Disclaimer: This is a story in progress. Sections will be posted as they are finalized. I have done research on this time frame and the political climate. While I tried to stay true to some of the historical trappings, I took liberties with MANY things. It is fiction first. I apologize to any history buffs and to the people of Spain and France for my lack of knowledge. When I get paid to write these things, I promise to get it exact, but until then, I have a day job and not enough time or money to hire a research assistant.
Copyright This is an alternative uber tale. No copyright infringement is intended. This is not to be used for profit.
Subtext and Sex- Yes and yes. If the idea of two women loving each other is not your cup of tea; go get a glass of milk and skip this. If you are under the age of 18 years of age or this type of story is illegal in your state or country, please do not read it.
Violence and Language There are scenes of fighting. The language is pretty mild.
Credits: This story line is completely my own, but the poem that is found as a journal entry in Section Three is by a very talented poet. I inquired if she would lend her beautiful words to this story and she accepted. I cannot tell you how honored and grateful I am. Thank you Renotta. Your poetry is always a source of inspiration.
Dedication: This is for my twin sister. She has been a constant source of inspiration and encouragement and like me, is a huge romantic. Youre amazing.
Thank You: Big hugs to Cindy at ForevaXena, Jude, and Tracey for beta reading and for your words of encouragement. Kisses to the ex-Guards for all the wonderful feedback and for giving me a home in your talented community. A big thank you to Mary D for the Xippys on "Written in My Days" and "My Cup of Tea". Im a beginning writer and these awards have encouraged my to write on.
By the time the Royal carriage found its way to the Villa of Cordoba, it was late in the afternoon. Two of the courageous Frenchmen lost their battle with life on the way to see the Spanish doctor and three others were left behind for treatment. Luc was grateful for the assistance of the doctor, who promised to do all he could for the injured and send word of their prognosis to the villa.
As the carriage came to a stop, Danielle pulled open the curtains for a closer look. The grounds were immaculate and the villa itself beautiful. Fountains that spewed single streams of water cascading high into the air framed a long walkway, surrounded on either side by rows of pink and yellow roses. It was truly a remarkable site. The villa itself was a long two-story structure that was covered in a white textured exterior. Balconies enclosed the entire second floor. Luscious green trees accented the sprawling estate and magnificent arched doorways gave the villa an open and airy appearance.
"This is beautiful mother," Danielle said, as Luc appeared to help the ladies out of the carriage.
The noise of the entourage brought forth a stream of activity from inside the villa. A woman a little older then Danielles mother was the first to step up and greet them. High cheekbones and a strong jaw set off her dark skin and graying long dark hair.
"Welcome to my home your majesty. My name is Rosalinda Cordoba," The Spanish woman curtsied.
"Thank you Mrs. Cordoba," the queen began.
"Please call me Rosa your majesty. Everyone does."
"In that case you must call me Catherine, this is my daughter Danielle and our Captain of the Guard, Luc," The queen added.
The elder Spanish woman lifted her head up and smiled in Danielles direction.
"Such a pleasure to meet you Danielle."
"You are too kind, the pleasure is all mine," Danielle said.
Luc stepped forward, bowing and taking Rosas hand in his, he placed a small kiss on the back of her hand.
"Captain," Rosa said acknowledging him. "We are honored to have you as our guests."
Rosa motioned them to follow her.
"I heard of your troubles on the road, Captain," Rosa said leading the group up the walkway, past a line of attentive Spanish staff. "I will do everything in my power to see those men are brought to justice."
Turning away from the Captain, Rosa cheerfully addressed the rest of her guests. "You must be exhausted from your travels. Anything at all you need, please ask and I will see it is taken care of. My staff will show you to your rooms. We have a wonderful meal planned for you this evening and some merriment, Spanish-style, that will be sure to lift your spirits." Rosa said, winking at Danielle.
As the Princess stepped through the arched doorway her eyes fell upon the man descending the staircase. He was handsome and tall. Danielle caught a glimpse of blue eyes that carried a hint of something familiar.
