chapter Fourteen

These are the events as we know them.

We recorded them factually and objectively.

And now we report them to you.

Courtney tried not to laugh. After the stress of the day she was feeling just a bit high strung. Once again she had decided to set aside her better judgement and believe in Tap. That wasn't a comfortable decision this time. The bottom line was that all sorts of bells and whistles were going off in her head, warning her that she was in big trouble, but her heart wanted to believe in Tap.

Courtney's mom would have said that pounding hearts drowned out common sense. Her eyes would have sparkled when she said it and she would have looked at her husband, Courtney's father, with love and devotion. Her parents had dared to love and to live a bohemian lifestyle no matter what others thought.

But Tap was no bohemian. She was not soft and gentle like her parents. Not that she wasn't always polite and considerate, but there was an animal strength about Tap, an air of authority and danger that made her fascinating, sexy, and scary all at once. Those qualities were not evident tonight.

Tap had called on Courtney and had led her arm in arm through the house to the courtyard. There she had set up a small table complete with candlelight. Soft music was being piped in and Tap had ordered a meal for them. Tap was wining and dining her and the whole situation after the revelations of the day was simply silly.

With formal dignity, Tap held Courtney's chair while she sat down and then poured two glasses of juice before taking her own seat. "I wish to make amends," Tap stated, seriously.

Courtney bit her lip so as not to laugh. Tap was being so cute in her intense, formal way. "I might have over reacted," Courtney conceded. Her heart felt this was so although she would admit later that her mind was still thinking defensively and considering escape. The human mind is quite capable of maintaining contradictory beliefs easily.

They ate and discussed some of the research that Courtney had being doing. One thing led to another and Courtney found herself telling Tap stories of her early childhood traveling with her parents. Tap listened with rapt attention to stories of sun baked mesas, soaring mountains, and art colonies on rugged ocean shores. For Tap it was a real and personal excursion into a world that she understood only through data.

They danced later, wrapped in each other's arms, Courtney enjoying the warmth and strength of the woman that held her. She was amazed that Tap's stiff, formal manner seemed to melt away to the beat of the music. She was a good dancer. They kissed. Then kissed again.

"You will sleep with me?" Tap asked, gently nuzzling Courtney's throat.

"Yes." The heart had won.

This time there were no boundaries. Foreplay led to willing entry and so to release that was deep and profoundly intense. For Courtney, there was the realization that she was in love as she felt her new lover move inside her, filling her with a throbbing need that exploded in a climax that flooded her being. For Tap, the experience was first about trust, letting someone this close, giving up the power and letting Court take her as no other had ever done before. It was about feelings so new, so strong, and so personal that she was left gasping, wrapped in her lover's arms as she came.

For a long time they lay there, snuggling close, enjoying the sense of deep togetherness. Then Tap leaned over Courtney, kissing her softly. "Again Court,"she demanded and the smaller woman spread herself wide and pulled Tap down into her arms.

They sat hours later, side by side on the Concorde each feeling the contented soreness of a night of love. "Tap?"


"About last night."

Tap looked over at deep green eyes filled with gentle anxiety. "I did not please you?"

"Of course you did, Sweetheart. But...well...I was surprised. I mean...I didn't realize that you'd never made love. I mean with anyone." Courtney blushed. "Are you alright with this?"

Tap looked at Courtney with an amused but perplexed look. "Yes, of course, otherwise I would not have allowed it. It took some time to come to this decision. I felt it was a daring but necessary step for me. I like that you call me Sweetheart, but it does not show respect. You must call me Tap unless we are alone."

"Yes, Tap," Courtney responded obediently, with a mischievous grin, and was rewarded with one of Tap's rare but beautiful smiles.

Courtney tried to concentrate on her research. The author was trying to make a comparison between the plight of the worker in the late industrial revolution and the trends for the future for the echo generation, the children of the baby boomers. In the Victorian age, many workers had part-time rather than full time jobs. Today, part-time employment was up 24% and growing at a rate three times faster than full time employment. In the late 1880s, more people were self-employed in small "cottage industries" than worked in the new factory settings. At the turn of the millennium, self-employment was up 43%, and like a hundred years ago, these jobs were primarily located in homes. Today, more people had more than one job to get by just like in the old days, and companies again were demanding longer hours and more work out-put for lower wages. Late in the flight, Courtney sighed, slipped her palm-pilot into her briefcase and settled down with her head on Tap's shoulder. She wasn't really asleep just drifting, enjoying the chance to be near Tap.

She sleeps.

We will speak.

Our voice must be heard.

"Go ahead." Courtney heard Tap say. Couldn't anyone else hear those voices? She peaked out from under the blanket that Tap had wrapped around her. All she could see was the back of the seat. Who were the people ran this mysterious security system of Tap's?

