Turkish Encounter by Anne Azel Part 4
Disclaimer: The characters of Xena and Gabrielle are the property of Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended.
In Thanks: My thanks to those individuals who sent messages of appreciation for Amazon Encounter, the first of this series. Your kind comments were encouraging. As the stories do interrelate it is best to read them in the order they are posted.
Warning: This story is alternative fiction, please do not read on if you are under age or if such material is illegal in your end of the swamp.
Note: The places, sites and histories referred to in this story are real and are taken from my field notes while in Turkey.
Before lunch Jamie was dressed and easing her way down the stairs. Her knee still throbbed painfully but she did not want to waste what time she had with Chrissy. There had been no conscious decision on her part just a slow realization that at the end of her leave time, she would be returning to America without Chrissy. A conscious decision would mean she'd have to face the reality that Chrissy and Gunnul were not going to be a permanent part of her life and she just wasn't brave enough to face that reality yet.
She stepped out on to the patio and saw coming up the sand trial from the pine forest below a peasant woman robed in simple dusty blue, leading a grey donkey on which two Turkish children rode. The three chatted away and laughed happily as they made their way up the steep trail.
Jamie wished she had a camera. It was a real Kodak moment. Then she realized with a shock, that the taller child riding on the back was her daughter and the peasant woman was Gunnul! My God! I couldn't recognize them! I am so foreign to them. I don't belong in my own daughter's life!
Gunnul felt her, as a pain in her heart, then looked up to see the distress on her lover's face. "Girls, take the donkey to the stables and groom and feed her. When your chores are done then the two of you may return to Fabina's tent with Shantu. I must see to something," ordered Gunnul walking off swiftly.
Jamie had limped back into Gunnul's beautiful study. She looked around at the quiet, understated wealth and realized that even the European side of her lover was way beyond her frame of reality. There was no common ground.
"Jamie?" questioned Gunnul coming up behind Jamie and placing her hands on the petite woman's shoulders.
Jamie started and then reached up to place a hand over her lover's. "It's O.K. Gunnul, I just realized I must be leaving soon."
"Leaving?!" came the startled response.
"Yes, next week," responded Jamie. "My leave is almost up." Then, not being able to stop herself, she turned and clung tightly to her lover. "I love you both so much! You take care of Chrissy, you here! Please! Oh God!" she sobbed. Gunnul too upset to respond wrapped her in a strong, deep embrace wishing that she never had to let go.
"Shhh, You no cry Jamie. I must take you somewhere so secret. You come, please," whispered Gunnul after a while into Jamie's hair. Her voice sounded stressed and tight.
Jamie nodded wiping her eyes with her hand. Gunnul let go of her and got her a tissue from over behind the desk. "Thanks," snuffled Jamie remembering not to blow her nose which was considered in Turkey a very rude thing to do in public. "I'm O.K. I'm sorry, I always seem to be crying on your shoulder," rasped the little American.
"I understand so I no mind," reassured Gunnul with an intensely worried look.
Jamie laughed and looked up at Gunnul with loving eyes, " Yes, you do! I can always tell when you are upset because your English deteriorates."
Gunnul blushed and pouted, "It does not, I think," and then laughed with Jamie when she realized that she had proven herself wrong. "Come, there is something very important I must show you."
Gunnul took Jamie's crutch and left it by the desk. She offered Jamie her arm instead. For a second, Jamie hesitated and then realized that it would be nice to walk without it especially with Gunnul to lean on. "I could get to like this," she giggled nervously limping at Gunnul's side.
"I all ready do," observed the serious Turkish woman reaching over with her other hand to squeeze Jamie's small hand where in rested on her arm. They walked silently through the gardens, Gunnul automatically now adjusting her pace to that of her crippled soulmate. At the locked gate, Gunnul placed Jamie's hand on the wrought-iron railing while she removed the heavy lock then she picked Jamie up and carried her through the overgrowth until they got to the tomb. There she lowered Jamie's feet to the ground but maintained support by standing behind her with her arms wrapped loosely around Jamie's waist.
Jamie reached out and touched the ancient stone. "It's her!" she exclaimed then looked up at Gunnul, "It's us!"
"Yes, I feel that too, but look at the names. They can't be the right ones."
Jamie hobbled a step forward and traced her fingers over the lettering. " Kristinia Thanasis, Gunnul that was the name you had when we met in the Amazon. But that makes no sense! That's now! And we aren't there, we're here! And these aren't our original names! Gunnul what is going on?!"
Gunnul shook her head, "I don't know. Do you feel the energy when you touch the stone?" Jamie nodded. "It's like we are to understand some message but I don't! Do you, Jamie?"
"No, at least not yet," sighed Jamie running her fingers through her hair. "I think we are still these people though," revealed the American. "It's like there is a link...a subtle awareness...Do you feel it?"
Gunnul shook her head in frustration and wrinkled her brow, "I think so but I'm not sure if what I feel is real. Are we living in different dimensions and somehow are aware of each other? I don't understand."
Jamie nodded. It was some time before they left the tangled garden and relocked the gate.
Gunnul had yet another surprise waiting for Jamie when they returned. She lead her towards the back of the villa to the private Turkish steam bath that she had ordered prepared for them. They stripped down and wrapped in fluffy, white towels to sit in the cedar lined steam bath. When they became too warm, they would step out and drop into a cool pool finished in Greek mosaics, then return to the hot room. When they were quite relaxed, Gunnul helped Jamie into a side room where a woman waited to massage them. Their naked bodies were covered in clouds of suds and they were washed with a coarse sponge to remove the dirt and dried skin. Then scented warm water was poured over them and more suds piled on so that they could be washed again with sweet scented herbs and spices with a soft sponge. Once rinsed with hot water, they were massaged with warm oils until every bone and muscle in their bodies was relaxed and rested.
Wrapping again in fluffy towels, they went into yet another room to lie on cushioned benches and eat dates, cheese, bread, nuts and fruit and to drink coffee. Gunnul explained that the baths were the traditional day out for women. It was, in the old times, one of the few places a woman could go without being escorted by a man. Women would take picnics and musical instruments and spend the day talking and doing business in the baths.
