Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle, and all other characters who have appeared in the syndicated series Xena: Warrior Princess, together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. Twentieth Century Fox produced "An Affair to Remember"; music was written by Leo McCarey. I have used some actual dialogue from the script, especially the ending. I borrowed some lines from a few other movies as well see if you can catch them. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction.
This story depicts a love/sexual relationship between two consenting adult women. If youre not supposed to read it dont. Otherwise, enjoy!
To my beta-readers - my blood sister, Sworrac, Frenchie, and E-Bard. Thank you for the bottom of my heart. I would also like to thank all my special friends in the Xenaverse for their inspiration, support and friendship.
I would like to thank CN Winters for inviting me to participate in rewriting a "classic." Im honored to be in her company and the other Bards participating in this project. I chose "An Affair to Remember" one week prior to the tragedy in New York City. Thus, this story is lovingly dedicated to the brave victims and survivors.
An Affair to Remember
The luxurious cruise ship, "Amazon Princess," pulled out of the picturesque bay in Istanbul, and headed for the open seas. The ships itinerary included stops in Athens, Lisbon, Barcelona, Dover, Bordeaux and at months end New York City.
"Phone call for Senorita Ferrante," announced the Spanish cabin boy.
"Over here," a dark-haired woman acknowledged, lounging poolside on the sunny Lido Deck. As she was handed the receiver, her eyes glanced over the semi-naked bodies on display around the pool. "Hello, this is Nikki."
"How can you speak of love to me when you are going to be married," the voice on the other end cried.
Nikki had thought she could skip out of Istanbul without fanfare but evidently the story had already broken. Even in the 1950s, news traveled fast. Print and electronic media worldwide were reporting that sultry jet setter, Nikki Ferrante, was getting married to industrial nobleman Lewis Clark, whose fortune was estimated at $600 million.
"Gabriella, calm down."
Gabriellas voice darkened with intensity. "If I had a knife, Id stab you in the back. You have no soul, no heart. You are "
The unsympathetic heartbreaker hung up the phone in the middle of the tirade and handed it back to the cabin boy. "Gracias."
Nikki Ferrante had a string of scorned lovers across the globe. One more casualty meant nothing to her. In fact, the notorious beauty thrived on seduction and gained a sick sense of satisfaction from the devious game. She hadnt always been so heartless - all she ever wanted was to be loved, but in her quest, all shed found were unhealthy and painful relationships. Unfortunately, along the way, she had learned to survive by becoming selfish and cruel.
Nikki resumed her sunbathing, but couldnt resist staring at the most beautiful woman she had ever seen, gliding gracefully towards her. The woman was carrying a familiar-looking cigarette case the one Nikki had recently lost.
Nikki got up and attempted to grab it. "Excuse me, but you have my cigarette case."
The young woman wouldnt let go. "How do I know its yours?"
An arrogant grin lit up Nikkis face. "It has an inscription inside."
The fair-haired woman opened the solid gold case and read the inscription aloud.
"To Nikki in memory of our three precious nights aboard La Gabriella."
Terry recalled seeing the yacht, "La Gabriella," docked at the pier in Istanbul before they set sail. She gasped. "Oh, dont tell me youre the famous Nikki Ferrante that Ive been reading about in the newspapers!"
Nikki removed her sunglasses, exposing her sapphire blue eyes. "Thats me, but dont believe everything you read."
"Hmmm " the blonde flicked the case closed and gave it back to Nikki. "Must have been some three nights," she said, and started to walk away.
Nobody ever walked away from Nikki Ferrante. "Say, wait a minute. Where did you get my case?"
Hesitating a bit, the young woman turned around. "I think that I wont answer that yet."
"Whats your name?"
"I havent seen one beautiful woman on board until you."
Terry flushed. "I beg your pardon?"
Nikki turned on her irresistible charm. "Say, would you care to join me for a drink?"
"Thank you, but I dont think thats a good idea."
"Come on just one."
"Being with you is news, you know, and not always good news."
"Well, how about my stateroom then?" Nikki batted her baby blues.
Terry meant to say no, but the womans hypnotic eyes captivated her. "How about mine?"
Nikki smiled complacently. "Your stateroom will be fine." That was much easier than I thought.
Inside the cabin, Terry poured some drinks, sat down on the chair opposite Nikki and was struck by her seemingly familiar mannerisms. "Have we met before?"
Nikki would have said anything to get the girl in her bed, but in this instance, she had to honestly agree. "You do remind me of someone but I just cant put my finger on it." They both shrugged it off.
Terry cocked her head to the side and appeared perplexed again.
"What is it?" asked Nikki.
"I read you are getting married to that millionaire, Lewis Clark. Does he know about Gabriella?"
"Well, you could say so its his ex-wife."
Terry almost choked on her drink.
"Say, why dont we just change the subject this girl just wants to have fun." Nikki flashed a lascivious grin.
Terry didnt have a clue. "What do you mean?"
Nikki wondered, Is Terry playing hard to get or could she really be that naïve? Not one to mince words, Nikki decided to get right to the point. She got up, walked over to Terry, kissed her on the cheek and whispered seductively in her ear.
"You really turn me on. I want to have you for lunch and dinner."
Terry did choke on her drink this time. Then, she quickly regained her composure and stiffly pointed to a framed photograph of a handsome man on her nightstand.
"Im engaged as well."
"So what? Doesnt matter to me."
"Well, it matters to me." Terry insisted.
"If youre engaged to a man, what are you doing on this Olivia cruise?"
Terry refused to be intimidated. "I might ask the same question of you."
Nikki raised her glass. "Touché, blondie!" Then she downed her drink. "If you want the truth, Lewis thinks Im cruising back with Gabriella. But since Gabriella and I had a " Nikki cleared her throat and poured another drink. "Disagreement, the thought of a voyage home with some Amazon women sounded delicious to me. Now, how about you?" Nikki downed another shot. "Gorgeous!"
"You may not believe this, but my fiancé booked me on this ship. I dont think he realized what kind of cruise this is. Im certain hell be very surprised when he meets me at the harbor in New York."
"Im sure he will be but I bet you were surprised too."
Terry replied candidly. "You could say that."
"When did you realize the passengers were all lesbians?"
"When I was on the Lido Deck " Visions of what she had seen caused Terry to fidget uncomfortably in her seat.
Nikki snickered. "Ive nicknamed it the Libido Deck."
Terry burst out laughing, "The Libido Deck? Oh, thats rich."
Terrys laugh was contagious and Nikki smiled. "Its about time, youve been so serious since weve met."
"Well, Ive never even met a lesbian before and now Im on a ship full of them."
"So, youve never been with a woman before?"
Terry squirmed in her seat again. "Gods, no! I cant even imagine "
"Have you been to bed with your fiancé yet?" Nikki enjoyed pushing those buttons.
Terry leapt out of her chair. "If you dont mind, I have to get ready for dinner. It was nice talking to you."
"Youre a virgin, arent you?"
Terry opened the door and gestured for Nikki to leave, but Nikki unlocked her cigarette case, took out a cigarette and put it between her lips. "Do you have a light?"
"I think you could light it from the inscription." The blonde shot back sarcastically.
Nikki grinned but was unrelenting. "So does he trust you?"
