Disclaimer: See Part I.

Acknowledgement: The poems quoted herein are used with permission of the author and are contained in 'Poetry from the Featherbed' by pinfeather, Copyright 2003 by pinfeather. Published by Dare 2 Dream Publishing, a Division of Limitless Corporation, Lexington, South Carolina 29073 (http://www.limitlessd2d.net).

Thank you: to Em for finding the time in a busy schedule to Beta read and for your courage in handing out kick butts and telling me when things "don’t work." Your suggestions and critiques are invaluable. Thank you Frenchie for keeping me on the straight (or is that bent?) and narrow, for your keen eye and always helpful suggestions. (The words of praise don’t hurt, either!)

Note: This story is a back-story to ‘Message in a Bottle.’ Each story stands on its own.

Feedback: Suggestions and constructive criticism are welcome; spam and vitriol are

not. Encouraging words and a pat on the back are more than welcome. That having been said, read on and let me know what you think. sageamante@yahoo.com



Copyright © Saggio Amante 2004

All rights reserved.

In slumber’s warm and gentle hold a-sprawl

Still cradled in the swift-declining night

Two lovers drift toward creeping light

And hang in brief suspense before they fall.

Aubade (Poetry from a Featherbed by Pinfeather)


Lizette awakened to unfamiliar sounds, and it took her a moment to remember where she was. She stretched her body slowly and lay there in silence, enjoying the coffee aroma wafting under her bedroom door . The sound of a spoon clinking against glass broke the quiet of the morning. Lizette smiled to herself as she imagined the long, lean body of the woman who was making those sounds. At the mere thought of the dark-haired woman, she felt her nipples harden and her stomach clutch. She laid her hands on her breasts, teasing her nipples, and then she moved her hands over her ribs and across her abdomen, closing her eyes to enhance the pleasurable feeling. Even though she craved release, she stopped, enjoying even more - in an almost perverse way - her unfulfilled need. She rolled to her side and sat up, slipping a short, lime-colored gown over her head. Donning a matching robe, she tied it loosely around her waist and tiptoed barefoot to the bathroom.

Marina stood in the kitchen sipping her coffee and staring out the kitchen window at a tall waterfall cascading down a verdant mountainside. She had been up for a couple of hours but had been careful not to make any noise that might awaken the small blonde sleeping in a bedroom not far away.

Lizette walked quietly to the kitchen and stood leaning against the doorframe watching the dark-haired woman who stood staring out the kitchen window. Marina was wearing a sports bra and a pair of jogging shorts, which draped enticingly over two tight mounds. Lizette wanted to walk up to Marina, wrap her arms around her waist and press herself against the tall woman’s back. She thought about how it would feel to run her hands down Marina’s taut abdomen and into the top of her shorts. She wondered if Marina would be as hot and wet as she felt at that very moment.

Marina felt Lizette’s eyes burning into her back and turned, an amused smile touching her mouth and her eyes.

"Good morning. Sleep well?" She asked huskily. Marina’s words caught in her throat as she let her eyes roam over the body of the small blonde leaning against the doorframe. The gown and loosely tied lime-green robe did little to hide the rise of Lizette’s full, firm breasts, and Marina felt an untamed fire rising in her belly.

"Wonderfully well," Lizette responded, her throaty voice still tinged with sleep. "How long have you been up?"

"A couple of hours. I took a short run."

Lizette looked horrified. "My god. A run? In this hilly place? I have all I can do to walk on flat ground in the early morning." She paused. "How long a run?"

"Just a couple of miles."

"A couple of miles? Are you crazy?" Lizette groaned.

"Some might think so," Marina laughed. "Listen, would you like some coffee to wake you up?"

"Mmmm. That would be great."

"It’s a little crisp outside. Grab that blanket off the couch and go on out to the porch. I’ll bring you a cup."

Lizette went out on the porch and sat on the swing. She wrapped the light blanket around her and tucked her feet up under her. The early morning sounds of birds’ songs dotted the air. She breathed in the pristine mountain air and closed her eyes, enjoying the early morning smells and sounds.

The sound of the screen door closing jarred Lizette from her reverie.

"Here you go," Marina said, handing Lizette the cup of coffee and settling herself on the porch swing next to her. "Not a mocha latte, but passable I hope."

Lizette took a sip, and smiled. "More than passable. What is this?"

"Vanilla hazelnut."



"It’s wonderful. I think I have another favorite. Where in the world did you get this?"

"It’s a private blend. I’ll give you the address if you’d like."

"I would. Thank you."

"Are you hungry?"

