Disclaimer: The characters of Dr. Janice Covington and Melinda Pappas belong exclusively to MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. Any other characters belong to the author. No copyright infringement is intended through the writing of this piece.

Subtext Warning: Oh boy do we have subtext here, call it maintext! Although being in a particular style, it is not overtly graphic. Therefore, this story implies a loving relationship between two consenting adult women. If you are under 18, this type of thing is illegal in the state/country where you live or if you are offended by it, run, screaming from the room now, never to return.

Author's Notes: Okay, due to popular demand, I have continued the Mills & Boon saga of our two beloved characters, Janice and Mel. I had no idea that this genre would go down so well (no pun intended!). Therefore, this story is written in the style of an M&B 'bodice ripper'. Since this style must now be considered a series, it would help matters if you read the first story 'Rising' before this one as this story takes place directly following events depicted in that story. Sorry this one is a little late, but I do have to do that thing called real archaeology as well!

Word Warning: As an M&B style of story, you will find copious amounts of adjectives, similes and metaphors. Oh yeah, and there are a few colourful expletives in here too.

Acknowledgments: I'd like to say a big thankyou to all the people out there who took the time to read the first instalment of the 'bodice ripper' style and get back to me with their thoughts. This story is for all of you and especially to Wendy - Happy Birthday Wendy, belated or otherwise!

Feedback: Please sends deranged comments to archaeobard@hotmail.com



Charles Trendall was angry, the type of burning anger that began in the pit of the stomach and worked its way biliously up to the throat in a violent maelstrom of potent rage. He paced back and forth in Melinda's study with fierce steps, his normally pristine black hair, hanging in a tussled muss about his cleanly chiselled features. How dare she! He ran a strong hand over his square jaw, bristly with a night's growth of beard and shook his head. He still wore his tuxedo from the previous night's party, although now his jacket hung open in an overtly crumpled state due to a restless night's sleep in a chair. How dare she! He kept repeating the damning words to himself, working the anger up to a near frenzied state. He was Charles Trendall, son of Richard Trendall, and a member of one of the most affluent families in the South. His muscular chest heaved with emotion as he recalled the scene of the night before. How could she do it? He had sincerely hoped that the tales his sister, Sofie, had divulged to him were false, but after witnessing the act for himself, he could no longer disbelieve. Melinda Pappas had danced with that, that…woman! Then she had disappeared from the face of the earth as if inexplicably sucked into the jaws of a black hole. Melinda Pappas was his! He would marry into the Pappas family and strengthen the already strong financial power of the Trendalls and no short, blonde bitch was going to stop him! Together, the Pappas and Trendall family would be invincible economically. How dare Melinda jeopardise that! And the scandal! It was unthinkable, his name and reputation would be ruined, completely and uncompromisingly ruined.

His head snapped up when he heard a set of keys being thrown carelessly down on a coffee table. He had not heard her come in, and now he was gazing on the surreal figure of Melinda Pappas, slightly dishevelled yet ultimately stunning. Her long, dark hair was swept hastily back from her face and her eyes looked tired, though they were glowing coolly with a hidden intensity.

"Where have you been?" Charles spat out as he allowed his almost black gaze to roam over the woman.

"What are you doing here Chuck?" Melinda bit back, ignoring the question.

"Waiting for you, now," he took a few steps across the room, "where have you been?"

Melinda stifled a snort with the back of her hand. "Out, and where is none of your business. I don’t have to defend myself to you in my own home. Now could you please kindly leave." It was not a question.

Chuck's eyes narrowed dangerously. "What have you done that needs defending?" he asked, allowing some of the anger he felt to slip casually into his voice. "You were with that Covington woman weren't you, that is, if you can call her a woman." He said dryly.

Mel laughed, throwing her head back in exasperation. "Oh Chuck, you really have no idea, do you? A word of advice, stop listening to that vixen you call a sister and then maybe you would understand."

"How dare you!" Chuck fumed, trying to loom over Melinda, but the truth was, they were of an equal height, and his normal imposing posture had little effect on Melinda Pappas.

"I warn you Chuck, don’t try and threaten me. You know who I am, and you know what I am capable of. If you want to maintain your family's financial security, you'd do well to back off." The remark was scathing and truthful, the Pappas family was more than able to buy out the Trendalls, probably three times over.

Chuck gritted his teeth but did not back down. Instead, he strode across the narrow space separating them and grabbed Melinda by the shoulders, pressing her to him. Before she could attempt to protest, Chuck slammed his lips down hard on hers, grinding into her with strength of purpose. Mel tried to bring her arms up to push him away, but her was too strong, too powerful. Finally Chuck drew back forcefully, holding Mel at arms length, his fingers digging painfully into her upper arms. Mel stared at him with a pointed glare, the fury and offence at what he had just done all to evident in her gaze.

Chuck smiled wickedly and nodded his head. "You…you're mine, and don’t you forget it!" he spat before pushing Mel from him and striding to the door.

Mel stood silent in the wake of the storm that was Charles Trendall. She did not move as she heard the front door slam behind him. She stood, gazing fixedly at the cedar bookshelves lining the walls.


