by LJ Maas
The French doors were ajar and even in her sleep the small blonde smiled as she felt the warm, late morning breeze blow across her skin. Her mind was a million miles away reliving a different time, her eyes moving rapidly under her closed lids. Suddenly, Casey awoke, breathing deeply at the suddenness of her return into reality.
She ran a hand through her short locks, her brow furrowed in concentration. She hadn't experienced that childhood dream in years, but what would prompt it now? It was the same as when she was a child. She could never remember what she dreamt upon waking, but she always remembered the feeling. It started out as undiminished happiness and contentment and always ended the same, as if her life were suddenly incomplete, as if something had been torn away from her.
Why in the world would I be dreaming like this again? Geez, eighteen months of therapy...you would have thought I'd be cured by now, wouldn't you?
Casey rose and stood in front of the doors that looked out onto Tourlos Bay wondering, as she had numerous times in her life, how she could attain that feeling of completeness.
Andreas Meridio sat at the large wooden desk in his office and hung up the telephone just as Tessa walked into the room. The dark-haired woman didn't say a word, she simply walked up to where Meridio was seated and tossed a paper sack on the desk.
"What's this?" he asked in confusion.
"You said you wanted them in a sack on your desk." Tessa answered ominously.
The man carefully opened the sack and inside lay a plastic bag containing a bloody mass of something. As much as he had seen in his day, still, the vision of this made him exhale in a small groan under his breath. Tessa smiled to herself. All men reacted this way at the sight.
Meridio closed the paper sack. "Did he admit it?"
"They all do, in the end."
"Did you keep him alive?" Meridio questioned.
"Yes, Mr. Meridio."
"Good. I want him and any of the others to know who they're fucking with. I want him to remember the day he tried to hurt a member of the Meridio family."
"Trust me when I say that George Míkolo will remember this day for the rest of his life." Tessa added.
"A good morning's work, Karê. Come, join Cassandra and I for lunch." Meridio said rising from the desk.
The man walked to the door, then turned abruptly.
"Oh, Tessa. Dispose of that." He finished, pointing to the sack on his desk before leaving.
Casey was sitting on the outside patio, sipping a frappé, waiting for her father to join her for lunch when Olympia began to set another place at the table.
"Do we have company, Olympia?"
"Oh, no Miss. The Karê will be joining you and your father.
"Oh," Casey brightened a little.
The older woman tried to disguise her reaction. Meridio's daughter would not be the first young woman to fall for the enigmatic Karê, but Tessa had best be aware that it could be a deadly affair should the girl's father discover them together.
"Can I help you, Olympia?" Casey asked, already knowing what the older woman's answer would be.
"No, Miss, you just relax. These bones aren't that old yet." Olympia finished with a smile.
The cook made three trips back to the table before she was finished placing platters of food on the table. Casey had forgotten about the three-hour-siesta rule to lunch in Greece and how enormous the midday meal actually was.
"Kaliméra." Tessa said to the small blonde as she approached the table.
"Good morning yourself, Karê," the seated woman responded. "Pappa," Casey acknowledged her father as the man placed a light kiss on her cheek.
Tessa sat and commanded her body not to react with Meridio so near. Cassandra sat across from the dark-haired woman in a pale pink sleeveless top and a white skirt. The young woman's tanned, muscular legs were tucked up under her as Tessa quickly realized this was the small blonde's favorite repose. The dark-haired woman accepted a glass of iced tea from Olympia and allowed Casey, as the lady of the house, to fill her plate from the larger platters. The Karê was rather impressed that the young woman chose some of her favorites. Of course, all of the fare was exceptional and it helped that Olympia had been a world class chef in her younger days. Tessa sprinkled pepper over the Meltizánes imám baïldí, small eggplants filled with a ragoût of onions, tomatoes, and herbs, smiling to herself as she realized that the Dolmádes, parcels of grape leaves tightly stuffed with currants, pine nuts, and rice, were Casey's weakness. Of course, no Greek lunch would be complete without bread, cheese, and fresh fruit.
"What will you do today, Máhtia Mou?" Meridio asked his daughter.
"Well, I was thinking of going into town, unless you don't think it's safe?" Casey responded.
Meridio looked at Tessa for the answer. The older man valued the Karê's opinion and this was her area of expertise, after all.
"I think it would be a good idea," Tessa explained. "It would be good for the people to see you out after yesterday's incident, show them that you're not afraid."
"But, I have to admit that I am afraid, at least a little." Casey smiled weakly at the Karê.
"Only children and the simple minded live without fear, Ms. Meridio." Tessa commented.
"Besides," Meridio added, "you won't be having any more trouble from those hoodlums from Athens."
"Did the astynomía arrest them then?" Casey asked, wondering why they hadn't told her the police made an arrest already.
"Yes," Andreas Meridio said without hesitation. "They were young men looking to cause trouble, they probably worked in Lésvos, on the farms. Probably thought they had a score to settle."
During this whole time Tessa refused to raise her head to look at the small blonde seated across from her. The Karê was an extremely proficient liar, but she had the oddest feeling that Cassandra would know if she weren't telling the truth.
"You mean they worked on the olive farms? What kind of grudge could they have against us, Pappa?" Casey asked.
"Anything, maybe they thought they weren't getting paid enough, or that they didn't get enough holidays...who knows." Meridio responded.
"Would they really be angry enough to kill us?"
"They didn't mean to hurt us." Tessa finally entered her voice in the conversation. "They only intended their actions to scare, but they were rotten shots." She finished with a wry grin.
"Pappa, come into town with me?" Casey asked her father hopefully.
"Another time, Máhtia Mou, I have paperwork and phone calls to attend to. Tessa will go with you." He said.
"She'll be happy to, won't you Tessa?" Meridio asked, rhetorically of course.
"Absolutely," Tessa answered promptly, realizing she was not being asked, but told. "Where did you have in mind?" The dark-haired woman saw all her plans of an afternoon's sailing flying away before her eyes.
"Well, I told Olympia I'd go with her to the laïki agorá."
Tessa had her fork paused midway between her plate and her mouth and stopped. "Shopping?" The dark-haired woman heard the words street market and she was quite literally aghast.
"Better than that, Karê. Shopping for food. Olympia says the best fish don't arrive till after lunch." Casey teased.
Tessa's face held an expression of complete resignation, but not one fragment of delight. Andreas Meridio laughed at the grimace on his Karê's face. He rose from his chair, kissing his daughter, and slapping Tessa on the shoulder.
"Well, you ladies enjoy yourselves." He laughed and left the patio before his Karê could figure a way out of the fate she'd been set up for.
Tessa recommended that Meridio's daughter be seen around town, but down here at the street market wasn't exactly what the Karê had in mind. The taller woman followed dutifully behind the small blond and the older woman, pausing and trying not to look too bored as they stopped at each of the vendor's booths. She pushed aside daydreams of being on her catamaran on such a beautiful day and scanned the area, watching without being noticed as watching.
Casey threw cautious glances back at the Karê as the small blonde walked along with the older Greek woman. The Karê looked bored stiff, but she did make an effort and grinned at the small blonde when Casey turned and smiled back at her. Soon Casey began giving packages to the tall woman and although the dark-haired woman accepted them gratefully at first, she began to think she looked more like a pack mule, and this might not be the best thing in the world for her reputation.
Motioning to a young boy sitting on the curb, Tessa bent down and spoke to him rapidly in Greek, pulling a few bank notes from her billfold. When she pressed the bills into the boy's hands, he nodded enthusiastically and took the packages from the tall woman's hands.
Casey looked down at the young boy at her side and smiled, noticing he was carrying the sacks of fruits and vegetables that were in the Karê's possession only a few moments earlier. Glancing behind her she watched as an extremely smug smile of satisfaction graced Tessa's features. Casey laughed out loud.
"Did the Karê hire you to carry those?" Casey asked the young boy.
He nodded his head and smiled broadly. "She told me to follow the beautiful woman with the golden hair, but I already know you, Miss Meridio."
"Oh, is that so? Well, what is your name?"
"Well, Peter, do you like baklavás?"
The boy nodded again and Casey helped him juggle his burden to accept the pastry that the small blonde purchased.
"Olympia," Casey spoke to the woman beside her in a lower tone of voice. "Why does Tessa look as if she's being tortured? Does she hate shopping that much?"
Olympia chuckled at Casey's assessment of the tall woman a few paces behind them.
"On a day like this the Karê would be out on her sailboat. I think we put an unexpected crimp in her plans."
Casey stopped moving, once again surprised at how little she actually knew about the dark-haired woman. Looking back at Tessa the small blonde's smile became radiant.
"You have a boat?"
Tessa saw the sunlight mirrored in the young woman's smile and she felt herself returning the look. The Karê could tell that the radiance in the small blonde's features was from excitement.
"You sail?" Tessa seemed surprise at the revelation.
"I'm not exactly seasoned, but I had a Hobie Cat when I was a teenager. I make a great passenger, though." Casey blushed and she wasn't sure why.
"You should have told me. On a day like this, the Aegean would be beautiful." Tessa replied and Casey saw the blue color of the Karê's eyes deepen.
"You know, we could still..." Casey looked expectantly at Olympia, putting on the sincere face that for nearly twenty five years the older woman had a difficult time saying no to.
The cook looked from the young woman to the taller Karê and felt that she was looking at two teenage girls. The expression of hope on their faces caused the old woman to laugh quietly.
"I can see that you're both infected with the fever now and you'd be no good to me anyway. I think we should continue our shopping tomorrow." Olympia responded.
"Yes!" Casey smacked her hands together and the Karê again followed behind the two women, except that now she had a definite spring in her step.
Mýkonos harbor was one of the busiest tourist spots on the island and the taxi boats that carried passengers to the island of Delos left from the docks there too. Walking down the far dock where the larger boats and yachts were moored, Tessa and Casey both drew stares from the locals as well as the tourists. Men and women alike stole glances at the two women dressed in tank tops and shorts. Tessa stopped in front of the harbormaster's office and spoke with the men inside for a few moments. Returning to where Casey stood waiting, she showed the small blonde to the slip she was moored in.