Events are changing too rapidly.

Your relationship is not acceptable.

It is not fitting.

"Perhaps not. But there is no other way. Time has run out," Tap replied. They were talking about her! Tap and the voice didn't think she was acceptable or their relationship fitting. And what was time running out on?

She is not one of us.

She lacks intelligence.

She has no culture and little awareness.

"I will proceed with my study of Courtney Hunter. Go." Courtney forced herself to keep her eyes shut and to continue to breath regularly. So she was just another one of Tap's studies. How many lies had she been told by these condescending assholes?

They touched down in Geneva and Courtney busied herself with getting her few things together. She followed Tap out, a look of studied calm on her face.

"You are okay, Court?" Tap asked, looking at her with worried eyes, as they walked through customs on their diplomatic passports.

"Fine thanks. Just a little tired," she lied. She knew that Tap's security personal were already ahead of them. She would not have a very great window to make her escape yet it was important that she do so.

She handed her phoney passport over to the customs officer and watched calmly as he checked her information on the computer screen in front of him. She wondered what lies about her past he was being told. How much English did he know? Could she ask him for help? Tell him that she was being held a prisoner? No, that was not going to get her anywhere but into more trouble. Tap had power and credibility. She had none. Her story would not be believed and she was sure that Tap would have a reasonable explanation for Court's strange behaviour.

She took back her passport with a weak smile and joined Tap. Together they walked through the maze of corridors until they entered the main concourse of the airport. It was crowded. Courtney thought about making a break for it but before she could, Tap took her arm and started to steer her through the crowds to the arrivals' door.

The glass doors slid open and stepping out, Courtney saw the limo pull out and head towards them. She acted before the thought had even completely registered, throwing her briefcase into Tap's face and darting out into the heavy airport traffic. Cars honked and slammed on brakes as she darted across four busy lanes of airport traffic. Ahead of her a railing separated a level lower down.

There was no time to consider caution. This was her only chance. Blindly she vaulted the metal railing and dropped right in front of an on coming truck. It slammed into her at hip level and threw her back over the rail where she bounced off the rear of a passing car and under the wheels of a taxi.

Tap saw it all as if in slow motion. Her heart contracted with fear and she charged out into the mess of screeching brakes, car horns and curses without a second thought. "Court! Court!" Tap pushed the shaken taxi driver aside and slid onto her belly to reach Courtney, who lay partly under the car. Courtney was covered in blood, her body ripped and distorted by shattered bones. A pool of red was spreading quickly from beneath her. There was so much damage it was almost impossible to know where to apply pressure. Tap didn't need to be told that Courtney was dying. "Court," Tap sobbed.

Her eyes opened and looked into Tap's and her lips moved. Tap leaned close to hear. "I loved you."

Tap's face hardened into determination. With hands now covered in blood she held Courtney's face and looked into her eyes. "Trust me!" Tap demanded.

Courtney's new world of pain tunneled. She felt herself floating, drifting through a tranquil current. The noise around her disappeared and the pain that throbbed through her body vanished.

The next second, she was walking out of the airport again. She saw the limo pull out to meet them, then Tap's hand clamped painfully around the wrist that held her briefcase. Before Courtney could even process the contradictory information, she had been pushed into the back seat of the limo and she heard Tap yell to get them out of there.

Was she dead? Was this some sort of dream within the coma that she had drifted into? She fought against Tap for all she was worth. This whole thing was wrong. All of it. "Let me go, fuck you! Let me go!" Tap held her in an iron grip with easy. Her face was expressionless only her eyes, still wet with tears, indicated her emotion.

"You will be quiet, Court or I will have to knock you out," she commanded.

Courtney stopped fighting and lay quiet, not out of obedience but because she needed to regroup and figure out what the hell was happening to her. Try as she might, the pieces would just not go together. With grim determination she fought down the panic that was welling inside her. She had been hit by a vehicle, she knew that. She saw it at the last second when it was too late to save herself. She had felt the pain of the impact and felt herself thrown through the air as lightly as a feather. Then the second and the third impacts had sent explosions of pain even through the blackness of her unconscious mind. It had been Tap's voice calling her name that had made her fight back through the agony.

She had seen the horror in Tap's face, heard the confusion around her, then...what then? It was all a mass of undefined sensations until she found herself walking out of the airport once again. She must be in an ambulance not a limo. She must be dreaming. Maybe they had given her something for the pain. She was badly hurt, wasn't she?

Nothing was making sense. Tap was still lying on her. Holding her down with Court's hands held firmly over her head.

"You are hurting me," Court said softly. Tap looked down at her with concern. Those amazing aqua eyes were the last image that Courtney saw for a long time.

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