Disclaimers found in Chapter 1.


Touching Steele


JenX & Shana


Chapter 3

Posted 11/16/2002


The last few days caught up with Sarah, and she fell into an exhausted sleep.  Dreams plagued her, containing distorted images that puzzled and distressed her.  She saw a group of men and women, surrounding a grassy field.  Then there was a flash to a limp body covered in blood.  Sarah tossed and turned while the disturbing visions filled her head.




Steele blinked slowly awake.  She hadn’t meant to fall asleep, but the intensity of the orgasm from her own fingers had exhausted her.


Yawning, the dark woman sat up on her over-sized bed.  She brought her hands up to stretch and caught the scent of herself still on her fingers.   She smirked, her mind automatically thinking of the blonde in the room downstairs and the actions it had inspired her to perform.


 The room was dark, and felt a bit stuffy.  Steele got up, shuffling her feet across a thickly woven rug.  Her space was decorated in the same sort of primitive motif that the dining room displayed.


Steele had constructed her bed from the branches of a fallen tree.  She elegantly constructed the four posts, painstakingly bending the wood and weaving it overhead.  It almost appeared as if long fingers held the mattress gently in its palms.


This room also had a fireplace made of black quartz, that seemed to sparkle with a fire of its own all the time.  In front of it was a tiger skin rug that Steele acquired from a traveling trader.


Steele flung open dark blue curtains, to reveal tall French doors.  They lead out to a balcony that wrapped around the house, much like the porch.  Vines and flowering plants flourished on the balcony, making this spot one of Steele’s favorites.


Hearing voices, Steele stepped up to the edge to observe the people below.


“She really woke up?” a young boy was asking. 


Steele identified the child’s voice as belonging to  Sandy’s son Dylan. He had a baby face, with light brown hair that curled in the back.  His smile made him look even younger that his almost thirteen years.  Dylan held a special place in Steele’s heart, though to the boy, it appeared as if she was extra-hard on him.


“Yes, she did,” Sandy answered.  Sandy appeared to be tightening the straps of the horse that was tied to the porch railing.  The tall blonde handed her son the reins.


“Take Pharaoh back and hitch up Bernie,” Sandy said, patting the tall stallion on his neck, “Then bring him back here.”


Dylan swung up and easily took control of the tall animal.  “What are we going to do, Mom?”


“Lucy and I are going to tend Sarah’s feet, then we are taking her on a tour,” Sandy explained.  Dylan nodded, and kicked the horse into a lazy trot.


“Tour?” thought Steele, “I don’t want her seeing the whole place; the little bitch will report back to the Commander all she can.”  The tall woman turned quickly, then  headed outside to meet Sandy.




“You’re taking the little escapee on a tour?”  Steele asked casually, leaning on one of the Greek columns that lined her porch.


Sandy looked up and blinked several times before answering.  “I thought it would get her out of your hair for a while.” The blonde paused again, before continuing, “I won’t take her to any confidential spots, Steele.”  Sandy looked hurt, and rather offended.  “I would never do anything to jeopardize you. You know that.”


Steele looked deep into hazel eyes.  She saw that Sandy told the truth.


“Honestly, Steele,” Sandy muttered, “I’d think after all this time that you would have learned to trust me.”


Steele could see that she was being real bitch to alienate one of her most loyal associates.  Sandy had been with Steele almost as long as Lucy had.  Each woman helped Steele gather the bits of herself after her time with the Center.  Sandy, especially, had helped her gain back some of her humanity over time.


Can you hear me?”


The voice broke through Steele’s sleeping mind, and the tall brunette suddenly sat up with a start, trying to push herself to her feet.


“Whoa there…take it easy…”  The little redhead showed amazing strength as she gently pushed against Steele’s battered shoulders and urged her to lie back down.


“Gotta get away…” Steele didn’t have the strength to fight the woman, but her very survival depended on her escape.  She had to get as much distance between herself and the Center as possible, and she couldn’t do that by laying around.


“Relax…” the woman said again, “you ARE far away…you’ll be safe here…at least from the Center.”