"Ah, Fredrick," Rosa began, excited to see her son. "I want you to meet the Queen of France and her beautiful daughter Danielle."
Danielles heart started to race. She needed a closer look at those eyes.
Fredrick stepped forward, bowing to the Queen and Princess. He lifted Danielles hand and placed a small kiss on it.
"A pleasure to meet you Princess. Welcome to Spain," Fredrick said as he looked up into green eyes of the Princess.
Danielle said nothing and stood staring at the blue eyes in front of her.
"Everything okay Princess?" Fredrick inquired feeling a little uneasy at the look that seemed to be measuring him.
"What . . . um . . . yes, thank you. Everything is fine. Im just a little tired Im afraid. Its very nice to meet you also, Fredrick."
Fredrick stepped back slightly.
"There will be plenty of time for you two to get acquainted later. You need some rest now," Rosa said.
"Until later, Danielle," Fredrick said.
"Yes, later then," Danielle said, still searching his eyes.
The Princess sat in her room mulling over the event that had just transpired. Fredrick was handsome; there was no doubt about that. She knew shed been staring at him but she couldnt help herself. His eyes were so close to her dream, yet there was something missing that she couldnt put her finger on.
I thought I would know the instant I saw you! Danielle was thinking to herself. Is it possible you are the one? Am I looking too hard? Danielle put her hands in her head, swallowing hard.
Danielle decided to take a walk to clear her mind. She was getting too caught up in her dreams. I just need to take it step by step and settle down. Danielle thought to herself. She was trying to talk herself out of the self-imposed panic attack she was on the verge of having. Some fresh air would surely snap her out of the state she was in.
Walking down the stairs and out of the back entrance, Danielle found herself in a sprawling garden. Rose bushes covered black wrought-iron fencing. The gardens were lush with flowers and flowering trees. She knelt down to smell the aroma of the over-sized rose blossoms. Closing her eyes, Danielle drew in a long, deep breath.
Suddenly startled, Danielles eyes snapped open from the feeling of a cold wet tongue sliding across her cheek.
"Well, if it isnt the courageous little dog from earlier today?" Danielle said as she placed both her hands behind the spotted ears and scratched gently. "Im so happy to see you again, little one."
"Cora!" a strong voice called from behind Danielle. "Im so sorry for that señorita, she doesnt usually warm up to strangers that fast."
"Thats quite okay, were not strangers, weve met before. Today in fact," Danielle said still petting the cute dog that gave her another quick lick.
Danielles eyes left Cora, looking up at the figure now standing before her. Her heart stopped.
"Its you," was all Danielle could say. Her mind was moving in a million directions. The eyes she looked up into were exactly the ones shed seen so many nights in her dreams. This was not at all what she expected. Her mouth was dry and her head was swimming. The eyes belonged to a woman. This woman, God help her, was breathtakingly beautiful and like no other woman shed seen before.
Danielle tried to stand and fell square on her behind. Her trembling legs were too weak for the attempt.
"Are you okay? Do you need help?" Maria asked with concern as she brought her hand down to help the woman up.
"No . . . I mean yes, God Im so clumsy." Danielle said. Reaching for the hand extended to her, Danielle grabbed hold and was lifted effortlessly by the strong arm. Still feeling weak in the knees, Danielle fell helplessly into the beautiful woman as she tried to stand.
Maria caught her, one hand on her waist and one on her shoulder.
"Ive got you. You okay now?" Maria asked, holding the young woman out at arms length.
Their eyes meet and for the first time Maria saw the magical green orbs that visited her at night in her dreams. Both women were lost in a questioning gaze. Blinking her eyes, Maria shook her head slightly trying to focus. She forgot that the women in her arms had not answered her last question.
"What . . . what did you mean by, its you?" Maria asked at last, very slowly.
Neither woman was quick to break from the touch. Their eyes were locked on each other. Maria thought she saw a blush forming on the attractive face she was mesmerized by.
"I . . . I . . . I simply meant that it was you who helped us against those bandits today. It was you wasnt it?" Danielle asked through dry lips.