"Wow, this is really something." Casey said in awe.
Tessa tried not to smile, but the Apógevma Nóstimo was her one source of pleasure and she swelled with pride at the young woman's words. A G-Force salon cabin cruiser, it was the largest catamaran in the harbor and cost it's owner over two hundred thousand American dollars. It was nearly forty feet long and Casey looked at the tall woman in wonder.
"You take this out alone?"
"It's not a big of a bear as you'd think. It handles like silk across your skin." Tessa returned and held out a hand to help the young woman on board.
"The Apógevma Nóstimo?" Casey smiled at the boat's name, Afternoon Delight.
"As much as I would like the other reputation, the reason for the name is that I only get out on her in the afternoons, after work or during my lunch." The Karê explained sheepishly.
It was rather nice, Tessa thought, having someone else with her. Casey was eager to learn and once Tessa laid the boat out to her a lot of things came back to the small blonde. The Karê leaned way over to toss out the aft line and when she turned she saw Casey quickly lower her eyes, the blonde's face a lovely shade of pink that the sun had very little to do with. Tessa turned her back on the woman as a huge grin crossed her own face. She had caught the young woman staring at her legs, and Tessa rather liked that feeling too.
Tessa was right, the double hulls cut through the blue-green water like a warm knife through butter. Casey had never been on a catamaran so large before, especially one with such a large cabin. They sailed up toward Tínos Island first, then turned and headed back, passing their starting point at Mýkonos harbor and sailing south around to Paradise Cove.
The dark-haired woman seemed extremely at ease on the water and Casey hadn't seen the woman's true beauty until now, her ebony hair flying wildly behind her, a relaxed grip on the steering wheel. Tessa seemed enthralled with the speed the most.
"It's like flying!" She said in Casey's ear at one point.
"Would you like to float and watch the sunset?" Tessa asked the young woman. Receiving an enthusiastic nod from the small blonde, she stilled the engines and pulled the main sail aside, letting them drift off the coast of Paradise.
"Hey, how about breaking out those mezés Olympia gave us." Casey suggested.
"Don't tell me you're hungry already." Tessa exclaimed.
"Hey, lunch was hours ago and I'm starving!"
"You're always starving," Tessa chuckled. The taller woman jumped to her feet and held out a hand. "Want a tour?"
Casey let the taller woman help her rise and show her through the cabin below.
"Well, we never had this on my Hobie Cat back home!" Casey laughed.
Tessa chose a bottle of white wine from Límnos and scooped up the sack of appetizers, while Casey gathered some napkins and a couple of wineglasses. They lounged informally on the bow, sipping wine and munching on the snacks Olympia provided. The cook allowed for the sweet tooth she knew both women were slaves to and packed sweet bread, Morello cherries, oranges slices that had been soaked in honey water, and candied pistachio nuts.
They polished off more than half the bottle of wine and Tessa leaned back with her eyes at half-mast, enjoying the feel of the slowly sinking sun and the woman at her side. She enjoyed Cassandra's company for many reasons, but most of all she delighted in the moments of silence where neither of them felt they had to fill up the quiet with mindless chatter. True, the Karê was an unusually subdued woman, keeping her own company for the most part, but she enjoyed this small woman by her, taking pleasure at having someone to finally share a sunset with.
They both lay back against the boat, feeling the roll of the water beneath them.
"Hhmm?" the alto voice hummed back.
"Were those young men shooting at me or you?"
Tessa opened her eyes and stared into the blue sky. "Frankly, I think either one of us would have been a feather in their cap."
"That doesn't really answer my question."
Tessa turned her face toward the woman without moving her body. "It was you."
Casey closed her eyes and seemed to think about this for a few seconds before the next inevitable question came.
"Why would men I don't even know, who my father doesn't even know, why would they want to hurt me?"
Tessa rolled over and held her head in the palm of her hand. Watching the pained expression on the small blonde's face.
"Your father has wealth and influence, more than you realize, all over Greece not just here on Mýkonos. Everyone knows that if you want to hurt someone, you hurt what he values most."
Casey rolled until her position mirrored the larger woman's. "Would it bother you if I had been shot?" the small blonde asked softly.
"Sto dheáhvalo!" Tessa cursed, sitting up, "Of course it would bother me! What kind of a question is that?"
The dark-haired woman stopped, suddenly understanding what the small blonde was asking. Would Tessa simply feel the impact of the loss because she was supposed to be protecting the young woman, because she was her father's Karê, or would it be on a more personal level? Tessa wasn't sure how to answer without getting herself in deep. Of course, when the taller woman looked down into the green gaze that so trustingly looked back at her, she knew she could answer with nothing but honesty.
"Yes, Cassandra...it would bother me a great deal."
"Good," the blonde suddenly brightened, "because it would bother me a little too."
Tessa shook her head and laughed at the young woman. "Théh Mou! You are incorrigible."
"Yea, but it keeps you on your toes, eh Karê?"
"That it does," the dark-haired woman couldn't help but smile back.
"Seriously, Tessa, why did you call the boys who shot at us from the car, malákas?" Casey asked.
The Greek term was never one Casey felt comfortable using. The closest English translation was masturbator, a stupid lazy person who sat around and played with himself. Growing up Casey heard boys tease one another by calling each other malákas, but it would be cause for physical violence if it ever came from a foreigner's lips.
Tessa didn't exactly know how to explain to the young woman all she felt. How could she tell the beautiful blonde how she felt about those boys without revealing too much of herself? Would Cassandra still worry what the Karê thought about her if she knew what the other side of Tessa's life was like?
"Because I thought they were the most despicable cowards for shooting at a woman in the first place."
Casey caught the singular use of the word and realized the Karê didn't lump herself into the helpless woman category.
"Mostly," Tessa continued, "it was the way they did it, driving along and shooting from their car. A real mángas doesn't shoot you while he is all snuggled, protected in his auto. It's like the American gangs, what you call drive by shootings in your Los Angeles. Such cowardly bastards." Tessa hissed the words. "They shoot you and don't want to show their face so they hide in their cars like old women!"
Tessa suddenly remembered who she was talking to and lessened up on the anger in her voice.
"I'm not saying that I haven't learned that killing is a stupid senseless business, but it takes more guts to kill a man when he can see it coming than behind his back. To walk up to a man and look in his eyes, to see his sweat and to know what his fear smells like," Tessa created the shape of a gun with her fingers and placed her index finger softly against Cassandra's temple.
"Then, while you're looking in his face and he's begging and crying for his own life, pop," the dark-haired woman pressed her finger harder against the side of the smaller woman's head and Casey shuddered at the realism in the Karê's simulation.
"You put a bullet in his brain. I'm not saying it's smart," the Karê repeated looking out onto the water, "but it's a hell of a lot harder to do."
Long moments of silence passed as each woman floated along, lost in her own thoughts. Casey's own mind raced with all the information she'd just been given and the implication behind the Karê's words. It frightened Casey when she realized how different their two worlds were. The small blonde would have no more a clue as to what it felt like to kill a man up close, as she would to knowing what it felt like to be the Queen of England. Her real concern came from the underlying feeling that Tessa indeed knew what it felt like to take a man's life away. Casey wrapped her arms around her legs and rested her chin on her knees, stealing glances over at the beautiful, dark woman at her side.
Tessa sat and waited for the small blonde to process all she'd been told. She's a smart girl; she'll figure it out. There was no other way to explain her anger to the young woman and Tessa cursed herself for revealing too much. No matter how much she might want or need this young woman in her life, she had to see to her vow first. It won't matter much. Once it comes to its fruition, she won't want you, Niko.
Tessa felt the weight of the smaller woman's stare and remained gazing out onto the vista before her as the sun was perhaps still an hour away from setting. Her blue eyes reflected the horizon and she anticipated the next question that was sure to come. Now that Cassandra had time to think about it, surely she would put two and two together and see the reality of their situation.
Casey watched the taller woman even as she realized that Tessa knew she was being watched. The light fluttering in the blonde's stomach was familiar to her, but it had been a very long time since she felt it and certainly longer since she'd done anything about it. It became clear to Casey that if Tessa were to tell her, right now, that she was a mass murderer or that she'd never harmed another person in her entire life, either way Casey would believe her. Whether it was good or bad, Casey knew she would believe anything this beautiful, mysterious woman told her. She rolled the words around in her head and had no doubt about their verity. Right or wrong, good or bad, dangerous or not, it simply didn't matter. The concerns couldn't change the way her heart felt. She had fallen in love with the enigmatic, Tessa Nikolaidis.
Again the Karê tried to steel herself for the question that would come next and even now, wondered how she could be anything but honest with this woman who was wrapping herself around Tessa's dark heart.
"Yes?" The dark-haired woman turned her head and brushed her wind blown hair from her eyes.
"What do your friends call you?"
Tessa's brow furrowed and she wondered if the young woman was making fun of her. "What?"
"A nickname, that your friends call you. Does everyone call you Tessa?"
"I don't have any friends." The dark-haired woman said, still staring at the girl in amazement.
"Can I be your friend?"
Tessa tried hard not to let the words affect her, but she knew she wasn't succeeding. She felt hot tears threatening as she remembered when a pretty, blonde five-year-old with eyes the color of the hillside at Filérmos asked her the same thing. Niko, can I be your friend?
"I think I'd like that." Tessa said softly.
Both women turned to watch the sun as it began its slow descent below the horizon. Goose bumps broke out over Casey's arms as the Meltémi blew in from the north, bringing a cooler breeze with it. Tessa jumped up and returned swiftly with her own jacket, Casey's, and a soft blanket.
