Turkish Encounter by Anne Azel Part 3
Disclaimer: The characters of Xena and Gabrielle are the property of Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended.
In Thanks: My thanks to those individuals who sent messages of appreciation for Amazon Encounter, the first of this series. Your kind comments were encouraging. As the stories do interrelate, it is best to read them in the order they are posted.
Warning: This story is alternative fiction, please do not read if you are under age or if such material is illegal in your end of the swamp.
Note: The places, sites and histories portrayed in this story are real and are taken from my field notes while in Turkey.
Jamie felt incredibly warm and secure wrapped around her lover. Her damaged knee was cushioned on Gunnul's thigh and her head rested on the older woman's shoulder and one arm was draped over her chest. Gunnul tried to ease out from under her soulmate but green eyes looked at her through sleepy lids and the arm around her tightened. "Where do you think you are going at this disgusting time of the morning," she grumbled.
Gunnul kissed her on the head, "Do you hear the Muezzin, the one who calls us to prayer from the minarets?" Jamie became aware of a wailing above the early morning traffic. " I go to pray."
"Can I come?" asked Jamie leaning up on an elbow and looking at Gunnul.
Gunnul looked surprised and then pleased, "We can pray and I will instruct you. Come," encouraged Gunnul
Jamie slipped out of bed determined to bridge the gap between her world and her daughter's. Gunnul rolled out a prayer rug and then started to explain, "We face east when we pray because that is the direction of Mecca, the spiritual centre of the Islamic world. Your churches too are also orientated so that the alter is in the east. My God is your God. I do not think that most people in the west realize this. Allah is not a strange eastern god. Allah is just the Arabic word for God. Our Quran teaches us the stories of the old testament and the new. We know the stories of Moses and all the other prophets and believe in Mary and Jesus. We do not believe that Jesus was the son of God, nor do we believe that Muhammad was. In our religion, they were both great prophets of God." Jamie nodded seriously, taking in all Gunnul had to say.
"There are five requirements for all Muslims. First, we must declare the shahada, that is to say that we recognize that there is only one God and that Muhammed was his prophet. Second, we must pray five times a day. Usually, that is at dawn, noon, midafternoon, nightfall and evening but it does not really matter. We pray when we can and we do not need to gather in a church to do so because we know all over the world Muslims are united in prayer. It is called the salat. On Fridays, we have community prayer in the mosque like your Sunday. The third requirement is the zaqat, one tenth of your earnings should go to the poor. Fourth, we must fast from sun up to sun down during the month of Ramadan."
"Does Chrissy fast?" asked Jamie.
"Children, the sick, old and expecting mothers are not to fast, nor are you required to do so if you are traveling. Chrissy learned to fast for one hour a day when she was young. This was easy. Now she fasts all day except for a small snack at lunch time," answered Gunnul. "When she is fourteen, then I will expect her to fast properly," stated Gunnul and then looked uncertainly at Jamie. Jamie nodded, this was not the time to pick a fight.
"The last requirement is to visit Mecca. Chrissy went with me to Mecca last year," finished Gunnul indicating that Jamie should follow her. They went into the bathroom and Gunnul washed her hands, face and feet and then had Jamie do the same. "It is important always to wash before prayers. One should come before one's God clean of mind and body. Some westerners think that women in Islam are treated poorly because they do not pray with the men but must sit at the back. This is not so. It is because we might have thoughts that were not clean to have before God if we were together.
Islam improved the conditions of women greatly. In our faith infanticide or the abuse of women is not permitted. Wives must be treated properly and their wishes respected. Women may inherit and own property. Their roles are not separate from men, although traditionally the men lead, rather they support each other. Come we pray."
Gunnul lead Jamie to the prayer rug. Three times they bowed to the east as Gunnul recited the opening surah of the Quran, "In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate..." Then they knelt and bowed three times placing their foreheads to the ground. With each action prayers were repeated. The praying time took only about five minutes then Gunnul rolled up her prayer mat and put it away.
"Do you pray five times a day, Gunnul?" asked Jamie aware that this was the first time that she had seen her lover pray.
"I try to. I must live both in a western and eastern world. It is not always easy in business. If I can't stop to pray then I at least offer a prayer in silence where ever I am," revealed Gunnul. "Do you go to church, Jamie?"
"No. I was raised in the Greek Orthodox faith but I have never practiced my faith seriously," replied Jamie honestly.
Gunnul nodded, "When all you have in life is desert, faith becomes perhaps more important. It gives you hope and strength. Are you hungry?"
"Always," laughed Jamie and they rang for a Turkish breakfast to be sent up.
"My God," whispered Jamie in awe.
"You are swearing again, Jamie," observed Gunnul seriously.
"No, I'm not," laughed Jamie, "I'm expressing my thanks for all things bright and beautiful!"
Gunnul looked confused, "This is a hymn. Why do you..." then she saw the mischief in Jamie's eyes and laughed.
"My exclamation meant that this the most beautiful facade I have ever seen," explained Jamie.
Gunnul nodded. They had driven up early to Ephesus to beat the crowds and they now stood above the sunken main square looking across the court at the three story, curved facade of the library of ancient Ephesus. In soft, pink marble, the facade's illusory proportions, classic tiers of columns and statues in niches could not be fairly described. "Do you see the female statues in the niches, Jamie? They represent, knowledge, friendship, understanding and wisdom. The library was built by a son to honour his father, Celsus. Celsus' crypt can still be seen inside. It was the third biggest library in the known world with some 40,000 scrolls. It is said that Aristotle taught here," bragged Gunnul.