Steele felt the pain from her numerous injuries suddenly flare to life on her body, and realized she was in some sort of structure that was moving roughly and briskly along the ground.  She looked up again at the tiny red-head who was hovering over her.  She could remember sliding in and out of unconsciousness for some time, unable to act, but was aware the woman was working hard on healing her injuries.


Steele opened her mouth as if to say something, but found her throat too dry to speak.  The woman noticed, and raised a canteen to Steele’s lips.


After taking a few deep swallows, Steel tried again.  “Who are you?” she asked her benefactor.


Lucy flashed some teeth.  “Name’s Lucy…and I am a healer. My husband Garth is up front driving the wagon…”


Steele nodded her understanding, then asked, “Where are we headed?”


“Hell…” the doctor said then, her face not showing the least bit hint of amusement.  “We’re headed straight to Hell.”


Steele shook her head, not phased at all.  “I’ve just come from Hell,” she told Lucy, “Anywhere else has got to be an improvement.”


Steele had soon proven her words right, by fighting alongside Lucy and Garth as they worked to free the captives of Tall Oaks plantation.  Cruelly enslaved for years, it was a tough battle trying to defend people who had no capability or means of defending themselves. 


But it was a fight that Steele could win, and it wasn’t long before her natural fighting skills, intelligence, charisma, and leadership landed her in the top position of the plantation.  No longer a slave farm and now a “freedom” farm, Steele excelled at what she set out to do…keep humans safe, free, and out of the Center.


Sandy had arrived very soon after Steele had taken over Tall Oaks…and begged Steele for the life of her newborn son, Dylan.  He had tested exceptionally high in his brainwave activities, and the Center had determined he be sent there immediately, to begin a lifetime of “service”.  Sandy had risked her life to run away from the hospital, even before she was fully healed from the birth, in order to save her son’s life.


Rumors were already spreading far and wide about the woman at Tall Oaks who had escaped the Center, and was now offering a haven to those on the run.  Sandy had headed there, and thanks to Steele, never had to look back.


Steele looked thoughtfully into Sandy’s eyes once again, and then nodded her assent.




“There… good as new,” the red head said, patting the feet on her lap.


“Well, I wouldn’t say that,” Sarah giggled, wiggling her bandaged toes.


Lucy stood up and offered the small blonde her hand.  “Come on, let’s get you some fresh air.”  Lucy smiled, and Sarah noticed for the first time how the smile lit up the doctor’s face.


Very carefully, Lucy led Sarah out onto the porch.  The sun was still very bright, even though it was late afternoon.  There were several benches, wicker couches, and swings on the porch.


The house was a pristine white, with green trim and shutters.  Tulips and crocuses bloomed in front, while a wall of wisteria climbed around the side of the house, giving shade in the hot sun.


Sarah faltered a little bit in her steps, and Lucy and Sandy, as one,  swept her up and on to the wagon. Sarah laughed as the two women struggled a bit with her weight.  She was tiny, but solid.


“You don’t have to do that,” Sarah said as she was placed gently in the straw.  The short blonde happened to glance up and spot Steele watching them from her balcony.  Sarah raised a hand and shyly waved at the mysterious woman.  Steele turned on her heel and disappeared, seeming to ignore the tentative gesture.




“You really are awake!” Dylan cried, as he bounded into the straw next to Sarah.


Sarah smiled at the handsome boy.  His face glowed, and the small blond could see that Dylan was genuinely happy to see her.


“I found you, you know,” he stated cavalierly.


“Well, thank you…” Sarah paused waiting for Dylan to fill in his name.  Sarah offered her hand to shake.


“Dylan,” he dutifully supplied, beaming again.  He reached a hand out and shook hers tentatively.


“We’re going on a tour,” Sandy said, as she snapped the reins and the horse lurched forward. “This path leads to the barn.  It’s just a short ways up in this direction.  We keep the horses and cows and most of the farming equipment there.” 


Sandy slowed down and pointed ahead.  “That’s the way to the barn.  We’ll go up there in a bit.”  She turned the wagon to the right.  “Down here are the fields.  We grow mostly all of our own vegetables.  We trade for meat and spices.”  She slowed the wagon to a stop at the top of a hill that looked out over all of Steele’s farmland.


