by Anne Azel
Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
Disclaimer: The characters of Xena and Gabrielle are the property of Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended.
In Thanks: My thanks to those individuals who sent messages of appreciation for Amazon Encounter, the first of this series. Your kind comments were encouraging.
As the stories do interrelate it is best to read them in the order they are posted.
Warning: This story is alternative fiction. Please do not read on if you are under age or if such material is illegal in your end of the swamp.
Note: The places, sites and histories in this story are real and are taken from my field notes while in Turkey.
Gunnul Dedeman unlocked the old wrought iron gate to the small grove that contained their grave. She pushed through the tangle of underbrush and stood by the dark tomb.
Here, close to her, she always found some peace and comfort. Her long, strong fingers stroked the ancient, rough surface of stone. It must have been a beautiful grave at one time. Even now, the low relief carving of ancient Greek symbols covered the lid in a blurry image of a time long ago. Yet the eroded names carved 3,000 years ago in ancient Greece were not in the ancient language. Nor were the names from some ancient time. It made no sense. No sense at all.
Maybe she should stop coming here. The images that hovered at the edge of her awareness had got stronger over the years. This was the earliest memory she had of her childhood, pushing through the underbrush and looking up at a wall of ancient dark stone and knowing even then in her child's mind that she was standing at "her" grave and her own. Knowing, when she had crawled up on top to see the names that were engraved there, that something was wrong. Something had not been done properly. Once again Gunnul's hand reached out as it had that day so many years ago and traced her name Morgan Andrews. That is not your name is it my darling? Why can't I remember? Then her fingers slid to the name that she knew marked her own remains, Kristinia Thanasis. When she touched the letters she could feel their love. Tears welled in her eyes. Love was not an experience she had ever had. Allah protect your souls until I can solve this riddle she prayed, then retraced her steps and locked again her special secret behind the iron gate.
Gunnul straightened her shoulders and walked through the beautiful gardens that surrounded her country estate. She employed an army of gardeners to maintain a paradise of beauty for her and Chrissy, but to her secret garden, no one was allowed to go. Her grave and that of her lover remained always private behind a green wall of wild growth. Servants respectfully stepped aside as she passed, leaving the warrior to her thoughts, knowing always to respect the powerful woman's privacy. Gunnul ran up the steps onto the marble patio that outlined the cliff over looking the Mediterranean Sea. The view was breath taking with the sea below and the towering Taurus mountains behind. Today, Gunnul didn't notice.
She entered through open terrace doors into her den and sat behind the ornate cherry wood desk, sinking into the calf leather of her office chair. Before her on the desk was a report on the harvesting of her opium fields. She set it aside and stared at the folder that waited her attention underneath. It was labeled, Jamie Dedeman. Anger washed over Gunnul. It should be labeled "the whore" she thought cruelly. She opened up the red leather folder into which her private secretary slipped each item before placing it on her desk. Inside were two letters. The first a copy of the one she had sent to the whore. It read:
Dear Ms. Dedeman,
My daughter, Christine has expressed an interest in meeting her birth mother. Her father (my brother) Mohammed, died two years ago of a apparent heart attack. I feel that it is advisable that she be allowed to satisfy her curiosity about her background in order that she come to terms with her father's death and her birth mother's desertion. For this reason, I reluctantly have arranged for you to visit Turkey.
I wish first to meet and get to know you. If I feel that your actions and attitudes will not hurt my daughter beyond the pain that she already carries in her heart then I will allow a meeting. Attached to this letter you will find all the necessary arrangements, and tickets for your trip.
Gunnul nodded her satisfaction with the letter then with distaste she took up the letter that had arrived today. She slit open the envelope and pulled out the response. She read:
Dear Gunnul Dedeman,
I am not only Chrissy's birth mother, I am her mother! And you are not! For ten years, I have tried to trace the where abouts of Moe and my daughter. You're damn right my daughter has a right to have contact with me! I've return your tickets. I don't want your money, I know how it was earned. I'll pay my own way and will be on the next flight to Istanbul to get my daughter back!
Gunnul's eyebrows rose in consternation. Her brother was right about one thing this woman was coarse and ambitious. Clearly, she planned to sue for custody so that she could get her hands on some of Chrissy's wealth. Gunnul sneered, that was never, ever going to happen. She might not have given birth to Chrissy but she had raised her from a baby and Chrissy was her daughter far closer than blood could have ever made her. She'd kill this woman before she would let her take her daughter away!
She leaned back and closed her eyes and felt the blood pounding through her temple. In her mind she could feel warm hands slip around her shoulders. It was the blond woman of her dreams. The secret lover of her fantasies who always came to comfort her. She leaned back farther into the leather and tried to catch the warm scent of herbs that she associated with her imaginary friend. The whore wants to take Chrissy away from me, she confided to her daydream. Green eyes looked at her with compassion, Don't worry, came the response from deep in her soul. Gunnul sighed and shook herself free from a world that she knew she had no right to be. Her world was here and now and ugly and real. She pulled over the file on the opium harvest and started to read.
