By Web Bard (copyright 12/2000)
Beth rolled over to find her partner flat on her back with her arm draped over her eyes. She rubbed her temples to try and ease her pounding headache. The inside of her mouth felt like cotton. She rested her head back on the pillow and tried to remember the events of the previous evening. Ouzo. Too much Ouzo. She turned her head to look at the assortment of clothes that were on the floor on her side of the bed. Dessert. Oh yeah, now I remember. She smiled from ear to ear and then began to chuckle. It had taken them thirty minutes to find the hotel after they wandered the streets of Athens in a very inebriated state. They finally recognized the name of the hotel and stumbled into their hotel room. She vaguely recalled the removal of clothing and somehow getting into bed. And, from what she could remember, dessert was fabulous.
Reese finally began to stir. She lifted her arm from over her eyes to find her partner looking at her with a silly grin on her face. "Morning I think."
Beth leaned over and gave her friend a kiss on the cheek. "Next time, youd better warn me about the consequences of drinking too much Ouzo."
Reese tried to swallow, only to find no source of liquid in her mouth. Beth handed her a bottle of water that was placed next to the bed. "Here, honey. Do you need some aspirin?"
"Thank you. And yes, I do," said Reese as she took the bottle. "Lots."
"We had quite an evening," said Beth as she shook enough aspirin out of the bottle for both of them.
"Yes, we did," said Reese who managed to crack a smile. She looked down to see the clothes strewn on the floor of her side of the bed. "Something tells me that this mess had something to do with dessert."
Beth returned to the bed and slid in next to her friend. She wrapped herself around her partner and snuggled closer. Reese reached down and pulled the blanket up over their bare bodies. "Dessert was fabulous, love."
"I think so, too," said Reese as she kissed the top of Beths head. "I guess we need to start the day, dont we?"
"Let me just cuddle here for a few minutes," said Beth. "My head is killing me. Lets give the aspirin time to work before we go shopping, okay?"
"Its a deal," said Reese as she pulled Beth closer. "Did you enjoy dinner?"
"You know I did," said Beth. "That was such a fun surprise."
"They have a restaurant like that in Miami," said Reese. "Its called B.E.D., and they serve French food."
"Well, then," said Beth. "Well have to plan a trip to Miami, wont we?"
Reese basked in the warmth of the woman she held in her arms. Then, she thought about the velvet pouch tucked away in her suitcase. A knot quickly formed in her stomach. How would Beth react when she asked her? She reached over for another sip of water. She closed her eyes and tried to push the negative thoughts out of her mind.
"You okay?" Beth looked up at Reese as she felt her friend suddenly grow tense under her touch.
"Im fine, sweetie," said Reese as she moved the blanket away from both of them. "I think wed better eat breakfast and go shopping. We have a date with my grandparents tonight."
Beth and Reese initially shopped together. They each picked out a large item for their house that could be shipped directly from the store. Reese picked out a large, white flocati rug that would look great in front of the fireplace. Beth picked out a pair of large vases with an engraving that depicted the story of the olive tree and Athenas fight with Poseidon. She loved that story. After picking up a few more small items for their home, the two women walked toward the huge flea market.
"We promised each other wed wait until we got here to buy gifts," said Beth. "But I cant buy anything for you if youre looking over my shoulder, now can I?"
"That goes both ways," said Reese. "Well split up and meet back at this cafe in 30 minutes, okay?"
Beth gave Reeses hand a quick squeeze. She looked up into her friends steel blue eyes. "Did I tell you that I love you today?"
"You just did."
"Just wanted to make sure."
Reese wanted nothing more that to wrap her arms around her friend and swing her in a circle around the marketplace. But this wasnt the time or the place. But, there would be a time and place soon. She would make good on this promise to herself. She barely touched Beths back and reached down to kiss her on the top of her head. She moved a little lower to Beths ear and whispered, "Ill love you until the end of time. Dont you ever forget it."
Beth swallowed hard and turned to grab her friends arm. "Are you trying to make me cry?"
"I mean it."
"I know you mean it," said Beth. She detected a hint of sadness in her partners eyes. "I know I asked this before, but Im going to ask it again. Is something bothering you?"