Terry blurted out: "Imagine how attractive he is if I can resist you." Then she realized what she had said and cringed.
"I didnt ask about attractive, I asked about trusting." Nikki took advantage of her uneasiness. "Can I join you for dinner?"
"I dont think so."
"Havent you realized by now that you cant say no to me?"
"Its hopeless then?"
Nikki raised her eyebrow and nodded with assurance.
Terry submitted. "Well then of course."
Nikki wanted her more than ever.
Everyone stared as they were escorted to a private table in the royal dining room. Terry was not accustomed to all the attention and hurried her pace. As they were being seated, one of the dykes raised her fist at Nikki and hollered.
Nikki was unfazed. "What would you like to drink?"
"I love Perrier-Jouët."
"That suits you." Nikki ordered a bottle of the bubbly. "You look exceptionally beautiful tonight and I love your dress. Red is definitely your color." Nikki wasnt handing her a line Terry did look radiant.
"Why, thank you. You look good yourself." Terry ran her hand down the sleeve of Nikkis jacket. "Is that leather?"
"Yes, Italian." Nikki lit a cigarette. "So, what do you do?"
"Im a singer."
"I never would have pegged you for a singer! Come to think of it though, a woman as beautiful as you must have a sweet voice a velvet voice."
"Do you have any hobbies?"
"Well, I like to write and Im studying yoga. You?"
Nikki flashed her brilliant smile. "I have many skills."
Terry nodded her head. "Ill bet you do."
Dinner was served. "Bon appetit," said the waiter. Nikki sliced into a thick juicy steak and Terry feasted on classic Italian cuisine. They both had hearty appetites and savored the Epicurean delights.
"Now lets talk about you." Terry nibbled on a dessert canapé. "Nikki, I hope you dont mind me asking, but are you what they call a bisexual?"
Nikki was uncommonly surprised, but felt such an upfront question deserved an honest answer. "I dont like labels, but if you must know, I prefer women. Men tend to be so one-dimensional. Women have much more depth."
Terry was baffled. "Then why are you marrying a man?"
"You see, Im used to being taken care of, pampered and catered to, and I just couldnt pass up Lewis $600 million. Does that shock you?"
"Im not the one to judge. Besides, my penthouse suite in Manhattan is paid for by my fiancé Kenneth."
"And you dont have to sleep with him?"
"He knows Im an old-fashioned girl and he respects me."
"A gentleman then what a dying breed."
Terry continued her line of questioning. "Do you love this rich man?"
Nikki was a master at this game. "Do you love your fiancé?"
The singer was taken off-guard. Hmm Do I love Ken?
Before she could answer, their effeminate waiter interrupted. "Mademoiselle Ferrante, do you wish to reserve the table for dinner every night?"
"Oui," Nikki replied, without consulting Terry.
Thankful for the interruption, Terry grabbed her handbag, yawned and got up to leave.
"I thought wed have another glass of champagne?" Nikki sounded disappointed.
"No, I really must be going. Morpheus is calling. Thank you for the lovely evening, Nikki."
Nikki stood up, took Terrys hand and gently kissed it. "The pleasure was all mine. Say, tomorrow we dock in Athens. Would you care to explore the ruins of the Parthenon with me?"
Terrys emerald green eyes lit up. "I cant think of anything I would like more."
"See you tomorrow then." Nikki watched as the most beautiful woman that she had ever seen, gliding gracefully out of the room. She would go to bed alone this night, but for some reason it didnt seem to bother her. There was always tomorrow and she loved a challenge.
As Terry stood on the observation deck, the nearby island sparkled like a diamond beckoning. As she began to take off her jacket, Nikki appeared and helped her. Surprisingly, Nikkis touch aroused her. Terrys stomach fluttered a bit and she broke out in goose bumps.
Nikki noticed and asked, "Are you cold?"
Terry put her jacket back on and immediately changed the subject. "Beautiful day, isnt it?"
"Lovely and so are you."
"You can be so sweet, thank you. You know, youre quite attractive yourself."
Nikki already knew that, but nodded her head graciously.
"Cablegram for Senorita Ferrante," the ships officer announced. He handed the telegram to Nikki. As she was about to read it, he handed one to Terry as well.
"From him?" Terry nodded.
"From him?" Nikki nodded.
They read them simultaneously, but neither said a word about what they had read. Nikki stuffed her telegram in her pants pocket, and Terry stuffed hers in her purse.
The ship dropped anchor in Athens. "Are you ready to go ashore?" asked Nikki.
"Yes," the blonde replied with delightful excitement.
Nikki knew she was not about to spend the day touring with the other passengers, especially those bohemian women. Once ashore, she rented a jeep and patted the seat. "Hop in."
As they were driving, Nikki caught a glance of Terrys golden halo of hair blowing in the soothing breeze. She wanted to run her fingers through it, but kept her hands on the steering wheel.
They entered the Propylaea, the sacred gates guarding the sanctuary of Athena. Merchants lined the roads selling flocati rugs, tamari bags, exquisite antiques and handcrafted jewelry. Terry looked on with the fascination of a child.
Seeing Terrys excitement made the jaded jet setter feel alive again. "Well then if I remember correctly," stated Nikki, "we were going to talk about you today."
"Well, if you must know, I was born in Boston and went to all-girls Catholic schools. A few years ago, I moved to New York to sing. One night, Kenneth came into the nightclub where I was performing. He told me I didnt belong in a place like that. He put me up in a penthouse in New York and thats where Ive been ever since - studying music, literature and art."
"So you will make a charming wife?"
"Thats only one page."
"Thats the only page!"
From a distance, the magnificent Parthenon came into view and they were rendered speechless. Elegant Doric and Ionic columns stood in tandem and the picturesque Parthenon opened before them. They exited the jeep and spent the day walking uphill to the Acropolis, strolling in the footsteps of Gods.
They were fascinated with the temples, statues, ancient carvings, sacred symbols and fascinating relics. When they entered the Athena Nike Temple, they were drawn to a statue of the goddess, standing erect, brandishing her mighty shield. A step back in time, myth seemed to blend with reality as they explored the sacred hill.
"Have you been to Greece before?" asked Nikki as they drove by the Temple of Zeus.
"No, but by the gods, this place looks familiar."
"I know. Its like deja-vu all over again"
"Perhaps in another lifetime."
They shared reminiscently tender glances of affection. The boat whistle unexpectedly sounded. It was time to return to the ship.
Suddenly, Nikki heard a mysterious voice say, "Xena, come back to me."
Nikki was unnerved. "What did you just say?"
"I didnt say anything, but I heard something too."
"What did you hear?"
"Someone or something said, Xena, come back to me."
"Thats the same thing I heard. It wasnt you?"
"No, I thought it was you. Whos Xena?"
"Lets not stick around to find out." They both looked suspiciously over their shoulders. "Hang on. " Terry floored it back to the ship.
On the ride back, Nikki ached to touch Terry. She reached down to hold her steady as they went over several dangerous bumps. Her hand lingered even as the road smoothed out and she began to play softly with the young womans fingers. Terry absently twined her fingers around the other womans.
Stepping on board, they were greeted by glaring flashes of light. The ships photographer began snapping photos of them. Her hands shaking with rage, Nikki snatched the camera from the annoying photographer and pulled out the film. Terry grabbed the film and threw it into the sea. The butch photographer swung her fists and tried to start a fight. One icy stare from Nikki was all it took though. The dyke disappeared, but the damage was done. Reality had smacked Terry in the face and she felt exposed.
