Rock of Ages Past--

Part 13

Copyright(c)(1999-2000) Elaine L. Becker

All Rights Reserved

DISCLAIMER: This story is an original creation and any resemblance to any persons, living or dead, real or fictional are unintentional. Any words to any songs or any poetry used in this story are attributed to their original artists in the story itself. Television and/or radio programs that are referred to in the story are not to my knowledge, real program content, but created by me solely for use in this story.

This story is about two women in love and may contain language or sexual scenes unsuitable for children or others who are easily offended by material of this nature. This is a story about same gender relationships. If you have a problem with same gender relationships, you should probably see your therapist. Hate is an illness that love can cure.

Comments or suggestions should be sent to:

Finian sat at her desk, sipping on her first cup of coffee. She had to get to work on fleshing out her class outlines for at least the first couple of weeks. The class started next Tuesday and she wanted to have everything in order so she could relax and not have to rush at the last minute. Thankfully, summer classes were only two hours long and only twice a week so she would have plenty of time to prepare for the next four weeks of classes once the course started. Being two weeks ahead when the course started also gave her time to get to know the people in the class and set up the field trip.

The phone call she had not answered yesterday afternoon had been Mr. Macintosh, okaying her request to take the students on a day trip to Mystery Hill.

'It's been a while since I've been there,' she mused as she fit the date for the trip into her class schedule.

The tall, dark-haired woman let her mind trail off, remembering the last time she had been to the Hill. She had found the small, freshly cut branch of apple blossoms lying on the ground behind the large Beltaine stone. That same little twig was again covered with little white flowers, after the first flowers that were on it when she found it, turned brown and fell off, leaving just a stick.

Finian couldn't bring herself to throw the little stick away, so had left it sitting in the small vase of water. She was surprised when the other day, she noticed the little dried stick had started sprouting new growth and this morning it had been covered with new little white flowers, filling her bedroom with the light scent of apple blossoms.

She shook her head as she pushed her chair back away from the computer and grabbed her empty coffee cup. She was beginning to believe that there wasn't much left that could surprise her after the things she had learned and experienced over the past several weeks.

As she walked to the kitchen, Finian thought back to yesterday evening. She felt a momentary pang of regret when she remembered the reason for the small ritual she had performed, but it was quickly replaced by a sense of knowing that she had reached Caer.

Even as a sense of solace settled over her, her mind, so use to being logical and questioning, wondered whether the blond, green-eyed woman would understand the message she had sent.

Finian glanced over at the calendar as she entered the brightly-lit kitchen and noticed the answering machine flashing. She filled her cup and walked to the breakfast bar. She peered at the calendar as she reached to push the play button.

'June second and a new moon,' the tall woman said to herself as a voice began to speak into the room.

"Hey, Fin, it's been days since we've heard a word from you. I know you said you were going to be busy, but Bobbi and I think that maybe it's time for you to come down for coffee and/or up for air." Finian's sky-blue eyes crinkled slightly at the corners as her mouth turned up into a smile at the sound of her friend's voice.

"So. . .why don't you give me a call at work and let me know what time you'll be down? Okay?" Suddenly she noticed a change in the jovial, faceless voice, as it became lower and filled with emotion.

"And, Fin. . .I really need to know that you're okay. Please come."

The tall, woman sat on one of the barstools and took a sip of her coffee. She glanced up at the wall again, to the calendar. While she was listening to Michelle's voice, she had noticed the picture of a bright, red rose on the calendar page, along with several other pictures portraying various bits of trivia and myths, that, over the ages had come to be associated with the month of June.

Finian peered closer at the calendar, trying to read the small print under the small rose. 'Once thought sacred to the Goddess, in Celtic tradition, the red rose signifies lovers, being the color of the heart's blood. The giving of a blood red rose, is in essence, the giving of one's heart. Roses are traditional for the month of June, as it is the month for weddings and the giving of hearts.'

As she leaned back and reached for her coffee cup, she knew what she was going to do. She reached for the telephone and dialed Michelle's home number, hoping that Bobbi was at work. She didn't want to spend time in a conversation with anyone at the moment. She would go to Mich and Bobbi's for coffee tonight and would leave a message on their home machine letting them know. Bobbi got home early from work on most days and would call Michelle and let her know. She would make up for it later.