All four people looked over the rolling fields.  They contained corn, beans, carrots, onions and several other vegetables that Sarah couldn’t identify.  Sarah was in awe of the lands she saw.  She never knew anyone who owned so much of it.


“I’ve never seen so much of it all at once!” Sarah said, wonder in her voice.  “Steele owns all this?”


“Everything you see,” Lucy replied.


“How did… where did she get it from?”  Sarah asked.


Lucy and Sandy shared a knowing glance.  “Ever hear of Robin Hood?” the red head asked.


Sarah thought for a moment. “Yeah.  He is an ancient legend.  He robbed from the rich, and gave to the poor,” Sarah answered.


“Steele’s our modern day Robin Hood,” Sandy explained, as they all still looked out over the land.


“Really? What happened?”  Sarah asked, looking from Sandy to Lucy.


“That’s Steele’s story to tell,” Sandy answered, a little bit coldly.


“Oh,” Sarah replied, a little disappointed that she was denied.


Lucy laughed, and patted the small blonde’s knee.  “Don’t worry, Sweetie.  You’re growing on her, she’ll tell you eventually.”


“I sometimes think she doesn’t want me around,” Sarah said in almost a whisper.


“She’s like that with new people,” the doctor explained.


Sandy glared at the doctor.  Sarah was a nice kid, but Sandy didn’t think that Sarah could handle someone like Steele.  Sandy wasn’t jealous in the least bit, but she wanted to save Sarah the heartache and pain that the icy Steele was sure to bring her.


The blonde snapped the reins, and they were off again.




Several hours passed, and the sun had taken on a dark orange hue, as the wagon pulled into the village.  People were gathered at the house, sitting on the porch, and just generally relaxing.


Lucy sat on one side of Sarah and Dylan on the other.  Dylan was fidgety, and couldn’t sit still.


“Boy, you’re going to bounce yourself right off this wagon if you don’t sit still,” Sandy stated from the driver’s seat.


“You’re so pretty!” he blurted out to Sarah, and immediately turned beet red.


All three women laughed at the young boy’s enthusiasm.


“Whoa,” Sandy called and pulled up on the horses.  She hopped down and gave a hand to the others, lifting Sarah carefully.  “Let’s stop for a while and eat.  What do ya say?”


Sarah smiled and said, “Yeah, nature is calling.”


“This is my house,” Sandy explained, smiling as she helped the injured blonde on to her small front porch.  “Dylan, show her the bathroom.” Proud of getting to take care of Sarah even for a little bit, he took hold of her arm and led her inside.


“Hey ladies,” a new voice called out from a across the road.  It was Tina, another resident of the plantation.


“That the puppy you found?” Tina asked the doctor.  She sneered a bit, clearly not pleased that Sandy had returned with Sarah.


Lucy glared at the woman.  It was true that Tina fit Steele’s preferences, with short strawberry-blonde hair and hazel eyes, but Tina seemed to think that it gave her the right to be rude to everyone else.


“Listen you little pissant,” Lucy growled, “You may have shared Steele’s bed, but you have to share the plantation with us the rest of the time.”  Lucy and Tina were almost nose-to-nose.  The feisty red head stood several inches smaller that Tina, but that didn’t stop her.


“Is there a problem?” a deep, rich voice interrupted the two women.  It was Garth, Lucy’s husband.  He had a knack for showing up just when he was needed.


“No,  Hon,” Lucy answered, not taking her eyes off of Tina.


“I was just leaving anyway,” Tina replied,  “Pet the puppy for me.”  She laughed as she sauntered off towards Steele’s home.




Tina checked the barn and saw Steele’s huge golden mare, Freedom, was in her stall, which more than likely meant Steele was somewhere in the mansion.  A quick check upstairs found the place deserted, and Tina couldn’t fight back the grin that lit up her face as she took the kitchen stairs to the basement.