"We really shouldnt be seen together. I dont want to end up on the cover of Life. Thank you for the lovely day goodnight."
"Afraid of some bad publicity?"
"No, but "
"What are you afraid of?"
Unbeknownst to them, the photographer was secretly hiding beneath one of the lifeboats snapping more photos.
Terry hastily retreated. "You go your way and Ill go mine."
Nikki desperately wanted to see her again. "Please have dinner with me again tonight?"
Terry didnt answer; she just kept on walking. Nikki was left standing with her mouth open. The tables had most definitely turned. What is it about this blonde?
Safe in her cabin, Terry took out her journal and began to write. What am I afraid of Nikki? Im afraid of you. Ive never felt like this before. She was more than scared; she was terrified.
The following morning, Terry woke up uncommonly early and decided to go for a swim to work off some of her nervous energy. She didnt want a repeat of the night before, so she carefully tiptoed to the pool to make sure no one was there. Satisfied, she took off her robe, dove into the water and began to swim its length underwater.
A few seconds later, Nikki showed up at the opposite end of the pool and jumped in. Half a length into their swim, they ran into each other underwater. Their eyes met in surprise followed by mutual satisfaction. Nikki put her arms around Terrys waist, spun her around upward and kissed her until they floated to the top.
Terry surfaced, swam to the stairs and got out of the water. Nikki watched as the beauty toweled off and lay down on one of the deck chairs. She quickly followed, settling on the lounge chair next to Terrys and took in her desirable playmates remarkably fit and proportioned body.
Nikki was the first to break the silence. "You have the most incredible figure. Do you work out?" She glanced at Terry and noticed she was as white as a ghost. "Whats wrong?"
Terry stuttered, "Y you kissed me."
"Yes, and you kissed me back."
"I dont know where that came from but its back where it belongs. I like you Nikki, but I dont want you to get the wrong idea."
"What are you saying?"
"Im saying Im straight and engaged and you dont stand a snowballs chance in Tartarus with me."
"You said youre straight and engaged, but you didnt say you didnt like it. Besides, Ive been to Tartarus before and I didnt melt. I did, however, melt from your kiss." Nikki licked her lips as if to say, you tasted so good.
Just above a whisper, Terry replied, "So did I."
Nikki was inspired but knew she had to go slow with this one. "I have a great idea. What do you say while everyone goes ashore in Lisbon today, we go snorkeling?"
Terry was about to answer when Nikki added, "Remember, I wont take no for an answer Im a warrior and I do not accept defeat."
Feeling a strange sense of pleasure in being dictated to in such a forceful manner, Terry willingly surrendered. "Okay, Warrior Princess."
"Good girl." Nikki threw back her wild hair. "Now put some sunscreen on my back, please."
Terry couldnt help but notice how sexy Nikki looked in her leopard print bathing suit and what a fabulous body she had. Without hesitation, she squirted some lotion on her hands and began to massage it into the warriors muscular back. Even at her all-girl schools, she had never been this close to another woman, let alone touched one. She was trembling but didnt want to stop. She drew the sculpture of Nikkis back with her hands. Her hands followed the swell of her muscles until her palms were dry. She put more lotion in her hands and continued applying it to Nikkis commanding arms and legs. Erotic chills ascended up her spine.
Suddenly, Nikki turned over. "You have a nice touch, darlin."
Nikkis piercing blue eyes weakened Terry further. She became afraid of her feelings and stood up. "I had better get dressed." She picked up her beach towel. "Ill see you soon."
Nikki lay out a while longer and worked on her already incredible tan. All sorts of thoughts raced through her mind but one thing was for sure - she had never felt such a sweet attraction before, and it was beyond lust.
Nikki steered the catamaran through the pristine waters until she found the perfect coral reef. They spent the day snorkeling with the tortoise and hand fed the stingrays. Exhausted, they went ashore, spread out a blanket and collapsed onto the deserted beach.
Feeling the joys of the day wash over her, Terry stole a look at Nikki and desperately wanted to reach over and touch her glowing skin, but she was afraid.
Nikki glanced over and caught Terry looking at her. The look was unmistakable - desire begging to be satisfied. The waves rolled in at their feet and the sound of the surf seemed to echo their hearts. Nikki brushed back Terrys blonde hair, cupped her face, and decided to give her what she wanted. She sought out her mouth and kissed her furiously.
No one had ever kissed Terry like that. She found herself falling deeper and deeper into oblivion. Nikki then passed her strong hands along the satiny curves of the young womans ravishing body, arousing every bit of her flesh, like the heat of the sun arousing a flower.
The ships whistle blew and startled Terry into consciousness. She quickly broke their embrace, sat up and muttered abruptly. "I think wed better go."
Nikki was forced to temper her desires. "Okay." She grumbled.
Damn that whistle!
Over the course of the next few weeks, they explored Barcelonas Gothic Quarter and drove to the top of the White Cliffs of Dover. Each day, their friendship blossomed, as did their attraction, an attraction that was strictly taboo.
Nikki yearned to possess the blonde completely. In the past, she would have eaten her up and spit her out but she couldnt do that to Terry, nor did she want to - she respected her innocence. Each day, their friendship deepened. Nikki was no saint though - her kisses grew more frequent and more intense. Remarkably, Terry allowed Nikkis curious hands to explore her body further.
"When we arrive in Bordeaux tomorrow, Im going to visit my grandmother," said Nikki. "It would mean a lot to me if you would join me."
"Id love to, Nikki."
A horse-drawn carriage took Nikki and Terry through the genteel French countryside to the cobblestone streets of Bordeaux. A romantic city with timeworn buildings, impressive manor houses and graceful churches, Bordeaux was mostly cherished for its elegance, beauty and world-class wine.
Terry observed a neatly wrapped package in Nikkis lap.
"Its a gift for Janou, my grandmother. I can hardly wait for you to meet her."
The carriage dropped them off and they walked up chiseled steps on the side of a mountain. Terry suddenly found herself in a beautiful flower garden adorned with a magnificent fountain. "What a divine place."
Nikki smiled. "I knew youd be pleased."
Nikki called for Janou and saw her grandmothers dog, Fidel, sitting on the steps of the chapel. "She must be in there."
"Theres something about this place that makes you want to whisper," remarked Terry.
"A sweeter place Ive never known," Nikki said softly.
Janou came out of the chapel and was overjoyed to see Nikki. "Nicoletta!" They shared a warm embrace, then Janou noticed Terry. Nikki excitedly introduced them.
"Your place is so beautiful, I could stay forever. May I enter your chapel?"
"Of course, dearest one," said the older woman. Terry went in.
"Youre looking well, Grand-mère," said Nikki.
"Thank you but you didnt come here to talk about how well I look." Janou paused. "Theres been talk of you marrying this wealthy American. Is that what you came to talk about?"
Gently grabbing Janou by the arm, Nikki led her further down the path. "I could never get one by you. Yes, Im am supposed to marry soon but now I dont know. It was so simple just a few weeks ago, but now, Im not so sure."
"Is it because of her," Janou nodded toward the chapel, "that youre having these second thoughts?"
