All disclaimers may be found in Chapter 1


Sedona Rain

Carole Giorgio: WomynBard@aol.com

Chapter 9 (Tues. 6:00 p.m.)

The women agreed that for them to get in and out of the shower in record time, they would have to agree only to wash themselves. Not that there weren't occasional pats or touches throughout the short washing session, but none such as to deter them from getting to at least one store before all the doors and sidewalks in Sedona were locked up tight for the evening.

Dressing was also a casual affair, with Alex grabbing her camping shorts and Samantha a pair of skorts. In approximately 30 minutes, the two women were down by the Jeep and ready to escape the serenity of the small resort for the earthy beauty of the little town of Sedona.

"The store I want to take you to I'm sure is open until 9:00 so do you want to go there first or eat first, Samantha?"

"I think shop first, then we can take our time with dinner," green eyes teased and an impish grin spread across the otherwise heavenly face as Samantha got into the passenger side of the Jeep. "How far away is the town, Alex?"

"It's not far at all; this still a rather small community, probably around 16,000 people by now, which leaves it in the small town bracket in my book, especially when you compare it to cities in California. But you should have seen it seven years ago, Samantha; it has grown a lot since then.

They wound their way through the back roads until Alex pulled the Jeep onto Highway 89A and steered toward one of the mini-shopping areas.

"Like I told you before, most of the trade is in art, Indian crafts, and New Age, metaphysical products, such as crystals, aromatherapy and massage therapy candles and oils, handcrafted jewelry, and unusual musical instruments. There's a large metaphysical community here and even a couple fairly famous psychics reside just outside of town."

"Wow, psychics . . . maybe we'll get a chance to go to one."

"Most of them have appointments scheduled six months to a year in advance."

"Okay then, what do you mean unusual musical instruments?"

"Like the flute that Kokopelli uses," Alex smiled over at her lover. "Hand made wooden flutes, drums, shakers, and ceramic instruments like the ocarina . . ."

"The ocarina? What in Tartarus is an ocarina?" Samantha looked at Alex like she was talking a foreign language.

"You're kidding me, right?" The dark-haired woman laughed at the thought that her lover had no idea what she was talking about. "I thought every child owned at least one ocarina. "

"Guess I was deprived, but that's no reason to keep me in the dark now."

"Well, it's small and roundish in shape, although some are shaped like animals, sea creatures, etc. Anyhow they have holes in them like flutes and are super easy to play . . . and . . . I'll just show you one because we're here already and they have them inside." She pulled into a parking space and turned off the car. "Okay, let's go play in the toy shop, little girl." She opened the door and got out, but before she could get around to Samantha's side, the blonde was coming around the Jeep toward her. Alex shook her head and took her lover's hand.

"You're gonna love this place."

The outside of the building blended perfectly with the landscape. It was a huge redwood building the color of which matched that of the red rocks surrounding it. Alex opened the door and allowed Samantha to enter first. There was a serene atmosphere to the incense filled air as the two walked into a huge room filled entirely with crystals and gems of all colors and sizes.

"I've never seen so many crystals together at the same time," Samantha professed as she looked around the room in awe.

"It's quite impressive, and it's grown since the last time I was here." Alex walked beside her mate as Samantha fingered and eyed the enormous variety of crystals and gems.

"I never knew there were so many varieties of quartz, Alex," Samantha confessed as she picked up several pieces.

Watching as her lover ran her fingers over the different gems, Alex began to notice that Samantha's complexion seemed to be taking on a rosy color as she stood amongst the large crystals near the back of the room. She walked over to the smaller woman and put a hand on her waist.

"Are you feeling okay, Samantha? Maybe we should go eat dinner first and then see if we have time to come back?"

"No, I'll be fine; I just feel a little light headed and warm. Does the room feel warm to you, Alex?" It was at this point that the blonde seemed to sway a little. "I think maybe I just need a little air; it seems awfully close in here all of a sudden."

The dark-haired woman looked around the room for a chair and finding one, walked with a now shaky Samantha over to it. One of the clerks came in from the other room and asked if there was anything she could help them with, but before she finished her question, she also noticed the now red-faced woman sitting in the corner of the room.

Addressing Alex she suggested that Samantha be taken outside for a minute. Not needing to be told twice, Alex picked Samantha up this time and carried her out to the parking lot.

"I think that clerk was right, Hon," Alex agreed as she put Samantha's feet on the ground but kept a steady arm around the smaller woman's waist. "A little fresh air might be all you need."

The clerk was directly behind the two women and she approached Samantha with an outstretched hand, offering her a small blue-green stone.

"This is Amazonite," she informed Samantha as she handed her the gem. "I believe you are having a reaction to the high frequency vibrations in the crystal room. You must have a lot of healing power or psychic ability for the gems to have affected you so quickly."

Samantha's eyes got as big as saucers as the woman continued on about the gem she placed in the blonde's hand.

"The specimen I just gave you is a balancing stone; it's especially good for people born under the sign of Virgo . . . "

"I'm a Virgo," Samantha interrupted, looking intently at the object in her hand.

"Well, then that should work doubly good for you. You see it balances out the yin/yang energies in the body. I believe you were inundated back there in the crystal room; you must be very sensitive to the earth's vibrations. Would it be too presumptuous if I asked to look at your palms?"

Samantha glanced over at Alex and the dark-haired woman simply smiled and nodded a slight affirmative to her lover.

Turning back to the clerk, Samantha opened her palms and let them be examined by the intent lady standing in front of her.

"No wonder the crystals affected you so strongly. Look here." The woman pointed to a section of Samantha's right palm where lines crossed creating an unusual design.

Drawing Alex's attention now as well, the skeptic walked over closer to Samantha and the saleswoman.

"This is a psychic cross. Do you have dreams that sometimes come true? Or do you have hunches that more often than not are correct?"

"Yeah," Samantha mumbled, feeling a little intimidated. "That means something?"

"It just means that you should listen more often to your inner voices because there is a lot of the psychic in you. If you were to study a little you could probably get quite good at it."

"Okay," Alex butted in. "She's really new at this kind of stuff, let's not get carried away with . . ."

"Alex, you were the one who brought me here, remember. There was probably a reason for it."

"Samantha I just don't want you getting overly excited about something that might never . . ."

"Excuse me," the saleswoman interrupted looking directly at Alex. "She does seem to be very vulnerable to the crystals. But listen, I didn't come out here to start a family argument. I'll leave you two to look around." She turned back around to Samantha. "If you continue to hold that gem in your hand, you won't feel the vibration of the crystals as strongly or get as lightheaded. You should be okay in the room with that in your hand. Enjoy the store and if there's anything you need help with let me know." With that the woman went back inside and left the lovers to decide what to do next.

"Alex that was a little rude." Samantha gently chided.

"It's just that some of these people get a little over zealous. I didn't want her scaring you with all that psychic ability nonsense."

"Are you certain you're the daughter of Aurora Dorian?" Green eyes sparkled as the fair-haired woman smiled up at her mate.

"Okay, you made your point. It's just that it's so easy to go overboard in these places."

"But Alex I almost passed out in there, even you noticed the color change in my face."

"I stand corrected. It must be my fate to be surrounded by people who walk around with their heads in the clouds. The more I think about it, the more I'm sure I fell in love with my mother!" Giving Samantha a hug Alex turned her around to face the front door.

"All right, consider yourself armed - now let's go back inside and see what catches your eye."

Instead of staying in the crystal area they continued on to the back of the room and through the door which opened up into another large chamber. What greeted the two women was a potpourri of New Age products. Incense pleased the olfactory senses, while stained glass spilled colored light throughout the room as prisms danced off tables, windows and hanging lamps. Alex took Samantha by the hand and walked her over to a section of the room filled with musical instruments.

Picking up a small roundish ceramic object about the size of a young child's fist, she turned to the blonde. "This Samantha is an ocarina." Placing it close to her lips she proceeded to cover a number of the small holes drilled into the object and then blew on the small mouthpiece, actually producing a musical tune.

"That's neat Alex; here let me try."

With a crooked grin on her face, the tall woman handed over the instrument and waited for the results of Samantha's first encounter with the unique tune maker. The first gust of breath produced a high ear splitting tone. Alex laughed and Samantha turned red almost immediately as she handed it back to her lover.

"Damn, Alex, you made it look easy."

"Yeah, well I think I got my first ocarina when I was five and then Kelley made sure I got an instruction booklet so I could learn how to use it properly. When I mastered that Mom went out and bought me a recorder and then a drum." As she named each new instrument, she found a corner of the room, which housed what it was she was talking about and pointed in that direction.

"It must have be fun growing up with Aurora."

"Oh, yeah, a barrel of monkeys. She's the Queen of new and strange. Mom collected weird people like other people collect trading cards, and with the people came all kinds of beliefs, instruments, psychic stuff, you name it."