"A little. You?"

"Yes. I’m afraid I worked up a bit of an appetite with that run. Why don’t you finish your coffee and get dressed. We’ll stop in town for breakfast, and then I have a surprise for you."

"A surprise? If it’s anything like last night, I can’t wait." Lizette’s voice filled with childlike glee. "I love surprises." She took the last sip of coffee and the two women rose to go into the house together.

"How should I dress?" Lizette asked as she headed for her bedroom.

"Casual. Jeans are fine. It’s not a fancy surprise."


The woman came out of their respective bedrooms at almost the same time, bumping into each other in the process. Lizette reached out and grabbed Marina around the waist to steady herself. She held her breath as she felt Marina’s arms go around her.

"Hey, careful there." Marina smiled down at the small woman in her arms. "We’ve got a long day ahead, and I’d like to keep you in one piece." She dropped her arms to her side and then took Lizette by the elbow to lead her out of the house to the car.

Marina navigated the Corvette through the curving mountain roads and into town, parking in front of a small, dilapidated building with a faded sign, ‘Auntie Sue’s.’ She laughed at the questioning look on Lizette’s face. "Trust me. It’s good. Really good." She said to the doubting blonde.

"Hey, Marina. Where you been, gal?" A plump bleached blonde behind the cash register yelled as Marina and Lizette entered. "Grab a seat. I’ll be right there."

"Hey, Dottie. Good to see you. How‘re Bubba and the kids?"

"Oh you know him, honey, if he’s got a pole, a line and a bucket of bait, he’s as happy as a pig in slop. As for the kids, Valeen is going to Clemson. Junior’s done gone off and joined the Army. They ain‘t kids no more."

Dottie finished ringing up the customer at the cash register. She grabbed two glasses of water and brought them over to the table. "Specials are on the blackboard. Ya want a menu?"

"I know what I want, Dottie. Lizette, do you want a menu?"

"No. You order for the both of us."

"OK. Let’s have my usual - two over medium, country ham, grits, home fries, fried apples, and biscuits and gravy. Oh, yeah, and a large orange juice."

Lizette looked horrified. "You have got to be kidding!" She howled.

"Oh, sorry, would you rather have sausage?" Marina asked with a glint in her eye.

Lizette sat there in stunned silence.

Marina winked at Dottie. "We’ll have the apple bran muffin, fried apples, and hash brown casserole. And uh … two Decafs."

"You’re a devil woman, you know that, don’t you?" Lizette said with a small pout.

"I’ve been called much worse," Marina replied.

Dottie returned with the breakfast and coffee then went to wait on another customer. When she had him settled, she poured herself a cup of coffee and sat down at the table with Lizette and Marina. "So ya here for Freedom?" She asked.

Marina shook her head and pursed her lips slightly in a signal for Dottie to be quiet.

"Freedom? What’s freedom?" Lizette asked.

"Nothing much. Freedom weekend. It’s an annual social event around here." Marina said, deflecting the question. "We might stop by later, Dottie. Right now we have other plans. Did you get the picnic basket done?"

"Sure, Marina. Just like you ordered. I’ll bring it to your table when you’re ready to go."

"Picnic basket? I love picnics," Lizette said. "I haven’t been on one since I was a kid."

"Well, then, we’ll have to make this one you never forget," Marina replied.

"If it’s half as wonderful as last night, I’m sure it will be," Lizette grinned.

The women finished their breakfasts and waited until Marina caught Dottie’s attention. Dottie brought over a wicker picnic basket and handed it to Marina. "You gals have fun."

Marina reached for her wallet, but Dottie patted her hand. "This one’s on me, Marina. We don’t see you enough around here. Give my love to Nonna."

"Thanks, Dottie. I know Nonna would love to see you. I’ll try to bring her up here soon. Maybe we’ll see you later," Marina said. "Ready, Lizette?"

"I’m ready, but I need to make a pit stop first."

"Not a bad idea. It will be a while before we have a chance again."


Lizette settled in the passenger seat. Marina placed the wicker basket in her lap and then went around to the driver‘s side.

"So where are we going?" Lizette asked as they drove down the road.

"Patience. Curiosity killed the cat," Marina said.

"Ah, yes, but sat-is-faction brought him back," Lizette retorted.

"It’s not far. In fact, we’re almost there," Marina replied, turning onto a winding road leading into a large field.

"What is that sound?" Lizette asked as they rounded the final curve. "Oh my god! Balloons!" She squealed as she saw a seven-story hot air balloon begin to rise from the ground as it was inflated.

