Hannah dropped the bag on the table and transferred the towels to the dryer. Then she took her dinner and put it on a plate, deciding to sit in the small garden alcove that overlooked the beach and eat by the light of the moon.
The sound of the waves was mesmerizing and she took her time enjoying the spicy island fare. She watched as the moonlight traced a path in the water, and wondered again where it would lead her if she followed it. So absorbed in her thoughts was she that it took a few moments before she became aware of the rhythmic sound of footsteps approaching her.
Strangely, she was not alarmed by the sound. They were sure and steady, not stealthy, and she took comfort in that fact. Obviously it was a native who had wandered too far without realizing they'd crossed the boundary. It didn't dawn on her that the sound was coming from the east and not the west.
She was still eating when the figure emerged and she just looked for a long moment, trying to discern if she'd met the person now standing down from her facing the water. The individual was tall, strength evident in the breadth of the shoulders and the molded leather pants. Dark hair was braided tightly and rested against the strong back.
The figure turned then, and the profile was silhouetted by the moonlight. Hannah drew in a breath. The vision was a woman, and so familiar. Hannah searched her memory, trying to recall the woman's name, but nothing fell into place. The tall woman turned slowly as though searching for something.
"Excuse me, but are you lost?" Hannah called out quietly. Donovan spun on her heel. She couldn't see much of anything... a bare outline from the direction the voice had come from. The Captain didn't answer the question. She was trying to place the tender voice.
"I'm sorry," Hannah said again, "but you are trespassing on private property. Can I help you find something?"
Donovan came to herself then, and shook her head. "I beg your pardon, m'lady. I was not aware this bit of land had been claimed. If you will excuse me...." And the Captain bowed with a flourish and headed back down the beach before Hannah could recover her wits which scattered at the low, rich lilt that had rolled across her hearing when the dark woman spoke.
The blonde ran her hands through her hair in frustration. There was something so familiar in that body, that profile, that voice.... But she couldn't place it and the harder she pushed, the more elusive the memory became.
"I think I need to take a break. I have been trying so hard to solve whatever this mystery is that my brain is on overload. Tomorrow I'm gonna do nothing but relax." She looked in the direction the tall woman had retreated. "Maybe I'll go meet the new neighbor... if I can find her."
Donovan strolled back down the shoreline, a preoccupied frown etched on her face. That voice, she was sure that she'd heard it before, but there was no way to be certain without being able to see the owner. She was frustrated. The darkness had made it impossible to follow what she thought was Green Eyes' trail, even by moonlight.
She stopped suddenly. "Wait just a damn bloody minute," she cursed to herself. She turned and glanced back in the direction she'd just come from. "Do you suppose...?" She took two steps back toward that voice before jerking to a halt and shoving her hands in her pockets.
"Waitaminute, Donovan," she muttered. "You do not need to go in there scaring the young lady half to death. If you are right, she might understand. If she has been having the dreams, anyway. But if you are wrong, they will send you to the loony bin for sure." She ran one hand over her head, loosening the braid and letting her hair fly free in the breeze. "You have waited this long. Waiting until it is daylight not going to kill you."
She increased her pace until she was moving at a near run. "Maybe I will see her in my dreams tonight." That thought caused her exuberance to soar and the emotion made her almost giddy. She increased her pace and jumped into the air, doing a lazy somersault before returning her feet to the earth, then running exuberantly all the way home.
She was still smiling when she settled down to sleep.
A face slowly began to form around the loving blue eyes. Nothing clear, but a profile which was resolving itself into a familiar shape. Hannah reached up with trembling fingers and gently traced the planes of the Angel face, and sifted her hand through the free-flowing dark hair. She felt large, work-roughened hands grip her gently at the waist, and ran her other hand up the soft, strong chest to wrap in the raven tresses.
Hannah tugged gently on the head in her hands, and was delighted by the twinkle in the blue eyes reflected in the growing smile as the dark head lowered. Then those full smiling lips captured her own, and the blonde lost herself in the passion that ignited between them.
Donovan let her hands wander down from the small waist and over the shapely hips, pulling the lithe body more firmly into her own. She smiled into the kiss as the blonde began massaging her scalp, taking a firmer grip on her hair. The kiss went on interminably until the two were forced to pull away for a lack of air.
Blue and green gazed at each other for long moments, speaking words that their lips did not say. Donovan caressed a smooth cheek, smiling when Hannah closed her eyes and leaned into the touch. "You are very beautiful."
Hannah had no chance to answer the compliment, for Donovan covered her lips again and claimed them passionately. Hannah let her hands wander, loosening the ties she found on Donovan's shirt and sliding her hand inside to touch the silky skin hidden there.
Donovan pulled away from Hannah just slightly, causing a furrow to crease the blonde's brow, until she realized Donovan's intent. The Captain shrugged out of her shirt and returned to the kiss-swollen lips, untying the knot at the neck, then dropping Hannah's dress to the floor. Without breaking the kiss, Donovan lifted Hannah and encouraged her to wrap her strong legs around Donovan's waist. Then the ship's Captain walked them over and tenderly lowered them to the bed together, making their dreams reality once again.
Hannah woke up late morning wrapped around a pillow instead of the warm body she'd expected to find there and frowned. It was so real, considering how loved and sated she felt. Then she smiled. I will find you, Blue Eyes. Very soon. She stretched and swung her legs out of the bed. But first I need a shower. And then I'm gonna go meet this new neighbor I seem to have gotten.
It didn't take long. Hannah dressed in the tropical print thong she'd found shopping with Katie, and tied a sarong over her hips. Then she looked through the fridge, putting together a picnic for two from the abundance of things Jack had available. Nodding in satisfaction, she headed out the door and down the beach.