"Yes, it was me, but . . ."
"Maria!" a jubilant voice called out.
The women stepped away from each other and turned to see Rosa coming toward them.
"You have met the Princess of France?" Rosa questioned, assuming because of their close proximity that they had been introduced.
"Not not formally mother," Marias breath caught in her throat for a second as she realized that this was the woman that was meant for her brother!
"Well, let me do the honors then." Rosa said. "Danielle, Princess of France, meet my daughter, Maria."
"Princess," Maria said as she removed her hat and bowed before royalty. Her mind was racing along with her heart.
"Please dont do that, and call me Danielle. Everyone does," Danielle said winking at Rosa, trying to ease her nerves. Rosa winked back, recognizing that the Princess had stolen her line from earlier.
"Very well . . . Danielle." Maria said standing and looking into the eyes she had fantasized about.
The smile on Danielles face melted away as she felt her own name burn like kerosene on a path from her ears to her heart. Like a flickering flame that kept the same beat as her heart, the burn intensified. True she had heard her name many times, but not like this. Her heart had been waiting to fall and in an instant everything she thought she knew to be true about love was shattered. This was uninvited.
"Mother . . . Im sure you need help with this evenings preparations." Maria said, snapping her head to look over at Rosa. Shed been staring at the Princess a little too long. The silence unnerved her, making her feel uncomfortable and exposed. "Ill follow you in and give you a hand."
"Thank you Maria! That would be most appreciated," Rosa smiled, and headed back inside the villa.
Safely away from the eyes of her daughter and the Princess, Rosas smile turned to a look of concern. She sensed something new in her daughter. Maria was flustered for lack of a better word and that was something shed never seen before. What had her daughter just said? Let me help you with preparations? No, this was not her daughter.
Sweet Mother of Mary, Rosa prayed to herself, please tell me what I just saw has nothing to do with love?
"Youll excuse me, Princess . . . I mean Danielle?" Maria backed away slowly, stumbling over her own feet. She finally turned, picking up the pace to follow her mother.
Cora tilted her head in a lop-sided glare, looking at her masters miss-steps. Even Cora recognized a difference in her. Cora glanced back at her new friend and flopped her head to the other side. The dog let out a soft whimper and trotted toward the villa.
Lost in her own thoughts, Danielle watched the dog scamper away. She understood exactly what Luc had meant earlier about Marias looks. She had her mothers coloring, cheekbones and strong jaw, but she stood many hands taller than the older woman did. There was nothing at all frail about her. Her shoulders were at least as wide as her brothers and her beauty; well, Danielle couldnt begin to describe that, accept to say she was stunning.
Whats happening to me? I shouldnt be feeling like this, Danielle cursed herself for the emotions she couldnt stop. Inwardly she groaned and headed back inside to dress for the evening hoping she would live through it.
The Queen and Danielle were escorted into the dining area. The table was lavishly set. Hand woven baskets held flower arrangements that combined the prettiest roses with multi-colored fruits. Large, oversized candles were placed on top of a red velvet cloth, centered down a long wooden table.
Platters of exotic food were staggered down the table. The smell was a mixture of spicy and sweet and filled the room with its aroma.
Fredrick greeted the woman as they entered. He extended his elbow up and as custom, Danielle placed her hand lightly on top of his outstretched arm. Fredrick held Danielles chair and helped her to her seat. Luc did the same for the Queen, placing her to the left of the Princess.
Danielle looked across the table and saw Maria, who returned her gaze steadily. Maria was dressed in a black silk blouse. Black looped braids fastened the buttons on the shirt. The top two buttons were left open exposing tanned skin. Her hair hung loosely down her back. Marias hands were resting in her lap but Danielle could still make out the strong muscles of her biceps that clung to the silk shirtsleeves.
Fredrick moved to seat his mother and then returned to sit to the right of Danielle.
Courtly conversation was supposedly one of the ten arts shed mastered as a French Princess, but right now Danielles voice was silent. Maria was looking at her and the intensity of that burned brighter than the golden candle in front of her and blinded her to anything or anyone else in the room.
