Disclaimers: No. No Yes. No, I tried that. Yes, both ways. No. I don't know. No, again. Are there any more questions? Good. Thanks. I just needed to say that out loud.


Return to Reality

Part 2


Taylor returned at 10:30 to pick Candace up. The firefighter was excited to spend some more time with the fascinating woman she had found in Candace. On top of that she had a surprise in store that she felt sure little bundle of energy would love.

Candace answered the door in a flurry of motion. She was still in her robe and was waving an eyelash curler in the air.

"Sorry, I didn't allow extra "no-right-hand" time. I'll be ready in a minute or five. Have a seat I'll hurry."

"Calm down. They always make you wait at the doctors office anyway. Can I help you with anything?"

"I hate to ask." Candace was sheepish about Taylor helping her. She had never been the one to play the helpless maiden and yet that was all the woman had done since she met her including saving her life.

"I don't think we will ever get out of the house if I don't so spill it."

"Will you iron my shirt?" *God how embarrassing.*

"Iron your shirt?" Taylor was slightly amused and petrified at the same time. She hated to iron so much that she sent her own clothes out to be pressed. *I can do this*.

"You don't have to if you don't want."

"That's not the problem. Ironing is NOT one of those many skills I boast about, BUT I'll give it a try. You have to promise to forgive me if I screw up."

"You're forgiven already. I would wear a pull-over but with a cast it won't happen." The blonde talked and applied mascara at the same time.

"Alright, show me the way."

The shirt was quite a challenge but, in spite of the length of time it took, it turned out better than she had hoped. By the time she finished Candace had finished her make up and dried her hair.

Being quite proud of herself Taylor wandered out into the hall holding the shirt just so. As she came around the corner she was startled to find a very surprised half dressed woman before her.

"Oh my God! I didn't know you were there. I am so sorry! I didn't....I had.... Here's your shirt."

Taylor thought she was going to die. Not of embarrassment but from an actual heart attack. Candace was more dressed than one would expect at the beach but that lacey, Victoria's Secret looking bra she was adorned in was too much. And that stomach, well it was a playground for sure.

Candace was surprised to run into the tall woman in the hall. She had lived alone for so long that running around in all stages of dress and undress were the norm. Candace found that once again her "make the fire-lady nervous" hobby was enjoyable to say the least. Taylor was not only nervous and blushing she was staring. *This is a good sign*

"Thank you. It looks like you did a fine job." Candace took the shirt from person who had been rendered temporarily mute and slid it slowly over her shoulders. *I am such a tease. I shouldn't do this. Yeah. I should.*

"Could you help me with my buttons? With my thumb immobilized like this it's almost impossible for me."

"You want me to button your shirt?" Taylor was now positive that if she survived this she would live forever.

"If you don't mind. I could just go around all day with it open but people might stare." Putting on a face that was as innocent as she could muster she looked pleadingly at the taller woman.

Dark hair fell in Taylor's eyes as she shook her head while trying to regain whatever composure she had left. "Come here."

The blonde stepped in front of her Knight in Shining Armor and stared intently at her while she manipulated the buttons as best as she could with tremors in her hands. It was torture for Taylor. She didn't want to be closing this shirt up. Every fiber of her being was screaming at her to do just the opposite and more. She wanted to reach out and fondle firm breasts all the while kissing this woman deeply. She dreamed of sliding bra straps down and freeing those breasts to her touch. Nipples that had strained against fabric she wished to be captured between her fingertips. She desired so badly to kiss every inch of the neck that was silken to her touch. Making slow passionate love to this woman was the one thought that was consuming her mind. Her want became physically evident as wetness flowed from her. "Damn." She whispered not meaning to speak aloud.

"What's wrong?" Candace thought she had gone too far with the teasing. It had really become a case of the teaser becoming the tease. Her stomach was turning flip-flops and the blonde was positive that Taylor could detect her craving. Her body was giving her away again.

"Nothing a cold shower won't fix."