"Yes and no. Theres always been something missing in my life and I thought I could fill it with endless parties and money. It worked until I met Terry and realized that nothing could fill that emptiness but oh, I dont know. Weve barely met, but I feel like weve spent a lifetime together."
Janou liked the change in her granddaughter and embraced her.
A few minutes later, Nikki entered the chapel and found Terry kneeling in front of the altar, gazing upon a statue of the Virgin Mary. Nikki came to kneel beside her. They shared a brief glance then Terry bowed her head and began to pray fervently.
Nikki was astonished - an aura of celestial light seemed to shine around the angelic woman. Am I in heaven? If so, I feel like Ive been there with her before.
The heavenly creature got up, genuflected, made the sign of the cross and left. Nikki did the same.
As they walked outside, Nikki asked Terry, "What were you praying for?"
"Answers." Came the simple reply.
Once they were outside, the gardener stopped by to say hello and asked Nikki to meet his seven children. Nikki left and Terry walked into the house with Janou. All sorts of magnificent treasures embellished the sitting room. One in particular caught her eye.
"Thats a beautiful painting," commented Terry. She looked closer to read the signature and realized that Nikki had painted it.
"Nikki was so talented, but she hasnt painted anything since this. When she was little, she used to play the piano, too. Everything came so easy to her." Janou paused. She sensed that Terry needed someone to talk to, but was wavering. She decided to break the ice. "You are the first person that Nikki has brought here to see me that I like."
"Really?" Terry was genuinely surprised, then added, "Perhaps I shouldnt have met her."
"You are different from the others. Ive been worried about her but when I saw you with her, I felt better."
"I wish I could share your confidence."
"You will have it when you need it. Nicoletta needs someone like you."
Nikki returned and Terrys green eyes darted towards the wall.
"Am I interrupting something?"
"We were just talking about your painting," stated Janou.
"Its funny you should say that " Nikki handed Janou the gift it was a portrait of her grandfather, André, that she had painted from memory.
Janou lovingly ran her fingers over the painting of her husband. "Its so real, so like him. I told you, you had talent."
Nikki poured everyone a glass of wine. Janou raised her glass. "May your journey home be a pleasant one." From the distance, the ships whistle sounded again, and Janou grew sad. She knew they would be leaving soon.
"Janou, please play the piano for us," requested Nikki. "Did you know she was a concert pianist?" she asked Terry.
"Yes, please play for us. It would be delightful."
Janou sat down and began to play a melody. It was so beautiful and romantic that Nikki and Terry couldnt help but share a loving look. Mesmerized, Terry started to hum the melody, then picked up the sheet music and sang the lyrics.
Une histoire damour est une chose merveilleuse dont nous nous
souviendrons avec joie
Notre amour est né quand tu mas prise dans tes bras
Une page arrachée au temps et à lespace
Notre histoire damour que sa flamme brûle éternellement
Alors prends ma main et prie avec ferveur
Pour que nous vivions et partagions
UNE HISTOIRE DAMOUR QUI RESTERA DANS NOS CURS.
(translation by Frenchie)
The boat whistle sounded again and Janou stopped playing. The notes had now become sad. Slowly, she got up from the piano bench and hugged them. "I dont like boat whistles."
"Neither do I, Janou," whispered Nikki as she embraced her beloved grandmother.
As they walked outside, they noticed that the temperature had dropped considerably. Terry tenderly wrapped Janous white lace shawl around the older womens shoulders. "Its lovely," said Terry.
"Someday I will send it to you."
"Goodbye, Janou you have a perfect world."
"Au revoir, Janou. I will come back to see you soon." Nikki hugged her grandmother again.
As they were halfway down the path, Terry looked back at the precious old woman and noticed the hint of a teardrop in her eye. She ran back to her and gave her another warm embrace.
As the boat sailed out of the harbor, Nikki noticed Terry on deck, crying. "Whats wrong?"
"Beauty does that to me. I want to thank you for the most beautiful day I have ever known. You grandmother made me feel so welcome. I will write to her."
Nikki was moved by Terrys abundant tenderness, and took her hand in hers. "Lets go for a walk." As they strolled around the deck hand in hand, dusk fell quickly.
"Let me walk you to your cabin." Nikki pointed for Terry to go up the staircase. Halfway up, Terry stopped. Nikki walked up a few steps. Terrys glistening lips called out to her she kissed her. Lightheaded from the intoxicating kisses, Terry grabbed the rails so she wouldnt fall. When they reached the top of the landing, Terry was crying again.
"No more tears. What is it?"
"I told you what beauty does to me." Terry paused. "We are headed into rough seas, arent we?"
Nikki took her in her arms. "We changed our course today and what Im feeling for you is more than simple affection."
Terry instantly stiffened and pulled away. "I dont think I can see you again. Goodbye." She rushed away and Nikki was left alone on the deck yet again. She couldnt help but think, if Terry wasnt going to surrender, why had she let Nikki kiss her all the time?
Ah, women! Payback sure is a bitch! Nikki cussed.
The next morning, Terry was sitting in her room looking out the porthole. It was pouring rain and she was feeling melancholy. She missed Nikki and she wished she didnt. The memory of their kiss on the stairway lingered on and tears began to stream down her cheeks. There was a knock on the door. She wiped her tears, opened it and found Nikki standing in the hallway.
Even though Terry had hoped it would be Nikki, she had to make it clear that she didnt want to see her anymore. She hoped she could be convincing because she wasnt convinced herself. She had fallen in love and was afraid of her obsessive feelings. It was safer not to feel and just go home to Kenneth.
"Why did you come here?" Terry did not invite her in.
"I think we have lots to talk about." There was a sense of urgency in Nikkis voice.
"I really want you leave, Nikki. Please, leave me alone." Terry slammed the door shut.
Around noontime, Nikki looked for Terry on deck. "I have to see you one last time. Why cant we have dinner tonight?"
"No, everyone will talk and I need to be away from you." She rushed off.
At dinnertime, Nikki spotted Terry in the dining room and asked to join her but Terry quickly got up. "Order the bouillabaisse," she said and left.
Thats it! Nikki had had enough.
Terry retired to her cabin and Nikki stormed in. Before she could say anything, an extremely annoying lipstick lesbian barged in and asked them to autograph some photos. They couldnt believe their eyes it was the photos the ship photographer had snapped of them - even the one of them kissing on the staircase.
"I dont know what you are trying to hide, everyone knows about the two of you," stated the feminine woman.
Nikki shoved the woman out into the corridor and slamming the door, turned to Terry. "Im so sorry, Terry."
Terry realized how ludicrous she had been and laughed. "You know, Im not as sorry as I thought Id be. We might as well make the most of it now."
"Why the change of heart?"
"Because you make me feel more alive than I ever have before. Full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes."
"Thats the spirit. Do you like to dance?"
Nikki grabbed Terrys hand and they beat a path down to Livias Lounge. Nikki gathered the young woman into her arms and they danced to the romantic sounds of the big band through the evening. Their bodies resonated from the velocity of the music and the sensual serenity of their closeness.
The bandleader announced the last dance of the evening. Holding Terry tightly, Nikki twirled them far from the maddening crowd onto the deck. The skies had cleared and the moon lit their faces.