She wasn’t disappointed.  Tina stood in the doorway of the training room for a few minutes just watching the action in front of her.  Steele had dressed down to a pair of long white pants and a black tank top, and was running through a routine of kicks and punches against invisible enemies.  There hadn’t been much action on the plantation lately, and Steele always liked to keep in shape.  The training room was for her alone,  and was off-limits to anyone else, unless Steele gave them special permission.


Tina had been there several times before, and she stood boldly in the doorway, arms crossed, taking in the sight before her.  Steele’s long limbs were covered in sweat, and flexing in the most delicious manners, and Tina felt a few muscles of her own flex involuntarily.


Steele finished a complicated series of roundhouse kicks, and landed in the middle of the room, her back to the door.  She reached fro a towel hanging from a kicking dummy, and wiped off the back of her neck.  “You gonna stand there all day?” she asked, not bothering to turn around, “or are you gonna get in here and get naked?”


Tina felt a surge of arousal at the words, and shut the door behind her, before stepping into the center of the room.  She reached for the buttons of her shirt immediately, knowing Steele wasn’t the kind of person to keep waiting.


Steele didn’t turn around the whole time the blonde was undressing behind her…She dried most of the sweat off her body, and then stripped off her own clothes, letting Tina get an eyeful of the pumped muscles on her shoulders and the back of her thighs.  Both women were completely naked when Steele finally turned to face her.


Tina was proud of the admiring glance she got from the darker woman.  She knew she had a beautiful body, but there was no way hers could compare to the majestic sculptured form of Steele.  “What do you want me to do, Baby?” she asked, not embarrassed or hesitant to let Steele take charge.


Steele wrapped an arm around the blonde’s lower back, and pulled her tight, so Tina’s nipples were mashed against Steele’s abs.  “I want you to let me fuck your brains out,” Steele replied, before lowering her mouth to the shorter woman’s neck.




“Fuck yeah, Steele…you do that sooo good…”


It was only a few minutes later that Tina found herself flat on her back, while Steele pumped into her cunt like a piston.  Steele didn’t really care if Tina wanted it as hard as she was giving it to her…she just knew she still had a lot of aggression to work out and the little ho writhing beneath her was helping her work them out.


“Take it all, you fucking bitch,” she growled through clenched teeth, clenching her ass muscles as the pleasure rapidly grew in her clit.  The bitch-in-heat sounds Tina made when she fucked her, was like music to Steele’s ears, keeping tempo with the grunting sounds the dark woman uttered.


Steele could feel the tension rising in her clit, as it banged against the base of the dildo she had deep in Tina’s cunt.  It wouldn’t be long before she was exploding, and then she could get the hell out of this situation.  She had seen Tina the minute she had pulled open the door, and watched her out of the corner of her eye as she finished her routine. She knew why the slut was there. 


Tina and Sarah both shared the same hair color, although Tina’s was cut a lot shorter.  They both had those green eyes, though Tina’s were more of a hazel color, and though Tina was a couple inches taller, both had compact curvy bodies.  Steele had noticed it the moment she saw Tina today…and in her mind…it was Sarah she was fucking.  She couldn’t resist, and Tina wouldn’t care, as long as she was fucked good.


Almost as if reading Steele’s mind though, Tina couldn’t resist stirring up trouble.  “Mmmm…yeah…you’re fucking me so good, Baby,” she groaned…after catching her breath from the latest orgasm.  “No one else can take it like I can, Steele, you know that don’t you?  That little bitch Sandy picked up would never be able to take you when you’re as fired up as you are now.”


Steele plunged forward on her elbows, pinning Tina down with her chest so the blonde bitch couldn’t see the venom in her eyes.  Where did the little cunt get off talking that way about Sarah?


Tina mistook Steele’s movements for excitement though, and continued, “She’s too weak for you anyway, Steele…you need a real woman who can take your cock.  Mmm…and you’re giving that cock to me perfect right now…”  Her voice trailed off as her body began to rock with climax again.


Steele was seething with anger now, but couldn’t figure out what was bringing it on, nor did she care to analyze it.  All she was really aware of was the fact that she wanted to get away from Tina as soon as possible, before she throttled her.