Candace, feeling very much the same desires, closed the already small space between them. With her one good arm she pulled the larger woman to her. Instinctively Taylor put both of her arms around Candace and looked down into a sea of desire. The kiss they shared this time lost all pretense of tentative exploration. Their mouths met with fury of passion that belied the length of their relationship. They may have only known of each other for a short time but their lips had never forgotten that their souls had known each other from the foundations of time.

The blonde pulled slowly away not wanting to break the bond but needing to. "We gotta go."

"Yeah. We gotta go."


The trip to the doctors office was routine. The young woman was in the best of physical conditions considering that she had hung upside down on a cliff face for 36 hours. All of the injuries and trauma were well on the way to mending.

Candace met her date for the day in the waiting area. "Bad news. I'm gonna make it."

"So, I'm stuck with having to bend to your every whim for a while, huh?"

"You love it." Candace was kidding.

Taylor wasn't. "Yeah. I do." *The guys are never gonna believe this. I'm whipped. ME. Good Lord a'mighty.*

The seriousness of the statement wasn't lost on the blonde. "You had better watch what you say. I just might hold you to it."

"I'm counting on it." A sly smile accompanied her statement.

"Uh huh. Well, remember I warned you." There was a serious teasing tone to her voice. "Not to change the subject, but I'm starving. I ate a piece of toast this morning and that isn't even close to getting it. Can we eat before you have to go where ever it is you have to go?"

"I have to go to the bank but it can wait. I can't have you wilting away while you're under my care. Where to?"


"Good choice."

Taylor was amazed and amused at the amount of food the hollow legged woman in front of her consumed. It was all food that was good for you and she ate it with abandon.

"Where exactly do you put all of that?"

"High metabolism."

"Right. Remind me I need to save up before I take you out. Maybe I'll set up a "Take Candace to Dinner" fund. I can have telethons and special fund rais......hey!" She was silenced up a polite foot nudge and a threatening look. "OK. It was a joke."

"Ha Ha."

Taylor smirked. She was getting Candace back for the stunt she had pulled in the hall. It had left the fire fighter with a not-so-fresh feeling and paybacks were definitely in order.

When they got to the bank Candace was content to stay in the truck but Taylor insisted that she accompany her inside. "Do I really need to? I love this song."

"Please. It will only take a second."

Candace acquiesced and followed Taylor in. She was surprised when they did not go to the teller. Instead they went to a desk stationed in front of the safe deposit room. After Taylor had signed all the appropriate lines, presented proper I.D. and showed the key the supervisor led them to a private alcove and asked them to remain. In a very short amount of time the woman returned with a box in hand and left it on the counter in front of them.


"Ready for what?"

"This." Taylor unlocked the box and pulled out a soft but aged leather pouch. She untied the strings and emptied the contents out on the surface of the counter. There on a Formica surface in 1999 was a sword and Chakram necklace that had been created 2500 years in the past.

When she beheld the treasures and the implications began to sink in tears welled up in the eyes of the singer and the emotions she thought she could forget came rushing to the surface. "My necklace. Our necklaces. Oh my God, Taylor, my necklace! Where did you ever get it? I don't understand. I don't understand. I need to sit down." She sat down on the chair provided. To say she was stunned would be a huge understatement.

"My great-grandmother left it to me in her will. It has been in my family as long as anyone can remember. It is passed down every third generation. There is a family legend that goes with it. It is said that the one who comes to claim the necklace will reunite the souls who owned it for they are destined to be together. No one has ever understood what that meant. Souls, plural, that owned one object? I am beginning to think that you may be the key to a 2000 year old puzzle."



"2500 years. That's how long ago they were made. You see the necklace is really two pieces. May I?" Taylor nodded and Candace picked up the necklace that she had worn just a short time ago though eons of time had passed. She turned the piece over and found the hidden latch. The two pieces slid apart and became two. "See? The pieces were reunited but I don't see how the souls can be. Xena's, well, she's dead." She hated even saying the words as if not voicing it would make it untrue. She had wanted to pretend that it had all been a dream and now physical evidence was staring her in the face.