Jamie beamed, "Help me down the stairs, Gunnul. I want to see inside!" Gunnul obliged the petite woman, delighted by Jamie's enthusiasm about everything she saw and experienced. Inside, the American limped around seeming to draw from the roofless walls the memories of fresh parchment, ink, and the mumbling of scholars. Gunnul could almost hear the argumentative Aristotle conversing with the crowds on the steps outside. She had come here many times and been moved by the ruins but never had she felt so close to the ghosts of the ancient city as she was watching Jamie's delight.
Later, they sat in the perfectly preserved amphitheater that could hold 25,000 spectators and ate a box lunch that Teefo had arranged for them. "St. Paul stood on this stage, Jamie and tried to convince the people of Ephesus to become Christian. But the silversmiths in town, were afraid that if the people became Christian that they would lose business making silver idols. They organized a mob who chanted 'Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!' for the two hours that St. Paul talked. St. Paul had to run from town so he wouldn't be stoned," recounted Gunnul, "That is why he had to write the letters to the Ephesians that are in the holy books!"
"Wow, that's amazing. I had no idea that so much history happened in Turkey," admitted Jamie. "St. Paul should have sold the silversmiths on the idea of crucifixes and indulgence tokens. They'd have welcomed him with open arms!" mused Jamie making Gunnul laugh.
"This amphitheater is still used. Last year, Chrissy and her friends conned me into bringing them here to hear a rock concert by Sting. My ears are yet to recover!
The sound vibrations damaged the stone structure so now only folk and classical music is allowed to be played here."
"Gunnul! Chrissy is far too young to be going to a rock concert!" exclaimed Jamie.
"Jamie, I am far too young to be going to a rock concert!" mimicked Gunnul. "I had no experience of such things and Chrissy, who can talk the leg off a donkey, convinced me that it was part of the European culture and something she should experience in that she was half American. The girls enjoyed themselves very much. I have not yet got over the experience." Jamie laughed at the look of pain on Gunnul's face and hugged her affectionately.
"I think you are something quite special to have gone to such lengths to make sure our daughter appreciated both sides of her heritage. It is one of the many reasons I love you,"
confessed Jamie and Gunnul blushed deeply.
It was a long morning as Jamie insisted on going back again to see the mosaic sidewalks of intricate designs along Curetes Street, the main road through ancient Ephesus and to take photos of the Trajan Fountain before returning again to the library. Gunnul showed Jamie the ancient public W.C. with its row of 48 stone seats and the footprint carved into the stone of the causeway indicating which way the brothel was! The site was very crowded when they left and Jamie was glad that Gunnul had insisted on an early start. They stayed that night near Kusadasi at a resort on the Aegean Sea.
Gunnul lay propped up in bed with Jamie sitting between her legs and leaning against her chest. She picked up the phone and connected to her home while Jamie watched nervously. This time Gunnul spoke in English, "Hello, Chrissy! Did you have a good day? Ah good. We toured Ephesus. Here, I'll let your American mom tell you all about it." Gunnul passed the phone to Jamie and leaned back. Family. Could they be a family? Why had Jamie taken pictures? Did she mean to take them back to America with her curios? Would she leave Chrissy and her? Would she try to kidnap Chrissy?!
No, no, Jamie would never try to take Chrissy back to the States, she is not like that, reasoned Gunnul. She leaned back and relaxed and enjoyed the banter between her lover and her daughter. At first, it had been polite and stilted but now they were laughing and chatting away. They could both talk the leg off a donkey, thought Gunnul. I am in big trouble!
Next morning found a blurry eyed Jamie rooting through her shoulder bag for her lip gloss. She had cut down considerably on the makeup she wore noting that Gunnul rarely wore any: wallet, passport, keys, tickets...lipgloss! Jamie disappeared again into the bathroom. If Gunnul wanted to have early starts then she was going to have to stop making love for most of the night! Jamie smirked at herself in the mirror - forget that! They could just get up later!
Gunnul came in to their room and raised an eyebrow at the contents of Jamie's purse all over the bed. Gunnul was meticulously neat and she found Jamie's randomness cute but frustrating. Sighing, she went over and started stuffing articles back into the purse. Not able to resist, she flipped open Jamie's passport and snorted at the wide eyed, silly expression on the face of the woman she loved. Why were passport photos so awful? The wide grin faded as Gunnul's blue eyes scanned the page. The passport also covered Chrissy as a dependent. Gunnul looked at the airline tickets one was for Jamie and the other was made out for Chrissy, one way to New York.
Jamie dropped her lipgloss into her makeup bag just as the bathroom door slammed open. Gunnul stood in the doorway white with rage, her body quivering with violent energy that radiated out. Jamie gasped and took a step back. The blue eyes that bored into her blazed with a fire that was not human. " You have played me for a fool," Gunnul hissed. "You lead me along and all the time you planned to kidnap Chrissy from me." Jamie shook her head in disbelief but no words would come out of her terrified mouth. Gunnul held up the plane tickets now scrunched in her shaking fist. "Never, will I let you close to her!" the warrior growled and spun on her heel and was gone.