Finian slid the Ranger easily into the parking space in the almost empty parking lot. She reached over and grabbed her backpack off the floor and with her other hand, opened her door and stepped out into the light drizzle. She easily slipped the pack over her broad shoulders and settled it comfortably on her strong back.

'I've always had a 'thing' for nice backs,' she thought as she felt the weight of the pack, settle upon her with no discomfort. She felt her cheeks redden, although she was completely alone, as she caught herself wondering if Caer had a nice back and imagined herself running long-fingered hands down a small, nicely muscled back.

"Ouch!" The tall woman yelped, bumping her head on the roof of the car as she pulled her hand abruptly away, as if she had been bit. She quickly glanced at her hand and seeing nothing there, reached back, slower this time, noticing how her finger was beginning to ache.

She quickly transferred the small, red rose to her right hand and stuck her now bleeding finger into her mouth and backed out of the vehicle.

"Damn, that's why I bought a bigger vehicle," she mumbled around the finger in her mouth.

'Well, you didn't plan on getting pricked by a rose thorn in it, now did you?' she asked herself as she looked at the small, tightly wrapped rosebud she held carefully in her right hand. 'Thank goodness for padded ceilings,' she thought as she removed her finger from her mouth and examined it.

The small puncture wound near the top of her left ring finger still bled profusely. She couldn't see where the thorn had entered the skin but knew that it had gone in deep.

The tall woman wondered at that for a moment as she examined the stem of the young rose. The only thorns she could find were tiny little things that wouldn't even cause much of a scratch. How had she suffered such a deep puncture? She could find no evidence anywhere on the stem where a larger thorn may have been and gotten knocked off when she pulled her hand back from it.

She watched her finger dripping blood and started to lean forward to place the rosebud on the seat of the Ranger so she could get a bandage out of her backpack. As she reached the hand that held the rose out toward the car, she felt something lightly, but insistently circle her wrist and stop her movement.

Finian felt a small rush of air as it tickled her ear and heard the words, "Anoint the rose with the honor of your heart."

The pressure on her wrist faded away as she drew her right hand to her breast, gently cradling the young rose. She lifted her left hand until it was positioned just slightly about the flower and pointed her ring finger down toward the red bud, watching, as a single drop of blood fell into the center, becoming one with the blood-red color of the rose.

"My heart has been and always will be, yours, Caer. With this rose, I give you my love and my life, eternal."

As she whispered the words to the rose in her hand, the blue-eyed woman flashed back to the small branch of apple blossoms that bloomed in her bedroom.

'Immortality of the soul,' she thought, remembering the ancient belief associated with the apple tree.

Finian flashed her pass at the woman behind the counter, who gave her a smile of recognition, as she walked by. 'Funny,' she thought as she made her way through the opening in the chain link fence and head toward the stone where she had found the apple blossoms, 'That woman has worked here for years and I don't even know her first name.'

The dark-haired woman made her away along the path until she came to the once standing stone, that now lay on it's side. She stood in the light drizzle, looking at the huge piece of granite that an unknown people had somehow gotten here and erected, to chart the heavens in a time long past.

She didn't feel or see anything unusual about the stone as she stood examining the rough, granite embedded with tiny pieces of quartz and mica. Tentatively, Finian reached out her hand slowly, watching her fingers as she did so, and touched the cold, hard stone. She slid her hand across the surface of the stone, half expecting her hand to disappear. Nothing happened.

Her mind began to question her experiences of the past few weeks. 'Maybe it really hasn't been anything more than dreams and stress. What if Michelle was right and this whole thing is nothing more than my subconscious forcing me to come to terms with my sexuality?'

Finian stepped back from the stone and the light scent of roses touched her nose. She looked down to where she still held the tight little bud in her right hand. The intoxicating scent that began to fill her chased away her feelings of doubt.

"The apple blossoms were real," she said aloud as she stepped around to the back of the fallen monolith. "Are real," she corrected herself as she crouched to the spot where she had found the twig.

Finian looked at the ground in front of her, where she remembered finding the twig. She noticed a small indentation under the large stone, just behind where she had found it. As she crouched lower to get a better look at what appeared to be a small cavity under the stone, she thought she heard a humming coming from within the cavity. It was so faint that Finian had to practically put her ear on the ground to hear it.

Deciding not to question it nor to explore it's origins any further, the tall, dark-haired woman sat back on her heels, and after touching her lips to the tip of the rosebud, laid it gently on the ground near the small opening.