"It still sounds like fun to me." Samantha insisted.

"You would think that," Alex smiled at her lover and then told her to pick out an instrument she would like to learn to play. She promised to help Samantha with the lessons.

While Sam was busy deciding, Alex walked over to the jewelry section of the room. She asked the woman at the counter if they carried any necklaces made with the Amazonite. The woman brought out a single terminated clear crystal necklace that contained a piece of the requested stone attached with gold wire to the flat end of the crystal, so that the stone would touch the skin. The middle of the crystal had been drilled and a piece of garnet placed in the hole. "I'll take it," Alex told the clerk.

"That's a lovely choice; the Amazonite goes with the throat chakra, the garnet with the heart and the quartz crystal with the all the chakras."

"Guess she'll be able to speak from the heart while wearing this, uh?"

"It would be difficult to do anything less," the clerk agreed.

"Okay, put that aside, please. I'm sure we're not finished shopping around yet."

"It'll be right here when you're ready," the saleslady assured Alex.

Samantha spotted the books, tapes and CDs and was over looking through the collection when Alex came over and put her hands on the smaller woman's shoulders. "Anything interesting?"

Unable to control the excitement in her voice the blonde pointed to one of the table displays. "Look!"

"Uh, huh."

"What do you mean uh, huh?' That's your Mother's picture and her collection of Changing Yourself by Changing Your Thoughts. There's the book, the audio book, and the CD. Aren't you excited?"

"Hello, Earth to Samantha. I've lived with the woman all my life. She's been a writer all my life. I've kinda gotten used to seeing her face plastered all over these types of stores." She grinned and squeezed Sam's shoulders as she leaned down and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. "I love seeing Mom through your eyes, Samantha; it's make it all fresh and new again. Now let's see if there's anything else you want. Did one of the instruments call out to you?"

Samantha held up a royal blue ocarina in the shape of a dolphin.

"Well," Alex smiled. "They didn't make them in that shape when I was growing up." She turned to the saleswoman. "They still electronically tune these so they're pitched, don't they, even when they're shaped like this?" She held up the dolphin for the woman to see.

"Yes ma'am, they're all hand made and then electronically tuned like you said. We only get a few of those dolphins in; they are beautiful, aren't they?"

Alex shook her head yes as she walked over and placed Samantha's new toy next to the necklace. "Would you please get us an instruction booklet for this?" she asked the clerk.

"I'll be happy to and put it here with the rest of your items," the saleslady answered.

"All righty then," Alex replied as she turned back to Samantha. "What do you say to getting a few of the aromatherapy candles for back at the Center? We didn't bring any with us."

"And one of these CDs? This one looks really interesting; it has fairies all over the cover." Samantha held it up and Alex took it from her, handing it to the saleslady to put with the rest of their finds.

"Fairies you're supposed to buy the CD for the music, Samantha, not for the cover."

"Oh but Alex any recording with a cover like that would simply have to be good."

Alex picked up a small vial of fairy dust and added it to their collection. What good was a fairy CD without the ability to sprinkle fairy dust around while listening to it?

Together they picked out a few candles, a small bottled of scented oil for the Jacuzzi, and a different scent to be used for massage. Samantha insisted they were done shopping but noted that she did want to check out the front room again before they left. She asked Alex if she should find out how much the stone she was holding cost and perhaps purchase it.

"I'll ask, Samantha."

When Alex asked the woman who gave Samantha the Amazonite about the price she was told that it was a gift for the novice psychic. Alex shook her head slightly but remained friendly as she smiled and told the woman thank you from Samantha.

Samantha's Princess Charming paid for their purchases and informed Sam that the Amazonite was hers to keep. "Isn't that something, Alex, the name Amazonite? Kinda brings Wonder Woman to mind. She's an Amazon, right?" Samantha smiled, remembering their first discussion on the topic when Alex explained the stories behind the figures on the stained glass doors at the Center.

"Yes, she is. And an immortal one at that," the dark-haired beauty agreed. "I guess it would remind you of her. Now we have Artemis and Isis on the doors at home and you have the Amazonite, a stone named after Artemis' chosen. Who knows, with that imagination of yours, one of the Goddesses or even Wonder Woman herself might pay us a call. Come on, little Amazon, let's go back out and look at the crystals."

They spent the next half an hour with Samantha learning about all the different gems, stones, and crystals. Her favorite turned out to be lapis lazuli, because of the beautiful blue color. But, she also found out that it enhanced the throat and third eye chakras, as well as enhancing psychic abilities and communications with the higher self. Her second choice was the rutilated quartz with its fine golden strands running throughout the crystal that reminded her of angel hair.

Alex explained that the rutiles were known to represent Cupids arrows tipped with love. Sam was surprised to find out that it was associated with all the chakras and was a very powerful life-force stone, a stone to assist in healing and to help stabilize emotional and physical imbalances. As they passed by each stone, Alex told Samantha to put her favorites into a small basket.

Picking up a piece of tourmalinated quartz with the black tourmaline crystals inside, Alex turned to Samantha. "This crystal helps to balance the male/female polarities it's kind of like the yin/yang of the crystal world," she told her lover. "The black tourmaline in the clear quartz releases patterns of fear and negativity and encourages peace of heart and mind as well as patience. It's also a very good ground and aids in balancing extremes. I should probably carry a piece of this in my pocket at all times." She smiled at Samantha who immediately agreed with her statement.

Lastly Alex picked up a piece of hematite. "This little beauty energizes and enhances personal magnetism, and courage."

"Ah, ha!" The blonde exclaimed. "Is that what you carried around to make you such a magnetic saleswoman when you worked for Have It All."

"As a matter of fact, Ms Smarty, I do carry a piece of this around and use it as a touchstone." She put the new piece into the basket and asked Samantha if she was finished purchasing the store.

"You were the one who went and got a basket to fill," Samantha responded as she deposited the final article.

"So I was," Alex agreed. "Are you sure you're finished?"

"Quite," Samantha insisted.

"Okay," the raven-haired beauty turned to the saleslady. "I guess we've about completed buying the store."

After the woman added up the total and Alex paid for it, the saleswoman handed Alex a soul-mate crystal. "It's really odd, but this crystal has been sitting on my desk for ages. I always knew I'd kept it for a special reason. It's a twin crystal, as you can see, and the two attached crystals are there to promote contact of a loving nature, communication that is tender, and togetherness. It's an amulet for twin souls, those who are born on this earth to be reunited with one another. After watching you ladies interact, I believe it was meant for you to have." She placed the crystal in Alex's hand and smiled, "You have a lot to learn about each other, but the path the two of you have chosen to walk is definitely going to be a fulfilling one."

Unsure of quite how to react, the dark-haired woman figured the best thing to do was to simply say thank you, and so she did. She walked over to where Samantha was watching the prisms as they continued to filter through the room at various angles. "Ready to eat?"

"You didn't really ask that question, did you? I've been ready for hours." She looked at the bags in Alex's arms. "Did we really purchase all that?"

"Sure did."

"How many stores did you say you were going to take me to?" Her green eyes twinkled as she looked up at her lover.

"As many as you want to experience." Alex answered, smiling down at the love of her life. "We've just begun."

"I think I want to spend the rest of the time sight seeing. Janet was telling me about some of the places around here; I didn't realize there was so much to see here. "

"Oh, I have sightseeing planned Samantha, you can be sure of that." Tender blue eyes looked down on her lover as she opened the door for Samantha to get into the Jeep. Placing the packages in the back seat, she climbed into the front next to the blonde.

"So, what do you feel like eating?"

"Anything that doesn't eat me first." Samantha smiled over at her mate.

"I could swear we finished doing that just a bit ago." Alex laughed, her vivid blue eyes sparkling.

"You know what I meant!" Samantha gave the brunette a pat on the leg.

"There's a large difference between what you said, my love, and what you may have actually meant."

"Alex . . . "

"Okay, what kind of food would you like?"

"I don't care. You know which restaurants are good around here, you choose."

"How about Italian? We haven't had that for a couple days?" Alex raised both eyebrows and smiled at her lover. Samantha was well aware that the brunette could eat Italian food every day of the week.

The tall woman continued, "I know this nice little restaurant not far from here, and we don't have to dress up. It has the best grilled Portobello mushroom appetizer."

"Stop, Alex! You're torturing me; let's just go. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Italian sound marvelous."

Minutes later they pulled into the driveway of small chateau-looking restaurant. A friendly hostess greeted them at the door and seated them, per Alex's request at a small corner table. Samantha noticed the homey dcor; it was as if they were dining at an old friend's home and the smell of Italian cooking permeated the air. Soft music echoed throughout the establishment via speakers on the wall and the soothing tones of Jerry Vale came ringing through the room in the language of his ancestors.

"I love Italian music, don't you Alex?"

"Yeah," the dark-haired beauty answered shrugging her shoulders, "but I prefer the food."