Terry breathed in the sea air and lifted her eyes to the night sky. "Do you believe there is a dream for every star?"
Nikki gazed upon Terry; her eyes sparkled like diamonds in the nighttime sky and her hair was spun of gold from the moonlight. "Yes, and youre mine."
"Why cant this go on forever?"
"I dont think the captain will turn the ship around," Nikki replied.
The music ended and the melody faded fast. Terry broke their embrace and began to walk away.
Nikki stopped her. "Tomorrow in New York, will he be waiting?"
Terri swallowed hard and managed a visible nod.
"Will he be waiting for you, too?"
Nikki nodded as well.
"You said you werent in love with him." The blonde pouted.
"What did you say?"
"Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories."
Nikki turned extremely serious. "Terry, please listen to what I have to say this is possibly my last chance. Im tired of playing games and wasting time. Its now or never. We would be fools to let happiness pass us by."
Secretly, Terry had the same thoughts. "Just because our love is taboo and we havent supported ourselves "
Nikki finished her sentence, "Doesnt mean we cant. Hell, I dont give a damn what other people say, but regarding the finances if I worked hard and got my act together - in six months, where would you be?"
"What are you trying to say?"
"I just want to be worthy of being with you."
Terry was overwhelmed with confusion. "I need some time. Let me tell you in the morning."
"Its going to be a long night."
One long last kiss and Terry left. Savoring the scent of the woman, Nikki returned to her suite knowing she wouldnt get any sleep. She undressed, put on her robe, poured herself a drink and went out to sit on the balcony. There was that moon again. She had just about given up hope of ever finding anyone. Then along had come Terry. She had forgotten just how beautiful life really was, but she was nervous. What will her answer be?
There was a knock on the door. "Who is it?"
"Its me, Terry."
Nikki fastened her robe and walked to the door. When she opened it, she found Terry standing in the hallway in her robe. The blondes hands were in her pockets and her head was to the floor.
"Is there something wrong?" Terry was concerned.
Terry lifted her head languidly and whispered "Nikki, its tomorrow." Then, she ran into her sweethearts arms and buried her head in her voluptuous chest.
Nikki gathered her arms about the young woman and cherished her delicious softness. Their bodies burned with bliss and melted into a perfect oneness.
"I love you!"
"I love you too!" She hugged Terry even tighter and kissed the top of her head.
"Nikki?" The blonde asked sheepishly.
"What is it darlin?"
"I dont think I want to be a good girl anymore."
Nikki lifted the young womans head with her soft touch. "Are you sure?"
Terrys brilliant eyes sparkled with excitement. "Im sure."
"What do you want, Terry?" Nikkis impatience grew as her passion built like a storm.
"Make love to me, Nikki."
Nikkis flesh throbbed. "Oh, but I will."
She unfastened Terrys robe, let it fall to the floor and looked upon her ravishing body. The sight of the naked woman took her breath away.
"Terry, you are so beautiful."
Terry blushed. "Thank you."
Ever so tenderly, Nikki picked up the young woman, carried her effortlessly to the bed and placed her gently on it.
Terry lay back comfortably and stretched out. A bit shy at first, her erotic fever intensified as she watched Nikki rip off her robe and stand strong and naked before her. Her skin speckled in the moonlight, the legend shook her wild hair and leapt on the bed.
Terry shivered as Nikki took her hand and began to kiss it with a great deal of tenderness.
"Oh, Terry. You bring out the best in me." Savoring the young womans sweet taste, she kissed the other hand.
Slowly and deliberately, Nikki ran her tongue up the inside of Terrys arms. Then she sought out her luscious mouth. Terry dissolved into the intoxicating kisses and wrapped her arms around the strong womans muscular body.
After some time, Nikki lifted her partners head and plunged her blue eyes into her emerald ones.
"Are you ready to give yourself to me, Terry?"
Terry had never experienced such desire before and trembled. Biting her lip, she moaned deliriously. "Yes, Nikki. You are the love of my life. Im yours!"
"Oh, Terry Ive waited so long to hear you say those words."
Nikkis joy was tremendous - it was time. The warrior bit into the tender flesh of the young womans neck and her hand traveled down the contour of her appealing body. Terry gasped and surrendered to the experienced womans arousing touch. Nikki relished feeling the smoothness of her lovers flawless skin. She fell lower on the bed and glided her tongue up the inside of Terrys legs her rich hips her incredible abdomen.
"Oh, Nikki. That feels so good."
Then Nikki feasted on her loved ones sumptuous breasts, breasts that blossomed to each delicious kiss.
Unable to resist, Nikki parted Terrys legs and felt how wonderfully warm and wet her desirable companion was. The blonde moaned with delight. Uncontrollable now, Nikki threw a pillow on the floor and fell to her knees.
"Im going to have you now." She pulled the young woman down on the bed and vanished between her legs, her tongue long and rough.
Terry nearly lost consciousness. This special night, her body thundered with enormous enjoyment.
Each time Nikki felt the young woman coming closer to the edge, her motions slowed. Nikkis postponement of pleasure only proceeded to drive Terry wild with passion. The delay felt like punishment.
"Nikki, please " Terry begged.
Nikki gave her what she wanted and went down on the sweet beauty with a savage fever. Gasping with delight, the delicate flower came in a burst of pleasure, calling out her lovers name.
Nikki lifted Terry to the top of the bed and put the weight of her body upon her. Terry enjoyed feeling the weight of Nikkis strong body against hers.
"Oh, Nikki. I never knew it could be like this. I feel so loved, so happy and so utterly complete."
Nikki was pleased. She stole a passionate kiss and brushed her fervent body against her beloved. "Oh, baby. I cant ever imagine getting enough of you."
Then, Nikki turned serious. "Terry, I want more."
"What do you want, Nikki?"
"I want your purity your innocence. I want your virginity. I want to be inside of you."
Terry wanted that too, but she was a bit apprehensive. "Is it going to hurt?"
"Perhaps a little, but I will try to be ever so gentle."
"I will stop if you want me to. Now, just relax."
"Okay, I trust you, Nikki."
Suddenly, Nikki opened the bedside dresser and took out something that resembled a penis.
Terry was shocked. "Whats that?"
In a most suggestive way, Nikki touched the blonde with the top of the penis. "Still trust me?"
"Well, I dont " Silence captured Terry as Nikki suddenly plunged inside of the virgin.
"Im going to fuck you, Terry."
Terry struggled a bit and cried out.
"Do you want me to stop?"
"No, dont stop."
Taking possession of the young womans body, Nikki entered her again and again, pushing further and harder. Inevitably, Terry opened her entire body to the delicious pain and welcomed her lovers penetratingly powerful thrusts.
"Give it to me, Nikki," she screamed continuously.
Nikki gave it to her until she could take no more. Terry fell exhausted on the bed, no longer a virgin.
Nikki came to rest on her lovers chest and listened to the furious pounding of her heartbeat.
Terry kissed Nikkis cheek and embraced her lovingly. "I love you, Nikki," she said softly.
Love. Nikki finally had what she always wanted. "I love you too!"
They cuddled close and rested.
When Terry had made the decision to give herself to Nikki, she knew she was giving up every conventional notion that she had been raised with. Her childlike innocence was fading and it was time to test the boundaries of who she really was. She inhaled the scent of the womans hair and looked seductively into Nikkis piercing blue eyes.