Janice Covington sat at her office desk in the small museum in Charlestown. She had taken the job as curator so she could be near Melinda. A nearness that she had never dreamed would turn into anything other than an impossible infatuation. Yet, as she lounged in her chair, one booted foot propped against the desk, puffing contentedly at her cigarillo, she could not help but remember the events of the previous evening. Her body still ached with the precious knowledge of Melinda Pappas. She blew smoke out across her desk before taking a deep breath to calm her racing pulse. She could not help it, Melinda effected her like no other woman she had ever known. Even the mere thought of the woman was enough to send the archaeologist into a frustrated panic. What the two of them had shared was so intense in its construction that all other thoughts were as nought in comparison to the fiery inferno of passion that had passed between them. Even now, as she sat, the recollection of the evening was enough to severely arouse her. Janice groaned and threw her head back, staring at the ceiling, focussing her eyes on the peeling paint and minute cracks, scattered like spider webs over the surface. It was no good, the emotions and sensations remained, more insistent now that Janice was trying to push them from her mind. So she gave in, wallowing in the remembered desire. She closed her eyes and allowed herself to drift amid remembered touches, kisses, words and scents. So fierce were the memories, it was as if she could almost feel the presence of the Southerner beside her, against her, within her.

"Thinking about me?" the sultry voice filtered slowly into Janice's consciousness. Her eyes snapped open, her head came up and she nearly fell from her chair.

"Jesus!" she gasped, her gaze locking on to the profound blue eyes, glinting from the other side of her desk.

"I'll take that as a yes." Melinda smiled lasciviously as she leant languorously across the desk and retrieved Janice's half smoked cigarillo from the archaeologist's shaking fingers. "Although, you shouldn’t smoke if you think about me, it could be dangerous."

Janice jolted as Mel brushed her fingers with feather like abandon over the back of her hand. She nervously licked her lips and took a shuddering breath as Melinda leaned closer, closing her eyes to draw a deep breath of her own.

"I like the smell of these on you." She said slowly before removing herself to stub out the small cigar and sink slowly to the chair reserved for visitors to Janice's domain.

"Jesus." Janice mumbled again, feeling a shiver run through her at Mel's gesture and statement. It was so simple, yet so expressive that Janice was finding it increasingly difficult to form a coherent sentence.

"What were you thinking?" Mel asked, crossing her legs, allowing the split in the fabric of her skirt fall open to mid thigh. Janice dropped her eyes, her gaze firmly planted on the tantalising view of the Southerner's exposed flesh.

With a conscious effort, Janice forced the words to form in her head and be articulated.

"I was remembering." Was all she could manage in a breathless voice that belied the true nature of her thoughts.

"So was I."

"Jesus Christ Melinda, do you have any idea how much I want you right now?" Janice intoned, every aspect of her being crying out for the woman sitting no more than a torturous four feet away from her.

"I think I have some idea." There was no mistaking the libidinous intent in the Southerner's voice.

Janice shivered again before pushing herself roughly to her feet. It was all she could do to keep a steady gait as she walked around her desk towards the Southerner, her eyes locked onto the perplexing blue of Melinda's. Melinda carried the archaeologist's eyes until she was standing beside her. Slowly, with the utmost grace, she snaked out a hand to snare one of Janice's. She held the smaller appendage for a moment before dragging it to her lips, where she brushed her own warm lips teasingly over the knuckles. Janice closed her eyes, letting the sensation wash over her with the most glorious ease. Mel smiled up at her and Janice sank gradually to her knees beside the woman, her hand still enveloped in Mel's.

"Thankyou." Janice murmured as she settled her head lightly against one of Mel's knees.

"For what?" Mel asked, retrieving her hand to run her long fingers delicately through the archaeologist's blonde hair.

"For caring Melinda."

Mel smiled and let out a soft snort. "I've always cared Janice, it's just that you wouldn't let me."

Janice smiled in response at the truth of the words, she had always put up barriers, but none ever so strong as those she had used against Melinda Pappas. She turned her head and lightly kissed Mel's knee, her lips relishing in the fervidness of the flesh beneath them. Despite her best efforts to fight the growing sensations cascading through her body, she could not help but ache for the woman who was sitting before her. It was hopeless to deny the emotions they both felt, even here, even now. With a supreme effort, Janice raised her head.

"I'm going to lock the door." She said, staring straight into the shocking blue of Melinda's eyes.

Mel frowned and shook her head ever so slightly.

"Leave it open." She said in a low, enticingly dangerous voice.

"But someone could-"

"I know." A wicked grin spread lecherously across the Southerner's calm features as she rose from her chair, bringing Janice with her.

"Melinda, I don’t think we shoul-" but Janice's words were fatally smothered by soft, warm lips against her own. Then it was all happening again, daringly and incredibly divine. Janice was drifting away on a sea of desire so strong that all reason was meaningless. Mel was probing gently with her tongue and Janice eagerly surrendered with a sense of wonder that this woman could inflict such a glorious torture on her. Mel's hands were at the small of Janice's back, pulling the archaeologist to her. She ground her hips against the smaller woman and felt rather than heard Janice groan into her mouth.