"No," said Reese. "I guess Im just thinking about seeing my grandparents and being around all of the things I remember as a little girl. Ive always felt kind of a spiritual connection to Amphipolis and I cant really figure out why."
"Okay," said Beth. "But I still think youre keeping something from me. I wont push you though. Im sure youll tell me when you feel like it."
"I will," said Reese. "I promise. Listen, I wont be looking over your shoulder, but Im not going to stray too far from you. You scream my name if you get into any trouble, okay?"
"Im a big girl."
"No, youre not," said Reese. "Youre a gorgeous young woman whos going to stand out like a tourist in a foreign country. Im just looking out for your safety, thats all."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," said Reese as she playfully pushed her friend toward the shopping booths. "Ill meet you back here soon."
Beth walked from booth to booth, carefully picking up items to examine the quality and craftsmanship of each piece. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a bright object hanging in the next booth. She walked over and looked at the wall of ancient weapons that were displayed before her. Wow. Reese would have a ball in here. Id better shop here before she does. She looked up on the wall and saw a beautiful antique sword. It had a gold grip with inlaid emeralds on the handle and the blade had been polished to a bright sheen. She motioned to the man behind the counter that she wanted the sword. He unhooked the sword and the scabbard beside it. She looked up at the wall again and noticed a shiny gold and silver circle. "What is that?"
"Its a very ancient weapon," said the man at the booth. "Its called a chakram. There are legends that a great warrior woman was the only person who could use it. Its a replica, of course, but its a beautiful piece, dont you think?"
"Its very interesting," said Beth as she ran her hands around the sharp weapon. "Ill take it. Can you wrap these up in something for me? The person Im giving them to is very nosy and I dont want her to see them."
"Of course," said the man. "I have a nice piece of fur here. Ill wrap them up in this and you can use the fur for something else."
Beth handed the man her money and took the fur-wrapped weapons. She smiled and walked to the next booth.
Reese stood on her tiptoes and looked into the crowd for a distinctive blonde head. She soon saw Beth a few booths down. What is that furry thing shes carrying?
Oh, well, Ill find out soon enough. Christmas is tomorrow. Now, something for Beth. She glanced down to look at the items in the first booth. No, nothing there. She moved to the next booth and noticed a shelf of hand-carved wooden boxes. She carefully opened each one to see what was in them. Some contained bright and colorful stones, some contained spices and herbs, and some were empty. As she reached the end of the shelf, she noticed a large wooden box that was pushed to the back. She opened it. Inside the box were a handful of feather quills and several glass vials of ink. A small parchment scroll was also in the box. This is it, thought Reese. She handed the box and money to the woman in the booth. "Can you wrap this in something for me? Its a gift."
"Of course," said the woman. "I have a small woven rug for sale. Would that work?"
"Perfect," said Reese. She took the rug-wrapped box and walked to the next booth. The box was nice, but she needed something else for Beth. Jewelry. She walked until she found a stand selling antique necklaces and bracelets. She fingered the delicate bracelets and then looked at the necklaces behind the glass case. Her eyes were suddenly drawn to a thick, gold chain with a Greek geometric pattern. Attached to the chain were at least one hundred small feathers. This will look beautiful on her. She motioned to the man behind the counter that she wanted the necklace.
"We have earrings that match this," said the man.
"Ill take those as well," said Reese. "Do you have a box or a pouch I can wrap those in?"
The man in the booth pulled out a long marble jewelry box and placed the necklace and earrings in the velvet lined case.
"Thats lovely," said Reese as she handed the man her money. She placed the box in her daypack and zipped it shut. That should do it. She walked away to look for Beth.
Beth was still looking for something else for her friend. Jewelry? She looked until she found an antique jewelry booth. She glanced around the booth and looked into the glass case. There was a large empty spot that had not been filled. Just as she looked at the empty place, a pair of hands reached in with a new piece of jewelry to fill the space. She looked closer at the new necklace. It was a gold chain with 12 blue sapphires hanging from replicas of ancient dinars. "No need to finish with that," said Beth. "Ill take it."
"Would you be interested in the earrings that go with this?"
