Island of Belleza
Disclaimers ~ These characters belong to me. If they have a passing resemblance to you or share your name, it's purely coincidental.
Bad language ~ No.
Love/sex ~ Romance between conseting women. If this offends you, you're in the wrong place. Go back now and forget you were ever here!
Author's note ~ Hi. This is my first attempt at an on-line story. Pretty scary knowing you're all out there passing judgement.... Anyway, let me know what you think. Questions, comments & thoughts all welcome.
Teaser ~ Having fled Britannia, a small group of women seeking a peaceful life away from strict rules, violent men and mercenaries set up home on a hidden island they call Belleza. The beautiful island becomes home to lost women and families.
Generations later finds Queen Athena in charge. Her daughter, Arcadia is approaching courting age, and must soon start her search for her mate. But does she already know who that is? Has she already met her?
Copyright © 2008
"This isn't a world I want to live in, my love," the raven-haired woman said softly. "If we leave, we can create a better life for us, our friends, and our future." She rubbed her hand across the blonde's swollen stomach. "I want our baby to have a better life than the world we know."
"But what if things don't work out?" Ailis asked. "What if this new life you so desperately want...."
Callena took a warm hand in her own larger hand. "I found somewhere for us to go, Querida."
"What!" Ailis exclaimed, green eyes widening. "When?"
"I hired a team to search the seas for somewhere big enough for us to settle, somewhere we could build and live hidden and left alone. Somewhere we can't be found unless by...luck." Callena smiled. "It's ours, love. Waiting for you to name and us to rule."
The small blonde took her hand back from her partner and waddled away to the nearest window. My father has so much power, he will find us if he wants to. Then what? "I can't believe you did this, Callena! All without a word to me." Ailis glanced back at her partner, heart swelling with love for her soul mate. She wasn't angry, just surprised. "You really found somewhere?"
The raven-haired woman nodded.
"And you think our friends are just going to let us rule them?" Ailis asked.
Callena scowled. "Your father is considered Royalty, Ailis. You are the Princess of the lands he controls. It makes sense to have you as Queen of our new home. If our friends don't like that, they don't have to come with us. It's their choice." She walked over to her partner and wrapped her arms around her pregnant stomach. "You remember why we want to leave?" she asked softly.
Ailis nodded her strawberry-blonde head slowly.
"And Marta, why does she want to leave?"
"Her whole family were killed," Ailis whispered.
"And Teresa Black?" Callena asked.
"She was beaten and strung up by her husband after he found her in bed with a woman."
"And Val and Hazel?" Callena continued.
Ailis looked at her partner with watery eyes. "They lost their child."
Callena kissed the end of her wife's nose. "We all have reasons for leaving, querida. These lands aren't safe."
Ailis smiled as she heard Callena call her beloved. She loved when her wife used her native language.
The tall woman led her strawberry-blonde partner over to her favourite padded chair and sat down, pulling Ailis onto her lap. "We all want a better life for ourselves and our children."
Ailis kissed her partner's head. "How far along are you with your plans, Callena?"
Callena licked her lips, knowing her partner was going to be furious at her for how far along her plans were without her knowledge. "I sent Francis and her crew to the island a few moons ago. They've been clearing trees and foliage in preparation for building our new home." The raven-haired woman waited for the explosion, her eyes shut tight in preparation.
"Do our friends know of any of your plans? Or are they as in the dark as I am?" Ailis asked calmly.
Callena slowly opened her eyes, looking sheepishly at her wife. "Everyone is in the dark. It was safer keeping it to myself, love. But now I've told you. I wanted you to know before the meeting tonight."
Ailis sighed and looked at her partner. "You wanted to know if I would stand by you?"
The dark head nodded, a childlike look on her beautiful face.
The blonde kissed Callena softly. "I will always stand by you, sweetheart. Even when you do stupid things like leave me in the dark about your plans."
* * * * *
Their friends started to arrive just after the sun dipped out of sight for the day. They all took seats in the small stone room Callena liked to call the living room, seeing as how Ailis and herself always seemed to be there, living in it.
Callena handed around goblets of wine to those who wanted a drink, while Ailis sat on the padded chair with a mug of warm cider, relaxing and entertaining their friends.
Val and Hazel Reeder, partners for ten years, married for four of those, sat next to each other, nervously holding hands. In the world they lived in, ruled by men or mercenaries, they weren't legally wed, but they had been joined by a shaman and it was legal in their eyes and the eyes of their friends.
Teresa Black had arrived next with her two daughters, smiling and greeting everyone. She put the two year old, Eleanor, down on the floor next to her older sister Dulce. The two girls sat quietly, while their mother ate a bowl of stew Callena offered her.
Marta Fisher arrived with Tricia Youngs and her three daughters. Tricia was trying to escape an abusive husband, and had met Ailis and Callena through Marta.
Once everyone had a drink or a bowl of hot stew, they were ready to listen. Callena pulled a chair close to her wife's and sat down. "Okay, lets get started."
"You have good news, Callena?" Marta asked, her voice accented.
"I have news, Marta. You decide whether it's good or not."
The Spanish woman nodded. "I'm sure it will be, mi amiga." She sat back.