Jamie sank down on the toilet seat and leaned her head on the counter. Never had she been so scared in her life! She thought the god of war himself had returned to slaughter her. Now she understood why Gunnul was accepted in a man's world and was respected as a great warrior! She was when angry, a violent power unleashed! My God! She found the tickets and thought I was using her to get to Chrissy to steal her away!
Jamie sat up and took a deep breath, and that was exactly what I had planned to do when I came. But not now, not now that I see what a wonderful life Chrissy has had and what a loving mother Gunnul is. I want Chrissy in my life but not at the cost of destroying Gunnul! I have to find her! She thinks someone was trying to use her again, take from her again. She is too insecure to trust my love and she is not going to be able to handle this! Jamie staggered up from the bed and headed out to find Gunnul.
She limped down the road looking for any sign of the Turk. "Gunnul!" she called but no response came. Turning back, she went as quickly as she dared down the walkways to the shore. Trying to stay on the hard packed sand, she headed down the beach to where she could see two fishermen pulling a boat ashore.
"Did you see a woman, tall, dark, really good looking?" she asked them but they grinned back at her and shrugged. Jamie turned away in frustration and went to walk on but one of the men grabbed her arm almost knocking her over. "Hey! Let go!"
The man laughed and said something to her that could have been understood in any tongue by his body language. Jamie angrily pulled away just as the other coarse sailor came up behind her. He grabbed her cane out from under her arm and Jamie lost her balance and fell to the sand. The two men laughed and one bent down to grab at her shirt. Jamie tried to fight him off, panic rising quickly as she realized that she was in big trouble. Several quick punches to her head dazed her and she felt her defenses dropping.
Suddenly, a yell ripped the air and the standing man went flying into the sea. The one that kneeled over Jamie sneered and pulled a gutting knife from his belt as he stood to face Gunnul. He took a swing and Gunnul caught his wrist and bent it back with one hand as the elbow of the other arm came up and smashed him in the throat. Wrist bones snapped as the man gave a strangled choke and collapsed into the open dory. The first man was now splashing to shore to face a warrior blind with rage. He faked a left jab and then came at her with his right. She let it pass her head and then brought her foot up dropping him to his knees. The palm of her hand shot out and smashed the cartilage of his nose through the thin sinuous bones. Blood exploded out of his face as he dropped.
Gunnul looked down at Jamie, pale with fear and shock. The blue eyes were ice, still and cold. She looked around and found Jamie's cane washing along the water's edge. Picking it up she handed it to the fallen woman without a word. Jamie crawled clumsily to her feet then staggered forward on her cane wrapping her arms around Gunnul.
"Let go," snapped the angry woman standing stiffly.
"No, not until you listen to me," cried Jamie desperately, her arms tightening around Gunnul. For a minute there was only the sound of seagulls and surf, then Gunnul reached down and picked Jamie up effortlessly and carried her back to the hotel. In their room, she got ice and wrapping it in a towel placed it on Jamie's head as she nervously waited on the bed where Gunnul had left her. Jamie put her hand over Gunnul's and held on tight when Gunnul tried to pull back.
"No, please sit here," whispered Jamie softly patting the edge of the bed, "please let me explain.
Gunnul swallowed and looked at the wall as if she could find the answer written there. Then she swallowed again and sat on the very edge of the mattress looking sadly at the floor. " I have lived with the horror of not knowing if my daughter was alive or dead and with the fear that she might be beaten as I was. I knew nothing of you except what Moe had told me and that was a pretty ugly picture. I came here to rescue my daughter and I'd have done anything to do that even sleeping with my worst enemy." Gunnul flinched and her shoulders slumped in pain.
"But I discovered instead that my daughter had been loved, supported and protected by the most beautiful and remarkable woman I have ever met. Gunnul, I love you. I wouldn't hurt you by trying to take Chrissy away from you. Nor would I hurt Chrissy by taking you out of her life. Whatever happens between us, I hope we can work something out where we can both share in Chrissy's life."
Slowly, Gunnul's pained and worried face came up and looked into Jamie's. Jamie sat up and wrapped her arms around Gunnul's neck burying her head under Gunnul's chin. Hesitantly, strong arms curled Jamie into an embrace. "Love me," begged Jamie and Gunnul lowered the two of them to the bed. Their love was desperate, demanding and passionate, each trying to heal the emotional pain of the other.
They started their day much later than they had planned. Gunnul drove effortlessly with one hand while the other was wrapped tightly around Jamie's smaller one. Jamie looked at Gunnul's face. It was tense and drawn. She is still really shaken by this morning. I know she wants to believe me but there are still doubts, Jamie realized and raised their joined hands to kiss Gunnul's fingers. "Why don't you take the passport and tickets Gunnul?" Jamie offered.
"Why would I do that?" asked Gunnul with forced surprise.
"Because you are not sure you can trust me and I want you to," countered Jamie.
"It would not be much of a love if I have to hold you prisoner to keep you," responded Gunnul, her voice gravely with emotion.
"No, it wouldn't," agreed Jamie, "But in time I'll earn that trust of yours," explained Jamie leaning her head on Gunnul's shoulder. Gunnul squeezed her hand unable to tell Jamie she trusted her but wanting her to know that she was trying to because she loved her almost to distraction.
