BODY AND SOUL
Part 1 of 2
DISCLAIMER: The characters of Janice Covington, Melinda
Pappas, Xena, Gabrielle, Autolycus and Lila belong to MCA/Universal and
Renaissance Pictures along with the television series XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS.
(Hercules belongs to Greek legend.) This story is written as nonprofit
fan fiction only and no copyright infringement is intended.
This story is a blended major revision of two short
stories: GODDESS OF DESIRE and MAD DOGS SACRED TREASURE (because they
go together), unfinished until now and not classified as alternative fan
fiction until now, copyright June, 1997. It is recommended that you see
the XENA SCROLLS episode of XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS before reading this
This story contains semi-graphic descriptions of
This adventure story depicts two semi-graphic romantic/sexual
relationships (one between two women and one between a woman and a man).
If any of the things mentioned above are illegal
in your geographical area, would likely induce nightmares during your sleep
cycle or you are under the age of 18 , do not read this story.
Chapter One ~ DISCOVERY
It was the year 1944 and the world remained at war with
itself. Two tired women waged their own war with the Macedonian weather,
perspiration beading their heated skin. During several years of working
together the relationship between these women had been tested many times
and grown stronger because of it. More than business partners, Dr. Janice
Covington (small strawberry blond archeologist) and Dr. Melinda Pappas
(tall ebony-haired anthropologist) shared their lives as they journeyed
the world in quest of the Xena Scrolls.
At first Melinda Pappas had seemed typical of a spoiled
southern belle to Janice, allowing wealth to place her above those who
had to labor for the things they needed. One look at Mels elegant attire,
precise makeup and hearing that heavy southern accent, and Janice pre-judged
her as having just about every elitist and excessively feminine (and therefore
negative) characteristic she could think of. Soon however, she began to
value Mels gracious, gentle soul. She found in Mel those qualities that
she herself lacked. Mel, who was childlike in her innocence yet possessed
wisdom beyond her years, presented a paradox for Janice. And Janice, being
unable to completely prevent it, loved Mel. She loved the southern belle
more than she did anyone, even more than her deceased father.
Janice had been without a mother early in her childhood
and with no woman in her life to take her mothers place, she had missed
a great deal of feminine nurturance although she chose to think of her
father as all any child could need. So what if he did not have a sterling
reputation. He had loved her and she knew it and so what else was there?
Love was too tender an emotion for Janice to dwell on yet she realized
love added something to her life. The closest Janice could come to putting
a label on that something was a sense of belonging. An anchor that held
She no longer felt alone because of Mel and that was
enough to keep ghosts from her past at bay. During those times when they
had been apart the past three years, especially the last year, memories
of Mel was enough for Janice to feel she was not really alone no matter
where she was or what she was doing. She felt connected with Mel even after
she had lain with a man, although those instances had become rare. It was
rare indeed for Janice to drink and lose herself in a sexual encounter.
Hard drinking and sex went together for her. But there had been none of
that for a long time. In fact, it had been longer than she cared to remember.
<Ill be damned! I dont remember at all. Is Mels virginity and near
teetotaling contagious? No...I cant blame her, although today Id really
After confronting her pride Janice came to appreciate
Mels money for the practical way it enabled their search for the scrolls.
Finding the scrolls had been her fathers lifetime ambition and one of
the few things Janice inherited from Harry Covington. She was as obsessed
as he had been about the ancient Greek legend of the warrior princess,
Xena. Perhaps even more so.
And Mel, who judged Janice to be arrogant and unlady-like
to say the least, came to admire her independent spirit. (Janice was a
bit arrogant and definitely unlady-like.) Janice had the ability to focus
on whatever she was after with a no-nonsense fierceness that broke through
barriers. Barriers that seemed impenetrable to Mel. In Janice, Mel found
the same combination of strength and weakness that she had loved in her
grandfather. The same charming quality that defied description. The closest
she could come to describing Janices charm was "earthy", but this did
not capture her magnetism and her passionate nature. Janice lived according
to a basic ethical standard without apology: work hard, do your best and
always tell the truth. Most people could not keep this outwardly simple
commitment but Mel believed that Janice always would. Integrity was extremely
important to her unusual friend, even more important than her relationships
with other people it seemed. Mel also knew that Janice had brief affairs
with men without benefit of commitment beyond a night, but she couldnt
think of Janice as immoral although it pained her to think of her friend
being intimate with a near stranger. More than a year ago Mel wisely began
to refrain from questioning Janice about her outings and miraculously,
she had not had to suffer the hated words, "I wont be back until the morning,"
for a long time.
And Mel knew that some people called Janice "Mad Dog
Covington" behind her back because of her wildness and the rumors that
she had killed more than a few people who dared to cross her in her travels.
Mel did not believe the rumors and had never given them enough credit to
ask her friend about them. She had only seen Janice shoot a gun in self
defense, the day they met. There were lots of bullets flying that day.
Janice saved her life. Mel felt safe with Janice from then on. She had
seen Janice physically fight a few times since then but always in self
defense and never to the death. Janice was clearly a skilled fighter but
she could not imagine her killing anyone.
Janice was one of the most moral persons she had ever
known. <Why, Janice is the most honest and forthright person Ive ever
known. Just like Granddaddy Simon, the good Lord rest his soul.>
Mel had realized soon after they met that she enjoyed
getting her way whenever they disagreed. <It gives me such a wonderful
feeling of power when she gives in to me...I dont really know why. Or
why I look for things to do for her. It must be my maternal instinct.>
Since knowing Janice, her grief over Simon Pappas death was no longer
a source of anguish in her heart. Mel had not given a voice to it, but
Janice was part of her family. Perhaps the most important part, since she
had few close relatives. But lately Janice was in a dark mood, too irritable
for Mel to be comfortable around. Perspiration stung the delicate tissue
of Mels clear blue eyes as she turned away from her friend to concentrate
on the task at hand.
Janice fumed and tried to put the image of a tightly
rolled cigar out of her mind. <How in the hell could I have forgotten
to pack enough cigars! If I had only known we were going to be at this
site forever and a day...I cant believe Mel doesnt know the sound of
that brush shes using on the clay jars goes straight to my spinal column.
How can she stand it?> Janice forced the tightly clenched muscles of her
jaw to relax.
They seemed to be in the right location to unearth the
"Tales of Ares" series of Xena Scrolls but so far they had unearthed nothing
but clay pottery. There was no stone vault to be found here. And the vault
housed the Ares scrolls. The month before, Janice and Mel had found the
last piece of an ancient map pin-pointing Poteidaia as the resting place
for the vault. It made sense that at least some of the scrolls could be
found at the site of the authors village. But then, maybe this was too
simple. Janice wondered if she had missed something perhaps not so obvious.
Janice calculated that it had been about a month since
either she or Mel had the pleasure of feeling clean and comfortable. God
she wanted a long soak in a cool tub with a big cigar. Her head ached as
she scowled in Mels direction. Mel became increasingly anxious with each
bit of increased hostility in her tough friends demeanor. It was not easy
walking on eggs every waking moment. Mel knew something had to change soon
or she was going to show Dr. Covington that a southern lady is not a dumping
ground for her frustration, or whatever it was that had her wound tighter
than Granddaddy Simons gold and diamond-studded pocket watch. She lifted
the last of the two foot clay jars to place it in a crate next to the others.
To her horror the jar slipped from her arms and shattered on the ground.
Shocked, she bent down and picked up a scroll that was yellowed with age.
Mind dazed and voice shaking, Mel unrolled part of the delicate parchment
and began to translate ancient Grecian symbols into southern United States
of America English. In an instant, Janice appeared at Mels side. "Mel,
I could kiss you!"
Mel abruptly paused in mid-sentence when she heard the
words and tone of voice so uncharacteristic of her friend. If she had not
already been sitting on the ground she would have fallen, she was so astounded.