Her thoughts wandered while she walked, reviewing the dream she'd had the night before. Hannah was in quite a state by the time she'd reached the footpath, and stopped a minute just to breathe. Finally feeling herself under control again, she hefted the basket and started down the trail.
"Hello? Hello?" she called. "Is anyone here?" Hannah felt foolish. Her two previous visits had shown her there was no one here, but her logical mind dictated that the woman had to have come from here. It was the only place within reasonable walking distance from this direction. The town itself and all the locals she'd met lived on the other side of Jack's.
"Excuse me," came the lilting voice from the night before from a position high above her. "Are you lost? You are trespassing on private property."
Hannah flushed slightly, remembering these exact words falling from her lips the night before. God, I didn't realize how snotty that sounded. She looked around for the speaker and cleared her throat.
"No, I'm not lost. I'm looking for someone."
"Well, there is no one here but me." The voice was still out of sight, but Hannah detected the slightest hint of a smile in it.
"Perhaps you are the one I am seeking. Could you step out where I can see you, please?"
Donovan rose to her full height then, and stepped to the front of the roof. She'd awakened at dawn so refreshed and full of energy that she'd taken a run. When she'd gotten back to the cottage, the sun had been up, and she'd decided to check the roof. The haze on the horizon meant a storm this afternoon, and Donovan wanted everything tight and cozy before then.
Hannah stared in astonishment at the vision that stood to greet her. The woman was fierce in her presentation, backlit by the sunshine that outlined her sculpted, muscular upper body. She felt her mouth drop slightly, but couldn't seem to tear her eyes away.
Donovan had been almost finished when she'd heard the young woman's approach. She looked down at herself in disgust. She was sweating profusely, and in the rough trousers and shirtless state she'd been working in, she was in no position to receive company.
She snatched up the shirt she'd taken off early in her task, and slid it over her shoulders, leaving it untied, so her breasts were covered, but her muscled abdomen was still visible. She stepped from the eave and slid down the ladder. Donovan landed with a bit of a flourish and turned, freezing when blue eyes met green for the first time.
Hannah moved closer, reaching up a shaking hand to catch the drop of sweat rolling down the dark brow, their gazes locked and searching each other. She stroked the sensitive skin of the cheekbone, tracing the taller woman's features before sliding her fingers into the damp locks.
Donovan felt her breath catch in her throat as she realized that Green Eyes was finally flesh and blood within her grasp. She watched fascinated as Hannah made the first move to bring them together, almost groaning at the first touch of skin on skin. She forced herself to keep her eyes open while the blonde woman explored her face, unwilling to lose the reality that was becoming hers. Only when Hannah twined her fingers in the raven hair did Donovan finally allow herself to reach out and grasp the slim waist and draw Hannah firmly into her.
No words were exchanged. None were necessary in this first real physical communication between them. Donovan leaned in slowly, offering Hannah the opportunity to pull away if.... Then she felt her head being drawn down and their lips met, and everything except the reality of them melted away into nothingness for a timeless moment.
"Finally," Donovan breathed. "Finally I have you in my arms. I have dreamed of you, you know, since you were a child. I watched you grow up in my dreams." Donovan said quietly when their lips reluctantly parted. "You became my dream."
"And now, I want to make you my reality. I am going to take the time to get to know you personally... to court you the way a lady deserves to be courted. I find you to be a most beautiful woman. I want to know all about you, and I would like to take you home to meet my father and mother."
Hannah gasped slightly. "This is all so sudden. And yet, I've waited a lifetime for you."
"As I have for you, Angel. I have spent my life falling in love with you in my dreams."
"I'd like to do it for real."
"Then you'll come home with me? Meet my parents?"
"I promised Uncle Jack I would stay for the Pirates' Ball. But if you still want me when that is over... yes, I will come home with you and meet your folks. And in the meantime, we can get to know each other outside our dreams."
Blue eyes lit with uncontrolled happiness. "I think I would like that. It is something I have looked forward to for a long time."
Hannah couldn't help the grin that plastered her face. "Me too. So will you join me on a picnic for lunch?"
"Well, that depends," Donovan answered seriously as thunder rumbled ominously in the background. A cool wind followed the sound and Hannah shuddered slightly. Donovan tightened her grip slightly.
"On what?" Hannah asked curiously.
"Will you tell me your name?" The dashing grin on Donovan's face made Hannah blush, and that simply made the grin broaden. "I will go first. I am Donovan Scott."
"Well, Hannah Reilly, if you would consent to allow me a few moments to clean up, I would be delighted to join you on a picnic." The thunder rumbled ominously again. "Though we may end up having to eat it in the house."
Hannah smiled, her nose crinkling up in delight. "Well," she started, bending over to retrieve the basket she had dropped when Donovan had stood up on the roof. Donovan slipped it gallantly from her grasp, and extended an arm. Hannah took it as a matter of course and let the taller woman escort her toward the cottage door. "I think I could do that." She smiled impishly, now. "Though a little rain never hurt a body."
Donovan chuckled. "I will remind you of that while we are standing in the middle of the meadow getting soaked together."
Hannah's eyes widened at the implications and she swallowed hard. Donovan missed the expression since she'd moved slightly ahead of the smaller woman to open the door for them to enter the house.
Donovan swung the door open and gestured for Hannah to step in ahead of her. Immediately Hannah was struck by several subtle differences from her visit the previous morning. The first thing she noticed was the abundance of light that shone in the room, and the fresh air that greeted her. The absence of dust coverings was apparent, and she noted that the furniture seem almost new.
Unconsciously, she looked for the two paintings that had so captured her attention the day before, and realized that only one hung in the room now. Her brow furrowed. How very odd, she thought to herself, but found her feet moving to stand before the portrait of her and Donovan on the shore.
Donovan set the basket in the kitchen, and came back out to see Hannah mesmerized by the seascape. She walked up behind the blonde gently, and tenderly laid her hands on Hannah's shoulders.