They both sat, shoulders touching, leaning against the thick mast, watching as a golden glow lit the sky for the longest time before the sun gave the appearance that it was sinking into the sea. No words were spoken for a long time and suddenly Tessa was drawn from her introspection to the feel of a small body leaning more heavily against hers.
The wine and the sun had taken its toll on the small blonde and her head bobbed as she struggled to stay awake for the length of the long sunset that Greece was notorious for. She was losing the battle fast and Tessa did what she would never have done had she not had a bottle of wine and had she not been at sea with a most beautiful young woman. She repositioned her body and pulled Casey in front of her, between her legs, the girl's weight resting on the dark-haired woman's chest. Casey mumbled something in her sleep and surprised the Karê by snuggling into the strong woman's warm embrace.
Tessa could do no more than smile at her good fortune. And remembered that it had been less than a week ago when she wished she had this very thing, to be on her boat, a woman in her arms, and a sunset to share. Perhaps the Greek Gods of old heard her wishes and decided to take pity on her. Perhaps it was merely a coincidence, but whatever the reason, Tessa wouldn't take her wishes back now for all the drachmas in the world. She held the small woman close to her until only a very thin slice of the sun could still be seen. Suddenly the quiet bundle in her arms stirred.
"I'm not sleeping," she murmured drowsily.
"Yes, you are." Tessa chuckled in her ear.
"No, I'm lovin' every minute of the sunset." Casey desperately tried to get her bearings. Am I lying in Tessa's arms?
"Well, then you're the first person to ever snore while they're awake."
"I do not snore." Casey pulled away and turned to look in the woman's face behind her.
"Yes you do." Tessa drawled. She couldn't resist teasing the girl. "It's this cute little puppy dog kind of snore."
"Oh, you." Casey slapped the Karê's arm and laughed herself once she realized she was being teased.
"You about ready to head back?" Tessa asked reluctantly.
"Mmmm, no," Casey replied, not wanting to extricate herself from the warmth of the Karê's embrace, "but I guess we don't have much choice." The small blonde responded.
For both women the spell was broken, but as they sailed back into Mýkonos harbor, their hearts felt very full of feelings neither one of them could express easily in words.
By the time Casey pulled herself from her bed the next morning and cleaned up, Tessa and her father were already on the outside patio, drinking coffee and conducting Meridio business.
"Kaliméra." Casey smiled as she approached the table.
She was greeted in the same manner by the two as she kissed her father's cheek.
"Thank you," Casey responded to the strong cup of Greek coffee Tessa poured for her.
"Well, Máhtia Mou, I have business on Lésvos. Would you like to spend the weekend with us?" Andreas Meridio asked his daughter.
When her father indicated that the 'us' she would be joining would be himself and Tessa, Casey didn't even have to think twice.
"What time do we leave?" She smiled.
Tessa never looked up from her paper and she kept her face frozen in the same neutral expression as always, but inside the dark-haired woman was grinning from ear to ear.
"We leave at ten o'clock, can you be packed by then?" Meridio asked.
"For a weekend? Sure, Pappa."
"Well, I think I better handle a few items of business and get packed myself. If you will excuse me, Mr. Meridio, Ms. Meridio?" Tessa said, rising from the table.
"Of course," father and daughter answered in unison.
Casey watched the Karê walk away toward the guesthouse. Initially feeling a little hurt at the dark-haired woman's business as usual demeanor around her, she was soon to realize that this was probably a wise move on the Karê's part. The small blonde observed her father staring after the tall woman also.
"I'm glad you are able to get on with my Karê." Andreas began, turning back to his daughter. "Tessa is a very competent woman and I feel better having someone with her abilities around you."
"Cassandra, I need to ask you...has Tessa ever acted, well, has she ever made any advances toward you...any conduct that could be thought of as improper?" The man asked hesitantly.
"Now, before you go getting all upset, I ask for a good reason. I know that you young people think everyone and everything is just fine nowadays, but this is Greece, not America, and our ways can still be very Old World. Tessa does not make it a secret among our people that she is mia lesveea and--"
"Pappa," Casey interrupted, "Tessa has never treated me with anything but respect and thoughtfulness."
"Allright, I understand." Meridio held up his hand, feeling he was about to be lectured and the worst thing he could think of would be to be lectured by a woman, even if the woman was his daughter. "I just wanted you to know about her in case it would bother you."
"Pappa, I think you should know something about me--"
A large crashing sound came from behind them, causing Casey to jump in her seat. Olympia had been carrying a tray and the contents of the platter were now on the patio, in hundreds of tiny pieces.
"Mrs. Karoubas, are you allright...do you need help?" Meridio asked, beginning to rise from his chair.
"No, no, Mr. Meridio, Anna will help me clean it up." The older woman indicated a young girl who came running to assist the cook.
"What were you about to say, Máhtia Mou?"
Casey looked up, but she caught Olympia's eyes throwing daggers in her direction. The cook was facing her father's back and as Casey glanced up at the woman, she saw Olympia shake her head slightly. Casey looked in her father's face, now uncertain as to what to do. She had been about to tell her father of her own sexual preference, but it was obvious that Olympia didn't think it was the right thing to do.
"I...I was about to say...that it feels good to be back home." Casey finished and knew she's gotten it right when Olympia smiled and nodded her head.
"It's good to finally have you home again, Máhtia Mou. Now, go and get packed."
Casey made a point of walking through the kitchen to go upstairs and stopped when she saw Olympia. Picking up a piece of the broken china she grinned slightly at the older woman.
"I take it this was your idea of a subtle hint?"
"Miss Me-, Cassandra...there are many ways here that are different from what you are used to in America. If you told your father that you were mia lesveea, do you think that he would allow Tessa to accompany you anywhere? I fear that he might even discharge the Karê."
Olympia chose her words carefully. She had no idea how far the relationship between her employer's daughter and the Karê had gone, but she did want Cassandra to realize that she was in Greece, a county run by men. How well Olympia knew that men held all the power in her homeland. She also used the word discharge when even she knew that would be the kindest thing that would happen to the attractive Karê.
"Olympia, how did you know about me?" Casey asked in a low voice.
"I have been the cook in this house for nearly thirty years. I was here on the day you were born, for your first communion, and on your sixteenth birthday. There is very little I do not know about you, little one." Olympia finished, gently taking the small blonde's chin in her fingers.
"How would I have ever gotten along without you?" Casey smiled at the woman who had been like a second mother to her all these years.
"Go on, now. You don't want to keep your father and the Karê waiting."
Casey kissed the older woman's cheek and rushed up the stairs to her room. Olympia stood in place for a few moments contemplating the outcome of it all. Shaking her head, she began to move around the large kitchen.
Their private plane landed at an airport about eight kilometers south of Mytilíni, on the island of Lésvos. A limousine sat waiting for their arrival and the drive to the villa where they were to stay was short and uneventful. The Laureate, a restored villa, was situated on Vareiá beach. A public hotel most of the time, but like Casey was soon to discover, when her father stayed there it became his own private villa. Casey hadn't been to this particular villa before, but thought it was absolutely breathtaking. Set amidst a beautiful garden it was surrounded by avenues of bay trees and giant pines.
Even though Andreas Meridio bought out every room in the villa for his own personal use, the hotel staff stayed to work and were courteous and helpful to Casey. She was shown to a large suite of rooms and enjoyed the fact that Tessa had the rooms next to hers.
The three lunched together, but Andreas Meridio seemed somewhat preoccupied. Casey hated the way her father's bodyguard hovered in the shadows, but she tried to think of the silent man's role as an important one and kept her mouth closed about it. In the meantime, Tessa seemed to enjoy the information the small blonde knew about the island and its history, from an archaeological standpoint. Meridio abruptly stood and motioned to Peter.
"I'm going to the elaiotriveío, Máhtia Mou. I'll be there all afternoon. Tessa you are to bring Cassandra along when you are finished here." Then he brusquely kissed his daughter and left.
Casey groaned and grabbed the bottle of wine, pouring herself a generous glass.
"What's that sound for...you don't like the olive mill?" Tessa asked in confusion.
"Whenever my father says I'm to meet him at the elaiotriveío it means only one thing. He wants to test me. He likes to make sure I know everything about olives!" Casey moaned.
"And do you?" Tessa chuckled.
"I know absolutely everything there is to know about olives! When you eat them, when you press them, when you harvest them...the list goes on and on."
"They're only olives. How hard could it be?" Tessa questioned as Casey groaned her displeasure once again.
"So, tell me what you know about olives." Tessa said loudly to be overheard above the convertible sports car's engines and the wind that whipped past.
Casey always enjoyed the drive up the hillside to the olive mill outside of Plomári. Since they were staying at Vareiá, they had to drive around the Kólpos Géras bay and then up toward Plomári. One thing Casey learned quickly was that Tessa loved speed and the dark-haired woman drove like most of the locals, full out at break neck speed.
"Well, lets see...The olive groves that belong to the Meridio's date back to 700 BC, however there was a frost that wiped them out and they were replanted with new in the Eighteenth century. Olive oil used to be the big export commodity of ancient Greece. Did you know that they would massage great warriors with olive oil and they would scrape it off them and put it in jars to sell. Something about it being an aphrodisiac, I think."
"Oh, that sounds disgusting," Tessa exclaimed.
"You're telling me! Anyway, where was I? Oh yea, Lésvos and Crete are always in competition over who makes the most and the best oil. We have over eleven million trees here on Lésvos, but some say Crete produces more and a better quality of oil, mostly the people who farm on Crete. This island, however, uses every part of the olive, rather than just pressing for oil alone. We use the fruit for eating, of course, and it's pressed for oil, but we also grind up what remains after the oil is pressed out and use it for soaps. After they use all they can for the soaps, they take what's remaining for fertilizer."
"Cassandra?" Tessa stopped the young woman's informative lecture.
"Is all this true?" Tessa frowned. She had been born and spent most of her life in Greece and didn't know a half of what this woman did.