Mel looked up into Janices face flushed with excitement. Ice blue eyes,
partially hidden behind a pair of black-framed glasses, locked with sparkling
green ones. "What? What did you say?" The scroll was forgotten.
"I said I could kiss you for breaking this jar. If you
hadnt dropped it we wouldnt have known that the scrolls were inside for
at least another month. Wed have to x-ray them to determine the best way
to open them...You know. Well we will probably have to do that with the
rest of the jars anyway. But here you are, saving us a lot of time and
frustration. And what do you want to bet the whole Ares series is right
here...Right here! Hey Mel! Good God, weve found them!" Janice bent down
and planted a quick, hearty kiss on Mels cheek before collapsing beside
her to gaze lovingly at the precious scroll in Mels hands.
Mel felt a lingering warmth on her cheek. She could
hardly believe the change in Janice. She had never seen her so happy. Euphoric,
actually. Janice would never have expressed herself this way months ago.
Mel let one of her hands move from the scroll to her cheek and tucked away
the awareness that Janice was softening. <And not a minute too soon.
My Lord, if she stopped smoking she would be perfect company.>
Chapter Two ~ AUNT HELEN and OTHER SURPRISES
Columns of white marble lined both sides of the great
hall at the Pappas mansion. Janice was trying to makes herself as at home
as possible on Mels turf. It was a much bigger place than Mel had let
on. It was elegant. It was formal. Janice wondered if she could talk Mel
into loaning her enough money to rent a warehouse to store the crates from
Greece. A place where she would be comfortable while deciphering, identifying
and categorizing their archeological treasure over the next several months.
It had been quite a struggle to convince the Greek government to allow
them to remove the clay jars from its jurisdiction. But by some miraculous
intervention and Mels money, they and the scrolls made it safely to South
Carolina. Now if Janice could only find a place that was not only safe
but also comfortable. No way was she going to make it long here at the
gilded castle Mel called home. <Home. Right. Sure cant picture a good
game of poker happening in this place. Or being allowed to wear my own
clothes.> "Mel, why did you bring me here?"
Mel Pappas entered the great hall in time to hear the
faint echo of Janices question. "Why I brought you here with me to work
in a comfortable setting Janice. What else? Besides, in all this time you
have never been to my home. Now I guess I dont have to ask what you think
of it...Can you think of a better place to enjoy the work we have to do?"
Mel stepped closer to Janice, pulling on her arm as
she led her to a velvet couch under a large picture of an imposingly handsome
man. "My Grandfather, Simon Pappas", Mel indicated by nodding toward the
gold-framed picture. "It was painted when he was in the prime of life.
Wasnt he something?"
Janice smelled the scent of fresh rose petals that radiated
from Mel. <I really dont want roses in my bath water.> "Yes he was.
You have his eyes."
"And his nose. We both had our noses broken right up
here on the bridge", Mel touched her nose.
Searching for signs of imperfection, Janice was disappointed.
"I dont see anything."
Mel took the index finger of one of her friends hands
and rubbed it down the bridge of her nose.
Janice felt a slight bump. "Okay, it was broken. How
did it happen?"
"Well, there isnt anything glamorous about it Im afraid.
I was running down the stairs, tripped on the runner and kaboom!... my
nose met the railing. Not at all like the brawling fight that broke my
Granddaddys nose." Mel sat on the couch and tugged Janice down beside
Janice smiled in a brief display if humorous warmth,
"I bet it hurt just as much, though."
Mel enjoyed the unusual display of sensitivity from
Janice and returned the smile with a bright one of her own. "So...Can you?"
Mels raised eyebrows added emphasis to her inquiry.
"Can I what?" Janice raised her own eyebrows.
"Can you think of a better place to enjoy the work we
have to do?
"Yes Mel, I can think of a better place."
"Well, not a specific place but a type of place. Someplace
I can relax."
Janice could see the disappointment on her Mels face.
<Im just being
"Now Janice just wait till youve bathed, eaten one
of the best meals this side of the Mississippi and met my aunt. You are
going to love her and shell make you feel so welcome that you wouldnt
dream of leaving. Just you wait and see if you dont."
"Hmmm. How long do you think I should wait?"
"One week. Just a week. Thats all Im asking of you.
If you still want to go someplace else after that then so be it."
"Can I keep wearing my own clothes here?"
"You had to think about it didnt you?"
"Uh huh. I thought as much. Mel, I am never going to
change just to impress people. You should know that about me by now. Weve
had the clothes conversation before."
"Oh my Janice, please dont take offense. Its just that
Id like to see you in something other than brown khaki and leather once
in a while. How about impressing me with some color? Would that be so bad?"
"Ill think about it." <I think Id rather stick
pins in my eyes. Theres nothing wrong with khaki, and leather just gets
better with age.>
"Really?", Mel beamed. <Success at long last! I cant
wait to get her into Mrs. Alexanders shop.>
Mels broad smile made Janice feel unsettled.<Shes
trapped me somehow. Whats she thinking?
Shes going to drag me into some fancy store and make
me buy some frilly girl stuff. Hell!> "I said Id think about it, Mel.
Thats all, just think."
"I heard you." Her smile remained. She had her prey
bagged and she knew it.
"Well, will you come with me?"
Mel could not keep the snort from coming to full bloom
in her nose. "Sweet Jesus! Of course Ill go with you. Otherwise youll
only buy more brown khaki and leather."
Janice rolled her eyes in frustration. "No Mel, I mean
will you come with me a week from now...to another place to live and work
on the scrolls."
"Oh..." Mel frowned. "Well, I dont know. Ill have
to think about it." Janice was clearly disappointed at her friends hesitation.
Facial musical pinched her eyes, nose and mouth closer together. <Sweet
Jesus. Thats almost a pout.> "Okay. Ive thought about it. Of course Ill
go with you Janice. If you decide to go. But Ill want to approve of a
new place too. You do want me to go with you dont you?"
"Well yes. Otherwise Id have to ask for a loan."
"Janice you know you can ask anytime." A tone of hurt
rang in her voice.
<Ive done it again. Why do I word things badly with
her? I wonder why she puts up with me.> "Well its more than that. I think
of us as more than friends. I mean we are partners...with the scrolls.
Youre a lot more accurate at deciphering them then I could ever hope to
be. It is more than a skill with you. You have a gift. And Id... miss
you... if you didnt come with me." <There. Damn that was uncomfortable.>
Mels smile returned. An endearingly crooked smile. And Janice knew she
had been forgiven. <Okay, it was worth it.>
Truthfully, Mel felt a bit shy at her friends extravagant
praise. <Extravagant for her.> "Thank you Janice. Id miss you too.
And since we found them together they are ours. Right? I mean thats how
I think of the scrolls. That they belong to us. At least for now."
"Yeah. For now. What do you think of the Smithsonian
as a final resting place? The Xena Scrolls are not American history but
they are exceptional."
"I dont know. Ill think about it." Mel did not want
to think about anyone else owning the scrolls.
"Okay Mel. So we will talk about going somewhere else
in a week. Now which way to the bath? I can smell more of myself than I
Half an hour later Janice was immersed in something
wonderful. It no longer mattered that she was surrounded by floating rose
petals. Before lowering her compact body into the deepest, warmest bath
she had ever been in, she found a box of fat Cuban cigars. <Im dead
and gone to heaven. Ha! Whod a thought!> Her tired eyes closed while a
satisfied sigh slipped around the cigar held in place between her pink
lips by strong white teeth.
Mel sat at a massive French writing desk in her bedroom
next to the garden bath occupied by Janice. Mel smiled with contentment
as she listened to Janices slightly off-key rendition of a bawdy song.
She remembered her granddaddy singing the same song to her. When her grandmother
reprimanded him for exposing their granddaughter to such a coarse song
he laughed with good humor and informed her that he was merely teaching
Melinda how to count. >From one to ninety-nine. "It doesnt matter if its
beer or bunnies. Numbers are numbers my dear."
