Xena: Warrior Princess is copyrighted to MCA/Universal/Renaissance. Images and characters are used here without intent to profit from or infringe upon this copyrighted material. All US and international copyright laws apply to the original works written by the authors.
This story is the third story in this series and follows the characters, Alex Wallace and Ellie O’Brian, from my first attempt at FanFiction, the short story,
and the sequel
Huge thanks to all who have contacted me about these stories I hope they know how much their kind words have encouraged me. You all know who you are.. xxx
Special mention to Red Hope, who has helped me with American culture and didn’t send out a posse when I referred to Ellie, a Texan, as ‘Yank’!!
To my wee girl Suzy…for chasing my demons away and filling up my hug battery!!
Uber: X and G meet again in the 21st Century
Disclaimers. There is a little violence in this story, and some abusive behaviour towards the characters, but I am still too shy for rampant bodice ripping sex!!! Just love and romance between two women….
This story not for resale or profit.
Plea for mercy!! I suffered a series of mini strokes at 50 years old..yeh..yeh..I know now...too much work and not enough play!!..The result was I lost the ability to read, write, or remember much for a coupla years…..Long road back but with a lot of help and hard work…..here I am!! However, punctuation remains a mystery to me….so please be kind and roll with the irritations of commas and apostrophe thingies in the wrong place….there’s only so much the spellchecker can help me with!!..
In December 2005, the Law in UK was changed to make same sex marriages legal….YIPPEEE, me and my girl were married in April 2006 after 16 years together. Who would ever have thunk it possible!!
What do you Bards out there think?? Shall I keep trying or not?? Email me. All comments welcome and hugs will be returned.
Alex’s Celtic Knot
Clan Wallace Crest.
Living with her…again
Part 1 Chapter 1-4.
The dawn mist swirled and eddied as the shiny blade of the mighty Claymore sliced through it. Time and again, the tall auburn haired Celt wielded the heavy sword as if it were a feather; she cut and parried imaginary attackers in a flowing ballet, the blade almost a blur. In one final climax, swirling the blade above her head, she knelt and reversing it, plunged the sword backwards into the last remaining imaginary foe.
Alex Wallace stood to her full 6 ft and took a deep breath, waiting for her heart rate to slow. These sword drills, followed by the gentle stretching and meditation of T’ai Chi, were the morning rituals that kept her reflexes sharp and her edge keen.
The promontory upon which Alex stood had, for the most part of her life, been a magnet for her, not always for happy reasons. Alex knew that in some past life, something terrible had happened in a place like this…something so awful, that it had torn her soul apart again, and again, for many lifetimes.
Throughout this life, the rugged promontory had been a place to which she had been drawn in both her waking, and sleeping moments. Uncle J, she smiled at the thought of him…that grizzled Scotsman, James D Wallace, her uncle and her guardian since she was five years old who had raised her after her parents were killed, had often searched for the sleepwalking child to find her on the promontory, sobbing in some terrifying dreamscape where past demons tormented her.
These nightmares had continued to visit her until that night a few months previously when her rediscovered soulmate, Ellie, had driven the demons from her soul by the power of her pure, gentle love; unconditionally given and had filled her with a sense of peace for the first time in her life. In this lifetime, Alex now knew that the demons had been defeated by the renewed bond with the beautiful blond Texan who lay fast asleep in their bed, warm and safe in the small Scottish croft nestling in the lee of the hills, behind where Alex stood.
Alex drew deep breath of the still spring air of the West coast of Scotland.
She turned, and picking up the heavy Claymore, turned towards the stone built croft and gazed up at the rugged mountains that towered behind the village of Applecross.
She mused on how much her life had changed. Six months ago, she had lived her life alone, and had convinced herself she was happy to do so. As an archaeologist, she had work she loved,and her family: Her big cuddly bear of an Uncle J, Jeannie his housekeeper and …‘The Boys’,….her two almost brothers, Donald and Hamish. Then suddenly, her world had been turned upside down when a beautiful 5’4’’ American, Ellie O’ Brian, had fallen literally, into her life. Alex smiled as she remembered the sparks of electricity that had flowed between them at that first touch and later, the flash of realisation that their souls had shared past lives and that they had found each other again. Their journey of rediscovery had been a whirlwind and Alex revelled in the warmth of it... she had brought her soulmate home to her beloved Scottish Highlands…to her family and friends, who had fallen as quickly in love with the tiny blond, as Alex herself had.
Just three short months ago, they had been legally married in a Civil Partnership Ceremony held at the Hotel owned by Uncle J…
Since then, she had felt a peace she had never known; a sense of being safe from everything she had once feared so much
Alex watched the low spring sun rise, heard the waves crashing from the Sound of Raasay 100 feet below the promontory, and tasted the salt spray as it rose above the lip of the cliff before her. The power that the terrifying dreams had once over her was gone; now, she remained only curious as to their cause, she was no longer held captive in their grip rather she was an observer, as if in play.
“One day,” thought Alex, “One day, “I’ll figure it out.”
It was unusual for Ellie not to join Alex in their morning ritual. Ellie practised her kick boxing skills whilst Alex’s sword work was done, then they both came together to complete the T’ai Chi. Sometimes, Ellie showed Alex some kicks and moves, the tall dark Scot was a natural athlete and picked it up quickly. This morning, however, Ellie was recovering from a nasty cold so Alex had slipped from their bed and left her sleeping soundly. It was with pleasant anticipation of a warm snuggle that Alex strode to the stable door of the croft and slipped in She took off her shoes and padded quietly through the living room to the kitchen, where she filled a kettle and placed it on the range to heat.
Returning to the living room, she rekindled the embers of the fire and watched as the flames began to leap and crackle. The light from the fire revealed the worn leather couches and piles of cushions that furnished the simple room.
Alex moved quietly into the hallway and eased open the door to the bedroom, she winced as it creaked and she heard the stirring from the huge wooden bed.
“You can only come in if you are Tall, Dark and Handsome,” a sleepy voice murmured.
Alex grinned at the greeting, usually abbreviated to TDH, slid beneath the goose feather duvet and gathered her beautiful girl into her arms.
Ellie grumbled,” You’re cold, you brat, you only want me as a hottle bottle.” But still she snuggled into Alex and found her favourite place in the nook of her tall lover’s shoulder.
“How’re you feeling Darlin’?” Alex dropped a kiss onto Ellie’s still warm forehead, “Still got a bit of fever.”
“M’OK…better for some sleep,…where’s my coffee?. Lousy room service in this hotel.”
Ellie was not a morning person, and she always made Alex smile when she would say, on the occasions when their scheduling required the service of an alarm clock,
“I will rise, but I refuse to shine.” ….
Alex also knew better than to ask a question, or expect a decision from her partner before the first or even second cup of coffee of the day.
Alex chuckled and went to leave the bed again but she was held by Ellie’s arm across her chest.
“Ellie, my sweet lass…you need coffee…I need to get up….the choice is yours!”
Grumbling, Ellie released her grip and pushed Alex to the edge of the bed.
“Think yourself lucky that I am really, REALLY sick or I’d have another idea to keep you busy, you gorgeous woman!!”
A few moments later, Alex had made coffee for Ellie and her own usual strong tea and the two lovers were sitting on the pile of cushions in front of the fire. Alex had insisted on bundling her girl into a tartan blanket although the room was warm. The hardy Scot was well aware that until a few months previously, the little blond had been used to the warmth of California and her immune system was still fighting to catch up with the climate change.
“Next time one of your little Bro’s has a sniffle, tell him to stay the hell away from me…OK?” Ellie took yet another tissue from the box at her side, and blew her nose theatrically.
“Poor Hamish, he’s really sorry but he didn’t realise I had married a week and feeble Texas Cowgirl!!” Alex teased.
Ellie reached up, punched her girls bicep, none too gently and growled,”Watch it ya big Scot, I’ll show you whose weak n feeble..…but not today Huh??!
The auburn head was held against the blond one as Alex whispered, “Sometimes it’s nice to be able to look after you, my love…but I’d rather you weren’t sick”
Alex was referring to Ellie’s fierce independence. Since the age of 15, Ellie had been alone since her father had been sent to jail for 15 years for the attempted murder of his daughter in a savage beating. Ellie’s life had been saved only when neighbours, kicking in the door to their house, had pulled the drunken man away from her. The scars of this betrayal ran deep in the feisty Texan and Alex was saddened when she realised that soon they would have to deal with this, and that Ellie’s pain would have to be relived, when her father’s first parole hearing was due, late in the year. In the 12 years that he had been in jail Ellie had been able, as best she could, to block him from her mind. It had been Dany, one of Ellie’s two best friends in the States, who had alerted Alex to this development in a furtive phone call, the previous week.
Their conversation had been brief and disturbing. Parole officers had come looking for Ellie at the office of her company in California, run by Dany and her other best friend Ann. The business, set up by Ellie, organised and ran Business Conventions in the prestigious Hotels in Los Angeles, California. Having known, and loved, Ellie since High School and having lived with her through the terrifying abuse by her Father, they knew that Ellie would need all the strength she had and all the strength that Alex could give her, if the gentle girl was to get through the continuation of that abuse, by facing the fact that her father could soon be out of jail.
Blissfully unaware of all this, Ellie revelled in the warm arms of her girl and took her turn to wonder how her life had changed. She had built big walls around herself to protect herself and this tall dark stranger, whom she had literally bumped into, had walked through the walls as if they were made of paper, and turned her whole life upside down. From that moment, she had KNOWN…just KNOWN that their connection was a timeless and eternal bond. The realisation of this fact made Ellie feel warm and safe; the mysticism of it bothered her not at all because she was in her new home with the love of her lives and all was well with the world…if only her damn nose would stop running.
Alex had made some porridge and in true Scots fashion, she ate it with salt. Ellie, on the other hand ate hers with a very large dollop of honey.
Alex always teased her about her sweet tooth and Ellie always replied.
“Sweet is as sweet does, my love..…trust me; you would NOT like me in a sugar famine!!”
There was a loud knocking on the door of the Croft which opened, and they heard a loud Scottish voice.
“Stop whatever you are doing, that I shouldn’t see, and make yourselves decent.” called Donald. He and his brother Hamish were the closest things to brothers that Alex had. She was an only child and ‘The Boys’, as Hamish and Donald were called by all and sundry, were fiercely protective of the tall dark woman but teased her mercilessly.
“Jealousy is such an ugly demon!” Ellie called out but smiled when she saw the open friendly face that peeped through the door with a hand over his eyes, the fingers spread so that his eyes sparkled through them.
Alex rose, gave him a hug and asked,
“Tea, big lad?”
“Can’t stop, Alex. Uncle J asked me to drop off the mail. I’m due on shift in half an hour.”
The gentle giant Donald was a motorcycle paramedic servicing the remote areas of their part of the Western Highlands, so it was with professional concern that he approached the be-tartaned bundle.
How’re you feeling, wee one??” he crouched next to Ellie and felt her head
“Better, Donald, but don’t tell Hamish that, I want him to feel really guilty for the longest time for giving me his damned Scottish bugs. Tell him the next time he comes near me….I’ll send for the Cops!!
Donald threw back his head and bellowed with laughter,
“Good one, wee Ellie….I’ll be sure to threaten him with that!!”
The laughter was caused by the fact that Hamish McGregor WAS the ’Cops’….in fact he was the Sergeant responsible for the area around Applecross and to have him terrified of the wrath of the petite Texan, had caused him much teasing up at the Hotel!!
While fondly observing the interplay between these very important people, Alex took the bundle of letters and surreptitiously flicked through them to see if there were any from America. There weren’t and gave out a silent sigh of relief.
“Not today, thank the Gods.”
When Donald had gone, the two women began their day. Alex drew Ellie a deep hot bath, dropped some lavender oil into it and watched as the steam filled the room with its fragrance. She returned to the living room and kneeling next to her lover, picked her up in her arms, Ellie’s arms automatically went around Alex’s neck and they kissed.
