The Liliad
Chapter 51
Drastic, Fantastic Lover


The tables were rolled away. The chairs were shoved to the sides. The mall was cleared for dancing. Refreshments booths were set up along the columned arcade. Wine and mead began to flow as strains of raucous music filled the air. It was party time in Ilium as the crowd spread out across the smooth tiles of the courtyard and began to move and groove to the beat of the drums and the wailing of the pipes and the horns.

"You ladies gonna get out there?" Elana and Oriena shouted at Thermodosa and the Themiscyrans.

"What do you think we’re here for?" Thermodosa shouted back, and off they went to twist the night away under the stars.

"Come on, girl," Elana and Oriena collared Thelestria, "grab a dame and stake a claim!" And off they went to boogie with their Amazon sisters.

"Where’s Oteri and Yakut?" Thelestria called out. "I haven't seen feather nor frill of either one of them since the day we got here!"

"Yakut doesn't feel at home unless she's rummaging around inside some old buffalo hide," one of the Themiscyrans shouted.

"Better that than if the buffalo was trying to work its way into Yakut’s hide!" one of the others shouted.

"Solari, Eponin, come on...!"

"You goin'?" Solari said to Eponin.

"I dunno. You goin'?" Eponin said to Solari.

"Eph, you goin'?" Solari shouted at Ephiny.

"I dunno. You goin'?" Ephiny turned to Gabrielle.

"You gonna go?" Gabrielle looked at Xena.

"You gonna go?" Xena raised an eyebrow at Velasca.

"You gonna go’?" Velasca shot a look at Lila.

"I might go if everyone else goes," Lila said.

"Y'all gonna stand around or y'all gonna go?" Elana, Oriena and Thelestria shouted at the pack.

"Amarice oughta be here," someone called out. "She'd go."

"Hey!" Thermodosa shouted from down by the bandstand, "are you guys gonna go or aren’t you? Looks like when the band starts playing, the Macedonian contingent turns into a tribe of wimps and wusses."

That did it. Amazon pride now hung in the balance.

"C’mon, let’s go!"

And off they went with a screech and a howl to show these Trojans that ladies of a certain persuasion were capable of having a whole lot more in the way of fun than just a couple, three bites on a partner’s exposed neck while they proceeded to dance the night away.

Lila cast an anxious glance at the portico that led to the keep where the entrance to the guest quarters was located.

"Not to worry, Lee," Gabrielle said, reassuringly. "She knows you're here. She'll turn up."

Lila let go an embarrassed chuckle. "Am I that obvious?"

"I think somebody looks like she’s falling in love, Lila, Lila, Sarsaparilla," Gabrielle smiled warmly and placed a tender hand on Lila's shoulder.

Lila looked into Gabrielle's eyes. "Maybe falling in love isn't such a good idea."

"It’s a terrible idea. Go for it," Gabrielle beamed.

"Gab, I'm scared," Lila said. "This is all so new to me."

Gabrielle placed her other tender hand on Lila's opposite shoulder. "Of course it’s new. Of course you’re scared."

"What did you do? When it happened with Xena, I mean," Lila said. "When you felt yourself slipping and sliding."

"When I knew I was falling for Xena in a big way?" Gabrielle said. "Well, to begin with, I went to a tavern and ordered everything on the menu and wolfed it all down until I couldn’t fill my face with another bite. Then Xena came in and gave me a hard time for being such a piggy. And then I got very sick to my stomach and threw up over everything, and Xena fussed and fumed and made me lie down until I broke in and said, 'You know what? You don't know anything. You're this big time Warrior Princess who’s been all around the known world, all the way to Chin and back, and you don't know anything.’ That shut her up."

Lila chuckled. "I was always able to sock more away at the table than you could."

"That’s ‘cause you're built different," Gabrielle said. "By the gods, Lee, Penthesileia is the luckiest woman in the known world. She has no idea how lucky she is."

"You really think so?"

"I know so."

"Luckier than Xena even?"

"Much," Gabrielle said. "You don't know the hassles I’ve put Xena through."

"Is that so, Xena?" Lila chuckled at Xena who'd come rambling over after the others, including Velasca, had gone bombing out to the courtyard to blow these partying Trojans away. "Does Gab give you a really hard time when it's just you and her under the stars at night?"

"As long as I do what your sister tells me, the two of us get along just fine," Xena said.

"And if you don't?" Lila grinned.

"Then my kicked butt stays sore for a week," Xena said.

Lila let go a delightful laugh. "I can just see the look on Mom's face. 'You were doin' the Warrior Princess a right good service, Gab...' That's what Mom would say. 'Knockin’ a lick of civilizin’ sense into them rough warrior ways of hers.'"

Then Lila, giggling, went trotting off to join the dancers.