Janices voice lowered until it became background entertainment
in Mels ears. Mel concentrated on the scroll. This particular scroll was
the first one rescued after thousands of years in darkness. It was an open
door to another time and place. It was history as recorded by the friend
of her ancient relative, Xena the Warrior Princess. Mel thrilled at the
memory of sharing her body with Xena almost a year ago. She remembered
the confidence, the passion and the power that belonged to Xena. For a
brief time it was hers too, as Xena battled Ares.
Looking at the symbols, she caught her lower lip between
perfect teeth. Then she began to speak the words the symbols represented.
She was reading a dialogue between Xena and Ares, the ancient God of War.
Ares had recruited Xena to help him reclaim his sword and with the sword,
his godhood. At this time he had no godly powers and was almost human.
He sought to seduce Xena into a longer and stronger partnership with him.
Ares asked Xena if she wanted the sword for herself:
ARES: "Youd make a magnificent Goddess of War."
XENA: "Forget it Ares. How did you get to be a god anyway?
Dont they have some kind of character requirements?"
ARES: "You miss the point. For the job I had, my character
is perfect. You know where you would shine? As the Goddess of Desire."
XENA: "I said forget it Ares."
ARES: "Well, youd be back in your old body and youd
get to live forever."
XENA: "With you? Id rather die."
Mels vision blurred. The symbols on the scroll began
to swim about on the parchment like the fish in the atrium pond outside
her bedroom. Mel placed her fingers over her closed eyes and lightly rubbed.
When she opened her eyes she was no longer alone in her bedroom. A dark
and fiercely handsome man dressed in black leather that clung tightly to
his wonderfully muscled body stood close to her. He began to speak to Mel
in a voice so wicked and rich that Mel shivered and closed her eyes for
a moment before she realized what was happening.
"We meet again Melinda. In a much more pleasant place
I must say. No tomb here. Yes. I like it. Oh, theres no need to fear me
this time. Youve opened my scrolls and brought me here...to you. We can
help each other. Beautiful Melinda, you look so like Xena. You have the
same passionate nature, its just been dormant in you. And now its time
for you to wake up."
Mel shook her head and reached out to touch the vision,
then dropped her arm limply to her side when she stared into his eyes of
darkly burning fire. "Oh my sweet Jesus you are Ares, here...here in my
"In South Carolina...?"
"Yes. It is me and this is where I am. <Wake up Melinda.>
I like it here. Its not Mount Olympus but it has appeal."
"My goodness....what ever do you want here? Xenas not
here, you know."
"No, she isnt. But Im not here because of Xena. Im
here because of you. To offer you a gift. All you need to do is say yes".
Mel was having trouble breathing. Her body felt weighted
down. "And what will happen if I say yes?"
Ares moved closer to Mel who trembled in response. Lightly
placing a strong finger under her chin he leaned ever so slightly down
until his lips brushed the hair covering her burning ear. She could not
move away. The smile on the gods face was wickedly sensuous. "You become
Melinda: Goddess of Desire." Mel was ill-prepared to deal with the mighty
Ares, the formidable and seductive god whom she had unwittingly called
forth from the tomb of his captivity. The gods extreme good looks and
delicious tone of voice were overloading her senses and taking a toll on
her grasp of reality. She was but a gentle descendant of the fierce warrior
princess. Ares looked into her beautiful eyes. "So what will it be Melinda?
Will you accept the gift of immortality? The power to create desire? Xena
was a coward. But you, Melinda, you are not." Again his lips caressed Mels
ear. "Say yes and together we will rule this world."
Suddenly Janices voice could be heard loudly in the
background. "Mel! Mel, come here. Im stuck in here!"
Mels attention shifted from Ares to Janice and back.
"I dont know why youve chosen me Ares but youre wasting both my time
and yours. I know Xena, remember. She was inside me once. She has more
courage than anyone Ive ever known. Go back where you came from because
I already have everything I need. Why would I want to create desire?" She
looked pleadingly into the dark eyes of the god.
Encouraged by Mels response, Ares dark eyes glittered.
<She is interested, although she doesnt know it.> "Your passionate
nature is waking up, my beauty. I will return tomorrow night for your answer."
He lifted Mels well formed hand with newly manicured, polished nails and
turned it over to receive his kiss. "Until tomorrow night." As soon as
Mel felt the tingle of his kiss on her palm he was gone from her sight.
Both relief and dread filled her.
Meanwhile, Janice was angry. <Where in the name of
Ares was Mel? Now why did I use that gods name? Must be the discovery
of the scrolls. Mel said shed just be in the next room. Why isnt she
here?> "Mel, I mean it. I am not playing around here. Im really stuck!
Hearing the pitiful cry for her she headed for the door
to the garden bath on unsteady legs and quickly opened the door. Janice
sat with her hand lodged in the drain, naked and shivering in the huge
empty bath. "Dont even think about laughing Mel. I think Ive pulled my
shoulder out and damnit to hell, Im stuck in here !"
Suddenly another door to the large flower-filled room
burst open. A middle-aged woman with an aristocratic aura stood in the
doorway, a question on her lips just before staring at Mel with curiosity.
"What is all the noise about?"
Hard as she tried, Mel was not able to prevent her laughter
from exploding into the room. Two pairs of eyes stared at her in astonished
silence. Finally able to control her breathing well enough to talk, Mel
cleared her throat nervously and tried to look apologetic. "Aunt Helen,
you finally get to meet Dr. Janice Covington", and with that simple statement
Mel fell into another fit of nervous laughter.
Chapter Three ~ ARES
Since she no longer had episodes of drinking and losing
herself in a night of mindless sexual adventure, food and kick-boxing were
the main sources of stress relief left for Janice. Anyone who witnessed
her eating style was amazed that she continued to have an athletic build.
Janice knew she would have to buy several new sets of clothes if she ever
stopped her daily exercises. But she loved the adrenaline rush produced
by strenuous physical activity and the relaxation that always followed.
<My waistline is not at risk.> And she loved the challenge of a good
fight, whenever she could find a willing partner. That was not often and
she was almost never partnered by the same person more than once or twice.
She was fast as lightening and her legs were powerful. She was small and
all the more dangerous because of it. There were a several people who were
no longer among the living because they had underestimated Janices ability
to defend herself. She was not afraid to kill if thats what it took to
survive during her travels. She had not had to fight so savagely since
meeting Mel, and for this she was grateful. Mel did not approve of violence
and Janice knew she may not be able to accept the violent part of her if
she were to ever see more than a few little kicks and punches. Putting
unpleasant thoughts away, Janice joined Aunt Helen and Mel for dinner in
the main dining hall of the Pappas mansion.
Looking at the long table laden with food, Janice knew
she was going to enjoy her good fortune and drown her anger at being held
captive by a bathtub earlier in the day. After all, it had been the biggest
bathtub shed ever encountered. And it had tried to swallow the golden
friendship ring Mel had given her before they left Greece.
Helen Pappas, Melindas charitable and wise aunt, observed
Janice wince in pain whenever she used her right arm reaching for another
helping of every item of food left on the long table. <How can someone
less than five and a half feet tall consume more than their height in food?
If she eats like this regularly she must have an extremely high metabolism
or she wouldnt have the kind of muscle tone I had such a clear view of
today.> Inwardly smiling, Helen recalled that her nieces friend was not
embarrassed by the exposure but she was certainly angry about being caught
in the grip of an inanimate object.
Janice had dislocated her shoulder and had a considerable
bruise on her hand. If it hadnt been for Helens surprising knowledge
of plumbing, Janice would still have her hand caught in the bathtub drain.
Helen remembered how relieved Janice was when her ring was recovered. She
had hugged the bedsheet Mel had wrapped around her tightly to herself and
finally replaced the frown on her brow with a smile as she returned the
ring to her finger. <The ring means a lot to her, thats evident.> "Tell
me Dr. Covington, how is your shoulder? Are you sure you wont let me send
for the good Dr. Anderson?"
