Disclaimers: See the first part. This is a big 'ol lesbian story. If that makes you go 'ick', why on Gods green earth have you read this far? Things get a little tense in these chapters, but it'll all work out. I hope!!
Return to Reality
The next morning found Candace shuffling into the kitchen with eyes half open in search of "The Nectar of the Gods". Her beloved coffee. It seemed that the rest of the group had been up for a while and were sitting around the table quite deep in discussion.
"S'cuse me." The groggy words almost went unnoticed. Melinda turned her head and grinned at the sight of the half-awake blonde.
"Well, lookie here. Day lights a burnin girl."
"C'mon. I am on VACATION....what time is it anyway? Wait. First, where's the coffee?"
"Have a seat deah. I'll get you a cup. Cream and sugar?"
"Just cream, thank you." Candace sat down next to Taylor and leaned a very mussed up head against her strong shoulder. "So, what's so interesting?"
Taylor leaned over and kissed the crown of the blonde head. "Just talking about you." It was by far Taylor's favorite subject.
"Me? What could possibly be so interesting about me?"
"I dunno. Maybe like how I found you hanging by a thread on a hundred foot cliff."
"I think that's more about you than me. I don't remember much about it."
"I was trying to explain them that when I saw your face I felt as if I recognized you. That's not really right though. My heart recognized you. Oh, I don't know." The firefighter was at a loss as to how to illuminate her feelings on that day.
"You never told me any of this."
"I didn't? It was part of the reason I ended up at your bedside."
"Um. Thank you, Mel." Candace took a sip of brew and sighed. "This is all very interesting. It is the same reason I ended up at the station looking for you."
"I wondered about that. Why did you come?"
"At first it was guilt. I treated you so poorly when you came to the hospital. I wanted to apologize for bad-girl behavior. Then, it was as if I was drawn to see you. You look so much like Xena. I thought that was the reason. Now I'm not sure."
"Why not?" Janice couldn't stand it any more and had to ask some questions herself.
"Well, Doc. I can't put a finger on it yet, but there seems to be some kind of link between us. Like she said, it's hard to explain. I felt as if not only did I need to apologize, but I needed to see her, too. I was drawn to find out who she was and where she worked. That kind of thing"
"I think I understand. Mel and I share a similar bond. You seem to know when the other is in trouble, or when they are in the room without having to look. Those types of things."
"I don't know if it's that strong, but yeah. I felt that kind of bond with Xena, I do know that."
Taylor looked dismayed at the comment but kept to herself. She knew she felt all of those things about the singer but didn't understand why Candace didn't feel them in the same way. *Maybe I'm kidding myself here. She might be the right one for me, but am I the right one for her. I hadn't thought of that. I think I need to back off a bit.*
"Maybe it's just a matter of time, deah. You never know what will happen."
"I guess you're right, Mel, but I felt it with Xena right away."
"That had to be because of Gabrielle." Melinda could sense the turmoil churning away within the firefighter. Strangely enough she had a sense of Taylor herself. *That's odd. Then again nothing about any of this is exactly normal.*
"I thought so, too, but she didn't seem to think so. She said all of that was me. It wasn't the same bond they shared, that's for sure. You would have thought those two were the one's that put the pull in magnetic power it's self."
"So we have read. There is no doubt that theirs was a love that transcended all rationale. Of course I have enjoyed that for many years now, so I am not one to speak."
Melinda looked up in absolute shock. "Why Janice, that is perhaps the sweetest thing you have ever said! Kiss me before I swoon!"
The doctor blushed a deep shade of crimson and grinned. "Ah, Mel. You know I love you more than anything."
"I know you do my love, you just aren't one for sayin' the most romantic lines in the book. And that was definitely romantic." The tall older woman bent to her partner and planted a kiss on the top of her ear. The good doctor turned her head to receive and very loving look and another kiss this time full on the mouth.
"Sugar overload! You two are getting too sweet for me!" The blonde woman's eyes were full of amusement and not a small amount of jealousy. She remembered a time not too long ago that she shared the same emotions with a very alive Xena. Those memories were painful and she wondered if she would be able to move on soon. Confusion seemed to be the dish of the day and it was still early. *This is not something I want to have to chew on all day.*
"Taylor?" Blue eyes turned to meet hers and she saw the pain held within them. *This isn't going at all well! Damn.* "I think I want to hang out here today and go over some of Gabrielle's writings. Maybe I can find something that would help me figure this all out. You don't mind do you?"
"I don't mind. I still want to go sight seeing. K?"