"Seems Lila’s been bouncing off the walls ever since we got here," Xena watched Lila disappear into the mass of bodies that were shaking and shimmying to the beat of the band.

"She's been bit by the love bug," Gabrielle said, watching Lila go. And then, from out of nowhere, a little sob leaped up in Gabrielle's throat. "Gosh, I'm getting to be an old softie. Just like you," Gabrielle looked at Xena.

"I'm no softie," Xena grumbled. "I'm hard as nails."

"Yeah, nicely filed ones," Gabrielle said.

"Doesn't Lila know what Penthesileia's planning to do?" Xena wrinkled her brow.

"She knows," Gabrielle sighed. "She'll probably try and stop her."

"She shouldn't. She'll only end up feeling like she failed," Xena said. "And Penthesileia shouldn't be encouraging Lila’s affections."

"I don’t know that she is," Gabrielle said. "Besides, I've got a funny feeling about Penthesileia."

"Which is?" Xena said.

"It's only a first impression," Gabrielle said, "but if Penthesiliea hadn't been born an Amazon, I’m not sure she would have chosen to become one. I believe her when she says she wasn't looking to be queen. She doesn't strike me as having the kind of drive and ambition that Velasca has. Yet I hear that when she took over from Melanippe, she was a top flite administrator. Tightened things up at Themiscyra and got the place humming. Melosa never did that. Makes me wonder what it would have been like if Cyane had lived. She and Penthesileia might have made a good team in Anatolia, bringing the town Amazons and the country Amazons together."

"I bet they'd've been a great combination," Xena said.

Gabrielle smiled to hear that there was no tone of self-blame in Xena's words, just a simple acknowledgment. How long had it taken for Xena to arrive at that point? How often had Gabrielle had to stifle the urge to shout, at the top of her frustrated lungs, "Would you quit blaming yourself for Cyane's death?! You've atoned for it a hundred times over! You did what even Penthesileia couldn't do. You released them from Alti's curse and nearly died trying. Stop being such a bloody perfectionist before you drive the both of us crazy!"

Progress comes, Gabrielle said to herself. But ever so slowly. Especially when one is dealing, day in and day out, with the stubbornest soul that ever lived. Not that Gabrielle felt she needed to mention to Lila that particular aspect of being in love, given that Penthesileia's days on earth, unless she abruptly changed her mind, were severely numbered. But you say you want to know something about love, little sister? Well, here's lesson number one, and it ought to keep you busy for a while. Love means counting to ten and then counting to ten and then counting to ten again and then counting to ten once more and then, when you've counted to ten a bunch of times, counting to ten in case you haven't already counted to ten.

"So: you gonna hang back or are we gonna get out there?" Gabrielle said to Xena.

"What...? Oh. Nah, you go ahead. I'm not much for getting out there and doing stuff," Xena mumbled.

"Xena...," Gabrielle gave the Warrior Princess a steely look.

"Well, I'm not. You know that," Xena said.

"You dance wonderfully," Gabrielle said. "Didn't Tara compliment you on your dancing after we'd worked the kinks out of her village? And Tara ought to know, being as how she's possibly the best dancer in all these isles."

"Yah, well that was out of character for me," Xena said.

"Yeah, and so was Terpischore’s lyre," Gabrielle wouldn’t accept Xena’s excuses. "C'mon, it's Panatheneia. Who knows when we'll the chance to cut loose like this again. Besides, you look great in that plain white tunic, and your hair looks really nice the way it's flowing loose past your shoulders. I don't often get to see you looking so feminine."

"I feel kind of naked without my sword," Xena looked around at the crowd where most bodies were dancing to the music while a few were cozily at rest in shaded alcoves and shadowed loggiae. The war and the Argive forces seemed, in the instant, to be oceans and eons away.

"Well," Gabrielle said, "since you won't be needing your sword for at least another candlemark, if not for the whole rest of the night, there’s no reason why you can’t loosen up and let yourself have some fun. C'mon, I wanna cut loose."

"There's a sea of people out there you can dance with," Xena still held back.

"I don't wanna dance with a sea of people. I wanna dance with you," Gabrielle pressed the point.

Xena rolled her eyes in bashful exasperation.

"Hey, whatever Gabrielle wants, Gabrielle gets, remember?" Gabrielle teased.

"Yes, and sometimes it can be very irritating," Xena fussed.

"Well, this irritating blonde wants you, honey. And if I can't have you, I don't want nobody, baby...," Gabrielle reached for Xena's hand and, taking hold of it, lead her into the massive pool of the rollicking dancers.

Being led, Xena got a bit flustered and actually started to blush, though she seemed powerless to prevent Gabrielle from leading her further into the hip hop of the lantern-lit courtyard.