Lost in the pleasure of being thoroughly saturated with
food, Janice heard Aunt Helens question as if from a great distance. "Huh?
Oh, its okay now. I put it back into place. Itll be as good as new in
a day or two. Thanks for asking but theres no need to be worried about
me Mrs. Pappas." Janice wondered why Helen remained unmarried since the
death of her husband, choosing to live in the largest mansion in the south
all alone except for house attendants and the times when Mel stayed at
Aunt Helen was not surprised to hear Janice brush off
her injury or the concern for her. <She reminds me of daddy. Why, there
is something untamed about here alright. She is almost primitive. Its
the way she looks right into my eyes so very directly and with such keen
interest. Soul to soul. Quite intense, this small one. Oh my, Melinda has
always sought depth in her relationships. And challenge. I imagine Dr.
Janice Covington presents quite a challenge to Melinda. I can see the attraction.
Now I have the answer to why she chooses to work with her instead of staying
here with me or doing anything else she has the means to do. But the day
will come when Melinda will want to settle down and raise a family. She
hasnt met the right man yet but she will. And then what? Sweet Jesus Helen,
where are you letting your mind wander to? Let the young ones live their
life without your concerns spilling out at them.> But Helen was concerned.
Melinda had eaten almost nothing. "Whats wrong Melinda? Its not like you
to be so quiet."
Mel shifted her gaze from her plate to her aunt. How
could she tell anyone about Ares without sounding insane? Janice might
believe her since she had met him once herself. What if she had dreamed
it all? What if she had only fallen asleep at the writing desk and had
a nightmare about Ares. She remembered the feel of hot breath against her
ear. A very vivid dream. The more she thought about it the less she was
inclined to share the source of her anxiety. Ares offering her the title
of "Goddess of Desire"? Janice and even her beloved Aunt Helen would never
let her live it down. "Im just tired Aunt Helen. Too tired to eat I guess.
Dont worry about me either. Ill be fine after a good nights rest."
Aunt Helen realized there would be no after dinner party
tonight. She had been looking forward to hearing all about their adventures
of the past six months, perhaps even enjoy a card game or two. But that
would have to wait. "Okay you two, Ill leave you to your own devices for
the night and see you in the morning. It is a...pleasure to finally meet
you Dr. Covington and I hope you will consider this your home for as long
as you like."
"Uh, thank you Mrs. Pappas. Your hospitality is just
as Mel said it would be. And please call me Janice." With twinkling eyes
she added, "In case you didnt know, Im not a formal kind of person and
I dont think of myself as a doctor unless I am presenting my work."
Aunt Helen smiled warmly. "I have gathered that you
are not the formal type at all...Janice. And I look forward to hearing
all about the work you and Melinda have been doing. Ill see you in the
Mel watched her aunt depart and looked expectantly at
A well known expression came across Janices mouth:
lips curled upward at the left corner in a half-smile known as the smirk.
"Okay. You win. She is as welcoming as you said. The food, your aunt...everything
here is great." <except for the demon of a bathtub.> "Ill stay, Mel."
For the moment Mel completely forgot her anxiety over
her dream". "Oh Janice, Im so relieved that youve changed your mind.
You wont regret it, I promise." Smiling brilliantly at her friend, her
clear blue eyes shone with happiness.
Chapter Four ~ LIKE A DREAM
The following morning Aunt Helens curiosity was satisfied
as Mel told her of the adventures she and Janice had searching for the
Xena Scrolls and finding the Ares series of scrolls during the past six
months. Janice enjoyed listening to Mels telling of it, throwing in an
occasional detail or two when Mel or Helen asked her for these things.
Towards the noon hour Mels lack of sleep was catching up with her and
Janice knew something was wrong but darned if Mel would confide in her.
She encouraged Mel to take a nap after lunch and thats when Mel reeled
in her prey. "I will take a nap if you will let me take you shopping for
Janice was trapped. <Maybe Mel isnt feeling well
because of the clothes. Hard to believe, but what else would it be? Damn!
Friendship can really be a pain in the ass.> "Okay Mel. Ill do it. Now
go get some sleep because I dont want to hear from you for at least a
The thrill of victory ran through Mel. <Finally!
But sweet Jesus, I am too excited to sleep.> In truth, she was sound asleep
a few minutes after laying down on her four poster bed. She dreamed of
Ares. Once again Ares whispered hotly in her ear, making her body feel
heavy. She tried to move away but found she could not. Then the wickedly
handsome face of Ares became the passionate face of her best friend, framed
with long strawberry blond hair. Instead of sparkling green, her eyes were
black as a moonless night. Janice moved closer. She enveloped Mels waist
with smooth, strong arms and pulled Mels hips hard against her taut abdomen.
Intense and raw, desire blazed from the dark eyes focused upward on Mels
full red lips. Mels heart beat wildly. A devine ache pulsed to life within
her, stronger with each heartbeat. She grasped Janices shoulders and watched
her lips advance slowly nearer to her own. She was going to be kissed.
Janice moved one hand up to the back of Mels neck and
ran the other around the small of her back, then down to caress her butt.
Janices voice was an alluring growl, rumbling deep in her chest. "Are
you ready? This is going to be so much better than a kiss on the cheek."
Oh yes, she was going to be well and truly kissed without
a doubt. "Oh my", she moaned and closed her eyes in anticipation of this
savage womans lips seizing her own. The deep muscles of Mels vagina began
to tighten and relax in a series of excited spasms. Her pelvis moved powerfully
against Janice. Uncontrollable sweetness filled her and robbed her of breath.
Tremors coursed through her as she waited...but lips did not touch.
Opening her eyes Mel saw tears trailing down Janices
face. Janice release Mel from her embrace. "Im wearing the wrong clothes.
Look Mel...Im wearing black leather. I cant do this. I have no color!
Please Mel, help me! Im stuck!" Mel grabbed onto her friends hands but
her grip was not strong enough and Janice slipped further away. She grabbed
onto the black clothes but Janices body slipped out of them and she disappeared
down the bathtub drain.
Mel woke with her heart pounding mightily in her heaving
chest. <Have I lost my mind? Oh, Janice...do I want you that way?> Reaching
under her dress she felt her wetness through the silk between her legs.
<Sweet Jesus!> The thumping of her heart brought to her immediate awareness
the extent of her torturous devotion. Surely this was not happening. Fate
could not be so cruel...Her best friend. <Such craving...Oh, such lust!>
Silent tears coursed down her own cheeks. <I cant let this be true.
I wont let it be true. Im not like that. Janice is not like that. Oh
my Lord!> Mel lay back on her bed. "Mercy," she breathed, "Im an invert."
Ever the observant scholar, Mel was suddenly struck with a revelation.
<I think I just had my first orgasm. Sweet Jesus, I KNOW I did!> Giggling
like the girl she suddenly was, her words were muffled by a pillow she
pulled to her face. "Oh my. I am one woman out of...whatever....." <Oh,
When her pulse returned to its normal rhythm and her
face was dry Mel reset her bedside clock for another hour, then changed
her mind. <No, I cant go back to sleep now.> She took a bracing cold
shower before dressing for the shopping spree that had lost some of its
appeal. <Relax. Nothing happened, you big idiot. It was just a dream.
Seeing Ares yesterday and almost getting kissed by Janice today...and wanting
a lot more...just nightmares. Im just really over-the-top tired. Ill
get a blessed nights sleep tonight and then everything will be fine again.>
Chapter Five ~ HORROR of SHOPPING
An hour later Mel and Janice drove through the countryside.
Palmetto trees lined the road and Janice knew they were getting close to
Columbia, the capital of South Carolina and its largest city. Janice took
her eyes of the road for a minute and looked at Mel with concern. "I really
wouldnt mind doing this another day...like say, some day next year." <Oops.
