Disclaimers: The characters in the following story are of my own creation. Any similarities to anyone living or dead are purely coincidental. No part of this story may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission from me, the author.

If the thought of two women being romantically involved is not for you, then this story is one you wonít want to read as it contains very mature subject matter. Also if you are underage, please move on to something else.

Sit back and enjoy the story, any comments can be sent to me at terrali20@yahoo.com.

I want to thank my betas for correcting this for me. Beth, my Florida buddy, Ken, Skeeter and Sue, you are all godsends. I bow to your grammatical knowledge.

This is dedicated to the woman who holds my heart. With a gentleness born of caring you have woven yourself into my heart to the point that I canít imagine an existence without you. Sweetheart, you have shown me what being loved means, what it is to truly be happy and to enjoy every minute of my life. I just want all those minutes to add up to a lifetime of loving you in return.

I would also like to thank all the wonderful people who take the time to read these stories. Thank you for all the great notes you have sent. I appreciate them all.

This story is the sequel to "Vampires, Mummies and the Holy Ghost." You might want to read that before this one.

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Things That Terrify Me the Most

Ali Vali

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"I used to sleep on planes."

"And now youíll close your eyes and try to clear your head." Long legs stretched out and crossed at the ankles. The private jet had just reached cruising altitude after taking off from the Venice airport. "Regrets?"

The blonde head turned from the window to look at her new lover. It had been a couple of months but the feelings the tall woman inspired still felt new. "Regrets about spending eternity with you?"

"Something like that."

"You know," a pink polished nail tapped on straight white teeth exposed by the large smile. "When I first heard about all this, I thought Iíd run into a group of extremely disturbed people."

"And now?"

"I havenít slept in three months and I feel like I could beat the crap out of anyone I come across."

Kendall Mackey gave her companion the smile that had melted hundreds of hearts throughout her life. "Anyone?"

Piper Dupont returned the smile as she ran her hand up Kendallís arm. "Iím sure itíll take me a few more months to catch up to you, honey, but you have to admit you have an unfair advantage. But then again the sex has been so fabulous I might not care about any other physical activity for years to come."

For the first time in years Asra, Captain of King Ramsesí elite legion, looked forward to the future with the same hope sheíd had before her life had changed forever, and Piper could hear it in the genuineness of her laugh. In one night the career soldier went from loyal fighter to the immortal champion of a group of elders known to her as simply the Order. How old, or exactly who the supreme leader of the group was, had never been shared with Asra, and in the beginning it had been unimportant to ask questions. Her sole purpose had been exacting revenge for her fatherís murder. Then the changing world around her had captured her adventurous heart and kept her sane through the multitude of lifetimes sheíd lived.

"Tell me something before we run across an awkward situation," Piper leaned closer in and draped her leg over Kendalís. "Are we going to run across many of your exes whoíve been carrying a torch for you for close to eternity? Because if you made them feel anything like you make me feel, Iím sure thereís more than one out there pining away for you."

"In my time walking this world Iíve only given the gift of the elixir to two. Thereís you," a long finger tapped the end of Piperís nose. "And thereís Charlie."

"And a field of daffodils in Venice," added the blonde.

"Yes, but I doubt they pine for me, beautiful one." Kendal leaned further in and initiated a long kiss. The time they had spent together had been some of the happiest days the older immortal had ever experienced, and she too was loving the feeling of newness Piper brought to her heart. "Thereís only you, love. Thereís no one you should fear."

"Iím sorry to bring this up again," started Piper, memories of their afternoon talks in the many cafes lining San Marco Square coming to mind. On those lazy days, Kendal had woven stories of her past so the young woman could learn more about the person she had fallen in love with. Along with all those tales though, Kendal had been thoughtful enough to mix in her hopes for the future. A future that centered on Piper and the life they would share together. "Itís just that weíre headed back to the real world, andÖ"

"And you donít want anything to change between us," Kendall finished for her.

"Something like that. Does that sound immature?"

"It sounds more like youíre a woman in love and you want nothing to get in the way of your happiness. Thatís not immature; itís very flattering to me." With a tenderness that belied the aggressive fighter in her, Kendal ran her fingers along Piperís cheek in an act of pure devotion. "In the balance of my life, the time Iíve spent with you outweighs all the other days as far as my heart is concerned."

"But why?" The insecurity surprised Kendal at times, but Piper could at a momentís notice convert to the scared little six-year-old whose father had taken his own life leaving her an orphan. For as long at it took, she would show infinite patience until the blonde could come to see her own self worth.

"Because none of the others who have shared my life have ever won my heart so completely." The long fingers gently moved from Piperís cheek to weave into her hair in an act of possession. "Trust me, love, you will never want ever again as long as itís me you want. You are forever free to follow whatever path you choose, but you will never find another who will love you as completely as I do."

"I love you so much, you know that right?"

"I see it in your eyes, and itís a sight I look forward to seeing for a long time."

Piper moved closer and with a deep sigh, laid her head on Kendalís shoulder. "What happens now?"

If ever the blonde was going to regret drinking the elixir it was going to be now. Their reasons for taking the chance at eternal life had been so different. Kendal had in one night been left with no one, only her life as a soldier and her position with Ramses. Piper though had a family who loved her, a family she would soon see pass on because of their advanced age. Would the young woman beg for the elixir to be mixed again as soon as her grandparents Mac and Molly reached the conclusion of their lives? Would the love in those green eyes die away when Kendal refused?

"Piper, I think we should return to New Orleans if thatís what you want. You have a company to run and a family to get back to." The tensing of the smaller womanís body was just as effective as if sheíd asked Kendal the question on her mind. "I will never try to make decisions for you, but I think that you should spend time with those you love."

"Is it hard?"

Again the blondeís vagueness was not something Kendal needed elaboration on. "It can be, Iíll be honest. For me, itís been the span of many lifetimes but I still miss my father. Had I known my mother Iím sure the pain would be more than I now carry, but like you I never knew the woman who gave me life. Youíve been lucky though, darliní, Macarthur and Molly have made you the center of their world. Not everyone is loved so fiercely."

"I canít imagine a world without them."

"Hopefully it will be years before we have to worry about that. For now weíll be happy at Oakgrove or wherever you want to live, doing whatever you want to do. Iíll be happy to move my offices to the city since ĎKendalí should have a few good years left."

The blonde head lifted a little so she could see the blue eyes. "Will you always be so amenable?"

"Enjoy it while you can, pipsqueak, after a few hundred years youíll be complaining about how cranky I am." The comment made them both laugh before their lips met with serious intent.

"Think weíre a mile up yet?" asked Piper when they separated.

"We will be when Iím through with you." The skirt Piper was wearing made it more than easy for Kendal to slide her hand up the smaller womanís thigh, and the moan the move created made it clear she was more than welcome. For the rest of the flight the crew stayed clear of the back cabin.

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From the windows of Dupont Shippingís offices, the people happily enjoying the dry conditions gave thanks that they werenít out in the cold drizzle that had been falling for days. They were all praying for it to end so they could enjoy the upcoming Carnival season with their children, but it was like a gray gloom had blanketed the city with dreary weather.

The wet cold conditions of the February morning didnít slow the busy construction and building going on outside though. After the expansion made possible from the infusion of capital from Mackey, Inc., the place was getting cramped with all the new staff theyíd brought on and new construction contracts theyíd procured. Men and women in the company issue blue hardhats moved around outside like an army of ants working oblivious to the weather. About half were working on the new Coast Guard Cutters while another, larger group was working construction on the new dry docks Dupont was adding on the new land theyíd acquired.

It wasnít uncommon on most days to see one of the workers stop when they were close enough to the offices and wave at the man standing in the large window that overlooked all the activity. As much as he enjoyed watching what his grandfather had started, that morning Macarthur Dupont sat at his desk finishing up some paperwork. The old man loved the fact that heíd been able to hire so many people, not only in the office, but in the yard as well, but lately all the new business was failing to put a smile on his face. As exciting as the expansion was, those who knew Macarthur best were aware the old man was missing some of his spark.