"You alone with KaeLynn? I don't know ." The humor was tinged with a slight bit of jealousy. *Oh, this is good. I am confused and jealous at the same time. This is going to be a looong day!*
"I think I'll be in good hands."
"That's what I'm afraid of."
"You can trust me! I'll take goood care of her!" Kae was playing into the situation and Candace was becoming more uncomfortable by the second.
"Candace, you're not going with us today?"
"No. My brother used to live here, so I've been around town.. You guys go and have fun."
"Fun indeed! We're gonna go find out where the HOT BABES hang out!" Amber eyes, filled with amusement, caught a not so pleased glance from an emerald eyed, blonde hot-head. KaeLynn was going to push this. She had always been quite the match-maker and this was a perfect opportunity. One green-eyed monster was what this situation needed. Candace needed a twinge to go through that pretty little head of hers and KaeLynn knew just how to make that happen. *I am sooo bad!*
"We are?" Perfect eyebrows raised high up into Taylor's hair line. She was surprised to say the least. "You're joking right?" She thought she might panic. *What is Candace going to think about this? And I care, why? Ummm?*
"I think we should. There are some great places to sight-see. If you get my drift." Flickering eyebrows raised up and down mischievously.
"I do, but " Why she was hesitating was beyond her. Candace wasn't the least bit interested in her. Well, the earlier conversation was a dead give away that their feelings were NOT mutual. Candace was still, not surprisingly, emotionally with Xena. It hurt Taylor but it was a situation she couldn't overlook. Getting hooked on someone who's heart was not available was a huge no-no. She had waited a very long time for the right woman to come along and she was not going to let her libido lead the way. There was no denying how she felt about the signer, but maybe she wasn't 'The One' after all. She had had dreams so real confirming how she felt that she couldn't deny the reality of the concept. There was a certain woman for her but shouldn't that woman feel the same about her? *I mean, shouldn't these feelings be returned?*
"But what? It'll be a hoot." This was like pulling teeth and she was not a dentist.
Having made up her mind to let it go, Taylor grinned brightly and nodded. "Alright! Let's do it!"
"Atta girl! Let's go! We'll see you kids later."
Without so much as a glance back the women were on their way out the door.
"Good.." The sound of the door slamming made Candace jump. "......bye. See ya." She finished the sentence to no one in particular and suddenly felt the emptiness well up in her heart. She was aware for the first time that indeed, she felt Taylor's touch quite strongly. When the woman left, a hole remained where her heart was supposed to be. *This is not good. I can be so incredibly stupid sometimes.* She hung her head and placed it in her hands. Tears threatened, but didn't fall. Through clenched teeth her anger and frustration at the situation was being held in check.
Melinda witness to the whole scene, knew that her granddaughter was a meddling matchmaker wanna-be with good intentions. What she had failed to take into consideration was the fragile state of the woman who's heart was in turmoil. "Candace, they won't get into any trouble. That was all for your benefit."
"KaeLynn thinks you need to be together NOW. Right this second. She has no regard for the intricacies of your situation."
"Even if she did, I would be in no position to complain. I am so caught up in my own world here I am forgetting her and her feelings for me. Strange thing though, I think it makes me a little 'uncomfortable' to think she might be.......even looking. Now who's being the typical messed up lesbian. 'I don't want her but I don't want anyone else to have her.' Sick."
"Do you know that you don't want her?"
"That's too strong. I want answers first. I swear though, anyone touches her, or vise versa, and the Amazon Warrior in me is gonna make a rapid appearance."
"KaeLynn may have been right. She seems to think that your jealousy will bring you to your senses. Trust me, she won't let Taylor do anything she might regret."
"Jealousy has been known to work in the past, Mel. Remember that copper-headed hussy in New York."
"Yes, Jan, I remember quite well. Thank you. " Fire rose in Mel's blue eyes as she recalled the curvaceous bimbo that had thrown herself at Janice's feet, among other things.
'"You were fit to be tied. I have never seen in all my days a woman huffin' and puffin' like you did over that one. It was very flattering having two women competing over the likes of me."
"Huffin' and puffin'? I have NEVER huffed and puffing is out of the question. You are making things up."
"Oh! You wish! Candace, you should have seen her. Hurrrmmph this and Hummph that. Rolling her eyes and strutting around like she had a right. She sure lost her religion."
"She was shameless, Janice! Throwin' her tits around and rubbing up on you every chance she could get." Mel began to prance around the room, in a style unbecoming to a proper southern woman, while doing her best bimbo imitation. "Ooooooh! Dr. Covington. You are soooo smart. I just loooove a smart woman." The tall professor began to rub her body up and down Jan's back causing the Dr. to blush and laugh.