"I want you, Nikki."
Nikki attempted to sit up. "Terry, you dont have to "
"Oh, but I want to."
Terry pushed Nikki back onto the bed, captured the womans mouth and rubbed her breasts provocatively against her.
Nikkis heart beat wildly and her body was on fire. Terry stroked and kissed every inch of her loved ones body, her hands going everywhere she wanted them to go.
Terrys own nipples hardened as she cupped her lovers breasts and kissed Nikkis luxurious cleavage. She teased the womans nipples before taking them in her mouth and sucking them.
"Oh, Terry. Your mouth is so warm Im so turned on."
Terry was impassioned. She pushed Nikki on her side, placed one leg over her shoulder and kissed her between the legs. Nikki moaned and yielded to her lovely mouth. Burying herself between Nikkis legs, she kissed her again and again. Nikki closed her eyes and fell to orgasm with a long cry of pleasure.
Her mouth still wet from the kisses, Terry lay on top of her lovers golden-brown body. She sought out her mouth and kissed her furiously without end.
Wanting more, she placed her hand where it could give the most satisfaction and thrust her fingers inside Nikki. Nikkis body moved in rhythm and sounds were coming from the back of her throat.
Nikki was rather surprised by the young womans strength as she continued to plunge inside of her, harder and deeper. Terrys charm possessed a potent aura of appeal. Nikki buried her teeth into the softest part of Terrys shoulder and exploded in another fury of exquisite sensations.
Terry relished the delicious softness of sinking into her lover. "I love you, Nikki."
Nikki kissed the top of Terrys head and hugged her tightly. "And I love you."
It was now morning. It came earlier than both would have liked.
Terry lazily sat up and stretched out. "Nikki, the ship is going to drop anchor soon and I must go."
Nikki pulled Terry back into her arms. "Please, dont go stay with me just a little while longer."
Terry could feel that Nikki was trembling, she lifted Nikkis head and kissed a tear from the corner of her eye. "Nikki, I must pack and get dressed. Why dont you meet me on deck in an hour and I will tell you where Ill be in six months."
As they were cruising past the Empire State Building, Terry appeared on deck and handed Nikki a note. Nikki accepted the note and smiled. The note said:
Meet me six months from today.
"My dearest Terry, you have a date. Where and when?"
She pointed to the Empire State Building. "There. Its the nearest thing to heaven that we have."
"102nd floor at 5:00 p.m., six months from today and dont forget to take the elevator," said Nikki.
"Darling, if things dont work out "
"Dont talk like that."
"Just in case one of us cant be there "
"Well both be there." Nikki was sure of that.
An hour later, the passengers were gathered on deck as the crew was preparing to drop anchor in the New York harbor. Terry waved hello to a handsome man in the cruise terminal. Nikki gestured with her head as if to ask - Is that him? Terry blew him a kiss and nodded yes. Nikki repeated the scenario with her fiancé and the passengers were all watching the spectacle, a romantic tennis match with their heads bobbing back and forth.
Nikki disembarked first and gave Lewis a lingering hug. Terry became jealous watching them embrace. In the midst of their hug, Terry walked right between them and broke them apart. "Have a nice trip," she remarked in passing. Terry walked over to Kenneth and they embraced. Nikki looked on and she too was jealous. In the midst of their hug, Nikki lovingly patted Terrys hand. They said goodbye with their eyes and Nikki left with Lewis.
When Nikki and Lewis arrived at his penthouse, the place was swarming with television cameras. "When are you two getting married? " asked one of the pushy reporters. Unbeknownst to Nikki, Lewis had planned a live press conference to announce their engagement.
Terry had the television on and did a double take when she saw Nikki with Lewis. Kenneth entered the room and kissed Terry. "Why dont your kisses seem the same?" Disappointed, he shut off the TV.
"That program was amusing." Terry said as she anxiously flipped the TV back on.
Kenneth noticed Nikki. "Say, werent you on the same boat as Nikki Ferrante? I remember seeing her at the pier with all those dykes." Kenneth noticed that Terrys attention was glued to the television screen and his imagination began to run rampant. "Was she charming?" He asked sarcastically.
"Yes," Terry blushingly replied without breaking her concentration.
"Ken, Im trying to watch this."
"Oh, Im sorry, Terry." He sat down next to Terry on the couch and continued to watch the interview.
The reporter asked Nikki, "What are you going to do now, just live off Mr. Clarks millions?"
"No," said Nikki. "Im going to paint."
Lewis attempted to mask his surprise on air but whispered to Nikki, "I didnt know you could paint."
"You havent answered my original question," stated the determined reporter. "When are you two getting married?"
Nikki replied directly. "In six months." Lewis was notably shocked by her response.
"Ah . " Terry exhaled in relief, which caused Ken to wonder. "What happened between you and Nikki? Did you find her irresistible?"
Terry stroked his hair. He looked into her emerald green eyes and her eyes said yes. He was crushed and leapt off the couch. "I have always worried about another man, but another woman?"
"Im sorry, Ken. You dont plan these things it just happened." Terry began to sob.
"You know what kind of reputation she has." Ken shot back angrily. "What do you think youre doing?"
Terry regained her composure. "Im going to go back to Boston and sing until Nikki and I can be together."
Kens grief and anger quickly turned to desperation. "Terry, please will you marry me? Cant you see Im in love?"
She looked at the forlorn man. "So am I."
Exasperated, Ken shrugged his shoulders and rushed out of the flat.
Terry walked onto her balcony and smiled at the sight of the Empire State Building enveloped in a heavenly fog.
Nikki opened the door to The Butler Art Gallery to meet with her friend and art broker, John. "When are you going to sell some of my paintings? After all, its been three months."
"Sorry, Nikki. I know youve been painting up a storm, but business has been slow."
"If I dont earn some money soon, Im going to have to get a j j job."
"Id pay to see that," joked John, "but I did sell one."
"Praise Hestia," exclaimed Nikki.
"Who is Hestia?" asked John.
"You know, I dont really know it just kind of popped out. Anyway, I am the happiest woman alive."
Over the course of the next few months, Nikki painted frantically and sold many of her works.
Back in Boston, Terry was wrapping up her engagement at Wallys Cafe. Accompanied by her big band, she belted out the last verse of a melody and thought of Nikki. "Close your eyes, make a wish and I will be there." The crowd roared.
Taking the microphone off its stand, she went to sit center stage.
"This is my last night and Id like to sing a song that is very special to me." She put the microphone to her lips and sang her heart out.
A love affair is a wondrous thing that well rejoice in remembering.
Our love was born with our first embrace.
The page was torn out of time and space.
Our love affair - may it always be a flame to burn through eternity.
So take my hand with a fervent prayer that we may live
And we may share a love affair to remember.
It was the same song that Janou had played on the piano in France.
The next morning, Terry eagerly hopped on a plane bound for New York City six months had passed and she was meeting Nikki. The short flight seemed to take forever. Will Nikki be there? Has Nikki changed her mind? Her doubts diminished and she grew excited when she looked out the window and saw the Empire State Building.
She had missed New York and it felt so good to be home. She hurriedly checked into her hotel and decided to visit her favorite boutique.
"I want something very special," she told the clerk, "something irresistible, inexpensive and pink."