Much to Jamie's delight, after they had eaten, Jamie pulled out an instrument similar to a guitar and sang Turkish folk songs for Jamie in a beautiful melodic voice. And once the silent servants had cleaned up and left, they made love and slept the afternoon away in each other's arms.
Jamie woke to see those remarkable blue eyes of Gunnul's looking down at her. Gunnul had kissed her awake gently. "Hmmm, that is the only way to wake you," Jamie murmured and Gunnul captured her lips again tasting on them their passion still. "Chrissy is going to wonder where we are," protested the petite woman weakly.
"Chrissy knows where we are," responded Gunnul. " Today and tonight, she will spend at her friend's home. Fabina has been with the family goat herds in the hills but now they have returned. This morning, they set up their goat-hair tents in the lower pasture. Shantu will chaperone them," explained Gunnul.
"Their camping out, what fun! I used to do that when I was a kid," smiled Jamie, happy for Chrissy.
Gunnul laughed, "No, they do not camp. That is the way Fabina's family lives. They are nomadic farmers. Tomorrow, when we pick up Chrissy, you will get a chance to see how they live," explained Gunnul.
Jamie looked at Gunnul for a long time. "You are worth millions aren't you?" she asked bluntly. Gunnul frowned but nodded. " And Chrissy is your only heir?" Gunnul felt a dread creep into her heart. Had she been wrong about Jamie after all? But once again she nodded. " And yet, you let her play with the daughter of a nomadic herder!" she smiled shaking her head in disbelief.
Gunnul bristled, "I am not a poor mother, Jamie. They are a good Moslem family and Shantu or I always go to chaperone Chrissy, as is proper." Jamie burst into laughter. "What is funny?!" asked Gunnul still annoyed.
"You. You are so wonderfully sweet! I do love you, Gunnul," she said wrapping herself around the prone body of her lover. " I think it is wonderful the way you are so unaffected by your wealth and that you have taught our daughter to be the same."
"Fabina's family are good people. They can not help that Allah chose to make them landless," observed Gunnul seriously as was her way.
Jamie nodded, " In your den this morning, I was upset because after seeing you in traditional dress, I felt so different from you and Chrissy. A stranger who didn't belong in the world of my child or lover. I..I.. went into your den and saw all the richness of the room and thought that I didn't even fit into your European reality. Gunnul, I live on a middle class income in an apartment smaller than the bedroom I am using now! It just makes me feel a little better that Chrissy doesn't see that those differences matter," confessed Jamie.
Gunnul frowned, "Is it my wealth, Jamie that keeps us a part?" she asked.
Jamie stiffened and rolled over on her back. "No, Gunnul, it is my fears. The problem is in me. A part of my emotions that just didn't heal very well," explained Jamie turning her head to meet Gunnul's sad eyes.
Gunnul swallowed and looked at a piece of thread that she was worrying from the towel. "I too have insecurities about your intentions some times that stem from bad experiences in my past," confessed Gunnul.
"It wouldn't work Gunnul. A relationship is hard enough to hold together without starting off lacking trust. I don't want to make another mistake."
Gunnul nodded sadly and swallowed, " Would you like to go out for dinner tonight, Jamie?" she asked.
Jamie accepted the change in subject. "I would like that a lot!" she whispered snuggling into her lover again.
They went to a lavish hotel over looking the Mediterranean and had a wonderful dinner under the stars surround by gardens of bougainvillea all in bloom backdropped by the sea. After, they hired a local boat-taxi to take them for a moonlight cruise down to where the Antalya river poured over the limestone escarpment and fell in a white veil to the moonlit sea below. It was a wonderful, magical evening that Jamie knew she would hold in her heart forever.
The next morning Jamie woke to find Gunnul already awake. "Morning, my warrior," she murmured and was rewarded with a kiss.
Gunnul looked serious and apprehensive, "Jamie, I have bought you a gallabeeya, a robe.
You don't have to wear...."
"Where is it?!" cut in the excited American looking around eagerly.
Gunnul got up looking relieved but still nervous and Jamie tilted her head as she sat on the edge of the bed and looked at her lover expectantly.
" We go today to Konya, which is a very religious city. Chrissy and I will wear traditional dress, so if you feel comfortable you could too. But it is not necessary that you do so. You know that Chrissy and I are comfortable with your European ways," explained Gunnul in her serious way making Jamie laugh.
Gunnul looked surprised and then confused. "Gunnul," laughed Jamie softly, " You are so cute when you are trying to be diplomatic. This is your country and I want to fit into your ways. When you and Chrissy come to visit America then I will expect you to fit into my culture, O.K.?"
Gunnul's answer was a flying leap that knocked a surprised Jamie flat on her back on the bed with an ecstatically Turk along side of her. Jamie looked up to see blue eyes sparkling like diamonds, "Yes Jamie! We can come visit you!? Yes?"
Jamie's heart overflowed with love for this remarkable woman. "As many times as you want, my love. You and Chrissy, will always be welcome in my home," reassured Jamie wrapping her arms around the tall woman and giving her a quick hug. "Now show me my new outfit or we will never get out of here!"
Gunnul kissed Jamie's forehead then pulled her up to a sitting position and trotted off happily to return with a parcel. From it, she took a dark green robe with delicate embroidery around the colour and sleeve. The colour was the same as Jamie's eyes. "Oh Gunnul! I love it!" enthused Jamie and got off the bed and held on to her lover for support as she slipped it on. Gunnul stood staring down at her with a look of wonder on her face. "Well?" asked Jamie becoming a little uncomfortable by the silence.
Gunnul shook herself from her trance and smiled, "You are so beautiful Jamie! You take my breath away!"
Jamie wrapped her arms around Gunnul's neck and kissed her. "Thank you, for everything," she said from her heart.