"Now, Mel, it wasn't that bad. Besides it opened your eyes big and wide."
"Janice Covington! My eyes were wide open, Thank you very much! If you had let me know, in some small way, that you found me attractive, I would have kicked that little tramps ass all the way back to Toledo. 'Scuse my French."
Candace couldn't help but laugh at the display before her. These two were a pair that had been destined from the beginning. Their display took a bit of the edge off of her mood. And by gosh, she was in a mood. She had been in emotional upheaval since....well since she had been abandoned by Xena and Gabrielle. She couldn't blame it on the two women. She felt that was one of her biggest problems. There was no one to blame for the predicament she was in. And what a predicament it was! She had just gotten married, OK, Gabrielle had gotten married, but she had still been in love with the great Warrior Princess. Now, thrust back into her own time, that really wasn't her time anymore, she was lost. If she had not met Taylor she might not have "stayed". She didn't know. Meeting the tall, gorgeous firefighter had been a blessing and a boon at the same time. Candace was well aware that Tay was a key to something, but to what was a mystery to her. The way she felt about the blue eyed woman confused her even more. Yes, it was true she 'felt' and felt for Taylor, but fear kept her from opening up to any more emotion than she felt she could handle. Patience was what she needed from Taylor and answers were what she needed from WHOEVER had them. Good luck!
"Yoo hoo! Are you in there? Candace?"
"Huh? Oh, sorry I was way out there."
"That and my never ending adventure. I miss Xena and Gabrielle and Ephiny. I could name a hundred friends I wish I could at least say good-bye to. It just isn't right." Candace was empty in more ways than one. She was trying to adjust and was not succeeding.
Mel placed a gentle hand on the back of Candace's bowed head and placed a soft kiss atop it. "Sweetheart, it's gonna be alright. Jan and I are experts on The Xena scrolls. The answers to all of this are in them somewhere. If it's not in the one that our Taylor brought with her. Let's talk about that necklace while we're at it."
"While we're at it?"
"I'm takin your mind off things. How'm I doin'?"
"Fine. What about the necklace?"
"Gabrielle wrote about it and even drew a picture of it, them. She and Xena wore them as a sign of their union and in honor of some unknown hero. I think that hero must be you."
"I am not much of a hero."
"You were in a battle over water and land rights at one time, right?" Janice was aware of where her partner was going with this.
"Yeah. Gabrielle was there, too remember."
"We'll remember. Tell us about it."
Candace related to the archeologist and the professor the tale of the bloody battle on the fields of Amazonia. She had stood her ground as the self appointed protector of Ephiny after Trèsha had fallen. Three arrows had pierced her through. One in the shoulder, one an inch into her left side and the last had nicked her femoral artery and had broken her leg. She had suffered great injury, but Queen Ephiny and the Amazons, had survived because of hers and Xena's actions. Candace had been a very long time in recovery. Xena had figured out during the ensuing war 'who' was occupying her pretty little head. It was all the warrior could do to hold on to her sanity. Xena was in love with her and now the dark haired woman didn't know who occupied the body of the blonde. Was she Candace? Was she Gabrielle? Was she both? Was it a situation like it had been with Autolycus?
"I guess I drove her crazy. In more ways than one."
"She figured it out. Those white spots on your skin, are they where the arrows hit?" Being an archeologist Janice was very observant. The smallest details and the ability to theorize about them in light of the given evidence was a talent she possessed. Tales of the battle had been authored by Gabrielle. Those tales told of two warriors, one tall and valiant, one golden haired and relentless, who fought together, side by side and turned the tide of the conflict. The injuries sustained by the emerald eyed warrior exactly matched those on the blonde sitting in her kitchen this very moment.
Candace looked down at her thigh in surprise. She was so used to the scars that she hadn't stop to think that they had stayed with her. The scarring was gone but in their place were round marks on her skin lacking any pigment. "Wow! Check it out. I didn't notice, but yeah, this is where the worst one hit here on my leg."
"You were....ARE...a hero, in every sense of the word. 'The hero who comes to claim the necklace will unite the souls destined to be one.' It is written in the scroll Gabrielle wrote of their wedding. They had another union after......after you left, using the necklaces Xena had had made. I think Artemis helped them to make that decision. After all, Gabrielle was at the first union. She planned most of it for God's sake. Long story short, O.K., long story long, you are the hero come to claim the necklace."