Not even a smile. Ive never seen Mel like this. She wont look at me.
I hate not knowing whats going on. I dont know how to help her.> "I was
thinking about buying a red velvet dress with matching red pumps...and
sparkling sequins...What do you think Mel?...Mel?"
"Hmmmm? What do I think about what."
"I am worried about you. Maybe youd feel better if
you talked about whatever it is thats bothering you."
<Not likely, my friend.> "Im just tired. Its not
like you to fuss over me." <I shouldnt make her suffer because of my
anxiety. Snap out of it woman.>
"Yeah? Well youve been so distracted its a good thing
Im driving or wed be in a ditch right now."
"You always drive", Mel looked at her and smiled.
<Thats better.> "And this time I have no idea where
we are headed so tell me where to turn before its too late...Do you want
"No", Mel laughed. "Im okay. Really Janice, Im alright."
"Uh huh. Hope so. Maybe you should have a cigar. They
always relax me."
Mel rolled her eyes. "The only reason I tolerate being
in the same room with the smelly things is because I would rarely enjoy
your company otherwise."
"True. And I tolerate your smelly things too, for the
"I dont have smelly things...What things?"
"What would you call the constant assortment of perfumes
you wear, if not downright smelly?"
"Dear Lord, my perfume is a fragrant bouquet, not a
"Uh huh...how about a reeking bouquet?"
"How about changing the subject because were going
to be entering civilized territory soon Janice."
"Is that a warning?"
"Probably...to any barbarians lurking around." Mel adjusted
her glasses and smiled with satisfaction.
"Hmmm." <Yeah, back to normal.>
Arriving at Mrs. Alexanders Fine Clothiers, Janice
was uncharacteristically nervous. "Miss Pappas, the presence of one our
our leading citizens is always an honor." (Mels father, winner of the
Noble Prize, had been almost a celebrity in South Carolina and his only
child was well liked by society not only because she was rich, but because
she had followed in her fathers footsteps by becoming an anthropologist
too.) After addressing Mel the saleswoman looked curiously at Janice whose
eyes scanned the shop from one end to the other before coming to rest on
the nightgown-clad mannequin beside her.
Touching Janices sleeve to gain her attention, Mel
smiled sweetly at the saleswoman. "And its a pleasure for my friend and
I to shop in your store. Janice, this is Mrs. Alexander, the best clothier
in the south. Mrs. Alexander, this is my friend, Janice Covington. We are
interested in looking at your summer outfits. Casual and colorful, please."
"Your timing couldnt be better. My summer order arrived
just this week. Ill set you up in the dressing room and bring an assortment
for you both to try on." Following Mrs. Alexander, Mel pulled Janice behind
her whispering, "Dont look so forlorn Janice, this really wont hurt you."
Janice grunted, choosing not to give voice to the pain she already felt.
Mrs. Alexander left them in a large open room lined
with mirrors while she made selections for the young women. Screens allowed
privacy as the two shed clothing, hanging their garments on racks stationed
"Thanks for coming Janice. Now relax a little bit and
you might enjoy this experience. The feel of silk is wonderful."
Janice glared. "What about sweat stains? Youve got
to admit its awfully humid around here."
"Perspiration Janice, not sweat."
"Perspiration...sweat...whats the difference? No matter
what you call it, it still makes those ugly underarm stains."
"Watch it Janice. We are in civilized territory right
"Whats so civilized about standing naked in a room
full of mirrors?"
"Put your underwear back on."
"Really? Thanks. I thought Mrs. Alexander told us to
"She said, Hang your clothes on the racks. Youve
never shopped in a womens store before have you?"
"Yes I have. Just not one like this. I guess I am more
used to mens stores.
Thats what my pop introduced me to and I am not complaining."
Mel walked around the screens. "No kidding. I dont
think those boxer shorts are going to go very well with your new wardrobe."
"Alright. Ill get some womens underwear. But the frilly
things dont last. You know after a few washes theyre shot to hell. The
material is too thin. Why cant womens clothes be more like mens? Its
"But consider the variety of clothes we have compared
to men. We have so much to pick from. I just love it! " Mel winked at her
friend, her good humor returning at last. Mrs. Alexander pushed two racks
loaded with colorful clothing into the room, one for Janice and one for
Janice cleared her throat. "Ahem. Mrs. Alexander, I
would like to see your underwear before I go any further."
"You underwear, I want to buy some...panties." <Even
the word sounds frilly.>
"Oh. Of course", the woman sighed. "I will bring a selection
to you. Ill be back in a few minutes."
"Alright. And please only bring white ones. And not
too tight, the bigger the better."
Mrs. Alexander left to do the bidding of her unusual
customer, hoping she would find something to her liking.
Janice smugly confronted Mel. "How was that for civilized?"
Busily adjusting the buttons on a classic yellow and
blue summer dress, Mels hands stilled for a moment. Thoughtfully she addressed
the woman across from her. "Not bad for a start...But youre still a yank
with a lot to learn yet before Id call you civilized."
"Dont flatter me so much or youll spoil me." <Tell
me how you really feel,
"Hmmm, I like that." <It sounds like an endearment
the way she says it.>
"Ouch." Coming out from behind the screen Mel twirled,
showing off the cut of the dress. "What do you think?"
"Even in casual clothing you look formal. Maybe its
because your hair is up," Janice puzzled, looking intently.
Taking off her glasses and removing hairpins, Mel ran
fingers through her long hair, shaking the glistening black strands free
to flow over pale shoulders and cloth covered breasts. "Better?"
<Shes kind of cute when her eyes are unfocused.
Hey, look at that...the blue color in the dress matches her eyes...sort
of...mmmmm...beautiful...> Janice was entranced.
Mel watched her friends face. <Is it because Im
not wearing my glasses or
is that a smile Ive never seen before?>
<Beautiful? Whoa! Where in the hell did that come
from? Good, thats how she looks. She looks good.> "Yep. I like it. You
look good. Thats a good look for you."
"You think so"
"I think so."
"Really? Youre not just saying that are you..to make
me feel good, I mean?"
"Mel, you know I dont just say things. I like your
dress!" <I feel
dizzy...sick. The lights are so bright...all these mirrors.
"Well good then," <Sweet Jesus! She was near to shouting
at me.> "Ill take it."
"Please do." <Breathe in...ahhhh, better.>
Mrs. Alexander returned, white garments hanging from
the rack she pulled to a stop in front of Janice. "And a red one for special
occasions." She revealed a red pair of satin panties with black trim. "This
can bring out a whole new side of a womans personality."
Janice smirked. "I think not Mrs. Alexander, but thanks
for the thought." Janice changed undergarments and reached for the first
item on the large clothing rack. A dress.
"Too colorful?" Mrs., Alexander inquired.
"Too something," Janice smirked again. <Yep, Im
going to throw my guts up pretty soon.>
Noticing Janices pallor Mel laughed gently and added,
"Too dangerous Mrs. Alexander. She wont allow that. I am going to buy
this dress and then Im going to help Miss Covington find something she
likes." <Poor baby! I didnt realize shopping for clothes would be this
hard on her.>
The clothier whispered into Mels ear before leaving
the dressing room. "I think your friend will need a lot of help. Ill be
close by if you want anything else Miss Pappas."
Janice dutifully held up a brown pantsuit. "This might
<You are so predictable.> "Yes. And we are looking
for color. Since everything else you own is brown too, lets look for something
similar in a different color.
<You make it sound so easy> Janice found one in black.
Clearing her throat, Mel shook off the ghost of a feeling
from her dream world. She smiled at Janice indulgently. "Color Janice,
"Black isnt a color? Really, I am learning so much
"Hmmm." <Brat, brat, brat.> Reaching for the rack
and finding a light green suit, Mel quickly removed it from the hangar
and held it up while Janice eased her arms and shoulders into the soft
material. The green slacks slid up her thighs and fit snugly around her
slim hips. "Perfect. Just add a short sleeved white silk blouse under this
and youve got a lovely new look."