Anger often brought out an incredible sexual hunger in Steele, but now, she found herself not at all interested in the ho she was buried in.  Sure, she could get really mean with Tina, but the girl, despite her promiscuity, had been faithful to Steele’s cause.  Keeping her face buried in her forearms, Steele did the best thing she could think of.


She faked a climax.




Tina probably never had a clue, as Steele wasn’t one to cuddle after sex anyway.  The tall brunette had abruptly straightened up, pulled out, and then told Tina to get the hell out of her sight.  Tina didn’t mind.  She had been well and truly fucked.




“Supper’s on!” Sandy shouted, and Dylan came running, a small dog yipping at his heels.  Dinner was often a group affair, with several cabins joining to help prepare the meal.  On this night, Lucy and Garth, along with Sandy, Dylan and Sarah joined together to eat.


“Have you had fried turkey?” Garth asked Sarah.  He was getting ready to put the large bird into a giant vat of oil.


“No, Sir,” Sarah answered, “I can’t say that I have.”


“You are sure to love it,” the older man exclaimed, as he put the turkey in the oil.


Sarah was helping Garth prepare the meal.  She longed to do something useful for the kind people who rescued her.  She examined the man as he worked the cooking contraption.  He was beautiful, with caramel colored skin, and deep brown eyes that smiled even when his face was still.  There was no hair on the top of his head, but he had a bushy moustache that gave the quiet man character.


“Hi, Sarah,” Dylan said shyly.


“Hey, Buddy,” Sarah smiled at the young man.  She was incredibly happy to see that the boy was happy where he lived.  Not many children were treated with respect, more so for children in ‘the system’, as Sarah had grown up.


“My birthday is the day after tomorrow,” he stated.  Dylan looked at her as if she should know exactly what he was talking about.


“How old will you be?”  Sarah asked, filling the lapse in conversation.  She picked up a carrot to chop it for the salad.


Dylan smiled wide.  “Thirteen.  I’m going to be a man!”  Garth chuckles in the background were the loudest of all. “Will you come to my party?”  he asked, once again shy.


Sarah looked up to Sandy, finding a warm smile on the tall blonde’s face.  Dylan’s mother nodded slightly, indicating it was alright to answer.


“Sure, Bud, I’ll be there,” Sarah answered, and the boy whooped in joy.




Later that night, Steele sat on her balcony, brooding again.  She was never one to mingle a lot, but ever since Sarah had arrived, Steele found herself separating herself from everyone even more.  She told herself it was because she couldn’t stand the girl.  She was lying.


She had heard the wagon bring Sarah back to the house a couple of hours after dark, and could even hear the whispered good nights and thank you’s Sarah had offered before entering her room under the stairs.  The girl was getting along fine now, and although Steele had told her she’d not be able to stay in the house, Steele had no intention of making the girl leave.


Sighing in the darkness, Steele swallowed down the last of her bourbon, and stood up.  She might as well try to get some sleep, though her equivalence of the blue balls wasn’t going to let that be easy.


As was her habit, Steele checked the locks on all the doors before she officially went to bed.  She passed Sarah’s room on the way to the kitchen, and on her way back, she couldn’t resist.


There was a partial moon, and Sarah’s curtains were open, lending a shaft of moonlight over part of the bed.  Steele stood in the doorway for several minutes, drinking in the sight before her.  God, but the little thing was beautiful…so charmingly innocent that Steele could taste it.  She stood there for an interminable time, her mind running rampant with what she’d like to do with Sarah, especially with her dressed the way she was right now, and then finally, Steele turned, not willing to torture herself anymore.




Steele woke up hungry the next morning, and made an early stop in the kitchen to grab some breakfast.  She almost turned and left again when she saw Sarah was already seated at the table.


She caught herself though, irritated that she even thought about the little outsider nearly chasing her out of her own kitchen.  She sauntered through the door, and sat at the far end of the table, giving her cook Polly a half-smile when the old woman offered her a cup of coffee.


“Bacon or ham, Master Steele?” Polly asked, turning back toward the stove.


Sarah looked up, surprised by that title.  Steele just shrugged.  “Surprise me, Polly”  she replied.


“Okay, Master Steele.”