"Well, well, what have we here, a perverted congregation?" Charles Trendall's coldly chill voice echoed through the suddenly silent room.

Janice's world darkened into a seething mass of hatred congealed with wrath. She pulled roughly away from Melinda and whirled to confront the man lounging casually against the door frame.

"Get out." Janice said flatly, coldly and with the greatest amount of vehemence that she could muster.

"Oh no, we need to talk Covington, and how convenient that your whore is here as well."

Mel stood stock still, not daring to move less she rip the man's heart out to feel it pump feebly in her hot hands. Janice met Mel's gaze and quashed her desperate desire to smash Charles Trendall's head against the corner of her desk.

"Say what you have to say and leave."

"Oh I have plenty to say. You couldn't leave well enough alone, could you? I know you Covington, I know the way you think. You're sick, degenerate and depraved. You leave Melinda alone, she doesn’t need an immoral harlot corrupting her." Charles spat, moving across the room to confront the women.

"I'm right here Chuck, and I'm afraid you're seriously mistaken, she's not the one doing the corrupting as you choose to call it." Melinda returned bitterly.

Chuck's jaw hardened into a stern line as he graced her with his dark gaze. A rage filled sneer curled his lip as he spoke.

"I trusted you Melinda. I thought better of you than this." Here he flung an accusing arm in Janice's direction.

"No Charles, what you were thinking of was yourself, and as Janice once told me, what you think and what you know are often two very different things." Mel snorted and shook her head sadly. "Go build your empires somewhere else, I'm not in the mood for colonisation."

Chuck felt himself go cold, a sharp chill frostily dividing his heart from his head. He bunched his hand into a hardened fist at his side. His dark, almost black eyes clouded over grey, and he swung, strong and with certainty. Despite the speed of his action, Janice had caught the threatening change in his posture and managed to push herself between Charles and Mel, just as Charles' blow was landing. Janice took the full impact of the blow against the right side of her jaw with a sickening thud. She crumpled to the ground in an unconscious heap, limp and seemingly lifeless.

"Oh my God!" Mel howled, immediately sinking to her knees beside the injured woman. She flashed her livid blue eyes up to Chuck.

"What have you done?" she continued, her adamantine voice supremely level considering the circumstances .

Momentarily taken aback by the incident, Charles could only stare on in terrorised awe.

"You bastard! How could you even think about hitting her, or me. We haven’t done anything wrong." Mel pleaded in a desperate voice. The cloyingly hot emotion catching up with her now, she was on the verge of humiliating tears.

Charles regained his composure somewhat and squared his jaw, jutting it slightly forward in an effort to salvage control. He even managed a cowardly smile, twisting his lips sideways in a gross representation.

"I've not finished with you Melinda, not by a long shot." He drawled, letting his coal eyes wander lazily over the stricken woman below him.

"Get out!" Mel bit, allowing the full extent of her anger to percolate her voice.

"Oh I'll leave, but don't think you are done with me just yet." Chuck repeated his warning, pointing a fiery, accusing finger in Melinda's direction before turning on his heel and stalking from the room with a menacing gait, the air crackling about him like pale blue electricity.

Mel quickly returned her attention to the fallen figure of Janice and propped her as gently as she could against he desk. She carefully leant over the woman and inspected her jaw, lightly touching the bruise that was making an appearance with the soft tips of her fingers. Janice groaned at the touch and her eyes fluttered open to stare, without focus, at Mel.

"Hello stranger." Mel whispered softly, brushing tangled hair from the archaeologist's suddenly pale face.

"Where've I been?" Janice moaned, abruptly aware of the throbbing pain in her lower jaw. She frowned slightly and attempted to shake her head to clear it of the fog surrounding her thoughts.

"Out for the count I'm afraid Janice." Mel smiled then, relieved that Janice had crawled willingly back to consciousness.

"He knocked me out? I don’t believe it, no-one's knocked me out like that before."

"Well, believe it Janice, you're down on the floor…with me." The last words were said in a low, teasing voice, that despite the injury she had suffered, Janice was suddenly struck by a compelling sense of unrivalled lust. Mel's smile grew broader as her mind opened to the possibilities of their situation.

"I must be insane." Janice mumbled as she locked eyes with the Southerner and saw the meaning held within.

"Not insane, just crazy Janice." Mel let the words fall from her lips like honey as she leant forward over the archaeologist, looking like some infatuated feline. She cocked her head to one side and dropped her gaze to Janice's lips.

"You took that blow for me Janice," Mel crooned seductively, her breath grazing the side of the archaeologist's face with silent abandon, "the least I can do is say thankyou."

With that she leaned in the final distance separating them to abduct Janice's slightly parted lips. Pressing herself to the woman below her, Mel snaked a hand down to her midriff and felt the archaeologist shiver as her hand ran over the taut muscles encased in fabric. She pressed eagerly onwards with her tongue, exploring Janice's mouth with relish. Finally she broke away, both women delightfully flushed and more than a little breathless.

"You're welcome," Janice breathed after a moment, "but don't think I'll do it again." She stared deeply into the azure blue of Mel's eyes and found herself inexplicably lost. She knew what she had said was a lie, she would do anything for the woman before her, even her own life was meaningless in comparison to the enigma of emotion they shared.