Keying the intercom, Mac got down to business. "Gene, could you pull the files on the Navy contract please? The representatives from their design department are coming over this afternoon and I want to review them."

"Sure thing, Mr. Mac, Iíll be right in. Is there anything else I can get for you?" asked the assistant who had been with the companyís president for over twelve years.

My granddaughter from wherever sheís run off to. The comment wasnít verbalized but it had become his mental mantra. He didnít begrudge her the time off but things never seemed as exciting as when Piper was in the building stirring things up. "Just the contracts, thank you."

"Is anything earth shattering going to happen at this meeting that would lose us business if he missed it?"

"Excuse me?" The question and the voice of the person asking it caught Gene by surprise.

"The meeting. Is it necessary for him to be there?" Piperís smile was so wide the woman sitting behind the desk hardly recognized her. "Miss me?"

"Just a little," teased Gene, "but I know someone who missed you so much heís barely smiled in months." She pressed down the intercom button and waited for the deep voice to come through.

"Having trouble finding the contracts?"

"I have someone out here that wants to see you but she doesnít have an appointment," said Gene, her smile now as big as Piperís.

"If it were any other day, Iíd love to visit with whoever it is but these guys arenít going to wait all day. I donít think itís a good idea to piss them off first thing."

"Then how about if we send over their good friend Ms. Mackey to take your place and Iím sure when sheís done weíll have to double the size of the operation," answered Piper.

Before either woman could turn to the door it opened, Macís tall form filling the opening. With an agility that belied his almost eighty years of life, he lifted Piper into his arms and swung her around like he had when sheíd been a little girl.

"Youíre a good looking sight for these old eyes, sweetheart," he whispered in her ear before kissing her on the cheek. Kendal walked in and smiled at the fact Piperís feet were still hanging a few inches off the ground as she was snuggled up in Macís welcoming bear hug, but neither of the Duponts were making a move to pull away from each other.

"I missed you too, Granddad, and I want you to take the rest of the day off so we can catch up." She squeezed his neck again loving the familiar scent of his cologne. "I have a lot to tell you, but I want to tell you and Grand together."

"Is everything all right?"

"Everything is great," the comment came out with a bit of a sultry tone attached to it since Piper was looking at the newest person to enter the room.

"Mr. Dupont, itís nice to see you again, sir," said Kendal by way of greeting, as she held out her hand to shake his.

"Kendal, I didnít expect you." Mac put his granddaughter down but kept hold of her hand as he moved toward the taller woman. "But if you had anything to do with bringing this pretty little girl home, I owe you the meal Iím always trying to buy you."

"Not necessary, sir, and I believe the pretty little girl said something about wanting to see her grandmother, so why donít the two of you go on."

"I wish I could right this minute, but I have a meeting withÖ"

"Dell and Harry from the Navy," Kendal supplied for him. "If you donít think Iím overstepping my place, Iíd love to meet with them for you. If itís something that needs youíre stamp of approval I promise to call you before I commit you to something."

"Let me grab my coat," Mac agreed slapping his hands together.

When he stepped back into his office Piper looked first at Gene then at Kendal. "Gene, could you tell him we had to make a phone call if heís quicker than usual?"

"You could use my phone," the assistant then noticed the smoldering look Piper was giving the other woman. "Or the office down the hall has one too."

"Thank you." With a mesmerizing sway in her hips, Piper led Kendal down the hall, the taller woman following with her hands behind her back looking anything but condemned.

"Well if thatís what it took to mellow her out a little, Iím all for it," commented Gene to the empty room.

When the door of the empty office with a manís name on the desk plate closed, Piper slid her hands up the lapels of Kendalís coat and pulled until the dark head bent to her level. "I wanted to thank you personally, before I take him home, for giving us this time together. Iím sure taking a meeting with these two guys, fascinating as they maybe, was the last thing you wanted to do after that long flight." The wool of Kendalís coat felt soft under her fingers but it was the lips pressed to hers that Piper enjoyed the feel of the most. "I promise to make it up to you later. Will you meet me at Riverbend when youíre done? I want to introduce you to my grandmother."

"Iíd love to, and I love you."

Mac was waiting when they got back and made no mention of the fact Kendal was now sporting some of his granddaughterís lipstick. If there was a story to tell there was no doubt in his mind Piper would tell it in her own time. From the look on the blondeís face it would be a long and happy telling of what sheíd been up to in the time sheíd been gone. She had called them plenty of times in her absence but asked for their patience while she worked though some things.

"Ready to go?" Mac asked Piper.

"I canít wait to see Grand. Thereís so much I want to tell you both."

"Kendal, are you sure you donít mind filling in for me?"

"The boring twins and I go way back, sir, so donít worry about me. Go on and take Piper home."

Macís car pulled away from the front of the building and for once he was glad to have the luxury of a driver. Usually he sat in the spacious back seat with a little frown at not being able to drive himself. The driver had been a concession on his part to make Molly and Piper happy as he got older and his reflexes faded.

"You look so different." His innocent statement made her head whip around. Had he already guessed what had happened to her?

"What do you mean?"

"For the first time in your life you look happy, sweetheart, I mean really happy. Am I wrong about that?"

Relief flooded through her and her smile returned. "I wanted to wait and tell you and Grand together, but youíre right, Iím really happy."

"So Miss Mackey isnít so bad after all huh?"

She slapped him lightly on the arm and laughed. "Donít be smug, and no lectures about how youíre always right."

"Does she realize how lucky she is?"

Tears suddenly filled her eyes but didnít fall at the thought of him being disappointed in her choice. "Sheís changing her life around so we can be together so itís a safe bet sheís in it for the preverbal long haul. I know you probably wanted different for me, but KendalÖshe completes me and I love her."

"What I wanted was for you to be happy, Piper. I prayed for the right person to come along. Someone who would cherish you and love you like you deserved to be loved. If Kendal is that person then Iím happy for you. I just need to know if she realizes how lucky she is to have won your heart."

The answer prompted her to hug him again. "Iím blessed, and I donít mean just because of Kendal. Thanks, Granddad."

They talked about business for the remainder of the ride, Piper wanting to save the rest of her story for her grandmother. When they walked into the old plantation house, Riverbend, there was another tearful reunion when Molly saw the visitor Mac had dragged home. The small family was in the den having drinks and talking when the doorbell rang out announcing company.

Molly looked at the newcomer, who seemed to fill up the room like she owned it, and figured Piper had had about as good a chance at resisting her as a scoop of ice cream on a New Orleans sidewalk in July. Kendal Mackey oozed both confidence and sexiness and she had yet to utter a word. The older woman ran her hand through her white hair, which still held traces of its original red coloring, before standing and offering her hand.

"Welcome, Kendal, Iím Molly Dupont."

"Itís a pleasure, maíam." The tall woman bowed slightly over Mollyís hand causing her to blush a little. "Piperís told me so much about you I feel as if Iíve known you for years."

"Thatís amazing to hear, since sheís hardly mentioned anything about you, with perhaps the exception of a colorful description of you when the two of you first met."

Kendal shot the blonde a teasing glare making Piperís hands rise in a defensive posture. "I plead ignorance, and you have to admit you were here to steal from us at first. Leave it to me to fall in love with the pirate known better as the Great White."

"Would that make you the damsel in distress?" Kendalís answer was quick and it made her partner laugh. In their time together Piper had learned that the older immortal was as good at verbal sparring as she was with the many swords she owned.

"In your dreams, honey." She held her hand up and closed her eyes for a moment when the larger and warmer hand slipped into hers. "I missed you," she whispered since Kendalís back was momentarily to her grandparentís.