"I knew when you described your joining necklaces that this must be it or similar. That's not all I have. Check this out." Taylor once more reached into the box and pulled out another treasure. In a sealed airtight container was a rolled up parchment attached to two wooden spools. She handed the scroll to Candace. The blonde traded the necklace for the parchment.

"Well? Is it?"

Candace turned the scroll in her hands and stopped suddenly. She wanted to scream aloud.

"That's it! That's her seal! This is one of Gabrielle's scrolls! Do you know what this means? Well, I don't even know what it means. What could it mean? What does it mean?"

"Don't ask me! This is all very strange. How in the world did I end up with YOUR joining necklace? The scroll is another thing to bring a little confusion to an otherwise bizarre situation."

"Have you ever had the scroll looked at by a museum or tried to get it translated?"

"I know my grandmother wanted to at one point but great-grandma said the time wasn't right. I think now may be that time. I want to call my mom and ask her what she thinks. What do you say?"

"Let's go!" Candace was excited and a little reluctant at the same time. *Why does Taylor have MY necklace and the scroll. Do the two have anything to do with each other? Man 'o man. This is weird!*

Taylor replaced the artifacts back in the box and returned it to the guard. The two women almost ran people over trying to get to the truck.

Taylor was on the phone almost as soon as the two women were in the door of Candace's house.

"Mom? Hey, it's me."

"Your daughter. Tall. Dark hair. Blue eyes. I look like you a little. Yeah, Taylor. Hang on a sec, K?" She put her hand over the receiver and spoke to Candace, "Can you get on the other line?" The blonde nodded and headed to the bedroom. She returned with a portable and sat down on the couch next to Taylor.

"O.K. Mom. How are ya?"

"We are fine dear. When are you coming to see us?"

"Soon as I can. South Carolina is a ways away." Taylor rolled her eyes. She had just been to see her parents 4 months ago. Her mother acted like it had been 4 years.

"We miss you. Your father says, "Hi, stranger."

"Hi, Dad."

"He wants to know if you have found the perfect woman yet."

"Are you two ever gonna let up?" Taylor was constantly being nagged by her parents to settle down and the direction of the conversation was extremely uncomfortable with the woman of her dreams listening in on the conversation.

"You know you are just too picky. Just find a nice girl and settle down."

"Ma, I didn't call to have you harass me about my love life."

"We worry about you being alone."

"Mom, if you must know," *I can't believe I'm gonna say this* "I have met a really nice woman."

"Are you dating just her? I know how you love to have a harem."

"Mother! We haven't really dated yet."

"SO you've met this nice girl and you're not dating her. This is backwards, honey. You're supposed date the women you want to be involved with not the women you don't. It's no wonder your still single."

Candace was loving it. It was all she could do not to break out laughing. Her head was about to explode from holding it in. She ALMOST felt sorry for the raven-haired woman, but not quite.

Taylor started shaking her head and then dropped it in to her hand. She was taking a beating here.

"Mom, look, we are going to date. Hey, we went to lunch today. Does that count?

"Did you ask her out, pick her up and pay for it?"

"No" A sheepish comment at best. "Mom, come on. She's on the line, could you cool it?"

"She is?! Why didn't you say so. Why is she on the line.?"

"That's why I called you. I need to talk to you about the scroll."

"The scroll? The one Nanny left to you?"

"Yeah. My friend here that says that she knows who wrote the scroll and she says the necklace used to belong to her."

There was silence in the other end of the line.

"Ma? You there?"

"Yes. She says the necklace belonged to her? How is that possible?"

"Hang on, Mom." Taylor covered the mouthpiece once again and spoke to a very wary blonde. "You've got to tell her the story. Condense it as best you can."

"She'll think I'm a nut!"

"No, she's very open to things like this. She loves all that previous life, crystals, karma stuff.

Just tell her."

"O.K. Does she have a name?"

"Call her Kat. Short for Katerina." Candace nodded.

"Mom? I'm going to let you talk to her. Her name is Candace, and Mom, be nice."

