The Further Adventures of Janice and Mel - Resistance and Resurrection

by ArdenTly

General Disclaimer: The characters of Xena, Gabrielle, Janice Covington and Melinda Pappas all belong to the folks over at MCA, Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No infringement of their rights is intended.

Sexuality Disclaimer: This story is an uber xena story concerning Janice and Melinda. It contains scenes of lesbian sex. It is written with the premise that both these women are deeply in love. They like to express themselves, as all lovers do. Therefore, this story is intended for mature audiences. So, if you aren't over the age of 18, please give this one a miss. There are other stories out there under General Fiction.

Language Alert: Yes, folks. There are naughty words ahead. We're talking Callisto and Jan Covington here. Both of whom are as subtle as a screen door in a submarine.

Historical Disclaimer: This story takes place during the Second World War, specifically the European Theater. Information on the Dutch Resistance is rather scanty, so I have taken liberties with some of my information. I've tried to be as accurate as possible. I've totally erased the German occupation of Greece during this time as I couldn't come up with a realistic explanation of why Jan would join up and go fight in the Netherlands instead of staying home to protect Melinda. In the words of wisdom from Mary Draganis, deal with it.

Extra Disclaimer: Okay, folks, this one is not like my usual stuff. It has a lot of accurate historical facts in it. This was a very harsh and cold period in Europe. As such, I feel bound (loved the movie!) to warn you that there is plot here. Lots of it. I tried to set the stage so you, the reader, could get a feel for what the Dutch were going through. There is violence, hurt/comfort, a lot of angst and some physical cruelty. They were the best of times, they were the worst of times....

This is a continuation of one of my stories called "The Further Adventures of Jan and Mel - The Grecian Affair". While it isn't imperative you read that one first, it certainly would clear up some questions you might have regarding some things in this story.

As always, input regarding my writing and its content are welcomed. You can write to me at


Chapter One

Amsterdam, Netherlands

August, 1943

Making her way carefully through the forest, Jan continued to bundle her silk. She tilted her head, first one side then the other, groaning as her vertebrae realigned themselves. Getting caught in that damned tree had put a crick in her neck.

She checked her watch once again and began looking for a suitable place to stow her chute. What a jump! She thought, grinning. She'd never done it from a bomber but she had to give the Brit's points when they modified the Mosquito B XVII. Not only did it have a pressurized cabin but was a night fighter, too.

She reached into her pack and worked out her shovel. Unfolding it, she began attacking the earth, making sure to only disturb a small area. Satisfied, she bundled her chute and carefully compacted the earth back on top.

She was just about to check her watch once more when a low whistle emitted from the bushes off to her right. She removed her 9mm Browning and crouched low near the trunk of the tree.

"Don't shoot. You are Sergeant Covington, yes? I am Frans. You will come now."

Frans van DeMeer made sure the American was following and then began running, weaving through the trees. Jan grabbed her shovel and began sprinting after him.

They stopped a few times, Jan sharing her canteen, Frans giving her a few trail bars. She looked the man over. More like a big kid, she thought. Couldn't be more than 20.

Although he wasn't tall, Frans looked to be in pretty good shape. He was slight of build, the wiry sort. His thick head of dark hair reminded Jan of her wife. She sighed and put the thought away for another time. Then they were off again, Jan holding her pack so it didn't rattle. Bellies slightly filled, she and Frans took off with renewed energy.

He put his hand up and they took refuge near an old warehouse. He motioned for her to stay put and then he was gone. Jan slipped off her pack and lay in the dirt, weapon in hand.

The low whistle was heard again and then Frans materialized beside her. Helping her up, they headed for the back door. Jan rubbed a dirty hand across her forehead as they climbed the stairs. And so it begins, thought Jan, wishing she was in Mel's arms.

Checking her watch *again*, Jan's temper began to flare. She had been sitting in the cold building for two hours. Way past the meeting time. What gives? she wondered.

Frans came into the room with a woman, both talking rapidly in Dutch. The woman looked quite upset but Frans seemed to be slightly amused. Jan arched an eyebrow. A lover's spat?

"Sergeant Covington, this is Jannie. She is part of the cadre you will be joining."

Holding her hand out, Jan was a bit miffed when it was ignored. Okaay. She pulled her hand back and watched as the woman made her way over to a bed roll, lay down and put her back to them both. Frans smiled, shaking his head and left Jan to fume.

After the fifth day, Jan had taken her weapon apart and cleaned every inch of its surface - three times! Her jaw hurt from grinding her teeth so much. Frans had showed her the layout of the village, helping her obtain village clothing.

It was of little comfort to Jan, knowing her gear was now safely under some hidden floor boards. She couldn't fool anyone with her accent. Or lack thereof, she snorted to herself.

If she had to eat one more trail bar....Frans had tried to distract her with questions about America but she could see he was getting restless himself. Excusing himself Frans got up and told her he'd be back. Probably with more hard tack, grumbled Jan.

Getting up, Jan stretched and began to prowl the room. She didn't like it. Where was her contact? The meeting had been set up and it had been a full week before the rest of the cadre had felt confortable enough to set up a meet. It seemed the leader, a Peter van Oppen by name, was a little skittish.

Jan stroked her chin, nodding. I would be, too, she thought. Some foreigner comes into my neck of the woods and I'm gonna just accept her? Don't think so. Not on face value alone. No, sir.

She looked over at the girl asleep on the floor. Jannie was 22 years old, had light brown hair and hazel eyes. Hard to tell as she squinted most of the time. A gangly woman of about 5'9, she moved awkwardly, as if unsure of how her bones and muscles interacted.

The woman began to move erratically, caught up in another nightmare. When they had first started, Jan had gone over to confort Jannie, but after fending off the punches, decided that she'd just hang back, thank you.

Jan watched transfixed, as the woman began to masturbate. Jannie moaned out a name, over and over. "Anneke."

Just then, Frans came back up the stairs carrying a bag of food and some soup. Janice gave him a look and motioned over to Jannie. He smirked.

"Ja, she is missing Anneke. They have been apart now for two weeks. Easy it doesn't ever get when they are parted. Anneke is the same. She don't sleep, don't eat and gets very grouchy."

"Oh, Anneke is a woman's name then?" Jan had a funny look on her face.

"Oh, yes, Sergeant. They have been lovers for two years. You find them...repulsive? They cannot help loving each other. You must understand...they did not pick themselves to love; it just happened."

He looked uncomfortable, trying to explain in a second language to a total stranger.

"Hey, look Frans. No big deal. And call me Janice or Jan, okay?" He smiled and nodded, relieved that he wasn't putting the American off. Europe had a more open view on sexuality. Amsterdam was more broad minded when it came to homosexuality. That is, until the Deutsche came to town. Now it was very hard for everyone. The Jewish population was under constant attack and other 'minorities' were finding it better to just simply disappear.

"And just for the record, I believe in love, okay? In all its glory. Hell, I am married, right?" she wiggled her ring finger.

Jan didn't elaborate, choosing to keep that bit of information to herself. Loose lips sink ships. That was her motto.

As the smell of hot soup and sandwiches filled the air, Jannie sat up and rubbed her face with her hands. She yawned. Suddenly looking guilty, she zipped up her pants and wiped her hand on the blanket. She looked over at the Sergeant. Ze is er zo enntje. Wa een kreng! she muttered.

She shook her head. Was it ever to be so? she thought. Being away from Anneke was getting harder all the time. She could hardly wait until the war was over. She'd take her lover and they would raise some children and maybe run a school.

She glanced over at the Sergeant. She was a cold one, for sure. All business. Very curt and precise. She didn't know why Frans paid her any attention. He must want something, she thought coldly. Ze geft niks om ons!

She got up and sauntered over to the table. Snatching up some food, she gave Frans a dirty look. He just returned it and smirked at Janice.

"Look here, Jannie. We've gotta talk, okay?" Jan said, turning to look at the woman.

"I know you miss your...friend. I'm gonna tell you something. You have to remain focused on this, okay? You can't be zoning out on me all the time. And where is Peter? I thought you guys said he was coming here tonight? That was hours ago."

"Ja, he is! He's busy with plannings. He come when he feels safe." Jannie blurted out.

A soft footstep was heard and Jan took out her Browning high power automatic. She inched forward, trying to stay in the shadows.

"Don't worry, Sergeant. It is I, Peter van Oppen. Please put the weapon down before you shoot off your own foot." He laughed and swung a duffle bag off his shoulders.

Jan wasn't impressed. Cocky little bastard, she thought. I guess he needs a couple of lessons on courtesy. And I'm just the dame to show him.

"Nah, haven't shot any of my toes off in....days, at least. So, you're Peter, huh? Nice to meetcha. I've heard some....good things about ya."

"As I have about you, Janice Covington. You are a little on the small side, yes? And rather skinny. You must need that gun for protection, yes?" He had a look of amusement in his eyes. He wanted to test this American. See just how far he could push. It was important, for mistakes were fatal in this business.

"Yeah, I don't have much meat on these bones. But what I do have, is choice. And as for the gun. Nope, don't need it. Won the highest mark in the hand to hand combat portion of my training. You know all this. Why you yankin my chain, Peter?"

He smiled and walked over to her. Sticking out his left hand, he introduced himself and then whistled low. Two others came bounding up the stairs, smiles on their faces.

Jannie yelped in surprise and ran over to a woman with blonde hair and blue eyes. "Die is vast wel goed!" Ah, thought Jan. This must be...Anneke.

Anneke was about 30 and was 5'5. She looked to be about 160 lbs but there wasn't an inch of fat on her anywhere.

Peter laughed and motioned to the man who had come in with Anneke.

"This is Menno. He is my weapons expert. There will be one other to join us. He is Jaap, Menno's brother. Jaap is our demolition expert. He likes to play with fire. He will come later tonight. Perhaps the next day, alright?"

Jan walked over and shook the man's hand. His face was wreathed in smiles. So, this was to be her new family. She turned and watched Anneke and Jannie still in each other's embrace.

Her heart felt like breaking. Thoughts of Mel filled her mind and she ached to hold her wife in her arms.

She looked away as the two began to kiss. That's it! she thought. I do not fuckin need this right now. She cleared her throat and walked over to the window.

Peter frowned. Surely there wouldn't be a problem. Not at this stage? There was a plan to blow up some train tracks in two week's time. Well, they would have to work things out as it was too late to get someone else. Besides, Anneke and Jannie were perfect for recognisance. They seemed to become part of the shadows. The Sergeant would have to come to grips with her distaste of homosexuality and move on.

He walked over to the window and placed a tentative hand on Jan's arm. "You are disgusted with their love? You must not think of it and just let them do their job."

"You don't understand. Look, lets just forget it. I'm not that, okay? It's just...that I miss my...husband, okay?"

Peter frowned. It hadn't mentioned anything about a marriage in Janice's documents.

"You are married? When did this happen? It is recent, yes?"

Jan smiled, lost in her thoughts of Mel and how she looked and the time they had spent....She blinked and cleared her throat.

"Yeah, got hitched ten days before I was shipped out. And it was a private ceremony, okay? You don't have to know anything more."

"I may call you Jan? Good. Now listen, we cannot have stress because of this. They, Jannie and Anneke, they have loved each other for two years. There is not a day that goes by that they are not in each other's thoughts. They work well together and that is that. You will have to move past your...distaste of this type of love. It is only considered unnatural by those who don't understand love. Are you one of those?"

Jan clenched her teeth, and looked sideways at Peter. What to say, what not to say? she thought.

"Now look, you condescending jerk. I am not 'one of those' who don't understand love, okay. I...I don't think its unnatural or wrong or whatever. Hey, love finds you, you don't have a choice, alright? I know what its like to love someone, body and soul..."

Peter's eyes opened wide. He nodded.

"You are in love with a woman?"

Jan pursed her lips and stuck her jaw out. "Yeah. Okay? Can we just leave this?"

"But Jan, this is wonderful! You must tell Jannie and Anneke. They will accept you then. Do you understand? They will feel a bond. You must. You are embarrassed for this love you feel for your wife? I don't think so. You are afraid that others will make fun of you?"

"Do NOT go there, Peter. I am not ashamed of Mel. I love her more than life itself. Hell, we've been together for almost two years now as well. Of course I'm not ashamed of her. She'd be here with me if she didn't have damnedable flat feet!"

Peter pushed Jan in a friendly way and jerked his head towards the two women who sat side by side, smiling at each other. "Flat feet!" he said, chuckling.

Jan turned from the window and sighed. "I, uh, I have something to say...I guess." She shot Peter a dirty look.

After clearing her throat, she went on. "I don't have any problem with you two being lesbians, okay? I am one. There..." She cursed a long string of Greek obscenities and turned to the window once more.

Anneke stood up and walked over to the Sergeant. She was only a bit taller but outweighed her because of her stocky build.

"I am glad to see you, Sergeant. I am Anneke. We, Jannie and me, we are glad you are here. You us?"

Jan turned and met the woman's eyes. She saw compassion and hope in the woman's eyes.

"Yeah, I am. Me and wife...just got married. We've been lovers for almost two years. I love her...very much. So, I know how you feel..."

"Oh, Janice. I can call you this? Yes, Janice. I am very happy of you. We, Jannie and me, want to be married, too. Her mutter, she likes me. So, that is good. Jannie thought you hate her. You see her....pleasure herself, yes? She tell me. She think you are mad. She is embarrassed. She want you to know she is sorry."

Jannie came over, head down, and stood by her lover. She skuffed her boots a little, feeling very awkward.

Jan lifted the woman's chin with a finger. Their eyes met and Jannie giggled. She made a little curtsy and smiled. Jan chuckled and gave her a hug. Then Anneke stepped in and hugged them both.

Menno came over and hugged Peter. Peter looked rather nonplused. He grinned and decided to just go with the feeling. Now, the thought, now they could work together and get the job done.

Jan elbowed Jannie. "You gotta do me a favour though. No more....hand in pants, okay? You were driving me crazy there, girl. I mean, I miss my wife so bad, ya know? I don't need you guys pushing it in my face, okay?"

Anneke leaned over and kissed Jannie very deeply. "You mean like this? You don't want to see it? And this...." She began running her hands over her lover's breasts.

Jan growled at swatted the two women. Anneke whispered "I hou van jou, Jannie", and their kisses almost made Jan catch fire.

"Peter! Geez, where's a bucket of water when ya need one?" She laughed and then the two women bent over in mirth. The sight of a very flustered woman trying to be so strong had them in gales of laughter.

Jan arched her eye brow, and gave Menno a hug as the man waltzed over to her. He smiled very shyly.

"We are friend now? You like us, we like you, yes?"

"Yes, Menno. I like. Now lets eat and get this show on the road."