Don't worry, came the message from deep in her soul and Jamie sighed and looked out the plane window to the Aegean Sea below. Almost there my warrior, she thought as she reached out to the soulmate that she had never met. The dark shadow that always seemed to be near by reached out and wrapped her close easing her pain. When she was younger, she had been guilty and concerned about this presence that had gradually become part of her. It wasn't normal and she considered taking therapy. Some how she had never got around to it. The truth was she loved her secret phantom. Loved her with all her heart and soul. That was what had attracted her to Moe. He looked so much like her. She had deluded herself in to believing he was her soulmate. Instead, he had turned out to be her worse nightmare.
She had tried to make their marriage work. Had tried to help her emotionally weak husband stand on his own two feet. But the only strength Moe seemed to possess was a love for violence. After their child was born a girl and not the boy that he so desperately wanted, that violence was often directed towards her. Then there was that fatal night when he had come home yet again drunk and high and had beat her near to death and disappeared with her child.
Chrissy had been barely six months old then. She would be almost ten now. Would she recognize her? They shared the same forest green eyes but were Jamie's hair was strawberry blond, Chrissy's had been dark like her father. She had his bone structure too, high cheek bones and classic lines. Yes, she would know her daughter. Except for the blue eyes she would look so much like the soulmate of her dreams.
She saw the blue of the sea turn to the brown of land far below. Soon she would face her greatest enemy, Gunnul Dedeman. Even Moe had been afraid of her. He always talked nervously about her ruthless actions. She was an anomaly. A woman accepted into a male dominated world. According to Moe, she made her living selling illegal drugs and it was her who had got Moe hooked in order to take control of the vast family empire. He had told her that his sister was beautiful outside but wicked inside and that she had killed hundreds of people. This was the person who had raised her daughter. A cold icy lump formed in her chest, don't worry Chrissy your mommys going to get you back!
Jamie stepped through customs into a mad house of confusion. Turks crowded the baggage terminal waiting for the aircraft to be unloaded. Jamie looked around in confusion. She couldn't manage her luggage by herself and she didn't know how to ask for a porter. Her hand tightened nervously on the aluminum crutch that encircled her upper arm and provided a hand hold for her to lean against taking the weight off her badly damaged leg. Maybe she could ask one of the passengers to help her.
"Excuse please. You are Jamie Dedeman?" Jamie turned to see a soldier looking down at her with a worried expression. He was dressed in a black uniform with much gold braid and a red sash. The formal appearance was undermined by the machine gun slung casually over his shoulder.
"Yes. Yes, I am," she responded nervously.
"I am Ohmir. I have been ordered to take you to the residence of General Dedeman. You come, please."
"Wait, my luggage and who is General Dedeman?" asked Jamie stubbornly holding her ground.
The soldier looked surprised, "Gunnul Dedeman, the saviour of our people. She has killed many people. She is famous warrior and hero. I show you. You come now."
"What about my luggage?" asked Jamie again.
"You give me baggage paper. I see to," explained the soldier holding out his hand. Jamie sighed and reached into her purse to pull out her ticket on which were stapled her luggage tags. Carefully, she removed them and gave them to the young soldier. Then put her tickets back into her purse. There was a return ticket for herself and one for Chrissy.
"You come," said the soldier again and walked ahead. Jamie followed having a hard time maneuvering in the crowds with her crutch.
The soldier handed the tickets over to another who had come to attention at the sight of them. In rapid Turkish, the soldier was given instructions and Jamie's baggage tags then Ohmir lead her outside to where a limousine bearing the nation's flag sat. He opened the back door and Jamie slid in placing her crutch beside her. A nice show of power Gunnel Dedeman but it wont work, I will defeat you and get my daughter back.
Gunnul stared out of the hotel's window down to the busy streets of Istanbul twenty stories below. In her memory Gunnul could hear her brother's mocking voice, "You think you are so good Gunnul! The hero of the people! But I've got something here that you'll never have, an heir, Gunnul. I've got the Dedeman heir. I had her by the sleaziest American whore I could find. I even married her so that the slut's spawn will forever taint your precious family line. Here she is Gunnul, the heir you deserve to inherit your legacy!"
But Mohammed's cruel actions didn't succeed in hurting his sister. Gunnul felt again the rush of love and protectiveness she had when that little bundle had been thrusted into her hands. She knew that child was hers and she didn't care what problems or background the little girl might have, she was always going to be there for her daughter.
She had adopted Chrissy legally. Buying off her brother who spent yet another inheritance wildly until the drink, drugs and wild life killed him. She had shielded her daughter from her brother as much as possible. Just as she would shield her from her tart of a mother. Chrissy had grown into a beautiful, intelligent, caring child. She looked like Gunnul except for her eyes. Her eyes were forest green like that of Gunnul's imaginary lover. That's why Gunnul knew from the moment she made eye contact with the little baby that they were family.
Behind her the intercom clicked on, "Gunnul, Ms. Dedeman is here," came the voice of her secretary Teffo.
"Thank you Teefo. Please send her in" came the cold response. Gunnul turned, her face a mask cut from stone and waited. Teefo opened the door and stepped aside. In hobbled a woman dressed demurely in a business suit of a good quality cut. She leaned heavily on a crutch and dragged forward a misshapen leg. When she looked up Gunnul's heart stopped, it was the woman who had been the focus of her dreams for as long as she could remember.