"I'm never mean to your friends, dear, I save that privilege for you."


"Hello, Candace. So, young lady, how is it that you think you are heir to the family jewels?"

"I am not sure where to begin so I'll start at the beginning. I'm giving you the short version that way my phone bill won't break me next month. It all started with this dream.............."

It was over an hour before the younger woman had finished her story. ".....and I ended up hanging on the cliff for a day and a half before I was saved by your heroine daughter, who, by the way, bears a strong resemblance to Xena her self. It's a very odd coincidence."

"I find that coincidence is more often a cosmic plan than luck. Candace, I only have a couple of questions. How do you know the necklace is the same one?"

"Mom, she took the two pieces apart by a secret latch. We didn't even know it was two separate pieces. Even the appraisers never saw it. The only way she could have known was if she had first hand knowledge of it."

"I guess that's a reasonable assumption. Next question. Have you kissed my daughter yet?"

"MOTHER!" Taylor felt the heat start a slow crawl up her face. Crimson was a good color on her.

"Calm down Tay. Your gonna have a heart attack." The blonde smiled at her would be lover. "Why, do you ask, Kat?" Candace liked the mother's boldness. It was refreshing to her and she was loving the drop in Taylor's comfort level. She and Kat would make wonderful allies.

"Well, you kissed that warrior woman right off. Just wanted to know if you have taken control of the situation there yet."

"As a matter of fact I have kissed her and quite well I might add. I have found that, with certain women, you have to get their attention right away."

"Atta girl! Keep a tight reign on that one, sweetie. She's wily." Kat laughed on the other end of the line.

"Alright! That's enough! Remind me to keep you two in separate parts of the country at all times." The harassed woman feigned anger. "Now that you are finished, how about the scroll?"

"If I recall correctly I learned something of The Xena Scrolls while I was in college. I took an archeology course for fun. It was fascinatin'."

"Xena scrolls?"

"They are a set of scrolls that were discovered in Greece in the '40's. I'm trying to recall the professors name. Paltis? Packiss. Pompous? No..................Pappas! That's it Pappas and her *ahem* partner Dr. Covington. My heavens, they were in their 50's then. They would be in their 80's by now if they're still alive. I would never have thought that we had a Xena scroll. It was believed that they had uncovered all or most of them. The one you have was in our family long before the discovery of the Xena Scrolls. I wonder if Nanny knew what she had. It's worth a fortune if it's real."

"How do we find out?"

"The only real way to be certain is to have it translated. I think Nanny would have agreed that now is the time. The problem is that only Professor Pappas and Dr. Covington know how to translate the writings. The author, Gabrielle, had secret little codes and dialects she used to write. It made it difficult and no one wanted to waste time learning to translate what most believed to be fairy tales. We need to find out if either of the women are still living. Tell you what, I'll check at the college and see if they have any information on them. You two check the internet for anything on the Xena Scrolls. Candace do you have a computer?"


"Good. I'll try to call back. If you're on-line I'll drop an e-mail. What's your address?"

"CandHand@hotplace.com. Phone here is 303-555-8976."

"Canned Ham?"

Candace laughed at the mistake. "No. C-A-N-D-H-A-N-D."

"Interesting. Does it stand for something?"

"Yeah. I'm a sign language interpreter, thus hand, and the first four letters of my name."

"Gotcha. O.K. girls talk with you soon."

"Bye, Kat. Nice meeting you."

"You too dear. Keep an eye on my girl, will ya?"

"My pleasure." It was more than a pleasure and she kissed Taylor on the cheek to prove it.

"Bye, Mom. I love you. Tell Dad I love him, too."

"I, will dear. Bye-bye."

"So you've met a nice girl have you? I'd like to meet her sometime." Candace couldn't help but make a comment on Taylor's confession.

Taylor knew the ribbing was never going to end. "I am never letting you two in the same room together let alone while I am there."

"You're assuming that I am going to be in your life long enough to meet your mother. Am I?"