"Me? This keeps getting deeper and deeper. The thought plickens. Taylor told me the 'souls destined to be one' thing, but she said RE-unite, not unite and she didn't say anything about a hero. Are you sure?"
"Yep. A hero and unite. Translated it myself."
"Who are the souls and what do I have to do with it?"
"Let us get started on the translation of that scroll and we may find an answer for you."
"I don't know where Taylor put it."
"She gave it to me this morning deah, while you were still sleepin'." Mel had been keeping a close ear on all that was being said while she cleaned up the kitchen.
"Of course. Plenty of things can go on while one is asleep. Just ask Gabrielle. She told me of times when Xena would be knocking the whiz out of a band of marauders and she would sleep right through it! I must be related to her."
"You probably are. It's a given that Taylor is related to Xena....and Mel."
"I am almost positive. She has the scroll passed from generation to generation, Greek last name and those eyes. Gotta be a dominant gene there."
"So then Taylor is related to you." Candace nodded at Taylor's look alike and smiled.
"I am sure, but removed many times."
"Aunt Mel. I think that sounds nice."
"What if I'm her cousin? Cousin Mel just doesn't have the same effect does it?"
Again the older woman had brought a humorous twist to an odd situation. Candace laughed and was glad for the distraction.
"Tell you what, you and I need to spend some time going over some of the scrolls after you "left". It may give you some peace of mind. Dr. Jan is going to translate the "Taylor Scroll' while we are otherwise occupied. Sound good to you?"
"Yeah. Yeah, that sounds good." Turning to the archeologist Candace asked, "When do you think you will have it done?"
"Depending on the length, probably this evening. Mel will have to look at it when I am finished to make sure that there are no errors."
"Honey, I am quite confident of your skills as a translator. I want it to be a suprise. If you have any trouble come get me, otherwise read it to all of us as a group. It would be more fun I think."
"Whatever, Mel. Chicks!" Dr. Covington gave her lover a wink and set off for their office/museum.
The two women grinned at each other and shook their heads. Butch women were all the same. Candace worried in spite of herself about Taylor and what she was up to. She had no right to wonder but it didn't stop her.
"Your not really taking me to see 'hot babes' are you?"
"I don't think it would help anything."
"You're right I guess. We just wanted her to think we were going to. You really have it bad, don't you?"
"Me? Nah. She's cute and all but that's it."
"Good God, Taylor. You suck at lying. I saw the way you two interacted. It was like watching Mel and Jan. Come to think of it, y'all look an awful lot alike, too. There is a mystery here that needs to be unraveled."
"You got that right."
Kaelynn pulled her Jetta up to the curb in front of an inconspicuous door. "Let's go in. I know it's early but I have friends that work here. If we wait a bit we can have lunch."
The two women stepped into the almost abandoned club. Music was blaring over the music system:
I'll stop the world and melt with you
There's nothing you and I
won't do. I'll stop the world.
I'll stop the world and melt with you.
Taylor rolled her blue eyes. *Great song.*
KaeLynn ran off to the bathroom leaving Taylor standing awkwardly in the center of the place. She looked around for a table. She decided to wait for her friend to join her before she took a seat.
A tall brunette looked up from her task behind the bar. She smiled at Taylor one of those 'boy am I gonna come on to you' kind of smile. She normally enjoyed the flirting games. She was an expert at flirtation. She just wasn't in the mood. "CAN I HELP YOU?" She raised her voice to be heard over the music.
Taylor had a private thought about proper grammar, but kept it to herself. "Just waiting for my friend."
The attractive bartender motioned for her to join her at the bar. Taylor looked sceptically around hoping for a savior and found none. With trepidation she sauntered to the cocktail bar and leaned her tall frame against it.
"Haven't seen you before have I?" *Cause I sure would have remembered if I had.*
"No. I'm not from around here." She smiled despite her feelings of uneasiness. The bartender was cute and she was by no means spoken for.
Soft brown eyes devoured the beauty of the vision before her. Looking her up from her Bass Weejuns to her raven colored hair. She wanted her. Badly. "You have a name?"
The tall woman felt the pressure of her gaze against her skin. She flushed red and shook her head. This woman was bold. "Yeah I do. Let me see if I can remember it."
The comment brought a laugh and a bright smile. "Well, to take the pressure off of you, my name is Evan." She held out a hand in introduction and Taylor accepted it.
"Taylor. It's a pleasure."
"Here alone? Oh no. Your friend is in the restroom. What happened? Did she fall in?"
"I think she is probably doing her makeup. Girls."
"Watch it there. I'm a girl in case you hadn't noticed."