Four pairs of eyes looked at her quizzically. 'Show on the road?' They were going to pretend to be circus performers?

"Yeah, get going on our mission. You know, the whole reason we're here together? Aside from the love fest we seen to be enjoying, of course." She snorted.

They laughed and gathered around the table. Peter pulled out some coffee and more food. Janice felt like almost kissing him. Coffee!

Chapter Two

September, 1943

Peter sat on the back stairs with Jan. He had a map on his knee and the two of them were going over plans. Her tactical skills would be fully employed. Jan leaned back on her elbows and watched as the man went on. She smiled as he squinted at his homemade map. He reached inside his breast pocket and pulled out a pair of wire rimmed glasses. Jan noticed that he looked younger wearing them. She could see.....the young man he used to be.

She had read his file and was very aware of the death of his fiance at the hands of the Germans. It must have pretty much destroyed the man she was getting a glimpse of. He was enthusiastic. She smiled again. Thoughts of Mel entered her mind as she remembered how much fun they had together, going to museums, checking out the Smithsonian, going over a site piecemeal. Mel had some pretty wild thoughts about where life originated. Jan smirked. They were never going to agree on the subject of Origin of the Species and the Genesis of Man.

Peter turned his head and furrowed his brows. "You don't like the plans or is it the glasses you deteste?"

"Nah, actually, I was thinking about my Mel. We've had some pretty hairy experiences together. She seems to attract trouble. I remember one was when we found the first batch of the Xena Scrolls..."

"You are *that* J. Covington? That Professor Jan Covington? I thought....I thought it was a man. I...please accept my apologies. I never Anya, she gave me one of your books for a is my favorite subject, archaeology."

His face was full of genuine appreciation. He wore a look of respect now, as if seeing Janice for the first time.

"But why? Why do you come here when you have important discoveries to make..freedom? I don't understand why you would risk...everything?"

"Ya know, Peter, I've asked myself that question more times than I'd like to admit. Kinda hard to I feel about this. Yes, I should be home...with Melinda. I miss her so much...but...well, its like this, Peter. I think I should try and make a difference in this war. How can I sit back and watch others make our lives worth living, fighting for freedom and our way of life? My Dad fought along side friends in Mexico's civil war. He was fighting against oppression then. I'm fighting against it now."

Peter watched as an intense light came into the woman's eyes. She was one of those people who fought with zeal. He nodded. This was good. A smart woman, very capable in the art of war who had heart. Very good combinations, he thought.

"Yes, Jan, I do understand. I was...destroyed when Anya...we were to be married. We had such plans...names we were to call our children.." He laughed bitterly. "How very naive I was. We Dutch, we seriously thought we could just ignore the problems around us and they would go away. It has been...a very rude awakening, my friend."

Both sat in silence, lost in their own thoughts, as the sky began to change from dark purple to pinks and golds.

Menno stumbled outside and sat himself down behind Peter. He wiped the sleep out of his eyes and gave Peter a look.

"You didn't sleep again, yes? Ga slapen, Peter. "

He ruffled the man's hair and gave him a push.

"Our mother hen, this Menno. You must watch him, Jan, or he will be bossing you around, too."

Peter got up and made his way back to a sleep roll. Jan stretched and yawned. Menno began to massage the tightness out of her shoulders. She groaned in response. She rotated her neck and head and slumped forward.

She felt her eyes begin to close and she sat up. "That's all she wrote, Menno. I gotta get some sack time. Thanks. That was really great. Hit the spot."

After four hours, Peter was shaking Jan awake. They had plans to go over...again.

General Christiansen, Supreme Commander of the German troops in Holland, had announced that all Dutch veterans were now to report for internment in Germany. All 300,000 of them. Massive strikes were taking place all over Amsterdam and the police had announced a state of siege was in effect.

It had been decided that Christiansen was the next target. Peter had been planning the assassination for weeks now. Jan found quite a few holes in them, much to Peter's annoyance. She had been right, too. They had since fine tuned every last detail. Soon they would be ready.

Jaap, the demolitions expect, showed up the next day. He explained that he had been restricted to his home until he would sign an agreement stating that he would go and work in a German factory after graduation. It seemed all the able bodied men were being sent to the front as Hitler announced his country was in a state of total war.

Jaap finally decided that the paper wouldn't be worth anything once the Americans pushed across the border so he had finally acquiesced. He had the bumps and bruises to show for his initial reluctance.

He looked very much like his brother Menno. Both men were big boned, heavily muscled and had high foreheads. The looked every inch a Viking throw back. The facial hair was all that was missing. That and a broad sword and funny helmet, of course.

The two were so much alike that they frequently finished off each other's sentences. Only sixteen months separated them in age but most thought of them as twins. Their hatred of Hitler and the Gestapo seemed to be at odds with their easy nature. If one took the time to look closely into their eyes, they would have seen the pain and hurt that each man had endured, watching everything they held dear be taken away from them.

Menno and Jaap were Jewish. They neither wore this truth as a badge of honour nor did they shun it. It was simply who they were. Both men were very honorable and dependable and Peter found them to be the back bone of the unit. They held a special place in his heart as they had been close friends with his Anya.

Peter looked across at Jannie as she and Anneke lay nestled in each other's arms. He hoped they would both get through this damnedable war. Watching most of his friends either bending to the nazi will or dying at their hands in protest had made Peter want to wail at the world.

Why couldn't the American's push on faster? Why had the Russians just dug in and waited the German's out? Didn't they know that lives were being lost on Dutch soil? Soon, Peter thought, there would not be anything but the blood of his countrymen left to mark their existance.

And yet love seemed to grow and flourish. He stood and walked over to the sleeping women. Anneke jerked awake and looked at Peter with blurry eyes. She kissed her lover awake and both stretched on their sleep rolls before rising and checking their weapons once again.

Chapter Three

Mel followed her new friend into his curio shop. She wiped her lips off on a napkin. My, those spanakopito thingies were mighty good, she thought. Who'd a thought of putting spinach into a flakey pastry? Them Griks were just so...talented.

Mikael Christopolis opened his arms wide, trying hard to stretch his rather plump frame to his total height of 5' 9". With his shock of white hair, he looked a bit like Santa Claus on vacation from both his red suit and his long white beard and whiskers.

"You like the pastry? I make dis morning. Very good. My wife, she teach me. She die lass year. Very sad. Very sick. I am glad she no see what go on in Europe now. She cry in heaven, I think."

Mel went over and placed her hand on his shoulder. She patted it a few times and brought her face close to his.

"You okay? You need to sit down?"

"No, my dear lady, but you might...come with me, yes?"

Mel watched as the old man's face became wreathed in smiles. He clapped his hands and took her by the arm. She felt herself caught up in his happiness and decided to go along with it.

Down the stairway they went, into the dark cold basement. It felt so refreshing after the dry heat in his shop. Mel's skin became covered in goose bumps as the man switched on the light.

The room was filled to the ceiling with curios, artifacts and relics. She spotted quite a few things she wanted to look closer at. My, she felt like a child in a candy shop.

Christopolis smiled as he saw the look of rapture on the woman's face. He brought her over to the back of the basement and pulled aside a drape cloth.

Melinda's eyes grew wide as she looked at the painting before her. It was like looking in a mirror. Yes, the engraving was all but faded and chipped and the stone tablet was cracked with some of the main text missing but....there was no doubt. Non whatsoever. Mel knew without question that she was looking at her ancestor: Xena of Amphipolis.

She clapped her hands to her mouth and laughed. He scrunched his forehead. This was not the response he had expected. The American must think it is a joke, he thought.

"No, no. Is real. Look! You see with glass. You see the writing? Is real!"

Mel took the old man's hand and gave it a squeeze. "Yes, Mr. Christopolis. I know it's real. Why, I know that face like I know my own. This is a portrait of Xena: Warrior Princess. Idn't it? You knew, didja? Is that why you came to me at the airport? Why yer interested in me?"

She wasn't hurt by any means but she did need to know why this man had sought her out and what he wanted.

"I did not know for sure. Miss Pappas, you must understand. I have this tablet...for many years. Very old. In my family for long time. I must tell you, yes, I find you out. I am happy you know this warrior. She is important, yes? You and....your friend...yes, is not to worry. I know you are married. Is good. You are happy, she is happy. What is problem? Love is love."

"But...but what do you want, Mr. Christopolis? I don't understand?"

"When I see your face, I don't know the connection. You looked, is not good word. You look like dis picture but my mind don't tell me. I have to spend afternoon with you before my old brain make connection."

He laughed and patted his temple.

"I have been watching so many of our national treasures go missing, leaving our country, never to be seen again. I try hard to stop. Is not good. Is our history. You are Greek, Miss Pappas. Tell me you understand this horror."

"Please, Mr. Christopolis. Call me Mel. All my friends do." She smiled at him and he released the breath he wasn't aware he'd been holding.

"Yes, strange name, yes?"

"It's um...well...short for Melinda, if ya must know. I don't much like it, though. My momma used to yell at me somethin fierce when I was younger. Every time I hear it...well, it just makes me cringe. Except when Jan calls me that. Now, when she calls me anything, why, I just turn to mush. Funny, isn't it?"

"You love this...Jan, yes? More than life, I think. You have a bond, very strong bond. I see in your eyes when you talk of her. You know the Greek myth about soul's separated, yes? Good. Yes, could be this way, no?"

"I think she is the other side of my soul, yes, Mr. Christopolis. I kinda feel her, even when she idn't here. I guess that's why I haven't been able to even think of anything else. She's always on my mind. Always..."

The old man patted Mel's hand and went up to put some hot water on. Mel began looking around. So much stuff....

It was late when Melinda got back to her house. She arched her back and placed a hand on her tail bone. My, so many things to inventory for Mr. Christopolis and just not enough time in the day...She had been adimant about getting the afternoon off. She just couldn't face Dr. Callisto's condescending looks, now that Jan was gone.

How could she face their bed....alone? She could barely enter the dark forboding house. Now that her lover was gone, it seemed like a dark pall had descended on her very soul.

She pushed open the front door and dropped her hat and jacket off on the bench in the hall. She kicked off her heels and gave each foot a nice massage before heading off to the kitchen. Soon the house was bathed in lights and Mel began preparing a light supper. Mr. Chrisopolis had made her take some more of those tastey pastries and she had devoured them on the walk home.

A nice light salad with some baklava would hit the spot, she thought as she pulled a stool up to the counter. She sat sipping her hot apple tea, enjoying the rich bodied aroma. Thanks goodness for Mr. Christopolis....

She found her mind wandering now that her belly was full. She idly licked her fingers, making sure all of the honey was removed...and thought of Janice....

They walked along the secluded beach, one hand holding their shoes and the other entwined, gazing into each other's eyes. Neither said a word. It was

enough just to be in the presence of the other. Their days in Nicosia were

coming to an end and Jan would have to report to the Duty Sergeant in

three days.

Jan had been so very romantic. She'd laid in bed with Mel most of the morning, feeding her lover bits of cheese and fruit by hand. They had

made love almost constantly. The afternoons were spent sight seeing and

then the evenings were spent walking along the beach, holding hands and

just cherishing the moments they had together.

Mel had stopped to look at a particularly glorious sunrise and had sat on a rocky outcropping, lost in the moment. Jan had come behind her and had

gently moved Mel's hair aside so that she could trail hot kisses down to where

her bathing robe covered her shoulders.

Jan had gently pulled down on the shoulders of the robe until it lay pooled

around Mel's waist. She leaned back into Jan and felt her lover drag her

fingertips caressingly over her shoulders, followed by sweet tender kisses.

"Have I told you how incredible you look tonight, love? Have I told you just

how sexy you are? How good you make me feel? How much having you in

my life has meant to me?"

"Yes, Jan. You have told me all of these things, and more. I love you, too.

You make me truly feel like a woman, Jan. I have never felt so...feminine

than when I am in your arms and you are looking at me like that. Yes, you

know the you could just eat me up with a spoon. You're doin it

right now....."

"Why,'mere you..." Jan turned her lover's face towards her

kissed her very passionately. Mel moaned and her hands moved slowly up Jan's arms until they felt her lover's biceps. Jan flexed her muscles and drew

Mel into a crushing embrace.

Mel gasped as she felt Jan nibbling at her lower lip, her tongue being sucked with abandon. Sometimes, the strength of the mini dynamo before her took

her off guard.

She felt the straps to her bikini being slowly pulled down and then hot kisses were strategically placed in all the right spots. Jan always knew instinctively just where to kiss and suckle to bring out the most of Mel's


Jan lowered her lover to the sand and shrugged off her shirt. She lay it under

Mel and knealt beside her. It amazed her that this Goddess wanted her.

She removed her own bra and then watched as Mel undid the front catch on

her bikini. She slowly let the top drop, covering her breasts with her hands,

and then cupped her own breasts, bringing the nipples to attention with a squeeze.

Jan's throat was dry as she watched Mel lick her lower lip. She bent over and

kissed the backs of Mel's hands as she stroked herself.

Sweeping her hair out of the way, Jan pushed her lover slowly down onto the

shirt and lay on top. Mel's hands never stopped and Jan moaned as Mel's

breathing became ragged.

Mel trailed her hand down between her legs and slipped them under her wet

bikini bottom. She withdrew her fingers and painted the essence on Jan's lips.

Covington sucked the fingers into her mouth and moaned as they were being


Jan slowly inched the bikini down to Mel's knees and then slipped them off. The sight of Mel's fingers buried deep into her vagina made Jan's nostrils flare

with anticipation. She leaned in and began to suckle one of her lover's nipples.

The harder she sucked, the more Mel thrashed. Her hips rose and Jan squeezed in between them. Mel wrapped her legs around Jan's middle and

groaned as she felt a palm rub her clitoris.

Jan began rocking her hips into her lover, alternating her attention between the two hardening nipples. Little cries began emitting from Mel as she neared

her orgasm. She wiggled her fingers deeper into herself and Jan increased

her thumb pressure on the sensitive nub.

Jan could feel herself beginning to lose control....she could feel her own orgasm just beyond her reach...

Just as Mel was feeling the first wave descend on her, Jan bit down on her

right nipple. She screamed as the wave hit, full force. She grabbed Jan's

head with her free hand and pressed her mouth hard upon her breast. Jan sucked harder and began flicking Mel's clit with her thumb.

Just as Mel was coming down from her orgasm, she felt another overtake

her. Her throat was raw as she groaned out Jan's name, over and over....

Jan whimpered and closed her eyes. Mel removed her own fingers and

took the firm flesh of Jan's buttocks in her hands and pushed her thigh up

in between her lover's legs. Jan moaned as she felt herself flipped over and then found herself looking up into the blue eyes she loved so well.