"Hopefully you won’t have to again Janice." Mel said, pushing herself away from the woman to sit propped beside her on the floor. She reached out to gather Janice's warm hand in her own.

Janice smiled at the gesture and winced slightly as a sharp pain lanced through her jaw. Yet she shook her head slightly at Mel's words.

"But it's not as easy as that is it?" she said, a sadness stealthily creeping into her voice. "Have you forgotten about tonight, he's too close." She continued.

Mel let out a long breath and grasped Janice's hand tighter.

"No, I haven't forgotten." She whispered.

How could she forget, it was the annual fund raiser held for the Amphipolis Expedition. Be it as it may, the Trendall money played a large role in the funding of each yearly excavation team headed to Amphipolis … headed by Janice.

"We don’t need his money Janice, I'll put in for his donation." Mel said sternly, beginning to feel the onset of a deep, silent loathing.

"I know you can, but don’t you see, that's not the point, it's political. If the Trendalls pull out, how will that look for the museum, for the team? We've got some pretty influential people arriving tonight, if we loose the Trendall's it could jeopardise their involvement." Janice continued, frowning at the possible implications.

"Then I'll pick up their tab too."

Janice shook her head again and turned so she was kneeling beside the Southerner. She reached out a hand to cup the side of the woman's face with affection, her eyes softening at the offer.

"You know you can't do that, the publicity would isolate us completely, the expedition can’t afford that." she said gently.

"Always the expedition Janice," Mel paused for a moment, debating her next words, hoping they would not be too cutting, "but what about us?"

Janice's eyes glazed over and she let her hand drop with a descending fear.

"You know how I feel Melinda, God, you have to know that if nothing else. But this is my career. You don’t need it, you can look after yourself, but me…" she snorted softly, "it's all I've ever known, I…I can’t do anything else, I don’t want to, this is who I am. Please, don’t turn this away from me for the sake of money, because it's not the money, it's the people, we need the people, even Charles Trendall." Janice sounded desperate and she knew it, yet it was impossible to stop the fear from rising in her voice, it was the truth, if one of the funders pulled out, the others would want to know why, then the whole situation would be exposed.

"I can look after you." Mel dropped her eyes and stared at her lap, almost feeling dejected that Janice would consort with the enemy for publicity purposes.

"No, no, I have to play the game, and I couldn’t ask you to cover for me, I'm not like that."

Mel looked up then, something stirring behind her eyes, she couldn’t explain it, it was a kind of realisation, but something more, something deeper and extraordinary.

"You're not like that, are you? Always fighting, always searching, and that's where we're different Janice. I do this because I want to, you do it because you have to, and you won’t let anything stand in your way…not even me, or my love." Mel sounded defeated.

Janice had the grace to look away, her eyes darting with concern around her office, taking in the rows and rows of books and texts, old manuscripts and the greatest prize of all, a small cache of the Xena Scrolls. Her eyes sparkled when they alighted on the scrolls, yellow now with age.

"Not even that." She mumbled after a while, rising quickly and walking behind her desk so she would not have to look at Melinda in the eye. She could not believe she had said it. After all the desperate torture she had put herself through, after last night and the final realisation of their love…Janice pursed her lips and frowned, something foreboding growing within. Somehow she felt as if she was on the verge of losing, losing what she did not know, but it had begun.

Still down on the floor, Mel nodded with acceptance. "Then I'll have to play the game too." She said absently before rising on her long, elegant legs. She smoothed her skirt down her thighs and took a deep breath. She turned gracefully to look Janice up and down with a weary smile.

"I'll see you tonight then Janice." Was all she said before sweeping out of the room.

Janice sighed and slumped down into her chair, resting her head in her hands with concern. What had she done? Why couldn’t she just keep her mouth shut? She shook her head in her hands and stared absently at the dark red leather covering on the surface of her desk, taking in the small scars from long time use. That's what her heart must look like she thought, battered and scarred.

"Yeah sweetheart, see you tonight." She muttered to herself, wondering what the next stage of their battle would entail, although no-one could anticipate what would occur.


The reception hall to the museum could only be described as congested. The fund raiser had been in full swing for several hours by the time Chuck Trendall arrived, late, and drunk. He weaved is way unsteadily through several throngs of people. His tux was immaculate, only marred by a small spot of red wine below his slightly crooked bow tie. The majority of the guests were of wealthy families or esteemed archaeologists from all over America. Chuck ignored them all as he made a decisive B line straight for Melinda Pappas. She was standing with a small group of people, discussing the translation projects associated with the recovery of the Xena Scrolls. She had the members of the group completely wrapped around her little finger, if not by the words she spoke, then certainly by her luminous beauty.

"So where is the little bitch?" Chuck slurred upon coming up along side Mel.

Mel turned coldly to face her adversary, her face a blank mask. The only thing belying her hatred was the frosty stare piercing her chill, blue eyes. Somehow, her glasses seemed to magnify that glare to an almost burning gleam. Chuck stopped himself before he could take a step back, away from the accusing, vulturous glower.