Straightening her long legs, Finian got to her feet and placed her hand upon the large stone, closing her eyes. She was momentarily grateful for the density she felt as her hand came into contact with the granite.

With her eyes still closed, Finian began to softly sing the words of the song she had sung last night. Slowly, a picture of the flaxen haired, green-eyed woman appeared in her mind. As, she continued singing, she envisioned the woman picking the rose from a bush and bringing it to her nose.

"So Mote It Be," Finian heard herself saying aloud as she opened her eyes and let her hand fall to her side.

Finian stopped at the bakery on her way home and bought a Double Fudge Chocolate cake. 'My peace offering,' she grinned as she reached over to pick up the cake from the passenger seat and slid her lithe body easily from the large truck.

As she walked across the lobby to the elevator, Finian glanced down at her watch. She saw that it was three thirty as she stepped into the car. 'Bobbi should be getting home soon,' she thought as she noticed another body at the back of the car.

"Hey there, stranger," she heard as she raised her head and looked around into hazel eyes.

"Bobbi. Hi," she smiled at her best friend's partner. "I was just going to call you guys about coming down for coffee tonight." She held out the package she was carrying to the other woman. "I've even got dessert," she winked.

"Mmmm, looks good to me," Bobbi smiled back at her. "Hey, why don't you come for dinner? I was just going to throw a meatloaf together and there will be plenty."

The elevator stopped at the second floor and Bobbi moved to the front of the car, looking at the tall, blue-eyed woman, who nodded. "Sure, that sounds great, Bobbi. What time?"

"How about six? I'll give Michelle a call and tell her you're coming."

Finian nodded her agreement as Bobbi stepped out of the elevator and waved as the door slid closed. Leaning against the side of the car, as it started to rise, she wondered about just what and how much she should tell her two closest friends.

She placed the cake on the breakfast bar and shrugged out of her backpack, placing it on one of the stools. She had a couple of hours or so before she was due downstairs so she headed toward the bathroom to shower.

As she dried her black hair, her thoughts went back to Bobbi and Michelle. She looked at herself in the mirror as she dropped the damp towel into the hamper and reached for the brush.

'You don't even know yet, exactly how you're going to pull off this unlikely feat,' she thought, with a hint of self-rebuke.

She knew that Michelle and Bobbi would have questions.

'Especially Michelle.' She noticed a small smile tugging at the corner of her full, slightly down-turned lips as she thought about how persistent her childhood friend could be when she wanted to know something.

Finian shook her head slightly, as she turned away from the sink. She really wasn't sure that this was such a good idea. She didn't have all the answers as to what was happening to her and realized at that moment that perhaps she should start thinking about some of the mundane aspects of the situation.

She might need Michelle and Bobbi, she realized, to take care of things for her while she was gone. The thought hit her like a hammer.

'While I'm gone,' she thought as she sat down on the edge of the bed.

The enormity and reality of what she was planning to do began filtering through her consciousness. She realized that some part of her still questioned the reality of all that had happened. The reality that she believed that she could actually pass through some sort of veil or doorway to other dimensions such as time and space frightened her when she gave it thought.

She had heard of people who had supposedly moved from world to world and there had always been speculation about certain unexplained disappearances. In some cases, entire cultures, such as the Mayans, the Anasazi and others seemed to disappear from the face of the planet. It has long been rumored by the peoples native to the areas of the seeming extinction of these cultures that they simply passed through a window to another place and/or another time and that their cultures thrived in the new place.

She had come across many references to these beliefs in her studies and her own opinion had always been that the ancient beliefs were centered around death and one's passage to the other side where the soul is transformed and reborn back into another physical body. She never assumed to take it literal. To believe that an actual person could walk through. . . what? . . . and end up on the same planet, alive, in the same body she has now, but in a different country, in a different time was absolutely ludicrous.

'It would sound absurd,' she thought, if I tried to explain it to Mich and Bobbi. 'There is no way that I can explain to them that this is not just a crazy belief or a dream that time passage is possible, it is a knowing deep in my soul that I will do this.'

The dark haired woman suddenly smiled, the scowl that had been displayed across her brow disappeared as the face of the green-eyed woman danced across her memory helping her to recall the sensation that she had experienced the first time she saw her. She remembered the physical reaction that she had experienced the night at the Chinese restaurant, the first time that those green eyes had appeared to her.