Her pants were pulled open, her underwear was pulled down, legs drawn up

and she felt three fingers drive deeply into her hot centre.

Jan managed to grunt three times before she came. She couldn't even

manage to voice a single word. Just noises...small cries of release.

She lay there, a silly grin on her face. Mel kissed her roughly and then moved

down between Jan's legs.

Jan yelped as she felt teeth graze her sensitive clit. Then Mel's tongue caressed every inch of her throbbing sex before pushing deep inside. Jan rocked her hips back and forth as Mel held her tightly.

Mel sucked hard on Jan's clitoris and then entered her again, her tongue making alternating trips from opening to clit. The sensations were intense

and very overpowering.

Jan yelled once and shuddered as Mel continued to milk her release.

Finally both women lay in the sand, Mel lying in her favorite spot at the crook

of Jan's shoulder. They looked up at the clear night sky and counted stars.

Holding each other tightly, they murmured words of love, exchanging small

kisses and caresses until the wee small hours of the morning.

When Mel thought of that night, she remembered being very surprised at the places she found sand in. She'd had rug burns before but...sand burns? She chuckled with the memory.

She cleared her dishes and walked into the main bedroom. Switching on the light only made things more lonely for Mel so she turned them off and undressed in the darkness. She clutched Jan's pillow to her face and inhaled the essence of the woman she loved.

It was going to be a long night. And an even longer war.

Mel wasn't sure what had awakened her, but she sat up in bed, listening for some noise, an indication that something was just not right.

She jumped out of bed as she heard a crash. Reaching for the baseball bat that her lover had bought back at Yankee Stadium, Mel inched closer to the living room.

Suddenly, she caught a glimpse of someone as they upturned her desk drawers and fled towards the front door.

Standing there in her slip, Mel dropped the bat and began to shake. She let out a cry as she heard the glass in the front door shatter.

She wasn't certain how she managed to get to the phone and call the police but she did. She sat in the overstuffed chair by the door and just waited.

She gave her deposition to the policemen and was somewhat relieved when a man was posted to her front door. A locksmith and carpenter had been called by a very compassionate chief of police, assuring her that both would arrive early that morning.

Mel was escorted back to her room and as she lay down on her bed, she wondered who would want to break into her home. They had nothing. Their house was very sparse and austere. Jan wasn't one for pretension and all of Mel's finery was still back in America.

She had hesitated to bring any of her things because of the war. The thought of her precious hierlooms sitting on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean made her positively cringe in horror.

Now she was glad she hadn't pushed to have them sent. Anything would be prefereable to the look her Momma would give her upon learning of their theft. Mel blinked at the vision of her mother's disapproval.

It was bad enough that she would never understand the love that she and Jan shared. That she would hate her...but to lose a part of her heritage? That would have been positively unforgiveable.

The memory of her mother's scolding voice is what filled Mel's thoughts as she fell into an uneasy slumber....

Chapter Four

Jan watched with hooded eyes as Jannie, Anneke and Frans made their way across the courtyard. Jannie leaned over and kissed her lovers cheek. Suddenly, a Dutch nazi soldier pointed to the two women and laughed. A group of men sat and enjoyed the sport.

The tallest of the bunch walked over to the women and began pushing them, yelling obscenities into their stoic faces.

"Zeh er zo eentije. Lesbiennes!! Kep rennen zu kreng!" He began slapping the women. Anneke tried to position herself in front of most of the blows but this seemed to anger the soldier more. Soon, both women were huddled on the ground, trying to ride out the punishment.

Jan gritted her teeth and made her way across to where they lay. The soldier had stopped kicking the women after neither had made a move to do much more than cover vital spots before his punishing boots. His verbal abuse, however, continued.

Covington was dressed in the usual non descript clothing of the lower class. She wore a scarf over her hair and tried not to look the man in the eye. She put a calming hand out to the soldier and smiled. He furrowed his forehead, looking for deceit or aggression.

He frowned as Janice leaned over and placed her hands on Anneke's back. "Je hebl je bezeerd? Je bent gewond?"

Anneke looked up in puzzlement. She shook her head and helped Jannie to her feet. They kept their eyes cast downward and slowly made their way back out of the courtyard.

The soldier didn't quite know what to make of the scene as it unfolded before him. Jan smiled gently and turned away. He reached out and put a hand on her shoulder. He spoke a few quite words and Jan nodded. The man smiled and went back to his friends. They patted him on the back for a job well done and Jan fought hard to keep the smile on her face.

It left soon after she turned away. If they could have seen the hatred in her eyes, they might not have been so carefree.

She helped them around the corner and they all leaned against the wall in relief.

"You do know that eveything, all of our plans would have been dashed if that guy had've dragged you in for questioning? You can' just can't show any affection in public. You have to understand this! You make yourselves a target and that endangers all of us. Do you understand?"

Anneke nodded, her face a stone mask. Jannie's lower lip was cut and bleeding. She nodded and took her lover's bleeding hand into her own. She tore off part of her shirt and began wiping at the wounds. Anneke put her hand over the cloth and stopped Jannie's movements.

She turned and walked away. Jannie's face briefly showed the hurt she was feeling and then she slowly followed.

Jan took a quick look behind her and+ E@@xф>P> PPPp(-alpF 7(t)ntD}f_/=/u "&촆 (IѨմ<P _M{G+!9(8sıL. Ycُ?g?ƌ =~D8l-$qZ>% :4t#%pDL$ICRav4F=j 7!5*߅\!%,WzAV59ؓmVtۿ`i)Űc #TP~/Ƴ6+t lOTዻS1E ?8S#'n;kTRX8w_>APsP_Z(C@2B=3e߰܋a=}mpuQ}X5 O!Pk^F}hat she'd been able to convey most of her wishes with a smile and a caress.

Chapter Five

The three skirted the city and came up the back way to the warehouse. Jan stopped every now and again to make sure they weren't being followed.

As they entered the warehouse, Jan noticed something was wrong. Jaap and Menno sat stoney faced while Frans and Peter were in deep discussion.

Peter jumped up when he saw the blood on Jannie's face.

"Jannie! Je hebtje bezeerd! Anneke?" Neither woman would look him in the eye. Janice came forward and told him what had happened.

Jannie broke into tears when Anneke turned away and strode over to the window. Jan frowned and went after Anneke.

"Anneke. What's wrong with you? You treated her like dirt out there. So, she made a mistake! Yeah, one moment of weakness and you won't forgive her? I already have and I'm not having sex with her. You love her and you can't forgive her? What the hell is going on here?"

"Sergeant Covington. You will not speak of this to me. It is between Jannie and me. She...we could have all been killed. You know this. You say so earlier. Why do you forgive now?"

"It is one thing to be angry at the moment, Anneke. But then you put it behind you and you forget it. Move on! I know you hurt. Your defended Jannie but let yourself be beaten. I can understand why you'd be angry about that. Hell, I wanted to spit down the guys neck after I'd torn his bloody head off!! Instead, I had to swallow my pride and promise the SOB that I'd fuck him. You want a reason to be pissed off? Take mine. I gotta come up with a way to either placate the bastard or..."

"Janice! You will not go back there. I will not condone this behavior. Yes, you do it for the safety of the cadre. But you are not expected to do....that. It is! I will not allow it." Peter was livid at the very thought of this fine woman with...."We are too close to reaching our objective, Jan. Please."

Peter began to pace, his fists opening and closing behind his back, chords in his neck standing out in relief.

"Besides...we have trouble. Menno and Jaap were out earlier trying to find the train route that Christiansen will follow from Rottersdam. The Franks...they have been found...after such a long time in hiding..."

Jan saw the look on his face and came over to him. She hugged him while I tried to remain stoic, aloof. She felt his body shudder and then...the facade crumbled and Peter cried. He held Jan's shoulders and buried his face in her neck. Hot tears of anger and remorse soaked Jan's blouse.

Part of Jan wanted to run and hide. She didn't do....this sensitive stuff! What should she say? Or do? Not knowing either, she opted to just hold on and let him take the next step.

She didn't understand many of the words but knew that they concerned his girlfriend and how terrible life had been, was and continued to be.

As she held Peter, Jaap spoke up, detailing the arrest of the eight Jews that had spent a long and tortuous 25 months huddling behind a false wall in an old abandoned warehouse.

The Gestapo had made a big announcement, urging all patriotic Dutchmen to follow the words of Hitler and denounce every last enemy of the state.

A deathly pall had descended on the beautiful city of Amsterdam. It was as if each and every one of its citizens were trying to bury the shame of the actions against its Jewish people.

Never had a cut been so deep as when the Dutch Nazi Party declared that the Netherlands was "Judenrein" - free of jews.

As the end of the year came closer, it was reported through channels that over 100,000 Jews had been deported to death camps in Poland. No longer would the Allies be able to sit back and ignore the truth. No longer would the world be so innocent as to be blinded by words and promises made by a madman.

Chapter Five

Mel sneaked another look at the tablet fragment and then quickly deposited it back into her safe. She carefully tucked her notes into the inside band of her hat and began to straighten her desk.

As she heard the click clack of high heels hitting the mezzanine floors of the museum, Mel found herself clenching her jaw in response. What was it about this woman, thought Melinda, that had her tied up in knots? Just the sound of her voice set the southerner on edge.

"Well, Miss Pappas. I see you're finishing up a tad early this evening. Why, its not yet 5:00 o'clock. Was there...somewhere you had to be?, perhaps?" She smiled wickedly but her eyes remained stone cold.

Deciding that silence was the better part of valour, Mel declined to answer, chosing to nod instead as she grabbed her jacket.

"Oh, Melinda, dear. Don't go forgetting your...hat..will you? My word, dear, I do believe you'd forget your pretty little head if it wasn't sewed on, wouldn't you?"

Melinda brought her hand forward to retrieve her hat as it was pulled out of reach by the director.

"Ah, ah, ah. I don't recall hearing 'Mother may I'. Come can say it...say 'Mother may I'."

"If you don't mind, Dr. Callisto," said Mel as she finally grabbed her hat. The motion caused the corner of her notes to peek out of the inside band. This in turn caused the southerner to break out in a slight sweat.

"Why, Melinda. Are you coming down with something? You look like a goose just crossed your.....grave....dear. Something I said?"

Mel had had it. Her nerves were frayed as it was, what with working after hours at the curio shop with Mr. Christopolis and then grabbing a few hours of sleep at her house only to return to work and have to kowtow to this...this...bully. It was getting to be just too much.

"I think we've had this conversation before, Director Callisto. My time is my own and my personal property is not up for grabs. I'd appreciate it if ya all remembered that. What's mine is...mine, Dr. Callisto. And I intend on keepin it."

She looked pointedly at the Director and fingered the necklace Jan had given her. Dr. Callisto smiled coldly back at her. Getting the horrid woman to lose her temper and therefore have a reason to get her dismissed was proving harder than she'd thought.

Having Covington out of the way had been a great stroke of luck. Why the woman would want to go traipsing over to some dingy place in Sweden or where ever, when she could be safely here with her....Amazon....was beyond Hudson. It just didn't make any sense. However, since it all worked in her favour, she'd go with it.

All she had to do now was get rid of the snooping little bitch in front of her. She didn't know what the connection was with that Greek shop keeper, but Hudson was suddenly finding her antique contacts drying up. As if someone was buying the artifacts up as fast as they were being stolen.

Hudson had thought herself very fortunate that she'd gotten out of Covington's house before being discovered by Pappas that night days before. She'd only sustained a minor wound on the inside of her upper arm. It had required stitches, of course, but she'd gotten some quack to take care of it quietly. Wouldn't do to have news of that injury reach anyone's ears here at the museum. Might cause talk. And inquiries. And that might lead to an investigation as to how certain items were appearing in the stock room and then disappearing just as quickly.

Hudson had thought she was being smart by giving the Pappas woman extra work, trying to drive her to distraction and into making a mistake in judgement. It hadn't worked out that way at all. In fact, the Archaeology Department was now running smoother than before and she herself was finding it hard to have new items appear unnoticed. The woman had all but catelogued the whole back supply room. No longer piled high to the ceiling, the boxes had been sorted, filed and catelogued to perfection.

Hudson had no idea how the woman was doing it but she did intend on finding a certain valuable piece that she'd brought in a few weeks before. She knew approximately where she'd stashed it...then. However, things were not even in the same room anymore. The director had been forced to search every last place in the museum and then had even broken into Pappas' home residence in an effort to find the whereabouts of said item.

Finding neither was pushing Dr. Callisto beyond the point of no return. She had to get the item back and soon. It had been promised to a buyer in Istanbul and she'd already been paid a king's ransom for it. Her excuses for delay were becoming weak and transparent at best.

Hudson had no delusions as to what would happen to her if she failed to retrieve the item in question. She wasn't too sure what importance it held but felt it might have something to do with an old dig Harry Covington and Melvin Pappas had been working on back in '38.

Not that she cared. Money was, after all, everything. The sooner she re-established her black market pipeline and found the damned tablet, the better things would be.

It had been extremely fortuitous that Judith Carmichael hadn't broken down and confessed the name of her international fence. It was also lucky for the woman that she was behind bars. The director had found out the woman had been stealing from her. A rather large sum of money, she had calculated.

Regardless of how long she looked or where she looked, she just couldn't find any trail of the missing money at all. That damnedable Alan! she cursed. She'd always been able to wrap the silly man around her finger. Certianly he'd known. But now the fool had gotten himself killed and was of no further use to her.

Now where would Judith have stashed the money? And the artifact? Where would this Pappas woman have hidden it? Providing she had found it in the first place. And discovered it's worth. Perhaps someone else had found it and taken out of the museum?

She failed to see the look of concern on Melinda Pappas' face as visions of her paranoia ran away with her.

Chapter Six

Amsterdam, October 1943

After the Allied Invasion, some in the resistance were executing prominant Nazi's and their Dutch sympathizers. For every German assassinated, several Dutchmen were shot. It only stiffened the resolve of the resistance even more.

It was a matter of the greater good. The lives of a few barely weighed anything against the lives of the many. It was this thought that kept Peter and his cadre sane and totally focused in their desire to hurt the nazi's strong hold on Dutch soil.

Jaap sat in the shadows of the train station and re-checked his dynamite. Yes, the blasting cap was in place, the cord was just the right length....he looked up as Peter and Jan came around the corner...

Like wisps of shadows he watched Anneke and Jannie silently make their way towards the guard's station. Not a sound, not one thing out of place....only a gentle thud as the guard was pulled into the bushes...the spirits wafting through the darkness towards their next prey.

All in all, four Dutch nazi soldiers lost their lives that night. Each of them had their throats cut with thin piano wires.....neither woman taking much glee out of the mode of death they inflicted but they did smile in satisfaction as the men quietly succumed without fuss.