Jamie was tired and felt grimy from her long flight. Her head pounded terribly but she gathered her resolve and followed the tall serious looking secretary into the private office of Gunnul Dedeman prepared to take on any challenge to get her daughter back. Looking up she stopped breathing. The blue eyes of her secret protector looked straight at her. The dark form of her dreams now suddenly real. She took two wobbly steps forward and heard the secretary close the door behind her then the world spun and darkness closed in around her.
When she woke she knew she was where she belonged. The dark form of her protector embraced her and held a cool cloth to her aching head. Her head rested beneath her phantom's chin, up against her wide shoulder and her arm was wrapped securely around the dark form's waist. Her eyes fluttered then remained closed whatever waited for her in the real world could wait a few minutes longer while she held onto the phantom that was the anchor of her life.
Gunnul lunged forward and swept the small woman up into her arms before she could fall. Suddenly, she was on a river bank deep in a jungle the familiar body of her lover in her arms. She shook her head to clear it and carried the limp form over to the sofa. She lowered the form onto the cushions then went to the bar fridge and wrapped some crushed ice into a towel. Returning, she slipped behind the small form and pulled her close feeling with delight the woman take her place against her side one arm wrapped protectively around her as she had daydreamed a million times over her life time. She held the cold compress to Jamie's forehead and tried unsuccessfully to come to terms with the fact that her worse enemy was also the woman of her dreams.
Awareness hit Jamie a half minute later. She was snuggled up to Gunnul Dedeman the woman who had stole her child. She sat up with a gasp and pulled herself away from the tall, dark woman. Madly, she looked around for her crutch so that she could get up.
Gunnul followed the frightened look as it searched the room until it settled on the crutch that lay on the floor by the door. The Turkish woman got up and went over and picked up the cane and brought it back to the beautiful blond woman that was her mortal enemy.
Holding it out she said, "I am Gunnul Dedeman, because you are the birth mother of my child you are welcome to my country and home." She turned and removed a bottle from the side table and returned to where Jamie sat. On the way passed her desk, she pressed a button. "This is lemon cologne, it is the tradition in my country that when a guest comes to our home, we greet them with this to refresh them from their travels. Cup your hands."
Jamie did as she was told, placing the crutch near by and holding out her hands. The beautiful, dark-haired woman poured a little of the lemon and alcohol based mixture into her hands and Jamie rubbed them together and then over her face. The lemon cologne did feel cool and refreshing. A quiet knock came at the door and then the secretary walked in. He placed a large silver tray on the coffee table before the couch and retreated.
Gunnul sat down at the farthest side of the couch away from Jamie. "It is also our way to show hospitality to any guest who arrives by offering them Turkish Delights and coffee," explained the Turkish woman offering Jamie a tray of beautiful squares of candy.
Jamie hesitated for a moment then took a jelly square covered in icing sugar. If Gunnul was going to make an effort to get along then she would too, " Thank you. I find your tradition most welcoming," she said formally and was rewarded by a dazzling smile from the powerful woman who looked up from a small brass propane stove she was lighting.
"I am sorry about fainting...I...I don't usually. You took me by surprise. You look just like Mohammed."
Gunnul stirred the thick coffee grinds that boiled in a long handled brass cup over the small stove. To the mix she added a good amount of sugar. "We were identical twins," explained Gunnul. She poured some of the thick mixture into a very small cup and handed the cup and saucer to Jamie. Then she poured one for herself and explained, "The grinds settle as a thick layer at the bottom. In the country, you can get old women to read the grinds and tell you your future. When you finish your coffee, you turn the cup upside down on the saucer. The fortune-teller will then lift the cup off. If there is a lot of suction then the fortune-telling, they believe, will be very accurate."
I know my future, Jamie thought, it is to take my daughter home. But out loud she said,
" Thank you for making me welcome and explaining your ways. I will need to learn as much as I can about the Turkish culture in that my daughter has been raised in it."
Gunnul smiled, "I am glad you feel that way. But I have endeavored to raise Chrissy to be well aware of her European ancestry too. She speaks English fluently and has traveled through Europe. I think you will not find it too hard to communicate with her if you two should meet," explained Gunnul.
"I will meet my daughter, Miss Dedeman. You can not stop me from being part of her life," stated Jamie
Gunnul put down her cup and got up walking to look out the window. " I have stopped you for ten years. And would have continued to do so if Chrissy had not requested a meeting. She came to me as a baby. I legally adopted her from her father.
In this country, Chrissy is my child. I love her. I do not wish to hurt you but I will not let my daughter be hurt. She has grown up in a very privileged and refined world. She is a good Moslem girl. She doesn't understand your kind."
"My daughter is a Moslem?!" exclaimed Jamie in surprise.
"Of course. Although the Turks' ancestry is Mongolian and Greek, we are Shiite Moslems. My brother was also," explained Gunnul patiently eventhough she was having great difficulty keeping her boiling emotions under control.