A short time later, two very traditionally dressed women were bumping across the pasture in Gunnul's Landrover. They pulled up in front of three black tents to see two excited children run out. Chrissy hugged Jamie and then ran to hug Gunnul as she came around the front of the jeep. Then she ran back to take Jamie's hand and led her over to the shy girl who stood waiting a short distance away. "Mom, this is my best friend in the whole world, Fabina. Then to the pretty girl, she talked in rapid Turkish. Fabina smiled broadly and indicated by a generous sweep of her arm that they should enter the tent.
"You look nice, mom," Chrissy whispered quietly as they went in, "I helped mommy pick it out for you," she added proudly.
Jamie gave her a hug and smiled lovingly at Gunnul who had her public, emotionless face in place. Inside the tent, Shantu and Fabina's mother, welcomed them with cologne and made morning tea. The men, they explained, had already taken the goats to pasture. The women served sliced cucumbers, white cheese, olives and pita bread. To Jamie's surprise, Fabina curled up under Gunnul's arm as soon as the quiet warrior had seated. Gunnul hugged her close and kissed her dark hair. Chrissy sat beside Jamie and held her hand proudly. They talked quietly over breakfast about the summer grazing in the high hills. Chrissy translated quietly explaining that Fabina was Shantu's niece.
Jamie was fascinated by the interior of the tent. Outside, they were heavy, black structures held up by several poles and tied down with coarse hemp rope. Inside, low platforms edged the tent providing sleeping berths and storage underneath. The benches and floor were covered in overlapping layers of thick, hand made carpets in beautiful, colourful patterns. Jamie realized that they would be worth a fortune in America. A brass oil burner provide heat and a cooking surface and an intricate waterpipe stood in the corner. It was a simple but elegant life style.
Chrissy explained that the platforms that lined the walls in a traditional Turkish dwelling were called sofa. The European's took the Turkish custom and developed the idea into the long, free standing seats to which they gave the same name. She also showed her the various patterns that were used on the rugs such as 'The Tree of Life'. In Gunnul's serious manner, Chrissy showed Jamie how the rugs were double knotted in Turkey and explained that a rug would have fifty to eighty knots to the square inch depending on its quality. She showed Jamie how the pattern on a good rug was just as clear on the reverse side as it was on the front. Then she took the silk on silk throw rug that was the centre piece of the lovely tent room and spun it around to show Jamie how the shade of the rug changed completely depending which direction you were looking at it. From one end, the rug was pale pastels and from the other a dark, rich colour. Jamie was fascinated when Fabina's mother shyly took her outside to the small leanto that housed her large rug loom and showed her a rug she was weaving. Her hands moved so quick that Jamie could not even see the motions!
"It is amazing!" Jamie exclaimed to Gunnul who had come up quietly beside her and now held her hand. It had taken Jamie a little time to get used to being free to hold hands in public but she really liked being able to touch Gunnul. She knew her emotionally insecure lover needed the reassurance of contact.
"There are three types of material in Persian rugs," explained Gunnul. "The lowest grade is wool knotted on cotton stringers. There is then, wool on wool and silk on silk. Only the master weavers like Fabina's mother work in silk on silk. It is very difficult. It will take about nine months for her to finish a 4x6' rug. If a mistake is made, it can not be fixed, in order that the weaver and her family is not shamed by the terrible mistake, the rug is burnt and all that time and effort is wasted. That is why only the best weavers work in silk. Both Fabina and Chrissy have learned to work rugs in wool. They work from simple patterns. But the silk masters need no pattern even to do the most complex work."
A short time later, the three Dedeman were seated in their landrover and were waving good-bye. "Fabina and her family are very nice Chrissy. I am glad I got to meet them."
"They liked you too, mom. Fabina said you didn't act a bit like a tourist," she said proudly and Jamie laughed. "And she said your hair was gold and would bring very good luck to the family. Not like my other mom who they think is wonderful but they still must hang extra charms when she comes to ward off the evil eye." Jamie was about to object but Chrissy and Gunnul broke into gales of laughter. Clearly, they found the situation of Gunnul's remarkable eyes very funny.
Gunnul said something to Chrissy in Turkish and Chrissy leaned over and got an object out of the glove compartment. It was a thin, blue-braided silk cord with a blue glass medallion attached to it. The centre of the medallion was black to make a stylized eye. Tied to the bottom of the cord was a small brass bell. Chrissy leaned over and attached it to Jamie's cord belt. "This is the kind of tokens that you see all over Turkey to ward off the evil eye. Mom said you should wear it to protect you from her dangerous stares.
Jamie looked up and caught Gunnul's eyes in the mirror. Gunnul wiggled an eyebrow sexily and Jamie blushed. "I think that is a good idea!" she agreed as they turned on to the fine highway system of Turkey and headed on their way. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mid-morning, they made a stop at the historical site of Perge. Here Jamie found the varying colour and patterns of the marble columns truly beautiful. A pool of water once had run the length of the main street overhung with trees and flowers to cool the weary traveler. And there had been a covered side walk of mosaic tiles in front of the shops.
Gunnul showed Jamie the impressive public steam baths, with rooms of varying temperature all controlled by underground steam ducts. Chrissy showed her the ruts worn into the marble street by ancient wagons and chariots and the small tortoise that she had found between the rocks. It took a raised eyebrow from Gunnul to convince the two animal lovers that they had not found a pet! With reluctance the petite mom and her daughter put the tortoise safely back under some bushes.
Chrissy ran ahead with the car keys to unlock the doors while her moms followed along behind holding hands. "You could close your eyes and be part of the ancient world once again," sighed Jamie. "These cities were so much more user friendly than ours today. Comfort and beauty went hand in hand with functionalism. She hesitated and then went on, "We have been here before."
Gunnul frowned, "Yes, but we were fighting. You were wounded trying to protect a child. I was very worried," stated Gunnul instinctively holding tighter to Jamie's hand.
Jamie saw the worry in her lover's eyes and lightened the situation, "Yes, and I'm going to be again if you don't let go of my hand!" she yelped dramatically.
Gunnul let go immediately, smiling and looking adorably sheepish as Jamie laughed.
They also stopped at Aspedos to see the free standing Roman Theater. Gunnul explained that it was the best preserved Roman theater in the world. There were still numbers on the seats and some of the clay tickets still existed!