They drove to the ruins of Aphrodisias, a Roman site that was fairly easy for Jamie to maneuver. Jamie never complained and if the ground was too uneven for her to walk safely then she would shyly take Gunnul's arm. When she did, Gunnul always smiled down at her to let her know that she liked to walk with their arms linked. On the rough hill over looking the stone stairs of the amphitheater, Gunnul swung Jamie up into her arms and carried her. They sat for awhile at the perfectly preserved stadium so Jamie could rest. "It is hard to believe it is so old. All you need is a crowd and it would be Rome all over again."
"Let us not wish that on my homeland," snapped Gunnul and then realizing what she had said they both broke out laughing.
"You do so hate the Romans," giggled Jamie giving Gunnul a playful bump with her shoulder.
"Not me!" corrected Gunnul. "But someone in my ancestry did!"
They finished their walk inside a small but remarkable museum lined with Roman sculpture from the site. Then they drove on to Pamukkale, the "Cotton Castle".
Here an underground river, heavy with dissolved lime, broke to the surface over a long ridge. Over the years, the hillside had become a fairyland of white, snow stalagmites and stalactites, dotted here and there with large pools of warm aqua-coloured water. From this marvel of mother nature, you could look over the entire lowlands below. Teefo, of course had booked them into the health spa on the top of the ridge. They could step out off the patio of their room down into a natural grotto of white, snowy limestone filled with aqua-coloured water which was floodlit from below.
They sat together in the water under the stars. Jamie cushioned against Gunnul's strong arm. "Tomorrow we will be at my home," explained Gunnul and she felt the woman in her arms tense.
"What if Chrissy doesn't like me? I don't know if I could handle that," admitted Jamie instinctively placing her head on Gunnul's shoulder and sliding an arm around her.
Gunnul pulled the nervous woman closer. "She will like you," murmured Gunnul.
"Does she know about my leg," asked Jamie quietly.
"Yes, I have talked to her twice when you have not been around. I do not tell her anything you could not hear Jamie but I thought it would be uncomfortable for ..."
"It's O.K. Gunnul. I understand. What did you tell her?" asked Jamie with some anxiety.
"As much as I could tell a ten year old without overburdening her with adult concerns," responded Gunnul. "She knows about your leg and what I feel you can do without straining yourself. She knows you do not complain so she must be sensitive to this..."
"Gunnul!" protested Jamie turning to look up at her lover with concern. Her warrior raised an eyebrow and used the opportunity to place a kiss on Jamie's nose.
"I must tell her what I think! You will tell her what you think. Then she will make up her own mind," explained Gunnul. "She knows your injury was caused by her father when he was sick. I did not tell her how, just that you were hurt when you tried to help him," and when Jamie tried to protest, " No, she must deal with truth," and Jamie sadly nodded feeling Gunnul pull her closer and relaxing.
Gunnul kissed Jamie's temple and bent to look into Jamie's eyes, "I have told her that I love you. That I feel as if you are part of our family a..a..and that I hope you...you would stay."
"Oh Gunnul," whispered Jamie shaking her head and wrapping her arms around the older woman's neck, "You are so wonderful. I..I..wish I could..."
The pain shot through Gunnul squeezing her heart until it forgot to beat. The expressionless mask that was Gunnul's defense against the world dropped into place as she pulled Jamie close and looked over her head at the Big Dipper in the black velvet sky. I think it looks like a bear, said a voice from her soul and she blinked back tears burying her head in Jamie's fresh hair.
Gunnul lay in bed, eyes staring up at the ceiling. She felt totally empty inside. With a sigh, she untangled herself from Jamie and padded to the patio door. She looked out again at the stars, finding comfort in their familiarity. In another age, her lover had taught her to look for patterns in the sky. She had forgotten how to play anything but war games and had scoffed at first but tried. After that, she used to look forward to those nights when the stars seemed to multiple in the clear heavens and shine closer to earth. Then they would play the game. She never told her lover how much she enjoyed those nights. The words just wouldn't come.
But one day, her lover had shyly given her a poem. And maybe then she knew how much it meant to her to learn to play that silly game because the tears had rolled down her face and she had crushed her tight in her arms for a very long time.
From behind Gunnul, a voice came softly,
"We lie together
a blanket of stars
You tell me that
form the shape
of a Big Dipper.
I tell you
they look like
a silly bear.
I kiss you
because I want you
Gunnul turned and Jamie fit into her arms and her soul. " Don't leave us, Jamie," Gunnul begged.
"I don't want to Gunnul. But I've a job. A lease on an apartment, I just can't disappear! How would I support myself? What if Chrissy doesn't like me or resents having to share you with me?"
"Chrissy will love you as I do," stated Gunnul firmly not willing to consider any other possible turn of events. "I could have Teefo close your apartment. He has always wanted to go to America. You do not need to support yourself Jamie, I am wealthy."
Jamie stiffened and pulled away looking at Gunnul with flashing green eyes. Then she sighed and shook her head. Gunnul could be so innocent at times and so worldly and in control at others. " I'm not going to be a kept woman, Gunnul," she stated firmly but gently and when her lover went to protest she put her finger tips over her lips, "No, we can't talk about this now. Wait." Then she had placed her arm on Gunnul's and her soulmate had helped her back to bed.