"Me, too." Samantha agreed. "So, do we start with that mushroom thingy you told me about?"

"Sounds like a winner to me." Alex motioned the waiter over and ordered a bottle of Sangiovese, the grilled Portobello drizzled with an herb-infused olive oil, and some deep fried Bufala Mozzarella with a spicy tomato sauce. When the waiter left, she smiled at her companion. "That ought to keep us busy until the entrees arrive. Are you super hungry or do you want to share?"

"Are the portions large?"

"Oh, yes and we have the two appetizers to deal with. When we order the dinner a salad comes with it and then there are the bread sticks."

"In that case, sharing sounds like it will do. What's good?"

"Everything is good, but let me tell you a few of the favorites." She looked down at the menu for a few seconds. "Looks like they've added a few things since I've been here last. I used to get the risotto with the assorted seafood, Shiitake mushrooms, leeks and tomato sauce, but it looks like they've added red pepper raviolis with smoked Mozzarella primavera, that sounds really good."

"Go for it, sounds good to me, too." Samantha gave Alex the go ahead.

When the waiter returned with the wine, he poured a small amount for Alex to taste and then proceeded to fill both glasses. About the same time the appetizer arrived.

"Damn, Alex these portions are meal-size." The small blonde acknowledged after the server left.

"I told you that you would not go away hungry." She lifted her glass in a short toast to an uneventful remainder of the trip. "I promise to keep my temper in line and make the rest of our stay fun." Her blue eyes sparkled in the dim candle light that surrounded the table and Samantha found herself warming before the wine even had a chance to work it's magic.

Dinner was delicious as Alex promised it would be, and between the two of them, they managed to finish everything they ordered, including the wine. Samantha was a little concerned about Alex driving but the tall brunette assured her lover that she was quite capable and Samantha had no intentions of arguing with her. The trip back to the resort was a short one and Alex suggested a walk before they returned to the suite.

"I think I need a long walk," Samantha admitted. "After all that heavy food and wine, I must admit I feel both bloated and a little lightheaded."

"I know how to assure that the end of an evening will go my way," Alex teased as she put her arm around her lover's shoulders. "Give you a gourmet meal, and you can deny me nothing." She smiled down at Samantha as they continued walking toward the falls.

"That may be one way, but really all you have to do is look at me with those baby blues of yours, Alex Dorian, and anything you want, that is within my granting, is yours in a heartbeat. But, I think you already know that." With her arm around the taller woman, she squeezed slightly to bring home the remark.

"Well, if we are going to start a mutual admiration society, the same goes for you and those sparkling emeralds you call eyes, Ms. Samantha Renee Riley."

"Hey, I didn't go using your middle name!" Sam objected.

"Oh," Alex gave Samantha a woeful look. "But your middle name is sooo cute," she teased as they continued walking toward the cascading water.

The night air managed to cool the earth slightly, but the winds were still blowing warm. The mist from the water tickled faces, as Alex led Samantha over toward the horse stables.

The closer they got the more the odor of the freshly baled hay became evident. "Gary told me Tillie was still here," the brunette stated almost to herself. "She's a beautiful Palomino, Samantha." The taller woman explained as she opened the stable door and switched on the lights.

"Gary has a full-time groomer on the premises now," she informed Sam. "He used to only have a couple horses, but when more and more patients began using the riding as part of their therapy treatment, he decided to increase the number. He told me today that they now have six horses that can be rented out to the clients."

The sounds of hooves moving and horses snorting lined the way as the two walked toward the last stall at the end of the stable. Standing regally with her head out of the stall was a beautiful blonde horse with gorgeous brown eyes.

"Samantha, I would like to introduce you to Tillie. Tillie, this is Samantha; she is an extraordinary person. What is that you say?" The brunette put her head closer to the horse's as the animal whinnied and shook her head. "You remember me, dontcha girl?" Velvet blue eyes then smiled in the direction of Samantha as she motioned the smaller woman closer.

"Alex, I'm not that good with horses."

"Don't worry, Tillie isn't just any old horse. She's special, you'll see." She grabbed her lover's hand and placed it on top of the horse's head. "Just pet her like you would a dog, that's right. See she likes you; I knew she would."

"I've never been around horses much, Alex, but she is beautiful."

"If we don't get a chance to ride while we're here this time, Samantha, we'll definitely make the time on our next visit," the dark-haired woman promised. She walked over to a hanging bag and took a few of pieces of sugar out, then turned to face Samantha. "Here, hold your hand flat like this," she demonstrated.

When Samantha's palm mimicked her own, she put the sugar in the middle of the smaller woman's hand. Then placing her own hand under the smaller one she moved Sam's arm toward the horse until the sweet treats were within gobbling distance. "Just keep your hand flat, Samantha," Alex warned.

With one arm wrapped around the small waist and the other arm outstretched under Sam's, Alex could feel her lover's trepidation at approaching the large animal. But, when Tillie began gently nibbling at the sugar in Samantha's hand, Alex could feel the muscles in the blonde's body relax and knew even before she glanced around, that the smile, which always warmed her heart was beaming on the small woman's face.

"See, she likes you." Alex prodded.

"She likes the sugar," Samantha giggled. "No," she corrected, "I think she may like me a little."

"Animals know when people have kind hearts, Samantha, and yours is one of the kindest hearts I've ever met." She turned the blonde around and placed a strong hand under the perfectly formed chin of her mate, tilting Samantha's face to meet her own. As she gently kissed the soft eager lips she sighed. "I love you, you know?"

"Hmmm," was the only reply she received.

"You've heard about a roll in the hay'?"

"Of course, why?"

"Ever had one?"

"Can't say that I have."

"Are you game?"

"Right here?"

"No, the stall across from Tillie is empty and there seems to be a pile of fresh hay in the far corner." The look on Alex's face was priceless as she grabbed Samantha's hand and led her across to the empty stall, flipping off the light switch at the end of the stable. "Be a good lookout for us, Tillie," she told the horse as she glanced back and then opened the half-door in front of her. "You make lots of noise if someone comes in."

"Alex do you think someone will come in?"

"No, I was only kidding. It's the middle of the week and most everyone is in bed by this time or at least getting ready to go to bed." Kicking some of the hay around she made sure there was a soft pile for them to recline on then she looked around and found a folded blanket draped over the stall wall. "Here we can use this." Placing it on top of the mound of hay she sat down and pulled Sam down with her. "This should make it a little more comfortable."

"Alex are you sure you want to . . ."

The question was stifled by lips that refused to hear objections. Alex lost no time in unbuttoning the blouse that kept her from experiencing the feel of Samantha's skin and then just as quickly, adept fingers undid Samantha's bra. While keeping her eyes peeled on the vision before her she pulled her own shirt over her head and took off her sports bra. One swift movement and the lover's went from a sitting to a reclining position. Alex leaned over and slowly lowered herself down until her nipples were barely touching those of her mate. Her tongue protruded ever so slightly as she descended to the already partially parted awaiting lips.

"What if someone . . . "

"They won't . . . stop worrying . . . just relax."

Alex swayed back and forth, her nipples teasing those underneath them, causing both sets to stand erect. Then she lifted herself to position one firm breast directly above her lover's mouth. A small tongue darted out to play with the mound that stayed just out of reach.

"Alex you're teasing." Samantha whined.

"You want this?" Alex cocked an eyebrow and smiled as she moved her breast closer to the full lips, brushing the smaller woman's cheek and then pulling up higher again. Samantha went to grab at the moving flesh but her hand was caught by a much stronger one, as it took both her hands into one and held them above her head. Then Alex relaxed, making full use of her body length, allowing her breast to resume its position above the sweet eager lips of her lover's mouth. Samantha opened her lips and invited the firm, round, excited bud in, sucking on it gently then running her tongue around the outside of the puckered areola.

She continued sucking tenderly, groaning with delight and thoroughly enjoying herself and the morsel before her. In the meantime Alex ran her free hand down the length of the slender body under her. She slipped long, graceful fingers between Sam's panties and her soft skin, easily pushing the clothing down beyond her lover's knees where Samantha effortlessly lifted each leg to totally free herself of the encumbrances. Alex could feel her lover respond to her lightest touch and smiled in the anticipation of the delicious seduction to follow.

"Is it the smell of the fresh hay or the danger of discovery that turns you on my love?" Alex queried softly.

"Hmmm," Samantha responded, "perhaps a little of both, besides the fact that making love to you in a new and unusual place is a total turn-on." She wiggled her hands free from their solitary restraint, with Alex's permission, of course, and placed one on either side of the perfectly contoured face just inches from her own. Running her fingers back through the thick, dark hair she brought Alex's lips down to meet her own, teasingly sucking at the taller woman's lower lip before snaking her tongue into the sweet moistness that was Alex's mouth.