Rosa silently watched the exchange and decided to get the conversation started. "Tell me Catherine, are your accommodations to your suiting?"
"Oh yes, Rosa. Everything here is lovely. I must compliment you and your staff. This dinner looks exquisite. Doesnt it Danielle?" Catherine smiled looking lovingly over at her daughter whose attention was drawn away from the conversation.
"Danielle?" Catherine said softly. When she didnt reply, Catherine gently took her laced-boot and stepped on Danielles foot underneath the table.
"Whats that?" Danielle said, slowly turning her head to look at her mother.
"I said this dinner looks exquisite," Catherine smiled.
"Oh yes mother, absolutely mouth-watering," Danielle agreed as her eyes went back across the table to the woman on the other side.
This time it was Marias turn to blush. Whether or not it was intentional, the Princesses remark struck Maria as referring to something totally other than food.
Tell me I did not just turn red, Maria was thinking to herself. Shes staring at me a little too intently. God please let this be nothing more than an intrigue for her.
Maria needed to believe that the attraction she was feeling was nothing more than a game for the princess. God, help her if it was real. She couldnt allow herself to want for anything more than friendship. This was the woman whom her brother was to marry. Maria chastised herself for allowing her heart to over-ride her head. Her brothers happiness must come first.
Maria bit her lip hard, determined to get the upper hand in this situation. She pulled her gaze away and looked over to her brother.
"Danielle, did you know that Fredrick is a master swordsman?" Maria began as she smiled lovingly at her brother.
"Really, it must run in the family," Danielle replied. "Luc tells me your moves today rivaled the best in the French army."
"Im confident of that," Fredrick interrupted. "Maria is by far the better skilled. In fact, she has taught me much of what I know."
So much for moving the attention back to my brother, Maria thought and ground her teeth in frustration. She decided to keep quiet.
Fredrick turned to the princess and began telling her stories about Maria and their childhood together. Danielle gave him her full attention. She was after all, extremely interested in this mans sister.
Upon seeing the warm exchange between her son and the princess, Rosa relaxed a little. They seemed be enjoying each others company.
Throughout the remainder of dinner, Rosa and Catherine talked about their children, while Danielle and Fredrick smiled and laughed with each other. Maria exchanged stories of war with Luc and whenever possible stole glances of Danielle. Maria noticed that Danielle was living up to her reputation. The young woman was eating more than most of the other guests, yet weighed the least. She loved the young womans smile and her laughter was almost contagious. Her long blonde hair looked pretty arranged in a braid, and her green eyes seemed caring and vibrant.
Marias mind was questioning her heart. She didnt seem the type that would play with someones affections. Maria let out a deep breath as her thinking continued. Why did it have to be this woman that my heart is opening up to?
At least I have you, Maria thought, looking down to pet her faithful companion that always sat next to her while she ate. This time however, Cora was missing. Maria looked around the room and became a little concerned. A movement from the princess caught her attention.
Maria watched intently, as Danielle talked with Fredrick. Every so often, her left hand would disappear under the table. Maria was pretty sure that something was cupped in her hand, and each time it reappeared, the hand was empty.
Slowly bending down, Maria peeked underneath the table. Cora was just taking another morsel from the small fingers. Cora saw movement and looked over at her master as she greedy gulped down the food. Cora titled her head to the side, looking over at squinting eyes. I see shes won you over too, Maria thought as she rolled her eyes and sat up.
Danielle saw Maria sit back in her chair. She looked across and smiled at her, slightly raising her shoulders and lifting her eyebrow in an apologetic motion. She mouthed a silent sorry. Maria couldnt help but smile back and shake her head.
As dinner finished, Danielle and Catherine thanked their hosts for a wonderful dinner. Rosa announced that the evenings festivities would continue in the patio garden.
The entire dinner party moved in a long line through the dining room.
Fredrick escorted Danielle through the arched doorway to the patio. Numerous torches illuminated the area. Colorful paper decorations hung from threads, swaying in the breeze.