"I missed you too, but youíll be busy for months to come because of my meeting today." Kendal turned around but didnít let go of Piperís hand. "Mr. Dupont, youíll be happy to know they agreed to a few more vessels and to a broader service agreement once the new dry docks are in place."

"Are you sure you donít want a job? This is a family business and Iíd like to keep it that way. From the looks of things the familyís future is looking bright." He pointed to the linked hands.

"I wouldnít worry about the family business, sir. Iím going to do whatever I can to assure that youíre successful for years to come." Kendal then turned to Molly and gave her a dazzling smile. "Iím not sure what Piper has told you but I want to assure you both that sheís in very good hands. I love your granddaughter with all my heart and Iím going to do so for an eternity." The declaration made all of the Duponts smile, the youngest of them because in her new reality, that could very well be true.

"Itís all we ask of you, dear. That and for you to start calling us Mac and Molly," instructed Molly.

For the rest of the evening the older couple sat and got to know the woman Piper seemed so content, with finding that with each passing hour they liked Kendal even more due to her quiet yet intelligent nature. They had yet to touch on a subject she wasnít knowledgeable about, but she used her brain to make the conversation flow smoothly, not to humiliate someone when they werenít as up to date on something as she was. What amazed Molly the most, was that someone who had amassed such a sizeable fortune by building a successful business, had that much time to read. The older woman had taught European history at Loyola for years before retiring and listening to this woman talk she felt as if she were hearing first hand accounts of the things sheíd read about for so long.

When the antique clock in the foyer chimed twelve times, Kendal stood and moved to the sofa where Molly and Mac were sitting. "I donít want to keep you up any longer than I have to, even though Iíve thoroughly enjoyed this evening."

"Piper, shall we make up your room for you?" asked Molly, trying to gauge just how far this relationship had gotten.

"Thanks, Grand, but weíre heading back into the city tonight. Iíve kept Kendal away from her business long enough and Iím sure she has things to do. We promise to come back tomorrow and have dinner again. I missed you guys and one night isnít enough to really catch up."

The older woman gave her granddaughter a wink and a knowing smile. "Good girl. Just wanted to make sure youíre keeping Kendal as happy as sheís obviously making you."

Immortal or no, Piper found out the hard way that she still had the ability to blush as badly at the womanís teasing as she had when sheíd been ten. The couple kissed Piper and Kendal good night laughing at the remaining pink tint to Piperís cheeks. At the gate to Riverbend, Piper put her hand on Kendalís arm causing the car to slow to a complete stop.

"Do you think it would be all right for us to stay at Oakgrove tonight?"

"Sure, but you ask in a way that makes me believe you expect me to say no." Kendal took her hand off the stick shift and placed it on Piperís knee.

"I just feel like there are places youíve built that are so special to you that I might not be welcomed." The admission hurt, mostly because if Kendal agreed with her sentiments it would be like a dagger through the heart.

"There are places Iíve built that still stand as a reminder of times that were special to me, but not because of a woman. Oakgrove is like that. I built it because the first time I saw this place it filled me with a need to tame it and make something special out of it. That was long before I met Angelina and her uncle, and it doesnít stand now as a testament to how I felt about her."

Piper looked at the handsome face illuminated only by the dashboard light and nodded her head. "The painting that still hangs in the sitting room is why I asked. I love you, but I respect the fact that there might be some things you need to keep separate from what we have."

"I want you in all aspects of my life, Piper. What I own, what Iíve collected and what Iíve experienced are now all open and available to you. The painting of Angelina was a gift that I didnít really think about when I left Oakgrove about three hundred years ago and when we met was the first time I had set foot back in the city again." She moved her hand to the back of Piperís head and pulled her forward a little. "If it makes you feel better though, Charlie made the house a little more Piper friendly in our absence. I never want you to feel out of place anywhere with me."

"My grandfather was wrong," said Piper before kissing the lips so close to hers. "Iím the lucky one. Thank you for always making my fears go away."

"Thatís my job, sweetheart, and I take it rather seriously."

Since there was no need for sleep, they took a walk around the grounds with Charlie and spent a few hours talking and getting reacquainted. No matter how much Kendal had asked through the years, the man still insisted on staying in the home he had shared with his family. The place had been improved through time, but it still held some traces of his wife and sons, and it was the place Charlie felt most at home. As the sun rose it found the new lovers wrapped in a blanket on the upstairs balcony. It was time to get back to as normal a life as they could, until the reality of being Kendal Mackey and Piper Dupont was no longer possible. A possibility that would perhaps come sooner than either wanted.

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Bruce Babagge sat across from his boss and loosened his tie in an effort to keep his hands busy and his mouth closed. Heíd been walking on clouds ever since getting Kendalís call for him to return to New Orleans, but the bomb she had just dropped on him made him want to lash out at her in the worst way.

"You canít just walk away and do this to me." He pushed the plate of fish away from him in an act of impatience, spilling some of the cream sauce on the white linen tablecloth.

The fork full of shrimp pasta stopped on the way to Kendalís mouth and she looked at him across the table before continuing its trek. She chewed slowly as if trying to find the same bit of patience he was praying for. Before she said anything, she took a sip of the white wine sheíd ordered and then sat back.

"I asked you here as a courtesy, Bruce, so letís not get a full head of steam over things you canít and will never control. That would mainly be me."

"So after all weíve been through together, you walk away and leave Michelle Butler in charge, no discussion?"

"I believe weíve had this discussion before, havenít we? The reason Iíve groomed you in the business was because of your father and his relationship with mine. Itís that simple, and itís not like Iím kicking you to the curb. You will retain your position as a senior vice-president, but I think Michelle is better suited to continue on with what I started, until Iím ready to come back."

He put his hands flat on the table and leaned forward, more comfortable now in letting some of his anger show. "Iím just supposed to sit back and take this?"

A hand grabbed him by the collar and yanked him back in his seat. "A wise woman once told me the world is full of infinite possibilities, Mr. Babagge, so Iím guessing my sweetieís answer will be the same to you." Piper let him go and kept walking so she could give Kendal a kiss.

"Sheís right you know. If you donít like it and think you can do better somewhere else, Iíd never dream of holding you back." Kendal directed her comment to Bruce but her eyes never left Piperís. The lunch and the manís company were starting to bore her, but she had felt it better to get this over with in person.

He reached into his jacket and pulled out an envelope. "I thought we had a different relationship, but I was obviously very wrong. I canít stay if you can pass me over so easily." With a toss, his resignation letter landed in her plate. "Iíll stay the required three months if you want me to, but I say we cut our ties here and now. I want to be up front about things and tell you I plan to go on and work through the accounts I have. With a small staff I can finish those up and start out on my own."

"Best of luck to you, Bruce," she held her hand out to him in a gesture of parting friendship. The look in the blue eyes though, let Piper know there was no way two thousand years had blunted Kendalís competitive edge. "But you do realize before your feet hit the sidewalk outside Iíll lock you out of everything remotely having to do with my business. I like you but donít ever threaten or throw anything at me again. If you want to go out on your own, then do it like I did, one company at a time all on your own, and not at my expense."

"ListenÖ" started Bruce.

"I think itís time for you to go, Mr. Babagge," said Piper taking her seat on Kendalís right. "From my end, it sounds like the discussion part of this is over."

"You just got here yesterday and already you know so much. I may not be fucking her but I think.." he didnít get any further than that before a hand closed in on his throat.

"You ungrateful little piss ant." Even with her limited experience Piper could see that Kendal was barely straining herself but she was on the verge of crushing the manís windpipe. "Get out of here before I squeeze the life out of you, and if you ever talk to her like that again you wonít live to regret it."

Slowly Piper put her hand inside Kendalís jacket and ran it up until it came to rest over her heart. "You have to let him go, honey." She felt the muscles tense slightly causing Bruceís face to turn a deeper shade of red. "Letís try the reverse of that, lover, before the frightened staff call the cops."