"Absolutely! This stuff has been drilled into me every summer since I was little. You watch; the first thing my father will do is bring a plate of olives out and see if I remember all my old lessons."
"And, will you?" The Karê laughed.
"Geez, I hope so." Casey laughed in return.
"Why do we use Greek olive oil instead of Italiana?" Andreas Meridio walked along the concrete pavement of the olive mill, past the large wooden vats, his daughter trying to keep up with the man's longer strides, Tessa following along at the rear.
"Because Greek oil is better quality." Casey answered as Tessa silently applauded the young woman.
"Why?" Meridio responded.
"Because we have hotter, drier summers and that causes lower acid levels in the fruit."
They stopped at a table and Meridio motioned to a young man to bring out a large platter. Tessa watched as it happened just as the small blonde had predicted. The dark-haired woman watched as her employer drilled Cassandra. There were at least a dozen varieties of olives on the tray and the young woman hadn't made a mistake yet. Meridio seemed to take this quite seriously and Tessa wondered if the man wanted his daughter to at least be able to run his legitimate business ventures should anything happen to him.
The tall man simply held a fruit up and Cassandra was expected to know its name or its uses.
"Elítses," Casey wavered as her father held up the small dark fruit. "...uhm, oh, that's no fair, Pappa. Those are from Crete!"
Andreas laughed for the first time that afternoon. "Yes, but you did well in knowing what the competition produces." He held up another and so it went on for some time.
"Tsakistés...uhh, picked young and cracked before curing in brine. Kalamáta, the most famous Greek olive! Always almond shaped and cured in red wine vinegar." The young woman answered, popping one in her mouth then giving Tessa a wink when her father bent down to retrieve another olive.
"Thásos, salt-cured, strong flavor, and go well with cheese."
"Excellent, Máhtia Mou someday you will be a formidable opponent to the farmers on Crete." Meridio stated proudly.
Tessa saw something just then in the older man's eyes; something she hadn't seen before. Meridio praised his daughter, but not with the love and affection of a father to a daughter. Rather, the man commended her as one might do with a prized stallion, or another bit of valuable property. As if she were not a treasured piece of his heart, but something he owned. Something he trained and invested precious time and money on.
The thought disturbed the dark-haired woman as she stood watching the interaction between Meridio and his daughter. In her memory she always registered the man's attitude toward his only child differently. She wondered where this new look came from. Was Meridio simply placating his daughter until the time he could groom a man for her to take as husband? According to Greek law, all the young woman's wealth would then belong to her husband. It would be a miserable existence for someone such as Cassandra.
Much to Tessa's, as well as Casey's, chagrin, Meridio dismissed the tall woman telling her to take the rest of the day off. He explained that he would keep Peter with them, but he wanted to visit a couple of their distilleries in Plomári. The Karê couldn't very well beg to go along with them, even though a trip to the Ouzo distillery would dearly hit the spot. So, Tessa left with a slight nod to the young woman, leaving her in her father's care.
"Pappa, I feel bad making Tessa go off on her own." Casey said. Truth be known she couldn't have been more miserable at the notion of spending the rest of the afternoon without the Karê around.
Andreas Meridio laughed out loud at his daughter's worried expression, placing an arm around her shoulder and pulling her in the direction of the car.
"Not to worry, Máhtia Mou, she's probably headed toward the local brothel as we speak!" He laughed again.
The remark by her father did nothing to ease the small blonde's sadness, if nothing else, it actually increased her fears, wondering if the beautiful Karê was indeed on her way to experience a little rest and relaxation.
Driving back down the hillside, Tessa decided she would make a small side trip to Mantamádos. Their pottery was renowned throughout the Greek Isles and Tessa needed something new to burn incense in. Driving along the coastal road, where there was very little besides land and small villages, Tessa thought again of the reasoning behind Meridio's new attitude toward his daughter.
Perhaps Meridio was finally realizing that Cassandra would never accept the Greek magnate's true business. Even if the young woman could, Meridio's partners would never take orders from this young girl. Tessa herself had a hard enough time dealing with them and her reputation scared the hell out of most grown men. But, these were not Greeks, not even Turks or Albanians. These men came from across the Mediterranean Sea, from Libya. No, Tessa didn't picture Cassandra as the kind of a woman who would take part in the family business.
The Karê's main problem now would be to find a way to encourage the small blonde to stay in her archeology business, go back to America, anything so she wouldn't be around when Tessa's plan neared completion. The Karê's heart tightened in her chest at that last thought. Not having Cassandra around was just about the last thing the dark-haired woman wanted right about now.
Tessa took the steps two at a time up to the floor where her suite was situated, directly across from Cassandra's. Checking to see that she had no messages, the Karê changed into something a little less formal. She knew she would probably do no more than listen to some music or catch up on a little reading tonight. It was late when she got in and she was told that Andreas Meridio had already retired. After having donned a pair of cotton slacks and a short sleeved polo shirt, the dark-haired woman picked up one of the small sacks she carried in with her and decided to see if Cassandra was still awake.
"Oh, hi," was Casey's cool response when she opened the door to her suite, even though the woman standing in front of her was very nearly making her drool all over herself.
Tessa didn't know what the trouble was, but she felt the icy temperature of the room immediately.
"Have a good time in Plomári?" Tessa asked.
"Simply lovely." Casey answered sarcastically. "Did you have a good time...wherever you ended up?"
Tessa tried to gauge the young woman's tone, but for the life of her she couldn't understand what was going on.
"Where is it that you think I ended up?"
"Well...I--I, well, it's really none of my business." Casey replied, turning away quickly.
"No, I really want to know." Tessa responded, grabbing the small blonde's elbow and turning her around to face the Karê. "Where is it you think I've gone?"
Casey knew she was caught but good. Why did I even say anything in the first place? Now it's going to look like I'm jealous! There was nothing to do but voice her displeasure, so the small blonde dove in, head first.
"Father said that you were...that you were probably on your way to the local brothel." Casey said the words, but didn't dare raise her eyes to meet the blue gaze that suddenly sparkled with understanding.
Jealousy? Over me, little one?
"I see, and the fact that I would be with a woman and not a man...that would bother you?" Tessa decided to have a little fun at Cassandra's expense.
"No, of course not." Casey answered quickly.
"Oh, so it's not because I prefer a woman in my bed, it's because I prefer another woman." Tessa asked as if she were trying to get the situation clear in her head.
"Yes." Casey replied. "I mean, no...I mean...what do you mean?" The flustered young woman stammered.
Tessa leaned her head back and laughed long and loud. She had never come across a more endearing woman and her senses were being completely seduced by the small blonde.
Casey turned about as scarlet as a human could and when she realized there was nothing left, she simply laughed at herself and the Karê found that an absolutely charming quality.
"I'm sorry, Tessa, I had no right--"
Tessa placed her index finger over the young woman's lips, interrupting her thought.
"You had every right." Tessa found herself saying, yet still not believing it was her own mouth that just said it.
Quickly trying to recover, the dark-haired woman held out the sack. "I thought you might like this, I went to Mantamádos today."
"You went to Mantamádos without me...shopping?"
"Trust me, I don't shop like you or Olympia. If I see something I want," the Karê said in a low voice leaning closer, "I take it. If I don't like it, I leave it be."
"Oh," seemed to be the only response Casey was capable of.
"Are you going to open it?" Tessa asked, blue gaze sparkling in a combination of amusement and desire.
"Your gift. Are you going to open it?" The Karê said slowly.
Tessa enjoyed the blush and the dazed expression on the young woman's face.
"Oh, Tessa it's beautiful." Casey had noticed a similar, intricately designed, ceramic incense burner when she visited the guesthouse where Tessa lived.
Not knowing what else to say, Casey hugged the woman in front of her, and placed an innocent kiss on the tall woman's cheek. Tessa stood rooted in place, completely shocked by the young woman's guileless gesture. Now, it was the Karê who blushed. She could feel the heat creeping up her neck and tried to quickly change the subject.
"So, are you going to be a good hostess and offer me a drink or do I have to scrounge the downstairs bar?"
Casey laughed, as much from the Karê's remark as from the tall woman's embarrassment.
"I have retsína and some white wine. What's your pleasure?" Casey asked, with a mischievous sparkle in her green eyes and putting an emphasis on the last sentence.
Tessa caught the double entendre and smiled wickedly.
"Well, lets start with the retsína and see where that takes us."
Seated on the balcony outside of Casey's suite, both women watched the lights along the beaches of Vareiá, sipped retsína and listened to the breeze rustle the trees below.
"Tell me more about where you live in America." Tessa asked.
She was interested, true, but more than anything the dark-haired woman loved listening to Cassandra speak. The lilting tones of the small blonde's voice were absolutely captivating and the Karê closed her eyes, enjoying the sound.
"When I would sit on the beach on Long Island, that's where I grew up. When I would sit there, on cold days when no one else would go out and all you could hear were the waves crashing in and the gulls over the water, I would close my eyes and think I was on Mýkonos. Of course, I used to think the same thing when I was here in Greece. When I was here I used to want to be there, when I was there; well you know what I mean." Casey sipped her wine and watched the Karê, her eyes closed and a slight smile curling at her lips.
"I know I was very small and I don't remember much that happened when I lived here all the time, but I feel it sometimes, like perhaps I'm remembering a dream. There used to be so much to do here in Greece when I was small. I used to love the holidays, so different from the ones in America. Of course, most of the holidays we celebrate here are religious, but I missed that when we moved away. I only remember being here for one Easter, but I can't even remember that very well. I remember a feeling of it, though." Casey said with a faltering tone as if she were trying at that moment to pull something from her mind, but unable to.
Shaking her head she smiled again. "The more I try, the more it eludes me."
"Why can't you remember, do you think?" Tessa's voice came as a surprise, Casey had almost thought she was alone in her reminiscing.
"I don't know. I used to ask my mother that same question all the time. It seemed odd that all the best memories of my life would suddenly disappear like that."