“Mmm, I love it when you’re masterful, my beautiful Scot!!” Ellie murmured with her face in the thick auburn hair of her love. “I love your smell, Alex, it’s like caramel and heather all rolled into one.”
Alex held her girl tightly and kissed her again, more deeply this time and with all of the love she could muster. The bond that tied them together was a strong as time and yet, these quiet moments served to reinforce it and fill it with energy.
Alex carried Ellie into the bathroom and when she had removed her PJ’s, slipped her into the warm water.
“Oh Yesssss….my life is perfect!!” Ellie sighed as she leant back in the huge tub and smiled.
“Enough room for two, my love” she looked sideways at Alex who replied.
“I thought you were really, really sick?”
“Then make me feel better, TDH!!”
A very satisfying hour later, the two soulmates were dressed. Alex, as ever, wore jeans and a rugby shirt, with a sweatshirt over it.
Ellie had, after 10 minutes of thinking and looking in her wardrobe, allowed a frustrated Alex to choose her clothing. She wore jeans with a warm tartan shirt, a scarf at her neck and a thick cream Arran sweater with complex Celtic designs integrated into its stitches.
Despite her business background Ellie was, infuriatingly, unable to reach a decision about the simplest things. Alex, on the other hand, usually flipped a coin and lived with the result!
“Warm enough, Ell?” Alex fussed.
“If I was any warmer, I’d have be sweated off 10 lbs since I got out of the bath….stop fussing….I’m good….really!”
Secretly Ellie loved it when her tall girl went into fuss mode. It made her feel more loved and cherished than she could remember since her mother had died, Ellie was convinced, at her father’s hand. That thought had not occurred to her for quite some time and a silent shiver ran through her as memories resurfaced. She glanced quickly at Alex whose beautiful blue eyes were regarding her quizzically.
“Where were you, my lovely?” she reached for the tiny hand and held it gently.
“Just remembering when I last felt as loved as I do now, Hon” Ellie tried to dismiss the concern she felt from Alex through their joined hands.
“Don’t kid a kidder, Texas, ….spill.”
Ellie realised that Alex was not going to let it drop and she let her shoulders slump.
“Aaah.” Alex’s single word response let the little blond know, that her partner understood the import of what she had said.
Ellie’s voice trembled as she spoke,
“It’s 12 years now….the minimum the judge said he had to serve.”
Alex led her girl to one of the leather couches and sitting down, drew her love onto her lap and cradled her.
Alex held Ellie’s face in her hand; she could see the pain in the green pools and spoke gently,
“Darlin’, Dany phoned last week.
Ellie started and looked up into Alex’s pale face, her tone sharp and irritated.
“You didn’t tell me....I don’t like it when you keep secrets from me, Alex…. that’s not how we work.”
The tall Scot let out a slow breath, she was relieved that Ellie had not withdrawn from her embrace. So often, Ellie’s temper flared and the walls would go up. Alex usually found she could bring them down quite quickly, but she still hated it when her girl withdrew from her.
“Sorry Darlin…I was waiting for the right time.”
“Alex….there’s never gonna be a right time for me to deal with this. What did Dany want?”
“Parole officers need to talk to you.”
“Why? What’s it got to do with me?”
“Apparently, they need to know how you feel about him being released.”
“I hope the fucking bastard rots in hell for all eternity.” She hissed.
Alex tried not to show any reaction to the use of an obscenity and the venom in her sweet girl’s voice. It was so unusual for Ellie to use either an obscenity or that tone of voice. For both of these to arise now, Alex knew the cause was an agonising, searing pain from deep within Ellie’s soul. It was never so clear to Alex that the damage inflicted by her father had only been suppressed and not dealt with, and she was concerned.
“This isn’t going to go away, Babe.” Alex whispered.
“I know, but I sure as hell wish it would.”
The two women were silent for a few moments and Alex gently stroked her partner’s back in a vain attempt to relieve the knotted muscles there.
Ellie suddenly flopped against Alex’s chest and began to sob, silent heaving sobs that tore at her.
The big Scot felt so helpless and in her own struggle to help her love, cursed Kevin O’Brian to hell and back.
After a few moments, Ellie’s breathing eased and Alex wiped away her tears with her fingers and then, reaching down found a tissue and held Ellie while she blew her nose and threw the tissue on the fire.
“Shit, shit, shit …and another suitcase full of shit. “The Texan whispered.
Alex held her breath for a moment and then asked hesitantly,
“Want me to phone Dany?”
“Hon, you can’t do this for me,… much as you want to…this time was always gonna come. I’m 27, not 15…. and I have to face this.”
“Yes, you do, my love….but not alone…not this time.”
The tear laden green eyes met the equally teary blue ones and for a few seconds their bond was tangible. Ellie was the first to drop her gaze and snuggled back into the safety of her partner’s arms.
“I know, Hon... And I thank all the gods and goddesses for that, every minute of every day.”
The subject was shelved for the next few hours; Alex felt her wee girl’s emotions needed some respite from the vicious onslaught of her memories.
The morning passed by quickly: As an archaeologist, Alex was working on a paper about an Iron Age Hut site to the north of Applecross, where she had been doing some preliminary investigations.
Ellie, whilst the titular head of her company in the States was a writer at heart and she had lost herself in the final re-writes of her novel, before it went to a publisher. She had not told Alex, but she had sent the first few chapters to various publishers. For several weeks she had checked her emails, with trepidation, and had been forced, over and again, to hide the disappointment of rejection....but then one day a message popped into her Inbox and she was beside herself with joy to find it was preliminary acceptance…..Her book was going to be published!. She had refused to allow Alex to read it and kept her news a secret, for fear that the deal would fail…she hated keeping secrets from her girl….but just this once…Huh?? Then when, and if, it all worked out…it would be a real surprise for Alex, Ellie so desperately wanted the tall, dark Scot to be proud of her….it really mattered to her…and it had been the longest time since anyone had mattered that much to the blond Texan.
The novel had been floating around in Ellie’s head for about 7 or 8 years, but her need to earn a living had pushed it to the background. Her income from the US business had relieved the pressure and as Alex had pointed out, after their marriage.
“What’s mine is yours now, my beautiful, independent Cowgirl…and I’ve got a certificate to prove it!!”
This referred to the fact that Alex was an independently wealthy woman. Her parents had been successful business people and left their daughter well provided for. Ellie had always paid her way, and still did from the income produced by her Company in California, but since their marriage, the lines between their finances had blurred somewhat over the months and gradually, Ellie became more comfortable with this arrangement.
Alex worked in a small study where she was surfing the net for info on an artefact she had found at the site.
Ellie worked in the living room on a laptop. Knowing each was close left both women free to engross themselves in their tasks.
It was after noon when Ellie glanced at the clock and, closing the laptop lid, decided it was time for food. Ellie’s trim muscular body belied the amount of food she stuffed into it. Her regular T’ai Chi and kick boxing exercises kept her toned and used up the calories she took in. The two lovers also walked the Scottish mountains above Applecross, each enjoying the open air and sense of freedom. For Alex it was a reconnection with her roots and for Ellie, a wonderful voyage of discovery in this new land she was quickly considering home.
Ellie worked in the compact but well stocked kitchen of the croft. It drove her mad that Alex always put everything away…because to Ellie’s mind there was no point, when she would need the utensil again later…. so once again, she took the homemade bread from the bread bin and, getting a knife from the drawer, began to make two huge layered sandwiches of cheese, ham and salad topped with a dollop of mayo and took them to the living room. She moved quietly to the open door of Alex’s study and peeped around it. She loved this room, it was so Alex... The huge Scottish Claymore leant by the door next to Alex’s guitar and Bouran and Ellie mused that her girl was a strange mix of strength and gentleness... The dark head turned from the flickering screen.
“Hi gorgeous….what’s afoot?”
“Lunch, my industriously academic Dr Wallace…Lunch!!”
As they munched on their sandwiches, Alex took a sideways glance at her beautiful blond and tried to decide whether or not to raise the subject of her Father again.
“How’s your heart, my love?” she ventured.
“Sore” Ellie whispered and Alex winced at the pain still evident, “but I’ve decided to phone Dany tonight. I need to know just what is going on.”
She felt herself grabbed and soundly kissed by Alex and she returned the kiss with equal fervour…for the rest of the afternoon no literary work was undertaken by either woman!!.
After lunch….and dessert!!... the two lovers had thought to go for a walk, but the weather had changed. The sleeting rain and wind whipping around the croft was more usually the weather at this time of year, so they settled back to their projects and the afternoon trickled away to the gentle sounds of a classical music station and the tap, tap of their keyboards.
Alex returned to the living room at about 5pm and smiled to find Ellie dozing quietly with the laptop still open. After stoking the fire and adding another log, she gently disentangled the computer, pulled a blanket over her sleepy girl and padded to the kitchen. She frowned to find the bread, knife, butter and all the makings of their lunchtime sandwich left out. She loved Ellie beyond words but living with her…..again….was a learning curve and a half and Alex swallowed her irritation, with a rye smile.
She gathered the makings for a pasta sauce and set to peeling onions and stringing celery. Soon the kitchen was filled with tempting smells which wafted into the living room, Alex was not at all surprised when and a sleepy bard came to the door…
“What’s a cooking big girl?”
“I might have known that even the arms of Morpheus couldn’t hold you, when there’s food about!!”
Alex ducked and deftly caught the mushroom thrown by Ellie, as it flew past her ear.
“Oh, alright,...Ms ’I’m to quick for my britches 2006’…nice catch !!!!”
Ellie moved behind Alex and put her arms around her waist..
“You only want to pinch my celery, don’t you my sweet innocent girl??….NOT!!” Alex grunted and returned the squeeze.
“Make yourself useful, darling and get the plates out, willya??”
“I’d rather stay right here thanks.” Ellie’s voice was muffled as she snuggled against her tall lovers back.
No plates…no food...your choice!”
“Oh OK” Ellie grumbled and set a tray with plates, forks and the big black pepper grinder.
Meanwhile Alex strained the spaghetti and dished up the steaming food, she sprinkled a handful of freshly grated Parmeggiano cheese on top of each plate, and the meal was ready.
They ate, as usual, sitting on the pile of cushions by the fire. Alex had opened a bottle of Semillon Chardonnay which they both liked and they toasted each other before savouring the chill crisp wine. Ellie drank the wine…but played with her food this was unusual, as little stopped the Texan from eating.., and Alex’s brow furrowed...
The wind outside caused eddies in the open fire and occasionally flurries of ash would waft into the air, from the hearth. The big clock on the mantle struck 6.30 and Alex knew she could put off the moment no longer. She reached over, took Ellie’s plate from her and placed it on the tray..
“Shall I get the phone, Babe?” she asked quietly
She felt Ellie drew in a deep breath and only just heard her whispered response.
Alex cleared the plates into the kitchen and returning; she refilled Ellie’s glass and brought the phone from its base by the door.
Sitting down, Alex drew her girl onto her lap and cradled her in the hope that she could somehow cushion her little love, from the pain to come.
Ellie punched in the string of numbers that would take her through to the apartment Dany and Ann shared in California.
The two women listened as it rang once, twice and then they both heard Dany answer.
“Hi this is Dany”
“Ellie’s voice almost failed her and Alex took the phone from her trembling hand.
“Dany, it’s me Alex.”
She heard the woman at the other end of the line catch her breath and spoke again.
“Ellie is here to talk to you; Dany….I’ll pass you over.”
“Ell, is that you honey?”
“Yep….fraid so Dan…Well, what’s been happening your end lately…?”
It was hard for Alex to hear the two dear friends fencing with each othe,she understood that Dany was desperate not to hurt her friend but just didn’t know of any way to avoid it. There was a strained silence on the phone..and Ellie’s voice cracked as she spoke.
“Just tell me Dany….right now OK ….before I hang up.”
“Your father’s parole hearing is set for the 28th in Dallas, and the parole officers want to know if you want to be there.”