"The sun may rise and set and the moon may wax and wane, but my love for you isn't gonna change," Gabrielle turned around and faced her Warrior Princess, white tunic facing white, sea blue eyes facing ice blue, short, brushy blonde hair facing long, flowing black. "If you don't know that by now...," Gabrielle placed her hands on Xena's hips, just as the music slowed to a soft, dreamy pace. They began to undulate together as Xena, perhaps in spite of herself, began to respond to Gabrielle's warm, swaying receptiveness; putty, truth to tell, in Gabrielle's hands, even as Gabrielle's love-filled eyes began to twinkle and her mouth made little puckering movements while she looked up into Xena's face with joy in the look on her own face, the power of her love drawing and funneling Xena's initial awkwardness into the drain of Gabrielle's confidence in the goodness and strength of their connection, " will never, never, never know me..." Though you do. Know me. In and out the window of me. Open and through the door of me. Since the day you walked into my life and set the heavens ablaze with the fire of your being near me; and from that day to this, cheek to cheek and breast to breast, arms around the melding, pulsing flesh of us...

And If you don't know me by now...

The crowd was bumping and grinding its way to the nether parts of the evening, getting tipsier by the turn of the sandglass, the pace growing wilder, the rhythm more insistent, the rising slope of ecstasy pitching ever steeper for the aficionados of Cybele. In the crush and sway of striving bodies, no one noticed the quiet arrival of a tall, slender, striking young woman whose bronze skin and straight black hair, falling loosely down her back, contrasted sharply with her simple, white, sleeveless top and short skirt. She was trim and muscular, small-breasted and lean-legged with an athlete's figure and a dancer's graceful bearing. She wore brown sandals and, barely noticeable in the wide, backward sweep of her hair, a thin band speckled with seven barely visible glints of light: diamonds, hard as a will that would not, for the world, be shaken from its resolve.

The young woman peered at the crowd as though searching for a face while not wanting to be seen or diverted from her purpose. A mildly troubled look spread over her wide, lovely features, the broad nose, full lips, fine chin, strong cheeks, eyes that, like the wheel of a whistling sparkler, rapidly changed colors in the night. Music blared from the stage. Bodies, crammed together, perambulated in waves: here a piercing cry, there a languid moan as hands and breasts and sundry baser parts found keen and sensitive ways to unite the longing of one soul with the passion of another. Ilium itself, it seemed, was spewing the seed of its love into a night sky as stippled with mystery as the senses of these partygoers were asperged with drops, then trickles, then deep quenching gulps of wine and mead.

And then a smile bloomed on her dark face -- warm, thrilling, gracious -- as a second young woman of a much fairer complexion emerged from the sea of the dancers distinctly to cross the newcomer's flickering line of vision. She was shorter, rounder, a bit more full in the breasts and hips; her facial features pretty, fleshy, softly inviting; her hair long, dark and buoyant most of the way down the narrows of her back. Her face was lit with a smile as she drew near. She extended a beckoning hand which was warmly grasped and held by the taller woman who gazed, with unabashed attraction and desire, into the shorter woman's deep blue eyes, eyes so blue they were treading on purple, eyes that gave back that attraction and desire so that words to that effect would merely have been redundant.

"I've been keeping an eye out for you," Lila said over the noise of the drums, pipes and horns.

"And I, you," Penthesileia replied with her customary graciousness.

"The ceremony's over, and everyone's... as you see," Lila gestured toward the crowd.

"Rocking and socking and getting quite carried away," Penthesileia smiled.

"Pretty much," Lila said. "It's like thesmophoria in Poteidaia only on a much grander scale. There's more drinking and drugging and carrying on here. Most of the Corybantes are dancing naked, and I see that a lot of the crowd is following suit... climbing out of their suits, actually."

"Where are the others?" Penthesileia shouted over the noise level.

"Out in the courtyard," Lila cried. "Even Xena's out there somewhere. And no one's drawn a knife or a sword or tried to skewer anyone. Except for the young man whom they castrated."

"Yes, they do that," Penthesileia said. "Were you shocked?"

"Very," Lila said. "I was shocked by the entire spectacle, to tell the truth. I've never seen people engage publicly in sexual intercourse. Where I come from, it would touch off a riot and they'd be immediately arrested."

"Perhaps I should have warned you," Penthesileia said.

"It's probably as well that you didn't," Lila said. "When in Rome... Troy, I suppose, it seems pointless to run and hide from the Trojans. Why leave home to see the world in that case?"

"Good point," Penthesileia said.

"Shall we dance? I've been looking forward to it all day," Lila said.

"I have too," Penthesileia said.

Lila noticed that she was still holding Penthesileia's hand. "Want it back?" Lila chuckled, raising their joined hands to eye level.