"Moe never practiced any religion except a worship of substance abuse," snarled Jamie bitterly and then realized that this was his twin sister, "Ah, sorry, that wasn't called for, I'm sure you loved your brother very much," apologized Jamie in a fluster sitting on the end of the suede sofa.
Turned to look at Jamie, "No, actually I hated him. I tried to help him, he was family, but Mohammed was born with a fatal flaw to his character. I did not respect him. I tried as much as possible not to let him influence Christine," responded Gunnul seriously.
"Thank you. I...I've lived in fear all these years that he might hurt her. He could be... violent," confessed Jamie wiping away a tear that threatened to fall from her eye.
"No. He never hurt her. I would have killed him if he had tried. Chrissy, she is beautiful, intelligent and caring. She is not like her father," revealed Gunnul feeling suddenly sorry for the pain and worry this woman appeared to have felt. Even a whore, has the right to love her children. She had not been treated fairly, realized Gunnul.
Jamie nodded not sure if she should be relieved that this remarkable woman had protected her child or upset that she could talk so casually about killing her own brother. What had happened to Moe anyway? Things were not going as she imagined they would.
She was completely unnerved by the fact that Gunnul was physically anyway, the person who had haunted her subconscious all her life. And she was taken back to find that Gunnul cared about her Chrissy very much and had clearly tried to be fair and open in her upbringing. And then there was the fact that her daughter was a Moslem. Gunnul had reassured her that they would find a common ground but Jamie was just starting to realize that she couldn't just walk into the life of a ten year old, foreign child and say, I'm your mother come home.
"I will show you to your room. You must be tired. It is a very long flight. Tomorrow we will start touring. For a few days, I will teach you about Turkey," explained Gunnul as she moved away from the window and waited for Jamie to struggle to her feet and get her crutch settled around her arm.
"You mean I am to be observed for a few days and then you will decide whether I can have access to my own child," challenged Jamie anger lacing her voice.
"Yes, I mean that," came the cold response from the woman who towered over her. "Would you not do the same in my position? But also too, it will be good for you to know something of our nation before you meet my daughter," explained Gunnul and then added as she caught the scent of sun dried herbs and sweet grass that was the fragrance of her dreams. "Our daughter."
Jamie ready to take the offensive suddenly choked back her cutting response and looked into the ice blue eyes of the woman that had raised her daughter. For a long time neither woman spoke. An energy seemed to pass between them. Slowly, Jamie's hand came out and grasped the hand of the woman who looked down at her. She nodded her agreement,
"Our daughter," she agreed and the tall woman smiled and lifted Jamie's hand and kissed her fingers. A jolt of passion shot through Jamie's small frame. She looked up into eyes that now glowed with an inner energy that was not quite human. Be careful Jamie! This woman is very dangerous her mind warned her but her heart pasted a silly grin on her face that matched the one looking back at her.
"Come, I will show you to your room." They walked out through the outer office where her assistant worked. He stood as they walked through. Gunnul lead her down a hall and opened a door to a suite. Jamie's luggage waited within. Jamie entered and to her surprise Gunnul followed. " Would you have dinner with me tonight," the woman asked formally as if making a date.
"Yes," responded Jamie without thinking, "I would like that."
The tall Turk relaxed noticeably and smiled. "I will call on you at eight. You are tired we will make it a casual meal," she stated and then left.
Jamie collapsed into the nearest chair. Holy God! What was going on here! Her emotions were on a roller coaster ride. Part of her hated this woman who had taken her child from her, part of her was grateful for the apparent love and care that she had given Chrissy, another part resented greatly this trial that Gunnul was insisting on before she would allow her to see her own daughter and part of her wanted to be back in this woman's arms making her fantasies all real. "Oh God," she whispered, " What do I do now?"
Gunnul felt numb. The shock of meeting the woman that had been an obsession for her all her life had been like a physical blow. That the woman should turn out to be Chrissy's birth mother had created an unbelievable complication in Gunnul's life. Worse still, she wanted this woman with a hunger that was taking all her self discipline to control. How could she fall in love with a whore? She buried her head in her hands. How could she not?
At eight o'clock, Gunnul was knocking on Jamie's door. She wore blue jeans and a braided sweater that she had bought in Scotland. She had tied her hair back in a ponytail and hoped that she looked casually American. Jamie opened the door her eyes opening in surprise to see the change from smart business suit to casual elegance. Ralf Lauren blue jeans and a hand knit Scottish sweater, noted Jamie feeling a little intimidated in her Levi Strauss jeans and dark green T-shirt that she had got at the local mall back home. Peeking out of the pocket were the Winnie the Pooh characters. "You come," stated Gunnul forgetting her prefect English grammar as she took in the lines of Jamie's petite body.
"O.K.," agreed Jamie falling in beside her tall companion. They went down the hall of the hotel and took a short elevator ride to a private terrace on the roof top. All of Istanbul and the Bosfurous Sea stretched out before them. The view was magnificent! To Jamie's surprise and amusement, quiet servants served them a meal of hamburgers and french fries.
"So how often do you have hamburgers when you dine up here?" asked Jamie wiping her mouth with her silk napkin.
Gunnul's hamburger stopped half way to her mouth and then returned to her plate, "Never. Was the food not right? How did you know?" asked the upset hostess.