"Of course we have that," replied the clerk, eager to make a sale.
The store manager poked her head around the corner and noticed Terry. "So good to have you back, Miss McKay." Miss Houston hurried around the corner to see what she had selected. Kenneth had always paid in the past and now the manager was worried about Terrys credit. Being the busybody that she was, Miss Houston called Kenneth, who told her, "Give her anything she wants."
Kenneth grabbed his jacket and rushed right over to the boutique.
"Id like to wear this out if its all the same to you." Terry quickly glanced at her watch and saw that she was running late. "Oh, my goodness. I must hurry." As she ran through the front entrance, she ran directly into Ken, nearly losing her purse.
"Terry its so good to see you."
"Ken, how did you know I was in town?" Miss Houston had a smirk on her face and it was obvious to Terry that she had called him.
"Well, I see," she said with a pointed glance back. "Its so good to you see too, but Im in a hurry." Terry exited the store, with Ken running after her. Once outside, Terry didnt stop, she just kept on walking. "Im going to be with Nikki."
Ken was left standing alone on the sidewalk. "Umm goodbye, then. I hope you find happiness. If you ever need anything like someone to love call me."
Terry realized she was walking in the wrong direction, turned around and rushed back past Ken. "I thought the Empire State Building was that way," she pointed her finger, "its that way." Terry stopped for a moment and grabbed Kens sleeve. "Kenneth, I just wanted to tell you well, thank you for being such a dear friend. I know its been hard." She kissed him lightly on the cheek and hurried away.
Ken rubbed his cheek where her lips had touched him. Smiling, he muttered, "I really do wish you happiness, Terry."
Terry looked at her watch again and realized she was running late, so she flagged a cab. Only one block away from her destination, the traffic was bumper to bumper and almost at a complete standstill.
Terry decided to take matters into her own hands. "Stop the cab." She paid the driver and got out in the middle of the busy street.
Tires squealed, there was a crash
Nikki was on the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building. "What time do you have?" She asked the elevator operator.
"5:10," he replied.
Oh, shes just running a bit late, thought Nikki.
Sirens were heard from the streets below.
Nikki paced back and forth all night and checked every elevator that came up, but Terry wasnt on any of them.
"Turn the boat around!" Terry screamed deliriously from the hospital bed. "Nikki, I need you." In Terrys haste to meet her beloved, a car had struck her when she got out of the cab.
The nurse gently patted the injured womans hand and told her to be quiet, everything would be all right.
With her wounded eyes, Nikki looked down at the dark city. The hurt was greater than she had ever known. It was cold and pouring down rain. She wrapped her coat about her and headed towards the elevator.
"Going down?" asked the attendant.
Nikki sucked in the pain and got on. When she finally got home, she collapsed on her bed and cried. It seemed she did have a heart after all, and it was broken.
Several days had passed since the accident. In the waiting room, the doctor told Kenneth that Terrys condition was serious. He didnt know if she would ever walk again.
"Does she know, doctor?"
Ken bowed his head, then commented, "Im not the one whose name she was calling out, you know."
"Does this Nick know whats happened to her?"
"No, Terry doesnt want Nikki to know. Can I see her now?" The doctor nodded.
Kenneth entered Terrys room and was relieved to see Father McCarthy at her bedside.
"Ken, isnt it wonderful, Father McCarthy is going to find a job for me." Terry smiled from behind the cast that covered much of her lower body. Even if it was an act, both men were bowled over by her optimism. "Thats the spirit, my child."
Everyone had gone and Terry was left alone with her thoughts. The smile slipped from her face as she thought of the past few days. She was certain Nikki had kept their appointment. Did Nikki think I stood her up? Is she okay? These thoughts disturbed her almost as much as her disability and unleashed a stream of tears.
Several days later, Nikki was on another ship heading to France. As she gazed out at the crystal clear waters, her thoughts were of Terry and she wondered what had become of their dream. Something else was tormenting her as well. The voyage that she was making was not a pleasure trip.
When the ship dropped anchor, she hailed a cab to take her to Janous. She walked through the garden - it was colorless. She walked inside the house - it was empty. She stroked Janous piano and heard that haunting melody. Misty-eyed, she walked to Janous chair and touched it. Then, she stroked the chair that Terry had sat in.
The house porter came in and handed her a package. "Janou wanted Terry to have this." It was Janous white lace shawl. Nikkis loneliness compounded, she clutched it to her chest and cried.
Terry glanced out the window of her new flat. The snow reflected off the Christmas decorations and children could be heard laughing as they played in the slick streets below. Her eyes were drawn to the silhouette of the Empire State Building, lights surrounding it on all four sides.
"Stop this, just stop this." She said as she turned from the view.
Months had passed, and Terry, still unable to walk, was confined to a wheelchair. She kept reminding herself of what Nikki had said - "I do not accept defeat." She refused to give up. She kept herself busy teaching music to the students at Father McCarthys grade school. She had a way with children and they adored her.
Nikki was back in New York meeting with her art broker, John.
"I see you were feeling sorry for yourself when you painted this one. Angry when you painted that one, but this one - you became a painter."
"I had a lot to say and I painted it." It was a portrait of Terry with the white lace shawl.
John smiled. "Im sure some of that had to do with you breaking off the engagement to Lewis. You know, people are still talking about that."
Nikki growled at him. "John, you know I love you but dont push your luck."
"Okay, okay. Im just saying "
The phone rang. John picked up the phone. He held the receiver to Nikki. "Speak of the poor devil. Its for you." John handed to phone to Nikki.
"I heard youre back." It was Lewis. "Would you like to go to the ballet tonight?" Nikki didnt feel like doing so, but she felt she owed him a final good-bye.
She handed the phone back to John who gently replaced it in its cradle. "Still havent lost your touch, have you Nikki."
"Goodnight, John and sell some of my paintings soon or well both be in trouble."
All through the performance, Nikki had the strangest feeling and kept looking back as if someone were there. As the ballet ended, Nikki and Lewis got up to leave and someone sitting in one of the seats dropped a purse in the aisle. Nikki picked it up and handed it to a woman sitting. To her surprise, she discovered it was Terry. She was shocked to see her, especially with Ken, but she didnt dare show it. They said a brief hello, and Nikki kept walking with Lewis.
After Nikki had gone, Terry burst into tears.
"Terry, let me go tell her," said Kenneth.
"No." Terry was adamant.
"The first time you go out and you run into her."
"Yes, and all I could say was hello. Well, I guess the show is over."
Had Nikki appeared just minutes later she would have seen the usher emerge with Terrys wheelchair to escort her out of the theatre.
Lewis had Nikki driven home in his chauffeured limousine, knowing it was the last time he would see her. He wished her a Merry Christmas and left.
Seeing Terry again had really shaken Nikki. When she had seen Terry with Kenneth it was as if someone had stabbed her with a knife. She couldnt go up to her lonely apartment and thought the cold winter air would clear her head. She wound up walking the streets of New York City for hours. Suddenly, she stopped and looked up there was the Empire State Building. She leaned against a nearby mailbox and stared numbly at the building.
Ken and Terry pulled up to Terrys apartment. Ken took the wheelchair out of the trunk, lifted Terry out of the car and put her in it. "Nikki would be disappointed that you didnt tell her whats happened. Why wont you let me tell her?"