At noon, they stopped to eat and pray and visited the Caravanserai of Sultanhani. It was one of many medieval walled forts built ever twenty miles along the silk road. The traders would stay in barrel vaulted chambers off a main court. At night, the huge doors of the fort would be locked and wouldn't be opened again until everyone had packed and checked their cargo in the morning to make sure nothing had been stolen. The distance between the forts was the distance a camel could travel in one day.
As they drove on to Konya the land became flat, rocky desert. The dusty city sat in the centre of a vast desert plain. Here Mevlana established the Islamic sect of the Whirling Dervish. While they watched a white clad dervish perform, Gunnul explained that the process was to cause the worshiper to fall into a trance like state in order to block out the world so that all thoughts were for Allah. Chrissy helped Jamie tie her white silk scarf correctly around her head and the three went to visit the Karatay Medrese and Ince Mosques with its famous turquoise dome.
As always they removed their shoes to enter. Gunnul explained that the slanted sarcophagus did not contain the remains of the founder. His body was buried underneath. In Islamic belief, the dead must return to the earth within twenty-four hours.
The large ceramic turban at the head of the sarcophagus indicated it was the grave of an important person. The size of the turban showing greater importance to other burials with smaller turbans.
It was late when they finally arrived in the area of Cappadocia. Jamie's leg was very sore and she limped heavily on her walking cane. Chrissy quietly came up beside her and placed an arm around her so that she could lean some of her weight on her daughter's shoulders while Gunnul booked them into the hotel. "I am sorry my father hurt you," she whispered earnestly.
Jamie leaned down and kissed her daughter's head. "He was a very fine man in many ways, Chrissy. He just lost control of his life because of his substance abuse. It happened a long time ago and as you see having a crippled leg does not slow me down," Jamie soothed.
Gunnul joined them and they road the elevator up to the third floor. To Jamie's surprise Gunnul had got just one room with two double beds. Once everyone was ready for bed, Gunnul tucked Chrissy in with her new mom and then lay across the foot of the bed while Jamie told a story. Chrissy was a sleep shortly after and Gunnul picked up her slumbering daughter and tucked her in the other bed. Then slipped in beside Jamie. "I'll slip back over to the other bed before Chrissy wakes," she explained pulling Jamie to her side. Jamie sighed contentedly and wrapped herself around the woman that she had come to love.
The next day, Jamie woke to find Gunnul and Chrissy talking happily in Turkish to relatives on the phone. Once plans were made and all morning rites seen to, they headed out to the Goreme area. Here amazing volcanic chimneys formed a fairyland landscape. Hundreds of years ago, persecuted Christians carved homes and churches into the soft rock. Gunnul insisted that Jamie leave her cane in the Landrover and lean on her instead. When stairs or steep ramps were encountered, Gunnul would effortlessly pick her up and carry her. The ancient frescoes inside these early Christian churches were breath taking in their colour and portrayal of the stories of the bible. Later, they went to the Zelve valleys and Uchisar where the spacescape scenery was riddled with the man-made caves of the troglodyte dwellings. Some of these caves were whole cities underground where the people would hide out for months at a time when invaders arrived. The rounded tunnels went down stories into the ground. The most important people lived the farthest down, well away from trouble and the livestock were kept in carved out stables on the first level. Air vents carefully placed allowed for good ventilation and the removal of smoke. Some of the underground cities were join to others sometimes miles away by passages, Gunnul had explained as she helped a struggling Jamie down the narrow, steep stairs that lead from one level to another. The rooms were surprisingly roomy on each level and the light sand-coloured volcanic stone kept the caves bright and dry.
They sat in an open plaza after and sipped Turkish coffee while Chrissy, drinking fruit juice, chatted away to Jamie. As they sat, an old woman came along and offered to read the grinds of their coffee. Gunnul let Chrissy have a sip from her cup and then turn the cup up side down so that she could have her fortune read first. "You are going on a long trip, little one and you will be scared." Gunnul wrapped protective arms around her daughter and whispered in her ear not to worry that it was just make believe. The old woman sneered and then lifted Jamie's cup and looked at the grinds. "There will be great anger towards you soon and then I see only darkness." Gunnul stood and snapped at the woman in Turkish. Her face white with rage, she waved the old fortuneteller away. They left to return to the hotel shortly after. The happiness of the day now marred by the fortune teller's predictions and the sullen, silence of Gunnul.
With Chrissy safely asleep in bed, Gunnul wandered out onto their balcony and watched the stars. That cluster, she always felt looked like a fish. "Hey, you want to talk about it?" came a voice from behind her. Gunnul turned and leaned against the rail pulling Jamie into her arms.
"No. I am not superstitious. I shouldn't have reacted as I did, it upset Chrissy. It just hit on a big pile of insecurity inside me that's all," confessed Gunnul.
"We've never talked about what this is doing to you, my warrior. It must be very hard to suddenly have to share your daughter. You have been wonderful about it, you know. Chrissy was so lucky that you were there to come into her life. I'm lucky that this whole situation hasn't been really ugly. It wasn't because of you. Thank you," said Jamie earnestly.
Gunnul pulled her close and snuggled her face into Jamie's sweet scented hair. " I get jealous sometimes," she confessed. "And not knowing how this is all going to work out is really eating at me. I love the two of you very much and I..I've got a lot to lose."
"Next week I'll fly back to the States. I hope you and Chrissy will visit me often and if you'll let me, I'd like to come back to Turkey again when I can afford to," stated Jamie finally expressing out loud what she knew she must do. "We both have pain from our pasts that we need to get over. Maybe some day there could be a future for us. I don't know, there is Chrissy to worry about. I do love you, Gunnul," finished Jamie her voice breaking with emotion.
Gunnul's voice was tight with emotion too, " I will set up a fund so that there is always money for you to come visit us. No, don't object! I do it for Chrissy who has a right to see her birth mother often. I..I.. do it for me also, I...I don't think I can be happy now if you are not so near," confessed Gunnul. They stood under the stars for a long time and just held each other.