Taylor had really tried not to. Taking a closer look she found that indeed Evan was a beauty. Long brown hair that curled in all the right spots sat gently on her shoulders. Dark brown eyes that danced when she smiled. And that smile was enough to knock you over at twenty paces. The bar hid most of her body but what she could see was fabulous. *What am I doing?*
"Taylor I see you have met my buddy, Evan."
"THIS is your friend?" Evan giggled at the sight of her friend.
"Oh you two know each other. Great." Taylor didn't know whether to feel better or worse.
KaeLynn leaned as much of her body over the bar and hugged her friend. "Hiya honey."
"It's has been forever! Where have you and that sexy girlfriend of yours been hiding? Hummmm?"
Evan kept a close eye on the tall drink of water her friend dragged in. It was lust at first sight.
"You know doctors. Never a minute without this crisis or that. What about you and....and..I can't remember her name."
"Par for the course with you. Never happy with just one."
"Oh, I think I could be happy with this one here for at least a night or two." She sent a smile packed with desire toward Taylor causing her to blush again.
"Uh.." On a normal day in a normal time, Taylor would have had all of her wits about her instead of just the dim ones.
"Don't even try Evan. She's taken. Well, sorta."
"Thanks KaeLynn." The tall woman wanted to be upset with the help she was receiving, but she wasn't.
"It figures that a gorgeous woman like you is taken, sorta. Of course that 'sorta' leaves an opening that I could sneak right through."
Taylor found her voice and the rest of her wits. She smiled brightly. "Why do I have a feeling that sneaking would have no part of anything you do?"
"Because not only are you very sexy, you're very bright."
"Sexy, huh? I haven't been called sexy since last week sometime. I think I like that." And the flirting was on.
Not turning her eyes from the pretty view before her she answered, "Hum?"
"Can I see you. Over here." She grabbed her arm and dragged her away form the bar.
"What in the hell are you doing?" *What have I done?*
"I am 'sight seeing'. Wasn't that what we are doing today?" Her defensive mode kicked in to gear.
"Look, I know you're angry at Candace, but don't do this. Don't over react." *I'm sorry I did this.*
"You are not responsible for my actions or Candace's for that matter. She doesn't have any feelings for me. In the light of that fact do I tie my life up and live miserable and desperate?"
"Did she say she didn't have any feelings for you? Were those her exact words?"
"Not exactly, but close enough. You're not my babysitter ya know!"
"You don't need to raise your voice. Listen, I can't stop you, but I think you need to think about this before you do anything you might regret later. O.K.?" KaeLynn felt defeated. She was going to have to live with serious guilt if anything happened here. *Shit!*
"Already thought about it. I told her I would wait, but she made it quite clear this morning that our feelings are not the same. I'm not going there. I've waited too long for love. I'm not waiting anymore!"
"Taylor, you're angry and hurt. That's a bad time to make life decisions, don't you think?"
"Whatever." Taylor turned and walked back to the bar.
"Evan, mind if we sit down and have lunch?"
"You two? Or are you asking me?" She looked out the corner of her eyes.
"I'm asking you, if you have a few minutes?"
"For you, sweetheart, I'd take the whole day off, if I could."
"I wouldn't want to tear you from your job." She grinned her famous come on grin and winked. *I still got it.*
"Really wish I could but I can't anyway. I'd get fired and we can't have that. I'll settle for lunch. What's up with Kaelynn? She looks a little pissed."
"She would really like to be making my decisions for me right now. Are all women the same? I mean I just met her and already.... Never mind. So you'll join us?"
"I will, but I have to cook the food, too. It'll be a busman's holiday."
"If you want I'll help. I'm a great cook."
"Kae, mind if I steal her for a few?" They both turned to the other woman.
KaeLynn sighed hugely, shook her curls and motioned with her hand for Taylor to go ahead and ruin her own life if that was her desire.
In the small kitchen the music sounded distant and haunting.
Relax don't do it
When you want to go to it
Relax! Don't do it.
When you wanna
*What is up with the music in this place?*
Evan went into the cooler and Taylor followed her admiring the fantastic view. She stood outside the door while Evan searched for whatever it was that she had decided they were having for lunch.
The shorter brunette turned and ran smack dab into a very tall, very solid, shapely wall of woman.
"Sorry." Her heart was racing. She hadn't seen Taylor follow her and had no idea the woman was standing in the doorway.