Kendal let him go by pushing him back into his chair, which continued to fall backward, spilling him in a heap. From the floor he glared up at her but kept his mouth shut. "If youíre smart youíll apologize to the lady before taking her advice to leave."

"Iím sorry, Ms. Dupont, I meant no disrespect."

"Sure you did," she chided him, "but letís call it a day before Rambo here decides to finish the job." One of the assistant managers escorted Bruce to the door giving Piper the opportunity to drag Kendal into the bathroom. "You okay?"

"He threw that in my lunch and I wasnít finished," joked the miffed woman. With as little effort as sheíd used to lift Bruce off the floor, Kendal lifted Piper up and sat her on the counter.

"Well if youíre lucky you might find other things on the menu today to satisfy your appetite."

"Had I known you had this dangerous streak about you, Piper, I might have pushed the envelope with you a little sooner than I did."

"You push plenty enough for about twenty people, lover, so donít go getting any funny ideas. This is my Grandís favorite place to eat and I donít need for her to be hearing about the wild happenings in the bathroom." Despite her objections she took the time to kiss Kendal before sliding down the long body till her feet were on the floor. "Speaking of Grand, she asked if weíd gotten our costumes for the ball yet. They both sound so excited about it. Itís the first time in like ten years theyíll be going. They canít wait to introduce you to this bit of New Orleans carnival tradition."

"Should I burst their bubble and tell them that I attended the first of these things?"

"And have them think Iím marrying some lunatic? I think not, Monsieur St. Louis. Do you care who we go as?"

With a quiet chuckle, Kendal slapped her softly on the butt and escorted Piper back to their table. The mess left by Bruce had been cleared away and the table had been reset. "I told you to decide," Kendal continued as they reseated themselves.

"I think Iíve already had the pleasure of meeting the dashing Jacques St. Louis the first couple of times we got together. That afternoon you had me over for lunch under those oaks, made me think of the stories youíd told about him." She stopped and laughed at Kendalís wink. "God that makes me sound as crazy as you."

"If you would like to meet Jacques for real, it can easily be arranged. I believe I even have his walking stick somewhere around the house."

"Perhaps some other time. Like I said, I think I know that part of you already. The gentleman Iíd like to go with is Antonio De Cristo."

"Should I be worried that Italians in tight pants and leather boots turn you on so much?"

Four new dishes were put on the table but the waiter knew better than to interrupt when the blonde leaned into her taller companion. Piper had been a regular for years but no one had ever seen her act like this. "Iím thinking the only ass you need concern yourself with me being interested in is yours. After staying in the house you had then, seeing the flowers you created back then and hearing Lenore tell me that story Ė I donít know, I just thought he sounded incredibly sexy."

"Awe how sweet, but he just kicked a little religious butt during the inquisition period of history. Nothing too gallant."

"Thatís who I want to go with. With any luck weíll run into a pack of priests on the way and you can show off for me," kidded Piper.

"You got it, but I hope youíre into facial hair. It was a pain to get on back then but I had to fit in the best I could." Kendal stopped talking when Piper let her hand loose to trail over her neck and face.

"Iíll take you anyway I can get you," she growled.

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The masquerade ball they had planned for had, through the years, become an event that was hosted by the cityís current mayor and his or her spouse or partner. For the first time in almost a month the young couple voluntarily spilt up to get ready for the evening, Piper wanted to be surprised by Kendalís transformation into one of her alter egos from the past.

Kendal had donned the tight leather breaches and knee high boots with a white silk shirt of the time De Cristo had lived. The black velvet jacket was the last touch but she went downstairs to retrieve the correct sword for the outfit before putting it on. Charlie had helped her with the goatee and moustache and they tickled as much now as they did when it had been a necessity to wear them. As she took the ornate weapon off the wall, she unsheathed it and turned around to the door of the study. There was someone outside and it wasnít Charlie.

From the porch of his home, Charlie looked at the woman standing at the door with the sword in her hand and it brought to mind the images of characters heíd read about. Kendal would live forever, and there was something in the way that she carried herself that was timeless. It was as if she had done so well adapting to her many environments because she looked like she belonged no matter the situation.

"Whatís wrong?" he asked.

"How long have you been standing there?" Kendal replied moving further out into the yard and looking to the trees. Her hair was down and the front of the shirt was still slightly undone giving her a dangerous look.

"I just walked out here to come and get you. Is everything all right?"

"I heard something or someone out here." At the moment all she could hear was Ruda pawing the ground as if anxious to take a run with her. One of the stable hands had brought him around, and for once, the big black horse was sporting an elaborate saddle.

"Want me to check it out?"

"Nah, if itís important theyíll be back." With a quick movement the sword was back in the sheath at her side. "Besides, I wouldnít want you to get all sweaty before you pick up your date, Prince Alar."

"Do you know how many years itís been since anyoneís called me that?"

"The way you look in that outfit, Iím sure your date wonít be calling you that tonight either. Iím thinking more along the lines of dreamy," teased Kendal.

"Get on your horse and worry about your own date, smart ass, Iím taking the BMW."

She laughed but couldnít shake the feeling that someone was staring at her from the darkness. After the ball she would take Ruda for a longer ride than just next door to meet Piper. Whoever was out there wasnít threatening, not yet anyway, but they didnít belong there.

When Kendal came out again her hair was tied back with a black silk ribbon and the jacket was buttoned appropriately. In her hand was a fistful of daffodils sheíd had delivered from town earlier in the day. Once she was in the saddle, a quick click of her heels sent Ruda trotting to the front gate. She looked back one last time but the house and surrounding land looked peaceful and the noise sheíd heard earlier hadnít repeated itself.

"Piper dear, either thatís your date or youíre trying to make poor Kendal jealous," Molly yelled up the stairs after looking down the drive to watch the leisurely rider coming up the way. "If it isnít Kendal, and it isnít for you then Iím dumping your grandfather and going with whoever that is."

Mac laughed behind her as he came to take his own look. "Hell I might go with her she looks so good up there." Molly looked at him and laughed along with him. "What?" said Mac, shrugging his shoulders. "Iím exploring my feminine side."

"How do you know itís her?" asked Molly with more than a little curiosity.

"No matter how many times I see her, Kendal canít hide the way she carries herself. Itís one of the reasons Iím thrilled sheís on our side, Ďcause believe me, darliní, if she werenít she wouldíve gotten the house in the bargain too not just the company." Mac walked Molly to a chair and helped her into it, knowing Piper would want to enjoy the trouble Kendal had gone through for her for a little while. "That first day the two of them met I thought I was going to have to separate them for a moment there, but I think it was our little girlís fire that caught Kendalís heart. If it hadnít happened, weíd be riding by every day watching everything my grandfather built be dismantled and carted off. With Kendal at Piperís side though, that will never come to pass even if she has to give up every cent sheís ever made before she met the Duponts."

"How can you be so sure, Mac?"

"Because she was willing to buy out Kenny to save Piperís honor, and because you canít help but see how she feels about her every time those blue eyes fall on Piper. Weíll be fine and so will she, no matter what happens to us. Piper has someone now whoíll pull her through the bad times and celebrate the good times with her."

Outside Kendal held Ruda back a little, waiting for the doors on the upstairs veranda to open. The house was similar to Oakgrove with a large sweeping porch on the bottom level and a large matching veranda on top. Their purpose was to allow the homeowners to enjoy the breezes coming off the river when the sun went down. From her position atop the horse Kendal could see that Piper had done an amazing job in her research of the dresses from the time period sheíd chosen for their evening. The midnight blue dress was form fitting at the top showing a fair amount of enticing cleavage, while the bottom flared out leaving the shape of the womanís hips a mystery to her admirers.

"I forgot to ask one thing," said Kendal before the horse came to a stop.