“Did they say what the chances of him getting parole were?”
“Well, Hon…. since the Judge handed down a minimum of 12 years and he has served that, they seemed to think he stands a good chance…”
“Shit,shit,shit,shit…” Alex felt Ellie crumple and took the phone once again…
”Dany, we’ll talk about this and get back to you...If the parole officer contacts you again….let me know right away….day or night OK?”
“Sure Alex....of course….Ann is listening on the other line here…. and we want Ellie to know that we are here for her….always.”
“I know that” Ellie sniffed
“Alex….keep her real close to you, wont you?” Dany was crying softly on the phone.
“Count on it, my friends….Speak later, Bye.”
Alex ended the call, threw the phone onto the couch and turned her attention to the sobbing girl in her arms.
“Don’t ask me to make a decision. Alex…I can’t...I just can’t...it’s too hard.”
“Darling…he beat you once…..he will NEVER get the chance to do that again….I swear to you....he can’t hurt you …..unless you let him.”
This last whispered comment made Ellie look up into the blue eyes, so filled with love, and she blinked away the tears in her own.
“What do you mean?”
“I am your family now and Uncle J, and Jeannie …and you know the boys would kill anyone who even looked at you the wrong way…. if they got there before me, that is!”
The green eyes were thoughtful; Ellie paused and, extricating herself from Alex’s embrace stood gazing at the fire for a few moments. Alex noticed that her precious girl seemed to grow several inches as she straightened her shoulders and blew out a big breath. Then she turned back to Alex who was relieved beyond belief to see a bright spark in the green eyes, and spoke.
“I will not let that man mess me up again…..Sooooo let’s do this, shall we?”
The two lovers had talked for over an hour about how they should approach the next few days. They decided that they should fly out to California to spend some time with Dany and Ann where Ellie wanted to sort out some business issues. Then they would head for Dallas for the parole hearing.
Alex called Dany and told her about their decision.
“Could be for the best, Alex….maybe she needs some sort of catharsis....she’s held this in for so long.”
“Yeh….that’s my hope too.”
Alex spoke the words and really wanted to believe them with all of her heart….she just had a real sense of dread about the coming times.
For her partners sake, she stuffed these feeling down deep inside and presented her girl with a big hug and a long slow kiss.
“I am so proud of you, my wee girl….so very proud.”
“I’ll only make this if you put me in your pocket Alex….no space between us…OK?”
Her answer was a silent one but she was in no doubt of its meaning.
Alex had, with Ellie’s permission, filled in the rest of the family about the reason for their trip to America….she had expected, and not been disappointed in, the response.
Uncle J stood up, his face crimson with fury,
“I’m coming too….no-one lays hands on my family and lives to tell the tale.”
Both Hamish and Donald’s faces reflected J’s fury, but they tried to calm him.
“We know, Uncle J, we know….but it’ll do the wee girl no good to have you giving off all these violent vibes....think ....Big man.. .THINK…...what has she been through already at the hands of a violent man??…. She needs you to be her gentle giant ….not another part of the problem.”
J stopped dead in his tracks and slumped in his chair..
“You’re right Boys….you’re right” he scrubbed his face with his hands and looked at Alex,
“What do you need from us Lassie?”
In the meantime, Jeannie, who had remained silent during this interchange, without a word, got up and left the bar.
Alex outlined their plans, assured her family that they would be away for only 10 days and promised that they would phone every day with updates. Relieved that the storm had passed, Alex hugged the three men in her life and went to the door of the Hotel.
The weather had calmed a little but Alex still pulled her jacket close to her and, jamming her hat on her head, set off on the shortcut to their Croft. The path was steep in places and had been worn over the years; the Boys always used this route when they visited her and it made the journey home just a few minutes. Alex was grateful for the warmth of the croft as she opened the door…..then she stopped dead in her tracks, as from the living room, she could hear the gentle words of a familiar melody. Her eyes filled with tears as she recognised the singer and the song….it was the same lullaby sung to her, so many times, when her dreams had overcome her, as a child
Alex opened the door to the living room and stood transfixed at the scene before her. Ellie’s blond head was being held close to Jeannie’s chest, as the big Scotswoman gently sang the soft words of comfort: her arms held the sobbing girl and rocked her gently. Alex’s heart was full to bursting with gratitude for these wonderful people who were all showing, in their own way, their great love for the fragile damaged soul that was Ellie O’Brian- Wallace.
Alex moved to sit at Jeannie’s feet, she took one of Ellie’s hands in hers and rubbed it gently….she felt the pressure of Ellie’s fingers returning her message... Jeannie smiled and continued to rock the little blond woman in her arms. After 15 minutes or so, Ellie had fallen into a sleep of exhaustion in Jeannie’s arms. Alex disentangled her hand and reaching under Ellie, lifted her into her arms and cradled her gently. The two Scotswoman exchanged glances and Alex carried her precious bundle to the bedroom. She gently removed Ellie’s clothes; put on her PJ’s and slid her under the warm quilt.
Gazing down at Ellie’s pale face, Alex whispered
“Only sweet dreams, my love,” she dropped a sweet kiss on her love’s cheek.
She returned to the living room and found herself enveloped in Jeannie’s arms and squeezed so tightly, she could hardly breathe. She savoured the familiar scent of the lovely woman who had always been so much part of all of their lives.
“Thank you Jeannie”, Alex managed to whisper. “Thanks for showing her how much you care.”
Jeannie released her and Alex saw the fire in the other woman’s eyes.
“How could anyone do that to a gentle soul like her?….Answer me that Alex?….What possessed him?”
“Who can ever know, Jeannie....it beats me….she is kind, loving and giving….
That bastard could have had all the love she has to give and he destroyed it.”
“No, my girl” Jeannie put her hand on to Alex’s arm and shook it gently......”He didn’t destroy it, he just scared it down deep inside her ….until you found it again and let her find it too.” Jeannie’s soft highland voice made the words a poem and Alex nodded.
The two women hugged and Alex walked with Jeannie to the door. As she opened it, she saw Uncle J standing there…
“Come to walk you back Jeannie. I knew you’d be here.”
He looked at Alex and asked.
“How’re my two wee bairns this night?”
“Getting there, Uncle J…long way to go but we’ll get there.”
”That you will, darlin’..I know together you two can do anything.”
Alex watched as the two figures made their way, arm in arm, across the windswept promontory and disappeared from view.
Returning to the living room, Alex settled the fire and switched of the lamps. She felt battered by the day and had felt the same exhaustion through her link with the sleeping blond in the next room.
“Gonna get a whole lot worse before it gets better…” she mused as she quietly went into the bedroom and undressed. She slipped under the covers and immediately felt Ellie move to her, still asleep, and take her place on the nook of Alex’s shoulder.
“I’m right here, my love, I’m right here.”
She stroked her lovers back with gentle movements and after a few whimpers, she felt Ellie move more deeply into sleep. Only then did Alex let her own eyes to close and allowed sleep to take her too.
For the next two days, the two lovers seemed to work on autopilot. They made reservations with airlines, arranged for currency, made Hotel bookings for Dallas and, if the truth be told, each tried not to think of the reason for their trip. Ellie’s face was pinched and pale, and although they took every opportunity to cuddle each other, Alex saw a distance in the green eyes that worried her.
Since finding out about what had happened to Ellie, the Boys had taken to coming over every evening just to check out their girls. They too were dismayed at the change that had come over the newest member of their family. The wonderful light that shone from Ellie’s face was dimmed and although she responded to their hugs, she seemed to be somewhere else.
The night before their flight to America seemed to come all too quickly, their bags were packed and all was ready. Hamish would drive them to the airport and then bring back Alex’s truck.
Alex and Ellie sat together, next to the roaring log fire of the croft. Each nursed a large malt whisky and wandered; lost in thought…Their reveries were disturbed when there was a knock on the door of the Croft.
“It’s only me lassies…Can I come in?”
Aye….away in Uncle J.” Alex called.
The big Scotsman shook off the snow from his coat and, leaving it on a peg by the door, entered the living room.
Ellie looked at him and smiled a small smile…
“Will you have dram, Uncle J?” Alex asked… and rose to go to the drinks table..
Ay, I will lass…it’s minus 5 out there and the wind from Raasay is fierce.”
J eased his bulk down onto the couch next to Ellie…he gave her a sideways look and seeing the concern on his face....she scooted over to him and lay her head on his shoulder…he wrapped her up in his arms and the two of them just sat there, without a word whilst Alex freshened their drinks and brought J his crystal glass.
“Slainge... “J whispered and chinked his glass with Alex before sipping the amber liquid.
The room was heavy with unspoken feelings but finally...J spoke.
“Whatever happens over there, we will all be here waiting for you, you know that don’t you Ellie?”
The green eyes caught the blue eyes of this gentle man and Ellie whispered “I do Uncle J…and it means the entire world to me.”
All that needed to be said, had been said and the big man stood to draw his two girls into a hug....then without another word, he turned and left. They stood until they heard the door close behind him and Alex held her arms open, .Ellie moved into her embrace…
“I can’t even begin to imagine how hard this must be for you, darling,” Alex murmured over the blond head “but please, don’t lock us out. .you have so many people here who love you just for being you…absorb all that love, keep it inside and nothing can hurt you.”
Alex raised her girl’s chin gently and was glad to see a small light in the green pools. She lowered her head and kisses Ellie gently.
Neither got much sleep that night but Alex was happy to have her lover close to her, and she wondered what the next few days would bring.
The next morning, Hamish arrived in good time and packed their luggage in the truck. As they were all about to get in, Jeannie appeared through the mist, bundled in a large cape, carrying a hamper.
“Dinna think you’d get away without saying goodbye to me, you two”
She fussed around to hide her real fears and concerns, for the ordeal these two were about to face.
“I’ve packed a flask of soup and some sandwiches…and don’t worry Ellie….I’ve put in some of those sticky pastries you love so much….try to share them with the other two…..or that plane will never take off with the weight!!”
Alex stood back as Jeannie pulled Ellie into her ample bosom for a hug and after a few moments she turned to Alex and said “Look after her, Alex….and yourself too, my wee girl”
On this note, she held Ellie’s face in her hands, stared deeply in to her eyes for several seconds and then turned to walk back to the hotel without a backward glance, hiding the hot tears that streamed down her lined face.
The drive to Edinburgh was long and after several abortive attempts to engage the two women in conversation Hamish gave up, and just watched the road as the two women sat close together in the back seat.
Hamish left them with a hug and they checked in. Their flight was called and they boarded the plane. The flight was about 10 hours and they passed the time with their favourite word games and listening to the in flight entertainment. Eventually, Alex was pleased when Ellie’s head came to rest on her shoulder and her breathing slowed to the rhythm of sleep. The stewardess, passing by, noticed and brought a blanket to cover her.
Alex mouthed her thanks, settled her girl more comfortably and held one of Ellie’s hands in her own. They landed without incident and, claiming their luggage, emerged into the arrivals hall. They peered around until they saw a huge balloon floating above the heads of the crowd and smiled at each other.
“Only Dany and Ann could do this...” Ellie’s face betrayed the pleasure she felt at the thoughtfulness of their friends.
The balloon was bright pink and exclaimed the message
“Ellie and Alex’s BEST friends!!”
The four women moved together and hugs flew between all of them. Dany and Ann were, as usual, talking at the same time and eventually, Ellie stopped and put her hands over their mouths.
“OK, I give....I give…Can we wait until we get to your apartment and then, when I have had a long bath and something to eat…..we can talk , OK?”
Alex smiled as Ellie reclaimed her status as Boss, and organised the party. As they drove through the city, Ellie remembered that she had quite liked living in San Francisco, she especially remembered liking the ambient temperature of about 60 deg on an April day…but still, she was glad that she now lived in the cold, wet and windy land across the Atlantic ocean and wished with all her heart to be there again.