"Unless I can walk to her, she will never know. Maybe I will get what I want next Christmas."
It was Christmas Eve and the children that Terry had been teaching were performing at a charity benefit. The doctor wouldnt allow Terry to attend - she had to stay home and rest. Her neighbor, Mrs. McGuritty, had stopped by for a visit and put a blanket on Terrys lap. Terry nestled in the couch as she prepared to read a book for the evening.
"You can have dinner with me and my husband."
"No, thanks. Just save a drumstick for me." Terry smiled as she shooed her away. "Now, stop fussing over me and have a Merry Christmas."
As Mrs. McGuritty opened the door to leave, she found a tall woman with dark hair blocking the doorway, her hand positioned to knock.
"Does Miss McKay live here?"
Terrys stomach fluttered, the voice was unmistakable. "Nikki?"
Nikki entered the flat. "Hello, Terry."
The neighbor said goodbye and left, eyeing them suspiciously.
If Terry could have, she would have leapt into Nikkis arms. She had to pretend not to be excited to see her. Casually she remarked, "Its good to see you, Nikki."
Nikki noticed Terry on the couch with the blanket and grew concerned. "Its good to see you too. Are you not feeling well?"
Terry continued with her charade. "Im just resting. Its been a long time. Please have a seat."
"I can only stay a minute." Nikki looked around the modest apartment and grew puzzled. "Is this the breathtaking view you told me about?"
Terry no longer lived in Kenneths penthouse suite and tried to make a joke. "The altitude bothered me."
"Ill bet youre wondering why Im here." Nikki paused intentionally, then added. "Well, I came to apologize."
Nikki plunged her vengeful eyes into Terrys. "I had an appointment with you and I didnt keep it."
The blonde woman was crushed, but hid it well. "You didnt?"
Nikki was hoping her words would wound, but she didnt get the reaction she had desired. She stood up and walked around. "No, I didnt, and I said to myself, that isnt a nice way to treat Terry and I should apologize. Dont you think that one should apologize if one doesnt keep an appointment?"
Terry was beginning to catch on now. Obviously, Nikki had kept their appointment. "Yes, I do think that one should at least say they are sorry."
"So, here I am."
"I thought so," Nikki shot back sarcastically.
"Ive often wondered about you and how you are." That was a lie, Terry had thought about her every waking moment since they had left the ship.
"Really?" Nikkis temper began to flare. "How considerate of you, Ive often wondered about you, too. Were you very angry that I wasnt there? I mean, you must have been angry at first."
Terry kept up the pretense, hoping it would give Nikki some satisfaction. "Well yes, at first I was angry and then I thought, how could Nikki do this to me who does she think she is?"
Nikki crossed her arms. "How long did you wait?"
"Hmm I waited until about "
"Midnight?" Nikki began to tap her foot feverishly.
Terry felt so sorry. "Oh my."
Nikki persisted. "Then, what did you do?"
"Then I got really mad, standing up there in the "
"Oh." Terry bowed her head; it was worse than she had imagined. "The thunderstorm."
Nikki was relentless. "Then what did you say?"
"I said, forget it, Ill go home and get drunk."
"But you didnt do that."
Terry was somewhat relieved. "I didnt?"
Nikkis voice cracked a bit. "Well, maybe just a little one, like every hour on the hour for about a month."
"Can you blame me?"
At last, Nikki unleashed her fury. "Enough of this charade. The least you could have done was send a note."
"Perhaps that wasnt a possibility at the time and then I didnt know where to send it?"
"But you swore."
"No, I remember we said if one of us didnt make it, there was a darn good reason."
"Did we say that?"
"Yes, and there will be no more questions." Terry closed the book in her lap.
"I walked all the way here and now I am not allowed to ask why you werent there. Isnt that strange, we used to read each others thoughts." Nikkis anger turned to sadness. "Its not the same, is it?"
"It doesnt seem "
"The same." Unconsciously, Terry had finished Nikkis sentence. "I know."
Nikki glanced at Terrys hand. "No wedding ring, I see."
Sheepishly, Terry covered her hand. "No."
"Well, I thought last night at the show "
"Well, I thought everything was fine until I saw you last night even if it was only an ocean we shared. So, I bought myself a ticket."
"Oh, you are sailing?"
Nikki delivered the final blow. "Tonight. You are happy, arent you?"
"Yes." In truth, Terry didnt want Nikki to ever leave. "And you?"
Nikkis voice cracked again. "Im worried that Im going to ask everyone I meet, where will you be in six months?"
Terry was concerned. "And what will you be doing all this time?"
Nikki exhaled deeply. "Waiting."
"But you cant go on like that." Terry longed to tell the grief-stricken woman the truth.
When Nikki had arrived, she had hoped that Terry would realize what a mistake she had made and beg her to come back. The situation seemed futile now and Nikki decided she had had enough.
"How would you like to change the subject?"
"Yes. Merry Christmas, Nikki."
"I brought you a present. Six months ago, who would have thought we would be spending Christmas together."
Nikki handed the carefully wrapped packet to Terry. "Merry Christmas," she said.
Terry unwrapped the package and found Janous shawl. She became sad. "Thats why she never wrote back." Reluctantly, she draped the scarf around her frail shoulders.
"I would have sent it to you but I didnt know your address until today. Janou said she wanted you to have it and thats the reason I " Nikki grabbed her coat. "Goodbye, Terry."
Terry was close to crumbling but thought about what was best for Nikki. "Goodbye, Nikki."
Nikki gently kissed her hand and walked to the door. She paused, her hand resting on the doorknob and turned back to look at Terry. She looked so gorgeous resting on the couch with Janous beautiful shawl draped over her shoulders.
"You know, I painted you like that it was one of my best. I didnt think I could ever part with it, but there wasnt really any reason to keep it anymore. So John said a young woman came in the gallery and liked it. She saw in it what I thought you would. John called me and said that she didnt have any money and not only that, she was "
Nikki glanced at Terry sitting on the couch and became speechless. In the excruciating moments that followed, she started putting two and two together.
"And I told him to give it to her, its the Christmas season and you know me, holly in my heart." Nikki raced to Terrys bedroom and saw the painting reflected in the mirror. She was a cripple. Nikki sighed heavily and her eyes welled up with tears.
She returned to the living room and found Terry in tears as well. "Darling, dont look at me like that." The young woman cried.
Nikki knelt down in front of Terry and said sincerely. "Why didnt you tell me? If it had to be one of us, why did it have to be you?" Then she took Terry in her sympathetic arms and held her.
"Its nobodys fault but my own. I was looking up it was the nearest thing to heaven. You were there. Oh darling, dont worry. If you can paint, I can walk again. Anything can happen, dont you think?"
Nikki grabbed her lovers hand and smiled. "Yes Terry yes "
It was snowing in Central Park. The chilly winter air breathed softly now and sang a familiar song.
A love affair is a wondrous thing that well rejoice in remembering.
Our love was born with our first embrace.
The page was torn out of time and space.
Our love affair - may it always be a flame to burn through eternity.
So take my hand with a fervent prayer
That we may live and we may share
A LOVE AFFAIR TO REMEMBER.
A love affair is a wondrous thing,
Zeta, Warrior of the Spirit
Return to The Bard's Corner