"What?"

"Do you speak Italian?"

"No, but Iím sure youíll muddle through somehow and figure out how to be romantic in English."

She laughed and shook her head. Never in her life had Kendal ever met anyone like Piper. Again she was assured that no matter how many years or centuries they spent together, she was positive she wouldnít be bored. With a quick tug, the cape she had donned rippled behind her without tangling when she gracefully dismounted. Slapping Ruda on the rump, she sent him home to the groomer waiting on him.

"Bona notte, bella Piper," Kendal bowed deeply at the waist holding the flowers up and behind her. "I hope youíre well this evening." The voice the blonde loved had taken on a deeper tone, and the face looked so different with the addition of the dark hair on her chin and above her lip.

"I only thought I was doing all right until I got a look at those pants while you dismounted. Tell me, can you climb in them?"

Mac was surprised from his spot at the window at how easy Kendal made climbing to the second story of the house look. "Did I forget to mention how limber she seems to be?" he asked Molly.

Before she could ask what he meant the young couple was making their way down the stairs arm in arm. The limousine Kendal had ordered pulled up as they got the womenís wraps. Comfortably seated in the back of the car, they had a leisurely drink on the way into the city as they talked about the upcoming festivities. Their group turned a few heads as they entered the grand ballroom and made their way to their table.

Piper was having a good time watching the flush return to her grandmotherís cheeks as Kendal twirled her around the dance floor. It was as she watched them make their second circuit that she saw her standing next to the bandstand, and from the look on Kendalís face, sheíd seen her way before that. Molly may not have noticed a change but Piper could see the smile didnít reach Kendalís eyes, eyes that had gone flint hard and busy scanning the rest of the room.

"So much for being left alone like they promised," whispered Piper.

"Iím sorry, sweetheart, did you say something?" asked Mac.

"Just that you should go and cut in before Grand runs off with my date." She put her hand on his arm and headed out to the dance floor to join her partner. "May we cut in?" she asked Molly when they came by.

"Notice anything?" Piper asked when Kendal wrapped her arms around her and whirled her onto the dance floor. They had been enjoying the party for over two hours, but now she felt like something was about to rob them of their fun.

"I notice a great many things, love, and none of them make any sense to me." She looked to the woman at the bandstand again and then to the four others sheíd brought with her. Minions were the best term Kendalís mind could conjure up, but the fifth person was the anomaly.

"No clue?"

"Itís a summons, Piper, but I donít understand the group theyíve assembled to come and get me. Perhaps you should head back with your grandparents and let me handle this."

As if testing the quality of the spirit gum Kendal had used, Piper tugged on the goatee to center the tall womanís attention on her face. "I will not now, nor will I ever be a piece of fluff on your arm. Do you understand that?"

"I donít believe Iíve treated you in a way that would lead you to believe that."

Another tug was more annoying than painful. "What you just said would lead me to believe youíd try if you thought something might be too hard or dangerous for me. Other people put on a white dress and walk down an aisle to declare their love for someone and bind their lives together. I exposed my body and my heart to you and drank from a cup to tie my life with yours forever. That makes me your wife in a way more binding than any ring you could ever give me so please donít shut me out when you think something bad is about to happen."

They had stopped moving and a few of the other dancing couples had bumped into them but couldnít budge Kendal out of the way. "I love you, Piper, and itís my job to protect you from the evils Iíve seen in this world. With time, youíll come to know them as well as I do, but you canít blame me for trying to keep you innocent of that for as long as I can."

"Promise me that youíll never ask me to leave your side."

"You donít know what youíre asking me to promise." Kendal sounded almost pained to make the admission.

"All I need is to know is that you want me in your life, all aspects of your life. Thatís good enough for me. Youíve walked alone long enough, Asra. You donít have to anymore. Itís the reason you big silent types take wives. I should correct that assumption now in case you thought it was because you were expecting me to do dishes or something," she teased trying to get Kendal to smile again.

"I love you, Piper, and Iíll promise you whatever you want." She bent and kissed the petite woman before taking her hand. Together they made their way to the back of the room through a series of doors that led to an outside patio.

"Antonio De Cristo, that was an interesting choice," said a voice Kendal and Piper both recognized before the woman appeared behind them.

"Are you here for a reason, or are you here to play guessing games with me?" asked Kendal.

"Iím not your enemy, Asra, try and remember that. In the coming days you will need as many of us who care about you on your side as you can get. Itís why Iíve assembled the group I did to deliver the Eldersí message." Indigo was dressed as Cleopatra, not bothering to try and hide her blonde hair.

"I did their bidding and Iím done. My brother and that unnatural bitch that made him are both dead so what else do they want?"

"Remember, your position is not to question, it is to follow and do the will of the Elders. It is the price of your gift, the same gift they know youíve now shared with another," added Lenore. "I came to verify that Indigo has done her job and given you the invitation. At the next full moon you are expected, Asra, and I beg you to comply."

"And if she doesnít?" asked Piper.

"Iím sure sheís told you what happens if the sun is taken away from us, Piper. It is the fate of those who disobey." Indigo moved closer and took the small womanís hands in hers and looked into her eyes. They shared something in common, and it was up to both of them to keep Asra whole. "I canít begin to tell you how sorry I am to intrude on you at this moment in your life but I have no choice. It looks as if you are doing well though, am I right?"

"Weíre doing fine, and I hope these Elder guys donít mind if she brings guests. Sheís not going alone."

It was then that Indigo saw it, and the sight almost made her drop Piperís hands. "Lenore, come and see."

Piper barely recognized Lenore in the gypsy costume she was wearing but she managed a warm smile when she moved closer. Had it been for Indigo alone the blonde probably wouldnít have been convinced of Kendalís epic survival. This was the woman who had with such conviction not only written Asraís story but also retold it with such fervor you couldnít help but believe.

She was about to ask why the chroniclerís face had paled considerably but when Lenore took her hands, Piperís world went instantly black and silent. Almost like a balloon that someone had stuck with a pin she started to go down, only Kendalís quick reflexes kept her from hitting the ground.

"What did you do to her?" Kendal demanded as she cradled the blonde head gently. She had been dazed in battle but never, unless by choice, lost complete consciousness. Seeing Piper do so shocked and scared her nearly senseless.

"You know Iíd never harm her, Asra, and you also know the legend as well as I do." Lenore dropped to her knees next to them and ran her hand over Piperís head.

"Do you seriously think the prophecies were waiting for a sarcastic boat builder from New Orleans?" Kendal regretted the flip question as soon as it left her mouth when she felt the hard pinch to her thigh.

"And what the hell is wrong with being a boat builder from New Orleans?" The pinch kicked up a notch. "You think Iím sarcastic?"

"Itís the reason I fell in love with you, so I never want to change that about you." Relief flooded Kendal so quickly she came close to collapsing next to Piper. "Are you all right?"

"You have a little explaining to do, but Iím fine." Piper hadnít had enough time to learn all of Kendalís expressions, but the look on her face was bordering on fear. To try and erase it, she brought her hands up and cupped the sides of the strong face. "Are you all right?"

"Iím just worried about you, my love."

Piper pulled her closer wanting a little privacy. "That wasnít supposed to happen was it?"

"No, honey, it wasnít. Did it feel like you fainted?"

"It was more like a current ran up my arms when Lenore touched me."

Indigo and Lenore moved closer, interrupting the whispered conversation. "Then what happened?" Indigo prodded.

"It was weird," Piper replied, her answer loud enough for all of them but her eyes never leaving the woman holding her.

"Elaboration would be good," Indigo countered with a little impatience.

"I love you, but back off," warned Kendal, her tone full of heat.

"Itís all right, Kendal," Piper said softly, smiling at her in gentle affection. "I promise Iím fine." She turned to face the other two, knowing they held the answers she needed and wouldnít be afraid to tell her. "I had the most vivid dream ever. It seemed so real but it couldnít have been."