"If you're referring to Dr. Covington, you'll find her over there." Mel said icily, pointing vaguely in the direction of the bar. "Although I warn you, she's in no mood to be speaking with you."

Chuck snorted harshly, drawing the gaze of several of the group members. He sneered at them without care until each dropped their eyes. He blew out a long breath, sending alcohol fumes wafting amid the guests, shoving his unsteady hands in his pockets, he put on his best smile.

"Well, I need a drink anyway." He said wickedly, daring Mel to make something of it.

Mel licked her lips, uncertainty flitting through her eyes.

"Although Charles, I believe you have not met Sir Henry Isaacs, another of our funding partners." She indicated a strikingly tall fellow with unfashionably out of date whiskers.

Charles took him in with a flick of his eyes.

"So, you're being suckered too by the degenerates are you?" he asked in a not so quite voice.

Sir Henry blinked and glanced sideways at Melinda, whose face had taken on a stony rage. He frowned slightly.

"I'm afraid I don’t know who you mean." He said casually, trying to tone down the obviously cutting argument which was waiting with baited breath to ensue.

"Of course you do, Miss Pappas and the so called Dr. Covington." Chuck brushed roughly at the side of his face, fingering his jaw.

"I hardly think her credentials are an issue here." Sir Henry said, trying to smile.

"Oh her credentials aren't, but her reputation is."

"Alright Chuck, that's enough." Mel said, trying not to sound nervous. "Go get your drink." She ordered.

Chuck stated at Melinda for a moment before nodding his head.

"Damned whore!" he muttered before staggering off in the direction of the bar.

Melinda took a deep breath, ignoring the comment, but the words had not fallen on deaf ears.

"Now why would he say that?" Sir Henry questioned, raising a bushy white eyebrow in Melinda's direction.

Mel grimaced slightly before recovering her serene expression. She sipped casually at a half full glass of red wine before answering, her lips grazing the glass like silk.

"He's drunk Sir Henry, he doesn’t know what he's saying." She tried to cover, yet by the expression and Sir Henry's face, it was clear she was not doing a very good job.


Janice watched silently from the bar area as Charles Trendall made his way on unsteady legs towards her. He was obviously drunk and did not care as he stumbled into several people on his way. Casually she raised a hand to her jaw and pressed lightly against the bruise, standing out like a burning bush against her complexion. He had done this to her, yet here, she could no more confront him about it than slit her own wrists. Her eyes narrowed with unconcealed ire as the man who had struck her slumped casually against the bar to her right. She stiffened slightly and turned towards him, a questioning look plastered insincerely on her face.

Chuck grinned stupidly at her appearance and stretched out a hand to finger the lapel of her suit jacket. Janice did not move a muscle, but continued to glare at the man before her.

"Very becoming for a lady." Charles sneered in a coldly condescending voice. He took a deep breath and straightened himself at the bar. "Did you have a good time after I left this morning?" he asked wickedly.

"None of your business Charles." Janice said wearily, she could not abide this man.

Charles snorted and motioned the bar tender for a drink. He took a quick swallow of his scotch, savouring the burning sensation, fuelling his anger and nerve.

"Can you fuck her like I can?" he asked, his voice as cold as steel as he rattled the ice absently in his glass.

That comment turned a few heads in their immediate vicinity, all conversation stopped in the few feet surrounding them. Janice felt the eyes of at least four people on her and chose to ignore the hairs that were rising on the back of her neck with decisive certainty. Despite her previous comment, Janice felt compelled to answer. She leaned forward slightly, almost seductively, so she could lower her voice and still be heard.

"Better." She almost whispered.

Charles threw his head back and laughed, peels reverberating around the room. As suddenly as he had begun he stopped, a faint echo coming back to him. All was silent, a hushed interest at the humorous nature of the comment that had sparked such laughter. Charles threw his arms wide, scotch sloshing absently from his glass to the polished floorboards. He drew himself up to his full height and giggled mirthlessly.

"Did you hear that?" He shouted drunkenly. "The little bitch can fuck like a man!"

Silence, complete and utter silence, somewhere a glass could be heard smashing on the ground.

Janice reigned in her anger with the utmost authority. He was drunk, who would believe him?

"Didn’t y'all hear me? I said she fucks like a man! This," he threw an arm in Janice's direction, "your glorious leader, she fucks like a man!"

If Janice had been capable of seeing anything other than Charles Trendall's bloody death at that moment, she would have noticed Melinda walking casually towards them, through the masses of astonished people, her black, strapless gown, whispering enticingly about her body.

Janice's view of Charles Trendall was abruptly masked by the long form of Melinda Pappas posing in what could be described in no other way if not sensuous. Janice locked gazes with her briefly, feeling, as she always did, ultimately helpless beneath the blue of those eyes. She allowed her eyes to fall to Melinda's strong shoulders as if seeking the support offered by the body before her. Melinda stared down at her, a vivid mixture a reassurance and fiery emotion emanating from her wilful, visual embrace.

"I told you I didn't want to play this game and now it appears as if our hand has been forced." She murmured quietly, caressing Janice with her voice more intimately than she could have imagined.