"Can I see them?"
The man showed the earrings to her.
"Ill take them," said Beth with a smile. The necklace and earrings matched the sapphire ring she had given Reese when they were at the Grand Canyon. It was perfect. She watched as the man carefully placed the necklace and earrings in a velvet-lined marble box. She handed him her money and placed the box in her shoulder bag. She glanced down to look at her watch. Time to meet Reese.
Reece glanced up from her cup of coffee to see a smiling blonde woman heading in her direction. "Whatcha got there, sweetheart?"
"None of your stinking business," teased Beth. "Whatcha got wrapped up in that rug?"
"None of your stinking business," said Reese as she smiled and took the heavy fur that Beth was about to drop. "Want a cup of coffee?"
"Just a sip of yours, please."
Reese handed her cup of coffee to Beth. "Youre going to love my grandparents. Especially my grandmother."
"Im a little nervous."
"Dont be, love," said Reese as she placed her hand over Beths. "Shes warm and funny and fiercely overprotective."
"Just like you, huh?"
"Yeah," chuckled Reese. "Just like me."
"Lets get this stuff in the rental car and hit the road," said Beth as she stood up from the table. Good or bad, meeting Reeces family was going to be an interesting experience.
Reese pulled the car over to the side of the road along the Strymon River. "Theres something I want to show you, Beth."
Beth opened the door and walked with Reese toward a large bridge. The two women stopped in front of a large statue. "What is it, Reese?"
"Its the Lion of Amphipolis," she said as she looked up at the great stone lion. "Its an ancient monument that was recovered in the Strymon River and was reconstructed piece by piece. It now guards the bridge."
"Hes a very noble looking lion," said Beth as she placed her hand on Reeses back.
"My family has always used a lion as a part of our family heritage," said Reese as she took Beth by the hand and started back toward the car. "Youll notice that when you see the inn."
Reese started the car and headed in the direction of New Amphipolis. As the car passed the ruins of the ancient city walls, Reese slowed the car down again. She stopped the car and her head slumped down on the steering wheel.
"Reese! Whats wrong?" Beth unbuckled her seatbelt and jumped out of the car. She ran to the drivers side of the door and opened it. She carefully moved Reeses head away from the steering wheel and brushed the hair away from her face.
"Reese, open your eyes! Baby, please. Wake up!" Beth reached frantically for a bottle of water and poured some into her hand. She ran the cool liquid over her friends face and forehead. Within a few seconds, Reeses eyes opened.
"What, what happened?"
"Oh, my God," said Beth pulling her friend into a fierce hug. "You scared me to death. You just stopped the car and slumped over. I thought you had a heart attack."
"No, not a heart attack," said Reese as she wiped the water off of her face. "The last thing I remember was looking over at the ruins of the city and I felt a strange force rush through me. Like a surge of energy. And then, I felt weak. Oh, Beth, Im so sorry. I could have killed us both."
"Hush, now," said Beth as she pulled Reese into another embrace. "Im fine. Im just scared witless."
"Let me get a breath of fresh air, okay?" Reese untangled herself from her lovers arms and stood up.
Beth protectively wrapped her arm around Reeses waist as they walked toward the walls of the ancient city.
"Those are the tombs and mausoleums," said Reese as they walked closer. "I have ancestors buried in there."
Beth looked at the tombs and then to her friend. "Do you think we can come back and look at them later?"
"If youd like to," said Reese as she took Beths hand. "Its kind of creepy, but my grandmother has always wanted me to visit them. She says that I NEED to visit them."
"Then, well do it together, okay?" Beth squeezed her friends hand. As they turned to walk back to the car, Beth looked back at the open tomb. She closed her eyes and a wave of emotion flooded through her. Her knees felt weak and she grabbed Reeses arm for support.
"Reese, what exactly did that surge feel like?" Beth steadied herself in her partners arms.
"Like something was moving right through me," said Reese as she held on to her friend.
"I just had the same feeling," said Beth as she took in a deep breath. "Something very strange is going on here."
"Lets go," said Reese. She grabbed her partners hand and walked in a hurry toward the car. Yes, something very strange is going on here.
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