Jamie laughed, "The food is excellent. You just don't look the hamburger type. This is very sweet Gunnul. I...I ... I mean can I call you that?"
Gunnul blushed then looked up into deep green eyes, "What Gunnul or that I am sweet?" she responded with a tease.
Jamie laughed again. Gunnul decided that she liked the way Jamie laughed. " Is it O.K. that I call you by your first name?" Jamie asked again.
"Yes, If I may call you Jamie," came the answer.
"O.K. sweet," Jamie teased back and Gunnul laughed. They finished their burgers as Gunnul talked about Chrissy's education and how well she was doing at her studies. Jamie was impressed by Chrissy's apparent ability and also by the fine education she had been given and how seriously Gunnul took it. She found herself warming very quickly to this woman and was finding it hard to remember that this woman had made her fortune by selling drugs.
"Downstairs in my bedroom, I have pictures of Chrissy. Would you like to see?" asked Gunnul now relaxed and mellow by how well the evening had gone. She had also shared a bottle of wine with Jamie something that she rarely did as the consumption of alcohol was against her religion. It had made her light hearted and light headed.
"Please, yes," answered Jamie standing up from where she had been relaxing in a lounge chair after their meal.
Gunnul stood too and the room swayed a bit. She smiled and took Jamie's hand, "This way she said leading the petite woman carfully down to her bedroom a floor below. Beside her bed was two pictures of Chrissy, one of her on her horse and another a school picture of her wearing her school tie and blazer. Jamie felt her knees give out and she sunk onto Gunnul's bed. She held the pictures in her hand and tears rolled down her face. Her daughter was a beautiful stranger smiling happily back at her from a world that was completely foreign to Jamie.
Suddenly, her dark protector was beside her. The pictures were taken from trembling fingers and placed back on the bedside table then warm arms pulled her close and Jamie wrapped her arm around her phantom friend and cried her eyes out.
Gunnul held Jamie close and stroked her hair. She leaned forward and inhaled the sweet fragrance of the golden locks. They smelt of fresh air and shampoo and that unique blend of herbs that was her dream-mate. Her head lowered to place her cheek against Jamie's and the upset woman responded by wrapping her arms tightly around Gunnul's neck. Gunnul swallowed. She hadn't really had much experience at this sort of thing. In her world to date and to be with boys was not seen as proper. To be with a woman, was something that was known of but not discussed.
She let her lips kiss the soft hair that her face was now buried in and let her hands lower to stroke Jamie's back. The feel of Jamie's warm skin beneath her shirt sent a hot rush of emotion down into Gunnul's groin. Head light with wine she forgot her need for self control and pulled the little woman down onto her bed, rolling on top of her and kissing her with passion on the lips as she had seen in the American movies.
At first, Jamie was too shocked to react. Then she swung a hand free and clobbered Gunnul with her fist to the side of her head. "Get off me, damn it!" she growled and Gunnul was off her and backing across the room in an instant. "What the hell do you think you were doing?!"
"I was making love to you," stated the confused woman, "Did I not do it right?" she asked.
Jamie struggled to her feet and adjusted her crutch to her arm. "What made you think that I'd just turn tricks for you?!" demanded the furious American.
Gunnul was even more confused and her head was starting to pound, "What tricks? You are a whore and I wished to make use of your services," Gunnul tried to explain becoming now rather annoyed at Jamie's reaction.
"Whore! Who are you calling a whore, you goddamn, randy infidel!" yelled Jamie hobbling to the door and slamming it closed behind her as she left.
Gunnul looked at the door in amazement. No one had spoken to her like that since she had been a child. No one would dare. Her face set in stone, she strode across the room and headed down the hall towards Jamie's rooms. The hall started to spin and Gunnul was only able to stay on her feet by leaning an arm against the wall. She turned and retraced her steps. I am drunk, she realized in amazement.
Jamie stuffed her things back into her suitcase, angry and humiliated by Gunnul's advances. That will teach me to try and see the good in people. Everything that Mohammed said about this woman was true. She was beautiful but under that well manicured facade there was a real low life. Jamie's hands were shaking so hard that she couldn't get the lock in place. She took a deep breath and sat down on the bed trying to come to terms with what had just happened. She had kind of lead Gunnul on. It had just felt so good to be in her arms. All her life there had been this barrier between her and the presence that was so much a part of her private life. Gunnul broke that barrier. Gunnul in so many ways was her secret warrior.
When Gunnul had taken her in her arms she had snuggled close and wrapped her arms around the woman. She had enjoyed the feel of her lips against her hair and the softness of her cheek against her own. She had allowed and sighed encouragement when Gunnul had stroked her back. She had sort of told Gunnul with her body language that she was willing. Maybe in Gunnul's culture that made her a whore. God damn it, all I want to do is get my daughter back but now everything was becoming so complicated! Chrissy was a stranger to her and her culture. Gunnul was a stranger who felt like a lover. Shit!
Jamie reached for her crutch and limped to the door. She had to talk to Gunnul and find some way to get her daughter back. She opened the door to see a soldier standing there.
"Excuse me," mumbled Jamie trying to slip passed. The soldier turned to look at her.