What did she say?" Tessa asked with a curious expression.
"She said it must have been because that was the year we left Greece to come to
America. The childhood trauma of it all."
"Sounds reasonable," the Karê mused, half-wondering if that was the truth.
Tessa knew what a life-altering experience that day had been for her, but for the first time she saw that perhaps what Cassandra went through might have been enough to traumatize a sensitive five-year-old. Like the roots of a tree, pain had such a way of spreading itself around, reaching its tendrils so far into so many lives.
"I was in therapy for it." Casey simply stated. "I know, you already think I'm nuts, right?" The small blonde smiled and the Karê chuckled.
"When I was small I would have these dreams. I never once remembered what I dreamt about, but the feelings were so intense that I would wake up crying. My mother tried to help, but all I could tell her was that I would start out feeling absolutely wonderful, like I could do anything, then everything went wrong and I would wake up with a pain so real that my chest would ache." Casey took a sip of wine and looked to see if Tessa thought she was a flake. The Karê sat watching her, listening intently.
"The dreams finally lessened, sometimes it would be years between the time I would have one again. It was when I had my first serious love affair. The very first night we slept together that the dreams came back. I had them every single night until I was taking sleeping pills just to get a few hours of sleep at night. Needless to say it effectively ended that relationship.
I started seeing a doctor, but after eighteen months all she could say was it was some kind of childhood trauma. Duh, I could have told her that! It had a lovely effect on my love life. It's rather strange, though, the dreams only resurface when I fall in love." Casey gave an ironic, painful laugh. "Tends to keep me single."
Tessa looked at the small young woman with a mixture of worry and concern, hoping that someday the dreams that plagued her would disappear altogether. That someday she would be able to recognize only the good moments of that day when she was five.
The dream started out as usual, but then it took an unexpected turn. She'd never been down this road before. Casey could hear someone screaming, but she couldn't see who it was. Suddenly she realized the voice belonged to Tessa. She had to get to where the Karê was, but they wouldn't let her reach her friend. There were no faces that were visible, but strong arms held her as she desperately tried to pull away.
"Noooo!" Casey screamed loudly, pulling herself to sit up in bed.
It took all of three seconds before Tessa was bursting through the door to the suite wearing only a robe and carrying a gun in one hand, followed by footsteps running up the stairs to the second floor. The Karê's posture changed immediately when she opened the bedroom door, seeing Cassandra and realizing the danger was in the small blonde's dreams and nothing more. Tessa wanted nothing more than to scoop the small woman up in her arms and hold on to her tightly, but those thoughts became dreams as Andreas Meridio pushed his way into the room.
"It's allright, just a nightmare." Tessa remarked as the man strode past her.
The Karê hustled the rest of the staff who had been awakened back to their rooms, returning within seconds to Cassandra's suite.
"It's allright, Pappa, really. It was just a nightmare." Casey said shortly, caught between embarrassment and anger.
"Do you still have those?" Meridio asked.
"Hardly ever," Casey lied. "I'm all right, really." She gave a half smile to her father who looked more concerned than he was willing to admit.
"Tessa will stay with you for a little while, then." He said looking back at the Karê.
"Of course," Tessa replied. "I'll be back in a moment."
Casey really didn't feel like arguing so when Tessa returned, dressed in jeans and a faded blue t-shirt, carrying a small brown bottle, the small blonde simply gave in. Her father kissed her and said to call him if he was needed, but Tessa knew he would prefer not to be needed. Nightmares were considered a weakness and no Greek man wanted to be around a woman's weakness for long.
"Don't tell me, it's more of your magic medicine?" Casey watched as the Karê poured two glasses of amber liquid.
"Conyák." Tessa replied, handing the young woman a glass of the brandy.
"How come I don't have brandy in my room?" Casey tried to put on a smile.
"Because you didn't ask for it." Tessa replied matter of factly.
Tessa took a sip of the liquor and set her glass on the bedside table, seating herself on the edge of the bed. Casey took one sip and looked up into blue eyes that seemed filled with their own distress. Tessa very lightly brought her fingers up and touched Casey's cheek.
"Are you sure you're okay?"
"Sure." Casey replied, unsure of her own voice.
The green eyes began to fill with tears and Tessa watched, as the blonde head shook back and forth, indicating that she most certainly wasn't allright. The Karê took the glass from Casey's hand and set it with her own, then without thinking she gently enfolded the small figure in her strong embrace.
The tears turned into sobs at the dark-haired woman's tender and compassionate touch and soon Tessa held the young woman against her tightly, running her fingers through the short blonde locks, pressing her lips softly against the top of the girl's head.
Casey melted into the warm embrace and let the tears of a great many frustrations loose at once. She was comforted, not only by the arms surrounding her, but by the fact that Tessa didn't offer insincere and meaningless words to console.
"Sssh, Cassandra I'm here." Tessa murmured.
The Karê listened to the girl's weeping, but could think of no words to ease the pain. Little did she know, but the ones she uttered cut straight through to the small blonde's heart. Tessa wanted to give more comfort to the woman in her arms, but frankly she didn't know how. She had never been a woman of words and now, when she needed them the most, they deserted her.
It seemed as if a long time passed before Casey's tears stopped and she simply leaned against the dark-haired woman's chest, listening to the strong heart beating steadily. No words were exchanged as Tessa ran her hand in small circles against Casey's back. Tessa cursed herself once again for her inability to do or say more for the young woman, but for Casey, what the dark-haired woman did offer was enough.
It was only coincidence that Tessa and Casey both left their rooms at the same time. They met at the top of the winding staircase on their way to morning coffee. Casey was finding it hard to look the Karê straight in the eye.
"Well, you are quickly seeing me in all of my pathetic, vulnerable glory, Karê. I'm not exactly putting my best foot forward where you're concerned."
Tessa gave her usual low chuckle. "If that's as bad as it gets I still got ya beat."
"Thanks, Tessa, for...well, for just being there, I guess." Casey added.
The tall Karê didn't know what to say to this display of emotion and gratitude so she simply did what she was best at. She graced Casey with a lopsided sort of smile and winked at her.
"Ahh, Máhtia Mou, is the world looking better in the light of day?" Andreas Meridio asked, kissing the top of his daughter's head as he pulled a chair out for her.
"Yes, Pappa, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to wake up the whole villa."
"Nonsense, although Tessa looked a little disappointed that she didn't get to shoot anyone."
The Karê set down her newspaper and placed a small koulourákia on her plate. The small rolls were covered in sesame seeds and stuffed with currants. The Karê still believed, like most Greeks, that breakfast was the least important meal of the day, but she was quickly becoming seduced by the American tradition of a roll with her morning coffee.
Placing small bites of the bread in her mouth, Tessa spoke in her usual matter of fact tone, nothing like Casey knew her to be when they were alone.
"She scared the hell out of me." She said in Meridio's direction and the man laughed out loud.
"Trust me, if you ever get accosted in a dark alley let loose with one of those yells, I guarantee it will bring help left and right. You took away a few years of my life with that thing, which I can ill afford at this point in my life." Tessa finished with a smirk.
"Oh, very funny. I hope you're both enjoying yourselves at my expense." Casey responded with a smile.
The small blonde was surprised at this tirade from the Karê, but she understood the reasoning behind it. Tessa wasn't supposed to be growing close to Casey, she was in close contact with the blonde for the sole purpose of looking after Meridio's daughter for a while. It wouldn't do for Andreas Meridio to see his Karê in a position like she was last night. As innocent as the physical contact had been, Casey realized her father would never allow it.
Casey watched her father as he read the morning Ta Nea, occasionally jotting a note on the legal pad that he had in front of him.
"Pappa," Casey began enthusiastically, "come horseback riding with me today?"
"Oh, Cassandra, that's impossible today. I have appointments to keep. Besides, I'm too old to be riding hills like these, that is why you have Tessa. She'll go with you." Meridio replied, motioning to the Karê.
"Horses...great. My days just keep getting better and better." Tessa deadpanned.
Although Casey smiled at Tessa's attempt at humor, the young woman was certainly affected by her father's behavior. The small blonde couldn't understand it either. If she even brought up moving into an apartment of her own, he became incensed, but since she'd returned to Greece they hardly ever saw each other. Casey was beginning to feel like that prized mare again, only around for show.
"As much as I would enjoy riding with the Karê, I'm sure she has better things to do than to baby sit me. I could wait, Pappa, perhaps we could go this afternoon?"
"Go with Tessa," Meridio said firmly, "I'll be gone until late this evening, don't wait up, Katalavaynés?"
"Yes, of course Pappa, I understand." Casey put on an artificial smile for her father's benefit as the man left the patio.
The dark-haired woman tried to keep her eyes on her paper and appear as though she were not listening to the conversation, which wasn't all that easy considering the fact that the father and daughter were practically talking over her. Even Tessa could see the small blonde looked like a hurt little girl that had been put off one too many times. The way Meridio talked about his daughter all these years, Tessa thought perhaps he was different when it came to her, that maybe she would be the one redeeming quality of the man's life. It was turning out that Andreas Meridio was like any other man in Greece. Their women were cherished so long as they did exactly what they were told and made sure they were around when he needed a bauble to hang on his arm.
"So, when do we go?" Tessa asked the silent young woman.
Casey gave a weak attempt at a smile. "It doesn't sound like it's one of your favorite things."
The Karê thought the young woman was trying to fight off tears. "You know that was for show, don't you?" Tessa asked in a voice that was softer than usual.
"I know," Casey nodded. "The Meridio Karê must have a pretty girl she wants to do something with on a beautiful day like today." Casey tried to give the woman an out.
"Yes, she does." Tessa grinned just slightly, the smile giving her a look of charm and mystery.
She tilted her head slightly to meet the small blonde's eyes. When the cerulean gaze met up with sea green, the sparkle and the note of mischief seemed very uncharacteristic for the dark-haired woman. It took Casey a full minute before she caught the Karê's meaning.