"I did that one about two years ago," she whispered, her warm breath a caress on Hannah's ear that sent goosebumps skittering along her skin. "After the most incredible dream with you."
Hannah flushed, and knew Donovan could feel the heat. "I remember that," she mumbled, leaning back into the strong body behind her. "It was the first time we made love together in our dreams. And before we left we stood on this shore together, wrapped around one another just like this." She sighed when Donovan's hands slid around her waist and cradled her carefully. "It was so wonderful." Her face scrunched up in thought. Though I thought it was five years ago. Whatever.
"Our first real time will be even more wonderful, I promise." Donovan felt Hannah laugh, and pulled back slightly to peer into her eyes. "What?"
"I'm not sure either of us could survive it," Hannah smiled impishly, watching Donovan's smile light up her whole visage.
"Aye, but what a way to die. Now, if you will excuse me for a moment," she continued without pausing for breath, "I need to clean up before I stink up the place." She placed a light peck on Hannah's cheek. "Be right back."
Hannah heard the water running and sank into the small couch, her eyes again regarding the portrait while her hand rested on the still tingling spot that Donovan's lips had touched. "Whoo boy, I think a cold shower might do me some good too."
Hannah sank into the couch, eyes still focused on the portrait, and letting that visual carry her back to the events that had inspired its creation. That was five years ago... I *KNOW* it was. Because that was the night before my Master's graduation. She shrugged. Not that the *when* actually matters. Nothing is going to change the way that I feel or what we shared. Absently, she stroked the brocade's newness and let her thoughts drift.
A hint of cinnamon reached her nostrils and Hannah smiled in reflex. "Hello, love," she whispered, sighing in contentment as two strong arms wrapped around her from behind. "You smell nice."
Donovan chuckled and sat down, stretching an arm out in invitation. "Better than before then, yes?"
"Well, different." Hannah scooted over until they were touching, sitting side by side. Donovan curled the arm around her, and Hannah turned just slightly in the embrace. "You have a very pleasant natural scent actually, and though I will admit to being partial to the aroma of cinnamon, clean sweat does have its charm."
Donovan grinned, and not for the first time Hannah noticed the roguish sex appeal it held. "Does it now?" she asked, leaning into Hannah just slightly and feeling inordinately pleased when Hannah returned the pressure.
"Um hmm," she answered, leaning even closer and brushing her lips over Donovan's, and the Captain lost no time in returning the kiss. Her arm tightened around Hannah, and she brought her other hand up to cup the blonde woman's face. The embrace deepened, and two sets of breathing had gone ragged before they separated and looked into one another's eyes.
"We don't have to give up the kissing while we do this courting thing, do we?" Hannah asked on a breathless note. Donovan captured her lips again briefly, passionately. "I'll take that as a no," Hannah replied with a smile.
"You would be taking it rightly then," Donovan said, gently stroking the skin underneath her hand, happy when Hannah's eyes closed and she leaned into the touch. "I do not want you to think... I mean, I want to know you... um, I uh...."
Hannah laid her hands on Donovan's chest, feeling the rapid beat of her heart. "Donovan, I am touched that you want to court me. I'd like the chance to do the same... to spoil you a little. And I am looking forward to getting to now you as a person and not just a dream. But nothing, NOTHING is going to change the way that I feel about you. All right?"
Donovan read the sincerity behind the words in Hannah's eyes. "Very well," she nodded. "I just do not want you ever to feel like you are being taken advantage of." She stopped speaking as fingers covered her lips.
"I have never been taken advantage of by you. I have only been well loved." Hannah leaned forward and kissed Donovan lightly on the lips. "Now c'mon," she said, looking out an open window. "The sun is shining, and the thunder is gone, so maybe the storm passed by us. Let's go picnic."
Donovan stood and helped Hannah to her feet. Hannah looked at Donovan who stood casually in cotton trousers and shirt. The shirt had no sleeves and was tied just below her ribcage and Hannah was again impressed with the musculature she could see. "Come," Donovan said quietly, extending a hand out to Hannah.
They walked out through the kitchen, and Donovan snagged the basket Hannah had prepared. Then they walked out the back door, and for the first time, Hannah noticed the stone patio. "Oh, how lovely. I like it here."
Donovan looked around and took a deep breath. "As do I," she smiled. "This is my sanctuary. The men helped me build the basic structure, but I have been working on it every chance I get when we come here."
"How often do you come?"
Donovan shrugged. "For the past four years, a couple weeks, every six months or so. This year has been a little different. This is actually our fourth trip here."
Donovan turned and faced Hannah, and the smaller woman rested her hands lightly on Donovan's hips. The Captain smiled. "I was chasing my destiny. I had a feeling I would find you... I just had to keep trying." Hannah smiled and blushed charmingly. Donovan kissed her on the nose. "Besides, it gave me a chance to get some things done around here."
"Well, I like what you've done here. It's beautiful." Hannah looked around again. "You have very talented hands."
Donovan waggled her eyebrows. "Thank you, my dear," she said with a roguish smile.
Hannah blushed again, and slapped her arm. "Behave, you!" Donovan laughed out loud and they resumed their walk. They didn't go very far... just out of sight of the cottage. Donovan set the basket down, and Hannah retrieved the blanket she'd packed on top.
Donovan took a side and together they laid it on the ground. Then Hannah began unpacking the lunch she'd brought for them to share. The basket had been an old one she'd found at Jack's and it had been quite the challenge to figure out how some of the old-fashioned containers worked. So the first thing she did was pull everything out and set it to one side.
Donovan was investigating the contents of each of the boxes with incredible ease, Hannah noted absently, considering her own difficulty. Then she remembered that this woman had built her own house from the ground up and figured the engineering involved in a picnic basket wouldn't be terribly hard for her.