Music filled Danielles ears. It was vibrant and passionate and cut through her like a knife. The guitars were not plucked, but strummed. Spanish women dressed in black and red dresses danced to the beat. Their black thick-heeled shoes stomped out every note. Their tightly hung skirts flared at the bottom and swayed as their arms waved seductively through the moist nighttime air. An unfamiliar instrument to Danielle was clicking in their hands. Danielles heart was beating in unison with the music. Absorbed in the rhythms, Danielle closed her eyes.
Fredrick leaned down and whispered into her ear. "Does this music suit you señorita?"
"Its magnificent," Danielle said as she slowly opened her eyes and smiled.
Maria was standing across the patio, watching the interaction. Her brother seemed happy and showed signs of true enjoyment. She watched his lips move close to Danielles ear and whisper something. The ache in her heart grew stronger. This was a torture she had never planned on. Her body was darkened in pain but her eyes were bathed in light the light of the smile that formed on Danielles lips sung to her soul.
The music suddenly changed. The tempo was more rhythmic and the beats more pronounced. The tones resonated strong and sultry.
"What is this Fredrick?" Danielle asked.
"This Danielle is music to Tango to," Fredrick replied. "Do you know about the dance called the Tango?"
"Im afraid not," Danielle said.
"Well, Danielle," Fredrick drew closer. "Maria is magnificent at it. Lets see if we can talk her into showing you how the Tango is done."
"Maria!" Fredrick shouted over the music. "The princess would like to see how the Tango is danced. Please dance for us. You are the most talented dancer among us."
Maria saw the look of honest pleasure in her brothers eyes. His request was innocent, but Maria didnt feel much like dancing this evening. She hesitated to answer.
"Come on Maria, you must show our guests the proper way to Tango," Fredrick pleaded, smiling at his older sister and waving his hand motioning her out of the shadows and onto the dance floor. Everyone joined in with words of encouragement.
All eyes were on her. Maria walked to edge of the dance floor. One of the young Spanish dancers came to her side.
"Isabel is a hired dancer. Maria taught her the Tango," Fredrick said softly to Danielle. "They will show you the Tango at its best. Watch closely Danielle."
Danielle swallowed hard. Watching closely wouldnt be a problem as far as she was concerned.
Maria and the young woman walked to the center of the floor. The woman stood in front of Maria, her back pressed against Marias chest. Maria brought her hand down and rested it flatly against Isabels stomach. Her other hand held Isabels hand.
Danielles breathing changed immediately. She sat as silent as possible but noticed her chest rising quicker.
The motion that started the dance was quick. Maria whirled Isabel in a quick turn, bringing her around 180 degrees. Their faces were inches from one another.
Danielle wasnt sure if it was the wine, the spicy food or the humid night air that was causing her to feel hot. She felt a small drop of perspiration roll down her back.
The dancing continued. Marias hand was on the hollow of the other womans back. Hidden in its soft spot. The steps were wide and exaggerated and the two women were hardly ever more than inches from one another. The dance was cheek to cheek and legs intertwined. Many times during the dance, Maria reached her hand around Isabels back pulling her closer to the beat of the music. It was the most seductive dance Danielle had ever seen.
Danielle felt weak, almost faint. Everything disappeared. Her eyes were focused on Maria, whose skin glistened as her hair whipped back and forth in rhythm of the steps. Marias tight black pants clung to her thighs. Danielle closed her eyes lost in the music and her own dreams. She saw Marias eyes inches from her face and fantasized that it was she in Marias arms. A moan escaped her lips as the music came to an end.
Danielles eyes popped open and immediately came to rest on the blue eyes of Maria who was holding the young dancer in her arms. Everyone was clapping. Fredrick walked out to thank his sister for the beautiful display of the Tango. Danielle sat still. A small tear fell from her eye. She longed to feel Marias strong arms hold her and the realization of that overwhelmed her. She was helpless to this desire and it frightened her.
To Be Continued....Return to Main Page