"Why do you think so?" asked Lenore. Her smile had not dimmed and she spoke softly.

"It was about Kendal but from the way she was dressed I shouldnít have a mental reference for that level of detail."

"How was I dressed?" asked Kendal.

"You looked almost like a savage, and you were getting off a large black horse covered in as much armor as you were."

Indigo fell back until her butt hit the cool surface of the patio. "Oh gods."

"Think, love, the sword at my side, what did it look like?" Kendal asked as if fascinated.

"It was a dream, baby, what does it matter?"

"Try and answer her question, Piper. Trust me, itís important." Lenore reached out her hand to touch the blonde again, but pulled back at the last moment.

"It was very different from the ones Iíve seen you carry, and it was the only thing out of place considering how you looked."

"What does that mean?" asked Indigo.

"While Kendal looked wild, the weapon looked almost beautiful and out of place. The handle was as blue as your eyes andÖ"

Kendal started talking to finish the description as if not being able to help herself. "The only other color on it was a yellow dragon coiled on the tip. If you looked closely you would see that the eyes of the beast were actuallyÖ"

Piper looked at her in disbelief but spoke anyway. "Two perfectly matched sapphires." Confirming the description, Kendal and the others nodded.

"The Sea Serpent Sword, it was and still is one of my favorites," said Kendal.

"Where is it now?" asked Indigo. "Asra, where is it now?" she asked again when the answer didnít come quickly enough.

"Itís at Farthington House outside London," she answered. Her legs twitched with an overwhelming urge to pick Piper up and just bolt.

"You have another collection of swords in England?" teased Piper, again trying to defuse the tension building. "How many do you need?"

"Iíve walked through your closet, darliní, and gotten a look at all your accessories. Donít think about making fun of me," Kendal teased right back, finishing with a kiss to Piperís nose.

"What else did you see, Piper?" asked Lenore.

"Kendalís hair was longer and she wore it down. She was standing on a hillside as if waiting for something to happen." The tone of Piperís voice had taken on an almost trance like quality sucking her audience in even more. "There were troops behind her looking in the same direction as she was, but I couldnít make out what it was they were studying."

"And the day, what did it look like?" asked Lenore softly trying not to interrupt her thoughts.

From her position Kendal pictured the events in her mind. She remembered the nervous energy prickling her skin and the weight of the new gift strapped to her side. The rain, making her leather jerkin squeak with every movement, had been falling for days making her horse shake his massive head to clear his eyes constantly. In the life she had chosen to follow, the warrior was relatively young but already her fighting skills were becoming legendary. No one thought it wise to challenge Erik Wolver no matter how different he looked from the rest of the northern people. The dark head and skin stood out in the sea of fair red heads and blondes.

"It was stormy," continued Piper. "It felt like the thunder crackling around them matched everyoneís mood, except Kendalís." In a gesture of curiosity Piper pulled on the ribbon holding her loverís hair back to compare the reality with her dream. "Erik. That was the name you picked in that life wasnít it?"

"Erik Wolver, yes it was," answered Kendal.

"But how would I know that?"

Before she answered, Kendal hugged Piper to her chest. In her heart it was an act of farewell to the innocent Piper she had met. "Your grandparents are inside waiting for us."

"I asked you a question."

Kendal moved to stand, helping Piper to her feet as soon as she did. "And I have every intention of answering it, with help Iím sure," she glanced to their company. "To give you an answer that will satisfy you though will take time." She smiled before kissing the pout that had formed on Piperís soft lips. "You have eternity to contend with, love, so itís a good idea to start practicing patience."

"You arenít always so patient," the blonde reminded her.

"With you, no man or woman would ever learn patience once they tasted," she paused searching for the right word. Kendal cocked her head to one side when a pale brow spiked in question. "A bite of the peach as it were." In a move worthy of the gallant Antonio, Kendal bowed over her hand before kissing the back of it. "You canít blame me for my impatience in that arena, dear lady. I have the longevity of a god just not the willpower of one."

"You never will if I have anything to do with it. Thereís a whole lot about you to love, Asra, but your hunger has to be one of my favorites." When their kiss ended Piper laughed when she noticed they were alone. "Weíll be all right, wonít we?"

"I wonít lie and tell you the future will always be easy, but you have chosen to spend your life with a warrior. To me that means no matter what the challenge I will meet it head on to keep you safe, so yes, weíll be all right."

"Then dance with me one more time before we get my family home."

Molly and Mac looked on from their table, loving the sight before them on the dance floor. Something had happened since the night began, but if it were possible, Piper looked even more in love, and the older couple werenít the only ones in the place to notice. Mac couldnít stop the tears that filled his eyes as he looked at the woman across the room dressed like Cleopatra.

Her face was wet with tears and her eyes never left his granddaughter and her escort. It hurt him to see the pain written so plainly on the womanís face. In the second it took him to rub his eyes, the woman was gone and only Piper and Kendalís happiness was left.

"May it always be so," he whispered.

************************************************************************

The ride out of the city was quiet and Piper was content to just rest in Kendalís arms as the car sped along the interstate on their way home. Promises of lunch the next day were made as the young couple continued on to Oakgrove after dropping off Molly and Mac. Kendal escorted Piper upstairs where one of the staff helped her out of the costume while her tall partner went back down to talk to their guests.

"How much time do I have before they want to see me?"

"I told you, the next full moon you are expected back. Theyíre angry with you, but I think in light of tonightís developments, they might change their minds about the lecture they planned to deliver," answered Indigo.

"Or they will try to destroy her." The aged brandy burned a little going down, but it tasted good after a night of champagne. "You know as well as anyone that some of them donít want to see change. The world is of their making and they will not accept a young woman like Piper coming into it trying to steer us in a different direction if that is what she sees."

"You must have faith that the life you have led up to now is good for something," added Lenore. "No matter how long some of us have lived, we have seen you consistently pick the good fight even though at times it would have been more prudent to either it sit out or fight for an enemy that would have given you power. Talent like yours hasnít always been used for the betterment of mankind."

"Tell them Iíll come, but I will fight anyone who tries to harm Piper. I will pick any side to keep her whole."

"It was our promise to accompany you, but we will retire and leave you the rest of the night for the talk that awaits you. Go to her, Asra, she is waiting for answers." Lenore kissed her cheek before walking to the stairs. If there was one thing Oakgrove didnít lack, it was guestrooms, and the chronicler was anxious to get to her journal.

Now alone with Indigo, Kendal stood to pour herself another drink. For months she had put the past out of her mind, but a large part of it now sat in her house looking at her like their worlds would never be the same.

"Are you happy?"

"Letís not do this," requested Kendal.

"After all weíve been through I have a right to know if youíre happy."

She tensed at the hands on her shoulders, but Kendal neither shrugged them off nor turned around. "My answer will only bring you pain, and because of what weíve been through, it will never be my wish to do that to you." The dark head dropped and she took a deep breath, the hands tightening their hold on her. "I love you, I have for so long now, and you will always be a part of my life."

Piperís hands went up to her mouth in an effort to keep quiet. From her spot from the stairs she could hear every word the two former lovers had exchanged. She was smart enough to know it would take time to erase Indigo from Kendalís mind and her heart, but she never expected to hear the truth so bluntly from her lover.

"But the role we will always have now is that of warrior and watcher. She owns my heart and I love her with all that I am. I see it every time she looks at me, that Iíve lived all these days waiting for her to come into this world and complete the person I am. If something ever happens to her I donít care to see another sunrise and I will sleep the sleep of the dead."

"You can feel like this in so short of time?"

Kendal finally turned around and stretched to her full height causing Indigo to let go of her and take a step back. "Indigo, you and I both know the most important law of the universe."

"For everything that exists, there exists something else to balance it."