"What do we have here?" Donovan muttered as she opened the first lid. She sniffed carefully. "Fried chicken?" She looked up at Hannah. "Potatoes, hmmm... I like potatoes. And biscuits... this just keeps getting better." She took the fourth container from Hannah's hands. "You know, these are quite clever. I don't believe I have ever seen anything quite like them."
Hannah nodded her agreement, pulling an old canteen from the bottom of the basket. "Neither had I, actually, but it was all I could find at Uncle Jack's place. I guess he's not big on picnics."
"Maybe he's waiting to find someone special to share them with." She picked up the last container. "Now, what could this be?" The perplexed look did not leave Donovan's face, even when she opened the box. Cautiously she lifted it nearer her nose and inhaled. "Well, it smells pretty good... like chocolate," arching an eyebrow at Hannah. "What is it?"
"Chocolate cake." Hannah's brow furrowed when the brow remained cocked. "You've never had chocolate cake?"
Donovan shook her dark head. "I do not think so. It does not smell like anything I have ever eaten."
Hannah took the container from Donovan, and scooped up a blob of icing on her finger. She lifted the finger to Donovan's lips and waited. Donovan sniffed at it again, then shrugged and extended her tongue to cautiously taste the offering. Very tentatively she tasted the morsel she'd licked from Hannah's finger, then with a primordial growl clasped Hannah's wrist and drew the finger into her mouth, cleaning it thoroughly.
Hannah swooned and nearly fainted from the sensations Donovan was causing to cascade over her body. Donovan looked up and was treated to raw passion and desire flushing Hannah's face and making her eyes darken and glow. Donovan cleared her throat as she slipped the finger from her mouth.
"I uh... I am sorry Hannah. I... that was, um... delicious. And so was the chocolate," muttered under her breath. Hannah heard her though, and she couldn't control the flaring of her nostrils. Donovan caught the look and smiled nervously, suddenly feeling like a rabbit in a cage with a cobra, and she felt a distinct chill skitter across her skin. It wasn't an unpleasant sensation, but it was definitely different than what she was used to or expected. She cleared her throat again and inhaled a shaky breath.
"Maybe we should concentrate on eating lunch?" Donovan suggested in a questioning tone.
Hannah took a deep breath of her own and closed her eyes, willing herself to calmness. When she felt her breathing slow and her heartbeat resume a more measured tempo, she opened her eyes and stared at Donovan. "Maybe we should, because if you play with fire...."
"I know. And I would still like to know you as a person before I get branded for life." This said with a grin that twinkled in the depths of her eyes.
"Oh," Hannah replied with a mischievous smile. "You've been branded. You just don't know it yet." She smirked. "But you will. I promise you will." Hannah handed Donovan a full plate and winked. Donovan got into the spirit of the conversation.
"Guess I had better find a ring and a minister then. I need to make an honest woman out of you. Although actually...." The thought trailed off, and it wasn't until Hannah realized that Donovan was lost in thought that she picked up the thread.
"Actually what?" She lightly prodded Donovan on the leg. The Captain started and began to eat the meal in her hand.
"Oh, um, my father is a ship's captain, or he was until he retired from service. He could marry us."
"Would he, though? It's not like this is an accepted lifestyle by most people."
"I think he would. He has never wanted anything more than for me to be happy. He would understand that you make me happy. Mama on the other hand...." Donovan looked up and let her eyes meet Hannah's. "I do not know how Mama will react. She was not happy when I went to sea with Papa. And she has never been comfortable that as far as the world knows, I am a man." Hannah's eyes grew startled. "Oh, the men of my crew know, of course, as do my parents, but as far as the rest of the world is concerned, Donovan is a man. And that bothers Mama."
"What about you?"
"What about me? Even as progressive a time as we live in, I cannot do what I love to do as a woman. The Royal Navy will not allow me to serve as a Captain. So when my father retired, I became a long-lost nephew who was found to assume his title and command. I had already been serving for four years at that point."
"How do your men feel about the deception?"
Donovan smiled gently. "We all have things to hide, and we have learned to trust one another with our lives and our secrets."
"I'm glad," Hannah said. "Do you think I could meet them?"
Donovan shrugged. "I do not see why not. I need to meet up with the ship at some point to get my latest case of books off."
"Good," Hannah replied, taking Donovan's now empty plate from her and placing a thick wedge of chocolate cake on it. "Here," she added, opening the canteen. "You're gonna need this to wash it down with."
Donovan took a small sip and smiled. "Milk? I cannot remember the last time I drank milk."
"Yeah, well, it is the best thing with chocolate cake." Hannah gestured with her fork. "Dig in."
Donovan couldn't contain the moan that welled up in the back of her throat as the first taste hit her tongue. She moaned and growled in turn as she savored each and every bite, going so far as to lick her fork and plate clean. Grabbing the canteen, she chugged the milk down, delighting in its cold, clean taste. "Oh Hannah," she groaned with repletion, leaning back on her elbows and looking up at the canopy of trees surrounding them. "If I wasn't already madly in love with you, you'd have won my heart with your cooking. That was absolutely delicious."
Hannah cleared her throat. "I'm uh... glad you liked it. Would you like my piece as well?" offering Donovan the still untouched slice of cake.
"No, Angel. I am full. But thank you for offering, because it was simply wonderful."
Hannah smiled. "Tell ya what... why don't I put this away for you, and you can have it tonight?" Donovan's eyes shone in delight even as her head shook negatively.
"I could not do that, Hannah. You should have some too."
"Sweetheart, I have more at home. You take this one."
"You are sure?" Donovan questioned. She smiled in appreciation when Hannah nodded. "Thank you, Hannah." She leaned in for a kiss, a little overwhelmed by the ferocity which greeted her, but melting into the touch. The embrace went on for long moments as they explored one another. Only the suddenly nearby, utterly ominous rumble of thunder separated them.