Jan tilted her head and listened for....yes, she could just barely hear the rumble of the train. If they were lucky, they'd have five or six minutes to get over to the switch box and plant the bomb. It had been decided to cause as much damage as possible, and by taking out the switching mechanism, they would tear up two tracks instead of just one...might keep them out of circulation for the better part of a week at the least and maybe even two if they were really lucky.

The scuttlebut coming down the line from her contacts in England was that the American troops were making their way across France and Belguim, hard and bloody fighting at every step.

Menno and Jaap made their way towards the switch box, carefully concealing themselves in every available shadow.

They had just begun setting the charge when a low bird call was heard. Peter recognized the signal first and made hand gestures to Jan and Frans. The two women were still busy trying to make their way back from the last post.

A car drove up and two soldiers and a Gestapo officer jumped out. Jan couldn't make out what they were saying...

"Ist es ein Schnellzug oder ein Personenzug?" asked the officer.

"Wie lange halten wir hier? Hat der Zug Verspatung?" The soldiers shook their heads and mumbled their replies. The German officer sneered at these inferior Dutch nazis. Ah well, nothing a little bullet won't fix. Especially once the German army completely dominates the Netherlands, he thought smuggly.

Jan tried to summon up her smattering of German and barely made out a few of the words. Peter whispered the translation and she nodded. So, they were wondering where the train was, huh? And not staying long at this station. Well, all the better because soon the station would be out of order. If they could take Christiansen and some high ranking mucky mucks, then all the better.

The officer motioned the two soldiers to go and do a reconnoitre in preparation for the General's arrival. No one was to know of his plan to sneak in the back door here in Rottersdam. No big show of support for the pompous windbag, thought the German. Just as well.

One of the soldiers looked towards the tracks, a frown on his face. He went to investigate and Jan felt Peter stiffen beside her. He couldn't whistle, couldn't call out...he had to be patient and hope that Anneke had seen the fool.

The soldier unslung his rifle and moved cautiously over to the shadows...his every movement mirrored by Anneke just off to his right by the trees. Just as he was within 20 feet of where the two men lay, still trying to furiously finish their work, Anneke threw her knife. It landed solidly in the soldier's neck and the man quietly slumped to the ground.

The other soldier had taken this opportunity to urinate off to the side. Jan could smell the tobacco as he finished up and lit a cigarette. Oh, the smell of freshly rolled home mades, she thought wistfully.

She tapped Peter's shoulder and jerked her head towards the other soldier. Then she began making her way towards the man. She crept slowly forward, making sure of every foot fall, every branch and twig.

She was within ten feet of him now and he was still blissfully unaware of his impending doom. Jan removed her knife and wiped the sweat from her hands as she readied her strike....

And then it happened. Call it good luck or bad, depended upon your point of view. Call it karma, whatever. All Janice saw was the look of recognition as the soldier glanced up and over to where she crouched.

It was the Dutch nazi in the courtyard. His eyes registered both her presence and where he had last seen her and then he was in motion. He turned, bringing his rifle up in one fluid motion.

To Jan, it seemed as if everything slowed down...she leapt towards the man, he turned and began raising his rifle, she seemed to float towards him as his finger found the trigger...and then their bodies collided.

Things began to happen quickly. The two men finished off their work and spun around at the sound of the one soldier dying, a knife in his neck. Then Anneke began to run towards the officer who had finally clued into the fact that something was up. He had his revolver out and was pointing it at the only clear target he had - Jannie. As he brought up his weapon to fire, he was hit low by his knees as Anneke crashed into him. He got off a shot that narrowly missed Jannie but nicked Frans in the shoulder as he was trying to knock the woman out of the way.

Janice found her hands around the man's throat as he reined blow after blow on her face. She grinned evilly and watched as the man's face purpled. Her face registered total surprise as she felt a burning sensation in her side. She held her breath in surprise and then Peter was holding her, pressing something to her side.

Anneke kneed the officer and then stood back as Menno jumped in and plunged his K Bar knife deeply into the man's chest. The once pompous man seemed to simply deflate as his life slowly bleed out from his wound.

After making sure that Jannie was alright, Anneke went over to Frans and pulled him away towards where Peter and Jan were.

"Je bent gewond, Frans."

"Ja, but it is nothing. It is Janice..there is so much blood."

Jaap came running and alerted them to the fact that the bomb was set and they had about 90 seconds to clear the area.

Peter lifted Jan carefully and Menno and Jaap helped Frans make their was deeper into the forest.

It was Jannie that acted as rear lookout. She flitted through the trees, hanging back about twenty feet.

They could hear the train now, coming ever closer.

"Peter...let me down..I can walk. We have to get outta here...put me down." Peter ignored her and stumbled on, unaware of the branches that wiped his face and the sweat that ran down and dripped off his chin.

So much blood, his brain screamed. He could feel the hot sticky wetness on his lower chest as it soaked his clothing. NO! his mind screamed.

Just as they were about two hundred yards from the railway station, they heard a whistle blow and the deafening sound of the explosion. It was followed by the screech of twisted metal and the second thundering explosion as the engine blew up.

They were all knocked to the ground as they felt the earth shudder beneath them. The air seemed to sizzle with flying sinders as some of the trees caught fire.

Anneke gained her feet and began looking for Jannie. Menno and Jaap had thrown themselves over Frans as bits and pieces of metal shrapnel fell to earth.

Peter removed his sodden shirt and bunched it up against Jan wound. He spoke in Dutch, and stroked Jan's face. She looked up in wonder...why was he crying? And it was so cold all of a sudden....she felt very...tired.

"I kom terug voor jou."

Peter heard a strangled cry and ran back the way they had come. There, on her knees, was Anneke. She cradled her lover close, rocking back and forth, murmuring soft child-like noises.

Peter frowned and stepped closer. Anneke turned her head towards him and growled.

"No! Stay back. You will not see her like this. She is...she is just sleeping. It has been such a long day....and Jannie...and she is, my love...look, Jannie, it's Peter...he is here to can help, yes, Peter? can stop the blood? I love you, Jannie...I'm sorry I was so angry with'll forgive me, yes? come back now...yes? Please, my love....PLEASE!"

And then she wailed. A strangled cry of anguish filled the air. Peter dropped to his knees as he saw the iron pipe protruding threw Jannie's upper chest. There was a look of surprise on Jannie's gentle face. Some of her hair had been burned away and her bright hazel eyes if perhaps there was something left undone.

Peter slowly whispered into Anneke's ear and began rubbing her back. It seemed a long time before the woman nodded. She careful lowered her lover back down onto the ground and stood up. She blinked a few times and then roughly scrubbed her hands across her face.

She got about five feet away from the body before another anguished cry rose from her very soul. She clenched her fists and forced herself not to look back, to keep walking, to keep going forward.

She saw how very pale Janice was...the amount of blood soaking the temporary bandages. She looked over at Peter and frowned.

"How did things go so bad so quickly, Peter? We, we were almost home free. We had it planned so well. Why? Why did those men come? I...I don't understand...any of it."

Peter winced at everything the woman had said. It had been his job to see every angle, every possible mistake...and try to find counter measures. He had failed. One was injured, one was dead and, quite possibly, another would die this night.

All of their careful plans, the nights spent going over every contingency. All for it to end like this.

Muffled shouts began to reach them and Menno and Jaap came running.

"There are soldiers everywhere...we must go. Hurry!"

Anneke looked back over to where Jannie lay. Frans grabbed her arm and began pulling her away. She stumbled and cried as she was being lead away.

Peter heard a shot. Then another and bent to lift Janice up. Her eyes were half closed and her breath was coming in very shallow and raspy. What could he do? If he brought her with them, she was sure to die. They hadn't the knowledge. Jannie had been good with wounds, but...he dragged his mind away from the horrible wound the woman had suffered. He tried to erase the look on Jannie's face from his mind....the blood that soaked into the earth beneath her.....

Jaap ran back to where the two were and tried to help Peter lift Jan up.

"No. Now Jaap. You must go. Get the other's to safety. You must....leave us here. I cannot leave her, Jaap. She is my responsibility and I failed. I can't....I won't leave her....Now go."

"We are in this together, Peter. We have been since the beginning. We can...we will get her to one of the other cadres. They will have someone..they must."

He pushed Peter forward and then bent to apply more pressure. He removed his belt and tied it snuggly against the bandages pressed to Jan's side. She moaned a little and began mumbling.

"Mel.....I...I love you...I'm sorry.....have to to.." Her words trailed off and then she lapsed into unconsciousness. Peter gave Jannie one last look and then he and Jaap picked Janice up.

Menno tried to pull Anneke along but she just stood there. Anneke felt an intense sense of loss as images of she and Jannie, their lives together...the plans for the future...hit her full force. She stumbled and then it was Frans that picked her up. Jaap pushed them all forward and they seemed to just melt into the shadows.

Chapter Seven


She lay dying, her life's blood seeping into the ground beneath her...there seemed to be a river of blood....her skin was so white, so sickly...she was all alone...left to die in a forest somewhere....she was calling....holding her hand out......

Melinda awoke with a start....her head was pounding in rhythm with her galloping heart, a fine sheen of sweat covering her face and chest...only a dream, she kept repeating to herself...just a dream....she pulled absent mindedly at her damp night shirt. She had begun wearing one of Jan's soon after she'd left.

Mel fingered the St. Christopher medallion she wore around her neck. She'd worn it every day since Jan had given it to felt hot this morning...almost burning.

The faint light of morning began edging itself across the sky and Mel lay curled up with a worried look on her face. She had been having such vivid dreams lately...she'd originally put it down to the break-in a couple of weeks ago...but now she wasn't so sure...where was Jan? Because she was with Special Ops, there was no way to get in touch with way to find out if she was alright...Damnit! Double, double damnit!! cursed Melinda as she clutched the flimsy sheets to her breasts...

She rolled over and brought Jan's pillow close to her in a loving embrace. She inhaled the aroma...she hadn't been able to wash the pillow case and held tightly to the comforting smell.

Even the smell brought forth such images...such passionate visions...Mel found her nipples become erect...a tear rolled slowly down her cheek. She hated this! Just hated it. When Jan came home....well, she was never, ever, EVER gonna let the woman outta her sight again......not without me, she thought. No matter what happens, we've got to go through this together....Their lives together meant too much to spend apart...

Melinda clutched the pillow to her and sobbed...she cried angry hot tears and prayed that Janice would be alright...that her dreams meant nothing.

It was just six o'clock when Mel looked over at the alarm clock and sighed. She'd laid a bed far too long already...she might as well get up now...what was an hour anyway? She could at least be bored sitting at the table eating some fruit...she sighed again. pleasure any more. Just a function she performed in order to exist...nothing more. Life just held spark without her Jan....her...wife.

Mel smiled with that thought and began to dress...ah, yet another dreary day tryin not ta throttle the livin daylights outta that horrible woman, she thought. My, what lovely images that brought forth... she was still smiling about it as she got through the front door of her office...

Melinda hunched over the file cabinet in stock room, pouring over files as she sorted through the daily list of things the Director had given her. She took a sip of her apple tea and looked up in surprise as Dr. Callisto entered the room with the Chief of Police behind her.

"Miss Pappas, dear. There's a nice gentleman here that wishes to speak to you."

"Why, its Chief Papandopolis, isn't it? Yes, I remember you from a week ago. What is it?"

"Miss Pappas, do you recall some....unpleasantness last year...regarding the unfortunate Miss Judith..." He checked his notes again. "...Carmichael?"

'Do I remember Miss Judith...? And how!' Mel thought, narrowing her eyes.

Melinda's mind went immediately to the scene where she and Jan had come upon the wretched woman making, that certainly didn't qualify for what they were doin. There was no love in that was pure, unadulterated fucking. She suddenly blushed, remembering just how turned on Jan had seemed.

Oh yes, she certainly remembered a lot about Miss Judith. Yes indeed. Why, just the memory of having her horrible brother putting his hands on Jan....well! And knowing that it had been she who'd arranged the murder of not only her own dear father, but that of Jan's, too, had made this nice genteel southern woman want to just wring the woman's neck...way past the point where it would become unseemly. 'Why, they'd have to pry my cold dead fingers off'n her sorry body!' Mel thought brutally.

Thoughts of her dear departed father swam to the surface and threatened to reduce her to yet another bout of crying. It seemed that every important person, every anchor in her life these days, had been severed.

She'd discovered a lot about herself this past year and a half. My, she would be two years very soon... She'd discovered that she was stronger than she ever imagined she could be. But lately she'd been having these terrible nightmares...

She was brought out of her reverie as she felt a hand on her elbow.

"Miss Pappas? Are you all right? You looked.... well, not yourself, dear." She leaned in towards Melinda and whispered, "Why, I don't think you're getting enough sleep, Melinda. Not wondering about...Jan and who she might be with....are we?"

Mel shot her such a look of pure malevolence that Dr. Callisto brought her head back with a jerk. My, she thought with a smirk, so the kitten has claws....

Chief Papandopolis cleared his throat. "If I may continue, ladies? Ahem...we are not sure about any connection to the break in at your house, you understand, does seem to follow through that you and Miss Covington would be the natural target.."

"What are ya talkin about? You mean ta tell me that she...she's outta prison? That horrid woman...that murdering..."

"Now, now, Melinda, dear....why don't we listen to the good are a Captain, aren't you dear?"

"Ahem, why no, no I'm not. It's Chief Papandopolis, dear lady."

"Why of course, silly of me...and it's ma'am. I am no lady, as I'm sure you've heard." She shot Mel a dirty look and then gave the chief an ingratiating smile and took him by the elbow. When she had him comfortably seated, she nodded for him to continue.

"Well, to begin with, Miss Pappas, no, she was not set free. If we in Greece have anything to say about it, she will never be allowed out to see the light of day. However, an incident beyond our control...has...well, she has escaped. We don't know how or by whom, but a great deal of money exchanged hands with some of our less professional prison guards....who may never work again, I might add."

Mel watched with interest as a funny look passed over the face of Dr. Callisto. She wasn't sure, it happened so fast, but she thought she saw fear there.... and perhaps a bit of...excitement, too. Now why is that? An image of Judith's stiletto popped into her head and the puzzle began to take form.

Melinda decided from that point on to take particular interest in what the fine Director was up to...and perhaps exactly what was coming into the museum and going back out....some of the files she'd come across already seemed to have a lot of inconsistencies. At first, she'd put it down to poor documentation, but now.....

Oh, Jan...where are you, love? Where are you?!

Chapter Eight

Peter paced back and forth, his hands clasped behind his back, his brow furrowed. Frans was cleaning Janice's wound again, the area looking angry and red.