"No. You are to stay to your room by order of General Dedeman," stated the soldier.
"What! Am I under house arrest?" asked Jamie in frustration trying once again to get passed the guard.
The guard used his rifle to push Jamie back into the room gently. "You must stay," he stated firmly and closed the door.
For a few seconds, Jamie stood in shocked silence then fear slowly crept into her
heart . Just how much trouble was she in? She had seen Midnight Express and hadn't taken it very seriously. It was just a movie, she had told her friends, the country really wasn't like that. But now she was under guard for turning down the advances of a very powerful, evil individual. She limped over to a chair and sat down tears of fear and frustration trailed down her cheeks. Oh Chrissy honey, your mom has really messed up.
Gunnul watched the sun rise in the east as she knelt on her prayer rug. Her hands slipped the prayer beads along their cord as she repeated the Shahada, There is but one God and Muhammad is the rasul. God is great; God is merciful. She had prayed all night trying to find atonement but still her soul ached. Once again she picked up her Quran and read the words of the profit Muhammad:
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate
Praise belongs to God, the Lord of all Being,
the All-merciful, the All-compassionate,
the Master of the Day of Doom.
Thee only we serve; to Thee alone we pray for succour.
Guide us in the straight path,
the path of those whom Thou has blessed,
not those against whom Thou has wrathful,
nor of those who are astray (Quran 1:1-7)
Three times she bowed to the east, to Mecca, to the centre of the Islamic universe, then she stood and made her way back to her chambers. She considered changing back into European clothes but chose instead to remain in her robes, finding security and comfort in wearing them. She moved silently as always down the halls and with a wave of her hand dismissed the guard who stood at Jamie's door. Lightly she tapped. "Come in," came the quick response.
Gunnul opened the door and entered. Jamie stood by the window the morning light dancing on her golden hair. Gunnul tightened her resolve. " I wish to talk to you if I may," she stated quietly.
Jamie nervously wiped the sleep and tears from her eyes, "Yes," she responded as neutrally as she could manage turning and her eyes widing in surprise.
"I drank last night, when I knew it was a sin to do so. The consequence of that action was that I conducted myself in an unseemly manner and shamed myself and my country.
I have prayed for forgiveness and strength and I have come to ask for your pardon," stated Gunnul.
Jamie looked at the stranger before her. Robed and hooded, her face covered by a lace veil from the nose down all that remained of the Europeanized woman of yesterday were the remarkable eyes. "Does my daughter dress like this?" she asked.
"On Fridays. Our holy day. Yes," responded Gunnul puzzled by Jamie's response.
Jamie nodded. "Part of what happened was my fault. My culture is different from yours. Perhaps I gave you the wrong signals. I didn't know that you didn't drink." A moment's hesitation, " Am I a prisoner?" Jamie asked seriously.
Gunnul's eyes widened, "No, of course not! I just did not wish that you leave until I had time to resolve the issue. I do not know what you wish. You have my word that I will not repeat my error. I wish that we continue with the program that I had laid out to you."
Jamie stared into the foreign eyes that had softened from ice to sky blue. "O.K. You are the way to my daughter so I haven't much choice. But I need to warn you, I made the mistake of forgiving your brother's violent behaviour. The result was he beat me half to death and left me with a shattered leg. I will not let anyone put me in that position again. Do you understand?"
The eyes grew wide with horror, "You are telling me that it was my brother who did this to your leg?!" the taller woman asked in disbelief.
"Yes, and I'm never going to let myself be victimized again. Or my daughter," growled Jamie.
Hurt flashed across the blue eyes, "I would never hurt Chrissy," came the angry response.
"You better not have," came the challenge.
The eastern woman turned and was gone leaving Jamie shaken and confused as to what was going to happen next.
A short time larger Teefo arrived at Jamie's door. "Please, the Warrior, she has asked me to request of you that you join her today on touring Istanbul. She wishes to know if you will go with her alone or if you wish also a chaperone."
Jamie shook her head in disbelief. Gunnul wavered back and forth between being a strong, cold enigma and an insecure, warm, caring human. She was the most familiar and yet complex person that she had ever met. "Please tell Gunnul that I would like to tour Istanbul with her as my guide and I see no need to take anyone else along."
Teefo nodded and retreated. Within a few minutes, Gunnul was at the door dressed again in European clothes. Today, she wore blue jeans with a button down shirt of natural cotton. She looked casually magnificent and Jamie wondered what it would have been like had she let Gunnul make love to her. Quickly, she buried that thought as deep as she could. All that mattered was convincing Gunnul that she should let her have access to Chrissy.
"You are ready to go, Jamie?" asked Gunnul.
Jamie nodded taking a firmer grip on her metal crutch, "Let's go."
A Mercedes coup in British racing green sat at the curb waiting and the footman opened the doors for them. The now very European Gunnul slipped on her sunglasses and pulled out into the busy streets of Istanbul, within a short time they pulled into a parking lot near the citadel.