"No, you hang on to it," Penthesileia said. "Just be sure and take the rest of me with it."

"Come on, then," Lila said joyfully and began to lead Penthesileia out to the part of the courtyard where the heart of the dancing was going on.

"Hi, Penny!" a voice shouted as they wove their way through the mass of shaking, writhing bodies.

"Hi, Pen!"

"Pehh-neee, woo hoo...!"

"Penny, Penny, bo Benny, bo nana bana, bo Fenny..."

"Pehhn-cil, Pehhn-cil, Pencil-vayyynia...," someone, blitzed on the Marsala, sang to the tune of "The Eyes of Trachis Are Upon You..."

"Do you know these people?" Lila asked as they jostled closer to the bandstand.

"Some of them," Penthesileia said. "I doubt I'd recognize them all."

"They seem to know who you are," Lila said.

"I imagine they might," Penthesileia said. "A dozen Amazons, riding at full tilt through the gates, on horseback, armed to the teeth with sword and shield, does tend to make an impression."

"The entrance that Thermodosa and the others made at the banquet on the night we got here," Lila said. "I don't know if you noticed but when your Amazons came waltzing into the hall, they took people's breath away."

"I recall that a young woman, accompanying her sister who claimed to be the queen pro tem of the Macedonian Amazons, came waltzing into the hall that night and promptly took my breath away," Penthesileia smiled.

"You know that the feeling was mutual," Lila turned to face Penthesileia. "And, on my part, only grows deeper. You look beautiful tonight. As you did yesterday and the day before."

"And you, my dear, have no equal in that department," Penthesileia said. "I'm a lucky girl to be paid such warm attention to."

"Dance with me. Let me feel you close to me," Lila stepped up to Penthesileia and began to move with the beat.

Penthesileia beamed a lantern-like smile and responded in kind, the two women starting to work out the day's knots and kinks on the dance floor.

"What're you smiling at?" Lila shouted as the music filled the space around and between them.

"You!" Penthesileia cried.

"Why me?" Lila shouted, smiling back.

"I've said it before," Penthesileia had to speak loudly to be heard. "You're either very pure or very bold."

"Bold? Me? No way! I'm as meek as a clam!" Lila, too, had to raise her voice.

Penthesileia laughed. "Until you stumble upon something you want."

"Or someone," Lila said with a twinkle as she and Penthesileia, to more than a few upturned eyebrows, gathered momentum and began to dance up a storm.

In the dimness of the huge mall, obscured by the long, wide shadows cast by the upper tiers of the palace, Lila and Penthesileia blended anonymously into the mass of moving bodies. In the final days of a long and bloody war, Ilium was once again taking time out to play. For the better part of a candlemark, Lila and Penthesileia, in tandem with the other dancers, snaked around the mall and courtyard, working up a sweat and letting tight muscles relax and loosen in the rapid sway of the music. Gradually, the dancers worked themselves into a trance. Some went wild and got unruly. Others became mellow and simmered down. Still others withdrew into their own private spaces many of which radiated waves of pleasure and delight.

Then the pace of the music lightened. The volume and rhythm toned down as the slow dancing got underway. With smiles on their faces and eyelids half closed, Lila and Penthesileia melted into one another's arms and began to sway and swoon as one. Lila, being shorter, eased her arms around Penthesileia's ribs and, with the palms and fingers of her hands upturned, she ran her hands along Penthesileia's back to just below the shoulder blades. Penthesileia gently swept her arms around Lila's round shoulders, held Lila by the shoulder blades and brought Lila close in to her breasts. And so they danced, breasts on breasts, hips grazing hips, Lila's crotch rubbing against Penthesileia's thigh, Lila's cheek resting against the crook of Penthesileia's neck as Penthesileia tilted her head slightly forward, the women's long, dark hair brushing, intermingling on each other's warm, flush faces.

"Mm...," went Lila.

"Mm...," went Penthesileia.

"Mm...," went the earth from pole to pole as time rocketed by while Ilium, the broad Aegean, the known world fell away and it was only slow dancin', swayin' to the music, slow dancin', me and my girl...

A turn of the sandglass -- the elapse of a century -- later, Penthesileia withdrew her cheek slightly and leaned lightly back in Lila's embrace, the strands of her hair, mildly matted with the damp residue of an earlier sweat, her lips seeking Lila's lips, and Lila's lips softly and joyously responding to Penthesileia's lips as their eyes closed and their lips, silently meeting, spoke volumes of you are here and so am I; maybe millions of people go by; but they all disappear from view... because, if the nipple on the breast was, as some mystical traditions had it, the window into the heart, I only have eyes for you...