"Welcome to Freedom Aloft," Marina chuckled.

"Hey, Marina!" A tall, gangly man yelled across the field to Marina. "Park it between the trailer and the van and come on over."

Marina pulled the Vette into a parking spot next to a large truck with trailer attached.

She turned off the ignition, walked around the car, and lifted the picnic basket from Lizette‘s lap. "Come on. Let’s go see what’s happening."

Lizette jumped from the car, running towards the balloons.

"Hey, slow down, there," Marina called out, amused by the small blonde’s excitement.

Marina set the picnic basket back on the car seat and caught up with Lizette. She grabbed Lizette’s hand and led her toward the balloons.

"I’ve always wanted to see one of those up close and personal. Do you think they‘d mind?" Lizette asked.

"Oh, I’m pretty sure it will be all right. I know a few people." Marina headed toward the tall, gangly man who had greeted her when they drove up. "Hey, Butch. How’s it going? Butch Brown … Lizette Grayson. And the short, stubby one is … Stubby Poteet."

"Howdy." Stubby nodded, then went back to what he was doing.

Butch flashed a friendly smile. "Hey, Lizette. Nice to meet ya. Any friend of Marina’s is a friend of mine. So what do you say, boss. Wanna take her up?"

Marina grinned widely. "Lizette? Do you want to take a ride?"

Lizette blanched. "I don’t know about going up. I mean, I wanted to see one, but to go up in one. I don’t know. I don’t think I can do that. I mean, I’m a white knuckle flyer."

"Come on. I’ll be with you. It will be just fine."

"Who’s going to fly it?"

"I’ll operate it."

"You? Jesus, are you kidding?"

"Nope. I’m licensed."

"Whose balloon is this?"



"Well, technically, it belongs to the bank. See?" Marina pointed to the now fully inflated balloon. The CNB&T logo was prominently displayed on its side.

Lizette hesitated. On the one hand she wanted very much to take a balloon ride with the beautiful woman by her side. On the other hand, she was terrified.

Marina turned Lizette toward her and put her hands on Lizette’s waist. She lifted one hand to tip Lizette’s head up so that she was staring into her eyes. "You will be safe. I will not let anything happen to you. If it’s too much, I’ll bring her down. I promise."

Lizette looking into the serious amber eyes that held her own. She took a deep breath and answered, not wanting to deny this woman anything. "All right," she said with a tremor in her voice. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained," she continued with a bravado she didn’t feel.

"That’s my girl," Marina chuckled. "Come on, let me tell you a little bit about this baby." She carefully explained the process of bringing the massive balloon to flight. Then she instructed Lizette in the method of entering the balloon's gondola and outlined other precautionary measures.

Lizette listened intently, then nodded when Marina asked if she was ready. "As ready as I’ll ever be, I guess." Lizette said.

Marina entered the gondola while Butch helped Lizette in after her. "We go after the blue," Marina said, indicating a silver blue balloon at least a story higher than theirs which was taking off a few hundred yards away.

When the blue balloon was safely up, Marina yelled to Butch and Stubby. "OK boys, let her go." The men untied the tether holding the balloon to the ground and let it out, watching as Marina worked the propane and the multi-colored CNB&T balloon began to rise.

Lizette stood in the center of the basket next to Marina, her heart pounding in her chest. ‘Oh, god, this is crazy,’ she thought. ‘What have I gotten myself into?’ Her legs were leaden as she felt the balloon rise higher and higher. She closed her eyes, certain she was going to throw up at any minute.

"Hey," Marina said in her ear. "Are you all right?"

"Just a little green," Lizette called back as she felt the earth fall away and the big balloon rise.

Marina pulled the small woman back against her body, one arm around Lizette’s waist, the other hand on the propane torch. "Open your eyes. Look out there."

Lizette leaned back into the safety of Marina’s arm. She opened first one eye, then the other, and then inhaled with wonder. A sense of freedom washed over her. The large balloon moved gently along. There was little sense of motion and no sense of a breeze at all as the big balloon moved with the wind. They floated on invisible wind currents that determined where and how fast they would go. The experience was remarkably like floating on a cloud, and the feeling of fear Lizette had been experiencing was replaced with a sense of serenity and peace.

"Look," Marina said, pointing out in front of them. Balloons of differing sizes and colors were their neighbors, moving in tandem across the clear sky. A goose flew by their balloon and honked hello as he hurried to join the rest of his flock.

Lizette looked out at the panorama of color and then at the vista below. The sun reflected off the scraggy mountaintops and rivers wound their way through the landscape. "This must be the closest thing to heaven," she said, smiling happily.