When they arrived at the apartment Dany and Ann shared, Alex took their luggage to the guest room and went into the ensuite bathroom, to draw Ellie a hot bath. The room filled with fragrant steam as she added lavender oil and, after checking the temperature, she returned to the main living room. True to form, Dany and Ann had Ellie deep in conversation at the dining table, and Alex interrupted with ringing tones.
She spoke in broad Scots dialect.
“Awa tae yer ‘blutions, woman....afor it chills”.
Ellie grinned but Dany and Ann looked blankly at Alex.
“Was that even English??” and they turned to each other to attempt a translation, while Ellie slipped behind Alex and headed for their room.
Just a few seconds later, Ellie was luxuriating in the relaxing bath and dropping a kiss on her upturned lips, Alex whispered.
“Enjoy wee girl…call me if you need anything?”
Ellie nodded and Alex thought she saw some of the strain drain out of Ellie’s face
In the living room, Dany and Ann were still trying to translate what Alex had said, but stopped when she entered and suddenly all three became serious.
“OK Alex, How do we play this?” asked Ann.
“You Guys need to bring her up to speed with your Convention bookings....give her stuff to do…..keep her busy…..I’m gonna get hold of the parole officers and see what is going to happen. I need more information than I’ve got, if we are gonna be ready to help Ellie....By the way, you two are doing a really good job of playing the ditzy sidekicks!!”
Dany and Ann both looked at Alex, then at each other. Each pushed out a hip provocatively, placed a hand on it and asked frostily...
”Like uh …Duh….That is soooo totally rude….What do you mean…DITZY, Amazon babe????”
For a second Alex thought she had dropped a real big clanger until she saw the other two women’s lips begin to quiver, as they burst in to laughter.
”Nearly had you then, didn’t we?? Oh Amazon ours!!”
Alex grabbed the two friends and hugged them…
“We are gonna get her through this...”
“Bet ya life we are”
While Ellie bathed, the three women prepared a light supper. The rest of the evening passed with some food and a couple of bottles of wine.
“Bet it’s good to taste Californian wine again….Huh Ellie?” asked Ann
“Hey.” Said Alex…pretending to bristle.”We have wine in Scotland.”
“What....made from heather and haggis??”
The easy banter helped Ellie to relax; she was enjoyed the company of her two oldest friends and the love of her lives....she knew that all three of these women were conspiring to keep her occupied so that she had no time to think about the coming days, and she loved them for their care of her.
Soon, the long journey began to take its toll; Ellie excused herself and went to bed...…only a few minutes later, Alex joined her.
“You can stay up later Hon….I’ll be fine.”
“What!! … and waste time that could be spent snuggling….I don’t think so, my lovely!!”
Only a few minutes later, both of the travellers fell fast asleep wrapped up in each other arms.
The next morning, they breakfasted on freshly squeezed orange juice and cereal. Dany poured Ellie her second cup of coffee and ventured,
“Safe to ask you a question now, Ell?”
Ellie’s green eyes were a little bleary but she nodded.
“We have got a real bitch of a deal coming up next month….appreciate your take on it, if you’ve go the time, Boss lady?”
The three organisers moved away the breakfast dishes, Ann pulled some papers from her briefcase and soon the three heads were poring over seating plans and scheduling.
Alex took the opportunity to slip into the bedroom and made several calls.
She discovered from a Parole Officer, called Todd Martin to whom she spoke, that Ellie could make a statement to the parole hearing about how she felt concerning her father’s release from jail. This wasn’t mandatory but it was her right. Alex asked several more questions and was about to end the conversation when she was stunned by the next statement from the Parole officer.
“O’Brian knows that Ellie is coming to the hearing….he has the right to know….and he wants to see his daughter…”
“Over my dead body, my friend….no way!!” Alex spoke forcefully
“Dr Wallace, I appreciate your concern for your partner but, with respect, ma’am, that isn’t’ your decision to make.
Alex felt a retort spring to her lips but she swallowed it and realised that he was right. It was Ellie’s call, not hers. She agreed to discuss the issue with Ellie and contact the officer the next day. With only 4 days until the hearing, time was of the essence.
Alex made some lunch for the four of them….she always liked pasta and usually made a reasonable sauce...although Ellie liked it hotter than Alex did so she always ladled on the cracked black pepper!! The three business partners were still hard at it when Alex called for them to eat, and the conversation about the convention continued through lunch. Alex sat back and saw how animated Ellie had gotten, planning the event, and she wondered if she had done the right thing by taking Ellie away from all of this.
After lunch, Alex suggested a walk by the ocean....she knew how much Ellie loved the sea and the invitation was quickly taken up. Ellie went to get a jacket and Ann asked Alex what progress she had made.
“Got some tough decisions for the wee one, I’m afraid.”
A short drive in Dany’s car took them to the ocean and the two lovers strolled hand in hand enjoying the sun and the onshore breeze.
“When are you gonna tell me what’s going on, my big girl??”
Alex looked over, saw the steady gaze of her girl and knew that she had not fooled her for an instant...
“I thought we agreed….no more secrets. Alex??”
Alex nodded and led Ellie to a seat. She held her hand and took a deep breath.
”You have the right to make your feelings known to the Parole board…..”
“And what else…??”
“Your Father wants to see you”
Ellie froze and for a moment Alex thought she would run away, but she held tightly to the smaller woman’s hand and prayed with all her might to whatever goddess was listening to help her love.
“I never want to lay eyes on that man ever, not in this life or any other....I hate him….with every fibre of my being.”
Alex winced as again, the venom came out from the sweetest, purest heart she had ever known.
“So you don’t think it would give you closure?” Alex had thought long and hard about this avenue of approach but decided she had to broach it.
Ellie’s green eyes flashed.
“You think I should see him don’t you? Alex... I can’t believe that you …of all people would expect me to do that…..” and she pulled her hand away.
Alex gently retrieved it, and spoke softly
“You know me better than that, my love; I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t make sure that you had explored all the options available, to help us through this
“US??..US??…It’s not us Alex, …it’s me…ME.”
“And you and I are one soul Ellie…..so it is Us… it always was and it always will be…” Alex’s voice was soft.
This last quiet statement stopped Ellie dead; she looked at the beautiful blue eyes that she had been avoiding for the duration of this conversation, and found herself drowning in the love she saw there.
Once again this wonderful, strong, gentle Scot had just hit the nail on the head and there was no argument left in Ellie. She slumped against Alex and felt her lover’s arm move to hold her.
“Are we gonna do this together from now on, my little Texan cowgirl?”
Ellie smiled at the description, but realised that she did feel very little at this moment….and then a realisation dawned….she had been dealing with this as a child….she had to rethink everything. In a flash, she found a way to stop the dreadful whispers, in her ears, that had returned when first she knew of the parole.
“You’re right Alex. I have to face him. Look him in the eye.... and tell him he has not.... and will not ever…. beat me...”
“Are you sure?” Alex murmured into Ellie’s soft blond head.
“Yep…with you by my side….I can do this…..I CAN, Alex…I CAN”
Alex picked Ellie up in her arms and swung her round and round until they were both breathless, and crying with relief and laughter.
It was two very different women who returned to their friend’s apartment. Dany was sitting on the balcony with a sweet iced tea and stood up when she heard them enter...
“We’ve been real worried…..everything OK?”
Ellie took Dany’s drink and sipped it.
“Why, Honey” she drawled...”….no waaaaaay is there enough sugar in here….let me show you how to make a Super Sweet Iced tea!” and she waltzed off in to the kitchen.
Ann had emerged from her bedroom, witnessed the interplay, and said slowly...
“Where is Ellie??…and who have you swapped her for, while you were out?”
“Complaining?” joked Alex.
“No way, ya big Scot….I like her fine this way….always have!!”
The three of them giggled with the sheer relief of seeing their blond friend restored to them.
The next morning, the four friends made their farewells…Ellie had wanted to talk more about the business before she left San Francisco but she had been grabbed by Dany and Ann in a group hug.
“Later, Boss lady…we’re fine right now…and we aren’t going anywhere….so you just sort your business, girlfriend, and concentrate on you.”
Ellie heart was full as she waved goodbye and returned their smiles and waves, but as the cab manoeuvred through the traffic and at the end of the street, turned out of view, Ellie did not see the two friends eye each other with dread.
The internal flight to Dallas was without incident and the two lovers booked into their hotel in time for a late supper. Their preliminary meeting with the parole officers was scheduled the following day, so they decided that an early night was in order.
Alex made her usual nightly phone call to Applecross and although there was little news, she sensed relief in the voices on the other end, every time she phoned. Each night she spoke either to Uncle J or to Jeannie or to one of the Boys and she got the feeling that they were manning the phones 24/7!! She smiled and gave thanks for those kind souls so far away.
As they settled down to sleep, Ellie whispered sleepily...
I wish we were at the Applecross Hotel right now, Hon...with all the gang...…I’d even eat Haggis!…”
Alex just cuddled her girl even more closely to her shoulder and kissed her goodnight, before she allowed herself to close her eyes.
Showered and dressed, the two lovers had a light breakfast and took a cab to the Parole Board Offices. Ellie had, finally, decided on a smart black business suit with tailored trousers and a fitted jacket that showed off her figure. She wore a pair of heeled boots that gave her another 2 inches of height, and finished the ensemble with the scarf Alex had given her with the Celtic Knot design. Alex also wore a trouser suit, in dark blue, with a white shirt and looked every inch the intimidating bodyguard....the impression she fully intended to present for the next few days.
They were greeted by a 50 something man who introduced himself as Todd Martin. He was the officer dealing with Kevin O’Brian’s case, he ushered them into his office and invited them to sit.
“Can I get you Ladies some refreshment?”
Ellie’s voice was cold and dark
“We are not here for a social call, Mr Martin, I mean you no disrespect, Sir…..but I want this over and done with, as soon as possible, so we can go home.”
Todd Martin flinched at the tone but he knew this case inside out. He knew what the tiny blond woman had suffered at the hands of the man; it was his job to free.
“I understand, Ma’am.”
He busied his papers and pushed three sheets across the desk to Ellie.
Noticing her hesitation, Alex moved to collect the papers and scanned them quickly.
She moved them so that they were in front of Elle and picked up her hand as she did so. Todd Martin noticed the gesture, and was glad that Ellie O’Brian had a friend with her.
He began to speak...
“Miss O’ Brian…” but he was stopped by the sharp retort from Ellie.
“My name Mr Todd, is O’Brian-Wallace, I’d be grateful if you would use it. This is my partner, Dr Alex Wallace.”
Martin had expected some hostility and was not fazed by it, nor was he overly surprised by Ellie’s introduction...….in fact he rose, offered his hand to Alex and shook it warmly.
“I am so pleased to make your acquaintance, Dr Wallace.”
Ellie seemed to relax a little as the situation had been clarified to her satisfaction, and she cleared her throat.
“I apologise if I seem rude, Mr Martin…..I am very much aware that this situation is not easy for either of us….shall we start again??”
Martin blew out a deep breath and smiled,
”I’d like that fine, Ms O’Brian-Wallace “...
The next half hour passed by as Martin explained the procedures of the actual hearing.
“You can make a statement in person, or have a clerk do it for you from a prepared statement, and then the Board makes its decision later that day.”
“OK, “said Ellie, her voice level and strong. “When do I get to see him?”
“Are you sure that’s what you want, Ma’am….you don’t have to see him”
“Oh But I do…I really do, Mr Martin”
The man behind the desk rubbed his hands over his face. No matter how many times he dealt with these cases, he still wondered at the courage of people like Ellie. She looked like a strong breeze would blow her over, but he could see the underlying strength of the bond between the two woman and pressed on.
“How about right now??”
Alex felt Ellie take in a sharp breath.
“Your Father is being held in the cells below….his lawyer is with him.”
Ellie looked at Alex and held the blue eyes in her gaze, waiting for a sign.
Alex spoke softly.
“Your call my wee girl….your call”
Every fibre of her wanted to run screaming from this place….anywhere the monster in her nightmares was so close, filled her with age old dread…. but Ellie knew that if she ran this time, she would run forever. .She took Alex’s hand and nodded at Todd Martin.