"Correct. For the darkness there is light, for good to exist there must be evil, and for every person there must be another born to balance who they are. It is the only way to achieve balance. Piper is my balance. She is the other half of my soul."

It was then that Piper noticed something different about the room. The picture of Angelina over the main fireplace was gone. In its place was a large landscape sheíd admired from the house in Venice, hanging here now in an effort to make her feel at home in a place Kendal had built so long ago.

"My searching is finished. She is my peace as well as my lover."

"Iím sorry to question what youíve found, Asra."

"I think youíve earned the right to question whatever you see fit," said Piper from the doorway. "You will always be welcomed wherever we are, Indigo. I know the relationship you and Asra share is special and I donít ever want to come between that or go against someone whose lifeís purpose is to keep my love whole. If in time we could also become friends, Iíd like that as well."

"Thank you, Piper." Indigo then turned to Kendal and bowed her head. "You have chosen well, Captain. Iíll leave you two alone for the evening."

"How long have you been standing there?" There was no hint of accusation in Kendalís voice, and to Piper she looked incredibly sexy. The white, old style shirt was slightly opened at the neck and it had been pulled out of the leather pants. With her hair still down, Kendal looked like she belonged in the pages of a romance novel.

"Long enough to learn something about myself."

"Whatís that?" There was nothing but skin under the robe Piper was wearing, Kendal was sure of it.

"That knowing I belong to someone, and I mean completely belong to someone, doesnít mean I lose a part of myself."

"Did you think you would?"

"All my friends whoíve found love seem to always be making huge sacrifices, so yes I thought I would."

"You should know I belong to you just as completely," Kendal took a step closer.

"Knowing that taught me something else," Piper also took a step forward.

"What might that be?"

"That Iíve never wanted someone to touch me more than I do at this very moment."

The tie of the robe loosened and Kendal stood her ground, not to make Piper come to her but because she was amazed at the aggressiveness the blonde was displaying along with her beautiful body. Passion between them hadnít been a problem, just a dance that Kendal always initiated.

"I thought you wanted to talk?"

"I do, but why always talk of eternity if you donít mean it?" The robe dropped to the floor, Piper confident that they would not be disturbed no matter where in Kendalís house they ventured. "I want to talk to you but I want you to touch me first. Will you do that for me?"

Kendal made quick work of the distance between them, scooping Piper up into her arms and carrying her to the rug in front of the fireplace. The logs that were burning made popping noises as the blonde laid back and watched Kendal strip naked. Thinking of all that skin stretched out and covering almost every inch of her made Piper wet with the anticipation of it.

It was at times embarrassing to her how much she craved this tall fighter who had lived so many lifetimes, but showing her need only seemed to fuel Kendalís. The long body was flawless in her eyes; the only scars marring the skin were a couple Kendal had gotten as a small child. To Piper it was the elixirís way of reminding her lover of her humanity, a way to keep her grounded.

"Asra," the name was becoming more familiar to Piper.

"What, love?" Kendal came to her, covering Piper but keeping most of her weight off the smaller woman by pressing her hands to the floor.

Piper spread her legs wider to accommodate Kendal, needing some contact in the place she felt getting wetter by the second. "I need you, honey, but I wantÖ"

The words died in her throat as Kendal held her weight up by only one arm, moving her other hand between Piperís legs. Talented fingers spread her open and instantly found the hard point of need. Piper dragged her nails down Kendalís back until she reached her butt, then with her new found strength, she reversed their positions.

What amazed Piper was that even though she was now straddling Kendal, the sexual massage she was getting had never stopped. "I canít let you get too smug, Captain," she teased as she dipped her hand where Kendal most wanted her. "I love that you want to touch me so much, but I want you to crave me. Do you?" The wetness of her lover was confirmation enough but Piper wanted to hear it as well.

"Crave you?" Kendal tilted her hips up so Piper could feel more of her, but the move also drove her fingers into the blondeís slick opening. "Like a hungry man who hasnít eaten in years craves a feast."

Kendal flattened her feet on the ground so she could move with more strength. With every upward thrust her fingers drove further into Piper as the blonde returned the favor with a countering downward stroke. The urge to stop and enjoy what Kendal was doing to her was overwhelming her senses. She could feel the orgasm starting to build, like she was on a wave that was starting to crest, and when it broke it would wash through her like a storm. Piper fought it though, wanting more than anything for them to get to that proverbial shore together.

"Come on, lover, let me hear you," she whispered into Kendalís ear when she bent over her letting their bodies come into closer contact. The move slowed them down a little but Kendal wanted none of that and flipped their positions again.

She moved up a little so Piper wouldnít have to stretch to keep her hand in place, and then started their movement again. Their skin made a slapping noise as it came together and for once Kendal seemed to come back to reality looking down at the smaller woman to make sure she was all right. Sex together had been intense but never anything like this.

"Donít you dare stop," ordered Piper before she bit down on the dark nipple so close to her mouth. "I want to feel you and I want for you to finally make me yours."

It was close to a battle cry that ripped from Kendalís chest loud enough to echo through the house making the others stop whatever they were doing and cock their heads for the moment. Emotions from happiness to jealousy rose as another voice joined the deeper one cementing the fact Asra was not engaged in battle.

"Oh God," said Piper as the intense pleasure started. She couldnít help it, her hand stopped as she got lost in the feeling Kendal had created, but it didnít matter. Their hips were moving in unison bringing the taller woman to the same intense conclusion.

Kendal stopped when she felt the walls of Piperís sex clutch her fingers tight then relax along with the rest of her. She tried keeping herself from falling onto Piper but it was like the blonde had sucked the life out of her and she slumped down, falling a little to the side so she wouldnít crush the air out of her partner. After a minute she was able to reach behind her and grab a soft throw off the sofa near them and covered both of them knowing how much Piper liked to snuggle under the blankets with her whenever they had the opportunity.

"You know something else?" Piperís voice sounded raspy to her own ears.

With gentle fingers Kendal combed back sweat slicked blonde hair from Piperís face and smiled at the woman resting comfortably on her shoulder. "What?"

"Iíve never felt beautiful and desirable with anyone until I met you. It makes me regret that you werenít my first, so that this would forever be my definition of how it should be with someone you love."

"That is because you never met anyone with the sense the gods gave a goat if they could not see you for who you really are, Piper. But then, I should be thanking the gods that you didnít. The law really frowns on my running my competition through these days if things donít go my way." The teasing remark made Piper laugh and she made herself more comfortable on the broad shoulder she was resting on.

"Flatterer."

"With you and for you, definitely." Kendal tapped the end of Piperís nose.

"I love you and I canít tell you that enough." She sighed and hugged Kendal closer. "Now tell me a story, honey."

"Before I begin, let me ask you something. Have you ever heard of a seer?"

"Is it something like a fortune teller?"

"This isnít one of those guys in the French Quarter, love. You have to realize that some of the fairytales youíve heard all your life are, in some cases, not stories at all. Perhaps some have been stretched through time and exaggerated out of proportion, but many of them they are true. You saw first hand what my brother was, and I have a feeling, living with me anyway, that youíll come to see some other things that will be hard to accept as true. I know I did at first."

Piper flattened her hand over Kendalís heart and looked up into the blue eyes. "If you tell me itís true, Iíll believe you."

"Thank you for your trust. I promise to never do anything to displace that and have you question me." Kendal placed her hand over Piperís. "First a little history. The immortals that exist now are ruled by the Elders of the Order. Their exact age or the makeup of the Order is known only to those who are in its ranks. Of those Iíve dealt with in my lifetime, Indigo and Lenore are some of the oldest by my estimates. Lenoreís library dates back almost three thousand years, a boon to mankind if the whole thing were ever to be discovered. Then again, it might be best if it werenít."

The blonde chuckled, only guessing after getting to know Kendalís sense of humor, why she would think so. "Why is that?"