The physical sensations had been overwhelming, causing her to tremble and shake in the wake of their unexpectedness and novelty. She'd had no point of reference at the time, against which to assess those feelings. The newness of those feelings, combined with the sense of familiarity and connection to the eyes in her vision had startled and confused her, leaving her at a loss for words to explain what was happening.

There was just no way for her to explain to her friends what she knew. She thought she would probably have an easier time explaining to Bobbi than she would Michelle, but even then, she didn't have much confidence that either one of them would take her seriously.

Michelle had thought right from the jump that the things that Finian was experiencing were due to her repressed sexuality. She had to admit, that since this had started, she had looked at her sexuality and had come to terms with the fact that she was, indeed, probably a lesbian, even though she had never had any type of intimate relationship, other than friendship, with other women. That revelation and acceptance had done nothing to stop the events from continuing and becoming more profound.

Feeling slightly guilty about what she was going to do, but at the same time feeling confidant about her reasons for doing it, the tall, dark haired woman stood up and went to her closet. Choosing a pair of faded blue jeans and a pale yellow tee shirt, Finian got dressed as her mind worked silently.

The three women relaxed on the small balcony, fully sated after devouring the scrumptious meatloaf that Bobbi had fixed. Finian was grateful that her friends had decided to save their questions until dinner was over and that everyone had seemed relatively content discussing Finian's upcoming teaching job and what Bobbi and Michelle had been doing for the past couple of weeks.

Taking a sip of her coffee, Finian decided to open the conversation that she knew Michelle was just dying to ask about. 'Bobbi must have made her promise not to barrage me with questions,' she thought as she looked over at her friends. She almost laughed when she saw the expression on Michelle's face. She had a questioning, hopeful look, her brown eyes were opened wide and her eyebrows arched, her body leaning slightly forward, toward Finian, expectantly.

Looking directly at Michelle, Finian began to speak.

"I received a letter a couple of weeks ago from a distant relative in Ireland. Actually, the granddaughter of my grandmother's cousin. Guess that would make her something like my third or fourth cousin." Finian paused and noticed the slightly disappointed look that had replaced the look of expectancy that had been on Michelle's face when she had first started talking.

"She got my address from one of the address finding search engines on the web. My grandmother and her grandmother stayed in touch over the years and she came across my name and several stories about me in my grandmother's letters that she found after her grandmother passed on. She wants to meet her American cousin and invited me to come for a visit to meet the true Irish side of the family." Finian stopped and waited for the questions that she was sure would follow.

"What about the girl, Caer, isn't that what you said her name was, and the dreams and the apple blossoms and all the stuff that you said happened to you at Mystery Hill?" Michelle blurted out, unable to contain herself a moment longer.

Finian wasn't telling her what she wanted to know and she had a feeling that her tall, dark and extremely handsome friend was purposely avoiding talking about it.

Finian was ready for her. She really hated that she was lying to them, but there was not going to be any way for her to make Michelle understand that Caer was in another time and place at the moment.

"The dreams stopped happening right around the time I got the letter from my cousin." Finian dropped her eyes quickly to her lap then back up, now looking at Bobbi.

"And the cousin's name is Karin. Call it a coincidence or maybe a psychic flash," she shrugged, forcing a smile to her lips.

"You've got to admit the two names are similar and it was only in a dream that I thought I heard a name. So I guess maybe it was some sort of intuition about hearing from my cousin that prompted the dreams and stuff. Any way, it's not happening any more."

"The dreams and vision-like things that were happening to you just stopped? Does 'this' cousin of yours happen to have green eyes?" Michelle was starting to get a little sarcastic. She wasn't really buying Finian's story, but the story that she wanted to hear and that she thought was the truth, was not the true story, either. So Finian threw in a return.

"I don't know what she looks like, Mich, but I'll be sure to let you know when I get back," she smiled at her friend, hoping that she was able to get some sparkle into her blue eyes to make the smile she was forcing, appear genuine.

Bobbi finally found her voice and jumped in before Michelle could get started again.

"So you're going to Ireland, are you? What a wonderful place to get a chance to see and experience. And having family there. . .that is just too cool. So, when are you going, Fin?"

"Not until October, actually," Finian told them. "I have to get through this summer school session and then I want a little time to unwind and do a little research on the area around Drogheda and find some places that I may want to visit while I'm there, sort of make a loose itinerary."