"With you here, it is," Marina replied seriously.

They floated through the air together, lost in the beauty of it all.

Marina reveled in the freedom of the flight and the warmth of the small body leaning trustfully against her.

Lizette marveled at the unexpected feeling of security and exhilaration.

Every so often, the roar of a burner would shatter the silence but the gentle glide of the balloon and the magnificence of the view reduced the sound to a minor irritation.

After drifting for almost an hour, Marina started looking for a spot to land. She had kept in contact with her ground crew by radio. Butch and Stubby were following along on the ground - Stubby driving the truck with trailer, Butch driving Marina’s Vette.

Marina spotted a large field below and signaled to the ground crew that she would be landing there. She brought the balloon down expertly, happy that they did not overshoot the landing spot. She held tightly to Lizette as they skidded and bounced to a stop. Butch and Stubby ran out to tether the balloon and keep it from floating away.

"Thanks, guys," Marina said as she and Lizette exited the gondola. "I’ll leave you to do the easy stuff."

The two men gave exaggerated groans.

"No problem, Marina," Butch said. "We’ll pack her up, then head back to Charleston. Here‘s your keys." He threw the Vette keys at Marina, and she grabbed them in midair.

"See you guys later. Seriously, thanks a lot." Marina took Lizette’s hand and headed for the Vette.

"What’s this?" Lizette picked up a bottle sitting next to the picnic basket on the seat.

"It’s tradition to celebrate a good flight with champagne. I guess the boys left that for us."

"Remind me to thank them. So, where to next?" Lizette asked.

"I thought we’d drive to a spot about a half hour from here and have our picnic," Marina responded.


The drive to Winding Falls took just under a half hour. Marina pulled the small car into a parking spot just off the highway. She grabbed a blanket from the trunk of the car and took the champagne and picnic basket from Lizette. She led the small woman along an almost hidden path through thick woods. The woods ended abruptly in a small, open, grassy area on the side of a cool mountain lake fed by a small waterfall and stream.

Lizette stopped still, taking in the beauty of her surroundings. She turned to Marina and reached up to touch her cheek gently. "Thank you," she whispered. "I didn’t think you could outdo yourself, but you have."

"You’re welcome," Marina said softly. She laid the blanket on the ground at the side of the lake and opened the basket, which contained an assortment of cheeses and fruits and a bottle of wine. She tied a short cord around the wine and champagne and laid them in the cold stream, tethering them to a small rock on the side.

Lizette sat down on the blanket and watched Marina walk over to the stream and squat down to place the bottles in the water. The beauty of the woman took her breath away.

As though she could hear the other woman’s thoughts, Marina turned and smiled at Lizette.

Lizette smiled back with shy confidence. ‘I’m not going to play this waiting game much longer, Perelli,’ she thought. ‘Not much longer at all.’

She lay back, closing her eyes, and waited for Marina to return, stretching out her small frame and arching her back contentedly before relaxing into the soft grass beneath the blanket. The sun warmed her as she listened to the quiet roar of the waterfall pounding into the small lake. She sensed the shadow which broke the sun’s rays and opened her eyes to look up at Marina standing over her. She reached up her hand to pull the tall woman down on the blanket beside her. "Come, lie down by me," she said.

Marina lay down on the blanket next to Lizette, not touching her, but just close enough to feel the heat of the small woman’s body beat against her side. She stared up at the clouds and moved her hand over slowly to take Lizette’s in her own, their fingers intertwining. ‘I want to make love to you,’ she thought as they lay side-by-side.

They lay quietly for several minutes until Lizette pulled her hand from Marina’s and turned on her side toward the taller woman. She propped her head in her hand and looked down at the dark-haired woman by her side. She saw Marina lift her arm up to place it on the back of her head, moving it slowly down to caress the downy hair at the nape of her neck. She let Marina pull her head down slowly, stopping before their lips could meet. Lizette took a deep breath, then closed the short distance to Marina’s mouth, their lips barely touching in an achingly sweet kiss.

The women pulled apart quickly as they heard loud laughter moving closer. Suddenly a group of young people burst from the woods and ran down the bank to the lake, jumping in with loud squeals.

"Probably college students. NC Tech isn’t far from here," Marina groaned as she turned on her side away from Lizette. She felt as if she had been kicked in the stomach. She turned back. "Let’s get out of here."

"Yes," Lizette husked. "Let’s go home." She stood and started to close up the picnic basket.

"Leave it! " Marina ordered. "Hey, kids," she yelled, "There’s some wine cooling in the water and food in the basket. It’s yours! Enjoy."