Sarah looked slowly from the wrinkled old cook in her proper dress, to Steele, who was slunked way over her cup of coffee…She had put her hair back in a braid today…and it only made her bright blue eyes and wonderful cheekbones more prominent.


Just as Steele looked up, Sarah hurriedly dug her fork into her eggs, trying to be non-challant.


“You planning on running away again?” Steele asked, in the most pleasant tone of voice Sarah had ever heard her use.  It startled Sarah, making her jump in her seat.


“You’ve got enough food there to last you for a week,” Steele smiled, nodding toward the full plate in front of Sarah.


“Now you leave her alone, Master Steele,” Polly said, raising a menacing spatula toward Steele.  “She’s got a healthy appetite, and it’s good…that means she’s almost well!”


Steele offered another half-smile, and nodded, then looked back to her coffee.


Sarah, for her part, was amazed at what had just happened.  Was Steele teasing her?  She certainly seemed to be, with that half-smirk on her face.  She wished she had the nerve to say something to the dark woman, but she was too intimidated.


After a couple of minutes, Polly set a plate of ham and eggs in front of Steele.  “Thanks, Darlin’,” Steele said gently, before picking up her fork and digging in.


Sarah was finished with her own breakfast by now, but didn’t want to leave the kitchen yet.  She was still managing to sneak surreptitious glances at Steele, finding the woman, if possible, even more gorgeous when she seemed to be in a good humor.


Sarah was just getting the courage up to say something, when she heard a small ringing sound, coming from the general area of Steele.  Steele shoveled another bite in, then stood up quickly.


“I gotta go,” she said to Polly.  Then, she carried her plate down to Sarah.  “You can finish it, if you want.”


“Thanks,” Sarah blushed, but accepted the plate.  She was still making up for lost meals while on the run.


Steele started to turn, then leaned down and put her hand on the chair behind Sarah’s ear.  “I know you seem to feel safe here,” she husked, “but you really should think about wearing some clothes to bed…you never know when you’ll be woke up in the middle of the night around here.”


Steele turned and gave Polly a pat on the butt before heading out of the kitchen.  It took Sarah a few seconds to realize what Steele meant, and then her mind went into overdrive trying to figure out how Steele knew she slept naked.


“You need to borrow a nightgown, Sweetie?” Polly asked, much amused by the exchange she had just witnessed.


“No thanks,” Sarah replied.  “I’ll come up with something.”  She dug into a thick slice of ham from Steele’s plate.




Sarah was excited.  Her body felt tons better, and her feet no longer ached.  Steele had told Sandy to let Sarah use the day to rest and relax, and to let her know that she would be expected to start working the day after Dylan’s birthday party.


Earlier this morning, Sarah worked up the courage to ask Steele if it would be all right to use a horse.  The blonde wanted to get out and explore the plantation on her own.  So after her lunch and a quick bath, the blonde had headed outside.  Just as Steele promised, the horse was saddled, and tied to a post by the front porch.


Sarah looked around for Steele, but was unable to find her.  The blonde was hoping that maybe the mysterious woman would be interested in joining her this afternoon, but no such luck.


Sarah was enchanted by Steele, if a little frightened by her.  She knew Steele was a strong woman, the way she held herself, and spoke to others proved it.  Sarah thought she ought to be afraid of the dark woman, but found instead that she was intrigued.  Sarah couldn’t get Steele off her mind.


Sarah climbed on the horse and headed towards the barn.  It was further than she remembered, but very easy to find.  The path was actually a path created by wagon wheels, with wildflowers growing out between the indentations.  More flowers grew by the barn.  Sarah decided to stop, and take a look around the barn.  She barely remembered what the building looked like.


Sandy and Dylan were inside.


“Hi, Sarah,” Dylan waved. Sandy nodded and went back to cleaning a stall.


The barn was a typical three story structure.  The bottom floor contained cow and horse stalls, and various tack that might be needed for the animals.  The second floor held hay, pitchforks, and other general equipment, along with 50 pound grain sacks.  The top was a hayloft.  In the hayloft was a door, with a pulley that aided in getting the hay to the very top of the large barn.   Every ten feet or so thick support beams ran from the floor to the ceiling.