Taylor put a steadying arm around her waist and kept her from falling. Piercing blue eyes captured the brown eyes of the woman in her arms. Evan was lost. She dropped the food from her hands and flung her arms around Taylor's neck. The rest was just momentum. Lips clashed in a torrid kiss. Taylor picked the woman up and Evan threw her legs around slender hips. Strong legs walked to the nearest table and Taylor set her burden down.. Pots and pans scattered and clashed to the floor. Taylor was all but laying on top of the squirming woman. Evan grasped for the buttons that held her from the skin she longed to touch. The taller woman lifted her body slightly to allow the access. Her shirt was halfway unbuttoned before the song in the background registered.
I learned to be strong a long time ago.
And I can face any wind no matter how hard it blows
But I'd have to be stronger than I want to be
If I had to live without you
I'd be down on my knees
Ready to pray
Darlin' down on my knees making you stay.
I'd be begging you please,
Don't take your love from me
I'd be down on my knees.
The words hit her like a mace. Taylor stopped her movements and pulled away from the lips that tried to hold her captive. She removed her arms from around Evan and she pulled her hands into her own. Brown eyes searched the face of the woman above her.
"Stop. I can't." She stepped back away from the table.
"No. I really can't." She buttoned her shirt and checked to make sure the buttons were all in the right holes.
"She's lucky woman." She didn't hide the envy or the disappointment in her voice.
"At this minute, I don't think so." Her guilt was tangible in her gut. "Evan, you are a gorgeous woman. In another time and another place maybe, but here and now is not going to work."
"Damn! And you are so hot. Oh well. Easy come easy go. Still up for lunch?"
"No. I'll take a rain check. Uh.. I gotta go." Turning on her heel, she made a hasty retreat.
KaeLynn looked up when the swinging doors to the kitchen burst aside. Taylor walked quickly toward her and looked none too happy.
"You O.K.?" Not waiting for an answer she pressed for details she really didn't want. "What was all that racket?"
"Nothing. Can we go?"
"What about lunch?"
"Not hungry." She faced her new friend daring her to say something.
"Hey, what's that on your lip there?" She reached up to rub the smudge and came away with lipstick on her finger. "Good thing I saw this."
"What?" KaeLynn held out her hand to Taylor. "Oh. Shit! Let's go. Please."
Taylor led the way out of the dark building, KaeLynn right on her heels and shaking her head.
Two women stood in the DJ booth smiling at each other.
"'Dite, that was perfect." Artemis high fived the leather clad beauty.
"Bitchin' huh? Like, they never said we couldn't pick the songs."
There was a hint of two sparkles that disappeared into the flashing lights of the bar. No one was the wiser.
Floating on an inflatable chair in the coolness of a blue pool, a blonde headed woman was buried in ancient text. Some of what she read had caused her to laugh out loud. *Three naked Gabrielles! God, she had been so embarrassed. Especially when Xena showed up!* Candace looked up abruptly from her reading. There was something not right and she couldn't put her finger on it. *What is that?* She delved further into her concern and knew without a doubt it had something to do with Taylor. She kicked her way to poolside and pulled herself out onto the deck. Melinda looked up from her magazine. She was trying to figure out how to have tighter buns in just 30 days.
"Somethin' wrong, sweetie?"
"I don't know. I feel funny. Like something bad happened and I saw it but I didn't see it. Ya know?"
"Strange as it sounds, I know exactly what you mean. I feel like that when something big happens to Jan. What do you feel?"
"Sick at my stomach." She was scared.
"Come sit with me."
Candace grabbed her towel and made her way to the table and sat down heavily.
"This isn't good , Mel."
"How do you know?" She knew exactly how but it might be too much for the young woman to hear right now.
"I just know it. Nothing happened to her, I know that. It's something she did. Something that is making her upset, angry, she feels......guilty." Green eyes looked up at the soft blue ones that held understanding and concern. "She's been with someone else." The realization caused her heart to fall to her toes and pain to shoot through her like lightening. She wanted to curl up right then and die a quick and painless death. No such luck.
Mel shook her head and put a comforting hand out to touch Candace's shoulder. "Don't jump to conclusions, Candace. She's with KaeLynn, not that much could have happened. Maybe she just thought about someone or something."
"Really, Mel. Give me a little credit here. She did something, she didn't just think about doing it. She feels guilt. This sucks. It's my fault though. If I could get a grip on my feelings......right. The woman I fell in love with and married is 2500 years dead but it seems like just days ago to me. Taylor looks like Xena and I can't help but see that. But, she's Not her."
"Candace, you are overlooking something."
"Oh good. Another habit I've acquired."
"She could be more than Xena."
"More? Xena was amazing! Soft, loving, funny, brave, strong, gorgeous, sexy...........Taylor, huh?"