They made love, slowly and tenderly. Sensitive finger tips whispered over warm flesh repeating the age old poetry of love. Soft lips played with the heart strings of the other and sang out their climax to the starry night. Then after, loving arms made a tender nest for sleep.
Jamie loved being in Gunnul's arms listening to her soft, even breathing. She felt complete at moments like this. Whole. Then the darkness would spread from that wound that she tried to keep hidden inside her soul. Gunnul was Moe's identical twin. They were both violent only Gunnul's was far more terrifying in its intensity and focus. Moe's had only been like a little boy striking out in rage. To encourage Gunnul passed this step would be to make a commitment to some one who would have far more power and control over her than Moe. Could she really trust this woman? She hadn't threatened her or touched her today but the rage emanating from her had been like physical blows. Jamie kissed the arm that was wrapped around her and instinctively, even in her sleep, Gunnul pulled her closer. Jamie snuggled in pushing the darkness back again, I love you Gunnul. There is just a part of me that hasn't healed very well.
The next morning a strangely quiet and nervous couple headed off for the outskirts of Antalya. They crossed over the Taurus mountains covered still in thick pine stands and came out on a ridge that looked down on the Mediterranean and off in the distance the port city of Antalya. Here Gunnul turned through a large stone gate and waved to a guard by its entrance. They followed a long winding driveway first through pine forest and then beautifully manicured gardens and lawns to a fabulous villa with a panoramic view of the Mediterranean on one side and the Taurus mountains on the other.
Gunnul glided to a halt and a servant hurried out to open the car doors. Teefo, of course waited on the steps. Jamie looked around her with her mouth open in shock. "Jamie, is there something wrong?" asked Gunnul in worry. Jamie shock her head. Gunnul had said she was wealthy but damn it this wasn't wealthy this was filthy rich! Suddenly, the sound of small feet running could be heard and a beautiful child with dark chestnut hair came running out of the garden and threw herself at Gunnul. The Turk caught her with a laugh and tossed her in the air, catching her again in a big, bear hug and kissing her cheek as they greeted each other in Turkish.
Then Gunnul took the little girl's hand and brought her over to where Jamie stood, weak in the knees and leaning heavily on her crutch. "Chrissy, this is your other mother, Jamie Dedeman."
Gunnul didn't know for sure which of them was going to need the support the most. They were all pretty shook up by this meeting. In the end, the three of them ended up holding on to one and another for a very long time. Then Gunnul put an arm around both of them and lead them into the garden. They sat together with Chrissy between them on a Victorian wood swing beside a lily pond and talked. Chrissy held on to Gunnul for dear life with one hand and kept touching and stroking Jamie with the other. Jamie was all smiles but the tears rolled slowly down her face. Gunnul was silent, raging her own battle with the joy of seeing her soulmate with her child and with the fear that she might lose Chrissy. The other two, never at a loss for words, filled in the silence, two pairs of identical green eyes shining with wonder and tears.
Quiet servants set up afternoon tea there and Gunnul took pride in the way Chrissy as the Turkish hostess, offered them lemon cologne and Turkish delights. Jamie said and did all the proper things using her few Turkish words and phrases to Chrissy's delight. Then Chrissy made Turkish coffee and they drank it while Chrissy told them what she had been up to while Gunnul had been away.
"I will leave the two of you to get to know each other better," said Gunnul getting up after a while. "I will go to get things organized for your stay Jamie and see to some business matters," Two pairs of green eyes looked up at her in alarm. She squeezed Chrissy's hand gently and bent forward and kissed her head. A moment's hesitation then she patted Jamie's knee and lightly brushed a kiss over her forehead. "You are my two favourite people," Gunnul reassured and then walked back to the house leaving the mother and daughter to talk. It was the hardest and most painful thing that Gunnul had ever done in her life.
Teefo waited in the shadow of the house. "Teefo, Mrs. Dedeman's rooms..."
"I thought it more convenient to put Mrs. Dedeman in the adjoining chambers to yours General Dedeman." Gunnul raised an eyebrow in surprise, "It will be easier for Chrissy if she can visit you both and not have to choose." The eyebrow went up farther. Teefo however, showed his mantel by carrying on calmly, "The quarters are for the head of the house's partner and I presume I am right in assuming that is to be Mrs. Dedeman."
There was a moment silence, slowly Gunnul's lips curled on one side in a small grin. Teefo's face remained expressionless. " I hope to convince Mrs.Dedeman to accept such an arrangement," confirmed Gunnul.
This time Teefo's calm exterior failed him and he looked quite huffy, "And very lucky she would be too!" he exclaimed and then blushed at his out burst.
Gunnul smiled and raised an eyebrow, "Thank you, Teefo," she responded.
Teefo cleared this throat in embarrassment, "You're welcome."
"And do you not think I am lucky?" Gunnul teased.
Teefo's face broke out in a big wolfish grin, "Most definitely!" he said wholeheartedly and then realized that he was apprising the woman that his boss loved. "That is if she suits you."
Gunnul burst out laughing, " You Turkish men and your love of blondes!" she grinned, her eyes sparkling, pleased that others found Jamie beautiful too. Gunnul changed the subject now. Enough had been said even to one as close as Teefo. "Please bring me the folders to my office, I need to E-mail some companies," she instructed and Teefo nodded and quietly left to carry out the order. Gunnul turned and looked back into the garden, Jamie was telling a story and Chrissy was sitting at her feet listening intently. They were both smiling. Pain shot through Gunnul's heart and she swallowed hard, then turned and walked quickly to her office.