Lila's orgasm began in the soles of her feet and proceeded north to her ankles and the tingle of her shins and the light twitching of her calves. It swept slowly up the back of her thighs and over her buttocks to sink deeply into the small of her back where it enflamed her first chakra, reddening it to a furnacing glow. As it rose up her back it curved around to her breasts, stiffening her nipples to a tender, almost painful hardness. It streamed down her arms, causing them to sag and lose tone and then her hands to go limp and lose contact with her fingers. At the same time, it wended its way up into her throat and slackened her jaw until it reached the crown chakra at the top of her skull, nearly causing her to faint as she hung, knees too weak to stand, arms too lax to grip, in Penthesileia's arms, pitched slightly forward against Penthesileia's body as the surge between her legs and deeper up the channel of her womb pulsed and heaved and erupted with a force that Lila had never felt before, hadn't dreamed possible, as a long, lurid wail emerged from the gorge of her throat and her eyes went blank and everything she was, at the root of her being, came laboring up to birth itself upon the object of its love and reverence.

"Oh, my dear... Oh, my darling...," Penthesileia murmurred and held Lila very tight.

"Hold me...," Lila softly stammered.

"Yes, my love, I have you... I have you...," Penthesileia whispered.


"I'm holding you, my love...," Penthesileia gripped Lila with intense, circumambient force, all her muscles pure, flexed fiber in the instant, not a fleck of ambiguity in them.

"Ohh..., Ohh...," Lila's face wrinkled and frowned as though she were in pain. Her breath came in starts and she continued to convulse from her shoulders to her shins.

"Come to me, my darling; let it come...," Penthesileia held Lila tighter than Lila had been held since she'd been a small child.

"Ohh, yes...," Lila moaned, her eyes squinching and head nodding and innards roiling and the gulf between her legs rushing forward like a tardy tide being hurried along by an impatient moon. "Yes..."

"Yes...," Penthesileia held and stroked the back of Lila's head and her hair along and below Lila's shoulders. "Oh, yes, yes, yes..."

Lila began to rock slightly back and forth in Penthesileia's fabulously strong arms. Lila's chest made little jerky motions and her head bobbed to the side. Her knees buckled but she didn't need them to stand. Penthesiliea held her fast. Slowly, very slowly, the waves of Lila's passion began to be less toweringly crested and then they started to recede ever so slightly, her breath less gaspy, her face less contorted, her extremities gradually regaining their feeling and then a small measure of their strength.

With her cheek resting against Penthesileia's breast below the collar bone, Lila leaned against her sole means of support and gave herself the chance to breathe, eyes still closed, lips still moist, the scent of the woman holding, uplifting, validating her still flooding Lila's senses -- the scent of gardenia on skin that, just before her arrival at the dance, had been freshly bathed and lotioned.

The music was still playing. The dancers were still gently embracing, softly swaying. The world -- however much or little there may have been of it -- was still apparently there.

"What just happened?" Lila said softly, slipping a forearm up and around Penthesileia's neck and the opposite hand up to stroke Penthesileia's cheek.

"You gave me a gift, Lila; a more wonderful gift than I've ever been given," Penthesileia said with great tenderness. "My darling, I would give my life to protect and defend that gift. You have flooded me, my love, and I believe that I'm going to drown in the depths."

"I've never felt anything like this," Lila whispered. "I want to tear open our bodies, like ripping out a line of stitches on my enaretes kores dress, and then to blend all our tissues and organs together and sew us back up inside the same skin."

"I want that too, Lila," Penthesileia whispered, "I want that too."

They kissed -- fervently. But it seemed far too gross a way to express what they were feeling for one another.

"Let's go back to your quarters," Lila looked up into Penthesileia’s straw-gold... lime-green eyes.

"Right now?" Penthesileia said.

"Yes," Lila said.

With Penthesileia’s arm around Lila's shoulder and Lila's arm around Penthesileia's waist, the pair left the mall and courtyard oblivious or indifferent to the eyes that may have been following their retreat. And quite a few eyes were indeed pursuing them. Deiphobus folded his arms and sighed. Why, he fulminated, are all the good ones either taken, uninterested or otherwise unavailable? Cassandra watched from the balcony above the arched portico and smiled a wide-mouthed smile with enough sparkling teeth in it to move the passions of even the most erotically lackadaisical god. Ephiny and Velasca exchanged curious glances. Each wondered how this liaison might be effecting Gabrielle who looked on with mixed emotions, hoping that, regardless of her own ambivalent feelings, Xena wouldn't say anything to pour cold water on this plainly visible fire, which Xena, thankfully, refrained from doing. Thermodosa and the other Themiscyran Amazons also watched with mixed emotions. They had come to Ilium to spend a fortnight, certainly no more than two, and then to give themselves up to post-mortal glory. The thought of their queen falling in love during that final interval of the time they had left on earth hadn't entered into the equation.