"We must get to the next rendezvous, Peter. She has infection in the wound and needs medicine. I don't have it. A high fever will make her weaker than she already is. She will not be able to fight this for long."

Peter set his jaw, thinking about just how bad things had gotten in such a short time. He looked over at Anneke and his heart hurt. The love that she and Jannie had was so rich, so pure. How would she ever recover from this, he thought.

"Ja, you stay with her, you and Menno and Jaap. Anneke and me, we will go for help. She cannot be moved and we can move much quicker, yes?"

Anneke looked at Janice and then back at Peter. She nodded once and they were off.

Jaap and Menno took turns placing cool cloths on the fevered woman's skin. Jan lapses in and out of consciousness but was never truly lucid. This worried Frans as he had seen wounds in his time with the resistance. He knew the higher the temperature and the longer the patient remained unresponsive, the worse things were.

Jan seemed to be wasting away as the night wore on. Her breath became shallow and raspy and nothing they did seemed to bring her temperature any lower. As concerned as Frans was to the state the Sergeant was in, he was oblivious to his own wound. It had been merely a knick and hadn't bled much but was very painful. His whole shoulder felt inflamed.

As he looked down at the Sergeant, he remembered the first time he had seen her. She had parachuted in and had been caught up in the branches of a tree. He had been the one to go to the check point for her.

Seeing her caught in the tree had made them think that perhaps this new Special Ops member was not all they had been promised. He had stood there thinking how much trouble this American was going to be when she had cut the tangled lines to her chute and had dropped 30 feet to the ground.

He had stood uncertainly, thinking of how he could possibly explain to Peter that the woman had cut her own lines and killed herself. Surely he couldn't be held responsibile for the crazy woman's actions.

To his astonishment, the American had rolled upon hitting the ground and bounced up again looking no worse for wear. He was immediately put at ease with her graceful movement.

He was so prepared to hate this woman. She was being put in charge of *their* cadre. She was replacing their Peter, their founder and leader. It was so unfair...Peter had proved himself again and again...but his mettle was as yet untested.

Frans knew Peter was brash and tended to make mistakes due to poor planning. Perhaps this new Special Ops member could correct that defect. Looking at the self assuredness, he made the decision to open his mind and let the Sergeant convince him of her abilities.

She had done that time and time again in the six weeks she had been there. Frans brushed the damp hair out of Jan's face. This prompted more weak thrashing on the woman's part and Frans tried to calm her.

Where could Peter and Anneke be? It had been a good six hours and dawn would be coming up shortly.

Menno talked him into lying down and resting if not sleeping. His shoulder was beginning to throb and he could see the wisdom in looking after himself.

Just after six in the morning, Jan's fever seemed to break. Frans awoke to the woman's sweet voice requesting water. Both Menno and Jaap had almost fallen over each other getting the water ladle to Jan.

Frans made his way back over to the Sergeant and inspected her wound again. Now that she was conscious, Frans felt very unsettled because of her lack of clothing. They had removed her shirt for easier access to the wound.

Frans found he couldn't meet Jan's eyes and he seemed to figet just sitting there. Jan placed a hand on his arm and he seemed to feel at ease. He looked up into the face of an angel. The morning light glanced off the gold necklace that Jan seemed to be constantly fingering.

"What it is you wear, Janice? It is religious artifact?"

"Yeah. This necklace, it's special, Frans. I gave one just like it to Mel and this one is for me. They match. It's a symbol, I guess, of us being the same - the same soul. Kinda hard to explain."

Frans was just getting into a theological discussion with Jan regarding patron saints when the door opened and Peter walked in with another man, followed closely by Anneke.

Jan was given some packets to take with water for a week. She was told in no uncertain terms not to get out of bed or do any stenuous lifting. This was fine with her as she felt she'd been run over by a tank.

She looked down at her new addition. Boy, was she going to catch it from Melinda when she got home. She smiled ruefully, thinking about the tongue lashing she'd get. This set her mind going off on a completely different tangent.

Anneke saw the look on Jan's face and came to sit with her. Frans had fallen back to sleep after the doctor had checked him out and the other three men were busy cutting wood and piling it for something to do.

"You are missing your wife, yes? She is very pretty?" Anneke cleared her throat a few times and shyly looked over at Jan.

"No. I don't guess you could call my Melinda pretty. Nope. Down right gorgeous, yes. Beautiful, oh yes. And graceful and strong - smart, a great sense of humour and an accent that just makes me smile."

"You love her very much, yes?" Anneke paused and then reached over to hold one of Jan's hands. "I miss my Jannie. I love her very much. You talk to Peter about part of your soul. I understand this. Jannie, she was that to me. I never felt peace like I do with her. my heart empty."

"I know. I don't...know how I could survive if anything happened to Melinda. I think you are very strong, Anneke. You are a great inspiration to those around you. I know that Peter values your friendship very much. He is hurting right now, too. He feels this whole mission was a failure and was his fault."

"No. No, is not true. We blow up train station and delay troops and supplies. We kill that bastard Christensen. We do it! Peter and you, you plan perfect. Is not his fault for the German gestapo to come."

"Well, Anneke, I really wish you'd talk to him about this...I think its killing him every time he looks at you. It's like his heart is breaking." Anneke nodded, lost in thought.

When she awoke hours later, Jan was pleased to see Anneke and Peter sitting at the table lost in their memories of Jannie. She shifted on her mattress and then looked up as Menno handed her a cup of broth. Already feeling stronger, Jan could only count the hours until they could leave.

Now that they had succeeded with their mission, Jan would be expected to repatriate back to the States. She was to meet up in Denmark in two days for a rendezvous with the underground and they would arrange her ride home, via a small single engine plane.

She could hardly wait. It had been a tough six months all told and Jan was going to be glad to put the whole experience behind her. She'd done her patriotic duty and now she would be content to devote the rest of her life to Melinda Pappas. Where she belonged.

Peter went with her when she walked down to the waiting plane. The pilot swung her small kit bag up into the belly and began preparing for lift off.

Peter gently took Jan into his arms, mindful of her injury and just held her. They had shared so much together and Janice was loath to sever their bond.

"Look, Peter. I wanna ask you something, all right. And don't take my head off. You and Anneke. You love her, don't you? I can see it in your eyes. Even when Jannie was alive. You and she, you have a history, right?"

"Yes, Janice. Anneke was Anya's friend. We were like the three musketeers. We were always together, always laughing. We both joined the resistance when Anya...when she..died. Then Anneke found Jannie and..."

"If you love her, you'll tell her. Hey, she can only say no, right. Nice big handsome guy like you? And if it doesn't work out, there are lots of fish in the sea, Peter. You come down to Greece sometime...Mel and I , we'll fix you right up. Okay?"

Peter kissed her cheek and ruffled Jan's hair. "Are you always this indestructive, Janice Covington?"

"I am...invincible!" Jan shouted in her best Indiana Jones impersonation.

Peter grinned. Why was he so attracted to the women he couldn't have, he thought. He sighed as he watched Jan get into the plane and head down the temporary runway.

"A safe trip, Janice Covington. May God watch over you. May God watch over us all." Peter slowly made his way back up the beach. He had many things to think about. Yes, he would have to broach the subject with Anneke. She couldn't be expected to forget Jannie just as he would never forget Anya. But there was love and so there was hope.

And oh so many train stations to wreck and mayhem to cause the Third Reich. So many targets, so little time. Peter chuckled as he made his plans. He might just show up on Jan's door step some day. He would like to see this Melinda. Yes, someone who could steal Janice's heart must be a force of nature indeed.

Chapter Nine

Melinda paced back and forth as Mr. Christopolis tried to soothe her fears.

"Now, my dear, please! You are making me dizzy...please stop."

"I really don't know how you can be calm about this, Mr. Christopolis. I mean, that horrible woman is stealing priceless antiquities right out from under our noses! And using the museum to hide her operation. Why, I am so stupid! How could I have missed all the clues? Of course, she would have been the one that headed the operation. What I'd like to know, though, is who is her boss? Someone must be pulling the strings to have gotten her this job and...well, how is she gettin this stuff out of the country?"

"No, Miss Pappas. I am NOT is hard to think of how many...they may be lost forever...but, you must understand...we cannot do this by ourself...I do not know who to trust...but is too hard for two peoples. I do my best. I buy all artifacts I can see."

"My, you don't know my Jan. I swear, she could mop the darned floor with that woman. All by herself, too. Mr. Christopolis? Who do *you* think we should trust? I mean, what about that Chief Panandopolis, he was the one who told me about Judith's escape?"

"Yes, perhaps. Who help her get away? What is motive for escape? She would try to kill you? This does not seem right. What does she want. Maybe she does not come back for you...she wants something...we must find what it is."

Chief Panandopolis sat in the cafe with Mel and Mr. Christopolis and sipped his demitasse. He nodded in all the correct places as the two shared their knowledge and suspicions.

Suddenly, a thought came to Melinda and she blurted out her knowledge of Judith Carmichael's Desoto. Since Jan had been away, Mel had just left the hulking thing in the driveway. Jan had always insisted it's upkeep was documented and a nice drop cloth place over the monster when not in use...

The horrible black vehicle has always given her the willies. Mel shuddered as she thought of just how close it had been...their broken and violated bodies could very well have been transported in the thing on the way to some unnamed shallow grave.

After deciding that the car in question was really the only reason for the woman's escape, the police chief decided to conduct a private search from tip to top, back to bottom. If there was something to be found, he was confident he would find it...

Melinda finished off her hot apple tea and gave Mr. Christopolis a kiss on his temple.

"I'll see ya tonight, right? I think we're just about through with that cateloguing, huh?" Mel arched her back and began thinking just how nice it would be to just lie in her bed and relax....just one night of full sleep, no interruptions, nothing....

"No, Miss Pappas. You are looking tired, yes. Very much work we have done already. Is good to have time to be alone. You have heard from...your 'husband'?" he asked diplomatically.

"Why, I might just take ya up on that offer, Mr. Christopolis. I am...feeling...kinda tired. And no, 'he' hasn't sent word. I didn't imagine 'he' would, mindja, what with bein out in the field..."

Panandopolis looked from one to the other, trying to figure out what he was missing. He looked at the charming woman's finger and realized that she must be pining away for her husband...maybe he had been one of the men that left for overseas...hopefully not to Germany, he shuddered...too many terrible rumours coming out of that theater of blood...

He had not realized that Melinda Pappas was married. He wondered where Janice Covington fit into the scheme of things...he stroked his chin thoughtfully as he watched the beautiful woman walk down the street towards her home.

"Tell me, Mikael, do you know her husband well?" A funny look played on Panandopolis' face.


Nicosia Airport

Jan walked stiffly down the ramp. After spending four weeks in the infirmary, she'd been able to convince the mucky mucks to put her on the next troop plane home. Despite the fact that her injury was healing nicely, Jan milked as much sympathy out of the situation as possible. She'd finally resorted to batting her eyes and talking about how much she was missing her new husband....yadda, yadda, yadda. had worked.

She hadn't even had time to get a message to Mel. She stretched and winced as a hot pain ran through her injured side. Gotta be careful of those stitches, she thought.

She was beginning to resemble a patch quilt...a very unappetizing thought...especially since she knew she was gonna catch hell for least she'd managed to get that chocolate she wanted for Mel before leaving foggy old London. She patted her uniform breast pocket a couple of times and went to retrieve her baggage.

She sat with the rest of the troops, waiting to be given leave passes and further assignments. When the Captain got to her, he looked at the roster, then up at her face, frowned and then looked at her with a funny look.

"Says here ya got block'd ya get that? Geez, I been on duty 24 hours a day for the past two weeks."

"I suppose it all depends on who you know, doesn't it ducks?"

Jan spun around and found herself being hugged by Captain Dan Butterworth. She'd lived through a nice little dog fight a few months ago with the guy...not too many people can say they had a close encounter with a pair of Junker Ju88's and lived to tell the tale.

"Fer Christ's sake! By Hades left ball! Where the hell dju come from? Hey, ya look great, Dan....what're ya doin here?"

"I say, Janice...'by Hades left ball'? You do have some colourful idioms, don't you? And I'm fine. You won't believe it. I'm here in Greece on a vacation. Seems I've flown my twenty flights so their booting me back to a desk job somewhere. Life is beginning to look quite good, ducks. I've met this absolutely smashing woman...I do think this might be the one, Jan."

"Well, blow my socks off and suck my hair toes! By the look on your face, yeah, I'd say she must be somebody special. Well, good on ya!"

Dan rolled his head. "Have you been sitting next to Pte. Witherspoon again? That funny little man from the Ozarks?"

Jan grinned and nodded. "Yeah. But some of his stuff is just....poetry. Ya know? I mean, this stuff is designed to stop conversation...completely. I gotta try it on for size when I get back to work..."

The duty Captain handed over her leave pass and the two friends sauntered out of the musty airport. Dan hailed a cab and they spent a good hour reminiscing about the past several months. Only in Greece, thought Janice. Rush-hour-bloody traffic at 6:30 in the evening. She sighed. Well, at least she wouldn't be late for supper...

Judith smiled as she took in the site of the bumbling policeman...he hadn't a clue, not a bloody clue, she thought smugly.

She crept along the side of the house across the street. A yappy dog began to bark as she worked her way over to the shrubs. She glared at it and hissed. The poor animal cringed in fear and scooted around the back, tail between it's legs.

Judith's head turned as someone quickly walked up the road. My, my...thought the Brit...this just keeps getting better all the time...

Mel was feeling very tired but also a bit optimistic...maybe a good night's sleep would help...without nightmares, thank you.

She stopped as she noticed the police chief nosing around. The spoke briefly and Mel dragged herself up the walk to the front door.

While Mel was inside getting into something more comfortable, Judith was making her way around the opposite side of Melinda's house, coming around the rear, out of sight.

Judith sneered as she came within striking distance of the policeman. She grinned as she brought out the stiletto from her pocket. It snicked open and the man turned in surprise. He had time to put his hands up in defence before she was on him, like a deranged bobcat...

He shouted in surprise and then slumped to the ground, the knife sticking out from between his front ribs. Judith carefully placed the tip of her shoe on his chest and pushed. The man fell back, a slight groan rising from his lips.

Her smile increased as she noted the blood begin to trickle from his mouth. Snagged a lung then? Oh, goodie. She gave him a wicked kick as she slowly made her way up the front steps.

Melinda had just stripped down to her bra and panties and was preparing the shower so she didn't hear the glass in the front door break.

She stepped into the shower and began to hum a nice rendition of "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree". She could see herself performing with The Andrew Sisters with Glenn Miller orchestrating in the background... to a crowd of one - just for Jan, and she was singing in the nude....her hand traveled slowly over her body as she soaped herself.