"Aren't you?" Taylor realized that she had indeed jump to conclusions concerning their new relationship. She knew about lesbians and the tendencies they had for packing up the U-Haul in the first week. She had never been the type to get that kind of involved. She gathered from her story, that Candace had been single for a long time before she met Xena. That was another situation the two needed to talk about soon.

"Yeah, I think I will be." Smiling green eyes met blue again and all thoughts of reason were lost. The small blonde woman was becoming accustomed to kissing the tall heroine that had saved her life and perhaps her sanity. *I can't lose you again. Again? Was there a first time?* She tried to figure out what it all meant but the thought process was lost as the power of the kiss deepened.

Taylor lifted the smaller woman to her lap. Candace took advantage and moved to position herself facing Taylor and straddling the long muscular legs of her companion. Wrapping her one good arm around Taylor's neck she pressed her body tight against the longer form beneath her.

Taylor responded to the contact with moan that was more like a whimper. She ran large callused hands down the well defined back of her dream woman. She came to the waist of the blondes jeans and pulled out the well iron shirt that had taken great effort to tuck in. Her hands snuck under the material of their own accord and both women melted when skin touched skin. The exquisite sensation emptied their minds of all thoughts except of the passion they felt at that very moment. Without thinking the firefighter slid hands up to hooks and suddenly the hooks were no longer attached to each other. The feeling of a naked back under her hands was putting her in another state of existence. It was as if she were no longer in charge of where her hands went or what they did. She couldn't help but wonder if someone else were directing her actions. Hands gripped a small waist and moved slowly up the sides. Palms caressed and cupped firm breasts. Her long thumbs extended inward and found their destination. Candace's nipples' responded to her touch instantly. The hardened protrusions begged to be manipulated between gently insistent fingers. Taylor was prepared to oblige them when she came to what she thought were her senses. She pulled her hands away and broke the kiss. Confused green eyes still full of desire looked at her.

"Candace, I can't do this. At least, not yet. God, I am so sorry. I want you so bad, but....." Blue eyes fell down so that they didn't have to see the disappointment in the beautiful blonde woman's face.

Kind hands caressed the face of the forlorn one. Candace lifted Taylor's face to hers.

"Babe, you don't need to worry about it. Believe me, I understand. Lord! Do I understand. But, slow is a good thing. I let it happen as much as you did, so don't blame yourself." This said she placed the tenderest kiss on Taylor that the tall woman had ever felt.

The blue eyed woman had never felt so loved than at that very moment and she didn't even know if it was love. She did know that she loved and that was all that mattered.

"Ya know it's really uncomfortable having my bra hanging down like this. Excuse me for a minute while I go take care of it." Candace placed another peck on Taylor's lips and took off for the bedroom.

Candace struggled with buttons as her left hand fought to undo her top. The thumb on her right hand had been immobilized by the cast and she couldn't hold on to anything. It was driving her nuts. She finally removed her shirt and bra. She decided to sacrifice one of her sweatshirts to the cast cause and with great difficulty cut the cuff and threw the shirt over her head. Her thoughts were becoming as frustrating as her clothes dealings *What am I doing? Is this just a rebound or am I falling for this Xena twin? Gabrielle, where are ya when I need ya? I don't know if I can do this on my own.* At that moment the complete gravity of what she had lost hit her and she crumbled. As silent tears fell she realized that the walls had been up so high she was afraid to let them down for fear of what may lay behind them. She had lost a huge part of herself that she had come to depend on for support, advice and encouragement. Suddenly thoughts entered her head. *You will need to find those things on your own.* *GAB?* *Candace, remember this. Everything that I am, you are. You have the answers.* As quickly as the thoughts came she was gone. *GAB!!!!* There was only silence left in the wake of the sudden passage of a soul she understood. *I have the answers, huh? Well, what the hell are they? I 'm not even sure I know the questions. Everything you are, I am? Could that be any more cryptic at all?*

"This isn't getting me anywhere!"

"Who ya talking to?" Taylor could tell the blonde was crying but wasn't about to push the issue.