"These are our two largest Mosques. The Blue Mosque that you see here and Santa Sophia that is behind. Turks are mainly Shiite Moslem not Sunnis. The Shiites in the Middle East are more fundamentalist. Shiites believe that the descendants of Muhammad are the true imam. The Sunni believe that the successors of the Prophet were correctly picked by the agreement of the people not by kinship to the Prophet. It is a small difference that many have died defending. But not here in Turkey. We are Moslem, but I am afraid we are not always good Moslems," explained Gunnul with a smile. "We are, for Moslems, very liberal in our views. Come."
Jamie followed Gunnul through the crowds of worshipers and tourists to the entrance of the Blue Mosque. Here, she removed two head scarves from her shoulder purse and wrapped one around Jamie's head and then one around her own. They removed their shoes and entered the Blue Mosque. High above them a dome of intricate blue dominated the massive space. Geometric patterns of incredible complexity decorated the dome and the walls. Dusty light filtered through massive stain glass windows and fell to the royal blue prayer rugs below. Words failed to describe both the size and beauty of the building. Jamie stood mouth open looking up in awe while Gunnul waited patiently.
"Gunnul it is so beautiful!" whispered Jamie. "Do you come here to worship?"
"It is an outstanding example of Byzantine Art. No, we do not come here. Although it is still used as a Mosque, tourism has made it too public a place for prayer for me. Come you have not seen yet Santa Sophia."
They retrieved their shoes and walked across the court yard to one of the most famous buildings in the world. "The Blue Mosque has six minarets some say because the man who built it had six sons. But Santa Sophia has four which is the proper number. It was built first as a church by Justinian, the man who established the Byzantine Empire, later it was converted to a Mosque. It was for a thousand years the largest dome in the world."
Once again they removed their shoes and went in. If the Blue Mosque was awe inspiring, Santa Sophia was almost a mystical experience. The dome seemed twice the size of the Blue Mosque and created within its walls a universe of faith. Gunnul showed Jamie the golden mosaics of Justinian and his famous wife Theodora. "Justinian, they say, was very polite and soft spoken whether greeting an ambassador or ordering the blinding of 20,000 of the enemy's army. He was the founder of the Byzantine Empire. It was his foundation that held the Holy Roman Empire together through the years of the European Dark Ages and with it all the remaining knowledge of Greece and Rome. What the Europeans are today is because of this soft man with the iron will. He was married happily for twenty years and after the death of Theodora he continued to visit her grave every day for the remainder of his life," explained Gunnul.
"It is a touching love story built on the blood of the vanquished. The people rebelled against the heavy taxes to build such buildings and Justinian was advised to escape but Theodora would not let him leave. She told him that it was better to die wearing the purple of leadership than to live in the poverty of defeat. They stayed and won," finished the Turkish woman.
Jamie looked up at her proud guide. "I think you are a lot like Justinian," she observed.
"I think you could love that deep and be that violent."
Gunnul looked down at Jamie searching the depths of her forest green eyes, "I have never loved but I have killed many," she responded and turned to show Jamie the way out. Jamie followed, a cold shiver raising goose bumps on her skin.
Outside Gunnul knelt and helped Jamie on with her shoes. Then she removed their scarves and tucked them away. "Santa Sophia was known as the Eye of the World," Gunnul commented as she lead the way back to the car. Jamie thought it still could be.
The day was packed with a kaleidoscope of amazing experiences and images. They walked through the busy streets of the city where the Roman chariot races took place in the Hippodrome. An Egyptian obelisk on a Byzantine base still marked the turning point for the chariots. Gunnul took Jamie to the Topkapi Palace and showed her the crown jewels that made the British crown jewels look like nothing. Jamie saw a diamond weighing 84 carats surrounded by other diamonds and set in gold, a silver serving tray filled to overflowing with emeralds, jewel and gold encrusted furniture and weaponry, egg cups of gold filigreed and diamonds and dishes of the finest china. They wandered through room after room of incredible wealth, beyond most people's imagination.
They ate lunch near the Grand Bazaar, the central market since the time when the legendary silk road ended there. It was a barrel vaulted medieval building with a main hall and side halls leading off it. Each area was a different guild. The main hall was the gold smiths and for two city blocks the windows were a blaze with dazing gold jewelry. There were halls for leather, rugs, spices, copper and a thousand other goods for sale.
Jamie would have liked to barter and buy but her budget had barely stretched to getting the plane tickets.
Gunnul took Jamie to a rug weaver. There she saw the silk rugs and gasped at their beauty. She would have loved to own one but the prices were in the thousands of dollars. Jamie found herself on over load by the time they were walking through the famous spice market looking at the barrels and barrels of exotic spices and herbs being bartered for by dealers from all over the world.
They ate dinner at one of the open air cafes along the shores of the Bosphorus Sea and then took a boat ride along the shore to see the grandeur of the Ottoman palaces, mansions and the fortresses. The wealth of the homes and richness of the city's heritage was truly amazing. Istanbul, the legendary Constantinople was a spicy name filled with the romance and adventure of merchants, warriors and emperors for a thousand years. Jamie thought the city still lived up to it's heritage in every way!
Gunnul leaned on the rail beside Jamie a respectable distance away. All day Gunnul had been polite and formal, the prefect guide and hostess and it was driving Jamie to distraction. The night air was cool after the heat of the day. "Gunnul," whispered Jamie.