Judith took in the somewhat understated elegance of the Covington/Pappas home and grit her teeth. Bloody Americans, she snorted. This could have been all hers, except for those two nosey silly buggers. Well, if she were lucky, that bitch Janice would get her pretty little arse shot off in Europe and she'd take care of this one herself...

The memory of her humiliation at the hands of that...that Amazon woman...well, it really was too much. Judith considered herself somewhat of a sportswoman...she weighed in at about 165 lbs and was tall for a woman. She should have been able to simply throw the wretched woman about...however, she hadn't been able to, much to her chagrin. The woman was impressively strong...she wouldn't underestimate her this time...

Mel was lost in the thoughts of her private singing lesson to Janice and didn't hear the bathroom door creak open. She didn't hear the door carefully closed and locked either. The only indication that something was terribly wrong was when a shadow passing over the shower curtain caught the corner of her eye.

As she turned, Judith grabbed the edge of the curtain and yanked it open. Mel pivoted on her heel and brought both hands up in front of her. Judith sneered and stabbed forcefully with her stiletto. The blade seemed to slowly cut through time and space, torpidly and unerringly making its way towards Mel's mid section.

Mel took in the foggy apparition before her...the unabashed hatred emanating from the woman before her...the dart of the eyes just before she attacked with the knife....

Jan got out of the taxi and grabbed her duffle bag from the boot of the car. She stretched and winced as she tried hard to keep her feet in motion. Boy, she thought, that bed of mine is looking awful good right now...and what I'll find in it aint bad either..

As she approached the first step, she heard a low moan. Turning, she could just make out a shoe by the shrubs.

She pushed away the foliage and helped the man over to the wall of the house. She could almost see stars, that's how weak she felt. Just forcing her body to put one foot in front of the other was taxing enough...

She checked his wallet and when she saw his identification she knew something was up.

"Ju..dith....Car..." was all the good police chief could get out before he lapsed back into unconsciousness. Jan placed him in the recover position and removed her uniform jacket. She pushed it gently onto the wound and cinched it up with her belt.

Chapter Ten

She dug up what little reserves she had and bounded up the stairs. Her eye had a split second to register the broken glass before she banged the door open.

Throwing caution to the wind, she raced up the stairs. No one in their bedroom, the spare room empty...the sitting room bare....that left the guest bathroom...she threw her shoulder onto it when it wouldn't open.

"Mel! Melinda! Goddamn it, open this fuckin door before I...."

Melinda saw the blade racing towards her stomach and managed to deflect the arch with her right arm. The blade sank into the flesh and muscle of her upper arm and Judith grinned wildly. She tried to remove it so that she could score another hit...Mel was having none of that. She barely registered the burning sensation in her arm as she grabbed her assailant and they both crashed to the floor, grunting with the effort.

Mel kept Judith's one hand pinned to her body as she tried to maneuver herself. Judith's face was twisted with rage, her lips drawn back in a grimace.

She spat expletives and even tried to sink her teeth into Mel's shoulder as the southerner finally managed to gain the upper hand. She pinned both of Judith's hands to the floor and then quickly bashed her in the face with her forehead.

Momentarily dazed, Judith felt the stiletto fall from her hands. Mel was on her feet quickly and then pulled the disoriented woman up with her. Grabbing her by the throat, she propelled Judith across the room until she had her back against the wall.

It was then that she noticed the door practically being rendered from its hinges. As Judith began thrashing, she squeezed with one hand and watched the woman's face begin to purple, her eyes begin to bulge.

"I have been very," Judith continued to claw at the hand that gripped her throat like a vice, "very, patient with you, Judith." The woman grabbed at Mel's arm and began digging into the wound.

Melinda gasped and threw Judith against the wall again, making the woman feel her very teeth would come loose. Her eyes widened when Mel's face came within inches of her own.

A deadly cold stare came over Mel's contenance and she spoke very quietly to her would-be assassin.

"I'm gonna open this door and you are NOT gonna move one muscle. You got that? I mean, do you *really* understand me?" She shook the woman like a rag doll. Judith gulped and nodded vigorously.

Mel turned slightly and reached over to unlock the door. It swung open and Jan came crashing onto the floor.

She slowly got to her feet and looked at her hands...they were covered in blood as was the floor...and the walls were smeared with it...Mel stood, one hand around the Carmichael woman's throat, with blood running down her arm, covering her lower torso.

Jan felt the colour drain from her face...Mel was...she was bleeding...from multiple stab wounds....? "Oh God, please no.." She scrambled over to her lover and made her way up the side of Mel using any handhold she could.

"Mel? Melinda? Are you...I mean, you look...uh....Xena? Is that you?" She hooked a finger under Mel's chin and stared intently into her lover's eyes.

Then she lowered her eyes and took in the form before her. No longer was there the rather soft demure looking southerner she had met and then left behind. The soft rounded figure of Melinda Pappas had been exchanged for a lean mean fighting machine. Jan blinked, thinking 'flat feet...oh yeah..and that would be a good reason to keep this powerhouse from fighting on our side!'

Mel leaned over and kissed Jan right on the tip of her nose. "Nope. I'd like to say I've got a little of her blood rushin threw my veins, but no, she aint here, Jan. Just me."

" her clock by yourself, didn't you? And...your wounded, Mel. Where are you cut?"

"I do believe this...nasty piece of in a 'lucky shot', I believe you call it? In ma arm. Doesn't hurt much, Jan. Really."

Judith began coughing and clawing at her throat again. Mel loosened her grip and at that moment, Jan could see the woman was going to try something. Before Jan could even bring her arm up, Mel cold cocked her with a left cross. Gasping with pain and surprise, Mel danced in a little circle, shaking her fist out. "Oooh, that had ta hurt!", grinned Jan.

"Ma Lord, do you do that and not just wanna scream? Owie, owie."

As she stood over the unconscious body of Judith Carmichael, Mel looked down at her own body and grimaced. She took in her reflection in the mirror and sighed. She was a mess. A fine howdja do...meeting yer wife looking like this.

Jan stood there, completely nonplused. "Oh, Xena's there, my love. Trust me. Her blood is just raging threw your veins, no doubt about it." She smirked and ran a hand up to the middle of Mel's back.

"Now lets get you cleaned up so we can take a look at that wound." As she reached over to give her wife a nice welcome home kiss, Jan heard the front door crash open and then the sound of running feet were heard heading their way.

Dan Butterworth rounded the corner and stopped as if he'd been shot. His eyes were huge as he took in the condition the room was in....door almost off its hinges, blood all over the floor and the walls smeared with the stuff...not to mention two very gorgeous completely nude....enjoying a loving embrace.

He blinked and swallowed quickly then turned around and walked back outside the bathroom. My word, he thought as he felt a blush come up his collar. Now I can say I've seen what Jan sees in God! What a pair of absolute beauties. Sigh.

He cleared his throat a few times, trying to get their attention. Not a word was heard. He tried again. Nothing.

He quietly made his way back downstairs and picked up the telephone. He went back out to the front of the house and sat with the injured policeman.

Ten minutes went past and then an ambulance and police car screeched up to the front door. Dan sat on the steps and watched in a detached sort of way as the hustle and bustle of men worked at getting the injured man into the vehicle. With all the traveling he'd done today, he was just bone weary.

As one of the policemen tried to make his way into the house, Dan stood up and put a hand on the man's arm.

"Don't bother, mate. They're fine. Little bit of blood...well, a whole lot of blood, actually. But nothing Janice can't handle. Jack of all trades, that one."

He called up the stairs to Jan and then two figures wrapped in bathrobes came down the stair case. Both looked squeaky clean, having washed the blood off in the shower. Dan noted that Jan looked to have enjoyed a bit of a wash herself. He grinned. My word, he thought, staring at Melinda. She is...she is absolutely *gorgeous* wet. He sighed.

"Hey, you...yeah, take a few coppers and go up to the bathroom, will ya? You'll find a nice little package waitin for ya."

Jan reached out and clasped Dan's proferred hand. "Hey, buddy. Nice timing. You forget something?"

"Why, yes, 'Mad Dog'." He dragged his eyes away from Mel. "I..well, I took your advice and..well...I wanted to ask you if you'd be my best ma...I mean...would you stand up for me at my wedding? I've asked Shelley if she'll marry me and she...she accepted! I can't believe it, luv. We're to be married in a month. Can you? You know, stand up for me? I'd ever so like it..."

Jan reached over and punched his arm. He ruffled her damp hair and they just grinned at each other. Mel felt a lump in her throat as she watched their interaction. The few letters that had gotten through from England were filled with words of praise and admiration for Dan. They seemed so close. The strong bond of friendship was unmistakeable. There seemed to be a strong sense of deja vu associated with the man. Mel hmphed and let it go. Karma, she muttered.

Jan wrapped her arm about Mel's waist and the three of them hugged each other and laughed. Dan reached over and kissed both women on the cheek. Then Jan stood back and he led Mel over to the first aid attendant for work on her arm.

Jan grinned as she picked up the telltale signs of infatuation. No doubt about it, this new Mel sure had animal magnetism. She sighed. Yeah, and she's all mine...

Jan and Dan both turned as Judith was being carried downstairs. Her arms and legs were tightly bound with towels, a face cloth stuffed in her mouth for good measure. All the fight seemed to have left the woman and she just let herself be loaded into the patrol car without a fuss.

"Somethin you wanna tell me, love? I think you'd better bring me up to speed. But first, I gotta sit down. My side is killing me, I think I broke my shoulder gettin that damn door open and I haven't eaten in....oh, about 36 hours. Not to mention sleep deprivation. In short, I'm a mess. I gotta sit down or I'm gonna fall down."

She sighed as Dan lifted her up and carried her over to the sofa and tried very hard not to just curl up and go with the feeling of safeness. Being with her two most favorite people just made her feel warm and fuzzy inside.

This was not a good thing. Nope. Can't let herself fall into that feminine vulnerability? I..don'!

"Geez, Dan. Put me down, wouldja?" She gave him a wack against his chest.

"Treatin me like an invalid or somethin, let me down!"

Mel laughed softly as she and Dan exchanged looks. For all of Jan's bluster and hard exterior, she was really very much a cuddly teddy bear underneath. Mel arched her brow at Dan and he smirked in response. 'Mad Dog Covington?' Nah. Let her keep thinking we don't know the truth, they agreed silently.

Jan squinted her eyes and peered at them both suspiciously. "What?"

"Why, nothing, dear." Mel said, trying not to grin.

"Not a blood thing, Jan. Don't know what your talking about. You sure you didn't hit your head, love?"

"Didn't hit my goddamned head, fer cryin out loud! The fighting was all over by the time I got here. Mel took care of that...I use the term only because I'm in mixed company...*woman* just fine without me."

"Yes, I did, Jan. But I don't want to. It's nice to know I can, in a pinch, take care of myself and I may have to again, but....your so much more capable than I am with things like this. Isn't she, Dan? I mean, you know Jan....just a little ole loose cannon, right?"

Jan smirked and planted a kiss on Mel's lips. "Ya, well, just so I'm good for somethin around here, right?"

"Oh, I can think of many things you are more than capable of Jan, darling...and I do want to...explore some of them..."

Dan jumped to his feet and turned away in embarrassment. Watching his two friends...being so intimate with each other...well, it was just not cricket to be tagging along. He tried to appear nonchalant as he turned around, but failed miserably.

"That's it! I am leaving...time to get meself over to the police station to give my statement. I shall leave you two...alone. You might...ahem...want to wait until the policemen leave, don't you agree?"

A policeman cleared his throat and approached the two women, note book in hand. Jan sighed...Mel smiled and Dan blushed from the doorway and left.

Chapter Eleven

It was two hours later by the time Mel had been given stitches and a bandage and the two of them had made their statements. Nearing the hour of nine, both women slowly ushered the last of the men out the front door and watched as one of them nailed a board up across the broken window. Then they walked into the kitchen and had a small supper consisting of olives, a salad and a few of the pastries the Mr. Christopolis made sure Mel got every day.

Jan remarked on the lack of food in the ice box. And the few dishes sitting in the sink. The package of half eaten chocolates lay between them.

"You do know that Dan has a crush on you, right?" Mel smiled and took Jan's hand.

"Probably just as much of one as he has on you, love. Pretty obvious to anyone who's watchin. Probably a good thing he's getting married, huh? I'd hate to break his heart and have to punch him in the nose and all. Such a nice man, too. But...I am the jealous kind, Janice."

Jan smirked and kissed the woman passionately on the mouth. "Ditto, Mel. Ditto."

They sat quietly, each lost in their own thoughts. Mel stood to put the cups away and when she turned, Jan could see just how loose her robe really was.

"You've lost weight, Mel. I don't think you've been taking care of yourself while I've been gone. Whatja been up to?"

Mel got up and went through her normal routine of making hot apple tea for herself and some nice rich coffee for Jan. She told Jan of the break in, Judith's escape from prison, the missing and stolen artifacts, the black market ring and lastly, of her suspicions about their esteemed director.

Jan listened with increasing anger. She should have been here...that bitch wouldn't have had the nerve to try anything if she hadn't been....

Mel saw the hurt look cross her lover's face.

"You can't protect me all the time, love. I've had to do a lot of growin up since I met you, Janice. I'm very thankful to you for that. I don't think my Momma would recognize the silly debutante I used to be when I first got here. I'd like to think I can take care of myself, but Jan, I don't wanna have to. I want us to be each other's defenders. As partners."

She took Jan's hand in her own and stroked the wedding band back and forth. Jan couldn't stop the flow of tears coursing down her face as she put her face down in her hands.

Mel wanted to take her into her arms and just hold her. She knew that Jan had to get around this by herself. Jan Covinton had a lot of pride and being vulnerable was just not one of her strong suits.

"Geez, Mel. I'm so sorry..I've been so selfish and...and pigheaded...I never ever should have left you...and I'm so sorry. Can you forgive me?"

"In the first place, Jan, there is nothing to forgive. Yes, I was hurt that you could just leave me and go off to some strange place, putting your life and our happiness in danger. I hate it, Jan. But...but I also know that you had to do this. Had to prove to yourself that you could make a difference...but I need to know if it's outta your system, Jan. I don't think I can...say goodbye to you again...not after...I kept having these horrible nightmares, were dying or dead..and I couldn' ya...I..can't go through that again..not knowin if your even alive..."

"I know...I know. God, Mel, I love you so much. I guess I was taking what we have for granted...that we'd always have time When I was stabbed this last time and got really sick..." Mel's face blanched. "well, I'll tell ya that story another time....but anyway, it really put things into perspective for me, ya know? I mean, I really saw just how short life really fragile love can be if you don't nurture it, help it grow...I don't ever want to lose what we have..."