Candace jumped at the sound of Taylor's voice. "Don't sneak up on me like that!" The blonde was truly angered, but was mostly out of frustration. She forcefully wiped the tears from her face and looked at the tall woman in her room.

Taylor was taken back by the biting sound coming from the small woman. She stood to her full height and replied indignantly, "I just came to check on you. You've been back here a while. Sorry."

Candace was immediately remorseful for the attitude she had shown to woman who had been nothing short of wonderful to her. "God, Tay. I am so sorry. It just seems like so many things are coming down on me all at once. My stupid arm, missing my friends, seeing those necklaces, the scroll, Xena........you." She said the last part almost as a question.

The comment hurt but the firefighter wasn't going to jump to conclusions about what the little sign interpreter meant. Many things could be read into the statement. The poor woman had been ripped away from the one she loved and here she was faced with the possibility of another relationship. *She's right. I am a problem for her. Damn!*

Look. I think you need some time to yourself, so I'm gonna go home and hang for a while. I need to check on the dog anyway. She's got a doggy door but she misses me. I know we need to look those women up but I think it can wait a bit. If you want to talk here's my number. It's my cell phone so you can reach me no matter what." The tall woman turned to leave and felt a gentle hand touch her arm. As she turned she was pulled into a tight embrace.

"You know it's O.K. to be sad, Candace. You lost a major part of your life. I don't expect you to turn off those feelings and forget what happened, I don't think you should expect to either."

The small person in her arms began to shake as tears fell. There were no words that either one of them could speak that would waylay the enormity of emotion that was flowing out with the shedding of each tear that spilled. Candace had been so overwhelmed with every new experience that had come to her since her return, that she had been able to put aside the facts. The facts were that the ache she had in her soul was beyond her ken and she wasn't sure if she would ever recover. She was mourning the loss of a love that had ceased to exist 2500 years in the past. Then there was Gabrielle. Her friend. There was no way she could ever go to therapy and try to explain how she missed the friend that had been in her head. Candace started to giggle as the thought of telling her therapist about her schizophrenic experience and the fact that she missed the voices in her head.

"I am such a mess!"

"I'll say. From tears to laughter in seconds. You are work of art! What's so funny?"

"Let's just say, if I ever go in for therapy it's going to be hard to explain. Taylor, I don't want you to leave yet. Let's go get on line and see if we can find Professor Pappas and Dr. Covington. I'll set you free after that as long as you promise to come back." Candace pulled back and looked straight in to heaven. It melted her completely. "I think I need you around."

Taylor kissed the top of Candace's head and nodded. "Alright, little one, if it makes you happy."

The blonde head shook at the words "Tay, do me a favor. Stop talking like her will ya?"

"What did I say?"

"Nothing. Let's go."

The pair went down the hall to the extra bedroom slash office and Candace logged on.

"Alrighty. First, let's see if we can find anything on The Xena Scrolls." She typed in the words and hoped to find a little something. What they got was a whole lot of something. "Holy cow! Look at all the sites. Which one?"

Taylor suggested web site that was posted by the University.

"Good idea."

The site had several different topics from which to choose. Translation techniques, history of discovery, excerpts from actual translations, and a history of the women who found the scrolls themselves and a story about Ares and the discovery of some of the scrolls

"Where to first?" Green eyes were full of wonder. She had seen a few of the scrolls and held them in her hands. She knew a portion of the stories, some of them told to her by Xena herself. Seeing this was too amazing for words.

"Let's check out how they were found. That could be interesting."

Candace clicked the box and they waited for the screen to come up. When it did both women where shocked into silence. The picture before them was uncanny. Two women. One short, blonde and full of fire wearing a fedora, jodhpurs and a leather bomber jacket. The other tall with long dark hair and quite properly attired in a skirt suit. But there was no mistaking the resemblance.



"Do you see what I see?"


"That's us. Well, 50 years ago, but they look, we look... and you..."

"Yeah, you, too."

"HUH! Amazing. You look great in a dress."