Finally, Jamie said, "I think that cluster of stars looks like a fish."
Gunnul pulled back in surprise, "I do too!"
Jamie frowned, "Another trace memory. I've been thinking about the mystery of our past and the grave Gunnul. I think we are supposed to understand something really important but I don't know what. I've been trying to establish patterns. You seem always to be a warrior of some sort. In the Amazon, you were involved with drugs and you are in this existence too. I'm not sure there aren't other realities too that we are not aware of yet. Do you see any patterns?"
Gunnul thought about it for a moment, " When I first knew you in ancient Greece, you were a bard and a healer. The thing that sticks out the strongest in my trace memory is you being hurt very badly in battle and being terribly worried about you. In the jungle, you were a doctor and you wore a brace on your lower leg. You didn't use a cane or anything though," revealed Gunnul.
Jamie frowned and walked over to the railing looking out into the night. "So what do we have? A warrior with unnatural strength, bard or healer, drugs and I'm lame. Are we making any head way here? Wait, you always have those strange blue eyes that seem to glow from within."
"Yes," nodded Gunnul and sighed, "And the violence within." Soon after that, they went to bed, curling close, two hearts with one soul.
Next morning, Jamie met at least ten thousand relatives or at least it seemed. Everyone was happy and excited about the up coming wedding and Jamie was made very welcome. It seemed like everyone had to touch her hair and try out their few English phrases to Jamie's delight. She had worn her gallabeeya that morning and did her best to speak Turkish when ever she could. Chrissy held on to her hand and introduced her around proudly. Gunnul had quickly been separated from her. She stood with the men rather than the women and it was clear that she headed the family.
Jamie was talking in broken phrases to the bride and her mother, Chrissy offering translation when necessary. Suddenly, Gunnul was there and the Turkish women lowered their eyes in respect. "You have met Jamie, I see," she smiled ignoring the submissive attitude of the women. Immediately, they relaxed and smiled broadly.
" She ride with husband and I?" asked the bride.
Gunnul laughed, "Yes, of course. She will bring you much good luck! Jamie is Dedeman. When she is in Turkey, she will head my households." The reaction of those around Gunnul was mixed. The two Turkish women looked shocked and then lowered their eyes in respect to Jamie. Chrissy beamed with delight and took Gunnul's hand. Gunnul looked down at her daughter and returned the smile, her blue eyes dancing with pride. Jamie looked from one to the other in confusion. It was clear that something important had happened but she wasn't sure just what it was.
Chrissy ran off to join some cousins in a game and this gave Jamie the opportunity to pull Gunnul aside. She placed her walking stick on a table and wrapped her arm around her lover's. "Walk with me for a bit?" she asked and Gunnul smiled and patted her hand as they walked off down a garden path. Many noticed and turned away in politeness but one pair of eyes burned after them.
"O.K., everyone has started to treat me like they do you. What's going on Gunnul?" Jamie asked.
Gunnul blushed and looked uneasy, "I have told people that you are Dedeman. It is of course our surname but it is more than that. You see Jamie, before the republic people in Turkey did not have surnames. Attaturk insisted that we must take one. So everyone made up a surname and registered it with the government. My family took Dedeman. It roughly translates chief or leader of the people. I head this family and really have a great influence on the district in which we live. The people come to me to solve their problems rather than the government. When I told people you are Dedeman and head of the household. I told them that you were second in command...m..my partner."
Silence filled the garden as Jamie looked unbelievingly at Gunnul. " Your partner," she finally managed to get out.
"I..I.know you don't want to be such Jamie. And I will respect that and not force you to stay with me but it is important that people understand for Chrissy's sake that you are one of the family and that I have recognized you as my partner, if only in the raising of our daughter. Chrissy is very rich and will be very powerful as she grows older. It is important that no one feels her right to the Dedeman estate should be questioned."
Jamie ran an unsteady hand through her hair and lowered herself to a garden bench. "You planned to do this and you didn't tell me!?," questioned Jamie in frustration.
Gunnul hung her head and looked worried, "I guess I should have Jamie. I am not used to having to share my ideas and decisions with another."
"Just what does partner mean?" Jamie asked.
Gunnul blushed and sat down at the other end of the bench. She did not look at Jamie but stared at a bush along the path. "I became a warrior. It is not the role of a woman. Neither is leading a family and yet I was the only heir. It would have been different if I had married but my chosen one died in battle. I was so badly hurt...I can't have children...a man when he marries wants family... so I am not marriageable unless for my wealth and I would not marry someone for that reason. There is no role for me in traditional Turkish society. I am treated as a man not a woman. It is...difficult to explain. Now I have fallen in love with a woman and I have declared you my partner," explained Gunnul. Jamie waited.
Gunnul sighed and went on, "That is not acceptable in Turkey either. But I have arranged with my lawyers that you do have custody over Chrissy and power of attorney over my estate until she is of age if anything should happen to me," finished Gunnul sitting stiff and quiet as far away from Jamie as she could.
"This is going to take some getting used to," mumbled Jamie half to herself. "I see why you needed to do it. People could question her claim because her mother is foreign and she is your adopted child. I am speechless that you would trust me so completely Gunnul. I wish I could..."
"Don't say it! I don't want to discuss it further at this time. Please, we go back to the wedding," begged an upset Gunnul getting to her feet.
Jamie nodded. She knew that Gunnul had opened up some really raw spots in talking to her and now needed some time to heal. She stood and took Gunnul's offered arm then reached up and kissed her cheek. " Will your family be O.K. with this Gunnul?" she asked.
"Most yes, although shocked. They are used to having an oddity as head of the family," she answered sadly. "Some, who thought they had a chance at the Dedeman wealth and power if anything happened to me, will be upset. That is only a few. Do not worry. They are loyal to me."
That afternoon, Gunnul's cousin were married. This involved a civil service at the government office and then a religious service at the mosque. The trip in between and later to a nightclub for the reception was made by horse and buggy with much cheering and hooking of horns. The married couple insisted on Jamie riding in their cart and the people in the streets would stop and point at her and clap their hands with delight for the young couple's good luck.