Mel appraised her appearance in the array of mirrors
covering the walls. <Hey. Not bad. I could get a date easy. And no frills.>
"Yeah. It does feel kind of good. But will it last longer than one or two
washings without falling apart or wrinkling."
"Janice dear, have you never heard of dry-cleaning and
cold water washing?"
An hour later they helped Mrs., Alexander close her
shop after carrying armfuls of packages to their car. Driving home, they
both felt they had won the shopping battle. With Mels help Janice made
detailed strategy notes on the proper care and feeding of womens clothing
as soon as they made it home. It was complicated but they refrained from
trying to take each other prisoner during this severe testing of their
powers of endurance. Mel wisely decided to keep her suggestions about makeup
to herself...for now.
Chapter Six ~ GENEROUS FRIEND
It had been another long day. Night had fallen and the
air was cool, inviting the tired duo to remain on the third floor balcony
adjoined to Mels bedroom suit. They had just begun to relax and now it
was almost time to say goodnight. The breeze that gently ruffled their
hair carried the scent of yellow jasmine. Mels thoughts drifted to the
Ares scrolls. "I know were both tired but before we say goodnight, tell
me everything you know about Ares and Xena", she requested.
"Mel, you already know everything I know about Ares
and Xena." Nevertheless, Janice elaborated on her favorite subject. "Ares
couldnt accept the fact that Xena would not return to her warlord ways...to
him. She was his most skilled and passionate follower, obsessed with conquest.
Ares could find no suitable replacement for her after she chose to fight
against the very thing she had stood for under the mentorship of Ares:
oppression... the cruel exercise of power. So far the Ares scrolls have
shown us nothing different. Are you concerned that the scrolls will reveal
that Xena returns to cruelty?
Mel handed her friend a glass of her favorite beverage:
scotch whiskey. Straight on the rocks. Mel fixed herself the same, deciding
her usual glass of wine would not suffice tonight. She took a dainty sip
and gasped, "Sweet Je...<cough, *hack>...sus <wheeze>".
"It takes a while to adjust to the taste", Janice placed
a comforting hand on Mels convulsing shoulders. Mel glared at Janice before
sitting down. She regained her breath and her southern belle composure.
"No Janice. Im not at all concerned that well discover
Xena returned to her warlord ways...back to Ares. I just hoped you knew
something more about the relationship between them . Something I didnt
Now Janice saw a red flag pop up in her minds eye.
She reclined on a white whicker chair next to Mel and gazed into the the
quiet darkness. Taking a hearty mouthful of cold scotch she savored the
burn that began in her mouth and traveled down her throat. She pulled a
cigar from her shirt pocket and lit it. "Why would you hope that? Whats
going on that your not telling me about? Spit it out Mel."
Mel downed her drink without a gasp this time, prepared
for the fire it brought. "Nothing to tell really. I was only intrigued
by what I read in the scroll yesterday...When Ares offered Xena to opportunity
to be a goddess." She reached for the bottle of scotch and poured more
of the potent liquer into her empty glass adding some ice from a bucket
Janice watched Mel with increasing concern. It was not
like Mel to drink hard liquor. And she never had more than one drink of
anything alcoholic in one sitting. "I dont buy that. Whats up. Dont
put me off. You know you can tell me anything."
Unsure of the truth behind Janices words, Mel decided
to change the subject. "Ares and Xena arent what I want to talk about
right now." I have an idea that I want to talk to you about. It came to
me on our way home from Greece."
Once again irritated to find something beyond her ability
to control, Janice wisely chose to restrain her aggressive nature. "I know
what youre doing, changing directions here, but Ill bite. Whats your
Nearly finished with her second drink, Mel was already
pouring more of the mind numbing, inhibition-lowering liquid into her glass.
Janice couldnt help herself now. "I think youve had
enough to drink..."
Mel silenced her with a withering look. <This is
a switch.> "I think you will like my idea even if you dont like my drinking."
"Dont look at me like that Mel. Im not trying to be
your parent and Im not trying to be a hypocrite. I just dont want you
to regret anything in the morning."
"Well now, you just let me worry about how Ill feel
in the morning. Now listen. Janice, Id like to open a museum in honor
of your father. What better place to put the Xena Scrolls than the Harry
Covington Museum of Xena History? After all, he spent his life searching
for the scrolls. And if we put them in his museum, well...we wouldnt have
to hand them over to anyone else." Mel looked expectantly into the clear
green eyes of her friend, which was not as easy to do as it had been before
she had poured the last drink. She was beginning to feel quite good. <The
suit matches her eyes perfectly. Should I tell her that? Where are my thoughts
headed? I wonder. I dont want to have to wonder. I enjoyed seeing Janice
without any clothes today.
Shes magnificent. I noticed. Is that wrong? Oh sweet
Jesus, Im blushing. It
must be wrong. But Janice is like my sister. Thats
how we think of each other...thats how I love her. No! I wont be afraid
to love Janice just because of a nightmare.>
For several moments Janice sat speechless. What a generous
friend she had in Mel. Her best friend. She could not think of a better
gift than to be able to honor her father this way. She loved the idea.
And she loved Mel. Maybe it was time to tell her so. "I love your idea.
Thanks Mel. Thanks for thinking of such a public way to honor my father
and his work." Janice took Mels hand in her own. With tears blurring her
vision she gazed deeply into Mels ice blue eyes. "And I love you Mel.
I am so lucky to have a friend like you. I have wondered sometimes how
you put up with me...Why you put up with me."
Sensing how difficult it was for Janice to say these
things, Mel squeezed the hand holding her own tightly. <This is so good,
to hear you say it. And I need to tell you how special you are to me.>
"I love you too Janice. You fill a place in my life that needed filling
when my grandfather passed away." Suddenly laughing, "Thats why I put
up with you. You are so like him, you know. Did I ever tell you that?
He was strong in a special kind of way. There was a charm about him that
made you want to stay close, except when he got into one of his moods sometimes."
Now it was the smaller womans turn to blush. She did
not like feeling so overwhelmed by the words of her friend and her own
emotions. She could not remember the last time she had blushed. <Im
a defenseless pile of mush. Im mush! I have to get away.> "No, you never
told me that before...Uh, its getting late and I want to be clear headed
in the morning. Thanks for everything youve shared with me Mel. You are
very generous and I hope you never have cause to regret being generous
with me. See you in the morning." Janice rose from her chair and walked
to her bedroom across the hall in hope of escaping her discomfort.
"Never." Mel poured another drink and let her blurring
senses drift as her skin appreciated the cool air of this unusual South
Carolina night. "Ill never regret being generous with you."
Chapter Seven ~ ON MOUNT OLYMPUS
Providing a haven for at least one happy couple, Mount
Olympus cast a shadow over part of earth while the god Hephaestus and his
wife have a recurring argument. "Hephie, my dear husband, Ares may be our
brother but he is a coward. Hes wanted Xena for so long he gives the word
obsession new meaning. Why do you insist on helping him when it can come
to no good?"
"Aphrodite, my love, even a god has feelings...especially
a god." Hephaestus walked across a bright silver silver floor, his limping
gait marking him as unigue among the gods, and stands close to his beautiful
wife. "He was trapped in that sarcophagous for centuries. His heart was
broken after being betrayed by his most favored. Have you no love for Ares?
The mighty god of war, Ares, appeared before them and
flashed a toothy grin. "Thank you my brother." He looked innocently into
Aphrodites eyes. "Havent you missed your brother? I certainly missed
our intellectual discussions about the nature of relationships."
Aphrodite, vnever being one to accept scorn from source
felt her anger toward her bully of a brother rise to the surface. "Mount
Olympus has changed in the thousands of years that you have been entombed.
But you havent. You know, I am not sure what I missed least, your arrogance
or you cowardess. Why cant you just be grateful that youve been released
from your tomb and leave the mortals alone? We have other worlds now. Leave
Xenas descendant in peace."