"Are you sure?" The young woman brightened slightly.
"Absolutely." The Karê grinned. "Somebody's got to teach you to ride."
"Oh, is that right? Well, I guess we'll just have to see about that."
The smile in Tessa's heart grew larger as she saw the spark of green fire return to the small blonde's eyes.
"Gahmóh Toh!" Casey cursed. "Fuck!" She decided to add the English version just for good measure.
"Oh, it's allright girl, it's not your fault." She finished, laying a gentle hand on the neck of the large chestnut mare. "She threw it." She stated simply to the dark-haired woman.
Tessa jumped down from her own large mount and examined the horse's hoof just as Casey had done.
"You're absolutely right." Tessa mocked the small woman's ability to recognize the missing horseshoe.
Casey pushed the taller woman back slightly. "Oh, very funny!"
Tessa laughed and it felt good. The whole day they spent here in the hills, riding the horses, stopping for a picnic lunch, it all seemed like a dream to Tessa. She'd never had anyone to be with this way, no one she could call a friend and she was seeing a small glimpse at what she'd been missing all her life.
"I'll just walk her back, you can go ahead." Casey said.
"Cassandra, it must be a good three miles back to the villa. By the time you get back on foot I'll be too old to enjoy that dinner you owe me." She said with a smug grin.
Casey realized the truth of what the Karê said and she didn't know if she was so upset because her horse had thrown a shoe or whether it was because she lost the race to the top of the rise. Loser pays for dinner, that had been the bet, but Casey hadn't anticipated that the Karê was as good a rider as she showed herself to be. Oh, well...there are definitely worse things that could happen to a girl than looking into those baby blues over dinner.
"This guys a big boy," Tessa said, patiently patting her own horse's flank. I don't think he'll have any trouble giving both of us a ride."
The dark-haired woman pulled the reins on the incapacitated animal over the mare's head and tied the leather thongs off on the back of her horse's saddle. Pulling herself easily into her own saddle she extended a hand to the small blonde. Casey put her foot in the stirrup that Tessa had vacated and allowed the Karê to pull her up in the saddle. Situated behind the dark-haired woman, Casey was suddenly a lot closer to the tall woman than was probably good for her, given her feelings for the woman.
Tessa steered the animal down the steep path and Casey quickly realized she had only one thing to hang on to and it was either wrap her arms around the beautiful Karê's waist or be pitched head first onto the ground below. She tried to be casual about it, grabbing a hold of Tessa's belt rather than her body.
"You better hold on tighter than that, little one." Tessa voice came from in front of her.
For a moment Casey thought she was falling as she let her grip go from the woman's belt. The small blonde grew dizzy and then a wave of nausea caused her hands to tremble.
"Hey, I said you better hold on--" Tessa turned in the saddle to look at the smaller woman, but her voice froze at the sight of the young woman's face.
"Casey, are you all right?" Tessa's strained voice asked, pulling up on the horse's reins.
Casey opened her mouth, but she couldn't seem to produce any sound. Her heart was pounding in her chest and she couldn't imagine why she felt this way.
"I don't feel so good. Can we stop for a minute?"
Tessa dismounted immediately, grabbing her canteen and helping Casey from the saddle. The small blonde felt like the blood had been drained from her legs and she faltered with her first step, leaning heavily against the taller woman. Tessa didn't think twice as concern overrode propriety. She bent down and with surprising strength, scooped the smaller woman into her arms and carried her off the rocky path onto a dry grassy patch of ground.
Tessa noticed the flush on the girl's face and removed a bandanna from her own neck, pouring water from the canteen onto the cloth and soaking it through. She pressed the cool cloth to Casey's face, and then her neck until the young woman looked up with a weak grin.
"Gee, that was kind of scary." She said, her pallor a little less ghostly.
"You're telling me." Tessa said, leaning back on her heels, resting her palms on her thighs. "What just happened...too much sun?"
"God you're going to laugh at me, but I dreamed what just happened back there. I don't mean my nearly passing out, I mean when we were on the horse. In my dream last night you said that to me. You told me to hold on to you tighter and you called me little one." Casey ran her fingers through her now damp hair.
"I don't remember your face, but I remember your voice. You don't get it do you?" The young woman explained to the Karê. "Tessa, I never remember that dream, not once in all these years. This is the first time that I've even been able to recall small bits of it."
Casey seemed confused while Tessa bit her lip, concentrating on the small blonde's face. The dark-haired woman fought with herself as she listened to the young blonde. Shouldn't I tell her? God, all these years, but if she knows who I am she'll figure out what I'm going to do, I just know she will. I won't be able to hide it, not from her; not from those eyes that penetrate right straight through to my soul. Oh, Cassandra, I'm sorry, but I just can't do this yet, you don't understand what's involved, little one.
"I don't know what to say, Cassandra." Tessa answered honestly. "It sounds a little farfetched, but stranger things have happened, I guess."
Tessa reached out to touch the young woman's cheek. "Feel up to heading back now?"
"Yea," Casey nodded, quick to add a smile for the woman who was turning in to more than Casey ever imagined. "Yea, I feel a lot better now...come on, I'm hungry."
"You're always hungry." The Karê added with a chuckle.
They situated themselves on the large gelding once more. This time Tessa was taking no chances and she took the small blonde's hands in her own until the young woman's arms circled the Karê's waist. Casey certainly wasn't complaining about the arrangement and, silently, each woman enjoyed her circumstance.
Casey was silent for most of the trip, lost in her own thoughts. I know you think I'm a huge flake, but it was you, Tessa. It was your voice I heard screaming and it was you I rode on the horse with, just like this. How could my dreams be about a woman I've never met before, though? Especially when I've been having this same dream for most of my life?
Tessa was wrapped within her own private memories. Two women and their thoughts mirrored one another's so completely, yet in their heart they were worlds apart. One sought enlightenment, while the other tried to hide from the truth.
Tessa and Casey walked back into the quiet villa laughing out loud.
"I can just picture it," the Karê said, wiping tears from her eyes.
"There wasn't a thing I could do! I just held on for dear life and prayed to the Virgin until this huge stallion carried me across the finish line." Casey laughed.
"Did your father ever find out?"
"Oh, no, and spoil the illusion? I simply had mother take a picture of me with a smile on my face and a first place trophy in my hand as I sat on the back of that terrible beast."
"You're something else do you know that?" The two women walked up the stairs to their suites together, realizing by the silence that Andreas Meridio was still out. "I've looked at that picture everyday for five years and wondered how a tiny thing like you even got the arkheedias to mount an animal that size."
"Hey," Casey looked wounded; "it's vertically challenged, not tiny."
"Oh, excuse m--"
Both women froze at a crashing sound from within Casey's suite.
"Stay here." Tessa said in a tight voice.
Casey watched as the dark-haired woman reached behind her, under her jacket and pulled out a small pistol. She hadn't even realized the taller woman carried one, but now the reason Tessa always had on a jacket became clear. She followed the tall woman's progress with her eyes as the Karê quietly opened the door and slipped inside.
Casey couldn't stand this helpless female routine. She couldn't hear anything inside the room and became concerned about Tessa. Just as the dark-haired woman had done, Casey quietly slipped inside the dark room. She saw the curtains by the french doors blowing into the room with the breeze, but couldn't see Tessa anywhere.
"Tessa?" She whispered.
"When I tell you to stay it's for a reason." Tessa's warm breath brushed against Casey's ear.
Casey let out a startled cry and suddenly Tessa was moving away from her and the lights came on in the room. The Karê was standing by the light switch on the wall shaking her head back and forth.
"I got worried about you." Casey offered as explanation.
"Casey," Tessa's voice was soft but commanding at the same time. "I can take care of myself. I won't need to worry if I know that when something happens you will do exactly what I say, when I say it. Katalavaynés?"
The contrite blonde nodded. "I understand. I'm sorry Tessa."
"Just don't do it again, that will show how sincere your promise really is." Tessa said as she crossed the room to the open window.
The dark-haired woman knelt down and quickly scooped up some broken glass and tossed it in the trash. "Looks like the curtains knocked over a glass on the table...no big deal."
"Thanks, Tessa." Casey said softly as the Karê moved to leave.
Tessa had her hand on the doorknob, poised to leave, but she turned at the last moment and leaned heavily against the door.
"Nikki," she said barely above a whisper. "You asked me on my boat if I had a nickname. Well, that's what my friends nowadays call me." She explained to Casey's confused look.
The small blonde crossed the room to where the tall woman leaned against the door. Smiling almost shyly, Casey reached out her hand until it slipped into the Karê's larger one. Tessa's head was screaming at her by this point. She needed to say goodnight, to leave and close the door behind her. Instead the dark-haired woman refused to listen to her conscience and listened to her libido instead.
Holding Casey's hand in her own, she pulled the woman into her arms, feeling the soft, warm body against her chest. The next thing she knew, her lips were pressed against the sweetest mouth she'd ever tasted. When Casey's lips parted and a tongue hesitantly pressed against Tessa's lips, the dark-haired woman not only allowed entry, but permitted the small blonde to take her mouth in a kiss that left the taller woman dizzy. It started out gentle and quickly grew heated, their hungry mouths swallowing one another's moans.
Tessa turned their bodies until Casey was pressed up against the solid oak door, The dark-haired woman's left arm leaning on the door over the girl's head, her right hand stroking the smooth skin of Casey's throat, moving down dangerously low into the girl's cleavage. The hand came up again and slipped around the small woman's neck and Tessa locked her lips fiercely with Casey's.
Tessa was the first to remember where she was and whom she was with. She suddenly pushed away from Casey, holding her at arm's length. She refused to meet the blonde's eyes, simply struggling to control her breathing. I can't believe this is happening. I can't believe I let it happen. Oh, Casey, God how I want you.
Casey placed a palm on the taller woman's chest, her own breathing somewhat erratic.