Lila and Penthesileia passed into the dark shadows of the parterre where the air was fragrant with the last of the season's mock orange and honeysuckle. Then they entered the guest wing of the palace, made their way down the corridor to the Amazons' suites and, passing through the large apse in one of whose tessellated recesses was situated the shrine to Demeter where they'd met, they ascended, with the aid of torchlights burning in their metal wall brackets, a flight of stairs to Penthesileia's apartments. Ghisella greeted them when they came streaming in, arm in arm, but they hardly noticed and may not have acknowledged her, leaving her to make a peremptory curtsey and then to give them a sour look behind their backs before dutifully disappearing.

"Lila, come look," Penthesileia, bursting into the dark bed chamber, twirled, in joyful arabesque, over to the open casement. "You can see the last sliver of Selene's waxing bow in the western sky. In a few turns of the sandglass, she'll be gone."

Lila came to join Penthesileia at the casement. Noise from the horns and reeds along with the pall of a tepid, orange glow from the strung lanterns were mildly audible and slightly visible from down in the mall and courtyard. Then Lila turned to Penthesileia with a smile and said, "Yesterday, not ten paces from this spot, you slipped off my chiton and dressed me in one of your peploi. Tonight, it's my turn to help you out of your tunic and I intend to dress you in nothing."

So saying, Lila reached for Penthesileia's slim waist, undid the sash which secured the draped top of her tunic, reached her hand into the parting cleavage and embraced both of Penthesileia's braless breasts with the smooth caress of her warm, inviting hands. Penthesileia's nipples instantly stiffened, and, in the next instant, Lila's hands swept the draped blousing material apart and scooted it down Penthesileia's long, brown arms until it fell away, leaving Penthesileia standing bare-breasted at the open casement with the tips of both her nipples puckering and, now that they'd been exposed to the retreating moonlight, wanting to be kissed.

"Now the skirt," Lila said and proceeded apace. A soft gesture later, Penthesileia stood at the window in only her panties and, in another instant, with an "ah, ah, ah..." as Lila insisted on doing the job herself, Penthesileia stood there in the nude, a sculptor's model in bronze; lean, long-legged, lanky-armed, tiny-breasted, her hips narrow, her crotch small but lovely, her face wide, full and enticing.

"I think we'd better go lie down," Lila said. "You are so beautiful that, in another turn of the sandglass, I may very likely pass out from the sheer, glorious sight of you."

"We're only partially undressed," Penthesileia said as she stepped up to Lila and helped Lila out of her own freshly laundered tunic.

"There," Penthesileia smiled when Lila was at last standing nude in front of her. "I daresay that you're not the only one in this room who's weak in the knees at the sight of overwhelming beauty, my dear. If my grasping pulse and greedy heart weren't, at this instant, shouldering my admiring eyes aside, I could be content to gaze at and worship you in silence until the ratcheting light of day."

Then Penthesileia took Lila and kissed her passionately, tongues and teeth snarling their mounting desire at one another. Hardly knowing whether they were moving under their own power or were being wafted on the wings of something divine, they edged their way to the bed, even as they remained clasped in one another's arms. Penthesileia gently laid Lila down and then reclined next to her, reaching for a light coverlet to shield their exposed skin from the cool touch of the night air.

The confusion which her powerful desire had been triggering in Lila, the fear that she'd lately confessed to Gabrielle, drained completely away as Penthesileia, supporting her weight on one elbow, caressed Lila's face with her free, strong hand and eased the pressure of her body forward and down onto Lila's upturned body, kissing Lila both fiercely and gently; lips fierce, tongue gently on tongue within the lips' fierce parting. Lila gave and gave with each stroke and caress, her own arms wrapped around Penthesileia's straining shoulders, bearing those shoulders and breasts more and more firmly down against her own breasts and shoulders. Penthesileia let go a slight moan to accompany a shudder of mildly agonized pleasure as her hand sought Lila's breast and stroked that breast until the nipple peaked as hard as gnawing desire in Penthesileia's light, repetitive hand. Then that hand slowly journeyed over the gradual traverse of Lila's rounded belly even as Lila's hand, matching stroke for stroke, brought Penthesileia's breasts to the tautness of rigid fire.

Gasps and soft groans mingled in the melding of shared breath. With a will of its own, Penthesileia's hand swept gently over the mound at the bottom of Lila's belly, soft, large and generous, profuse with the dark, rich, broadening triangle of thickly draped sweetness that made Penthesileia moan audibly and Lila let go a light, urgent wail as, instinctively, Lila spread her legs and raised her hips to permit the greatest possible access to the hand which, now caressing her most tender place softly and rhythmically, cupped, in its exquisitely graceful knowledge, the distilled essence of Lila's frantic desire.