His smile twisted wickedly and Ares crossed the room
to a table where he stopped and picked up a womans girdle made of gold
and silver. "You of all people should understand the driving power of love
Aphrodite. And I love what I see in Melinda Pappas every bit as much as
I love Xena. Xena betrayed me once too often. But Melinda is in my grasp."
Pulling her husband to her side, Aphrodite shivered.
"You do not know what love is Ares. But you might, if you let go of your
anger against Zeus like Hephaestus has."
At the mention of his fathers name Ares lost his smile.
"Do not talk to me of Zeus. His betrayal is worse than Xenas. Heph, thanks
for forging the Girdle of Desire for Melinda. Its power will bring us together
Hoping Ares and Aphrodite would settle their differences
in time, Hephaestus hugged nis wife closer to his side and smiled at his
intense brother. "May you and Melinda be as happy as Aphrodite and I."
Ares disappeared from the room. Aphrodite turned to
glare at her Husband. "I love you Hephie, but you really arent making
me happy right now."
"I know you disagree with what Ive done for Ares. How
can I make you happy with me again?" Hephaestus waved his good arm and
the room contained a myriad of tantalizing, erotic sights and sounds. "I
want the power of my love for you to be all that you can hold."
In disgust, Aphrodite waved her hand and the room returned
to its austerity. "Im really not in the mood for your lust. If you want
to show me the power of your love for me then help me bring honor to what
I represent to the world below...or ar least what I used to represent.
Love, not lust." Hephaestus looked at his beautiful wife and wondered if
he would ever be able to differentiate between love and lust. He limped
a fine line indeed. He would not ask his wife if she was just a bit jealous
that another would soon be know as the Goddess of Desire.
Chapter Eight ~ MOONSTRUCK NIGHT
Helen Pappas tossed restlessly. It was no use to lay
there any longer.. She craved companionship to pass the sleepless night
but would not disturb her niece nor Janice. She softly chuckled to herself
as she remembered Janice explaining that she was not the formal type. "Now
theres a perfect example of an understatement". She liked Janice Covington
and hoped she would stay on at the Pappas mansion. Sliding from her bed
Helen changed into a warm, casual outfit and headed for out of the mansion
for a peaceful walk around the estate grounds. She reached the eastern
boundary and decided to maintain her easterly course instead of following
her usual path. The night air was cool and invited her to continue her
A renewed longing for companionship washed over Helen
as she stopped to look up into the night sky. Stars sparkled like diamonds
against the black of space. A loneliness gripped her, causing her chest
to ache. "Ive been content living alone for years. Why am I feeling such
emptiness tonight?" <Maybe its time to get a pet. A big Great Dane
like Sasha.> Years ago a boy had given her a puppy that she had instantly
and completely fallen in love with. She had not thought of Sasha in a long
time. Now she yearned to feel the soft coat of hair and look into the loving
eyes of the large dog who had been so important to her years ago. The boy
who had given her the puppy had wanted had wanted to be her friend. But
her mother would not allow it. The boy was poor. Not even her father could
persuade her mother to reconsider. The boy was never forgotten. Everytime
she rejoiced in the pleasure of life with the heartful dog, she would think
of the boy who had given Sasha to her. And she thought of him tonight.
Saul. Suddenly he appeared before her, fully grown and middle-aged. "Oh,
Dr. Anderson, what a surprise!" Helen felt her heart jump and her pulse
The good Dr. Anderson was equally surprised. "Mrs. Pappas?
What a coincidence. I couldnt sleep and decided to take a walk. I was
just thinking of you and here you are!" He looked at Helen as if for the
first time, taking in her slim figure and delicate, aristocratic features.
Helen was surprised that she enjoyed the doctors attention.
A long-forgotten thrill ran through her lean body. "Have you noticed how
bright the stars are tonight...Saul?"
"Yes...Helen. And have you noticed the fullness of the
moon? Ive never seen it so big." Together the two began walking in the
same direction, although neither of them could tell if it was east or west.
All too soon the Pappas mansion was in sight. Helen looked shyly up at
Saul. "Would you care to join an old acquaintance in a nightcap?"
"Yes Helen, Id love to join you." His heart swelled
with joy, his eyes finding a particularly bright star that he had wished
upon earlier in the night. <Thank you for hearing me>, was the thought
he sent into the heavens.
As they neared the mansion Helen could see Melinda talking
with someone on the balcony. It was someone much taller than Janice. She
was wondered who her niece was entertaining at this late hour.
Chapter Nine ~ GODDESS OF DESIRE
Ares stood on the balcony with Melinda and wondered
at her sudden change in heart. He had expected to spend more time convincing
her to accept the gift he offered. She had summoned him, her voice sweetly
calling him in the night. "I am pleased that you called for me my dear.
Are you ready to say yes and be reborn?" Dark and dangerous eyes looked
intensely into unnervingly blue one that could not be ignored, even behind
Mel removed her glasses and walked closer to Ares. She
had sat on the balcony for an hour after Janice left. Her thoughts had
turned strangely dark after she consumed even more scotch. Janice had said
the right things but Mel could tell that tonight Janice could hardly wait
to get away from her. She thought of herself as plain and uninteresting,
someone who must be a bore to everyone, even her best friend. But it did
not have to be this way. She could say yes to Ares and become the desire
of anyone at her whim. She could create desires. She could live forever.
How could she anything but yes? She wanted to be the Goddess of Desire
and she wanted to be the Goddess right now!
"Yesh. I mean Yyyesssss."
Ares smelled the liquor on her breath and the mystery
was solved. But he, coward that he was, did not hesitate to take advantage
of Mels altered state of consciousness. "Then here, my beauty." He held
out strong arms and offered her the glittering Girdle of Desire. "Take
this and put it on. Together we will rule the world."
Mel lifted the gold and silver girdle, amazed at the
lightness of it. She held it up and the moonlight was magnified on the
surface of the precious metal. Impatient, Ares stood behind her her and
wrapped the girdle securely around her hips and abdomen. His hands began
to tingle with excitement. Mels body glowed and sparks of light shot outward
from her skin for a heartstopping moment. She was transforming and Ares
saw a glowing blue fire in her eyes. He felt an unutterable attraction
to Mel. More than physical. He yearned to possess everything that she was.
Even her thoughts. He pulled her toward himself, the heat of her inflaming
him almost beyond reason.
The sensation of of his lips on hers was unlike anything
he had ever known.
Just when he thought he could pull away, the craving
for her grew.
Mel was drunk in more ways than one. She knew the power
she held over Ares and it was an intoxicating power. She pulled her lips
from his and pushed him from her with one beautiful hand. Her laugh was
both soft and strong. She knew Ares could not control his craving for her.
"Thanks for the power Ares, but thats enough for now."
Ares was stunned at how like Xena she was. Her voice
even more purringly seductive. Her eyes even more expressive of things
that made him ache and want to conquer. He began to wonder if he was a
match for this goddess. The look of confidence and challenge in her eyes
told him she did not think that he was.
Janice sat in her room, a half-smoked cigar clenched
between her teeth. She could not sleep. She felt frustrated and irritable.
She had not been this tired since the discovery of the Ares series of Xena
Scrolls. She had driven herself on, unable to rest when she was so close
to her goal. <I mean our goal. Mel was driving herself pretty hard too.>
Deciding she needed fresh air, Janice headed for the balcony that adjoined
Mels bedroom suite.
Striding onto the balcony, Janice halted in her tracks
upon seeing Xena and Ares locked in an embrace. <I must be dreaming.>
"Sorry, dont mind me, Ill just sleep walk right back to bed." Janice
turned to leave but was held in place by an invisible force. She could
not move a muscle.
The Goddess of Desire disentangled herself from the
arms of Ares and stared at Janice. Looking at her friend with the eyes
of a god Mel knew Janices deepest desires. Even in her transformed state
was moved by the yearning she found in the heart with such a tough covering.