Finian had remembered her cousin's letter when she was trying to come up with the story that she was telling her friends. It wasn't until then that she remembered her personal connection to Drogheda in this lifetime. Her grandmother's family was originally from that area before migrating to America in 1851, at the end of the Potato Famine migration.

Another bit of truth to her prevarication. She was going to the area of Drogheda. She just wasn't going exactly like and exactly to see whom she was telling them that she was and Michelle still wasn't quite satisfied with her best friend's story.

"Finian, are you seeing someone?" Michelle had pulled herself to the edge of her seat and was leaning forward toward Finian, who sat across the small balcony from her. "Because all those strange dreams and things and the green eyed woman you spoke about and the look in your eyes when you talked about her, sure sounded like something interesting was happening. And you even sort of 'came out', if I remember correctly."

Finian opened her mouth to answer, but before she could say a word, Michelle was asking another question.

"Is it the woman from the bar? What was her name? Marty? Have you been seeing her, Fin and just didn't want to be 'bothered'? Is she going on your trip with you? God, Fin, I'm your best friend, you can tell me anything. Why all the pussyfooting around?" The last part of the question had been spoken in a slightly higher tone than the first part, as Michelle leaned toward her friend, her brown eyes opened wide, waiting for an answer.

Bobbi reached over and placed a hand on Michelle's forearm, which rested on the arm of the white, plastic chair and gave it a gentle squeeze. She knew that her partner loved Finian like a sister and had felt protective of the taller, stronger woman, since she had lost her family at the age of eight. Michelle was only a couple of months older, but had appointed herself Finian's 'big' sister and therefore, her family. She felt she had a 'right' to know about everything that her very private friend did. Bobbi also knew that as much as Finian loved Michelle, sometimes it was very hard for her to deal with Michelle's seemingly incessant questions. She winked at Finian and gave her what she hoped was a confidence boosting smile.

Finian took a deep breath and as she started to exhale, she looked from Bobbi to Michelle and seeing the look on Michelle's face and her body language, the tall woman started to sputter and point at her best friend.

"Michelle, you are hysterical," she laughed. "Look at you. You look like you've got a thyroid problem the way your eyes are bugging out of your head," Finian pointed at the other woman's face. "And you're going to leave handprints in the arms of that chair the way your holding on to it," she said as she let her blue eyes drop to where Michelle's knuckles were white from clutching the arms of her chair.

It was only then that Michelle felt her lover's hand resting on her forearm and glanced over at Bobbi, who was sitting beside her, with a look that told Michelle to chill out. Michelle took a breath and, releasing her grip on the chair, slid back until she felt the back of the chair behind her.

"Ok, stop laughing at me," she thrust her chin toward Finian. "Just tell me what is going on with you."

Finian looked over at Michelle, the laughter fading from her face and her voice.

"Michelle, that is what I am trying to do, but you keep reading in more than what is there. I have not met anyone that I am romantically involved with, secretly or openly. Since I received the letter that I told you about from my cousin, I have not had any more dreams or strange experiences. I am going to go to Ireland at the end of October to visit. I don't know how long I will be gone. It is an open-ended invitation and, yes, I am going alone." With that, she closed her mouth and pressed her lips together. Her blue eyes focused solely on Michelle.

When Michelle watched her friend's eyes change from sky blue to a steel gray along with the set of that finely sculpted jaw, she knew it was time to back off and listen to what her friend was saying. She knew from past experience that she could push Finian to a certain point; pass that and not only would she not find out what she wanted to know, but Finian would probably become scarce again.

'Like she has been the past several weeks,' the brown-eyed woman thought to herself as she nodded at the woman who sat across from her.

"Ok, Fin, I hear you." Seeing her friend's facial muscles relax slightly, she went a little further. "But can I ask you a question?"

The tall woman felt her body tense again, just as she felt it begin to relax.

"Yeah, you can ask a question. As long as that is what it is, Michelle, a question and not a whole barrage of them." She winked at her friend, trying her best to lighten the mood that had fallen over the small group.

"Have you been seeing that woman from the bar. . .her name was Marty, wasn't it?"

Michelle had an uncanny sense of being able to hone in on the things that Finian was so desperately trying to avoid. She knew that her relationship with Marty was strictly platonic and developing into a comfortable friendship, but based on what Michelle remembered from the night at the bar and how Finian had tried to explain how she had seen Caer in Marty's eyes, she didn't think that there was much hope in getting Michelle to see things the way they really were but she had to give her some kind of an answer.