They talked late into the night and it was decided that Jan would seek an early release. Mel knew some senator's who'd been friends with her Daddy and well, what ever strings could be pulled, would be. An adventurer she'd always be, but foolhardy and wreckless? No, those days were gone.

Mel lay spread eagled as Jan quoted poetry to her, interspersed with tender kisses and nips to her torso. One poem, in particular, seemed to strike a chord in Mel to such a degree that Jan recited it through twice.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and

breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling

out of sight

For the ends of Being and

ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level

of every day's

Most quiet need, by sun and


I love thee freely, as men strive

for Right;

I love thee purely, as they turn

from Praise.

I love thee with the passion

put to use

In my old griefs, and with my

childhood's faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed

to lose

With my lost saint, - I love thee

with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life! -

I shall love thee better after death.{3}

{3} Poetry by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806 - 1861)

As they lay in each other's arms in the wee small hours of the morning, Jan inspected her lover's wound. Mel ran a finger slowly over the stitches in Jan's side and they smiled ruefully.

"Nice collection of scars we're getting, Mel my love. I'm finding the allure of my collection is being to pale. Now all I see is a sad bunch of reminders to some pretty silly moments in my life. I don't want that for you, too. I happen to love every inch of your body just the way God made you...perfect."

Mel looped her arm around her wife's neck and pulled her down for a nice wet kiss. Jan groaned and bent in for another one. Their breathing became ragged as hands roamed over the soft flesh before them.

They made sweet love, both aware of what they had and what they could lose.

Just as Jan was drifting off to sleep, Mel leaned over and said, "Did I tell you what I found back in one of the boxes in the store room? Well, you are not gonna believe this, but..."

Neither one heard the alarm clock but whatever the reason, both awoke at about 9:00 that morning.

Jan cracked her knuckles as Mel finished clearing the breakfast dishes away. Jan made the bed and mentally went over just what kind of frontal assault she should try with the director.

So lost in her thoughts of the confrontation to come was she, that Jan didn't register Mel's presence until she was directly behind her, molding their bodies together and nuzzling her neck.

She groaned and leaned back into her lover, luxuriating in the softness, the warmth and the smell that was Mel.

"If you keep that up...we'll never get in to work. And I'd like to see what you found."

Mel bit the nape of her wife's neck and sucked an ear lobe into her hot mouth. Her hands travelled up and around to cup Jan's breasts and slowly began to knead the pliant flesh.

"It'll keep, love. I just got off the seems our director has taken a one can find we're not needed at work all...."

Jan felt the buttons on her shirt being undone, a warm hand slipping in to stroke a nipple as her bra was unclasped. She moaned and found her hips rocking back into Mel's pelvis.

Mel snuck her fingertips under the edge of the shirt and slowly pulled the fabric down Jan's arms. With every inch of skin exposed, she kissed and licked with the tip of her hot tongue, falling to her knees, both hands on the front of Jan's hips.

As her shirt was removed, Jan felt an overwhelming calmness overtake her. There was only one person she would ever be this vulnerable to...and that was the love of her life...Melinda Pappas.

Jan closed her eyes and bent so that the palms of her hands were on the bed. She let her head drop and her golden hair fell into her face. She felt Mel's hands undoing her belt then unzipping her trousers. Her knees began to shake as she felt her pants fall to the floor.

Mel's hands slipped under the fabric of her underwear and gently caressed the hidden flesh within. She moaned as she felt a hot hand slip around and cup her sex, then slowly her underwear was pulled down and soft kisses were placed on the roundness of her buttocks, down to where they met the top of the leg.

Jan's legs began to tremble, her breath coming in fast and shallow. Her shoulders tensed as she felt the wetness of Mel's tongue travel up between the crevice of her buttocks,then sliding lower, ever lower...

She felt her knees being pushed apart and then she cried out as she felt the heat of Mel's mouth on her center.

Mel worked her tongue back and forth over Jan's opening, darting inside every now and again, teasing the hard point of her clitoris with her fingers.

Jan wanted to turn and take her Mel in her hold her, to feel her, taste her...but strong arms held her in place. She found herself both restained by the force of Mel's newly found upper body strength and by the sheer raw sexuality of the woman.

A hot tongue probed her opening and then eased out. Suddenly, a finger tip pushed just past the entry but went no further. Jan tried to push back into Mel's hand but as quickly as that motion was begun, Mel's finger eased back out. Jan groaned in frustration, her arms quivering. She bent her arms so that she was resting on her elbows, forehead on the bed.

Mel's two hands began down at her ankles and slowly, ever slowly, massaged their way up to Jan's buttocks, massaging them, pulling them apart. She felt a hot tongue slowly snake between her crevice and quickly probe her anus. She groaned out her lover's name and waited.

A finger came back to her wet vulva and slowly dipped in once more. Another hand reached around and began a torpid exploration of her clitoris, pausing every now and again to flick a nail over the hardening flesh.

The sexual energy was building to such an extent that Jan was way past the point of this reality and was on a plane of total ecstasy. She could feel the love embrace her through Mel's fingertips, her presence felt by Jan's very soul.

Wet kisses, licks and bites were felt on every piece of flesh covering her ass. Her anus was probed by a tongue again and Jan's heart rate felt like it had just doubled. Sweat began to slowly trickle down her neck, pooling between her breasts.

"Oh, gods.....Mel..."

Melinda moved her finger into the wet center half an inch more and slowed down her actions on Jan's clit.

"More, Mel...oh...."

Jan gritted her teeth, trying not to give in to the overwhelming urge to rock her hips. She felt the finger wiggle a little and gasped. Her senses were so heightened that the mere movement of her lover's breath caused her vaginal muscled to clench in response.

It was torture, sheer torture for Mel not to give her lover the release she so obviously wanted, needed. She bit her lower lip and almost sobbed as she felt the muscles tremble around her finger.

Jan's hands grabbed the coverlet tightly and eased herself down, hips finally resting on the edge of the bed, her knees buckling as she was probed again. Suddenly, her lower belly was pulled back towards her probing tongue, delving as deep as she was able into Jan's anus.

Unable to resist the urge to thrust backwards onto the probing muscle, Jan moaned in relief as Mel's finger was joined by another and then they were filling her, pistoning in and out in an intense rhythm.

As she felt the inner walls shudder around her fingers, Mel couldn't resist biting the taut muscles covering Jan's buttocks. And with that action, Jan roared her release. She screamed out her pleasure until her voice was raw, her face purpled with the exertion and still Mel pumped into her, her hand slapping in rhythm against her buttocks.

Jan felt another wave of orgasm pound over her and then she lay still, breath coming in great shuddering gasps.

Mel removed her fingers and stood slowly. She placed kisses on her lover's back, ending at Jan's nape.

Jan slowly rolled over and opened her eyes. Mel stood above her and slowly began to strip off her clothes. She left her bra and panties on last and Jan felt the familiar heat rise from her groin.

Mel ran her hands over her breasts, tossing her hair back, exposing her neck, mouth slightly open. Jan gulped and propped herself up on her elbows. What a show!

One of Mel's hands slowly moved down and began caressing her belly, moving lower and lower...

Jan's mouth went dry as she saw the tip of Mel's tongue snake out and lick her lower lip. Oh, gods! she thought, feeling her abs tighten, her inner thighs begin to slicken once more...

Mel hooked the edges of her panties and gradually drew them down, bending over and allowing Jan to ogle her cleavage.

After stepping out, she arched an eyebrow and grinned at her lover. She through the panties up into the air and Jan deftly caught them. She brought the article of clothing to her face and inhaled.

Mel gulped, momentarily awash in her own sexuality. My word, she thought. Here she was trying to be this hot girlie for Jan and with one simple act, Jan had her absolutely flumoxed! She cleared her throat and tried to regain her persona.

She ran her palms up and down the sides of her torso, closing her eyes and trying to think how Xena did that 'look' that Gabrielle had written about.

She pictured herself in Xena's leathers, the cool feeling of metal in her hand as she held a sword. She smelled the musky odor of the leather mixed in with the sweat. Her nipples grew hard and she felt a warmth wash over her.

She knew instinctively that she had to get right into how a seductress would really feel. She looked over at Janice and visions of what she wanted to do with her, to her, popped into her head.

Jan watched as Mel's face became feral looking...the lust plain on her face, radiating from her eyes. Her heart rate increased along with her perspiration...oh, that look!

Mel turned, unhooked her brassiere, eased it over her bandage and let it fall to the floor. She gazed at Jan over her left shoulder and covered her breasts with the palms of her hands. She slowly turned, her eyes never leaving those of Jan's, as she walked over to the bed and came to stand between her lover's feet.

Jan scooted up and watched with awe as the woman of her dreams proceeded to kneal before her and take each toe slowly into her mouth. Jan gulped as she watched Mel's fingers stroke her nipples to hard points.

She groaned as she watched each digit slowly enveloped in her lover's hot wet mouth. Mel sucked slowly, bringing each toe in and then out again. Jan was totally hynotized...her body running on what little battery there was left...taking only the briefest amount of oxygen allowed to continue her existence. She felt as if time itself had simply ceased to exist.

Mel reached out her hands and clasped both of Jan's ankles. Then she moved them gradually up the inside. Jan tried to keep her eyes open but the sensations were really too much and the battle to keep her vision locked onto her lover was lost.

Running her tongue over the tops of Jan's feet, Mel began to move up. Her breasts brushed over Jan's highly sensative skin, making the fine golden hairs stand up in response.

Jan snapped her head up as she felt the length of her slit tantilizingly probed. Then her stitches were being kissed, the skin around them nuzzled by Mel's tender nose. When her right nipple was hungrily beset upon, Jan felt the muscled of her vagina contract in rhythm of every pull of Mel's mouth.

"Oh, gods, Mel...what you do to me...oh...g..o..d..s..." A light sheen of sweat ran down from her hairline, the rest of her body taking on an glistening luster.

Jan watched, transfixed as Mel knealt on her hands and knees over her, bottom swaying back and forth to a hidden rhythm within her. Mel began rocking her hips and groaning as she took the other breast into her mouth.

Then from the side of the bed, she reached into the nightstand and withdrew a wooden phallus and Jan thought she would simply die. As Mel began to devour her nipples once more, Jan watched as she slowly ran the toy up and down her own slit, the end dipping ever so softly between her enlarged labia.

She began pumping into herself and lifted her eyes to watch Jan's response. Her response, however, was one not quite expected.

Jan slithered out from under her lover and took up position behind her, running her hands up and down Mel's flanks before settling onto her breasts. She then knealt behind Mel and watched with wonder as the phallus probed deeper and deeper, her lover's moans getting louder and louder.

Just having Jan behind her, watching her put the toy in...there...was very erotic, thought Mel...briefly...before she felt her snake under and attach her mouth to her throbbing clitoris.

Then all thought was gone and Mel felt her whole body shudder in response. Her sore arm began shaking and it was all she could do not to collapse onto her lover.

Sensing the weakness that was overcoming the southerner, Jan pulled her down on top and then rolled her over.

Mel was breathing very quickly, her orgasm just pending. Jan opened her legs and knealt between them. The phallus was still imbedded and slick. Mel brought her hands up and ran them threw her long dark tresses, her head rolling from side to side as she felt Jan slowly pumping into her.

"No, no....Jan...come here..I need..I need you on top..of me...close...closer...."

Jan lay her body atop her wife, their glistening bodies sliding easily, adding to the erotic experience...

Mel took her lover's tongue deep into her mouth and moaned. She felt her orgasm building, past a level she'd ever reached before...

"Oh, gods, Melinda...I love you so much....I", Jan gasped as she felt Mel's lower abdominal muscles contract and spasm.

And then, with a flick of Jan's thumb on her clitoris, Mel came with a loud groan, the muscles in her neck standing out in relief.

Jan held her and waited until the last wave had broken over her, and was receding. She kissed her wife very softly, whispering words of love, brushing the damp hair out of her eyes.

They lay in each other's arms for a long time, both happy to feel the sweat drying and cooling on their skin.

Jan felt a shudder when she removed the phallus, easing it out slowly.

"Boy, 'blow my socks off and suck my hairy toes' really takes on a new meaning..", Janice said with a snort. Mel raised her head and frowned.

"Where in the sam hill did *that* come from?" Jan told her of the man from the Ozarks. Funny little guy and one hell of a soldier...he knew Audie Murphy. Jan was suitably impressed.

"Where, ah, did you get this...nice toy, Mel?"

Melinda chuckled, pushing Jan's hair out of her eyes.

"Well, I got it for you, darlin. I remembered how...interested you were when we broke in on Judith and Trudie. My, I must say, that *was* a show, wadn't it?"

"Ah, Mel? Can we just stop talking and curl up for a short nap? I'm just....worn out."

Mel responded by pulling the sheets over them both and snuggled up close. They fell asleep like that and spent the afternoon in the arms of Morpheus.

Chapter Twelve

It was just approaching seven o'clock in the evening when the two women walked through the front door of the museum. All the lights were out and Mel had to use her keys to get in. Very unusual for this time of light. There was usually someone working late.

Mel, usually, thought Jan sourly. She pushed open the mezzanine doors for her wife and then flicked on the lights switch. Bulb must be burned out, thought Jan. Strange...

"Jan, I don't like this...somethin's goin on..I can just feel it."

"Yeah, I gotcha...lets take a look back in the supply room...let me go first..good thing I brought my trusty Colt M1917, huh? Really felt naked without it overseas." She wrapped her hand around the butt and felt reassuring an old friend.

Making their way to the back, they stopped briefly to look into Dr. Callisto's office. All dark with some drawers pulled out. Some one had been in a hurry, thought Janice.

She was lost in thought, wondering just what the hell was going on. She turned around and Mel was gone. Listening carefully, she made her way down the corridor, pausing at each doorway.

Silent as a tomb, she thought. This was not good. "Mel," she hissed quietly. Nothing. She tucked her revolver into the back of her pants and took a step.

Then there was a crash, and Jan bolted towards it. The supply room! Maybe Mel had decided to get there first...

Just as she was feeling along the wall for the light switch, a flashlight was shined into her face.

"Well, if it isn't the conquering hero....I'd say 'welcome home' but I don't like to lie. Do come in, Jan...have a seat. I'm looking for something, and your...girlfriend going to tell me. Aren't you, Melinda?"

Mel yelped as she felt the stiletto point prick her neck. She swallowed convulsively and looked towards Jan, fear in her eyes.

Jan threw the director a dirty look and slowly shook her head. Feeling the weight of her gun at her back, covered by her ever present leather jacket, Jan decided to play things nice and easy.