Janice felt a surge of desire shoot through her like a conflagrant flame, landing in the pit of her stomach and settling languidly to her groin. Janice drew in a breath, forgetting about Charles Trendall and all those around them as Mel reached a graceful hand into the inside pocket of her jacket. All the time Melinda kept her eyes locked with Janice's searching for the words the woman chose not to speak. The back of her hand brush ever so lightly against one of Janice's breasts and over a nipple. She felt the smaller woman stiffen and shudder at the inadvertent contact. Mel raised an eyebrow and smiled lasciviously. Twisting her hand, she found what she sought, one of Janice's cigarillos. Pulling the item free of the cloying fabric, she once again brushed at Janice's nipple, this time with seductive intent and was rewarded by Janice sucking in a harsh and demanding breath through her teeth. Mel's smile deepened as she raised the small cigar to her lips, enclosing it in their heated embrace. She stood there, motionless for a moment before Janice began to fumble self consciously in her trouser pockets for a light. The archaeologist held the flickering flame up to the Southerner with a trembling hand. Leaning downward, Mel puffed a couple of time to ensure the tobacco was lit. Janice was enticingly fascinated by Mel's lips, and remembered all too clearly what they could do when pressed teasingly against her own or elsewhere. When Mel was satisfied that the smoke was flowing freely, she stood straight and plucked the cigarillo languidly from her lips, blowing the acrid fumes over Janice's shoulder. Janice stared without reason at the cigarillo, noting the red stain of lipstick embellishing its dark surface. She flicked her gaze back up to Melinda and licked her lips nervously. Mel cocked her head to one side, turned the cigarillo around and placed it lovingly between Janice's own lips. Janice could taste lipstick on her tongue and shuddered again, it tasted like Melinda. It was a promise that everything was assured, and of greater things to come.

"I told you I liked the smell of these on you Janice." She said huskily and none too softly, a slight demanding force entering her tone.

Throughout this incident, Charles Trendall had been staring on in drunken awe. He could not fathom that this woman had acted knowingly as she had. It seemed impossible in his eyes that Melinda Pappas was worth anything to anyone except to him. Again he felt the caustic hate rise in his gut, he was worth more than this.

"So you enjoyed it then?" he asked coldly, interrupting Mel from her perusal of the small archaeologist.

Mel winked casually at Janice before turning to grace the man with a malevolent glare.

"Oh yes, I enjoyed it, much more than you would or could ever know Chuck." She smiled almost wistfully. "Why don’t you leave here now, and take your crass comments with you?"

Chuck shook his head and downed the rest of his drink, grimacing as the harsh liquid scoured roughly at his throat.

"I said I wasn't done with you." He grinned feebly and pushed himself away from the bar, heading out into the middle of the room.

"You think you're all so special," he began to the room, rocking back and forth as he stood, "but let me tell you, you're not, not to me, not to them." He threw an arm towards the bar in the vague direction of Janice and Mel. "They're using you, as they're using me, playing me like a fiddle they are, and yeah, I've got the tune. Not any more…I say no more! They can have their lecherous circus, but I'm no clown….not like the rest of you. They're whores, unnatural and a blasphemy to God! They took to each other's beds like dogs in heat I tell you. If any of you have any decency left, you'll walk away…like me." He finished and scoured the room with his bleary eyes.

Janice and Mel stood stock still by the bar and watched Charles Trendall make his grand exit, almost tripping through the doorway on his way out. No-one moved for several moments. Then, slowly glasses were placed on tables and figures turned to face the two women. Janice swallowed the shame that rose from her stomach. Shame? Yes, shame she decided, she felt completely exposed, naked before the eyes of these people, among them, the Curator of the Ashmolean and John Paul Getty Museum. Not shame for what she and Melinda had done, or were, but shame for having it set out so bluntly, so blatantly spewed forth from drunken lips.

Almost idly, someone began to clap, quickly followed by another and then another set of hands. Initially Janice thought they were clapping for Charles Trendall and his words, yet the applause was accompanied by broad smiles and beaming eyes. Janice flicked her gaze quickly up to Mel, who was just as shocked as she was. What was going on?

"So!" It was the voice of Sir Henry as he came striding purposefully across the room. "You finally got around to it then did you?" he beamed, slapping Janice on the shoulder as he arrived at the bar.

"I…I don’t know what you mean Sir Henry." Janice said in a weak voice as the clapping continued to reverberate throughout the room.

"Don’t play dumb Janice, it doesn’t become you. We were all wondering how long it would take." Sir Henry grinned stupidly at Janice, and then at Mel.

"Take?" Mel asked.

"Yes, despite it all, anyone can see that you were made for each other. Take no notice of Charles my dears, he's a cowardly fool."

"So you're not…disgusted?" Janice put forward.

Sir Henry laughed deep and low. "Now why would we be disgusted, we are after all scholars of antiquity, this type of thing has been around for millennia Janice. Above all, we are probably the most open minded people in this country, all of us, here, in this room…with you."

Janice snorted and shook her head with a smile. "So you're not going to withdraw your support?" she asked, almost feebly.

Sir Henry winked at both of them. "I suggest we have dinner and see what you have planned before we decide that."