"I have found somewhere for us to go," Callena started.
Cheers went around the room from the group of women, their prayers to leave behind the harsh world in which they lived within their grasp.
Callena smiled and looked at her wife as Ailis squeezed her hand in silent support. "Before we go any further, I want you to know, Ailis and I will be the..." she paused, trying to find the words to explain it.
"Royal family," Ailis put in for her partner.
"You think that's the way we should live?" Teresa questioned. "Under the rules of you two?"
"Yes,' Callena replied, defiantly. "Ailis' father is king, she is the Princess. It makes sense to have her as our Queen." She put up a hand to stop the woman from protesting further. "Everyone needs guidance, someone to look up to in certain situations."
"We live under rules here," Marta said unhappily. "Our lives...they are not good."
"It will be different under our rule," Ailis reassured the group. "We all want better lives, that's what bought us together. You don't honestly think Callena and I would rule you with the iron fist my father does?" The blonde looked around at each of the women.
Val shook her head. "No. You are nothing like your father, Ailis. We know that. It's just a shock."
"Why Ailis and you?" Teresa asked Callena.
"Because Ailis is the Princess, next in line here. It's her money that is buying our new life. I am her wife."
"Teresa, stop moaning," Hazel said in a softly-spoken voice. "Let Callena tell us everything first."
The raven-haired woman looked gratefully at her friend. "Ailis will be the first Queen of the island. Our future generations forever more will be the Royal family, heads of the island. All final decisions will come down to us." Callena looked around the group. "But, I was thinking we should have a counsel of sorts, so each of you will be leaders of other sections." She looked at Val. "Val, here you're a teacher of sorts. You help others learn to read and write. I was thinking for the time being, you could teach our children. In the future, once we have more teachers and children to teach, you will become head of education and oversee everything that is taught."
Val smiled and nodded. "Wonderful. I'll be sure to pack books that I feel are important to our future generations."
Callena smiled and nodded, then turned to Marta Fisher. "Marta, you're a fine cook and have your own bar. You can be the start of our farming community."
"Farming? What do I know about farming, Callena?"
"You'll learn as we go along. Eventually you'll keep check on what other families are growing in their vegetable patches, what animals they are keeping, what is being planted, what doesn't grow, that sort of thing."
"And...killing these animals? I'll...have to..." the woman asked, suddenly paling.
"I'll give you a hand, Marta," Teresa offered, getting a grateful smile in return. "And me, Callena? What is it you want me doing?" she asked in curiosity.
Blue eyes locked onto hard grey. "You learned the way of the warrior. You know many fighting techniques. You can be in charge of teaching future warriors who will defend our home if the need ever arises." Callena sipped from her goblet, the rich red wine enveloping her in warmth. She looked around at everyone. "It won't be smooth in these early years, but we'll learn as we go along."
Teresa frowned at her two friends. "Why would we need protection? I thought we were going where no one could find us. That's the whole point."
"What about the future?" Ailis asked. "What if travellers happen to stumble across our home and try to invade? What if..." she cleared her throat. "What if my father sends his army? Isn't it better to be prepared, Teresa?"
The dark-haired woman slowly nodded. "Yes, Ailis, I suppose you are right."
"What about the living arrangements?" Tricia asked, changing the subject.
"As soon as I claimed the island, I sent Francis and her crew out there. They've been clearing trees and foliage in preparation of building our new home," Callena explained. "When the time comes, Francis will meet with all of you and you can come up with designs for your new homes."
"So, it's still going to be awhile until we can leave?" Tricia asked quietly, scared that she didn't have that much time.
"Well...I was thinking," Callena started. "Maybe we can leave soon, if no one minds not having the comfort of a home to live in."
"What will we do? Camp out in the wild for months, maybe years?" Teresa piped up again.
"I'm not saying you have to come, Teresa. It's just a suggestion."
"Tricia has to escape her husband," Ailis said quietly, smiling sympathetically at the nervous looking blonde. "I'm seven moons with child. If we wait any longer, I could end up having our baby here or on the voyage over to our new home. I don't want that. I want our child, our people's future Queen, to be born on the island."
Hazel frowned at her blonde-haired friend. "How do you know it is a girl?"
Ailis smiled. "The shaman told me. She gifted Callena and I the power to have a child, and when I returned to tell her I was with child, she told me it was a girl and she would be a great leader some day."
"How are we going to survive, Callena?" Marta asked. "Are there animals already on this island?"
"When we leave I'll have animals shipped over with us. Pigs, cattle, sheep. They'll be your responsibility, Marta. We will learn as we go along."
"So when are you planning on leaving?" Tricia asked. "I'd like to be on the first ship, if that's okay."
"How about two weeks time?" Ailis suggested. "That gives us time to get together whatever we think is important to take with us."
Tricia nodded in agreement. "I can be ready by then."
"The rest of you have that time to think this over," Callena said to the group. "You know the deadline. If you're not ready to leave or unsure, you can catch the next ship."
"When will that be?" Val asked.
"When I need to return for supplies," Callena said. "We can't be making trips too often, otherwise we'll get found out, or followed."
With that, the meeting was concluded, their better future set in motion.
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