They looked up then, and were pelted with fat, heavy drops of rain. Almost immediately, it went from shower to storm, and they snatched up the basket and blanket and made a mad dash for the cottage.
Hannah hit the stone patio running, and felt the stupidity of that decision as her feet slid right out from under her. She closed her eyes, bracing for the impact she knew was going to hurt, but it never came. Instead, she found herself caught in strong arms and cradled against a comfortable chest.
Donovan pushed the kitchen door open and stepped inside before she looked down at the warm wet body in her arms. "Careful there, Angel. That is a sure way to get hurt." Hannah nodded silently, and Donovan lowered her slowly to the floor. "Come. Let me get you a blanket, then I will light a fire and we can talk a bit til this is over."
Hannah smiled, her teeth chattering just slightly from the loss of warmth when Donovan pulled away. Almost immediately Donovan returned and wrapped Hannah in a warm woolen blanket that smelled of cedar. She briskly rubbed her arms then scooped Hannah up like she was a child.
"Ah... but... uh...." Blue eyes twinkled down at her.
"Just hold tight." And Hannah put her head down and closed her eyes, absorbing the warmth Donovan was giving off so abundantly. The taller woman gently set her precious bundle on the couch. "Do not go anywhere now," she said with a wink, moving to the fireplace and picking up her flint and striker.
It didn't take long til a brisk fire was burning and Donovan moved to the small couch to sit next to Hannah. She immediately snuggled up to Donovan, who extended an arm and pulled her closer. Hannah opened the blanket and covered them both partially. Donovan just looked down and smiled.
"There are times when dressing like a native is not always a good thing, hmm?" indicating the expanse of exposed skin on Hannah's body. She felt the unseen blush.
"No, I guess not," came the chagrined answer. "It's just so much easier. Besides," Hannah looked up and her nose crinkled as she smiled. "Who expected it to rain cold in the tropics in the middle of summer?"
"Yes, well technically solstice is not for another few days, and summer does not actually start til then."
Hannah narrowed her eyes at Donovan. "Let me guess... you do good in math too."
Broad shoulders shrugged. "I do all right, I guess. It plays into navigation and such."
"Figures," Hannah muttered. "I always hated math."
"What did you like?"
"Reading, writing... history was interesting. Science was okay, I suppose, but there was so much math intertwined with it, I never was really comfortable with it. And after the chemistry fiasco, I was excused from participating. It was safer for everyone that way."
"What happened?" from Donovan. The only people she knew who did chemistry were doctors, and Hannah did not give her that impression of lordly stuffiness. Besides, women just didn't do that sort of thing. It was considered too complex, though *that* thought made Donovan snort. She knew better.
Hannah blushed, remembering the embarrassment that disaster had caused her. "Um, too much reactive and not enough neutralizer. The uh... explosion was small, but there was a LOT of smoke. Real smelly smoke. The chem lab never smelled the same after that." She could feel the vibrations of laughter running through Donovan's body. Hannah glared up at her, then broke down and laughed. Donovan took her cue and let loose, her hearty laughter ringing like bells in the small cottage.
"I am sorry, Hannah, but that was funny. Most women I know would never TRY something like that, much less admit to failure. Although...." Her thoughts trailed off for a moment. "Depending on what you were trying to achieve, that could have been a very successful experiment."
Hannah cocked her head and thought about it. "That's true, but stink bombs weren't on the agenda."
Donovan chuckled again. "Tell me about your dreams," she said in an abrupt change of subject.
Hannah frowned slightly. "You know about my dreams. You were in them."
"Not really. For a very long time, you were only a set of beautiful, sea green eyes to me. Your face was unclear. Even your body... it wasn't until we made love for the first time that I was certain you were a woman. I suspected, of course...."
"Did it bother you... my being a woman?"
Donovan frowned now, and looked deeply into Hannah's eyes to see where the question was coming from. She cupped Hannah's face in her hands and pulled her in for a kiss. Hannah tangled her hands in the dark hair, and endeavored to draw Donovan closer to her. Only when their breathing grew ragged did Donovan ease back just slightly.
"No, I was not unhappy you were a woman. I was, um... hoping you were, actually. I knew you were out here waiting for me to find you, and I decided once I found you, we would be together, regardless." She waited a beat. "Does it bother you?" nonchalantly, but Hannah felt the heartbeat so close to hers speed up noticeably.
Hannah took a moment to look deeply into the blue orbs that had accompanied her dreams most of her life. She slid a hand out of Donovan's mane and gently traced the smoothness of her decidedly feminine face.
"When I was five years old," Hannah intoned quietly, "I dreamed of you for the very first time. All I saw was blue eyes and long dark hair, and I just assumed you were a woman." She chuckled lightly. "I thought you were a beautiful lady pirate."
Donovan smiled shakily and felt the bands of anxiety constricting her breathing ease up just a bit. Hannah's fingers brushed her lips and she kissed them tenderly.
"You were very sporadic in my dreams then, though even as a child I always looked forward to seeing you. You were a warm, friendly presence in my dreams, and I always felt loved and protected whenever I saw you." Hannah smiled wistfully. "I wrote about you in my diary every time you came." She paused for breath.
"Fifteen is such an awkward age... too old for children's games, and not yet an adult. And my life was so turbulent then. That is when my father died." Hannah stopped her stroking, and Donovan's eyes slowly opened to me hers. "Did you know about that?"
Donovan's gaze went inward as she focused her thoughts on the past. "Was your father's name Michael?"
Tears welled up in Hannah's eyes even as her head nodded affirmatively. "Yes, it was."
"I thought so. His eyes were so familiar... you have his eyes, you know."
Hannah smiled through her tears. "That's what I've always been told."