The scent of the hay mixed with perfumed Obsession was indeed an earthy pleasure that was stimulating Samantha's senses. Using her body as leverage when the taller woman was least expecting that the smaller might move, she caught the muscular form off guard and quickly switched their body positions. Now it was she who was doing the straddling of shapely hips. She unbuttoned Alex's shorts and pulled them off in one fluid motion, noticing that the raven-haired seductress had negated to wear underwear, which actually increased her desire. "Was that in anticipation of this very moment?" she asked with a grin, running her fingers through the curly dark mound she was practically sitting on.

"What?" Alex arched an innocent eyebrow.

"The lack of underwear. Were you readying for tonight's activities this afternoon."

"No! I just didn't feel like wearing them."

"Uh, huh," Samantha grinned again as she let one finger slip through the lower lips and into the moist recesses of her lover's passion."

"Honest," Alex gasped, at the unexpected entrance and stimulation.

The stalls were fairly dark, but Gary had installed small skylights to allow the access of sky during rainy days when the horses were kept inside. Tonight they acted like windows to the stars as the beams from Heaven radiated down upon the two lover's. The trickling sound of the waterfall played an enchanting rhapsody as the ballet of love continued. There was just enough moonlight shining through to capture the look of absolute adoration on Alex's face as she gazed into the emerald pools of her lover's eyes, accented by the rays of moonlight as it trickled into the stall.

"You look like one of the Goddesses you so admire, my Destiny, with your golden hair glowing in the moonlight." Alex commented, reaching up and cradling the face she cherished.

"And you are my Princess Charming," Samantha countered, "here to allow me to live happily ever after."

"But as a Goddess you wouldn't need a Princess Charming; with a wave of your hand or blink of your eye, or whatever it is you would do, you could create your own happy ending."

"That being the case, then I wouldn't want to be a Goddess." The smaller woman bent low and placed kisses on her lover's cheeks. "I would rather have my Princess than make my own happiness." Alex started to speak again, but Samantha covered the partially opened mouth with her own, squelching any attempts the dark-haired woman might have considered making at speaking.

Without the constraints of a bed and almost within the limits of the blanket the two continued exploring each other, discovering new zones of pleasure as they molded hay to form expressive wells in which to accommodate their bodies and bring to climax their appetites for each other.

Samantha kneeled on the hay as she proceeded to change the positioning of the loose straw, stuffing it under Alex's back and buttocks until, with Samantha still on her knees, Alex's womanhood was practically face level. The rays from the moon made the moist area between the dark folds glisten, and when Samantha placed her fingers on the hot liquid and swirled them around, her fingers glistened as well.

After slowly removing the now damp digits, Samantha licked them one by one, with Alex watching in anticipation of where the agonizingly erotic tongue would be going next. Of course the blonde had no intention of disappointing; she leaned forward, her eyes never leaving the indigo blue of her lover's, as she placed her mouth on a feast awaiting a solitary invitee.

The raven-haired beauty dangled a long leg over each of the smaller woman's shoulders as Samantha drew her ever closer. The blonde moaned as her tongue found its way through the soft dark curls and between the nether lips to linger for seconds at a time in one area and then another of her partner's passion. She took her time, slowly absorbing droplets of a sweet tasting aphrodisiac, before quickening her pace to whip at the now swollen bud that silently screamed for attention. By increasing her movements, she coaxed Alex to orgasm and beyond, and then placed her lover into a realm where the world disappeared, and the only beings in existence were the two of them, naked, and rolling in the hay.

And so they continued, taking turns at pleasing and being pleased. Once was definitely not enough, and the night was already transformed into morning, before the two found themselves contented.

If hay could talk, it would remember this night when it spoke of the evening the two lesbians from some place called California invaded a small stall on the outskirts of Sedona and turned the stable into a shrine of love.

Finally spent and with their scents mixed with that of the hay and the horses, the two lovers were satisfied to rest in each other's arms. Samantha looked up through the skylight into the early morning sky and spotted the constellation Pegasus. "Look," she entreated as she pointed upward. The winged horse."

"Excuse me?" Alex's mind was not flowing in the same direction, and the blonde took her by surprise with the outburst.

"Pegasus -- look." Again she pointed. "How funny that that should be the constellation showing through the stable window. Pegasus is one of my favorite constellations of the fall sky." She stopped and thought for a second. "We should be able to see Monoceros, the unicorn in the sky chart Mom and Kelley gave me, around your birthday."

Alex simply held her tighter, shook her head and answered with a obligatory, "That's really interesting, Samantha."

"I'm going to have to get you interested in the constellations, aren't I? We have such an unobstructed view from the cliff at home. It's a sin not to star gaze."

"We'll do that between having our past life regressions, learning more about your psychic side, building the center, and your writing. Does that sound good to you?"

"Now you're teasing."

"Why yes, I guess I am." Alex smiled.

"But the stories are all so interesting. Pegasus wasn't always resigned to merely carry around Zeus' thunderbolts, you know?"

"No, I guess I didn't."

"There was a time when he went on great adventures with Bellerophon who carried the head of Medusa to fight against the Chimaera . . ."

"Whoa . . . let's have the stories a little at a time, okay?" She lifted her lover's face up to gaze into her own. "The trivia you have stored in that brain of yours, Samantha. How do you keep it all categorized?"

"It's easy because I love the stories, the characters, the romance, and the adventure." She cuddled closer feeling Alex's skin respond to her softest touch. "It gets my imagination flowing." The small blonde whispered.

"I don't believe your imagination ever stops flowing, my love, but that's one of the attributes that makes you so special to me." She kissed the golden crown that nestled at the tip of her chin. "Do you think we ought to dress and go back to the suite, or would you like to be found by the stable hand here in the buff when the sun peaks over the red rocks?"

"I think the former suggestion is best." The blonde untangled herself from the muscular form of her soulmate and sat up. "You felt marvelous tonight, Alex."

"As did you, Samantha." Alex joined her in sitting and drew her close. "You know, sometimes my mind wanders back to our first meeting, Samantha. And the more I think about the circumstances surrounding it, the more I agree with you and Mom about souls finding their way back to connect with a lost part of them that has been there since the dawn of time."

"Does that mean we'll be getting the past life reading sooner?"

Alex smiled broadly, "When the time is right, okay?"

"Yeah, I can be patient. I keep learning more about us as we are now; getting to know us as we used to be can wait a little while, especially now that I know it's definitely in the not too distant future."

On the short walk back up to the suite Samantha asked Alex to give her regards to Janet in the morning and tell her that thanks, but she already saw the stables.

"Oh, sure," Alex replied. "And should I also tell her how you sampled the hay?"

"I think not unless you want to incriminate yourself as well, Ms. Smartbutt." Samantha grinned at the thought of anyone knowing the way they spent the last couple hours, but even the thought of the encounter warmed her all over. It obviously warmed her cheeks as well.

"I might be Ms Smartbutt, but you'd definitely be Ms. I've Got a Secret cheeks if anyone were to take a look at you."

"What?"

"Samantha if you get that red just thinking about what just transpired, what would you look like if someone were to start talking about it."

They were still laughing when Alex opened the door to their suite. Samantha walked over to the glass enclosure to view the waterfall from a distance while Alex made her way to the kitchen to get them something to drink. A few minutes later she handed Samantha a tall glass of orange juice.

"This might help you from feeling dehydrated in the morning after all that wine we put away tonight."

"It certainly was good, though. I wish we had left a little food on our plates to bring home; I sure could use an early morning snack about this time."

"Why does that not surprise me?" Alex chuckled softly.

"Seriously, though, we should probably get to bed; you have a busy day planned. I, on the other hand, am a lady of leisure. I can . . . "

"What makes you think I'm going to allow you to sleep while I'm up working my butt off?" The eyebrow arched and the smile was ever so slightly wicked.

"First off, I don't think you Ever work your butt off," the blonde smiled, patting the firm buttocks of the woman standing beside her. "Secondly, you have a heart of gold and wouldn't think of making me get up merely because you have to." She stood on her tiptoes and kissed Alex's cheek.

"I'm glad you have such faith in my being a nice person, Samantha. Speaking of sleep, I don't need a lot, but I should get some, especially if you're going to put me through calisthenics again tomorrow night like you did tonight."

"I put you through . . . whose idea was it to test the hay?"

"Oh, alright, big baby, I guess we were both a little to blame with how the evening turned out. I for one would not have changed a minute of it."

"Me either," the small blonde confessed.

Opting to wait until the sun came up to shower, the two deposited their clothes on the nearest chair and crawled into the soft bed, relishing the fact that there was no straw sticking out from between the covers. A once in a lifetime experience, maybe, but neither of them wanted to make a habit of rolling in the hay.

********************

Cursing the realization that her inner clock worked no matter where she was, Alex wiped the sleep from her eyes as she carefully deposited Samantha onto her side and slipped quietly out of bed. She would be on guard this morning just in case the imp she loved decided to surprise her again in the shower, but she had a sneaky suspicion that the blonde would remain sleeping this a.m.