"Chrissy, honey, will you do me a favour?" asked Jamie after a long time of getting to know her daughter.
"Of course mom," Chrissy replied with a soft accent that Jamie found delightful.
"Go find someone to take me to my room and then go see your other mom. I don't want her feeling left out," instructed Jamie.
Chrissy smiled and nodded as she leapt to her feet and ran off. Jamie looked around at the acres of gardens, the massive house and the spectacular view. My God! What have I got myself into? "Mrs. Dedeman?" came a soft voice.
"Yes?" Jamie replied looking around to see an older woman shyly waiting near by.
" I am Shantu, the housekeeper. I will take you to your room, please," the gentle woman explained.
Jamie nodded and followed the woman through the most exquisite rooms she had ever seen. Shantu walked slowly and at the stairs she hesitated too polite to ask if Jamie needed help.
"I'm O.K. I can manage if I go slowly," Jamie explained but she noted the worried woman followed directly behind to catch her if she should stumble.
They walked down a hall and the housekeeper opened a door into a large salon. French doors lead onto a large balcony. The woman lead the way to the right which turned out to lead to the bedroom. It was almost as large as Jamie's entire apartment back home. Off the bedroom was a bathroom complete with whirlpool bath and sauna and a walk in closet with an area of floor to ceiling mirrors. "Where does that door lead?" Jamie asked after she had been shown how to find the entertainment centre and computer that were discretely hidden behind a false wall in the bedroom.
Shantu blushed, "Please, that door leads to General Dedeman's chambers."
Jamie smiled and wiggled her eyebrows and the older woman giggled as she left.
Chrissy happily trotted across Gunnul's office, around her massive cherry wood desk and crawled up into Gunnul's lap as she talked on the phone to an associate in Saudi Arabia. Gunnul wrapped an arm around her and kissed her daughter's temple as she wound up her conversation with the business associate. Hanging up the phone she looked at her daughter waiting for a verdict.
"She's nice isn't she mom?!" Chrissy said proudly.
"I think so," responded Gunnul honestly.
"She tells funny stories. She's been to lots of rock concerts and she likes jazz and blues like you do! Once she had a dog called "Argo". I told her your horse was called that too.
Isn't that weird, mommy? Her eyes are the same colour as mine but she thinks I look like you. Isn't her hair wonderful? It is just like gold but it is soft. She let me touch it. Have you touched her hair, mom? It feels just like silk." Gunnul nodded used to Chrissy's rapid fire speech patterns.
Chrissy suddenly became very serious, "Her leg isn't shaped right. Her knee has a funny bump and her foot goes in. Does it hurt her mom?"
Gunnul gave Chrissy a reassuring squeeze. "I think sometimes, yes, if she over uses the leg," answered her mother honestly.
"Does she need that metal arm thing to walk?" asked the curious child.
"I have seen her walk and stand without it when she is inside on a flat surface. But she really needs it to walk with any balance," responded Gunnul feeling the pain of guilt clawing at her heart.
"My father, he was a very bad man. Will she hate us because of what he did?" asked Chrissy in a worried voice.
"No! Of course not Chrissy," protested Gunnul. "She knows that you and I are not sick like your father was and she understands that your father did bad things not because he was a bad person but because he became a very sick person mentally from drinking and taking drugs."
Gunnul nodded sadly. Then, "She likes you a lot!" revealed her daughter happily.
Gunnul reacted in surprise and asked nervously, "How do you know?"
"She told me the story about how two men tried to rob her on the beach and you beat them up and saved her and she thought you were wonderful," revealed Chrissy proudly.
"And she likes your blue eyes!"
Gunnul grinned, pleased by the praise from her lover. "I told her you have the evil eye and she looked really surprised. So I had to explain to her that in Turkey people believe that the blue eye can be used to bring much bad luck on others. She said she hoped I didn't believe that! I told her no but many did."
"Well, you two seem to have learned a lot about each other in a short time," observed Gunnul. " I am going upstairs now to make sure that your mom has settled in. Why don't you go off and play and then join us for prayers and lunch?" suggested Gunnul.
"She is Moslem, mom?!" asked Chrissy excitedly.
Gunnul laughed, "No, but she is comfortable in praying to Allah on our way when she is with us. Scoot now," Gunnul commanded and Chrissy gave her mother a hug and then skipped out the french doors that lead to the garden.
Gunnul found Jamie standing by the window in her bedroom looking out over the sea. Gunnul silently came out behind her and placed her hands around Jamie's shoulders. Jamie started in surprise and then realizing it was Gunnul leaned back and let the Turkish woman wrap her in her arms.
"You are O.K.?" asked Gunnul anxiously.
"Yeah, just on emotional overload," explained Jamie. "She is wonderful, Gunnul. Thank you!" Then she began to sob and Gunnul moved around so that the over wrought woman could bury her head under Gunnul's chin and sob out her emotions safely in the stronger woman's arms.