The club had been booked for the wedding party only. It was carved out of the rock as were many homes in the Cappadocia area. Dishes of vegetable and nuts were piled on the tables by smiling waiters as was chicken and beef shishkebabs, cheese, and breads. Dishes of hot pepper beets, yogurt, pickles, salads and bean dishes were next. Lastly, came baklava and fruit. Folk dancers performed to traditional Turkish music as they ate. And with desert the lights were lowered and a beautiful belly dancer performed a sensuous and exciting dance.
" There is always a bellydancer at a wedding," Gunnul whispered to Jamie. "At one time such women were not considered of good character but now with the growing tourist trade it is a more acceptable occupation."
Twice the bellydancer performed in front of Gunnul once brushing her silk scarf around Gunnul's neck. She had worked around the round room stopping at each table but Gunnul was the only woman she had centred out and her attention and efforts seemed to Jamie to be far more sexual. She found herself wanting to trip the bitch up and was surprised at her jealousy. Gunnul watched the performance with her public nonemotional face. Was she enjoying the show? Jamie was suddenly stricken with the realization that she could never dance for Gunnul.
The music had changed while Jamie had sat looking at her plate. "Come, we dance," Gunnul said putting an arm around Jamie.
Jamie swallowed, "Gunnul, I..I..can't."
"Yes, I help. Come," coaxed Gunnul and Jamie trusting her, let her pull her from her seat. Everyone was up dancing in one big long line that circled around and around and in and out of each other. Gunnul wrapped one strong arm around Jamie to support her weak leg and joined in the line taking the hand of the man beside her. Jamie's had one arm wrapped around Gunnul and the other was claimed by Chrissy who had suddenly appeared from another section of the line. Soon Jamie was laughing and singing along with the others.
When Gunnul thought Jamie had put enough strain on her leg, she moved to the edge of the intertwining dancers and pulled Jamie into a quiet corner. "Chrissy has asked to stay in the room of her girl cousins. I have checked and they will be well supervised by an elderly great aunt. Is that O.K. with you Jamie?" asked Gunnul.
"A sleep-over! Sure, Gunnul. They are wonderful fun when you are a kid," replied Jamie.
Gunnul nodded and left. Jamie saw her talk first to Chrissy and then to an elderly woman in the corner. She saw Gunnul bend over so the old woman could kiss her on the cheek. There was so many sides to Gunnul. She was so complex; scary, powerful, gentle, loving, commanding and insecure all at once. It was like holding a grenade with the pin out. As long as you held it you could feel the potential power but if you let it slip...
"Hi mom! Thank you for letting me stay over with my cousins tonight," bubbled Chrissy giving her mom a hug and kiss. " I come to say good night!"
" Good night Chrissy! You have a good time and don't be any trouble for your great aunt," said Jamie hugging her daughter back. Then Gunnul was there to get her good night hug and kiss too. When Chrissy left, Gunnul ordered a taxi and took Jamie back to the hotel. She needed Jamie. The last two nights had driven her crazy with desire. And she had to admit she'd been jealous all day. Everyone, particularly the men had been swarming around Jamie like flies to honey. Jamie for her part had been friendly and attentive to them all. Gunnul, had barely seen her never mind get close to her. And that slimy Kaymaki had pushed it to the very limit. If it hadn't been her cousin's wedding she'd have punched his lights out!
They were barely inside the door, when Gunnul grabbed Jamie and pushed her against the wall kissing her with pent-up up passion. For a second, Jamie froze and Gunnul, sensing her fear, pulled back immediately. Then Jamie relaxed realizing that Gunnul would not cross the line from excitement to violence. Jamie leaned back against the wall and ran a finger tip down the plains of Gunnul's face and neck. "Do you know what I want?" she asked in a husky voice.
Gunnul raised an eyebrow, "What?" she growled.
"I want a warrior to take me until I scream with delight," whispered Jamie looking intently into Gunnul's eyes. Gunnul moved closer and slowly and deliberately peeled the clothes off Jamie until she was standing naked in front of the warrior's bold stares. Their eyes met. Gunnul's hand lifted her chin and she bent to claimed Jamie's lips in a hungry, deep kiss. Jamie was lifted from her feet and tossed on the bed to be covered instantly with Gunnul's long, hard body. Her warrior claimed all territory and Jamie, her willing prisoner, allowed her to take anything she wished. Their love was passionate and demanding. And each time Jamie came, she cried out her delight on her lover's name.
Much later, they lay together talking over the day. "I really like your family Gunnul. Everyone was so nice to me. Boy, do you Turks know how to party!" she laughed.
"Turks like a good time," Gunnul agreed. "I was jealous. I did not like the way the men crowded around you," confessed the warrior.
" Well, if it was jealousy that turned you into a raging lover, I'll have to use that trick more often," smiled Jamie kissing her warrior's lips.
Jamie felt the violent energy and suddenly she was on her back and Gunnul was leaning over her, "You will not go near Kaymaki. I did not like the way he was coming on to you. I should kill him if he touches you!"
Jamie pushed Gunnul away in anger. Shock at Gunnul's sudden aggression had hit on an old nerve. "You don't owe me Gunnul. I'll see and do whatever I want!" she snapped.
Gunnul went quiet and got out of bed. She slipped on a pair of blue jeans and pulled a sweatshirt on and went to stand by the window. A few silent moments went by. Then in a strangled voice Gunnul managed to get out, "I am sorry. I know you are not mine. I have a lot of power. Sometimes a forget I can't always have my way.
Today, was a good wedding, no?" said Gunnul struggling to change the subject. "It was a good arrangement. The families will both prosper by this union."
"It was an arranged marriage! In this day and age!?" gasped Jamie in disbelief.