"Take me now...," Lila's eyes glazed over, and her head lolled back on the small, round pillow. "Come into me and take me and make your home in me. I want you so much."

"You have me, my darling," Penthesileia sighed, beside herself with the ecstasy of touching and being touched. "I am so completely yours."

Lila moaned more volubly as her hips thrust forward, seeking Penthesiliea's hand as her soaked softness sought to suck Penthesileia's coaxing, beckoning fingers.

"But Lila," Penthesileia fought through her rising passion, "your maidenhead... I can feel... it's intact."

"Yes...," Lila whispered, kissing Penthesileia's neck and running her arms around Penthesileia’s hips and bottom, thrilling at their hardness. No goddess could touch Penthesileia for beauty. No goddess, even Aphrodite, would be vain enough to make the attempt. "If I come to you, Lila..., if I break the seal," Penthesileia stammered, "you'll no longer be enareti kori."

"No, I won't be... any longer," Lila breathed heavily. "Oh, you feel so good..."

"Lila, I don't want... You'll be giving up something precious... That stage of your life. I can't. It wouldn't be right. Not if I care for you and... rejoice in you...," Penthesiliea fought to get the words out.

"I know what you're saying...," Lila struggled. "It's why I want to give you every bit of me, all that I have to give, everything. I know what this means. I know it's right. I know it's time."

"But my darling, it's been your life," Penthesileia caressed the woman she was coming, by immense leaps and bounds, to adore.

"It's time to move beyond that life," Lila groaned. "I've known that since I've come here. It's why I've come here. If lovin' you is wrong, I don't wanna be right..."

"But what if... in the morning...," Penthesileia wrestled back her desire to take Lila then and there and so to find fulfillment for her own inner bursting, being, herself, on the verge of orgasm in the arms of this lovely young woman who now possessed her utterly.

"The gift has already been given, my love. It’s only a matter of whether or not you choose to accept it," Lila sighed and, with that, she spread her legs wider and lifted her hips higher, her soft center dripping with an affirmation that overwhelmed Penthesileia's resistance. Penthesileia slid a kind, caring finger into the wet opening and pressed gently and then more forcefully against the seal. A second, slender finger then came to her aid.

"Ohh...," Lila gasped. "Ooh..."

"This may hurt just a little, my darling," Penthesileia mouthed in a soothing voice. "I'll be as gentle as I can be, I promise."

"Be gentle, be rough, be teasing, be true, just be in me...," Lila clenched her teeth and held Penthesileia as tight as she could.

Penthesileia pressed harder, then thrust once, twice...

"Oww!" With tears streaming from her shut eyes, Lila laughed.

"I'm so sorry, my dear...," Penthesileia began to withdraw.

"Keep going, keep going...!" Lila gritted. "I'm not made of mush, I'm made of love."

Penthesileia applied her passion more forcefully until...

"Awwnnhh..., Ohhhhh...," Lila exhaled a great breath of pain and release as the seal broke and the blood of enareti kori came gushing out of her to unclot, splurge and stain away forever into the linen sheets of her lover's bed, baptizing her into a life of flesh and the spirit beyond anything she’d ever known. And then as Penthesileia, unable to withstand her own immersion into a depth of biting desire that she had never known or had known only with her adored but now temporarily forgotten sister, thrust and rammed and pistoned her fingers in and out of Lila's wide open gate, Lila was once again overcome with wave upon wave of complete and utter givingness as she screamed and climaxed, pounding and surging in the tidepool of Penthesileia's loving, sea-containing arms.

Penthesileia held Lila gently and cooed soft words of love as Lila wept large, salty tears of joy and release. An instant later, as though the nadir of an afterbirth had made its final, convulsing throe and the body were coming at last to rest with arms bundled and enlivened with the first, quick breaths of something precious and new, the force of contracting passion shifted and rallied in the outrushing space between Lila's labia and womb. Seized by that rallied passion and finding its focus as close at hand as a pair of eagerly awaiting lips with worshipful tongue within, Lila turned on Penthesileia, gripped the queen's shoulders and, kissing her forcefully on the mouth, bore her down on the rumpled, bloody sheets. Now Lila's hand smoothed and swept and swathed bare skin, schussing over breasts, blading along the straight, flat plane of ab muscle to slow and veer to a showering spray of moist anticipation as her hand slowed to traverse the somewhat spare, but welcoming, knee-parting entrance to the tunnel of Penthesileia's strong need and immense desire.

"Ohh, you feel so good...," Lila moaned as she cupped Penthesileia's hip-raised softness. "You feel so incredibly warm and open."