She felt sadness that Janices deepest desire was impossible. The mother
she lost in childhood could never be brought back to her. It was not within
Mels power. But...perhaps there was something she could do for this person
she loved. She placed a new name in Janices heart, beside the name of
her mother. <Helen.> Mels aunt had always wanted a child, why not one
fully grown who needs a mother?
The goddess felt a mixture of tenderness and apprehension.
In her drunken state she reached out to her friend whom she now knew had
never been bored by her. Janice had not been in a hurry to get away from
her earlier in the night. She had been in a hurry to get away from her
own feelings. To Janice, it was dangerous to say what she felt because
she was unused to tenderness and it made her feel weak. To her, weakness
meant failure. Janice did not know that tenderness could be an expression
of strength. But mostly it was dangerous for Janice to need anyone. She
did not want to need anyone, in fact she prided herself in not needing.
She survived a motherless, wandering childhood by learning to be independent
at all costs. And what a cost she paid. She could not acknowledge the depth
of her feelings or needs. Part of her was a stranger to herself, and kept
others at arms length. All this the goddess knew, and still she was drawn
to her. She smiled with the knowledge that Janice thought she was Xena.
Janice saw Xena approach her and wondered why she could
not move. <Damn! I really hate dreams like this, when Im trapped and
paralyzed.> The goddess stood in front of her friend. "Its me...
Melinda. I accepted the gift from Ares that Xena wouldnt.
You know, to be the Goddess of Desire."
Ares was in a hurry to be alone with Mel and did not
appreciate the Gabrielle look-alikes intrusion. <Thousands of years
and its starting to happen all over again.> "Come with me to Mount Olympus
Melinda. We have business to discuss. You have no need of your little friend
The Goddess flashed an angry glance at Ares. "Dont
think for a minute you can tell me what to do just because I accepted your
gift." She touched Janices arm lightly.
A tingling sensation ran up Janices arm. "I feel kind
of dizzy. Okay, youre Mel. Just let me move. You know I hate being stuck,
damnit!" Suddenly she was falling forward until the goddess caught her
in her arms, sending more prickling sensations through her.
"Here, sit down Janice. I feel a little dizzy myself."
They both sat in chairs and finally Ares pulled up a whicker chair also,
worshipping Mel with his eyes.
Janice struggled with her thoughts. "Okay Mel, so youre
you and not Xena. And youre the Goddess of Desire. Why? Have you lost
it? Youve never been attracted to power before."
The Goddess turned her head away, <She really thinks
she knows all about me.> "Hmmm. It had alot to do with a bottle of scotch
for one thing."
<Did I never realize how really beautiful Mel is.
Ive never seen anyone so damned attractive. Shes a knockout! Absolutely
gorgeous. She is a goddess, isnt she.> "Ahem...And for another thing?"
"Thats none of your business. You really dont know
everything about me, Janice."
"Thats pretty clear to me right now. Are you going
away to Mount Olympus with your boyfriend here?"
Before Mel could reply, Ares broke into the conversation.
"As a matter of fact, she is."
The goddess tilted her head toward Ares and shot him
an expression that caused him to lean back in his chair. "We havent really
Janice was awed by Melinda: Goddess of Desire. She did
not like the feeling. "You know, I liked you better before. I mean you
seem so...glitzy now. Your hair...your eyes...your body..something...no,
everything about you! Men are going to drool over you worse than they do
over Betty Grable. Damnation! I can feel myself beginning to drool to tell
you the truth! Is that what you want?" Janice desperately needed to kiss
Mel. To touch and feel her everywhere, body and soul. To make love. <I
dont make love, I have sex...with men. That is I used to...But shes everything
Ive ever wanted and Ive got to have her and show her! No, I cant!> Janice
strained to keep her hands from reaching for Mel. Perspiration beaded her
skin and her body trembled with desire. <...feel so weak...sick.> Never
had she wanted someone so urgently as she did right now. It hurt. <I
bet this is what it feels like to be gutshot. Maybe if I dont look at
her...I wont feel this.> But the Goddess of Desire refused to let the
archeaologist ignore her and hard as she tried, Janice could not turn her
head away nor keep her eyes closed.
Oh yeah?" Mels blue eyes were fierce now, her voice
tinged with an echo, unsettling to Janice who was suddenly aware that Mel
was fully a goddess. Mel was aware of her power over Janice and was ambivalent.
She leaned toward Janice, letting her searing blue gaze rest on her lips
before meeting her eyes. "Maybe thats just what I want and maybe its
not what I want at all Janice." <What do I want? I want her to stop
looking at me like that, with such pain in her eyes. I dont want to hurt
her! Im a goddess and she thinks she knows more than I do. Ha! Should
I tell her?> "I suppose you think youd make a better goddess than me."
Janice refused to give in. She spoke as calmly as she
could, a tremor in her voice. "I didnt say that...But now that you mention
it, this is my dream and you can bet your bottom dollar that Id make a
better goddess, sweetheart." The battle was on.
The goddess pulled Janice to her feet, quickly removed
the girdle from her her own waist and wrapped it tightly around Janices
waist. The metal instantly molded to her smaller form. Ares lunged to his
feet. "Melinda! What have you done? By all the gods, youve betrayed me,
just like Xena!"
Mel was suddenly enjoying herself. "Lighten up Ares.
Im having fun."
The transformation of Janice was astounding. Her hair
spilled onto her shoulders in strawberry blond glory. Sparks of light shot
off of her skin. Her eyes were ablaze with a green fire.
Ares was impressed with her beauty that had so quickly
exceeded his ability to describe. He felt an overwhelming attraction to
Janice and was appalled by it. He walked to her and pulled the cigar from
between her teeth. "Better."
Janice was aware of her power over Ares. It did not
intoxicate her. She wanted to wake up from the worst nightmare of her life.
"Get away from me Ares, or by God youll never have any more offspring
than you do already." Ares was mesmerized and could not help himself from
leaning toward Janice to reach her lips with his own. Using powerful legs
Janice kicked Ares high into the air and off the balcony. "Now that was
a great kick. Maybe its not so bad...being a god," she smirked.
Mel rolled on the floor, curled up with laughter, refusing
to let her gaze linger on the second Goddess of Desire, lest she be lost.
"You are so pretty Janice. But just a little too glitzy. The guys are going
to drool over you worse than..." Suddenly Mel could not move...nor could
she speak. She was paralyzed for only a moment, the time it took for Janice
to pull the offending metal from her body.
"Really Mel," Janice smirked as she held out the girdle.
"Do you want it?"
On this night, the battle of the goddess ended in a
draw with neither of them choosing to keep the girdle. Xena had been right
all along. The price of being the Goddess of Desire was too high. And so
Ares, the mighty God of War, returned to Mount Olympus with girdle in hand.
He had met more than his match in Mel and Janice. Aphrodite was right.
He could not replace Xena. After planning his final act of revenge against
her, he was finaly ready to move on. He would just be glad that he was
released from his tomb and make peace with Zeus. There were other worlds
to play with.
Helen Pappas and Saul Anderson stood side by side at
the alter in front of the priest. Just before the priest began to speak,
Janice and Mel heard Saul as he spoke to his bride to be. "Helen, you are
Mel gently squeezed the hand she held as she whispered
in her friends ear. "You and aunt Helen have grown so close. It must feel
strange to watch someone who is like a mother to you get married."
"Its wonderful, Mel. I have you, Helen and now Saul.
Youre my family. I couldnt desire anything more." <Ive put that painful
nightmare behind me.> "Me either...at least not today", Mel added in partial
agreement. She could not forget the bizzare dreams shed had not so long
ago . She wondered how many variations of the almost kissed by my best
friend dream would continue to haunt her nights. <I can talk with her
about anything but my dreams.
And Soul Part 2
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