"It is true," Donovan agreed. "We did our very best for him, but it was not enough and we all knew it. He wanted to go home to say goodbye, but we found out shortly after he left us that he did not make it. I wanted so much to be able to comfort you, because I saw the sadness in your eyes."
"I saw the compassion in yours, and it was right then I think, that I fell in love with you. I decided that it didn't matter to me whether you were a man or a woman, what your nationality was, what God you believed in or what your skin color was. All that mattered to me was that you were a loving, caring individual... someone I had known since childhood, who protected me."
Hannah looked down and swallowed hard. Her voice grew so quiet that Donovan nearly didn't hear her next words. "My biggest fear was that I would never find you. My second biggest fear was that you would not love me."
Donovan smiled. "No worries about that, Angel. I was captured from the very first. Even though I was still a child as well, your eyes betrayed your youth and innocence. So I watched over you, and I waited for us both to grow up."
Donovan took a deep breath. "It seemed like it was taking forever, time was passing so slowly." She smiled wryly. "And it was not like I saw you every night. For a long time, I was not sure if I was cursed or blessed. Then we picked up Michael."
Hannah shuddered and looked up into Donovan's eyes, her own filling with tears. "What happened to him, Donovan?"
"I really cannot say, but I think the weather took him by surprise. We found him after a terrible storm. He was bleeding quite badly, and the priest, who is also our doctor, said he was malnourished and somewhat dehydrated. We did the very best we could for him, Hannah... you have to believe that."
Hannah held Donovan's gaze. "I believe you, love. I would never, ever blame you for that. There was something about this place. He was on a quest, driven by it... searching for something. I was angry with him for a long time after he died."
"He loved you very much, you know," Donovan said. "He talked about you quite a bit while he was with us."
"I know he did. But there was something about this place that called to him, and even I couldn't overcome his obsession."
"I think he was doing it for you," Donovan murmured thoughtfully, turning her gaze to the fire. Hannah sat up and pulled herself away from the Captain's warm body.
Donovan shifted slightly so she could regard Hannah directly. "We talked at some length, and more than once I got the distinct impression he was interrogating me. Almost... almost like he knew that you were the Green Eyes of my dreams." She hesitated and looked back at the flames before turning again to Hannah. "Did you ever tell your father about your dreams?"
Hannah chuckled embarrassedly. "Um, no. When I was little, I didn't understand you were real. By the time I understood that, I was almost thirteen, and that was just not something I was ready to tell him." The expression on Hannah's face grew sad. "I was thinking about talking to him that summer. I had about decided to do it when he came home." She drew a short, sobbing breath. "Then we got word of his death, and I never had the chance." Hannah tucked herself back under Donovan's chin and shivered. The taller woman wrapped her arms more securely around Hannah and kissed the top of her blonde head. "I still miss him."
Donovan almost missed the barely whispered words. "I know you do, Angel. Just remember that he loved you very much."
They were silent for a time after that, each absorbed in their own thoughts. The room grew warmer as the rain continued to pour down around them. Hannah let the blanket slide down, but made no effort to move from the heat of Donovan's embrace. As it grew darker outside, the light from the fire seemed to grow. Finally, Donovan cleared her throat to speak.
The blonde woman stirred, the peace and security she found in Donovan's arms having lulled her into a state of blissful contentment. "Hmm?" she mumbled sleepily. Donovan smiled down, rubbing her cheek against Hannah's hair.
"What do you think your father would think of us... as a couple, I mean. Would he approve... or at least be happy that you had found happiness?"
"What kinds of questions did he ask you?" Hannah asked suddenly without answering. Donovan frowned at the sudden change of subject and scrambled to kick-start her mind in a new direction.
"Uh... well, he asked a bit about my family, and we discussed my Naval career and my plans for the future." Her brow furrowed. "We talked about art and literature and education, and even a little bit about our hobbies. Almost as though...."
"Almost as though you were a suitor," Hannah finished the thought. "But...." Now her own thoughts trailed off. "I know he and Jack were searching for something out here. Even if their actions didn't prove it, Jack told me as much the other day."
"Do you know what they were looking for?" Donovan asked quietly.
"No. As a child I was never privy to anything like that. And by the time I figured out that they were searching for something, Daddy died." Hannah sighed then continued. "I just started reading the journals about their explorations, but so far it's not really clear on what specifically they were searching for. I asked Jack about it, but he refused to answer. Said I had to figure it out on my own."
"Have you? Figured it out, I mean."
"No, not really. I have some clues, but nothing that makes any sense yet." Hannah shrugged. "It'll fall into place eventually. It's just gonna take a while. But for now, I'm not gonna worry about it." She hugged Donovan hard, pleased with the fervent response she received. "I have you here and that is everything. The rest will wait."
Donovan leaned down, tilting Hannah's chin up to receive her kiss. Hannah didn't hesitate, but deepened it immediately, anxious to convey just exactly how she felt. Donovan moaned, almost overwhelmed by the depth of emotion Hannah was communicating to her soul. She responded in kind, sliding her hand into the blonde hair and pulling Hannah so close that even air couldn't pass between them.
Donovan pulled away from Hannah's mouth to plant kisses along her jaw line, Hannah's warm breath in her ear making her shiver. She reached Hannah's earlobe and bit gently, eliciting a whimper in response. "I cannot begin to tell you," Donovan said in the barest of whispers, "How truly wonderful that makes me feel." She kissed down Hannah's neck, lingering on her jugular and sucking lightly. Hannah's grip on her hair grew almost painful as the smaller woman forced Donovan's head up and captured her lips passionately.
Long moments passed before they came up for air, and still they were close enough to breathe one another's air, foreheads touching. "But I plan on showing you every single day for the rest of our lives," Donovan stated firmly and quietly.
Hannah licked her lips and gazed up into familiar blue eyes. "You'd better be planning on longer than that. This is a forever kind of thing for me, love."