"You said it."
"I am so stupid."
"Honey, never say that. You lost the one you love. You are now faced with love again. Fear comes to mind."
"I feel like I'm gonna be sick." She ran off to the house.
She almost ran over Janice as she sped through the sliding glass door. The doctor moved fast enough to avoid the rush and stared after bouncing blonde locks.
"What's with her?"
"She's not feeling well."
Jan looked at her lover with confusion playing strongly on her face. "I don't understand. She and KaeLynn aren't back are they?"
"God, Mel. This is like pulling teeth here. What gives?"
"Candace seems to think that Taylor had some......moments of indiscretion today."
"How does she figure that?" Long as she lived, she would never figure women. Any of them.
"She felt it."
"Oh. That's not good. That's really not good. Nope. Bad. I don't want to be here when she gets back. Nope."
"No kiddin' dahlin'. You need to talk to Taylor when she gets here."
"ME? No way. I'm bad at the sensitive chats."
"I'm going to be with Candace. Want to trade?"
Jan thought long and hard. Not really this was a no brainer. "Not on your life or mine for that matter."
"Didn't think so."
"You ready to go home yet?" KaeLynn was truly worried about her tall companion. Taylor hadn't said more than six words since they had gotten to the restaurant. She had told her in the car what had happened and tears had formed in her eyes but she had refused to let them fall. She was angry. That much was evident. Who or what she was angriest about was a dilemma and getting her to talk about it was impossible.
Out of deep space a voice spoke her name. She slowly came back from 'Planet Guilt Ridden' and joined her friend in the world she very much wished was not the real one. "Huh?"
"You ready to go home?"
"What time is it?"
"Guess we should, huh?"
"Taylor, you don't have to tell her."
"You're right. I don't, but I will."
"WHY? Taylor, she doesn't need to know! She's been hurt enough already!"
"YOU DON'T THINK I KNOW THAT!?" Her anger boiled to the surface. Having the truth thrust in her face didn't help
The room became quiet. Taylor lowered her voice to a forceful whisper. "I think I know she's been through alot, but I can't and I won't lie to her."
"You won't be lying to her. It's just withholding information."
Taylor looked at KaeLynn with her eyes darkening. "Kae, I have to tell her. What I did was so incredibly wrong. It was so empty. When I kissed her it was.....empty. I kiss Candace and I am filled with just her. The entire world drops away and it is us. It's magic. I cheapened all of that out of anger, hurt and frustration. And the award for 'Selfishness in it's Finest Form' goes to, drum roll please, Taylor the Bonehead. Yeaaaaaa! I am horrible."
"Come on. If you tell Candace just what you told me, it may make it better. It won't make it perfect but maybe she can have place to start. You owe her that much."
Taylor shook her head in agreement. She owed her alot more than that.
Janice walked to her lover and whispered the arrival of the women in her ear.
"Candace? Come join me out on the patio for a minute, please. It's such a nice evening. We can talk."
The singer was not in any mood to question why the professor would want to talk to her on the patio. She didn't care about much at this point. She followed her out without a second thought.
Janice met KaeLynn and Taylor at the front door.
"Ladies." Jan nodded at them with a myriad of emotions prancing across her face. The most prominent was fear.
"Jan." KaeLynn knew her lover's grandmother well enough to know something was up.
"Dr." Taylor was confused by the greeting.
"Kae , could you give us a minute?"
"Uh..I was just leaving." She turned make a hasty retreat out the open door.
"I don't think so. Go to the living room and wait for us."
"Yes, ma'am." She gave Taylor a pat on the arm and left the foyer.
"Taylor, come with me."
Her heart was pounding now. The authority with which she had spoken to KaeLynn let her know that something was up. *Like I need anything else.* Taylor followed Janice to her study. The room was large and filled to the ceiling with books and manuals of all types and languages. Ancient artifacts decorated the walls where there were no shelves. The brown leather furniture was placed strategically to give the feeling of a library. She was directed to a pair of chairs in the corner. It was a very private spot.
"Have a seat."
"Thanks, I think. What's going on, doctor?"
Janice paced the floor a few times before she found the words she needed. Taking the chair across from Taylor she peered sternly into blue eyes that were full of fear.
"Taylor, she knows."
Taylor gathered her thoughts for a moment. *Who knows?* Realization hit her between the eyes. *She knows!* Adrenaline shot through her veins and made her hands sweat. She was glad she was sitting down. Overwhelmed, she hung her head and put her hands behind her neck and her elbows on her knees. Staring at the ground she spoke slowly, "How? What?" She couldn't form the questions she wanted to ask.