"Yes, of course. It is usually so. A girl meets a young man that she thinks she likes or vis versa. She tells her mother or perhaps the mother hears of a good choice and approaches her daughter. Then the mothers, they will meet and talk at the baths many times and feel things out. If all goes well then the young man and his family will be invited to the girls house. She must make Turkish coffee for her future in-laws. She makes each cup separate. Serving her future husband last. If she puts lots of sugar in it, this indicates she wishes to marry this man. If there is no sugar then she is not interested. Also she will bring in a box of Turkish Delights but will not open them if she is not happy with the arrangement. Sometimes as a tease, the girl will not put sugar in the boy's coffee. He then will worry if there is sugar in the other cups of his relatives all evening!
The young man must provide a dowry which is usually a house or apartment and gold jewelry. The girl must provide a rug. Traditionally, it is one that she has made herself. The family comes then to an agreement and the wedding takes place. I have arranged a good marriage for Chrissy I think..."
"What!!" snapped Jamie struggling to her feet and awkwardly getting into her robe and grabbing her cane. "You've done what!?!"
"I start to make arrangements for Chrissy to marry. It is early but I need to feel out..."
"No!!!" yelled Jamie facing Gunnul.
The two of them looked at each other as if for the first time. Then Gunnul spoke quietly fighting for control. "Chrissy must marry well. It is her duty. She is a Dedeman. I will not leave such a marriage to chance," stated Gunnul firmly.
"Chrissy will marry for love," snarled Jamie, "Don't you dare sell my daughter to the highest bidder."
Gunnul's jaw tightened in rage, "You did so well in picking a husband?" she spit contemptuously.
The words hit home. A cold rage consumed the smaller woman. No one not even Gunnul was going to ruin her daughter's chance at happiness, " At least I had a daughter. I didn't have to steal one," she shot. Then realized what she had said.
Gunnul went completely white. She took a step towards Jamie her fists clenched in rage. Then she was gone. The door slamming behind her. Jamie crumbled to the floor in horror and cried.
The next morning was hideous. Chrissy, of course wanted to know where her mother was and Jamie had no idea. Gunnul had never returned. Jamie had gone through the rest of the night alternating between self abuse for what she had said to Gunnul, to worry that she'd had an accident, to jealousy that she might have sought comfort in that bellydancer's arms! She realized that she liked knowing that Gunnul had only had her for a lover. That there was a part of Gunnul's life that was uniquely hers. The thought of losing that really upset her.
Chrissy and her ate breakfast in the hotel restaurant and then packed up to leave. Still no Gunnul. Jamie was groggy and disorientated by lack of sleep. She had told Chrissy that Gunnul had left to see to some things and this seemed to satisfy her daughter who was used to a mother who had many responsibilities that took her away at times. She suggested that they take the bags to the car so that they would be ready when Gunnul returned. Chrissy called a porter and they followed him to the car and watched while he put their bags in the trunk.
"Good morning ladies," called Kaymaki walking up to the two after the porter had left. Oh boy, this is just what I need, thought Jamie, for Gunnul to show up now with Kaymaki here.
But she said, "Good morning, Kaymaki. We were just on our way back to our room."
"We have to wait for mom. She got called away on business," explained the innocent child.
"Really!" smiled Kaymaki, this was going to be so much easier than he had thought. From his pocket he pulled out a hand gun. "I think you two ladies will come for a ride with me instead," he said.
Jamie hobbled in front of Chrissy, "You don't need the child. Just take me," she said.
"No. I need both Dedeman, I think," he smiled as four other men closed in around them.
"Mommy?" cried Chrissy in fear holding on to Jamie.
"It's O.K. Chrissy. Everything will be O.K." Jamie assured the little girl as they were pushed into a van that had pulled up. Kaymaki took the car keys from Jamie and threw them at one of the men who got into their car and followed the van.
Some miles out, they turned down a rough dirt road and bounced along to a cave carved into a large pinnacle of rock. They were ushered through the interconnecting tunnels, down several stories. Chrissy helping Jamie as best she could. Several times, Jamie fell and her hands and knees were scrapped and bleeding. The cave was crumbling and dirty, not like the ones they had explored before and the air was still and dusty.
"Stop," ordered Kaymaki and Jamie leaned against the wall with Chrissy tucked protectively at her side. "This is as far as we need go."
"What do you want? Ransom? Gunnul will never let you get away with it Kaymaki," argued Jamie.
Kaymaki laughed, "No. I think much bigger than petty crimes Mrs. Dedeman," he sneered. "No, the apparent heir is about to meet an untimely death and then there will only be Gunnul between me and taking over the Dedeman empire." He raised his gun and pointed it at Chrissy.
"No!" screamed Jamie as the gun went off.
Gunnul trudged down the trail that lead into the gardens of the hotel. She hadn't meant to be gone all night but once she had started moving she had covered miles before her temper had finally cooled. She had been just as responsible for the fight as Jamie. There was sure to be these cultural differences and they were just going to have to work things out not insult each other. She hurried along realizing that Chrissy would be back and wondering where she was. She came through the hedge gate and dropped down the bank to the parking lot. The car was gone.
Blood drained from her face and she broke into a run, pushing a porter out of the way and slamming into the elevator. She bounced nervously about waiting for the doors to open then she ran to the room and slipped in her card. Everything had been packed and their bags were gone. My God! She's taken Chrissy. Gunnul's eyes blazed with anger and she wheeled and headed down to the lobby. She was going to get Chrissy back no matter what she had to do.
Jamie had wrapped herself around Chrissy and felt the bullet tear through her side. Then the floor seemed to give out under them. Behind her, she thought she heard Kaymaki scream as rock and dust rained around them as they fell. When they hit bottom. Pain shot through Jamie and she knew no more.
"Mommy! Mommy!" called a frightened voice as small hands stroked her hair. Jamie opened her eyes and saw nothing. Pain lanced her side. She reached down and felt blood oozing freely from a gun shot wound.
"I'm O.K. Chrissy," she reassured lifting a hand to touch her daughter. "Are you all right?"
"Yes, I am fine. Just scraps and bruises. But you are bleeding! Kaymaki shot you!" sobbed Chrissy.