The dinner was a lavish affair, designed to impress, yet Janice and Mel could well have done without that expense considering the attitudes of the guests. Janice was in her element whilst outlining the proposed excavations of an area of the main mound in Amphipolis. The logistics of her campaign were faultless, everything had been taken into account. In addition, Mel's discussion concerning the proposed translation of recovered texts was met with equal enthusiasm. Contracts had been verbally reaffirmed and the excitement of the proposed work was infectious. By the time they sat down to eat, both women were feeling comfortable enough in their surroundings to let the barriers of impersonality drop ever so slightly.

Janice first became aware of the foresight offered by Melinda as they sat at the long table. They were opposite each other. Janice smiled across at the woman who held her heart so firmly and nodded slightly in acknowledgment of her idea. Mel responded with a subtly raised eyebrow and a sparkle in her azure eyes. This was going to be interesting.

Janice was finding it increasingly difficult to concentrate on the various conversations at hand. Melinda had been staring at her with hooded eyes ever since they had sat. Janice closed her eyes briefly in order to focus her thoughts. Yet even with closed eyes, she could feel the presence of Melinda Pappas oozing inexplicably across the table and seep into her pores and leeching away at her consciousness. She took a deep breath and refocussed her attention. Opening her eyes, she tried to concentrate on the conversation directly to her left, yet she could see Melinda playing idly with her food, raising a forkful sensuously to her lips, grasping the implement delicately between her teeth and dragging it back out again, all the while, her eyes magnetically locked onto the figure of Janice.

Janice frowned slightly at the continued assault on her senses. She could feel desire welling within, subtle at first and then more demanding. She was certain she was blushing and her breathing was anything but steady. She could barely make herself eat her own food and appear normal. Yet this was nothing in comparison to what Melinda had planned for the small archaeologist that evening at table.

Melinda knew she shouldn’t do it, yet with Janice sitting so stimulatingly close she felt completely incapable of stopping herself. Casually, whilst plucking a small morsel of meat from her fork, she slipped off one of her heels. She wriggled her toes for a moment and smiled inwardly before reaching across to refill her wineglass. She sipped slowly at the blood red liquid for a moment before replacing her glass to the top right of her plate. She cut lustily into her food, and as she raised another mouthful to her lips, she locked eyes with Janice before stretching out a long leg to brush the side of her foot casually against the inside of Janice's calf.

The archaeologist dropped her fork with a clatter and sat bolt upright at the provocative sensation. Melinda simply raised a curious eyebrow and continued with her ministrations. Outwardly, Janice recovered quickly and offered an apologetic smile to those seated around her. To Melinda she gave a malevolent glare, which served only to strengthen Melinda's resolve regarding her antics, her foot moved higher. Janice swallowed quickly and fought to suppress a shudder which threatened to envelop her. A spark of adrenalin had started in her stomach and was achingly making its way to her groin. She could not believe that Melinda was being so risque. Didn’t she know what she was doing to her? Oh she knew, Janice decided when she felt Mel's foot against the inner side of her knee, gently urging her to shift her legs further apart. Despite herself, Janice gritted her teeth and complied, feeling Mel's foot settle languidly between her open knees, resting on the front of her chair.

The close presence of Melinda's foot was both highly desirous and deliriously intoxicating. She could feel the warmth filtering luxuriously into her flesh and both cursed and praised her body for responding as it was. She locked eyes with the Southerner, something enigmatic passing between them. Janice shifted slightly in her chair, trying desperately not to look as if she was squirming at the sensations brought on solely by that foot, which were so intense in their construction that she was powerless to stop them. Janice sent Mel a frustrated look that basically said, 'if you don’t remove your foot, we're going to have to leave here right now'. Yet Mel was enjoying watching her partner struggle with the effort of continuing a general conversation and dealing with the emotions she knew she was creating. That in itself was arousing, and watching Janice out of the corner of her eye made it doubly so. With added determination, Melinda kept her foot exactly where it was for the duration of the meal.

By the time dinner concluded, Janice was physically sweating with desire, she could feel her own arousal between her legs which Melinda had been teasing relentlessly with a shift of her foot here and a wiggle of her toe there. At last each of the guests stood in turn to offer their congratulations on the fund raiser and to make assurances that their support would not be withdrawn. It was at this point that Melinda finally allowed Janice to stand, removing her foot and surreptitiously replacing it in her shoe. Janice held on to the table for support and flushed embarrassingly when Mel sent her a knowing smile.

As the last of the guests filtered towards the door, Janice turned on Melinda with a heated glare.

"You…" she could barely get the words out as Melinda slipped an arm divinely around her waist. "Do you know how insane you've been driving me?"

"Yes." Melinda purred in response, leaning down to whisper in Janice's ear.

"This is crazy." Janice breathed, turning to look Mel in the eye. She forgot momentarily the next words she was going to speak as she lost herself in those blue depths. "Jesus Christ, I've never had such a problem controlling what I feel before." She said finally.