"I'm sorry, Nikki...I--I...I'm sorry." She repeated, not knowing what else to say.
"No," Tessa removed her hands from Casey's arms; "I'm to blame. I just got...I got a little carried away."
"We don't have to stop." Casey whispered softly.
"Yes...yes, we do...I do. I'd better go," the Karê said and she turned and nearly fled from the room.
Casey leaned her forehead on the door, sighing deeply as she listening to the fading sound of the Karê's boots.
The early morning ferry trip back to Mýkonos was a silent affair. Tessa barely said two words to Casey after the incident in the blonde's bedroom. The Karê returned to using the same distant manner that she had when Casey first arrived in Greece. The dark-haired woman looked miserable and Casey appeared as if her heart were breaking. It was a testament to how well Andreas Meridio actually knew his daughter, for if the man thought there was anything out of the ordinary, he certainly kept it to himself.
Casey didn't even feel like looking at anyone let alone talking. Once back at the estate, she said she had some things to work on in preparation for the dig, which was to begin in two weeks time. She closed the door to her bedroom and stayed there throughout the day. She came down for a cup of tea around midday and even Olympia's Bougátsa, a pastry of sweet custard dusted with cinnamon and sugar, could not entice her. Casey did notice that Olympia and Tessa seemed to be arguing outside on the patio. Both their voices were low, but Casey watched as the Karê gestured strongly with her hands and stalked off toward her father's office.
When Casey was absent from the dinner table, Andreas Meridio looked at the Karê for explanation. Beyond telling the man that his right hand had just broken his daughter's heart, which was not something Tessa was anxious to do, she could offer very little. When Meridio asked her to check on his daughter and fix her a tea if she was feeling ill, there was little the Karê could do but comply with her employer's wishes.
"Ms. Meridio..." Tessa said as she knocked softly against the young woman's door. "Casey?" Her voice called gently once she realized no one else was about.
Tessa's first thought was to tell the small blonde to get her butt downstairs or both of them would wake up at the bottom of the Aegean in the morning. Her next thought was to simply stay by the open door and call the young woman to dinner. Both of those scenarios drifted away when Tessa saw Casey poised on the bench seat in front of the window, her knees bent and her arms wrapped around her legs. The sun was just beginning to set and the window was pushed open, the breeze delicately blowing at the wisps of golden hair that framed her exquisite face. The color of the golden sun gave the woman's image an ethereal quality.
"I'm sorry, Casey," was all Tessa could think to say.
"What are you sorry for?" Casey seemed genuinely surprised at the Karê's words.
"I guess because I can't be the woman you want."
"I think that's my problem...you are the woman I want." Casey replied, displaying a defeated sort of half-smile.
"You wouldn't say that if you knew me, I mean really knew me. You'd change your mind if you understood the kind of person I was...that I am. If you knew the way I treat women." Tessa argued.
"And, you're that bad, that evil that you really think I'd have a change of heart if I knew your secrets?"
Tessa's brow furrowed together and for an unguarded moment Casey thought she saw a deep, unendurable pain swirling within those azure depths.
"Yes." Tessa answered. "I'm not who you think I am, Casey. I am a horrible woman, you had that right on the first day."
Moving to stand behind Casey, the small blonde never saw the hands that trembled slightly as the Karê willed her emotions back in check. Tessa screwed her eyes shut tight. It will only hurt for a short time, little one, and then you can go back to America and find a nice girl that you can spend forever with.
"I'm not the kind of woman that falls in love, Casey. I use women. I take them when I want for what I want. I can be sadistic and cruel, and I can fuck them for one night and never even want to know their name. And, the next morning I can throw them out of my bed without giving a damn about their feelings."
The Karê took a deep breath for this last bit.
"You are beautiful Casey, but you just happened to be the woman standing in front of me at the time I got horny. Don't read anymore into it than that. Don't think I stopped last night out of some chivalrous notions you have about me. I stopped because I like my job here and your father pays me quite well to see that you stay safe. The check I got for saving your life the other day will make a nice down payment on a new boat."
Tessa was breathing rather hard, but hiding it well. She knew the only quick way to get over someone was to find a reason to hate them. She didn't think it would be hard to make herself sound loathsome to the young woman and she was giving the small blonde a lot of reasons.
Casey never looked up at the tall woman; she kept her eyes trained on the sinking sun.
"My father is paying you extra...that's why you've been spending time with me?" The small voice shook.
"Yes," Tessa replied between clenched teeth. "I'm sorry, Casey."
"Hey," Casey tossed her head back, the tightness of her jaw an indication of how hard she was trying to hold back her tears. "You act like you're breaking my heart here. For God's sake all we did was kiss. If I fell in love with every woman I kissed after dinner and a few drinks I'd never get out of bed!"
Casey ran her fingers through her short locks, willing herself not to fall apart in front of this woman. The last thing she wanted was for Tessa to see her cry.
"Please, tell my father that I'll be down in a few minutes."
Tessa raised an eyebrow in surprise. God, this girl has more tenacity than I gave her credit for.
Tessa nodded as she walked through the door and out into the hall. The moment the door was pulled closed both women felt a pain like the thrust of a knife, twisting deep within their hearts.
Casey walked through the large garage that housed half a dozen sports cars, passing by the large space that was meant for the limousine. Her father had taken the limo and left for the evening, citing that it was a men's club he would be at and that it was no place for a young lady. She walked around the sparkling blue car, ensuring herself that there were no scratches. The car just arrived today and as she slipped into the leather interior she was happy to be behind the wheel of her college graduation present once again. The car purred when she turned the key in the ignition and she pulled out of the garage swiftly, not turning on her headlights until she was down the long driveway of the estate.
Casey knew exactly where she wanted to go. She revved the car and turned onto the lane that would take her down into Venetía, or Little Venice. It had been years since she'd been in this town let alone the part of the city she was headed for. Her heart felt empty and she had only one goal. She wanted to be by herself, away from the Karê's prying eyes and she wanted someone to make her feel good.
When she finally pulled up in front of the two-story building with its brightly painted balcony and the sign that said, To Spílaio, The Cave, she knew she was in the right spot. She easily found the parking around the corner; not much had changed. She promised the young boy attending the cars a hefty tip if he saw that no one even dared to breath on her auto, then she took a deep breath and went in through the back door.
A few women looked up from their dart game, but they thought it must be one of the regulars coming through the back door at this hour. The night was early and The Cave was nearly empty, but Casey knew what the next few hours would bring. Every head turned when the beautiful blonde walked straight up to the bar. She kept her eyes from making contact with any one person, and carefully following tradition; in Greek, she ordered a bottle of oúzo and two glasses.
Choosing a table against the back wall, the small blonde poured herself a glass of oúzo and turned the second glass over. A table of twenty-something women smiled at the blonde's action and began to grin and joke with one another. Finally one of the bravest among them stood and straightened her leather jacket. She walked over and stood in front of Casey's table. It appeared the two made conversation for a few seconds, but Casey never turned over the second glass, and so the young woman smiled with good grace and went back to her own table. A few more of the early regulars tried their hand at impressing the woman with the golden hair, who was obviously American, but spoke flawless Greek. Casey never turned over the second glass, but the blonde smiled as she poured herself a second glass of the strong liquor. The night was indeed young.
Tessa sealed the last envelope and in her unhurried precise scrawl she entered the figures in the books that Andreas Meridio would look at first thing in the morning. Crossing the room to the large black safe, that was nearly as tall as her, she put the envelopes of cash into a canvas sack and placed the sack on a shelf inside the safe. She turned her head, her hand instinctively going to the gun ever present at the small of her back when she saw Alex step into the room.
"I almost blew your fucking head off, Vlákas!" Tessa hissed.
"I--I didn't know it was you," Alex stammered. "I thought you went with her."
"With who?" Tessa asked, slamming the safe's door and spinning the handle before she punched a series of buttons on a computerized panel.
"Meridio's daughter." Alex responded, in a confused manner.
"Isn't she up in her room?"
"No, she said--" Alex looked into Tessa's eyes as realization flooded his features. "She said she was pulling the car around to go get you...and you two were going out." He finished slowly.
"She wasn't coming to get you, was she Nikki?"
Tessa's eyebrow arched so high that Alex could only mumble a few prayers in his head, praying to the Virgin for protection from his mentor's temper.
"Are you telling me what I think you're telling me?" Tessa seethed.
"She's gone." Alex said with all the resignation of a dead man.
Tessa turned and stalked from the office and took the stairs to the second floor two at a time. Not bothering to knock she flung open the door to find an empty room. Slamming the door shut behind her, Tessa made her way downstairs and into the foyer, leaving a stream of curses in her wake that even made Alex blush, the young man wondering at the possibility of a few of them.
"I'll go look for her." Alex muttered by way of an apology.
"You," Tessa had her fist clenched and her arm halfway cocked and was ready to lay the brawny man out. She stopped and took a deep breath to get control of herself. Alex wasn't dumb, just not always smart. He let Casey get the better of him, but the Karê had been on the receiving end of that too. The small blonde was cunning when she wanted to be. "You...just stay here in case she comes back. If she shows up call me on the cell phone."
"What if she doesn't?"
"Then you better pray like hell that Meridio doesn't want to give his little girl a good night kiss when he comes home!" Tessa nearly shouted.
Tessa hadn't really been sure in which direction to start out. She went by the beaches and some of the local nightclubs, but no sign of the small blonde. Trying to think like an innocent young woman wasn't terribly easy. Besides the local places she couldn't figure where else Casey would venture. Suddenly the dark-haired woman slammed on the brakes and pulled off the deserted road. Did I say innocent?
Now that she thought about it Casey was anything but innocent. She was a woman with a broken heart and she was hurting. What would Tessa want in that case? To get laid, naturally, to get good and drunk then to find some woman willing to help her forget her heartache. Tessa spun the car back around to head off to the Kástro. If Casey wasn't there then at least the Karê was an expert at where every lesbian bar was located on Mýkonos.