"I want you, Lila," Penthesileia sighed. "I want you like you wanted me."

"Which is how I want you to want me," Lila whispered sweetly into Penthesileia's ear and then sought Penthesileia's opening with two of her fingers.

"Begin with one, my dear," Penthesileia looked into Lila's eyes and stroked Lila's cheek with her soft, open hand. "I'm not as widely endowed as you are, and I'm very tight. It's been quite a long time."

"Tell me what you like and how you like it," Lila whispered softly into Penthesileia's ear, "and I'll mold myself to the shape of your desire and love you from throw to glaze on a wheel of sweetness and desire."

"Rub gently on the surface," Penthesileia whispered tenderly, "and, when they're ready, my love, my muscles will draw you into me of their own accord."

With her thumb, Lila began lightly to massage the spot in the midst of Penthesileia’s center that was most fully swollen with "Oh, Lila..., oh, by all the gods, you are magnifi... ohhh...", and, in barely a turn of the lightest part of a sandglass, Lila felt her finger being sucked into Penthesileia whose hips rose to encompass it. Then a second finger sought and was permitted entry.

"Hard? Soft? Tell me," Lila whispered as her breathless desire rose in tandem with her lover's.

"Just what you're doing... Ohh..., Sshhh....," a long, tremulous breath rushed out or her throat as Penthesileia's hips began spontaneously to rotate and thrust. "Oh, my dear," Penthesileia placed the palms of both her hands against both of Lila's cheeks and looked into Lila's eyes with her own eyes nearly closed and their expression glassy with the roaring buildup of passion, "it is I who should call you queen... Ohhh..., and place my sword at your feet... and bow down... Oh, Lila, you're killing me... Don't stop, my love, don't ever stop loving me..."

Lila tried to hold on but the waves of her own outflowing desire were too great to ride out the storm, and they swamped her just as Penthesileia, giving back to Lila what Lila had given to her, reached her own powerfully driving orgasm so that the two of them, with a howl of mutual craving, came together in one another's bone-crushing arms.

And then they kissed, long, hard, devouring, as each strove to ingest the other into the tract of their pulsing, famished love.

Fluming down from the gushing headwaters of the confluence of their mutual outpouring, Lila and Penthesileia skittered along the rapids of breathlessness until they reached the somewhat more relaxed currents of a deeper, calmer steerage. Lying in one another's arms, they rested, with eyes closed, feeling the beat of their joined hearts within the rising and falling of breasts whose breath was now in sync. Touch did for speech, as each mind, scrolling itself, read the other: I could lie here, with you, like this, forever.

Eventually, Penthesileia managed to rouse herself just enough to say softly, "Lila..."

"Mm...," Lila smiled, eyes closed, with perfectly satiated contentment.

"Swish your fanny just a little to the side, my love," Penthesileia stroked Lila's cheek.

"Nnh," Lila let go a little frown and, releasing Penthesileia just a bit, made the effort to shimmy a handwidth further away.

Penthesileia reached down and tucked the coverlet under Lila's legs and then squinched the rest of it under Lila's bottom to tamp the wet gunk on the sheet. Then she dug the fluffy comforter up from the foot of the bed, covered them both and, drawing Lila to her, nestled back down. Lila, her eyes still closed, smiled broadly and snuggled against Penthesileia who swept her arms around Lila, kissed her gently on the forehead and snuggled her in turn.

Imagine, the thought drifted through Penthesileia's mind as sleep, having just nabbed Lila, now came to snag Penthesileia, a pretty peasant girl from golden farm country saunters up to a queen while the queen is kneeling in prayer. Without so much as a howdy do, the peasant girl says to the queen, "I'm going to make you mine." Who could say no to such a lass? Who would want to? Penthesileia chuckled inwardly. "You've quite mastered me, my love. One of us who’s lying here on this pallet may have been born to the purple, and I'm not at all sure it's me..." Then, in the instant before Morpheus' chariot came to carry her away, Penthesileia was gripped by a sudden chill. "Hippolyte... By all the gods, I'd quite forgotten Polly. Oh, Polly, sister, love, crusher of my heart in the grip of your self-denial, have I betrayed you this joyous, celebratory night? As well as selfishness, am I now also guilty of treach..."

"If I Can't Have You, I Don't Want Nobody, Baby" by B. Gibb, M. Gibb and R. Gibb

"If You Don't Know Me By Now" written (?) and recorded by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, also Jean Carne and Al Johnson

"Slow Dancin' Swayin' To The Music" by Jack Tempchin and Jim Hendricks

"I Only Have Eyes For You" by Al Dubin

"If Lovin' You Is Wrong, I Don't Wanna Be Right" by Rollo and Sister Bliss

Continued - Chapter 52
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