The journey to the cells was just a few moments but to Ellie it felt like a lifetime. She felt herself back in the house on the poor side of town; the smell of the unwashed drunken man towering over her, was as real as it had been 12 years before. Only the strong arm around her waist kept her grounded in the present and she kept saying over and over to herself.
”I can do this, I can do this”
They reached a dark corridor lined with doors. There was a faint smell of must and stale bodies….no natural light penetrated this far down and it seemed to Ellie, like every dungeon in every dream, she had ever had….and the dread of those dreams washed over her anew. She stood still for a moment and closed her eyes, gathering her reserves of courage and strength…..both Alex and Martin had stopped with her and waited patiently for her green eyes to open again. She gave her tall partner a brief nod and a small smile…the party moved on to the third door on the left, and Martin stopped outside.
“There is a prison guard in there with him….you’ll be quite safe”
Holding up her hand, held tightly in Alex’s, Ellie replied
“I’m already safe, Mr Martin….but thank you.”
Martin opened the door and Ellie was sure that everyone could hear her heart beating as she stepped in.
There, standing in the bare room, was Kevin O’Brian.
He was over 6 ft tall, thick set with close cropped, greying hair that might, once, have been blond. He had a pale complexion dotted with freckles but what disturbed Alex the most, were his eyes. They could have been the same colour as her partners beautiful green pools, but they were muddied by a twisted mind. Instead of the innocence and goodness she saw in her partners eyes, Alex saw only hate and mistrust in her father’s.
As he saw his daughter enter the room his eyes narrowed. The little girl he had last seen was replaced by a woman.
Well, my girl....you’ve grown into a beauty, haven’t you??
He noted the way she held herself, her shoulders straight and her eyes holding his defiantly. He quickly took in the tall figure of the tall dark woman holding his daughters hand and he felt his hackles rise. He also knew that he trod a fine line and that his behaviour was being closely watched.
O’Brian had waited a long 12 years for this moment but he had to be smart, and play the game. He forced his anger down and spoke the soft brogue of the West of Ireland
“Hello, me darling girl…It’s good to see you”
“I can’t say the same.”
Even a man as arrogant as O’Brian was taken aback by the venom and ice in her voice.
He collected himself quickly.
”Ah now, don’t be like that, Ellie….I am your Father.”
“You forfeited the right to that title 12 years ago. ”Ellie hissed.
His eyes went to the imposing figure of the tall, dark woman and flinched as he saw the loathing in her eyes….but still his need to control was strong, and rose again.
“And who are you?” he kept his tone low and friendly.
Before Alex could speak, Ellie voice rang around the room.
“Dr Alex Wallace. My soulmate… my partner…my legal spouse... my lover… and my friend.” she moved to stand and glare at the man on the other side of the table.
Inside, O’Brian felt the anger shift into a higher gear….”His daughter had turned into a filthy little Dyke. He’d teach her and her queer girlfriend a lesson they wouldn’t forget…but first he knew he had to get out of jail.
Alex and Ellie felt the evil in the man, but throughout, he had kept his body language relaxed and his face impassive.
“He’s good “thought Alex,”Bloody dangerous too” and she renewed her very public grip around her partners waist, whilst staring this monster full in the eye.
O’Brian knew that the next few minutes would be crucial to his case and he turned on the charm.
He lowered his voice to a whisper and turned away.
“I have wanted to tell you so many times. Ellie, how sorry I am for what happened.”
“Which particular times are you sorry about?” Ellie’s voice remained ice cool.
Hmmm, this is not going to be as easy as I thought...
“I never wanted to hurt you, girl….it was the drink that made me do it...”
“That’s BULLSHIT! …..don’t give that line…..you were always a bully, even when you weren’t drunk. It’s who you are, you bastard.”
O Brian was thinking in top gear now and decided on a plan….he walked to the corner of the room, placed his head against it and began to sob...
The atmosphere in the room was a mixture of tension and embarrassment….as the big man crumpled to the floor in a heap...
Alex’s eyes had not left Ellie’s face for a moment and she saw several emotions flicker across it. Disbelief….suspicion....pain….then realisation.
Ellie squeezed Alex’s hand tightly and whispered.
“You might fool these guys, Da….but not me”
The use of the diminutive term confused Alex, until she realised that this would be the last time that Ellie would acknowledge Kevin O’Brian as her Father....she was taking back the power of the word forever..
Ellie moved a few steps toward the pathetic man in the corner of the room…and hissed through clenched teeth,
“You cannot touch me now… nor will you ever…..touch me…again…physically or emotionally…you no longer exist for me.”
“We’re done here, Mr Martin” and with the tall Scot at her side, Ellie walked out of the room with her head high.
The whole thing had lasted only a few minutes and as they returned to Martin’s Office, the tension emanating from Ellie was palpable.
Alex turned to stop Martin entering the room and spoke quietly.
“We need a few moments alone…”
Martin looked up at the tall Scot and nodded
As she closed the door, Alex saw that Ellie was standing, stock still in the middle of the room with her arms wrapped around herself. Gently Alex put her hand on her girl’s shoulder and turned her around. Ellie was stiff and unresponsive at first, but Alex began to massage her shoulders with gentle strokes until the petite Texan melted into her arms.
“Schh, I’ve got you…its OK now…I’ve got you”
It was all the big Scot could do, to stop herself going back to that cell and showing O’Brian how it felt, to have the crap kicked out of him.
Ellie was absolutely still in Alex’s arms and not one sound had escaped her, since her last words in the cell. It seemed like forever until Alex heard a small voice…
“I did it ….I did d it......didn’t I?”
“Yes Ellie,” answered Alex ...”you did it.”
The two lovers had returned to their hotel and after her usual hot soak, Ellie seemed more like herself.
Whilst she had been soaking in the tub, Alex had sat on the floor next to her and spoken by phone, first to Dany and Ann, then Uncle J.
She made sure that Ellie heard her say how amazing the little blond had been, and how much strength she had shown. Ellie needed to believe this, of herself now, more than ever.
Alex lifted Ellie from the bath and wrapped her in a warm towel...
“What now, my wee love?”
Ellie looked at Alex and with a small smile spoke softly.
“I would like you to take me to bed, and make love to me…and tomorrow....I want to go home...”
Lifting her into her arms, Alex took Ellie and laid her on the bed. .She kissed her slowly and Ellie responded with increasing passion.
“What we have….nothing …nobody can ever spoil, my big girl….I have never been so sure of anything, as I am sure of that.”
Alex, quickly removing her own clothes and Ellie’s towel, slipped into the bed beside her love and granted her first request.
The next day, Alex phoned Todd Martin and explained that they had no further interest in O’Brian’s hearing and that they were leaving for Scotland... Martin explained that a copy of the decision of the panel would be sent to their home in Scotland as a matter of course...
“I think you and I both know what that decision will be, don’t we Mr Todd “Alex suggested.
“I’m afraid we do, Dr Wallace.”
Then she phoned the Airline and made some simple arrangements.
Alex walked to the balcony where Ellie was enjoying a super sweet iced tea.
She glanced up...
“All done, Hon?”
“Yep, we are on the flight to Edinburgh leaving at 2pm.”
“How the heck did you manage that?? I never expected you to be able to get us flights that quickly...”Ellie threw her arms around her tall partner’s neck.
“I have many skills my lovely…” Alex gloated and was delighted to see Ellie’s face break into the first real, beaming smile she had seen for a long time.
Later, Ellie‘s face was a picture when the bellhop loaded their luggage into the biggest limousine she had ever seen, waiting outside the hotel.
“What have you done, Alex??” She asked...
“Nothing but the best for the Queen of my Heart!”
“You smooth talkin’ …..”
“Language, my sweet....you cannot curse in a limo….It just doesn’t fit the image!!” and she spun Ellie around in her arms until she begged for mercy.
“OK OK I give….you win…..I’ll be queenly….I promise..!
They travelled to the Airport in companionable silence. When they arrived, Ellie’s fast growing suspicions were confirmed as they were ushered through check in to the first class departure lounge.
“You’re second wish, my Queen”. Alex murmured in her ear and was rewarded with a big kiss from the little Texan, who was oblivious to the sideways glances from other passengers.
A Steward brought them two glasses of champagne and some nuts, and they raised their glasses to each other.
“Slainge….to going home.” the little blond offered.
Slainge Var..” the tall dark one replied.
Although their journey from the Airport to Applecross was a familiar one to Ellie by now, she revelled in the wonderful scenery and truly felt that she was coming home. Sitting next to her, Alex noted how relaxed her girl was, and how she had her nose pressed to the side window, taking in the sights of the Scottish Highlands.
Ellie’s right hand was on Alex’s thigh and she rubbed lazy circles on it with her thumb.
Just this slightest of touches, was sufficient to give Alex a shiver, as she felt the strength of that connection and she gave a silent prayer of thanks to any goddess listening.
The lights of Uncle J’s hotel appeared out of the thick fog enveloping the coastal village, and Alex drew up in the car park. As if by magic, the car doors were flung open on both sides and Alex and Ellie were dragged out, into the waiting arms of their family and friends..
“We’ve had Hamish on watch on the Loch Carron pass, for the last 2 hours” Donald yelled into Alex’s ear as he hugged her.” He radioed that you two were here…about time too, big lass...welcome home!!”
On the other side of the car, only the top of Ellie’s blond head could be seen between the arms of Uncle J and Jeannie as they hugged her tightly.
“You are a sight for these sore old eyes, my lovely wee lassie... come away in and get yourself warmed through.”
The cries of welcome echoed through the bar and the warmth of the welcome brought hot tears to both the weary travellers’ eyes. The log fire was roaring and the usual group of musicians were seated next to it.
Uncle J roared his orders. “Music...to welcome home our lassies….”
Needing no further instruction, the band began a Scottish reel and soon the dance floor was filled with whirling dancers and whoops of approval.
Ellie and Alex sat and wondered at the atmosphere, so quickly created, and only then did it hit them that they were home, and safe again.
Hamish appeared in his Police motorcycle leathers and, after being greeted and thanked by the room for his efforts, hugged the two travellers and complained.
“It was fair freezing up there at the pass......next time..….“ but poor Hamish had no time to finish as he was swallowed up in a group of regulars, who dragged the popular young Police Sergeant to the bar.
Jeannie appeared from the kitchen with steaming bowls of hot soup and fresh bread rolls for any in need, and realising just how hungry they were, the two lovers began to eat.
When the soup was finished, Jeannie reappeared with two bowls of sweet Cloutie dumplings, so beloved of the Scots, covered with fresh yellow custard.
Alex groaned with pleasure. ”You spoil us, Jeannie!”…and she set to demolishing the dessert. Ellie also relished the sweet sticky texture and smiled fondly at the dark head, so ardently worshipping at the sugar altar.
When they had eaten sufficient to placate Jeannie, they each had a small single malt. Uncle J had brought them the glasses, and with a wink to Ellie, handed them over.
Alex saw the gleam in her Uncle’s eye and sat up straight in her seat. The friends and neighbours around recognised the challenge and shusshed those around, calling attention to the two Wallace’s, as they rose to face each other.
Ellie never tired of these little Clan rituals and she settled back in her seat to enjoy the fellowship and sheer fun of it all.
Alex raised the glass to her nose and sniffed theatrically….she wrinkled her nose and looked thoughtfully up to the ceiling. Keeping the mood going….she looked at Uncle J and gave a rye crooked smile..
”Crafty,.. big lad…Crafty!” she murmured in a stage whisper so all could hear it..
She lifted the glass to her lips and sipped the strong liquor….she rolled it around in her mouth and closed her eyes with the ecstasy of the moment.
She looked over at the blond beauty, gazing at these two big Scots with affection, .and winked broadly. Then, turning to her Uncle she thrust her face at his and spoke.
“It’s an Islay Single Malt….Ardbeg distillery......20 year in the cask…and bottled 1988.”