"Does it matter? She knew when it happened. She doesn't know what, she just knows that there was another woman involved. Guess there's more to this than you thought, huh?"
Taylor looked up. This time there were tears falling down her cheeks. "God, Jan. What do I do?"
"I am not one to give advice. Matter of fact I can't give it, but if I did, I'd say beg."
Taylor laughed in spite of the sick feeling in her stomach.
"Time to face the music, eh?"
"Taylor, don't give up."
Taylor shook her head and stood to her feet. Making sure her legs would support her weight she tagged behind the doctor.
Janice waved to her partner and Mel stood to her feet. She spoke softly to Candace.
"Honey, she's here. It's going to be alright. Candace, look here."
Green eyes, packed with grief, looked up.
"Don't give up. Promise me."
"I can't. It all depends on what she says."
Melinda nodded her head and joined her lover in the house. Candace looked up to see the object of her pain looking back at her. She sighed heavily and dropped her head. Turning around she walked toward the pool and stared at the lights in the water.
Taylor took a deep breath and approached the woman she loved. The same woman she had wronged.
"So, Taylor. Was she good?" Taylor couldn't see the tears that were making a path down soft cheeks.
The words slapped her right up side the head. "God, Candace, it wasn't like that."
The blonde whipped her body around with frightening speed. "Then what the fuck was it like? Huh? Care to SHARE that with me?"
"Please don't yell. It wasn't like anything. It was a kiss." She hated the tears. They screamed accusations at her. Problem was they were true.
"Hell, of a kiss though wasn't it?" Candace walked up to her nemesis and glared at her.
"No." There was no need to go into details.
"NO? NO? Then why, Taylor? WHY?" Candace poked her chest as she asked the question.
"I DON'T KNOW! Candace, I don't know." Her hands flew up in a shrug.
"Oh, so it just happened. Right."
"I can't say that either. I'll take responsibility for my actions, but it was not worth it. It felt empty and wrong and stupid. Candace, please, I'm so sorry. I know you don't have the same feelings for me as I have for you. I figured what the hell, you don't care anyway. I know just an excuse, but.......no, there is no but. I was wrong. I'm sorry."
The sincerity of the apology took an edge off of her anger. "Sorry. You know, maybe this isn't such a bad thing." She turned back toward the pool.
*Here it comes. Glad I found out now that can't trust you...yadayada.* "How do you figure?"
"I really didn't stop long enough to see what was in front of my face. I am not happy with whatever happened, but you and I have no commitment. I have no right what so ever to hold you to anything."
"You didn't expected that I would go kissing someone else though, right?" Taylor moved up close to the woman that held her future in her hands.
"Well, it's not what I expected, no. Taylor, I can't tell you exactly how I feel about you. I can tell you that the thought of you even within three feet of another woman gets my Amazon going, let alone kissing her. That's all. Right? Just a kiss? No, don't answer. I don't want to know. I want you to know I don't like the feeling that went with it, whatever it was."
"To tell the truth, I didn't either. It was so empty. When I kiss you, it's like nothing I have ever felt. My heart wants to jump out of my chest and do the 'Happy Dance'."
Candace smiled at the thought. "There's a visual."
Taylor placed her hands on Candace's shoulders. The blonde wanted to shrug them off but refrained. She was still mad, but she realized she was more angry with herself than at the woman behind her.
The tall woman leaned into the small woman and spoke in her ear.
"Candace, please forgive me. I was stupid and immature. The last thing I want to do on this earth is hurt you in any way. I've used up my limit I think."
Silent tears began to fall again. She didn't want to lose the firefighter, but she wasn't sure where to begin forgiving her. "Tay, give me a few O.K.?"
"Yeah, I'll be inside." Taylor looked at the back of her head wanting desperately to kiss the crown. She closed her eyes and headed into the house.
Candace felt the void created when the woman walked away from her. She didn't know where to go from here. *Hey, Gab, know you're not here. Just maybe you can help me anyway. Ya know, I want to kill her, but that's not my place is it. She's not my lover, my wife or even my girlfriend. So why does it feel like my heart has been extracted from my chest? Hum? No answer? It's alright. I didn't expect and answer. What would you say here? If this is the worst I ever have to try to forgive her for, I've got it made. I have to take some of the responsibility. Don't want to. Have to. Forgive and move forward or let your anger eat you alive.* "Got it." She turned from the hypnotic movement of the water and went to find the woman that had touched her soul.
Continued - Part 5
Return to The Bard's Corner - Kandis Glasgow