The smile on Donovan's face broadened at those words until it seemed to light the whole room. "I am not sure that forever will be long enough... but it is a good start."
Hannah couldn't contain the happiness that bubbled up and she giggled. "I've spent twenty-five years dreaming about you... falling in love with you. I want to spend eternity getting to know you."
The rain had tapered off to less than a drizzle and the cloying smell of wet earth and steam rose to scent the air around them. Hannah stood and Donovan followed suit. "I need to get home... see if Jack is back yet. Will you join us for dinner tonight? Say around sunset?"
Donovan hesitated, not sure she was ready to meet this "Jack", but knowing Hannah had agreed without hesitation to travel home with her to meet her parents, she nodded solemnly.
"He may not even be back yet, but I am anxious for the two of you to meet. We were always close while I was growing up, and when Daddy died, he became like a Dad to me in a lot of ways."
Donovan cleared her throat, but her voice still cracked slightly when she spoke. "Um, do I need to prepare for another interrogation?"
"No, I don't think... I mean... um, well, he might... I mean uh, yeah, maybe.... Oh God!" Hannah dropped her now flushed face into her hands. "Yes, you should probably be prepared for a lot of questions when you meet him."
"Don't worry, though," Hannah answered the unspoken plea. "I'm not leaving your side."
"I am counting on that, Angel. I already told you." She took Hannah's smaller hands in her own. "Are you sure I cannot come with you now?"
Hannah kissed the large hands clasping her own, marveling at the strength so evident in them. "I want to go home, make something sinfully scrumptious for dinner, soak in the tub for a bit, and become beautiful for you."
Donovan smiled. "You already are beautiful for me." She pressed her fingertips to Hannah's lips to halt her speech. "But I know what you mean, and I understand the sentiment." She walked Hannah to the door. "May I keep the picnic boxes? I would like to plan an outing, but I do not have such intriguing containers."
"Sure. Would you like me to take them home and wash them first?"
Donovan rolled her eyes and smiled. "Despite popular belief to the contrary and my mother's firm confidence otherwise, I am capable of doing a few dishes." She mock glowered in Hannah's direction. "However, if you ever feel the need to share that bit of information, I will deny I ever said it and you will be walking the plank."
"You really don't think I am going to share the soft side of you with anyone, do you?" Hannah asked, ignoring the outraged look Donovan was casting her way. "I am a very selfish person... and I don't share well with others."
"Soft??? Did you just call me soft?!?"
"Yeah, I did. You wanna make something of it, tough stuff?"
Donovan stared at the fire sparking from those green eyes and smiled sheepishly, shaking her head. "No ma'am. I know when to surrender."
"Don't worry, love." Hannah said as she ran her hands through Donovan's dark hair. "I would never do anything to embarrass you."
"I know...." she reached out and swatted Hannah's backside. "Now go, before I change my mind about letting you go alone."
Hannah stood on tiptoe and pressed a swift kiss to Donovan's cheek. "See you in a few hours, love." And she rushed out the door and down the steps, turning to wave before she disappeared into the foliaged pathway.
Donovan stood at the open door for long moments after Hannah was gone. "My word, I have it bad." She shook her dark head ruefully and went back inside, deciding a hot bath was a pretty good idea, and she whistled while she prepared her water... again.
Hannah arrived home rather quickly, and went directly to start the hot water running in the tub. She'd hit another cold patch of air on the way home, and was now distinctly chilled. She took a quick look through the house, noting that there was no sign of Jack's return and letting her shoulder slump just slightly. She was truly looking forward to him and Donovan meeting one another.
She crossed to the refrigerator and pulled a couple of steaks from the small freezer. She shivered again when the cold air blasted her, and she set the packages on the tray to thaw, then moved back towards the bathroom.
Hannah sighed in relief as the warmth of the steam crept into her bones, and she quickly stripped her suit off and slid into the depths of the tub and closed her eyes. Immediately, her thoughts were filled with Donovan, and she felt the smile broaden her lips.
She didn't linger too long in the tub, though the water had cooled considerably and she was quite warm when she exited. She wrapped in a robe and walked back to the kitchen, pleased by the fact that the steaks were nearly thawed. She spiced and marinated them, then stuck them into the fridge. A glance at the clock showed her that she still had a couple hours before Donovan was due, and she decided to lay down for a bit. The events of the day were overwhelming, and she felt the need to consider everything that had happened.
She never even realized when she fell asleep.
Donovan was startled from her reverie by a loud pounding on her door, followed by Harold's youthful voice calling out to her.
"Cap'n! Captain Scott! Are you there?"
Donovan groaned, for she knew that Harold's coming to her place of refuge boded no good for her. The men respected her need for privacy in this place, and were loath to disturb her for less than a life or death emergency. She moved to the door and flung it open, towering above the young lad and causing him to become mute for a long moment.
Donovan almost chuckled at the expression on his face. Instead she schooled her features and asked gruffly. "What is it, boy?"
Harold swallowed hard and nodded, remembering the importance of his assignment. "Cap'n, Mr. Merryweather sent me to fetch you, sir. One of the merchant ships, that's been robbin' these folks blind, just pulled into port, sir."
Damn! Damn! Damn! Why here? And why now? Donovan banged her head on the door sill, letting it rest there for a long moment. "Come in, Harold," she stated as she walked to the kitchen and moved the water off the stove. "I need you to do something for me."
The boy followed her, trying to be discreet as he studied his surroundings. His Captain was a very private woman, and none of the crew had been out here since the day they had helped her to raise the walls. He waited with his hands stuffed in his pockets while she retrieved a thick sheet of paper, ink and a quill.