The room held it’s breath as James Wallace drew from behind his back the bottle, from which the dram had come… he passed it to Donald….who read from the label..
“Ardbeg…...20 year old…..” He paused for full dramatic effect…and shouted
The bar was filled with the stamping of feet and roars of approval as Alex held aloft her glass, in acknowledgment of her victory.
Uncle J’s face had not lost its adversarial expression throughout all of this….but as Alex caught his eye, his mask slipped, he let out a lion’s roar and hugged her soundly….
“Will I ever beat you Alex??”
“I had the best teacher, Uncle J….you’re a victim of your own success!!”
The hour was late and both the women began to flag…making their goodbyes, they drove the short distance to their Croft on the promontory above the Raasay sound.
As they knew it would be, the fire was lit and gentle lights played around the living room. As they entered, Alex dropped their luggage in the hall and decided it could be dealt with in the morning…..right now….she knew, that her love needed a long hot bath and bed.
Ellie was wandering around the room as if in a daze; she absentmindedly touched the ornaments and driftwood sculptures, seemingly lost in thought.
Alex watched anxiously, she recognised in her love, the signs of fatigue and distraction. Crossing the room, she gently turned the small blond to her and was glad when she came into the circle of her arms gladly, and willingly.
“I am so glad that you are my love….and so glad that this is my home…. and that we are here together” Ellie murmured into Alex’s chest..
Safe now, my darling….nothing can hurt you now….I promise”
Not wanting to break the contact, Alex leant over and hooking her arm under Ellie’s knees brought her to her chest and cradled her. Ellie’s arms automatically cam up around her tall lover’s neck and Alex took them both to bed.
Over the next few days, the two women got back into their routine. Ellie had told her publisher about her trip to America and they had agreed to delay the deadline for the rewrites of the novel she had promised…but now she had to finish them, and set to with determination.
Alex had shed loads of emails to answer from colleagues and students as well as contacting her British and US agents, about her book and the TV deal in the offing.
Both were secretly delighted to have put the issue of Kevin O’Brian behind them and Ellie quickly lost the haunted look she seemed to have worn for so long.
They both knew, however, that they had one last hurdle to overcome….and sure enough the letter from America arrived after 2 weeks, to inform them that Kevin O’Brian’s’ parole had been granted and that he was free. The authorities were at pains to emphasise that he was under close control. He had to register with this parole officer once a week and obey a curfew at the hostel where he had been placed.
Ellie chose not to discuss the news....her only comment was.
“I said he was dead to me...and that is the fact!…..end of, Honey….OK?”
She took the sting from the words by placing her small hand on Alex’s muscular forearm wand giving it a firm squeeze.
“Fine by me, darling...” Alex answered and so the issue was dismissed.
It was 2 weeks later. The two women were enjoying the late spring sunshine sitting on the bench, on the promontory, outside the croft. Alex had made the bench made from driftwood she had collected from the Applecross bay and it fitted in perfectly with the rugged surroundings of the Croft. She had positioned it about 20 feet from the cliff edge to take most advantage of the view, and it was a favourite place of both women when the weather was fine. The back of the bench was made from two spars crossed to emulate the Saltire of the Scots national flag of St Andrew, they were lashed together with rope and Alex noticed that the sea air had begun to rot the rope...
Each held their favourite drink of choice: Strong dark coffee for the Texan and equally strong tea for the Scot.
By this time in early May, .the sun was rising higher over the horizon with each day and the spring flowers in the tubs outside the croft were blooming. Everything was so much later up in the Highlands and Ellie always laughed when Alex described the flowers in her tubs as ‘backward in coming forward’!!
Ellie’s book had gone to the publishers and Alex’s commitments to the university were fulfilled for the time being, so they had time just to be together and enjoy their life together.
Suddenly, and for no apparent reason, Alex felt a shiver go down her back and, as she looked over at her soulmate, she saw her reaction mirrored there.
“What was that?” asked Ellie quizzically...
“Och….nothing, darlin’....someone walking over our grave??”Alex offered
“Which one?” asked Ellie and gave a small giggle….however she didn’t feel like laughing and was glad when the strange, cold feeling diminished.
Over the next two or three days each felt this sensation again, but neither mentioned it...
It was Saturday…the early summer weather was fair; only a soft onshore breeze from Raasey disturbed the wispy clouds above the Croft. Some dark clouds were gathering over the Sound and they were forecast a storm by mid afternoon but for the moment, it was a delightful Highland morning. Alex was servicing the generator which supplied the croft with power and she looked every inch the mechanic, right down to the grease marks on her face!
Ellie emerged from the Croft with a steaming mug of tea for her girl, actually she referred to the mug as Alex’s bucket because it was nearly as big, and she smiled as she paused to watch her soulmate.
Whatever that gorgeous woman wears looks soooo good on her! I bet I’d still want to take her to bed if she wore a sack!!
Alex had donned a pair of blue, all in one coveralls in a vain attempt to keep herself clean but there was almost as much grease on her as there was on the generator. Even as Ellie watched, Alex rubbed her dirty hands down her ribs, then ferreted about in a pocket for a tatty piece of tissue and attempted to wipe her face with it.
This simple gesture filled Ellie with such a wave of affection; she had to lean on the wall.
Inside that tall, dark and handsome frame, there’s a five year old trying desperately to hide!!.
A giggle escaped from Ellie and the dark head turned to her.
“Hey….what you laughing at, Texas? I’d like to see you do this job and stay clean.” grumbled the tall Scot, looking down at herself.
Ellie put her tea on the shelf by the door and dropped a kiss on the only part of Alex that was free of smudges; .the very tip of her shapely nose, and smiled.
“Hon, do you know how cute you are when you are playing grease monkey?”
She shrieked as Alex’s greasy hand came towards her, and she danced out of range...
“Pax….Pax!!....anyways…Uncle J has just phoned, he wants to know if you can go fix the boiler again…he says it’s on the ‘blink’, whatever that means!!”
“It means, my sweet, that I will be staying greasy for the foreseeable future!!”
Alex collected her tool kit and, kissing Ellie goodbye, disappeared over the rise towards the hotel.
Ellie had some calls to make to her publisher and she was actually glad of the time to do it without Alex around. The little Texan was planning a big surprise for her girl and she had a snowballs chance in Tartarus of achieving her aim, when Alex was around. The big Scot had the hearing of a bat and to her keen eyed Scot, Ellie was an open book.
Ellie went inside to get the phone and settled on the driftwood bench to make her calls. Her only company were the gulls wheeling above her and she was pretty sure, that even a woman who had as many skills as Alex Wallace, wouldn’t have Gull spies working for her!!
Over at the hotel, Alex was in the cellar of the Applecross Hotel, with her head stuck inside the boiler. She could hear the beginning of the storm rolling around the hotel and realised she hadn’t brought a jacket…
Ellie would give her such a hard time if she arrived home soaking wet. Alex grinned. At least she’d get fussed over ….AFTER the row!!
She cursed as she skinned another knuckle when a spanner slipped, but she had finally coaxed the mechanical disaster area back into life for the umpteenth time, and stepped back to check the pressure gauge.
When in Hades would Uncle J accept that a 30 year old boiler had finished its life and that a new modern one would be a good investment?
Suddenly, she felt as if she had been kicked in the solar plexus. The blood drained from her face and she dropped the spanner as her hands lost their ability to grip.
For a split second, she had no clue what was happening and then just one word escaped her lips as she sprinted up the cellar steps.
She felt sheer terror invading her body and the adrenaline pumped through her. She could see nothing, hear nothing and feel nothing but the overwhelming need to get to Ellie. She pushed past Uncle J and nearly knocked him over, he called after her but she leapt over the table in front of the door and heaving it open; ran full tilt from the bar.
With tunnel vision borne of sheer determination, she ran through the car park, vaulted the five bar gate on the far side and hit the shortcut to the Croft at full speed. The wind and rain tore at her but she was unaware of either.
As she stumbled over the rise above the Croft, Alex stopped dead, her legs suddenly felt weak as she took in the tableaux before her. The wind and rain lashed down and obscured her view for a moment but then she saw a tall, thick set man, standing below her. She squinted and, in a brief window, the rain eased sufficiently for her to recognise him. It was Kevin O’Brian. He stood on the promontory in front of the Croft….and between him and the cliff edge, Alex could see her beloved Ellie. She was crouched in her Kick boxing ready position, but kept retreating as her Father moved towards her, step by step.
He stood with his hands at his sides; but he was ready to stop the woman in front of him if she attempted to pass him. He exuded dark, evil strength.
In a moment of searing clarity Alex saw this same scene, in another time, as if in a dream. The tall, dark leather clad warrior holding aloft another smaller woman dressed in a white robe and all her nightmares became clear. It was her….she had tried to kill her soulmate sometime, someplace and it was this, which had haunted her all of her life.
She shook her head and, realising she had no time to digest this, stood to her full 6 feet and issued an ear splitting Highland War cry at the top of her voice. It carried the short distance to the promontory and echoed around the hills. It was sufficient to distract him and she saw the dark, giant of a man turn to the sound. By then, Alex was already running at full tilt towards him, her feet flew over the rough ground and all she could think about was getting between Ellie and the danger.
As she got closer, she yelled
”Ellie, get away darlin’...RUN!!” but her voice was caught and swept away by the howling wind.
She could see in her peripheral vision the pale face of her love; she registered, but would not allow herself to react to, the blood coming from Ellie’s nose or the livid purple bruise over her right eye.
Alex threw her entire 180 lbs of bone and muscle into the body of the Irishman. Although he had seen her coming, the arrogance of the bully would not let him expect a mere woman to attack HIM. She took him by surprise and he overbalanced with the force of her momentum. Alex rolled to her feet quickly and looked for a weapon; she knew that if she was to defeat O’Brian, she would need one. He was bigger than her, and stronger, but his movements were slow and lumbering and Alex had speed and agility on her side. She looked to the driftwood bench she had made, and moved towards it. She quickly pulled off one of the loose back rails and found she had a stout staff about 5 ft long. She tested the balance of it and again, moved towards the attacker.
Seeing the weapon appear in her hands, O’ Brian’s muddy eyes narrowed and he crouched as if to ready himself...
Alex knew she had to keep his attention so she spoke in a low voice and emphasised the disgust she felt.
“What’s up….ya big brave man....Am I too big for you....Huh?? Only used to beating up women smaller than you? Huh? Big brave man that you are...…huh??”
She circled him and waited...
She heard the deceptively soft brogue of the man before her.
“Did you really think I’d let you take what’s mine...Did ya? You’re neither man enough nor woman enough to qualify....you’re a twisted sick dyke…. and you will not take what’s mine….I’ll kill you and your little whore first, before I let that happen.”
Alex shivered at the evil in this man and wondered how he had anything to do with the gentle soul of the terrified blond, crouching behind her.
With a roar, O’Brian leapt for Alex; she parried his first blow with the staff and as she span around, she locked the staff in the crook of her arm and swept it at his knees. Something deep in Alex was awoken, and she felt the staff become part of her as she danced out of range of the flailing fists swung by the enraged animal before her. She kept Ellie in her peripheral vision and saw that she was beginning to crawl away, cradling her left arm across her chest. Alex knew that she had to keep her head; O’Brian had got up after her first attack and was circling around to try to get behind her, but Alex quickly changed her position so she blocked his path and again, began to taunt him.
She swung the staff round and round until it became a blur and she wished, with all her heart that she had the Claymore, leaning uselessly against the wall of her study, in her hands right now.
“So....I’m not man enough, am I. O’Brian?? Who put who…. on their ass?? Huh….You stupid, dumb bastard?” she emphasised each insult and laughed wildly as she spoke.
The face of the man in front of her was suffused with the red of the berserker and his fists clenched and unclenched.
Got to keep his attention….keep him away from Ellie….one lucky hit and I can take him out. Focus Alex....concentrate…concentrate….keep eye contact….watch for the signs...