After grabbing a nightshirt and covering her nakedness, Alex entered the living room and stole a glance in the direction of the courtyard. The sun was on the rise and she knew there was some extra time for a little exercise. After beginning to brew a pot of tea, she stepped onto the terrace and greeting the sun as she did so many times, before she limbered up with one of her regular TaiChi routines.

********************

Gary was up exceedingly early, having experienced an exhausting night of almost no sleep at all. He hated confrontations like the one that took place the yesterday and the upset threw his system into and unaccustomed state of tension. Rising before dawn, he decided to take a ride on Tillie. She was his favorite, probably because it was Alex who picked her out of a group of young foals years ago. The beautiful brunette seemed to have a way of knowing an outstanding bargain when she saw one. No matter what she attempted, it always seemed to turn to gold, except in the romance department. The woman had a dark past in that respect. Gary was hoping that she would be able to rectify her actions with her newest lover, as he felt the cute blonde was a good influence on the usually all to somber executive.

Upon returning from his ride, he noticed that some of the treats were missing from Tillie's sugar bag and he was also aware of the disarray of the stall opposite the palomino's. If my guess is correct, Alex, in her own unique way, more than made up with Samantha for the embarrassment of the afternoon disruption. He smiled inwardly as, in his heart of hearts, he still wished that fate would have given him a chance to make a play for the tall woman's affections.

Having handed Tillie off to the stable boy, also an earlier riser, Gary walked back toward the residential building via the courtyard. Glancing up in the area of Alex and Samantha's suite, he spotted the tall graceful creature whose only claim to his affections would be those of friendship. So as not to be spotted, he ducked quickly behind a tree where he could see yet be unseen and watched as Alex continued her graceful maneuvers of the ancient discipline. He silently thanked her for coming into his life, if only from a distance and mentally told Samantha that she was a very lucky young woman.

********************

She always felt refreshed and balanced after completing a session of TaiChi and this morning was no exception. Feeling centered and calm she practically floated into the kitchen to pour a cup of tea. For years the sound of silence served as a refuge for her but now when there was no laughter or chatter from the small blonde sleeping soundly in the next room, the silence sometimes became unbearable. She wondered how she made it this far without Samantha by her side, but she knew without a doubt that being without her was an existence she never again wanted to endure.

An uneventful shower and dressing found Samantha still soundly sleeping and just before leaving, Alex bent over and gently kissed her beauty on the forehead. "Sleep well, I'll see you at lunch," she whispered.

"Hmmm, Alex, you smell so good." Small arms unexpectedly reached up and pulled the taller woman down on top of her. "Do you really have to go work?"

"Samantha I think you already know the answer to that." Alex pushed up on her elbows and stared into half open sea-green eyes still unable to focus. "Go back to sleep, I'll meet you down in the dining room at 1:00 like we planned. No sense in the two of us having to be up and about already."

"See," Samantha grinned sheepishly. "I told you that you would let me sleep."

"And you were absolutely right. If I'm gracious enough to let you sleep, why don't you just go ahead back and do so. "

"I will just as soon as you, leave. I just wanted to say good morning before you took off into the big bad world of executives without me."

Now it was Alex's turn to laugh. Even when she was only half-awake the imp underneath her possessed the uncanny ability to turn on the sunshine in her heart. "I love you forever, my Destiny." Alex leaned down and placed a tender kiss on her lover's lips.

"I love you back, Princess Charming, now have a good morning."

"Will do, sweetheart, see you in a bit."

With that the taller woman hopped off the bed and strolled out the door with a huge smile on her face. Now that's the way someone is supposed to be sent off to work! Knowing she would only be gone a few hours was the only thing that kept her feet moving in a direction that was opposite to the beauty hopefully once again sleeping on the bed.

********************

One thing Samantha never had a problem with was falling back to sleep after being awakened, especially if the hour was early or the night before was late. Today was beginning to add a new note to that ancient tune. The blonde was finding that the emptiness of the bed when Alex left was no longer conducive to sleeping. She grabbed Alex's pillow and snuggled tight, wrapping her body around it as if it were the personification of her lover, but closing her eyes only started her mind generating thoughts of the night before. Tossing and turning did no good, nor did putting her head under the covers to keep out the rays of the morning sun. Sunlight never stopped her from sleeping before; she couldn't imagine that it was the problem now.

"Well, shit!" She cursed at the pillow and the sun and the bed. "I am beginning to get more like her," she acknowledged to the air. "Or maybe I just don't want to be in bed without her," she mumbled as she pushed the covers aside and got out of bed.

Even Sam admitted that the morning was beautiful. The sun was filtering softly through the glass panes and there was still a residue of morning mist surrounding the waterfall and causing even more rainbow prisms than usual. This was truly a land of enchantment. She continued on into the kitchen and poured herself a cup of tea. Taking it out onto the terrace, she sat and contemplated what she was going to do with the entire morning now that she had one to fill.

By the time she was ready for her second cup of tea the bard in her decided that now was as good a time as any to begin writing. For years the thought of writing a novel swam around in the recesses of her mind. She had written poetry, short stories, and even a few newspaper columns, both in college and for a small town newspaper. Now she was being afforded the opportunity to make her dream come true and if she didn't take the time that was being offered then she would have no one but herself to blame if the damn thing never got started.

Always before she determined that it would be kind of an autobiographical story. Now that seemed childish. Before you can write a book, Samantha, you need to pick a topic. Okay, thinking of the topic will be the topic of discussion while showering, okay? Okay.

That settled she poured her second cup of tea and headed toward the shower.

As unmemorable as a solitary shower can be, she did come up with a theme for her soon to be book. Again the autobiography came into play, but she would change and embellish a little instead of making it like a real autobiography. She decided to write a lesbian love story. She was sure it was still a fairly open market, and it was something she could draw on her experiences for. Okay . . . her experiences . . . and the experiences of others more knowledgeable . . . like Alex and Mom and Kelley and all the other lesbians she'd met so far. Yes, it was definitely decided a romance novel for lesbians. Oh, that means you'll have to write the love scenes! I know. I can do that. Are you sure? You've never done that before. Shaking her head and arguing with herself she still kept coming up with the same idea. Lesbians need good love stories. I know, but do You have to be the one to write them. If not me who? And, if now here When?

Having pretty much taken care of all her own reasons for not writing a lesbian love novel, she talked herself into thinking that it was exactly the kind of book she should write. After all, her ideas were fresh on the subject, her being a newcomer to the realm. All that worried her was the fact that Mom-Aurora would have to read the book before asking her publisher to take a look at it. Damn Samantha, love story, sex scenes, your mother-in-law, are you sure? Yes, this genre has barely been touched. Yes, I've made up my mind. I'll just run it by Alex a little later today and see what she thinks of the idea.

Now she was absolutely sure of what she was going to write about. She finished getting dressed, picked up the laptop and headed for the porch to sit and write the great American . . . no, scratch that . . . to write the best damn lesbian romance to date. After all she had Alex for a teacher, you couldn't get any better than that!

Samantha sat on the porch so long that her butt actually started to get numb from sitting in one position, so she got up, toasted a bagel, and poured another cup of tea. Sitting back down, her fingers kept busy as she started on her outline. Of course, the story would begin with the first time she spotted Alex sitting on the lonely stretch of beach a solitary figure who looked like she had just lost her best friend. She hoped Alex wouldn't mind being one of the main characters in a book. But, it would be a work of fiction. No one would ever know if the people she was writing about were real or not. Give me a break, Samantha! Do you think you're that good a bard that you could actually hide your real identities in the story line? I don't know; now you're confusing me. I hate when you do that. Well, someone has to look on both sides of the dilemma, don't they?

While she continued to debate with herself, time slipped away and before she knew it the sky was beginning to cloud over and thunder echoed from the tips of the high red rocks. Glancing down at her watch she noted the time to be about 12:30. Pretty punctual this Sedona Rain.

Quickly she closed up the laptop and stepped back into the living room area. She watched as, once again, nature staged a little play for anyone who cared to watch. Within minutes the sun receded behind a huge dark cloud and Zeus continued to play in the sky with his lightening bolts. Her luncheon appointment was not until 1:00; she wanted to sit and watch the storm before starting downstairs, and hoped that it would be a short one like yesterday's was.

Nature did not disappoint and the rain came down in a torrent but only for a very short period of time. It was just enough to cool the warm wind that had been blowing and to bring with it the fresh scent of flowers from a meadow somewhere off in the distance.