Sarah took a moment and quietly observed the mother and son in their routine.  “This is where Steele wants me,” Sarah said, still looking around.


Sandy nodded.  “It’ll be a great help to me,” Sandy replied, flinging hay every which way.


“But today is your day,” the tall blonde added, “Go explore.  You won’t get another chance.”


Sarah shook her long blonde hair.  “Ok.”


“Come back to my house for dinner,” Sandy said over her shoulder, “We eat at six.”


Sarah nodded, and left the big dusty barn.




Not accustomed to spending hours in the sun, Sarah headed for a line of maple trees in the distance.  She had been roaming the country side, sticking mostly to the marked trails, but a few moments ago decided to get a little brave.


At the edge of the woods, she saw a faintly marked trail.  Thinking that it was a game trail, she decided to follow it, if only to get out of the scorching hot sun.


Sarah got off her horse and took a stroll, always making sure she could see the horse. It wouldn’t pay to get lost.  She didn’t think that anyone would come to find her.  She even thought that Steele would think she ran away, as she had hinted this morning, and would hunt her down.


Sarah shivered thinking about the tall, enigmatic woman.  Steele was definitely beautiful. And mysterious.  She owned all this property, everything Sandy said.  It was a rare thing for people to own their homes, much less the land their homes were on.


The blonde was extremely glad that Steele had given her a chance though.  She needed some time to earn some credits, or goods that would be able to her through the next few months.


Sarah thought back to her time at the Center.  She remembered not having to worry about where her next meal came from, or where she was going to sleep that night. Yes, the Center took great care of its inhabitants physical needs, but unless the Center had need of your mental skills, it often let the mind rot.  No newspaper, books, or magazines allowed.  No games or puzzles were permitted.  The only thing that the Center allowed was television, with the Center’s own idea of programming.


She walked along a little more, and stopped when she heard faint voices, no more than whispers really.  Sarah cocked her head to listen.


“…spy…two days…”  the small blonde could barely make out what was said.


“Steele…worked up…stupid mistake…”


Sarah took a step back, and then another realizing that this conversation was something that she shouldn’t be hearing.  She didn’t recognize the voice, but it was feminine.  Sarah tried to be quiet, making sure to place her feet carefully on the ground, and not on twigs or leaves that would give away her position.


She hurried back to the horse, and slid up in the saddle, wondering if she should tell anyone about what she heard.




Sarah rode back to the house quickly, praying that she hadn’t been seen by whoever was talking.  As she approached, she could see Steele, sitting on the front porch, an open book on her lap.  Steele appeared to be writing in it, but slammed it shut long before Sarah could see what she was doing.


“Did you have a good ride?” Steele asked, her voice sounding cold, despite the question.


“Uh…yeah…” Sarah hated that she seemed to lose control of her tongue every time she tried to speak to the dark haired woman.  “I uh…went pretty far…way beyond the village.”


“Plotting your escape route?”  Steele asked, standing up.


“No!” Sarah yelled it out, almost immediately.  “I don’t want to leave, unless you make me.”  Sarah was confused.  The woman who gently teased her this morning was gone.


“Don’t tempt me,” Steele growled.  She turned and started to enter the house.


“Steele..wait…”  Sarah saw the woman freeze, and then slowly turn to face her.


“What did you say?” Steele asked, her eyes narrowing to gray slits.


Sarah’s brain raced, and realized her mistake.  “I mean…would you please wait…I want to tell you something.”


Steele crossed her arms, the book still in them, and stared at her.  “What is it?” she asked, her face a mask of anger and impatience.


Sarah wanted so badly to tell Steele what she had heard…but realized…she really didn’t have anything to tell.  Just a few snippets of conversation and she and her overactive imagination had probably heard them out of context.


“Uh…Sandy invited me to supper, but I wanted to thank you for letting me borrow the horse today.”  It was the best she could come up with on short notice.


Steele dismissed her with a wave of her hand.  “Don’t mention it,” she said over her shoulder, before entering the door.  “I thought you should get used to smelling them.”


Chapter 4


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