"Before I answer that question, I want you to listen to me and not make this is into something it is not." The raven-haired woman leaned slightly forward in her chair, directing her attention at her friend. "First of all, let me get something out of the way, right now. This," she waved her long arm in front of her, "has nothing to do with my sexuality. In fact, it has everything to do with spirituality." As she spoke the words just seemed to come to her.

"A couple of weeks ago, just after I got the letter from my cousin in Ireland, I was watching a program on television about stones and crystals and the ancient beliefs associated with them. There were many references to the Goddess as well, and I started thinking about my spiritual beliefs and I just wanted to know more. I remembered how it felt when we were young, Michelle, and you and I went through that period of questioning our beliefs. We really didn't go anywhere with it but I felt something back then and I thought that maybe the dreams and stuff were my subconscious mind's way of opening me up to the possibility that perhaps there is more than what I have been taught."

Finian felt a momentary pang of guilt as she thought about the woman that she was honestly opening up to, yet had to leave out of this conversation, but she continued to speak the words that seemed to appear on her lips as if without thought.

"So, I looked in the phonebook to see if there were any places locally that sold books and stuff on Pagan spirituality and matriarchy. I was also interested in learning more about the stones and how their influence was tied into spirituality."

"What has this got to do with my question?" Michelle blurted out, then quickly gained control of herself when she saw the blue eyes across from her turn a steely gray. "Sorry, Fin. . .I'm listening."

Finian took a deep breath and continued.

"Ya know that rock and mineral shop on the way into downtown? The one in that little strip center where the Italian restaurant is?" Her friends nodded their heads in unison, acknowledging that they knew of the place.

"Well, in the phone book it was listed as carrying metaphysical and spiritual books and supplies as well as rocks and minerals. Have you ever noticed the name of the place? I didn't," she stated flatly as she watched Michelle and Bobbi shake their heads slowly from side to side. Michelle seemed to have settled down and appeared to finally be listening to her.

"Ok, well, we'll get to that," she smiled in appreciation at the noticeably reduced tension in the room.

"Seeing as it was close by and sounded like it might have everything I was looking for. . .," she paused as she thought about the implications that her just uttered words might have upon the words that she was about to say, and she shot a warning glance at her inquisitive and 'not about to miss a thing', friend.

"I went in and after wandering around the place for a while and choosing some books that sounded interesting and informative, I started making my way to the counter." She intentionally left out the part about buying the twin crystal. That would lead to more questions than she was ready to deal with.

"I thought I was seeing things when I realized who it was behind the counter. Marty owns the rock shop. I just never gave the name of the place a thought. So, Michelle, the answer to your question is yes, I have seen Marty. But the answer to what you really want to know is no, we are not interested in each other as anything more than friends."

Finian watched as her friend's eyebrows raised in an almost comical way as her next question was answered before she could ask it.

"We have been to lunch a couple of times and she has been very helpful in pointing me in the right directions to further my understanding and knowledge. We talked about the night at the bar and her giving me her phone number. I told her a little bit about the dreams and things that had been going on and that due to the alcohol I had consumed I had been slightly out of touch with reality that night."

Another little twinge of guilt hit at her heart.

"It was Marty that suggested that the dreams may be related to receiving the letter from my cousin, Karin, being as the names are similar. The name that I thought I heard in my dream was Caer, but I may have heard it wrong. You know how cryptic dreams can be sometimes," she chuckled, hoping that her forced mirth would make her altered story believable.

"So, you aren't dating her or anyone else?" Michelle just couldn't give up the idea that Finian was leaving something out. Her gut knew that something was going on with her friend that she wasn't talking about. She also knew when Finian was telling the truth. She could tell that Finian wasn't lying about how she felt about Marty. That's what was so confusing and frustrating. And she just didn't buy the bit about the two names being similar.

"No, Mich, I'm not dating Marty or anyone else. I am getting ready to start teaching and have been busy with meetings and getting prepared. Marty and I have become friends and that's all. There is no one on this plane of existence," she smiled more to herself than at her friends, "that I am interested in, that way." Finian emphasized the last two words.

"Fin?" Michelle said tentatively. "Remember the last time we got together, a few weeks ago?"

The tall woman nodded her head indicating that she remembered the meeting as she noticed a change in her friend's demeanor and voice.