The poet in Samantha found the midday storm enchanting and refreshing. She quickly reopened the computer and sat it down on the kitchen table. The words came swift and true, from her heart out onto the keyboard, which, in turn, placed them onto the mechanical page before her. Sedona was definitely the place she needed to be to get her Muse's attention and her artistic juices flowing again. Sedona, with its serenity, red rocks, and ancient stories, was a wonderland for the imagination. It was a marvelous little town with its links to the past and its heart in the present, while it graciously extended tentacles of hope into the future. This was an enigmatical place, a place where she would perhaps get in touch with her mystical side, as well as her return to the written word. Magical Sedona and its midday rain. The poem came so quickly it almost wrote itself. It was short and concise but it said what was in her heart when she watched the storm play its brief interlude.

SEDONA RAIN

Each day with little warning, in the middle of the heat,

Thunder begins sounding with an ancient Indian beat.

The sky gets dark and stormy as though grimacing in pain.

Then the Earth receives the blessing of Sedona's midday rain.

Before turning off the computer, she saved the poem on the same disk she was saving her outline on, took it out and placed it on the table. She was ready to go down and have lunch with Alex and was pleased with herself that the morning passed so quickly. She was sure Alex would be proud of the fact that she actually settled on a theme for her novel and was ready to start putting the words down on paper.

Something made her think about the items they had purchased the day before, and she started to look around for the bags before remembering that they had left them in the Jeep. Not being able to find the keys to the vehicle, she figured Alex must have taken them with her. I guess the new toys were the farthest things from my mind last night. I'll have to get the keys from Alex after lunch, so I can play with the ocarina a little while Alex is working this afternoon. Eager now to get down to the dining room, she left the suite and headed to the elevator.

********************

The morning flew by as the two of friends settled all the minute details of grips, holds, colors, ropes, and various accessories for the wall. Absolutely everything Gary needed to set up the new equipment was now ordered and promised delivery by drop shipment on Friday. He was one happy camper as they walked over to the residential building to meet and have lunch with Samantha.

"You know Alex, I think we put in a full day's work in these past few hours. I can't think of anything left to discuss or rehash before the equipment arrives on Friday."

"I was hoping you'd say that," the tall exec answered as they walked through the double doors leading into the dining area. "Most of the building expansion is opening up of rooms on the inside with very little structural work on the outside. If you put those contractors of yours on some heavy-duty overtime, you should be able to assemble the wall Friday afternoon or at the latest Saturday. I'm sure there are still people who like overtime aren't there?" She grinned over at her friend.

"Most definitely, Alex. Most definitely." He assured her.

"That being the case, I'll be able to give it a once over before Samantha and I leave on Sunday."

"Does that mean I won't be seeing much of the two of you between now and then?" Gary looked over at the friend he so seldom got to visit with, a quiet look of desperation on his usually joyful face.

"Oh, I imagine we can manage to spend a little social time together." She gave him a buddy punch on the arm before sitting down at a table close to the glass windows. "I thought I'd take Samantha shopping again this afternoon and maybe up to Bell or Cathedral Rock. You could meet us for dinner if you'd like. I've promised her sunset at the airport."

"Isn't that a little too romantic for a third party to be tagging along?"

"Tell you what, why don't you ask Janet if she'd like to come along, also and we'll make it a sunset party."

Unable to resist an invitation to spend an evening with one of his favorite people he jumped at the chance. "Great, I'll talk to her right after lunch. Now what time was that?" He chuckled.

"Yeah sunset just keeping watching the sky." She shook her head and laughed. "You want to call in the reservation, or should I?"

"I'll be here at the center with easy phone access. I don't think they're open right now, so I'll make the reservation. In my name," he added knowing that the business exec was used to having confirmations in her own.

"Well, that means you get to pick up the tab instead of Have It All," she countered.

"Hmmm, maybe I should let Marge pay for some of this little vacation of yours. On second thought, it will be made in the name of Alexis Dorian."

"I thought as much," she declared as she glanced up and saw Samantha coming toward them. Her face lit up and Gary didn't need to turn around to know that sunshine just entered the room for the tall dark-haired beauty.

"So . . ." Alex stood up to switch seats and give Samantha the one next to the window. "How was your short morning tell me it was boring and lonely." She smiled, giving Sam a peck on the cheek.

"Actually . . . Hi Gary . . . " Samantha acknowledged the man now sitting next to Alex.

"Hi back at ya." He responded with a short sentence knowing she interrupted her train of thought to recognize his presence.

"As I was saying, actually it was not all that short."

"No?" The arched eyebrow rose and sapphires twinkled in the direction of the small blonde.

"No. I got up just after you left. I puttzed around for a bit and showered, but then I started seriously thinking about my writing. I think I've come up with a theme for my novel."

"Really? You got up early?"

"Yes, I am capable you know?" The small blonde gave Alex a lover's pat on the arm.

"Should I ask about your topic or wait and be surprised?" Alex played along knowing Samantha was enjoying the attention, but also knowing that the blonde would not be able to keep the contents of her new project a secret.

"Oh . . . " Now she was becoming a little shy about the subject and began to blush a little. "Maybe this isn't a good time to talk about it."

"Why? Is it something embarrassing or personal?"

Now she really wasn't sure if she wanted to breach the subject with Gary sitting right there in the middle of them, but she'd gone this far and wasn't going to back down.

"As a matter of fact," she started a little louder than she anticipated, "I thought I'd write a lesbian love novel." There she said it.

Having just filled her mouth with tea, Alex practically spit it out all over the table when Samantha blurted out the idea for her story. "Samantha . . . " How in heavens name do I say this gracefully, and in front of company. "Do you really think that should be the theme of your very first attempt at writing?"

"Well, it's not like I haven't ever written before." Irish eyes were getting a little sharp around the edges.

"I know, Hon," Alex tried to smooth over the statement, realizing she should have waited to discuss the question of the subject matter until they were alone. "I mean, it's just that it's so . . . personal."

Gary was sitting in between the two and feeling more and more like perhaps he should get up and leave. They weren't arguing, but the scene was becoming quite emotional. He thought again and laughed inside, it wasn't everyday one got to see the cool, calm, and collected Alexis Dorian become your average emotional female. He figured he would simply sit back, drink his tea and watch the play of emotions run the gambit across the face of the two beauties at the table with him.

"You told me to pick something I knew about and you know that the first rule in being a bard is that you write what you know."

"I understand that, sweetheart, but . . . "

"Okay . . . okay . . . I get the picture. You don't think I can write a convincing love novel because you're the only woman I've ever been to bed with . . . oh, shit!" Now her face really did start blushing as she looked at Gary and then around the room. Her voice exceeded the volume of mere table conversation, and she suddenly realized that their table was now the focus of attention in the small dining area. Blonde locks were all that showed behind the menu as she quickly hid her face and whispered. "Alex I think maybe we should talk more about this upstairs in the room, huh?"

"I agree Samantha." Alex put a calming hand on her lover's arm. "It's okay, half of Gary's employees are Gay or lesbian and the type of clientele he attracts are very open to all lifestyles.

"Did I make a fool of myself?"

"No, of course you didn't. Did she Gary?" Concerned blue eyes searched her friend's face for collaboration in the fabrication.

"Come on Samantha, think of it as a testing ground; look how much attention you received with just the mention of the book." He did his best to make light of the situation and quickly turned the topic to food. "Hey, we have a killer special soy burger topped with Swiss cheese, grilled mushrooms, onions, and secret sauce." When no response was registered from either of the women, he continued, "French fries and white chocolate crepe suzettes flamb for dessert."

Samantha couldn't help but laugh when he added the totally concocted dessert to the lunch special. "I guess you better order me the special then, Gary and put in a request for two of the desserts." She peaked over her menu to see that most of the customers were going about with their own lunch, oblivious to what was now transpiring at the window table.

The subject was dropped and both Sam and Alex ordered the soy burgers with all the trimmings. Unfortunately Gary lied about the crepes but he did manage to promise that if the airport restaurant carried the dessert they would definitely be ordered with this evening's meal.

Samantha was thrilled to hear that Alex didn't have to go back to work.

"I thought we might make the rounds of the vortices since we have most of the afternoon left." Alex told her lover.

"And the midday rain has already come and gone." Samantha added.

"Have you become the local weather person?" Alex smiled over at Sam.

"No smart butt, I just thought I would comment on it since we shouldn't have to worry about getting rained out."

It was a little after 2:00 when the ladies parted ways with their friend, reminding him to ask Janet to join them and to call for reservations. They didn't need anything from the room so decided to go directly to the car.

"Do you know we forgot to bring in the bags from the crystal store?" Samantha reminded Alex.

"I guess there were more important things on my mind last night." She looked slyly over at her mate. "We'll remember to bring them in tonight, okay?"

"Sure. So, where to first?"

"I think the best place to start would be Bell Rock and then we can work our way back toward town and the airport. Sound okay to you?"

"You're the expert, Alex. I'm just along for the ride." The blonde leaned over and hugged her lover. She had been without the woman's gentle touch all morning and simply longed to be close.

They drove down Highway 179 until they were just north of the Village of Oak Creek. Alex didn't need to point out the tourist attraction of the Chapel of the Holy Cross; Samantha spotted it and made her pull over to take a closer look.