They all prayed together, Jamie now being able to recite the opening prayers in Turkish. She has a real ear for language, Gunnul thought proudly and was warmed with the knowledge that Jamie was willing to accept and appreciate Chrissy's Turkish upbringing.
After lunch, Chrissy and Gunnul showed Jamie around the estate. They had a late dinner on the patio over looking the Mediterranean and then retired to the media room to watch soccer on the T.V. Gunnul explained that football was almost a religion in Turkey and that people took it very seriously. Jamie had to have the fundamentals explained to her but was soon into the game. Gunnul and Chrissy were cheering for one side so Jamie cheered for the other. The game ended in a one-one draw and in a pillow fight on the couch.
Both Jamie and Gunnul tucked Chrissy in bed and Jamie told Chrissy the story of Paul Bunyon which Gunnul seemed to enjoy as much as their daughter. Later, Gunnul and Jamie walked hand in hand back to Jamie's room. "You tell wonderful stories," praised Gunnul. "In the ancient world you know, you were a bard."
"Was I?!" exclaimed Jamie. "I really don't see myself in the memories just you and what you are doing" stated the American.
Gunnul nodded opening the door and following Jamie in. "It is like that for me too. I see you. I feel you. I talk to you and you answer," she murmured starting to undo Jamie's shirt. "What am I in your memories?"
Jamie pulled away a little and looked into the surprised and worried eyes of her warrior. Should she tell her? Yes, she needs to know. "You were the Destroyer of Nations until you turned to using your sword for good. You were the most powerful warrior in all of Greece."
Gunnul walked over to the window and looked out into the night. " I have killed many like my ancestor. There is a darkness in me. I am unnaturally strong. I must always be very careful not to hurt people by accident." She turned and looked at Jamie, "Is that why you do not wish to stay with me, because of the violence within me?" she asked her lip quivering with emotion.
Jamie sighed, "No, it is more complex than that. I thought when I met Moe that I had finally bridged the space between my special world and the real one. I was terribly wrong. I don't want to make that mistake again. I can't."
Gunnul nodded and swallowed, "You would like, Jamie that I no touch you?"
Jamie shook her head and walked over to her confused lover, "Come here, you big dumb warrior," she whispered, her lips next to Gunnul's. "What I want is for you to pick me up and carry me to bed and make love to me all night." Gunnul for once in her life carried out someone else's orders happily!
After prayers at dawn and a light breakfast, Gunnul and Chrissy went to wake Jamie.
Chrissy ran across the room and leaped into bed with Jamie and gave her a big hug and a kiss, "Good morning mommy! Did you sleep well?" she asked crawling under the sheets and snuggling close to the warmth of her American mother.
Jamie made eye contact with Gunnul who was the picture of innocence, " I was exhausted and slept very well, thank you Chrissy." Gunnul snorted.
"Get into bed Mom!" beckoned Chrissy and Gunnul smiled and came to lay on top of the covers beside Jamie's other side her back propped up against the backboards. Jamie smiled up at her. Only a few hours before, Gunnul had been in the same spot under the covers with Jamie curled around her.
"So Chrissy, how should we entertain your other mom today?" asked Gunnul reaching out to play with her love's hair and then fluffing up the pillow instead. Jamie giggled.
"I think we should go to Antalya and shop!" exclaimed Chrissy excitedly.
"Shop!" repeated Jamie sitting up with her eyes sparkling.
"Yes! The stores in Antalya are wonderful! You will see. I love to shop for bargains."
Gunnul moaned. "So this is where she gets this disgusting trait," she growled.
Jamie pulled her tongue out at Gunnul, " You don't have to shop. You can just come along to help carry the bargains back to the car," suggested Jamie and Chrissy laughed.
"I am not shopping at all! But I will take you to town and let you to loose while I see to some business," agreed Gunnul slipping off the bed reluctantly. "Come Chrissy, and get ready."
Gunnul dropped the two shoppers off beside the tall Ottoman tower that guards the picturesque harbour of Antalya. They agreed to meet at two o'clock. Promptly at two, Gunnul pulled the Rolls she was driving that morning up to the curb, no shoppers. Gunnul sighed and pulled back out into the traffic to find a parking spot. Clearly, Chrissy and Jamie were planning on shopping to the last possible moment!
Gunnul looked at her watch as she stood by the tower. They were now fifteen minutes late and she was getting worried. At half past, she was past worry to panic. What had she done?! She'd handed over her daughter to a woman that she had known only a week! A woman who had a passport and tickets to steal her daughter away from her. There was an airport in Antalya. Her daughter could be kidnapped and on her way to the U.S. by now! Would she be able to legally get Chrissy back from her birth mother once they were in the States?! Probably not. Gunnul's heart tightened as fear washed through her system and her anger mounted.
At a quarter to the hour, she saw the two missing persons heading down the street each wearing identical T-shirts in green with Disney characters on the shoulder. Chrissy's was Pluto and Jamie's Donald Duck. The two of them stopped short when they saw the murderous look on Gunnul's face. "Where...have...you...been!" she snarled out, her hands on her hips.
Tears welled in Chrissy's eyes and Jamie put an arm around her, "Its my fault, Gunnul. I'm sorry..."
"Sorry,...I thought you'd taken...I was worried...Come. The car is over here," spluttered Gunnul trying very hard to regain control. Jamie and Chrissy exchanged worried looks and obediently followed the upset warrior. In the car everything was quiet for a minute.