"Hmmm," responded the warrior standing up and looking questioningly at Jamie.
"Why did you want to kiss me?" Jamie asked.
Gunnul turned and looked out across the darkening water, "I am attracted to you Jamie. It is hard to explain."
"Do you still want to kiss me?" Jamie probed sliding her hand along the rail as she moved closer.
Gunnul swallowed and stared out across the water, "Yes."
"Now would be a good time," whispered Jamie looking down shyly as she placed her hand over Gunnul's.
Gunnul turned in surprise and looked at the smaller woman in confusion, "You now wish me to make love to you?" she asked.
Jamie laughed, "No. I don't know if I want that but I would like you to hold me and kiss me."
Gunnul moved closer and placed her long, strong hands on Jamie's shoulders, "I do not know much of this," she said her English failing as she became nervous.
Jamie moved into Gunnul's arms and reached up to capture the Turk's lips. "Relax, let me show you," she whispered against Gunnul's mouth then nibbled gently at her bottom lip. When Gunnul gave a soft gasp Jamie used the opportunity to slip her tongue into Gunnul's mouth. The taller woman froze in surprise and then pulled Jamie tightly into her arms allowing her tongue to curl and stroke around Jamie's. Jamie pulled her tongue back and Gunnul followed entering into Jamie's being for the first time. Jamie gasped and Gunnul immediately pulled back looking worried. "No. Its O.K. what you are doing excites me that's all," explained Jamie.
"It excites me very much too," revealed Gunnul seriously and Jamie leaned her head against Gunnul's chest and let the powerful woman embrace her in her warmth.
Gunnul sat in her bedroom staring at the wall. Not long ago she had politely left Jamie at her suite door kissing her softly on the cheek. Part of her had longed for Jamie to invite her into her bed and was bitterly disappointed when she did not. The other part of her was greatly relieved. Although her need was great, she was traveling on uncharted waters and it scared her. Jamie was a prositute and must know so much about sex. Gunnul had never laid with anyone. First, because she had been raised traditionally and second, because the only person she had ever really desired was her imaginary lover whose soul dwelled in her secret garden.
Also beyond the need for sex there was so many other complications. Chrissy had to be protected at all costs. And becoming involved with her birth mother was a really bad idea. The woman was much nicer than she had imagined she would be and yet she was not respectable company for either her or her daughter. She was too, an infidel. Gunnul buried her face in her hands. She was like a moth burning itself alive with it's desire. She knew she should fly away but she couldn't. This need was like a drug dependency. All she wanted was to be taught the art of love making in Jamie's arms letting her soul burn with the desire that was over powering her.
Jamie lay in bed. Her leg hurt terribly. The day had been very long and she had not wanted to complain as everything that Gunnul had planned was both fascinating and exciting. She liked being with Gunnul. It scared her that she might be making the same mistake that she had with Moe, getting involved with a very dangerous person because she looked and felt so much like her dark, imaginary protector. Then there was Chrissy. If she didn't go along with Gunnul would that mean that she would not get to see her daughter? She didn't think so, Gunnul seemed an honourable person. But was she? She talked casually about killing and her money did come from being a druglord. Why Jamie, are you even thinking about getting involved with a woman this dangerous? Her brother half killed you! And it was obvious that Gunnul had none of her brother's weaknesses. She was quick, decisive and in incredible shape.
She was far away in a distant land that she knew nothing about. She could just disappear never to be heard about again. Those things happened. A shiver of fear ran down her back. That would be one way to prevent her from getting Chrissy back. Why had she agreed to travel with Gunnul? To do so had made her incredibly vulnerable! Because Gunnul would never hurt you, came the answer from inside her soul. Please don't let me be self deluding myself again, she thought.
Then there was the worry about the amazing chemistry that existed between the two of them. For all Gunnul's power and authority, it was clear that she was a babe in the woods when it came to sex. I don't think she had even kissed before! That's amazing! She must be close to thirty. Was it fair to encourage her? Could she stop herself from doing so? Oh Hell! What am I getting into?!
Gunnul was having a pleasant dream that involved her laying in a hammock with Jamie wrapped around her. Suddenly, an ice cold arrow of an idea sliced through her heart. She woke with a start, her heart pounding and a cold sweat on her skin. Had not Jamie violently turned her advances down only yesterday?. Then today, she agreed to be kissed and held. The woman was used to using her body as a tool. Jamie must be using her need to control her to get at Chrissy! The bottom fell out of Gunnul's stomach and she rolled out of bed and ran to the bathroom to throw up.
Jamie dreamed as she had a thousand times before of standing under a tropical sky in Gunnul's strong embrace. She could smell the hot spicy scent that was so much her lover and feel the silk covered steel of her lover's body. Suddenly, a hideous realization exploded her dream into a shredded reality. Gunnul called her a whore! She didn't care about her! She was using the service! Isn't that what she had said! And Jamie had been stupid enough to get sucked right in by a few words of apology. Gunnul had probably been smirking behind that veil! Jamie you are being manipulated so that she can say you are not good enough to have contact with your daughter! Oh shit! Jamie rolled into a little ball, the pain too much to bear.
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