Alex was not hoping for help….whilst there was every reason for Uncle J to be concerned about her abrupt departure from the hotel….any sounds from the promontory would be blown away by the raging winds whistling around her. She knew that only she stood between this evil force and the woman who had made her whole again…He would not get to Ellie, even if she had to die to prevent it...
O’ Brian had taken this time to regroup his thoughts….he simply continued to pace the promontory in front of Alex, looking for an opening. He could see clearly, the blond head of his daughter, and looked forward to showing her what it meant to defy him. He had got a couple of good punches in before she eluded him, but they were nothing compared to what she was going to get, when he had dealt with the Bull Dyke...
Since his release, he had carefully and craftily gained the information he had needed to find his daughter and the big dyke, Doctor Alex bloody Wallace.
Hadn’t been difficult, he sneered to himself….an internet connection at the hostel, supposedly to help him write his résumés for jobs. He had googled Dr. Alexandra Wallace...Scotland …he knew she had to be either a medic or some sort of professor and, after a few phone calls, he had isolated the Dyke and where she lived. After that, he had used his prison connection to get a false passport and some money. The rest had been easy….he had been watching Applecross for a couple of days from the hills above. He soon saw where the two queers had set up their twisted love nest.
He turned away from Alex and made as if to walk away...
“OK Wallace….you win…..I’m leaving.”
Alex no more believed this, than if someone had said she could change history by wishing it. She maintained her ready stance but, for a second, she lost Ellie from her peripheral vision. She moved her head just a few degrees from the front and located Ellie, but by the time she returned her head to front and centre….the raging man was upon her...
Although she parried his first and second punches with the staff, the third one caught her on the side of her head and she fell. A flurry of kicks and punches rained on her head and body, and pain exploded through her...
“Thought YOU could beat ME, did you ...DOCTOR Wallace.”...Each word prefaced a vicious kick to Alex’s unprotected head and body.
Then she heard the sound of Ellie’s voice.
“Leave her alone, YOU BASTARD!” and Alex felt O’Brian pushed away as Ellie’s straight leg kick caught him in chest. Alex heard the breath pushed out of him and his attack stopped. She rolled over and, swallowing the searing pain in her temple, picked up the staff again. She swung it will all her might, felt it connect, and heard the bone of his jaw crack, then she felt the spray of hot blood across her face.
She heard his roar of anger and frustration and knew she had done some serious damage, but her strength was gone….she fell to her knees and called in anguish.
As she reached out to her soulmate…she lost consciousness.
The whole thing had lasted only a few minutes but for Ellie it replayed like an old movie. As she held Alex in her arms and attempted to wipe away the blood from her face, she tried to make sense of the last few minutes....She had come out of the Croft to refill the newly serviced generator with diesel as usual, but the dreadful sense of premonition that she had felt for the few days became tangible; she had seen the movement from the rocks, recognised the man and knew that she was in trouble.
She recognised that snarling face, that sinister soft brogue….and her soul had cried out to Alex…..in desperation.
Back in the present, through the howling wind and lashing rain, she saw the figure of her father stagger away up over the rocks behind the croft and she heard a dreadful scream....it tore at her very being and she realised it had come from her own mouth….she cradled Alex’s head and screamed.
She screamed as hands touched her and she held her love more tightly and cried out
“Leave her alone, you bastard….take your filthy hands off her….I’ll kill you if you hurt her.”
Only when her tortured soul saw the face before her did she even dare to feel any release...but there, in front of her was Hamish and, behind him, Donald. Their dear faces full of fear, as they tried to quieten the tiny blond woman...
As Alex had run from the hotel in response to some silent message, J had sensed that something terrible was happening. His heart filled with dread and he had run to the radio and called Hamish. As luck would have it, the Police Sergeant was on his way home and only a heartbeat from the Croft. Donald had just finished his shift and, as he stepped through the door of the hotel; he was met by J, his eyes aflame with fear. Donald was still in his paramedic uniform carrying his medical kit, and he needed no second call when J yelled.
”The Croft... Now Laddie!!…now!”
Donald felt that he was running with lead in his boots and he willed his feet to move faster. He took the shortcut path and as he crested the rise, he saw Alex swing a makeshift staff at the head of a huge shadowy figure. The wind was blowing the rain horizontally and Donald held his hand to his eyes to get a clearer view. He saw Alex go down and yelled with all his might.
“Alex…Noooo”, and he ran on as if the very god of hades was at his heels.
As he reached the promontory, he saw his brother arrive with blue lights flashing, and leap from his motorcycle.
They both reached Ellie at the same time and heard the keening scream that filled the air and echoed around the hills. It froze their blood and filled them with terror. Ellie fought them and protected Alex’ bloody body until she recognised them.
More people began to arrive. They were villagers and guests from the hotel mobilised by Uncle J, and the promontory flashed with the light of dozens of torches.
When J and Jeannie arrived, they were met by a scene of chaos. Donald was kneeling next to the still form of Alex and Hamish was holding Ellie in his arms...still she screamed and strained to reach her soulmate. Alex’s blue coveralls had been cut off, Donald’s medical kit was open and someone held a torch so that he could see, to work on Alex.
Jeannie took the sobbing girl from Hamish who ran to his motorcycle. He too, had seen the last scene play out before him and he could only guess that the shadowy figure he saw leap over the rocks was the attacker. He clicked his radio and heard it crackle in to life.
“This is Alpha Romeo 2 calling base…come in please…over.”
The crackled response came back.
“Go ahead Hamish.”
“Dougie, I need the Air ambulance dispatched to Applecross, and get hold of Tam at the Mountain Rescue centre on Skye. I need him and his team here, soonest. .Over.”
“Roger that, I’ll send out the emergency signal to Skye. But Hamish, the Air ambulance can’t fly. The wind speed is over safe limits. It’ll have to be the all terrain ambulance, it’s the best we have.”
Hamish stifled a curse and, not for the first time, damned the bloody weather.
“Roger that Control….just do it fast, Dougie”…he felt his voice waver. ”it’s Alex….Over”
There was a moment of silence as the message was absorbed.
“Roger, Hamish. Loud and clear. I’ll keep this frequency clear in case you need anything. Over and out.”
James Wallace stood watching, he couldn’t take in what had happened here and he was frozen. It was the voice of Donald that shook him from his panic.
“Uncle J…get some blankets from the croft ….Now Uncle J!” Donald raised his voice when J didn’t move...
This wonderful gentle giant of a Scotsman, who had been a vital part of his and his brother’s lives for so long, was a helpless baby in the face of what he was seeing. Donald knew that he needed to get J doing something.
James Wallace turned and stumbled towards the open door of the Croft. The light shone from the windows and it was reflected in the rain drops still falling; J thought it strange to see something of beauty in the face of such pain.
He gathered up the tartan rugs thrown over the back of the leather couches and returned to Donald. The few moments it had taken to get the blankets had allowed J to compose himself, but still he was dismayed to see the bloodied and bruised face and body of his niece. Donald had immobilised her neck in a brace and with the willing hands of friends, he was easing Alex onto a small collapsible back board he carried in his Med kit.
Covering her with the tartan blankets...he nodded to the people around him and spoke firmly.
“On my count of 3….one …two … three.” They stood as one and turned to take Alex into the Croft, out of the cold, lashing rain
At the same time, Jeannie lifted Ellie from the ground and, without a word motioned to J. He moved quickly to gather up the tiny bundle in his arms and followed the stretcher carrying its precious cargo.
The next few hours were a blur for Ellie….she knew that she was safe and surrounded by family….she knew that Alex was getting the best possible care and she knew that Hamish had men out combing the hills for her father. The all terrain ambulance had arrived in record time, more paramedics and a doctor were working on her love....but she was numb and could feel nothing but emptiness....where was Alex?
Jeannie knew that Ellie was in shock and tried to keep her warm....she pressed her to drink a mug of sweet tea which Ellie did, as if by remote control, her eyes never leaving the motionless form of her soulmate.
Eventually, she called softly.
The paramedic left Alex to the doctor and came to sit next to her...he took her hand and willed his strength to her. Her tearstained face tugged at his heart as she whispered.
“Tell me really. Donald…...Is she dead? I can’t feel her…” and she put her hand over her heart. ” here….I can always feel her ....here....but she’s not there….”
It broke Donald up to see the woman he considered as much a sister to him and Hamish as Alex, so lost and afraid but he knew that she needed him to be strong for them all at this dreadful time.
“I won’t kid you Ellie….she is in a bad way, .but her pulse and blood pressure are stable…she has broken ribs, a fractured skull and we are looking for signs of internal bleeding. “
When Donald saw her eyes overflow with tears he was, strangely, glad to see a normal reaction. She had been too shut down since he and his brother had pried Alex from her arms and he feared for her mental state.
“Let me be near her…..please, Don….I need to touch her.”
He nodded and after a quiet word with the doctor, he led Ellie to where Alex lay.
She laid her head on Alex’s chest and held her breath....she heard the slow but steady beat of her heart and sighed with relief.
”Stay with me, my love I will not lose you….not again.”
The hours had passed and Ellie, J and Jeannie were sitting in a hospital room. On the bed was the still form of Alex Wallace, monitors beeped around her and she had two drips, one in each arm. She was breathing without help but wore a nasal oxygen canula and her face was very pale.
The journey down the sheer face of the Applecross pass had been a slow and steady one. Doctor Angus Fraser, the Accident and Emergency registrar sent out by the Hospital, wouldn’t risk jostling Alex for fear that her injuries would be worsened. The same Doctor had insisted that Ellie be examined: She had tried to resist but when Jeannie had led her to the emergency room, she gave in without an argument. She had a hairline fracture of her cheekbone, a mild concussion and a broken bone in her wrist from when she had blocked the first blow from her Father. She was prescribed some pain killers but she refused, she wanted to be alert in case Alex woke.
The door opened and Donald walked in. Ellie ran to him and hugged him hard.
“The doctors say you may have saved her life, Donald….if you hadn’t’ been there…..”
“Yes …I know....but I was there Ellie, and she will be fine….she’s tough and she has a reason to wake up. You! You are her reason for living now. You have to believe in her, Ellie, now more than ever. Sit with her, talk to her, and let her know that you’re near.”
It was 2 hours later when Hamish arrived. He was drenched from head to foot and the strain of the last few hours showed on his face.
“How’s she doing?” he asked, after hugging Ellie, then his brother and smiling at J and Jeannie.
“Holding her own” answered the doctor.
Hamish nodded, “J, can I see and you Donald outside...?”
They followed the Policeman out into the corridor…
J looked at him anxiously.
”What is it, Laddie?”
“We’ve found the attacker….he was face down in one of the tarns on the top of the pass.”
“Dead?” asked J
“Oh Yes Uncle J….he’s very dead.”
”Thank God for that because after what that bastard has done to our girls, I would have had to kill him myself.” He almost crumpled but Donald supported him.
”That’s not all, Uncle J….there’s more…..We found his car. He must have been sleeping in it for a few days; we found some information on Alex in the car and some other documents. They included a false passport… and a real one...His name was Kevin O’Brian.”
Hamish waited for the information to sink into the big Scots tired and befuddled brain.
“Ellie’s’ father” he asked incredulously.
He watched as Hamish nodded.
“Oh….by all that’s sacred…..how do we tell her??..”
The two brothers exchanged a knowing glance...
“She already knows, Uncle J.”
When the three men returned to the room, they were met by the unwavering green gaze of the blond woman, holding tightly to Alex’s limp hand
“What!” She demanded.” What have you found?”
Hamish dropped his eyes….
“TELL ME Hamish….I need to know what you know….all of it, and now….please...”
The tired Policeman nodded wearily.
“We found the attacker.”
“You’ve got him….is he in custody?? Her voice began to quiver but then it grew stronger again. “You have got keep him away from Alex....Hamish….listen to me....he’s mad and capable of anything….promise me you’ll keep Alex safe...” her gaze rested unwaveringly on the policeman’s face.