"I'll wear a dress when you start wearing a fedora."


The two spent the better part of two hours exploring and discovering more about Xena and Candace spent part of that time saying, "They have that wrong." or "That's not how it happened."

"Candace, they can't have it all wrong."

"I didn't say they had it all wrong. Some of it is Gabrielle's exaggerations, but they do have a few details in the wrong spots. I suppose it doesn't matter though. I heard the stories from Xena so it's possible that I am taking them from her perspective."

"It says here that the Professor and her doctor "friend" live in Arizona. Friends that live together for 50 some odd years and never date men or get married. Some kinda friends, eh?" Taylor smirked and a twinkle shone brightly in her eyes both eyebrows dancing up and down.

Candace didn't know whether to kiss her or run so she kissed her.

"What was that for?"

"You must have needed it."

Dark brows furrowed. "Right. O.K.. Back to the task at hand if you don't mind. We should be able to get their phone number from directory assistance. Area code 602. No wait, just dial 411 and ask for Phoenix, no Scottsdale."

"Are you done?"

"Yeah, that's it."

"Who's name do I use?"

"Try Covington first. If not then ask for Pappas."

"Are you sure you're not a rocket scientist?"

"Ha ha. Funny. NOT."

Candace picked up the phone and dialed directory assistance. "Scottsdale please. Listing for a Doctor Janice Covington. I don't know the address." After a brief pause Candace gave Taylor the thumbs up and started writing. "Got it!"


"OK you call."

"Me? Why me?"

"Because you own the scroll and know the story behind it, and you are a big, strong, brave firefighter girl. UH!"

The big, strong, brave firefighter girl was more than amused by her cohort. It was time to return the ribbing. "You are so strange. Why I am hangin' out with you I'll never know." She received a playful slap on the shoulder for her good-natured behavior. "Alright, I'll do it. But what do I say?"

"That you have something that only they can help you with and tell the story."

"Think they'll believe it?"

"You have the scroll. It's my story they are going to have a problem with. But I know a lot more about Xena than they do I'll bet!"

"There's a given. Hand me the phone." The blonde obliged and Taylor began to dial numbers. "Go get the other phone. I want to be on the line to make sure I don't screw this up."

"I don't think there is any way to screw it up, my love."

"My lo...." There was an answer on the other end of the line that interrupted her sentence.


"Hello. Is this the Covington residence?"


"Is Dr. Covington in?"

"Who wants to know?"

"Uh...my name is Taylor Tosnikos. She doesn't know me."

"You're tellin me. What do you want?"

Taylor heard another voice in the background. "Jan, must you give everyone who calls a hard time?"

"It's probably some ass-hole selling something, Mel. Now hush and let me deal with this."

She spoke to Taylor again. "I asked you what you want, now speak up before I hang up."

Taylor and Candace were almost on the floor laughing at the two women. Spunk was a massive understatement when it came to the woman on the other end of the wire. Taylor gathered her self long enough to get an answer out.

"I have a scroll I need translated."

"What in God's name makes you think we can or even want to translate a scroll for you? Do you have any idea how many people ask us for help with that kind of stuff. Work hard all your life to make a name for yourself and all you're good for is charity. Mel! Will you hush for a minute. Some college kid looking for help with their homework again. Isn't that right?"

"No ma'am. I haven't had homework in years, but I really think you're the only ones that can help us."

"Us? You got a mouse in your pocket?"

"My friend and I. Dr. Covington it's a long story, but I think I may have a Xena scroll."

"There aren't any more Xena scrolls. It's a fake."

"All due respect ma'am, I don't think so. It's been in my family so long no one remembers where it came from and Candace says the seal is Gabrielle's"

There was a long moment of silence and then some muted talking and the sound of the phone switching hands.

"Pahdon my friend. Do y'all have name?"

"I'm Taylor my friend's name is Candace."

"I'm Melinda. It's a pleasure to meet you. Taylor, you say you may have a Xena scroll, is that true?"

"Yes ma'am."