"Some woman in the 1950s had it built as a monument to her parents. It used to be open every day; I don't know if it still is. Pretty, huh?"

"Oh, Alex, it's beautiful!"

They continued southward a few more miles until Alex pulled over to the left and into the parking area of Bell Rock Vortex. "First the vortex, then some shopping and then the next vortex." She informed Samantha as she began getting out of the Jeep.

"Great." Samantha replied as she, too, got out of the vehicle. "Wow! This is huge!"

"Bell Rock is nothing compared to Cathedral, but it does have an abundance of energy. It's hard not to feel the power flowing from this site." Remembering the necklace she purchased for Samantha the evening before, Alex opened the back door and reached into one of the bags.

"Here Samantha, let me put this on your neck." She motioned for the smaller woman to come closer.

"When did you buy that?"

"At the shop last night, I found it while you were over looking at Mom's collection." The brunette smiled as held the necklace up for the recipient to examine before putting it around Samantha's neck.

"Oh Alex, it's beautiful." Small hands came up to place a palm under the crystal. "That's Amazonite on top there, isn't it?"

"Very observant. The red stone is garnet for the heart and the Amazonite is for the throat, the crystal, of course, covers all the chakras, so you should be well protected." Alex proceeded to put the necklace around Samantha's neck.

"Thank you Alex." Samantha reached up and oblivious to anyone who might have been watching planted an appreciative kiss on her lover's lips.

"Hey, you'd better be careful. I have a lot planned for the rest of the afternoon. You do want to get to the other vortices sometime today, don't you?"

"I'll behave. It's just that this is so pretty, and it's practical, too." The blonde was very excited and receiving the unexpected present only revved up her adrenaline.

"We've pretty much missed the tourists so it's quiet. This is a nice time of the year to come here for the first time." Alex looked around and saw that they were practically alone on the large expanse of red rock. "Find yourself a spot where you feel really serene and just sit there for a little bit. I think you'll find, if you are alone, you'll get more of an attunement to the rock."

"Now who's the one getting mystical. Are you feeling okay, Alex?" A small hand reached up to test the warmth of the taller woman's cheek, only to be caught midway and put up to full lips, the recipient of a quick kiss.

"I'll be right over there on that ledge, if you want me." Alex turned and left Samantha standing and feeling very small, and dwarfed by the huge fixture of rock in front of her.

Sam noticed a small Juniper tree growing alone out on one of the ledges and it drew her attention. She climbed up a couple ledges before reaching the tree and could feel her energy intensify the further up she climbed. Glad for the necklace Alex had just given her, she sat down next to the tree, looking out over the scenery that surrounded the area. This is absolutely beautiful; words don't do this place justice. What kind of a bard am I, if I can't even seem to put into words the splendor of this area?

At first Samantha thought it was just her imagination, but as she sat there on the warm stone, she could actually feel the beginning of external energy beginning to course through her body. Relax and let go, Samantha, relax and let go. She sat in a yoga position, her eyes closed and oblivious to anything else around her. Soon she found her entire body rocking back and forth in a slow steady rhythm. Letting herself be taken by the energy she sat totally enjoying the warmth of the sun on her face and the addition of an energy source from the solid piece of earth she was sitting on.

It seemed like an eternity later when she heard the soft contralto voice of her lover as she closed the gap between them. "Samantha . . . are you sleeping Samantha?"

"No, but I couldn't tell you for the life of me where I was." The small blonde took the outstretched hand and got to her feet. "I had the weirdest feeling Alex."

"Like you were rocking?"

"Yes. How do you know?"

"This vortex is an extremely strong source for the kundalani energy coursing up from the earth. I'm glad you got to experience it." The brunette smiled as she squeezed her soulmate's hand. "Ready for a short shopping trip?"

"Sure," she replied, as Alex knew she would. "I wish we thought about bringing drinking water with us."

"No problem, we'll pick up a couple bottles when we get to the Village. Come on, we have a lot to see before sunset."

Continuing south on Highway 179 for a short distance Alex pulled the Jeep into an area that looked like a small Spanish Village. "This place is called Tlaquepaque Village and it's been here for over 20 years. The name means the best of everything.'"

"But it looks like it's been here forever, Alex."

"That's the beauty of this place. It was built around the landscape, leaving all the large vegetation where it stood. I guess that's why all the artisans and craftspeople flock here and the environmentalists lend their support by frequenting it. Besides that, there's always something new and different in the stores, so you never seem to visit the same Village twice." She put her arm around Samantha as they walked from the parking area. As soon as they stepped off the blacktop and onto the uneven pavement of the village, a feeling of history surrounded the two women and they could have sworn they just stepped from the present into the past.

"This place is lovely Alex, thanks for the side trip." Samantha looked around in awe as they passed a masonry chapel decorated with small stained glass windows. "Look at that."

"Yes, it's like a little bit of old Mexico right here in Sedona." Alex commented.

They walked along through the tiny Village, admiring the creativity of the local artists and craftspeople, with projects ranging from rugs, candles, and jewelry to food and drink. The community was complete; it even contained a smattering of indigenous crafts from the residents of some of the surrounding Indian tribes.

Samantha was the first to spot a chocolate shop, and the two gave into the temptation to sample some of the sweets.

"You sure you want to stop in here? You don't want to ruin your dinner." Alex mumbled in the voice of reason.

"As if!" Samantha replied as they stepped through the threshold and inhaled the intoxicating odor of freshly poured fudge.

Leaning over close to Alex, Samantha whispered, "Do you think they give samples?"

"Sure, just ask them."

After tasting a few flavors, it was Alex's turn to lean and whisper. "Don't you think, maybe we should buy something?"

"Oh, yeah . . . that might be a good idea . . . they've been so nice about letting me try the different flavors. Which one do you like the best?"

"I liked the mint and the pumpkin, which ones do you like?"

"The peanut butter and vanilla."

"Okay then." Alex told the clerk she could stop feeding the child standing next to her and she motioned at Samantha who gave her a playful push. She proceeded to order one half pound of each of the four flavors they liked the best, and after paying for the sweets, gently led the blonde away from the counter.

Samantha was amazed at all the different pottery shops, until Alex informed her that no Mexican Village would be complete without at least one pottery shop. They agreed that they didn't need to spend precious time in the bookstore today and quickly looked at a few jewelry stands before winding back to the entrance and getting back into the car.

The next stop was Cathedral Rock Vortex. Because they didn't have enough time to take the hike up to Cathedral Rock from Verde Valley School Road, Alex continued around to Oak Creek and then turned right on Chavez Ranch Road, following the road to Crescent Moon Park. After paying the entrance fee they entered the park and drove as close as they could to the creek, which runs along the site. From the time they started passing in front of, and then traveling behind the awesome structure, Samantha could not take her eyes off the spectacle before her.

"By the Gods, Alex. Look at that! It really does look like a cathedral or a castle."

When they were in front of the rocks Alex pointed out the two spires standing regally between the larger two structures. As they exited the car, the spires were not longer viewable, but the site was still breathtaking.

"The closer we can get to the creek here Samantha the stronger the energy. What you felt at Bell Rock was a masculine energy, strong and strengthening. The energy here is feminine so it is more nurturing and calming. We'll end up at Airport Vortex tonight, which is also masculine and then probably tomorrow travel over to Boynton Canyon which has energy of both yin and yang." She took Samantha's hand and together they walked toward the creek.

"The energy gets stronger the closer you get to the water."

"I think I can feel it," Samantha admitted. "It's a meditative mood."

"Yes, that's what I feel, too," Alex agreed.

Finding a narrowed area of the creek, Alex picked Samantha up and carried her over as she was the only one with legs long enough to stretch across the small expanse of water without getting her feet wet. On the other side she deposited Sam back down on dry, solid ground.

"We have a small amount of time if you want to walk up the trail a bit, Samantha. I don't think the sun will be going down for a couple more hours. I figure if we leave here by seven there should be no problem with seeing the sunset at the airport."

"I'd like to walk a little; it's so peaceful here."

"That's why Sedona is such a popular area. People come here when their lives are literally falling to pieces and quite a few of them get an introspective look into themselves and leave happier and more content." Placing her arm around her lover's shoulders she drew her close as they slowly walked the well-worn path.

"I thought tomorrow we could take in some of the local color so to speak. We aren't far from Montezuma's Castle and the Tuzigoot National Monument."

"I'm glad you can pronounce those names you must have had a lot of practice with that last one." Samantha smiled up into eyes that beamed love down in her direction.

"Your innocence is radiant, do you know that Samantha?"

"Innocence?"

"The way you look at things when I'm with you I get to experience the joy of seeing all this over again for first time. I love showing you around places that have become like old comfortable shoes to me; it gives me a new perspective."