It was one in the morning and The Cave was packed to capacity. Casey had been the focal point of the evening, but she knew what she was looking for and she wasn't about to settle at this point, not for a couple more hours at least. She was close to the halfway mark on her bottle of liquor, but she sipped slowly and enjoyed a few mezés and was able to keep her wits about her. Some of the women were attractive and some charming, but the small blonde kept the second glass on her table turned upside down, a silent invitation to those wanting to capture her affection for either a short time or the rest of the evening. If the waiting woman decided she wanted to join you in a little entertainment upstairs, she turned the glass over and poured you a drink. Once you swallowed the drink and turned the glass back over the deal was signed. It simply meant that the woman was yours for as long as you both were happy with the arrangement. It was a simple tradition, but followed closely and the rules were strictly enforced. Once you drank the offered libation, the woman was yours without grief from those that had taken their chances and lost. This setup tended to eliminate fighting and it lent to the casual sex aura about the place.
It was what The Cave was all about after all. The second floor was a large studio, couches, chairs, boxes, but no lights. You did whatever you wanted to with whomever you chose to be with in the large darkened room, while those around you, sometimes standing or lying right next to you, did the same thing. It was all consenting and you could have it as gentle or rough as your taste preferred. There were no names, no lights, and most of all no complications. There was absolutely nothing responsible about it and that was exactly what Casey wanted.
A shadow fell across Casey's table and when she looked up, she smiled. Very tall, very sleek and muscular, short black hair that fell into her eyes a bit, and when she smiled the brown eyes smiled too.
Brown eyes...well, guess you can't have everything Case.
The tall young woman said hello in perfect English. Casey grinned, but returned the greeting in Greek. Casey indicated the young woman should sit, but didn't yet pour a drink for her new companion.
"You are not Greek I am thinking." The young woman said in a quiet voice.
Casey leaned forward until her elbows rested on the table. "Does that really matter?" She responded in Greek.
Her companion laughed and shook her head back and forth thinking that she could certainly give the beautiful American a night to take back home and tell her girlfriends about.
Tessa was just coming out of Pierro's and she threw the attendant a bill and settled herself in her car. It was twelve thirty and she was actually beginning to worry. She began to think Casey might do something foolish. Picking some Greek girl up in a bar was one thing, but what if the small blonde weren't caring much about life in general. Would she try to hurt herself?
No that's not Casey's style...think, Niko. If you wanted to get laid where would you go? Whorehouse? Possibly, but Casey's the last woman in the world that would have to pay for sex. What if she didn't want anything but a good screw...no questions...no complications...
"Oh, shit!" Tessa cursed aloud. Once again she did a one-eighty and gunned the car up the hill to Venetía.
Casey and the young woman talked for a few more minutes, but still Casey had not turned over the glass. Disappointment was displayed in her companion's eyes.
"Perhaps I should go." The young woman said, rising. Propriety dictated that she stay no longer without Casey offering the drink.
"No, please stay."
The young woman sat back down and motioned to the bottle and the glass.
"Perhaps," Casey offered a seductive smile, her hand circling the base of the bottle, her fingers tapping on it gently.
The stranger reached out her hand and tenderly stroked the length of Casey's hand all the way to her fingertips. The small blonde grinned lazily and watched as the young woman's touch left a trail of goose bumps on her skin. Casey closed her eyes briefly as the pleasurable sensation, but when she opened them she was no longer looking into the brown eyes of a stranger, but her mind let her conjure up an image of a prussian blue gaze and dark skin. Casey thought it wasn't likely to get any better than this tonight as she reached for the bottle of oúzo.
Casey turned the heavy glass over and a number of smirks as well as jealous sighs rose throughout the bar. She filled the glass with a shot of the oúzo and sat back, staring into eyes that had disappointingly turned brown once again. The stranger smiled just slightly as she lifted her hand to accept the drink.
Slender fingers scooped the shot glass up just as the stranger's fingertips grazed the outside of the rim. Casey looked up into Tessa's angry face as the Karê swallowed the liquor in one forceful gulp, slamming the glass upside down onto the table.
"This bar is closed, go home little girl." She hissed at the stranger who was now on her feet. "You, come on." Tessa pointed at Casey.
"Just what in the hell do you think you're doing?" Casey yelled, rising to her feet.
"Taking you home." Tessa yelled back.
"It doesn't sound like your woman wants to go home with you, friend." The stranger commented evenly.
"I don't give a good god damn what she wants and she is not my woman." Tessa replied fiercely.
"Then she is free to stay if she chooses."
"Over my dead body." Tessa said ominously as she grabbed Casey by the elbow.
"I'd hate for that to be the alternative." The stranger said, pulling a long bladed knife from inside her coat.
Tessa stood still for a moment and released Casey's hand, moving away from the small blonde so she wouldn't be in the middle of anything.
"So, you want to play king of the hill, do you?" Tessa smiled a thoroughly evil smile.
The stranger simply smiled back, the same baneful grin.
Casey was caught up in the electrically charged atmosphere that suddenly took over the room. Any amount of a buzz she had going simply disappeared as she stood, stone cold sober, watching as the two women eyed one another warily. The stranger could have been Tessa five or ten years earlier. The same height and build, they measured one another up, waiting to see who would make the first move. They only stood a couple of feet apart and Casey watched as Tessa's left hand moved so fast that it was almost a blur. The dark-haired woman reached to her back, under her leather jacket and pulled out a Glock pistol, pressing it against the stranger's forehead.
"Guess what this means." Tessa spat.
The stranger was no novice to the street or having a gun pointed at her head. She tossed the knife onto the table and winked at Casey.
"I think it means you win." The stranger said.
"I think it means you're smarter than you look." Tessa responded.
The stranger raised her hands and Tessa lowered the gun, then replaced it in her holster. The two women stood there trying to decide what would be done. Casey watched as the fire still burned just below the surface.
"Allright, enough. Tessa, I'm leaving, just...please, both of you calm down." Casey said quietly.
"You don't have to be afraid of her." The stranger said to Casey.
"I'll be allright, thank you for a semi-lovely evening." The blonde replied with a nervous smile.
The stranger gently took Casey's hand, keeping one eye on the dark-haired woman whose lips raised in a menacing sneer as she watched the young woman draw Casey closer.
"She may say you are not her woman, but her eyes tell a different story." The stranger quickly whispered in Casey's ear, smiling then releasing the shocked blonde's hand.
Tessa held out her hand to Casey, but the small blonde walked abruptly past her and out the front door.
If she were my woman," the stranger called to Tessa's back, "I wouldn't give her a reason to come looking in a place like this."
The dark-haired woman never slowed her stride, but the stranger's words struck surprisingly close to her heart.
By the time Tessa reached the parking lot where she knew Casey's BMW was parked, the small blonde had started the car and was preparing to leave.
"I'll follow you to make sure you get home allright." Tessa stated.
"I said I was leaving, I didn't say I was going home."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
"What part of it didn't you get? Do I need to say it slower?" Casey shouted back at the woman leaning over the car.
Tessa felt a rising fireball in the pit of her stomach and she desperately tried to shove the beast down. She was unused to being shouted at or disobeyed, especially by women. She quickly reached in and pulled the keys from the ignition. Casey jumped from the vehicle, slamming the door.
"God damn you, Tessa, give me back those keys!" Casey screamed at the woman.
"Not until you stop acting like a child!"
"Oh, fine, just keep the damn things, I'm going back inside." Casey made a move toward the bar.
"Forget it." Tessa was towering over her in a heartbeat, her hand clamped tightly around the small blonde's wrist.
"Oh, I see," Casey shouted at the dark-haired woman. "You don't want me, but you don't want anyone else to have me, is that it?"
Tessa reached up and grabbed the front of the young woman's blouse; her eyes lit up like blue fire, her gaze narrowing.
"So, is that all you want now...a good fuck?" Tessa said slowly.
"Yea, that's all I want, just one good fuck!" Casey returned hotly.
"Well, you should have told me that, baby." Tessa said pulling the small blonde by her blouse closer until their faces were inches apart. "I would have been glad to accommodate, then you wouldn't have had to sneak all the way down here. Come on." Tessa continued, pulling the small woman to the BMW.
"Get in." Tessa said not waiting for a response before shoving the woman through the passenger side door.
Tessa slid in behind the wheel and adjusted the seat before looking over at the small blonde.
"What's the matter, baby? You said this is what you want, right, just some uncomplicated sex? Trust me, I'll give you the best you've ever had." Tessa teased and mocked at the same time, undisguised lust now apparent in her gaze.
When Tessa started the car and turned out onto the one lane road up into the hills of Ano Merá, Casey had a deer in the headlights look and Tessa knew she had her now.
"Don't worry, baby, it'll be better than anything those little girls back at the bar could give you." Tessa purred.
The Karê's amorous intent was clear and Casey had to make a quick decision. Act like the scared little girl this woman thought she was or fight back.
Casey steeled herself and leaned against the door so she was facing the dark-haired woman.
"I don't know, this sounds like an awful lot of buildup to me. Are you sure your body is going to be able to keep up with that mouth of yours?" Casey said with a confident air.
Tessa slammed on the brakes so hard Casey had to use both hands to keep from being slammed into the dash. The dark-haired woman reached out and grabbed Casey by the back of the head, pulling the smaller woman's body halfway across the gearshift by her hair. Tessa's mouth crushed the stunned lips of the small blonde. She kissed her long and hard, her tongue forcing itself hungrily into Casey's mouth until the Karê heard a small whimper of surrender escape from the small blonde's throat. She pulled Casey away from her roughly, her hand still holding the young woman by the hair.
"Now, anytime you feel my mouth or any other part of my body isn't keeping up, then you just let me know." Tessa put the car back in gear and sped off, not looking across at Casey again until they reached their destination.
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