Marina grabbed Lizette’s hand and pulled her hurriedly towards the woods.


The small red Corvette peeled out of the parking space on the side of the road and barreled through the mountain roads. The hour and a half ride back to the cabin took just under one hour fifteen minutes. Marina pulled the car to a stop at the foot of the cabin steps. She got out of the car and walked around it determinedly, opening the passenger door, and taking Lizette’s hand to help her out.

Lizette waited impatiently while Marina opened the cabin door. Lizette entered first, followed by Marina who kicked the door shut with her foot.

Marina’s heart was beating madly, threatening to burst from her chest. She leaned back against the door and reached out to pull Lizette against her, bending down to the small blonde to capture her lips in a searing kiss.

Lizette flicked her tongue out to move it over Marina‘s lips then into her mouth. She felt herself contract as Marina moaned and parted her lips in surrender, sucking Lizette’s tongue into her mouth.

"Come with me," Marina growled, breaking the kiss. She grabbed Lizette’s hand and dragged her willingly into the bedroom.

They stood at the side of the large bed. Marina reached down and pulled Lizette’s shirt from her pants, pushing her hands up under it to mold them against Lizette’s breasts.

"Take it off," Marina demanded, removing her hands from Lizette’s breasts. She watched as Lizette pulled the shirt up over her head and threw it across the room.

Marina reached out to slide her hands across Lizette’s swollen nipples, then down across her ribs and abdomen. She reached with shaking hands to unbutton Lizette‘s jeans and slip them down over her hips and thighs. Marina gasped when she realized that Lizette wasn’t wearing anything underneath, and she reached to touch the wetness pooling between the small blonde‘s legs.

"I want you so much," Marina whispered, placing her arm behind Lizette and lowering her to the bed. She pulled off Lizette’s shoes and jeans, hurling them to join the shirt lying on the floor on the other side of the room.

"Hurry," Lizette rasped as her chest rose and fell in a staccato rhythm.

Marina tore off her own clothes, never taking her eyes from Lizette’s. She placed her arms on each side of the small woman and moved herself carefully over Lizette until she could ease herself onto the bed beside her. Every inch of her skin burned as it touched Lizette‘s. Her head was spinning and she was dizzy with passion as she once again captured Lizette’s mouth with her own.

Lizette raised her hand to caress Marina’s cheek and ran her trembling fingers through Marina’s dark hair. "Touch me. Please. I feel like I’ve waited forever just to feel you touch me."

"Oh god, yes," Marina moaned. "I need to taste you, to touch you," she said as she stroked the small body writhing next to her. She leaned in to place her mouth in the hollow at the base of Lizette’s throat and flicked her tongue against the rapidly beating pulse she found there. The heat of Lizette’s body burned against the palm of her hand as Marina slowly, almost worshipfully, ran her hand over Lizette’s velvet skin.

Marina let her fingers trace the muscles of Lizette’s abdomen, then followed with her mouth, nibbling and sucking across the contracting muscles. She ran her hand across Lizette’s thighs and felt them quiver in response.

Lizette arched her hips, her body begging for a more intimate touch. She reached to grab dark hair between her hands and directed Marina’s mouth to where she so desperately wanted it to go.

Lizette gasped as she felt Marina’s strong tongue open her labia and slide up and down her center. She felt Marina’s shoulders move under her legs and her hands grab her buttocks to pull her harder to her mouth.

Marina could feel the hard, wet evidence of Lizette’s arousal under her tongue, and sucked her into her mouth with small nibbling suction. The musky scent of Lizette’s desire assaulted her nostrils, acting like an aphrodisiac on her own already out-of-control libido.

"Fill me," Lizette begged. "I need you to fill me."

Marina thrust her fingers into Lizette, pumping strongly in and out, in smooth rhythm. She let her thumb thrum against Lizette’s swollen clitoris as she moved her mouth up to suck against her abdomen .

"Oh. Yes!" Lizette closed her eyes tightly and cried out as her orgasm rose from somewhere deep inside her and threw her into a free fall of such intensity that she couldn’t catch her breath. Her muscles contracted over and over, trapping Marina inside. When the spasming finally stopped, Lizette opened her eyes slowly and looked up into Marina’s adoring but concerned eyes.

"Are you all right?" Marina whispered.

Lizette laughed, a quiet laugh. She reached up to run her hand along Marina’s jaw, then pulled her head down to kiss her gently. "I’m more all right than I have ever been in my life," she sighed.


Concluded in Part 6

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