"Glad to be of service." The petite woman leaned closer and rested her head on her lover's body as they walked together for a while in silence.

As the shadows began to lengthen, Alex finally suggested that they start back toward the car. "We don't want to miss your sunset, my Destiny; you'd never forgive me for that." Alex gently kissed the flaxen head as they turned and started to walk away from the gigantic rocks.

"I don't know about never," Samantha giggled. "Never is a very long time."

********************

It was close to 7:30 by the time they pulled into the restaurant parking lot at the airport. "I think we may have to order our dinner first and watch the sunset as we finish with dessert." Alex informed Samantha. "It doesn't look like the sun is going to be setting until close to 8:30 tonight. We'll have to make them keep the restaurant open just to accommodate your whim, my Destiny."

"You're kidding, right Alex?"

"No, no not kidding. They usually close at 8:30, but that only means no one can get in after that. Once you're already seated, they are more or less at your mercy." She smiled over at her lover who wasn't sure whether to laugh or get upset. "It's okay Samantha. Gary and the owners are good friends. Besides I'm kidding about the mercy part, they serve until 8:30 and it's only just 7:30 now."

With the smile returning to the Samantha's face, they entered the building and traveled up to the terrace. Searching the room as they got off the elevator, Alex spotted Gary and Janet already seated at a window table. Alex could tell that the spectacular view was received well by Samantha as the blonde caught her arm and whispered to herself, "By the Gods." Alex smiled and patted her hand as she led her to the table.

The dinner was superb and the company was enjoyable. Samantha got to know Janet and Gary both a little better and heard some war stories' that Alex would probably have rather she hadn't, but the evening was enlightening and pleasant.

Although the restaurant didn't serve crepe suzettes they did have Samantha's favorite desert, Tiramisu, and as Alex promised, the entire invoice was picked up by Have It All as a business expense.

As Alex predicted, the awaited event of the evening did not begin until close to 8:30. When old Sol did finally begin making a descent, Samantha fawned over the different variety of colors and the way the light hit the crevices of the large red rocks that partially surrounded the airport. The vibrancy of the display was fabulous and the wait was well worth the show. The little group found out soon enough that there was no hurry for them to leave. The owners came over while everyone was eating dessert, to chat for a bit with old friends and be introduced to a new one. A bottle of their best champagne was used as a welcoming gift to toast the newcomer.

By 10:30 the wine was gone, the dinner fairly digested and even the dessert was no longer weighing heavy on anyone's stomach. They bid goodbye to the owners, and then Gary and Janet played follow the leader with them back to the resort.

On the way home, Alex asked if Samantha wanted to take a swim before they retired and received a definite yes.

"I think that would be a marvelous way to end this perfect day. I sat at the edge with my feet in the other day; it felt great. It's heated isn't it?"

"Sure is," Alex told her. "Usually it's a bit cooler here this time of the year." This time she didn't leave the bags in the back seat, she grabbed them and up to the suite they went to change.

Even the night air still contained a bit of the desert and a warm breeze blew as the lovers amused themselves with what turned out to be a midnight swim. With the stars twinkling overhead and the rays of moonlight streaming down, the pool was aglow with sparkling white pinpricks. The lights inside and surrounding the pool area automatically turned off at the stroke of midnight, but the celestial orb and accompanying multitude of stars made certain that the lovers received a majestic environment to complement their early morning swim.

Samantha loved to watch her dark hero, her muscles flexing in the cosmic glow, droplets of liquid shimmering from her well-defined biceps, as she swam beside her in the warm water.

"Well, you can rack this up to another beautiful day, my love," Samantha announced as she swam sidestroke beside Alex. "For a quiet little town, Sedona has a lot to offer."

"It's quite a find, I must admit. I'm extremely glad Gary decided to settle here with the Center. Gives us a place to vacation." She turned her head and smiled, as she looked at her angel, whose face was haloed by the soft white light of the Lunar Goddess. "You look beautiful in the moonlight, Samantha."

"You're just saying that," the blonde blushed as she splashed water gently at the dark vision before her.

"No, seriously," Alex swam closer and stood. Samantha was in water up to her neck, but the taller woman placed two strong arms around the slim waist in front of her and gently lifted the blonde up to face level. "Why in the name of the Goddess would I say something like that if it weren't true?"

"Because you love me, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder." The Irish imp retorted.

"That being the case then I should elaborate on the statement and say you are the most beautiful woman I've ever seen being kissed by the soft light of the Goddess of the Moon."

As Samantha wrapped her arms securely around the taller woman's neck the lover's embrace became a kiss of fire.

"Promise me we'll never lose this magic, Alex." Samantha pleaded.

"I promise, my Destiny, til the end of time the magic will stay." Again she kissed the soft lips that parted slightly at contact, allowing the dark-haired beauty's tongue full entrance to the sweet cave within. "You done swimming?"

"Yeah, we're getting a bit conspicuous, huh?"

"Could be. That and the fact that if we don't stop now we will definitely be X-rated' and I think Gary would object to that." She smiled and cocked her head for Samantha to follow her to the shallow end of the pool where they left their towels.

Back up in the suite Alex asked if Sam wanted to take a quick shower with her to get the chlorine out of their hair and off their bodies.

Sam was exhausted from walking around all afternoon but agreed that it would probably be a good idea. "I don't know why, but whenever I get out into the open air for any length of time, it really tires me out."

"It's probably because you aren't used to outdoor physical activity, your most favorite spot is at your computer or in front of the television watching a movie." Alex teased as she turned on the water and stepped into the stall.

"Okay . . . no need in being mean." Samantha whined stepping in after her.

"I'm not, sweetheart, just honest. Sometimes you're like a little mole with your love of small, dark spaces."

Now Samantha burst out laughing, "My but there is a double entendre mixed up in that little sentence," she giggled.

"You know what I meant!"

"Yeah, but what you said, Alex, ooooh . . . two different things."

Unable to keep the grin from forming on her face, the tall beauty conceded to her slip of the tongue,' after which Samantha agreed that she was an inside person but that she had started doing a lot more outdoor activities since moving to Laguna.

"Whenever I'm near water I go out more often," the blonde stated. "I love the emotional attachment to a large body of flowing liquid, it's tranquil and makes me introspective. I did bike and swim some before I met you." Samantha insisted, in her own defense.

She coaxed Alex to turn around so she could wash her back. "But, I have become a lot more physical since we've been together. I now know a little Tae Kwon Doe and can even climb a wall.

"My aren't you the versatile athlete." Alex teased. "Are you waterlogged yet?"

"I think I am as a matter of fact," she put her hands palm up toward her lover's face. "Just look at this . . . I'm pruning!"

Alex grabbed the naked woman and wrapped her in a towel, patting her dry and then removing the soft cloth. "There. All clean and dry and smelling sweet."

Hand in hand they walked into the bedroom. "Want me to go get one of the candles we bought yesterday?"

"That would be nice, and one of the incense sticks, too?"

"Sure why not." The tall woman strolled into the living area and rummaged around in the bags until she found a candle and incense that complimented each other.

Back in the bedroom she stuck the incense into the candle so the ashes wouldn't fall onto the floor and lit the two objects.

Samantha was already in bed but quickly changed positions when Alex climbed in beside her, laying her still damp head on the taller woman's chest.

"Hey, that's chilly," Alex jumped slightly when Sam's cool hair touched her skin.

"Want me to move?"

"No, it's okay now." She hugged the other half of her soul close and kissed the moist blonde hair. "I'm glad you're having a good time, Samantha. I think you're going to enjoy tomorrow even more. The Indian ruins in the area give off an almost magical feeling when you're standing in the middle of them, wondering how they felt as they lived off the land, were at one with nature, and only killed out of necessity. You know, it would make sense having to kill a buffalo, or any other animal for that matter, if you did it because it was the only protein your environment supplied. And, when the Indians did make a killing, they used every part of the beast. It clothed their bodies and filled their stomachs; it put a roof over their heads and supplied them with new tools. I think the most important part, though, was that they thanked the animal for its sacrifice. I feel they were genuinely sincere and believed that the animal willingly gave up its life so that they could survive. They were not selfish and wasteful like we are today."

She stopped talking, as she felt that Samantha's breathing had taken on a constant rthymic quality. After listening for a few seconds, the dark-haired beauty smiled, realizing that her love had quickly fallen asleep during the middle of her philosophical discussion. It had been a long day for the two of them and tomorrow would be just as full.

Again she kissed the crown of Samantha's head as she whispered her goodnight to the already sleeping woman. "I love you, Samantha. Sleep well my sweet."

"Love you, too." Sam mumbled, snuggling closer.

"See you in my dreams, my Destiny."

As she closed her eyes to join Samantha, the raven-haired beauty smiled when she received an unexpected whispered response from the sleeper in her arms. "Hmm, hurry Alex . . . I'm waiting."

 

End of Chapter 9



Chapter 10

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