"Then don’t control it." Mel said simply, drawing the smaller woman to her, capturing her lips with a heated sense of desire. She could feel the smaller woman melt into her with relief and agitated frustration. Finally Mel pulled away and smiled wickedly down at Janice. She reached out a searching hand to run her thumb over Janice's kiss bruised lips. The archaeologist closed her eyes and allowed her head to drop back, all sense of propriety gone with lustful intent as she allowed glorious sensations to wash her clean.

"Come with me." Mel finally said, soft and low, taking one of Janice's hands in her own.

"Where are we going?" Janice asked, a sudden jolt of adrenalin hitting her at the Southerner's lecherous tone.

"Shhh…" Mel left the sound floating as she guided the archaeologist back through the reception area of the museum and down the corridor to the side of the main display.

"We're going to the library?" Janice asked a brief element of awe leeching into her voice.

Mel smiled and raised an eyebrow. "Well, we can't stay out here, can we?"

"What are we going to do?"

"You'll see." Mel whispered as she ushered the smaller woman through the door to the museum library. It was a large room, lined with shelves containing books on every conceivable archaeological topic and ancient literary source. The main area of the room was scatted with chairs and tables for those who were serious about research, and comfortable sofas for those who simply wished to browse. It was to one of these couches that Melinda Pappas elegantly strolled, positioning herself with authority and crossed her legs. She smiled wantonly up at Janice and patted the cushion beside her.

Janice needed no other invitation as she sank to the sofa beside Melinda, resting her head against the tall woman's shoulder.

"So," Mel began casually, "despite the intervention of Charles, the evening was a success." She felt Janice stiffen slightly against her at the mention of the Trendall son.

"I'll kill the bastard the next time I see him. How could he humiliate us like that?" she said, her voice a stony fortress.

Mel sighed and wrapped Janice tightly in her forgiving arms. "He sees only what he wants to see Janice, and that was his own humiliation. He never expected a threat to his plan, least of all from you." Thinking about it now, Melinda could not stop the small lilt of laughter that escaped from her throat.

"What's so funny?"

"Oh, this, this whole situation, I never dreamed it would be like this Janice."

"Like what?"

"You and me. You have no idea the trouble you have cause me over the last few years." Mel said wistfully, remembering the emotions she had felt for so long regarding the small woman, and how she had buried them as deep as she could possibly dig.

"You and me both sweetheart." And there it was again, the desperate longing, a pulling from soul to soul, a binding of wills that would never be broken. Janice shuddered at the impact of the realisation that never ceased to amaze her in its strength. Janice turned to search Melinda's eyes and saw the same reckoning echoed there in those blue pools. Janice swallowed involuntarily, a lump of love and desire stuck rigidly in her constricted throat. She couldn’t help it, she felt the tears prick relentlessly at her eyes, and then they were flowing in silent rivers down the side of her face. They were not tears formed of pain, but rather from rapture, a rapture that surpassed all she had ever known, so intense that she had to close her eyes against it, yet the tears still came. Then she could feel Mel's lips gently against her hot tears, kissing them away like an absolution.

"Never cry for us Janice." Mel whispered against the side of her face. Before she could answer, and intention of the spoken word was quashed by crushing lips against her own, fiery and forceful, intent on invasion, and Janice gave herself up gladly, surrendering to the power of the woman before her. Hands fumbled with her jacket, stripping it down from her shoulders and discarding it in some unknown location. Fingers were tearing at her bow tie, but she didn’t care as that too was thrown with careless abandon to the wayside. Then almost before she realised it, her mouth was released from its captive state, only to have the soft flesh of her breasts imprisoned in burning passion. Janice arched her back, pushing herself against Melinda's mouth more firmly, she gasped as Mel racked her teeth remorselessly across first one nipple and then the other. She clung to the woman above her, searching blindly for the clasps that would allow Melinda's dress to fall. She could not concentrate as shudders of desire washed anew over her. Desperately she fought for the release of Melinda's flesh, almost crazed in her attempt to free the Southerner. With a strength she did not know she possessed, Janice grabbed hold of the fabric and tore it violently down one seam. She heard Melinda gasp as her body was unceremoniously exposed, yet whether the gasp was one of shock or excitement Janice could not tell, she did not care. The ruined dress cast off towards the floor, Janice took a moment to wallow in the body that was Melinda before feasting hungrily on the Southerner's flesh. So extreme was their passion, that Janice almost screamed as she felt Melinda's hand snake beneath her trousers with lascivious ease to stroke gently at her love swollen flesh. Mel shifted her position hurriedly, her own need rising by the moment, to grind herself against Janice's thigh, the fabric of the archaeologist's trousers teasing her forward to the ultimate climax. Both women, sweating and grinding wildly released in unison, shuddering violently together in a maelstrom of limbs and scents that drove them still further into oblivion. Finally they collapsed against each other, breathing ragged and thoughts delusional.

Janice recovered first, her eyes snapping open at the sound of a small click somewhere in the direction of the doorway. She stiffened and turned her head slowly in that direction, gasping and shoving Melinda off her at what she saw.

"So, not quite like a man then after all." It was Charles Trendall, lounging casually against the door frame, a nine millimetre Browning aimed directly at Janice's torso.

The End

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode in the 'bodice ripper' style!

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