For a moment, Hamish hesitated and then he spoke in gentle measured tone.
“Don’t worry, Ellie… he’ll never hurt you... or Alex, .ever again.”
She looked into his eyes for the longest time and he held her gaze. She saw the love in his eyes and realised what he was saying….she turned back to the bed and laid her head on her girls still hand...
“Thank all the gods….it’s over….finally….Thank you, all of you...so much”
Then to everyone’s surprise, she climbed on to the bed next to Alex. She was careful not to disturb the drips or the monitor leads as she rested her head on Alex’s chest and was immediately asleep. The strain drained from her face and the doctor motioned to the family to leave the room.
“This is what they both need right now….let’s leave them.”
When they were all outside the room, the Doctor Fraser briefed the nurses.
“Monitor the vitals from the read out at the Nurse station, inform me of any change. As for the rest of you, I promise if there is any news, I will let you know. Try to get some rest “
The family murmured their thanks. J and Jeannie settled down in the waiting room. Donald brought them hot drinks from the vending machine that tasted of nothing, but as neither had had anything for several hours, it was welcome enough. Hamish had to return to check that the crime scene investigators had done their job... He promised to secure the Croft and let the staff at J’s Hotel know what had happened.
Donald went to check in with his dispatcher.
As he entered the office suddenly, the impact of what had happened hit him, and he just got to a chair before the room began to swim.
His boss saw this, and came out of the radio room. He knew what had happened at Applecross and it had been he, who had dispatched the ambulance, with the news that it was Alex Wallace in need of medical care... He came to sit next to the big Scot and put an arm around his shoulders.
“You’re a hero, Don. Well done, Laddie”
Donald leant against the man who was his boss and his friend, and whispered.
“She’s doing OK, Gordon, the CT scan shows some swelling in her brain but it’s not as bad as I’ve seen. Her vitals are stable and there is no internal bleeding. The next few hours are crucial, but she’s strong. She should wake up soon… if she’s going to.”
Gordon nodded and held his friend a little more tightly.
Back in Alex’s room, Ellie’s blond hair mixed with the auburn of her girl and the rise and fall of their breathing, was in synch. Ellie’s arm held Alex across the chest and her leg was thrown over Alex’s thigh, in their usual sleeping position.
Nurse Caitlin Sutherland had been watching the monitors at her station since the family had gone to the waiting room. She could see the concern on their faces. Her job often brought her into contact with families faced with the dreadful injuries of accidents, but the fact this tragedy had been caused by the conscious action of another human being, filled her with anger. She rose to stand outside the window of Alex’s room and smiled as she saw the two women entwined. She wished that one day, be it in the arms of a man or woman, that she would find that kind of love: What those two had was special.
As Caitlin returned to her station, she noticed that the monitor showing Alex’s brain waves was beginning to flutter. To her experienced eye it was not enough to call the doctor, but it was a good sign. She prayed again to any god listening ...”Help her…please.”
Back in the room, Alex’s eyes began to move beneath her closed lids as, in her dreamscape, she found herself again on the promontory. In her arms she held the white robed body of another woman, and the spray from the waves below the cliff edge moistened her face. She tried desperately to put the bundle down, for she knew it was her soulmate, but somehow she couldn’t, and saw herself move toward the cliff edge. She knew she had done something so terrible in a past life that there was no redemption, and that she must remain here forever to atone, living her crime over and over. She did not deserve the happiness that she had found in this new life...she knew that now, and she receded still further into the darkness.
Ellie wakened as she felt the vibration from her soulmate, .she looked closely at her face but saw no change. She sensed that some battle was, again, raging in Alex and gripped her more tightly. She whispered.
”Come back to me, Alex….I can’t do this again…so many times we have left each other to finish that life alone… to wait for the next. Just this once, my love let us live a long, long life and die together in old age. “
She felt her tears fall on Alex’s face and desperate to be closer to her love, she found the opening in the robe that Alex wore, and slid her hand on to the warm smooth skin of her lover’s stomach. She began to stroke her gently, and traced the outline of the high cheekbones and strong chin with her lips, moaning softly.
“I need you Alex, I want you so much….Please come back….Don’t leave me, .Alex… can you hear me..?”
She moved her hand up to cup Alex’s breast and fondled it. She remembered so many times that she and her beautiful Amazon had made love, .and sobbed at the loss.
Then, almost imperceptibly, she felt the nipple of Alex’s breast harden and push into her hand.
Hardly daring to hope, Ellie spoke again.
“Yes, my love, .let me love you...” and she repeated the gentle stroking.
In Alex’s misty world, she felt the call of her body responding to a touch. The soft words, and the insistent caress, cut through her self indulgence and she let herself hear another voice. It was a dear and familiar voice calling her and she wanted to listen, so badly.
She saw herself, as an armoured Warrior with a sword strapped to her back, put down the white robed body, laying it softly on the ground. She knelt beside it and pulled away the material covering the head. There was the beautiful face of her soulmate, not bloodied and beaten by her Warrior hand, but smiling at her with love in her eyes. The small hand that came up rested on her breast and in a rush there was a blinding light….
Nurse Caitlin had noted the changes in Alex’s vital signs and paged the doctor; she was already on her way to the room when she heard Ellie’s cry for help. She saw the blond woman looking at Alex whose head was moving from side to side, as if searching for an escape route. Caitlin took her torch and, lifting Alex’s eyelids, flashed the light and checked her iris response; she was relieved when both eyes were equal and reactive.
The door flew open as the Doctor and two other ICU technicians came in. Caitlin stroked Ellie’s blond hair and gentled her trembling shoulders.
“This is good, Ellie” She whispered.
Ellie would not leave Alex’s side, but as it became clear that the patient had not suffered another crisis, the atmosphere in the room lightened and even Dr Fraser smiled
Alex could see a soft light penetrating her eyelids and she felt the warmth of another body next to her. She instinctively knew that it was Ellie and willed her arms to move to hold her love. It was the softest of touches but Ellie felt it, and held her breath. She raised her head to look at her love and gradually, saw Alex’s eyes open. Ellie saw the beautiful blue pools and exhaled a long sigh of relief.
She cupped Alex’s face and smiled.
“Hello, my love…. there you are...I have missed you so much.”
She was rewarded with a croak from Alex.
“Darlin’, we have to stop meeting like this.”
It was another week until the medics agreed to release Alex from hospital... During this time, Ellie had refused to leave her lover, unless it was for a shower. As Alex improved she chafed against the constraints of the hospital and ached to be back out in the fresh air of the Highlands.
When, finally, Donald and Hamish came to bring their girls home, they were both in buoyant mood and the journey home passed by quickly.
Even J and Jeannie knew that the two women needed time together to heal and, although fresh food was delivered every day to the Croft, they were left alone.
Alex was so pleased to be home, but Ellie still sensed a disquiet in her partner, she was loathe to broach it when Alex had been so sick, but she knew something was eating her up inside. In unguarded moments, Ellie would see the pain etched on the tall Scots pale face, and it worried her.
There had been many phone calls to America. Hamish had handled most of them and he had left the authorities in Dallas in no doubt as to his opinion, of their monitoring of O’Brian. Deep down he knew they had an impossible task to do, but bugger it!….this was his Alex, they were talking about. There had been an autopsy on O’Brian, and the cause of death had been agreed as accidental death. He had stumbled into the deep tarn in the darkness and the cold had quickly overcome him made it impossible for him to get out. The damage that Alex had done to him was deemed to have been self defence. The body had been flown back to America with no ceremony to a pauper’s grave.
Dany and Ann had also been kept in the loop by Jeannie. She knew that neither Alex nor Ellie were up to telling the story, but the girls sent messages of love and support which were gratefully received by the two women in the Croft.
Five days after Alex’s release from Hospital, she was beginning to feel much better. Her ribs were less sore and her headache had receded to a dull roar. It was a sunny morning and Ellie suggested they took their breakfast on to the promontory. She knew that Hamish had repaired the driftwood bench and, preparing a tray in the kitchen, she carried it through to the living room where Alex was sitting.
“I don’t think that’s’ such a good idea, my love.” Alex whispered.
“Why not, love.” asked Ellie hoping that she was about to get to the root of the problem but proceeded slowly.
Alex stood and went to the window.
Ohh shit….how do I say this...I have to do this for her sake.....it isn’t fair on her...
She turned and looked at her lover, soulmate and friend.
“I think we should move from here, my love...I think it’s about time we got away, don’t you?? There are too many bad memories.”
Ellie stood in stunned silence and then gradually, she realised what Alex was offering for her sake. She picked up the tray and, without a word, walked past the tall Scot, through the door and out to the promontory. She walked with confident steps, head held high, to the driftwood bench and waited patiently. It was several minutes before Alex emerged and made her way slowly to the bench. She sat next to her girl and glanced sideways. Ellie gaze was gentle and full of love
“Is this, what’s been worrying you, Hon” drawled the Texan, and she indicated the promontory
She felt Alex steel herself, take a deep breath and when she spoke her voice was soft and controlled.
“Ellie, I promised that you would be safe here ….and I let you down more badly than I could ever have feared. ..and it’s not for the first time…I found out what the nightmares were about, darlin’. .I have tried to kill you ....hear me Ellie....I have tried to KILL you before, I tried to throw you off a cliff....somewhere just like this.”
Her voice failed her and the tall confident Celt just crumpled before Ellie’s eyes.
Ellie moved to kneel in front of Alex and pulled her tearstained face up to meet her eyes.
“First of all, my beautiful big Scots Lass….you did not let me down. You brought me to a place where I am loved and protected better than I ever have been, in my whole life… Don’t you see that?.... You risked your life without a second thought to rescue me. Donald and Hamish moved heaven and earth to rescue us. J and Jeannie are the strength behind all of us. What that bastard did….no-one could have foreseen .How do you legislate and prepare for the actions of a madman, Alex….think about it Hon? Huh??”
She felt Alex take a shuddering breath and saw some of the tension leave her, .but there was still more to come…. she knew…..but it had to come from Alex.
“But I have still hurt you in the past.”
“Don’t you think that I know that? Hon.”
This time, Alex’s gaze snapped to her lovers face.
“What do you mean? You know.”
“I know this, my love…we have each hurt the other Alex...sometimes deliberately in anger, sometimes with the best of intentions and sometimes for the greater good…and we will probably hurt each other again in the future. It goes with the territory.”
She waited until she saw Alex’s eyes clear and assured herself that her words were being absorbed.
“This is our home, my love and I want to live here with you until we are old and grey. I want to sit on this bench, in the summer sunshine, when we are 80 and look back on the good times and the happy memories.”
Alex took hold of Ellie’s hand and kissed it gently. Then she took a deep breath, accepted the gift from her soulmate….smiled and spoke.
“Shall we have our breakfast, Ms Ellie O’ Brian–Wallace?”
Alex saw her beautiful lover’s face fall, but after a few seconds the green eyes rose to meet the anxious blue ones.
“Shall we just make that….plain old Ellie Wallace, Alex..?? New beginnings….again…..Huh? What do you think, big girl?”
Alex recognised the final closure on the pain and fear and picking Ellie up, she swung her round and round. Their laughter echoed around the hills and reached the ears of the watching couple, on the rise above the Croft.
James Wallace’s’ anxiety had become so great, that it had been all that Jeannie could do, to stop him from dragging his wee girls to the safety of his hotel, so that he could watch over them. She had been able to hold him off for several days, insisting the bairns needed time, but finally she could restrain him no longer and he had insisted on seeing them for himself. As they saw the happy scene below, J smiled and reached out to hug his oldest friend, and whispered in her ear.
“Will ya never listen to me, Jeannie, my darlin’ girl?? He gloated, his voice trembling with relief. ”I told you they’d be fine...Did I not?
Jeannie just smiled affectionately at this impossible man, whom she had loved with all her heart, for most of her life and replied with a resigned tone.
“That you did, my Jimmy boy….that you did!!”
The End.Return to the Academy