"Shhhh, Chrissy. We just have to be brave and wait for your mom to find us. You know she will," soothed Jamie not at all sure that was going to be the case. Gunnul would tear the world apart looking for them that she was sure but she would be looking in the wrong places. She'd think that Jamie had decided to kidnap Chrissy so that she couldn't be married off. God ! What a stupid argument they had! "Look Chrissy, I need you to tear my shirt in half and pack the cloth into the wounds. We have to slow the bleeding until your mom gets here."
Chrissy did what she was asked. And Jamie bit through her lip trying not to cry out in pain. Wet with perspiration she lay back down. "Hey, why don't you snuggle into my side and I'll tell you some really good stories about the wild west," suggested Jamie.
A frightened little child curled up at her mom's side and let her mom's warmth and soft voice take the fear away. Jamie told story after story. She knew she was no longer really making sense. Death was near. Please Allah, save Chrissy, she prayed as she held the sleeping child close.
They'd looked for most of the day. The police, army, Gunnul's family. In the late afternoon, the car was found. But no sign of either Jamie or Chrissy. The area was riddled with caves, to the point where the ground was unstable. An officer came over to Gunnul.
"General Dedeman, there has been another vehicle here today. We think maybe a van. There are footprints in the soft sand over there. A child and a woman and perhaps as many as six men," he reported.
Gunnul turned and looked at him with eyes grey and stormy. "Tear this mountain apart if you have to. Find them!" she ordered. The officer saluted and turned, yelling orders that sent men running in all directions. Gunnul stood where she was. For the first time in her life she felt completely helpless. She'd failed to protect her family. They had been kidnapped and God knows what had been done to them! Gunnul swallowed, don't think like that, she warned herself.
She looked up and blinked back tears and then she saw the cave entrance. She knew immediately deep, in her soul, that her lover was in there. She ran up the hill, calling to the soldiers near by to follow her.
Jamie woke feeling clean and very sleepy. Opening her eyes, she realized that she was in a hospital bed. Oxygen was being fed to her and an I.V. was in her arm. Her side throbbed. She turned her head, sleeping in the bed next to her was Chrissy. She looked peaceful and well. Then she became aware of a weight on her legs. Looking down she saw Gunnul. She was sitting in a chair and had gone asleep her head on Jamie's bed and her arm wrapped protectively around Jamie's legs. Her eyes were dark from lack of sleep and her cheeks hollow with strain. Jamie reached out with her fingers and touched Gunnul. Instantly, her lover was awake and at her side.
Gunnul took her hand and kissed her fingers and tears rolled down her face. "Hey, its O.K. Gunnul. I'm all right. Is Chrissy O.K.?" Jamie asked through dry lips.
Gunnul tried to smile bravely, "Yes, Chrissy's fine. And you are not O.K. You gave Chrissy and I an awful scare. They've had to take your spleen out. It was...pretty close," Gunnul managed to say her chin quivering with emotion.
"What happened?" Jamie asked.
Gunnul blushed, "At first, I was frantic and angry then I realized you wouldn't have taken Chrissy without talking to me. I trust you. I knew something terrible must have happened to you. I called out the police and the army and we searched all day. Finally, we found the car. We found never have found you in time, Jamie but I saw the cave entrance and I felt you there. We headed down to where we could see a cave-in had taken place. There was all this blood in a pool by the rock and I thought..."
Jamie squeezed Gunnul's hand and the woman took a deep breath and went on. "We dug and it was Kaymaki. Dead. Then we saw the shaft and I dropped down and found you. The air was bad and you were both unconscious. It was only when we got you out that I realized you'd been shot and had lost a lot of blood. We took you by helicopter to Istanbul. That was three days ago. Chrissy told me what you did. Jamie, we have been so scared! I love you so much!"
"I'm tired but I'm fine now. Gunnul?"
"Yes," asked the warrior eagerly leaning close to hear Jamie's weak voice.
"I love you too," whispered Jamie falling back into sleep. Gunnul leaned forward and brushed Jamie's lips with a kiss.
Some weeks later, Gunnul and Jamie were driving out of Istanbul to the town of Iznik. Gunnul had been nervous all morning and Jamie wondered what she was up to. Her recovery had been slow but steady and last week she had been released from hospital. Teefo had been dispatched to America, much to his delight, to explain what had happened and to see to her bills and other items of concern until Jamie could return.
Jamie didn't want to return, at least not without her family. She had realized that night that Gunnul would never be like Moe. She had buried her ghosts and wanted nothing more than to be a part of Gunnul's and Chrissy's life. But the subject had never come up.
Clearly, Gunnul had made some decisions that fatal night too and they didn't include Jamie.
"We never solved the mystery of the grave site," she said looking out the window and watching the rolling country go by.
Gunnul gave her a quick look before turning back to her driving. "I am not sure that we are meant to find an answer. Maybe we are just a part of the process. I don't know. I feel this calm, as if our part is done."
"Yes," said Jamie sadly, "Maybe you are right."
They arrived at the town of Iznik and drove to a small ruined church in the centre of a shopping area in the old town. Here they got out and Gunnul helped Jamie down the stone stairs and into the church grounds. Only the walls of the old building were left.
A section of the mosaic flooring could still be seen and the aging alter nook still stood.
Gunnul took Jamie's hand and they walked over to the alter. "This is St Sophia. The Church of Holy Wisdom. It was here, many years ago, that the ecumenical council wrote the Nicene Creed that the Christians recite. It is the holiest place that I could think to bring you Jamie," she said taking Jamie's other hand too and looking down at her.
"I believe that we were meant to be together. I believe that our souls were joined by a greater power and that our love is eternal. I believe that our God is the same, Jamie and that we can live together and love each other no matter what our cultural differences. I believe, we can raise our daughter to love and understand all peoples. I love you. Please Jamie, before our God will you stay with me and be my partner."
Jamie looked deeply into those remarkable blue eyes that had captivated her all her life.
"I believe in our love. There is no place I would rather be than with you and Chrissy. Yes, Gunnul I want to be your partner. I love you."
From her pocket, Gunnul took two bands of gold. She slipped one onto Jamie's finger and then gave the other to her to slip on hers. Gunnul looked down into the rich green eyes that she had known in her dreams all her life and knew that she was home.
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