Then Gunnul sighed and ruffled Chrissy's hair, "Sorry, Sweetheart, You two scared me, that's all," confessed the Turkish woman.
" We're sorry we were late mom and made you worried. We would have been on time but something happened but I can't tell you because I promised," explained Chrissy honestly.
Blue eyes snapped up and met Jamie's, "What happened," she asked calmly but in a tone that indicated she was not going to stay calm if she did not get a reasonable answer quickly.
Jamie sighed and looked out the window, "You tell her, Chrissy," she muttered.
Chrissy was delighted to do so, "Mom tripped on an uneven part of the sidewalk and fell into a booth where they were selling trinkets and it fell over and then the man on the bicycle had to swerve and that scared the horse that was drawing the cart full of tourists and it started acting up and so the cars that were held up started hooking and the tourists were crying and the owners of the horse and booth were yelling and mom was trying to explain while I translated and then the police came," explained Chrissy on one long breath.
Silence. Then, "Are you all right Jamie?" asked Gunnul seriously.
"Is there anything else I should know," questioned Gunnul quietly.
Chrissy responded, "The man on the bicycle didn't even stop and the police officer asked to see mom's passport and took our names. But when I gave him mine he asked if I was your daughter and I said yes and he said we could go."
Gunnul nodded looking out the windscreen her face devoid of emotion except for one eyebrow that was almost up to her hair line. She put the car in gear and they made a fast and silent trip back to the estate.
Once they arrived and had entered the main foyer Gunnul said, "Chrissy, you take the shopping upstairs and sort it out while your mom and I talk. O.K.?"
Chrissy nodded and headed off giving a worried look in Jamie's direction. Once she was out of sight, Gunnul opened the door to her office and indicated Jamie should go in. Her limp more obvious than usual, Jamie obediently went were she was directed too worried to notice the beauty and richness of the room. She sat, a small figure in a huge leather wing chair, in front of Gunnul's massive cherry wood desk.
Gunnul walked over and looked down at Jamie, then she lowered to one knee and took Jamie's cold hands. "I am sorry. I panicked. Can you forgive me for my doubts," she asked quietly with an edge of real worry in her voice.
Jamie nodded tears overflowing and Gunnul pulled her into her arms. "Do not ask Chrissy to withhold the truth from me, O.K.? She has been raised to be always honest."
Jamie nodded, "It was really stupid of me Gunnul. I don't want her or I to have secrets that you are not privy to. It's just that it was my first time taking care of Chrissy and I made a real mess of it. I was embarrassed."
Gunnul nodded her understanding and smiled leaning forward to kiss Jamie's forehead, "Sorry I missed it. It seems to have been a very good riot you created!" joked Gunnul.
Jamie buried her red face in Gunnul's neck, "Yeah it was," she agreed.
"Now you will tell me where you are hurt," Gunnul ordered firmly rubbing Jamie's back.
"A few bumps and scraps Gunnul, that's all and I twisted my knee so now it is sore," she replied honestly.
"Do you need to see a doctor, Jamie?" asked Gunnul trying not to sound too overly protective.
"No, I'm all right. I just need to rest it for a bit," responded Jamie.
Gunnul scooped Jamie up into her arms and carried her up to her room. She got the whirlpool ready for her while Jamie undressed. When she came back into the bedroom she found her lover sitting on the couch wrapped in her housecoat with a parcel in her lap. "I bought this for you," she explained. Gunnul opened the parcel to find a green T-shirt with Mickey Mouse dancing on the shoulder and laughed. " I didn't want you to feel left out," Jamie smiled softly, a blush climbing up her neck.
Gunnul stripped off her two hundred dollar silk shirt and pulled the cotton T-shirt over her head. "Thank you Jamie. I will enjoy wearing it!" Jamie smiled happily as Gunnul lifted her up and carried her into the bathroom.
Later, all three of them curled up on Jamie's bed eating off trays as they watched a Disney video that belonged to Chrissy. Each of them wore their T-shirts. Chrissy explained seriously to Gunnul that she had Mickey Mouse on her shirt because Jamie had said she was the leader of their pack!" Gunnul blushed and gave Chrissy a hug and Jamie a raised eyebrow.
That night Jamie lay wrapped in Gunnul's arms. "Tomorrow, Jamie, I wish that you stay in bed in the morning." Jamie went to protest but Gunnul cut her off, "The leg needs to rest. This weekend, we will go to a wedding in Cappadocia. My second cousin is to marry. You must be rested."
"Gunnul, maybe your cousin might not wish a foreigner and stranger at her wedding," protested Jamie and Gunnul laughed.
"She will thank me many times! You will keep the evil eye away!" laughed Gunnul.
"I'll what?!" exclaimed Jamie laughing too at Gunnul's delight.
"It is a superstition. Blond, blue eyed people are very lucky at a wedding. You will ward off my evil eye! You neutralize me!" giggled Gunnul.
Jamie poked Gunnul in the ribs, "I have green eyes! As you very well know! And I think your eyes are beautiful and if I hear anyone say otherwise they will have bad luck!" argued Jamie her green eyes flashing.
Gunnul went still and looked deep into those emerald depths, " Tomorrow, I will take you to see a very secret place, Jamie." Then she turned off the light and pulled her lover closer.