"Think of how much it would cost to reprint all the history books in existence today if the truth were to be brought to light. Lenore is an extremely talented writer, but taking flights of fancy to make the story read better just arenít her style." Kendal stopped and took a deep breath before continuing. "When I was given the gift, and after my training with Indigo, I was introduced to Lenore. One trained my body to fight the darkness I would spend forever facing, and the other trained my mindÖ"

"No warrior, no matter how talented, can win every battle, Asra, without a good amount of wit." Lenore walked around the large cavernous room lighting candles as she spoke. "Youíve been in the desert for years now and Iím guessing Indigo has honed you into something to fear in battle. My hope is youíll give me as much of your attention during our time together."

"I promise to do my best." Asra was still looking down at the strange clothes sheíd been given to wear. The leather hid a lot of the tanned skinned sheíd achieved working with Indigo in only her loincloth in the hot sun.

"Even if my hips arenít as enticing to watch when I walk, letís hope thatís true," teased Lenore as she took a seat across from her new student. With a wave of her hand, one of the servants brought out tea and a tray of sweet cakes.

Despite her age, Asra blushed at the innuendo. "Iíll try and keep myself in check."

For months they covered the history of the world, centering on the stories Asra had never heard as a child. The world she had lived in as a mortal had never contained any of the creatures and spirits that were found in the pages of Lenoreís books, not until the day sheíd come home to find her father and their entire household staff ripped to shreds. With Indigo sheíd learned the defensive moves to protect herself and ultimately defeat her enemy. With Lenore she learned what to look for and what made them tick. Every weakness and every thing ever learned about any evil that would tilt the fate of mankind was found in her library.

Months after that, the wise immortal gave her a quick lesson on the Elders and the rules Asra now had to live by. At first it was easy since it didnít differ much from her life as a soldier in Ramsesí army. Her job now was to fight on command and destroy any target the Elders sent her after.

It was just before Asra was to leave Lenoreís company that she found the book with no title. It was full of passages signed only by Bruik.

"Who was Bruik?" asked Piper. "It sounds more like a car than a person."

"You remind me so much of a younger me." Kendal laughed and pinched the skin of Piperís bottom. "I interrupted so much in all our lessons, I thought Iíd drive poor Lenore insane."

"Why doesnít this one have a name?" Asra held up the book and waved it in Lenoreís direction.

"It needs no name and it needs to go back on the shelf where you found it." It was the first time a reprimand of that sort had come from the woman whose life revolved around the written word.

"Why?"

"Bruik is an Elder, one of the first is my guess, and those are his thoughts."

Asra put it back but the conversation wasnít over. "If he wanted to keep his thoughts private, he wouldnít have given you his journal."

"Indigo was right about you."

Asra chose the pillows by the roaring fire and held her hand up to help Lenore to her seat beside her. "In what respect?"

"You are relentless once something intrigues you, am I right? If I donít give you the answer you seek, youíll talk circles around me until I tell you."

"Then save yourself the trouble and tell me," joked Asra.

"Bruik is our seer. When he has a new prophecy for the future, one of his servants brings it to me for recording. So while these are his thoughts, or more precisely, his visions of the future, they are not entirely private. Only those who have some idea of what to do with them though are given the privilege of reading them. After all, you wouldnít want to know all the things that are going to happen would you?"

Ready to move on to a new topic of discussion, it was the question that caught her attention. "Iíve never pressed you for anything, Lenore, but tell me, are any of his visions of me?"

"I canít tell you that."

Asra reached for her hand when the woman went to stand and move away. "You canít or you wonít? If our time together has shown you one thing about me, itís that you can trust me." She let the teacher go, but only to move her hand to cup the womanís cheek. "Tell me."

"You will spend years roaming the world fighting where you are sent, and in some cases where you see a need, because that is your nature. Some see the world for what they can get out of it and others see it for the good that can be achieved for all that live. Your fate is in the latter. Always the good fight is what will be written about you, Asra, of that I have every faith."

Not understanding the reaction, Asra wiped away Lenoreís tears and pulled the woman to her chest. "Stop if you really canít tell me the rest. I mean to cause you no discomfort on my behalf."

"The day will come, my friend, when you will find someone who you will at first consider to be a worthy adversary, but in reality she will be your balance. Once that day comes to pass, and no matter the cost to you and your standing in the Order, you will defy the Elders and give the gift of eternal life. When you do, you will bring to us a new more powerful seer, but it will not be you who awakens her."

"Who does?"

"Love will find her, but it will take the touch of another like you to awaken her to her potential."

Asra pulled Lenore a little away from her so she could see her face. "And how will I know?"

"The gift will never change the color of her eyes. For you and I and all the others, the elixir of life resides in the eyes. From the blue of the cup to the blue that will forever chronicle time is how it has been." It was Lenore who touched Asra this time. "The elixir will not be the same for her though. It will reside in her heart and in her mind, her eyes will stay the color of clover."

"And what will she mean to me?"

"Simple, Asra, she will be your reason for living."

The green eyes the prophecy spoke of were closed and Piper ran her hand slowly over Kendalís chest. For once, no matter how her life had changed after meeting Kendal, she didnít believe what the tall woman was telling her. At first she didnít believe the whole immortality thing because her eye color hadnít changed, but the sleep or lack of it had changed her mind. This though was too much.

"Do you think itís just because the elixir didnít work on me?" That had been the first time sheíd voiced the greatest of her fears. To have Kendal live on without her and not knowing if fate would ever bring them together again preyed on her mind.

"I have every confidence that you are no different from me, Piper. At first I had my doubts in Bruikís writings, but not in that you wonít share your life with me for a long time to come."

"Why did you?"

The picture over the mantle was gone but there was still a trace of Angelinaís ghost in the house. "Because I stopped believing after what happened to Angelina. She was given the gift of immortality and kept her green eyes, but even if sheíd lived out the night, I doubt she would have been much help in the realm of prophecy. Her visions would have centered around the evil her life wouldíve become."

"So in a way you felt as if she was the love you sought."

"Not at all," there was doubt in Piperís eyes when she opened them so Kendal went on to clarify her point. "The way I interpreted what he wrote was exactly how he put it, but not in the way you understand it. Love would find her, was the first part, and it was love I felt for her, but my brother mistook my feelings as being deeper than they were and stole her away from me. The last part was that another would awaken her and that in my mind came to pass as well. It was Henri who awakened Angelina not me. His gift would have given her an eternal life just as if Iíd mixed the elixir. Once the night was over and I had to clean up the aftermath of what happened, I never thought of the prophecy again. Bruikís vision had come to pass as far as I was concerned."

"And now?"

"I have found my love, my balance and my other half just like he said. Tonight it was Lenoreís touch that awoke the part of your mind that will see far into the future if that is what you choose."

"And if I donít?

Kendal kissed her forehead and wished she knew the answer to that. "Then weíll be boat builders or makers of wine if that is what we choose, but I wonít have anyone force you into a life youíre not happy with."

"And if I do?"

This time the question made Kendal laugh. "Then I suppose youíll always know when Iím doing something I shouldnít be doing."

"And youíll love me no matter my choice?"

"Until the day even we have no more tomorrows to look forward to, and even then Iím positive Iíll love you beyond that."

They lay quietly after that waiting for the sun to come up as the fire continued to burn in the hearth. Upstairs Lenore went to Indigoís room to invite her out for a morning walk. After the previous nightís happenings, it was more important than ever to pull their forces together to protect Piper and Asra from the faction of dissenting Elders that was becoming more powerful by the day.

With her hand on the knob of the blondeís room Lenore cocked her head listening for any noise from the room where the young couple still lay together. "I pray you forgive me for not telling you the rest of Bruikís vision, Asra, but it was for your own protection. Our job now is to go where Piper leads us before it is too late for all mankind."

 

Continued in Chapter 2

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