"And your friend's name is Candace? She wouldn't happen to be on the short side with blonde hair and green eyes?"

"Big appetite."


"That's her all over. Why?"

"I can't say without meetin her. It wouldn't do us any good to try to sort out a mystery ovah the phone. Where do you girls live?"


"Ever been to Phoenix?"

Candace piped in. "I have." Taylor looked at her. "Well, I have."

"Good you'll know what clothes to being then."

"Excuse me professor. Are we going to Phoenix?"

"How do we expect to see if the scroll is real or not?"

"We could Fed-ex it."

"No deah. If it's real, it's a priceless ahtifact. That is not acceptable. I'll get you e-tickets if you just tell me when you can come."

"You're going to buy the tickets?"

"Mel! What the hell are you doing? We're not made of money ya know!

"Jan, we most certainly ah and you are just being a stingy old woman!

"Who you callin 'old' there girl!"

"Janice! Go out and play with your friends will you? You are drivin' me batty."

Melinda returned her attentions to the young woman on the phone.

"Don't you pay her no never mind. She gets grouchy when she can't get in 6 rounds of golf a week. Yes deah, we will pay for your way here. If what you have is truly a Xena Scroll you won't ever have money problems. You can pay me back if you feel the need."

"We also have a necklace. Candace says it's a... What did you call that?"

"A Chakram."

"Yeah, a Chakram and a sword."

"Oh my! We need to get you here as soon as possible. Are the artifacts in a safe place?"

"I have them in a safe deposit box."

"Excellent. Do you know when would be a good time for you to come see us for a few days?"

"Do you want both of us to come?"

"Most definitely. I need to meet the woman that thinks she knows Gabrielle's seal. As far as I know, only Janice and I know what it looks like. It keeps frauds at bay. There are other reasons I want you both here but now is not the time to go into that. Tell y'all what, you two discuss it and call me back."

"Will do. And thank you for your time."

"Thank you deah. This whole thing may be the ansah to a 55 yeah old mystery. I'm lookin' forward to meetin' you in person."

"You don't even know us."

"Sure I do. You just don't know that yet. Talk to you soon. Good bye."

"Bye." Taylor hung up and looked at Candace. She was not surprised to find that the smaller woman was just as confused as she was.

"Well, Tay. Are you ready to go to Arizona?"

"I suppose. When can we go?"

"I'm not going back to work for a while so for me any time is fine. What about you. Can you get time off?"

"Today is Wednesday right? I work tomorrow and Friday and then I'm off for six days. We could leave Friday after I get off or first thing Saturday morning and come back next Wednesday. What do you want to do?"

"Either day. Let's call and see what is best for them. That Dr. Covington seems kinda bitchy don't you think? I hope she is nicer in person."

"I think the Professor knows how to handle her. Once they see we have the real thing I think she'll open up a bit. Well, calm down anyway."

Candace called this time and it was decided Saturday morning was best. This way Taylor would have time to go get the contents of the safe deposit box and pack.

Taylor stood up and moved to go to the front door.

"Candace, I'm gonna go home and check on the dog. I think you could use some rest and a break from my wonderful company. Ummm... Would you like to go out to dinner with me?"

"Like, on a date?"

Taylor blushed as if it were the first time she had ever asked a woman out. "Yeah, like on a date."

"Just me? No other women crawling out of the woodwork?"

"Just you, Candace. It will always be just you." She had moved close to the shorter woman and lifted her face so Candace could gauge the truthfulness of the statement.


Touched by the sincerity of the comment there came a blush on fair cheeks. "I'd love to go out to dinner with you. What time?"

"I'll pick you up at 7:00. O.K.?"

"Yeah. Do I need to dress up?"

"Just look nice. Nothing fancy."

"Alright. I'll see you soon."

"Soon." Taylor leaned over a caught tender lips one more time before she left. "Those lips are going to be the death of me."

"Think those are good, you should see the rest."

"I'm a dead woman.", she said with a smile on her face. "Bye!"

"Bye darlin."

Continued - Part 3


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