Harold stood at the doorway between the kitchen and living area, and found his attention riveted to the portrait on the wall. He recognized the Captain and wondered briefly who the other woman was, and if she was the reason they had been back to the island so much lately. Not that he was complaining, he thought with a smirk. He had met the cutest girl here and had been looking for an opportunity to get to know her a little bit. Harold sighed soundlessly. This turn of events would put all kinds of damper on the plans he had been making in that regard.
He was brought out of his thoughts and back to rigid attention when Donovan rose from the table and
stopped in front of him. "Come with me."
She walked with him to the end of the pathway, and took out her knife, cutting a few of the lovely wildflowers that grew there. She handed the bunch of them and the paper to the cabin boy and caught his eyes with a piercing stare.
"If you follow the coast for about a mile to the west, you will find a house there." She gestured in the direction he needed to go. "I need you to take this note and these flowers, and deliver them to the woman who lives there. You do not have to say anything to her, just make sure she gets them, all right?"
There were a thousand questions he wanted to ask. He knew better than to give them voice, and simply nodded his acceptance of her statement instead.
"Good lad. This is important." She looked off in the direction that her heart was pulling her, angry that she had to give up her evening with Hannah because of someone else's greed. Donovan closed her eyes and swallowed hard. When she reopened them, Harold noted the sky blue had been replaced with colorless gray and he knew he was now looking at the Ice Princess. It was something the merchants they preyed upon as pirates had nicknamed Donovan when confronted with her cold-hearted fury towards them. It was an apt description.
He brought his attention back to her words when she began speaking again. He knew for all her fairness to her officers and men, she could not abide slovenly work or ineptitude.
"I will take your horse and go to the ship immediately. As soon as you have completed your task, you make all haste on foot to join us. If we are not there, wait on the dock. I do not expect this to take too long. I have better things to be doing with my time tonight."
"Captain?" Harold questioned hesitantly.
"Go boy, and be quick!"
"Aye, sir!" the youth answered with a smart salute, and took off running down the beach as fast as his legs would carry him. Donovan sighed, and moved back in the house to change into her 'other' uniform.
Hannah awoke with a start, disoriented, heart pounding. It took a few minutes for her to get her bearings and catch her breath. She wondered briefly at the flashes of image that remained from her dream. Nothing concrete, but oddly terrifying nonetheless. She could still feel the violence... smell the coopery scent of blood... feel the anger and adrenaline.... The memory coaxed a shiver from her body and she rubbed her face with her hands.
"Ugh," she mumbled to herself. "That was bizarre." She looked around the room, suddenly noticing that it was nearly dark outside. "Oh God... I overslept. What is Donovan gonna think?"
She stumbled out of the bedroom looking for any sign that Donovan was waiting for her. She flipped on the lights, noting to her dismay that they didn't respond. "Dammit!" she muttered. Hannah nixed the dress she had planned to wear and slipped into a pair of comfortable shorts and a long silk shirt she left untucked. Then she set out to find some sort of lighting.
Finally, after ten minutes worth of mutterings and cursings, Hannah managed to find a single kerosene lantern and a handful of candles. She stepped out onto the patio, realizing that there'd been another storm while she'd been sleeping and wondering vaguely if that had been what had given her such disturbing dreams. She shook her head, and moved to the woodshed for some wood to stoke the barbeque pit Jack had built. It would suit her needs admirably this evening.
Hannah looked at the sky again, wondering what was keeping Donovan, though she understood it was very likely the other woman had fallen asleep and overslept herself. The power outage tended to throw everyone's timing off.
She built a small fire in the pit and left it to burn while she went back into the house to finish her preparations. "Ya know," she muttered to herself, "You'd think that a man would have at least one flashlight in the house." She set the lantern on the counter and snagged a couple potatoes from the bin, cleaning them and wrapping them in foil with butter, salt and pepper.
She took the steaks and the potatoes and juggled them and the lantern as she eased back outside to the grill. With a glance she saw that the fire was still burning, and Hannah set the potatoes on the back away from the flame. She placed the steaks to one side wanting to wait until Donovan arrived before starting them.
Hannah sat back as the stars began to come out and the moon began to create its own path on the water. After a bit, her eyes followed its path into the yard and she noticed a lump that hadn't been there previously. Curiosity got the better of her and with a glance at the now glowing embers, she grabbed the lantern and moved down the pathway towards the spot.
Her breath caught when she noticed it was a bouquet of wildflowers carefully placed in the center of the path. She brought them to her nose and sniffed, a smile crossing her face. I guess she came and when she didn't get an answer left these for me to find. A frown crossed her face then. Wonder why she didn't leave them on the porch?
She looked back at the barbeque pit and then in the direction of Donovan's cottage, and gave in to the longing to go find the woman.
The cottage was dark when Hannah approached and her frown deepened. She knocked but the only reply she received was silence. She walked around the small house, assuring herself that Donovan was nowhere around. Hannah was torn between anger and concern.
Finally, frustrated at herself, at Donovan, at whatever had happened, she turned and made her way back down the beach to Jack's place.
When she got back to the beach house, she removed the now cooked potatoes from the grill and placed the steaks on to cook. Hannah wasn't really hungry, but she didn't see the point in letting the stuff go to waste. She stepped inside and set the potatoes on the counter, seeing that the power had come back on in the interim.
"Good. I'm glad something is finally working right this evening."
Hannah finished cooking up the steaks and scattered the embers to allow them to cool faster while she put the steaks in the house. She walked back out onto the patio, allowing the breeze to riffle through her hair and breathing deeply of the fresh, salty air.
She blew out the lantern and retrieved the wine and a single goblet. She poured a half a glass and sat back listening to the waves rush to the shore. She watched the moon extend its path into the sea as she sipped at the wine. She never felt her eyes slide shut, and she never saw the figure that stood in front of her like a specter hours later.
It was unnerving when she woke up in her own bed at daybreak the following morning.