"You talked to us about your sexuality for the first time in years. You admitted, for the first time, to me. . .to us," she glanced quickly over at Bobbi then back to Finian, "that you are a lesbian. I guess I've just been feeling like you must have come out for a reason and the only reason that I know of would be if you had met someone. And you were having all those dreams and things about a green-eyed woman. . .I guess I was just reading in what I was wishing were happening. I just care about you, Fin, and sometimes you just look so lonely. I just want you to meet someone and fall in love and be as happy as we are." Michelle reached over and took her partner's hand in hers and gave her a quick smile.

Finian nodded her head in agreement. "I didn't come out to you guys because I'd met someone. When you mentioned that maybe the dreams and things were related to my sexual orientation or lack of," she winked at her friends, I really took a look at things and found that yes, if I were going to be drawn to another human being in an intimate way, it would more than likely be a woman. I came out to you because I knew that the dreams weren't related to my sexuality. And as it turned out, I was right."

"You really believe that all of those weird things that happened and the dreams were only trying to tell you that you were going to get a letter from a long lost cousin?"

"Michelle, I told you that the dreams stopped as soon as I got the letter. It's the only thing I can attribute them to. At this point I have no reason to believe anything different." She was really getting tired of defending her story and managed to inject a sense of finality into her last statement.

The rest of the evening was spent talking about the places she wanted to visit and the things she wanted to see while in Ireland and the weekend trip that Bobbi and Michelle had taken to Vermont.

It was about ten o'clock when the tall woman rose from her chair and stretched.

"Well, guys, it's been real," she smiled down at her friends, "but, I've got a lot of work to get down before the class starts next week, so I'm going to call it a night. Thanks for dinner, it's always nice to have a home-cooked meal that you don't have to cook yourself especially when Bobbi's doing the cooking, she smiled down at her best friend's partner.

Michelle and Bobbi stood up together and followed her as Finian walked through the apartment to the door.

"Thanks for coming up tonight, Fin," Michelle said as she placed her hand on the taller woman's shoulder. "And I'm really sorry that I acted like such a jerk and gave you such a hard time. I didn't want to do that. I just get so over-protective and worried about you being alone that I just over-react and then my pea brain starts imagining things."

There was that pang again, as Finian looked down at her friend. "It's okay, Mich, I understand. And I promise, when I do meet someone, you'll be the first to know," she laughed as she turned to give her friend a hug.

Finian let herself into her apartment and closed the door behind her. She let her tense body fall back against the cool, steel and closed her eyes. She was glad that the evening was behind her.

She would let tonight's story sink in for a week or so, 'or maybe even longer,' she thought as she pulled herself away from the door and headed toward the kitchen, then she would talk to Michelle and Bobbi about taking care of her bill's and truck while she was gone.

"While I'm gone. . ." she mused aloud as she started the water heating for a cup of chamomile tea. Again, for a brief second, she felt a flutter of indecisiveness as she pondered the meaning of the word 'gone' in context to her upcoming journey.

As she prepared her cup for the hot water, she realized that when and if she was really able to cross through the veil of time and space, for all intents and purposes, she would be gone. 'There will be no trace of me on this plane of existence. It will be as if I am dead, but there will be no body,' she thought as she carried her cup to her bedroom.

Setting the cup down on the small table beside her bed, Finian caught the scent of the apple blossoms and let her eyes rest on the small branch. She let the small white flowers be the answer to her question. If the apple blossoms had found their way through the doorway from Caer's time to hers, and she was pretty sure that's where they had come from, then it would be possible to return to her own time.

As she traded her jeans and tee shirt for her oversized nightshirt and crawled beneath the bedclothes, propping a couple of the many pillows behind her, she thought about her trip to Mystery Hill, earlier that day. She reached over and picked up the notebook from the table.

She wrote of being led by the Goddess, as a mother guides a child. She remembered and wrote the words that the Mother had taught her to sing. The song she had sung to Caer, while presenting her with the blood-red rose. She wrote of her impromptu trip to Mystery Hill and how she had confidently placed the rose at Caer's doorway.

Taking the last sip of her tea, she placed the notebook and pen on the table and shut off the light. She rolled over and searching in the dark, found her large body pillow, and pulled it close. The words that she whispered into the night as she drifted off into sleep took flight on the back of her dreams.

Continued in Part 14

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