"Okay...okay, just what is it you're lookin for, Hudson? I figure we should be on first name basis if you're gonna fuck with me, right?"

The director laughed evilly, her eyes glittering brightly. She motioned for Jan to turn the lights on and Mel sighed in relief. Things could go awfully wrong in the dark, she thought. Besides, she really wanted to be able to see this...yes, this bitch, get her butt kicked. Mel tried not to grin at the thought but wasn't too successful, judging by the look on Jan's face.

Jan saw the look and winked. Callisto grinned and dragged the southerner towards the back work table.

"There was something hidden back here and now it's gone. I want it back, Melinda, and I mean to have any cost. You have *no* idea just how mad this dealer are just so....unpredictable and moody. Can't live with them, can't kill them. Well, that's not entirely true, but we'll just move past that now, won't we, Jan?"

"I don't know what you're talking about Callisto. I have no idea what you're looking for either, so lets just cut to the chase here, okay?"

Mel yelped again and a small trickle of blood began running down into her blouse. She brought up her hand carefully and readjusted her spectacles. Callisto noticed the woman's hands were sweaty and shakey. This was a good thing. Made them so much better to handle when they were scared shitless. She smirked.

"There was a tablet, or should I say, part of a tablet. I 'found' it on the black market and I want it back. You know, I always get what I want." She dragged her tongue up the side of Mel's face, grinning evilly at Jan, trying to provoke her. Mel cringed in disgust and tried to pull away.

"Ah ah ah. Can't let you go yet, my pretty. Now, SIT DOWN!" She pulled the woman roughlydown onto the chair and stood behind her. Mel removed her hat and placed it on her lap. Callisto snorted and dragged her fingers through the ebony hair, releasing the hair clasp, letting her long hair fall down over her shoulders.

"Now, you don't want me to have to 'hurt' her, do you, Jan? You know, I really would take some pleasure out of that...but then, that's just the type of girl I am. You do believe me, now don't you, Melinda?"

Mel nodded stiffly, her hands scrunching her hat, worrying the fabric with nervous fingers.

"So tell me, Calli. I can call you that, can't I? Good. Well, Calli, you were the fence for Judith and her psycho brother, weren't you? And where the fuck did you dig up Demitrios? That guy was really a piece of work. Both dead, by the way. Judith killed them both..her brother right here in the museum and the nazi sympathizer while in prison. Now she is something, huh? Did you break her out of jail?"

"Yes, a great fuck, by the way. But other than, just a liability, Jan dear. I suspect it was one of Alan's compatriots that arranged that little break. Now, why don't you tell your Aunty Callisto just where the tablet is, hmmm?" She gave Mel another poke with the knife.

Jan winced, seeing the pain cross her beloveds face. She grit her teeth and forced herself to smile. No good going off half cocked. Not yet, anyway. Keep her talking, get closer...beat the living shit out of her...Plan A.

"So, you get stuff from other digs, what, either steal it or kill for it, what? And then what? Smuggle it aboard a transport ship? Going to the Middle East, would be my guess." She eased a little closer, looking at her surrounds, trying to appear nonchalant.

"My, you are a smarty pants, now aren't you? Why yes, Jan, that is exactly right. I never steal anything when I can simply kill the owner and take it..."

"And my next guess would be...that you aren't the real director of anitquities either, right?"

Mel's mouth flew open, her eyes wide. She had me workin my fingers to the bone and wadn't even my boss? The hours she had spent doing the backbreaking work, silently taking the insults, the innuendo...her jaw clenched in response as she felt her temper rising.

Jan saw the look on her lover's face and only hoped she'd be close enough to help when Mel blew.

"Stop wiggling, you silly woman. And give me that damned hat! No fashion sense whatsoever, eh, Melinda. What could I are a southerner, after all."

Jan cringed as she saw the volcano growing in Mel's face. Never...ever...assault Mel's southern background....big mistake...very big..She edged even closer, her hand going to the back of her pants. She feined a sore back and stretched a little, covering her actions.

"Oh, you poor baby...tired from the wars? I'm going to have some fun with you after I'm finished with...her...Jan. We'd be so good together..." she said wistfully, her head swimming with the erotic images.

Mel shuddered and then...that was it! She grabbed her hat back and jammed her high heel down hard onto the director's instep.

Mel stood and the two women began yanking the hat back and forth, both vying for purchase. Suddenly, a piece of folded paper wafted out from the hat band and fluttered to the floor.

Callisto shrieked and went for it, pulling the knife across Mel's neck in an attempt to injure the woman permanently. Mel shrank back just in time and tried to bring her arm up in defense. Unfortunately, it was her injured arm and so, was rather ineffective.

The director turned the blade around and slammed the hilt into Mel's jaw. The southerner dropped like a bag of cement and lay still.

Callisto bent over and retrieved the paper. She laughed as she opened it.

"Ah, Melinda...had it in your office safe the whole time, you little vixen. Well, Jan: it was a merry chase, but it's over now...come one, Jan...let's play...a'd like that, wouldn't you? What did you ever see in this...this Amazon woman? Much too muscular for about you? You like soft curves, full breasts, nice rounded ass? Ooh, me too." She began advancing on Jan, stiletto waving back and forth in front of her face.

Jan could see the look of partial madness just behind her eyes. This was even worse than she thought. Mel lay on the floor, blood seeping from the back of her head, a crazy bitch with a knife in her hand, no one knew they were out here alone, and...

"No, I don't think I want to play with you, Calli. In fact, I'd suggest you drop the blade. You really don't want to make me mad. Trust me."

Callisto snarled her response and made stabbing motions towards Covington. A wicked and cruel look came over her face, her fists opening and closing, a manic twitch appearing in her left eye.

A strange sense of calm washed over Jan as she cooly watched the clearly insane woman coming closer.

Just as Callisto was going to throw her stiletto, Jan reached behind and withdrew her 45. She pointed it directly into the woman's left nostril, cocking the gun.

"You still want to play? I call this game Plan B. We can play if you want, Calli. We can play all night long. You see, no one knows we're here tonight. And I can always say you attacked me and I *had* to kill you in self defence. Right? Now, I'm not thrilled with you right now, Calli. In fact, I'm down right pissed off just about now. I get home from being away for six fucking months, get sliced and diced doing my patriotic duty, have to clean up the mess of your partner Judith's attack on my...wife..only to have to deal with you? Yeah, I'm pissed off. You could definitely say that, yeah."

"Your...wife?" Mumbled the director, trying not to sound nasally, but failing miserably.

"Yeah, my wife. We were married just before I left so you see, you have some payback due you, and your account is *way* overdue."

She slammed her fist into Callisto's stomach, grinning as the woman sank to her knees, gasping for breath. Not once did the barrel of the gun leave her nose.

Jan pushed the barrel in a bit more, causing the director to cry out. A small trickle of blood began to drip from her nose as pressure was applied to her frontal nasal cavity.

Jan became lost in the feeling of rage that seemed to roar through her veins. The image of Mel being cut, poked, verbally abused by this woman flashed through her brain and she pressed the barrel in harder.

Tears of pain came falling down the director's face, unbidden. And still she wouldn't cry. She set her jaw and just took it.

"I've taken worse than you could ever give out, Janice. Go ahead. Pain is good. Lets us know we're alive. Does it feel good to give me pain, Jan? Does it turn you on? Make you feel powerful?"

And with those few questions, the red fog of hatred and battle lust lifted and Jan could see again. She shook her head at the director in disgust then looked over at Mel, who had begun to move weakly.

She pulled the director to her feet, dragging her across to the chair. She looked around the supply room and settled on some electrical wiring to truss up her...friend.

Once Callisto was secured to the chair, Jan bent to see how her lover was, removing her jacket and placing it under the southerner's head. She inspected the head wound and hoped that no stitches were required. She'd have one helluva headache when she came to, not to mention the nice black bruise on her cheek...Jan ground her teeth together again and shot Callisto a look filled with hate.

Callisto flinched backwards, her eyes wide. She'd seen that look too often...on her own face. Now she knew just what Janice Covington was capable of...that she had some of the same rage boiling just under the surface.

Just as she was going to work that to her advantage, Jan reached up and shoved Mel's hat in her mouth. "Don't...even...think about it."

Jan made her way over to the telephone and called the police station. Checking the director's hands once more, she moved over to where Mel lay and pulled her into a semi-reclining position.

She wiped the blood away from her throat. Not too bad. May leave a small scar..head doesn't look very good, though. Coulda been alot worse. A whole helluva lot, she mused.

A police siren could be heard and Hudson Callisto tried to free her hands in vain. The more she struggled, the tighter the wire became. Knowing this, Jan completely dismissed the woman from her mind and focused on Melinda.

Mel's eyes began to flutter open, a groan escaping her puffy lips. She tried to sit up but was held fast. She frowned as she tried to focus...why couldn't she focus..then Jan placed her glasses on her face and her vision cleared. She smiled up at Jan. She tried to raise her arm to stroke her wife's face but a sharp pain reminded her of the injury she'd sustained earlier.

Two armed policemen rushed into the room, taking in the scene before them. One woman bound to a chair with a hat stuffed into her mouth, another on the floor, head bloodied, face bruised and swollen, and then another looking grim-faced, gun laying beside her on the floor.

Jan pushed the revolver over and raised her hands. One of the policemen recognized her from the break and enter the day before and spoke to the Lieutenant, assuring him that she was one of the good guys. Jan added her two cents worth, shocking both men with her perfect dialect and syntax. They both nodded and one left for an ambulance.

Mel tried to assure Jan that she could get up by herself, that she would be fine. Jan was having non of it. The past few days and just been too much...for anyone, herself included. She felt a great weariness begin to overtake her. The memories of the past months in Holland combined with the horror of seeing Mel injured, bloodied and then tormented by a madwoman...well, it was too much.

Jan sat holding her wife's hand, turning her wedding ring around and around. Then she reached over and kissed Mel's hand. Callisto snorted and tried to curse through the hat. Jan never noticed. She was completely focused on her lover, the love of her life, her wife.

Mel pulled Jan down into a sweet kiss, neither noticing as the policeman turned so as not to disturb them.

"I'm glad you didn't...lose your temper, Jan. Thank you for that. I don't ever want to lose you, love. And especially not to the likes of her."

"I just couldn't...throw all that we have away...not now. I have so much to lose now, Mel. I don't ever want to jeapordize that again. I plan on growing very old with you, darling. And I'll still be making love to you until the last breath leaves my body. And we'll be together forever.."

Mel knew it to be true. Their eyes locked, and a sense of sharing took place. Jan and Mel entwined their ring fingers and marveled at how well they seemed to fit. Like they were made for each other. As they were.


It was discovered that the real director had been murdered days before she was supposed to get on the plane. The Desoto was stripped down to the bare metal and a cache of money was recovered along with some forged documents.

The tablet that Melinda had discovered turned out to be from the dig their fathers' had worked on in Cyprus, years before. It had been part of Mr. Christopolis' Xena engraving, adding to the puzzle which Mel had finished deciphered. Upon further investigation and the detailed notes that Mel had made, it turned out to be quite an important discovery. The site was excavated, some rather rare antiquities were recovered and, praise be, two more Xena Scrolls turned up. They were dedicated to the museum set up in their fathers' name.

Judith cofessed all once she was back in the confines of her cell. It seemed her spirit had been broken, being beaten senseless by the same woman twice.

Hudson Callisto was extradicted back to the US and began her lengthy prison sentence, never having given up the name or any further information regarding her contacts or the mysterious man in the Middle East.

It was ascertained that Melinda had suffered a concusion and did require a few stitches. She spend a few days in hospital and Jan became a fixture, endearing herself to the medical staff with her stories and parodies.

She was given an unconditional discharge that was to take effect in six months and was on extended leave until then. She was fully prepared to risk going AWOL rather than leave Mel for one more day. Luckily, Mel's contacts proved worthy and it didn't come to that.

Jan couldn't receive any medal for her work overseas as it was Special Ops but it did go down on her records.

Captain Dan Butterworth and his fiance Shelley Janes were married, Jan acting as best 'man'. A contest ensued after the reception as the two friends tried to drink each other under the table. Mel and Shelley sat at the table with a bemused look. What was it about those two? They just natural. Neither woman felt even a twinge of jealousy and became good friends.

It was no surprise when Jan was nominated for the position of Director. Jan worried about feeling tied down, their adventures over.

Mel smirked and assured her that, no, it just meant they'd both have to go on them. This certainly made for some rather vitriolic discussions.

And so it was that on June 6th, 1944, the Allied Forces began their trek to Berlin, Hitler and his minions destroyed. However, the world was never to be the same again when the truth of the concentration camps was released. The collective innocence was lost and things would never be quite so bright, so free again.

In September of the same year, the Allies entered the strategic city of Antwerp, only 20 miles outside the Dutch boarder.

Members of the National Socialistische Beweging der Nederland, or the NSB, tried in vain to get out of Holland and flee to Germany. Anyone found to be aiding and abetting the enemy would be shot.

The Allies finally entered the Dutch boarder and people ran up their Dutch flags. However, the liberation of Holland had to wait. It was a full week after the boarder was breached and it occured in the small Dutch city of Maastricht.

Germany was not yet finished with her rape and ruin of the Netherlands as she cut off food supplies. The Dutch transportation was utterly destroyed by the retreating German army and by 1945, there was no food, coal, wood, electricity or running water to be had.

In April of that year, the Allies successfully dropped food packages and a mere week later, Germany surrendered. Canadian troops began pouring into the northern provinces.

Next to Norway, it was the country longest occupied by the Germans. However, the resurrection of the Netherlands was at hand. It had suffered such horrors during the occupation but was already making headway in the rebuilding of their cities.

Jan began receiving letters from Peter. Frans had been killed fighting in Antwerp. Jan cried as she told Mel of the brave young man she'd worked with. Both Menno and Jaap were doing well and had decided to go back to university for a degree in engineering. Jan was sure they'd do well.

Peter and Anneke had stayed friends, their memories binding them tightly. There was some talk of Peter coming to Greece the following year. Jan got the distinct impression that it wasn't going to be for a wedding celebration. Anneke had met a wonderful woman and she and Peter began to spend less and less time together. It saddened Jan to think of Peter alone. Well, she mused, she had kinda promised a solution to that.

Mel began accusing Jan of being a matchmaker. Jan didn't bother to protest. She just smirked, saying "I have many skills". It was a point Mel was not willing to argue about.

The End

Please direct any and all constructive criticism to I've had a ball and I hope you've all enjoyed the ride. Thanks again to Shary for the belief and computer training...even though I'm as thick as a brick in that area....grin. See ya in the funny papers.

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