Disclaimer: The characters of Dr. Janice Covington and Melinda Pappas belong exclusively to MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. Any other characters belong to me. No copyright infringement was 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: Where to begin? Okay, this is another 'in the style of' things, but I have strayed from the poetry angle. It was suggested to me that I should write a 'bodice ripper', at that, my ears pricked up. A 'bodice ripper', I'd never written one before, needed to do some research, went and grabbed myself a Mills & Boon, downloaded the guidelines for writing one off the Net, read them, gagged and choked whilst reading, and began to formulate a plan (think that's the longest sentence I've ever written, thought I'd exorcised Jane Austin). This offering is the result, it wasn't as easy as first thought, I had to become someone else basically. So, this is in the style of a Mills & Boon 'bodice ripper'… enjoy, but please appreciate that this was written as a dig at that style rather than an honest attempt to produce a compelling piece of writing. Shudder. I discovered the secret was to not only use as many adjectives, similes and metaphors as possible, but to over use them. I am wholeheartedly sorry to inflict this type of genre on Janice and Mel.

Acknowledgments: I suppose I should put my reputation on the line and acknowledge the M&B I read, it was Slave To Love by Michelle Reid. Shoot me now! Also thanks to Beverley Chong for encouraging me to write the 'bodice ripper', and no, I don’t want a script editor for the ABC to edit it!! Shame, shame, but thanks for the offer.

Feedback: Feel free to tell me never to do this again, I'm at archaeobard@hotmail.com



"You know, she's like that…"

Janice Covington heard the comment dropped loosely from sneering lips and had to stop herself from launching across the room to shut the mouth of whoever had spoken with her clenched fist. She glanced up at the knot of people and listened randomly to the gasps, muffled laughter and the occasional 'I thought so', 'Well you only have to look at her…'. Her livid green gaze grazed across Sofie Trendall. It would have to be her above all other people. Janice longed desperately to loosen a couple of those perfect white teeth, but she held back with determined control. This was Melinda's party after all. Shaking her head, she looked down to the tall glass of champagne she held. She focussed on the small bubbles clinging to the side of the glass as her own anger broiled within. She leaned casually against the wall as more laughter erupted from the group and a few glances were sent her way. Janice did her best to ignore the group and fiddled idly with one hand at a button on her midnight black suit jacket. The people at the party were idiots she told herself, completely brainless. The only reason she was attending was that Melinda had asked her. She shook her head again and half smiled to herself. Why was it that the she had this damnable habit of falling flat on her face for women she could never have? Melinda Pappas was to her, the epitome of all she desired, dark, strong, intelligent and a woman who carried herself like no other Janice had ever known. It was naïve on Janice's part to expect anything from her. The translator and archaeologist were as different as they came.

Melinda was in perfect control of the party, the avid hostess, circulating, making everyone feel welcome, everyone but Janice. For some reason Melinda had avoided the small woman for most of the evening. Janice was not necessarily what could be termed the sociable type, and on this occasion, her misanthropic attitude was no different. Yet she had at least expected Mel to have talked to her. All she had received was a half hearted smile in her direction on her entrance. Janice frowned and cast a surreptitious glance through the room again. There, on the far side she spotted her. Standing tall, fully aware of the power she possessed. It literally oozed from the woman by way of an occasional smile, a gesture with her glass here and there, an affectionate touch of an arm. That was Mel in her element, and Janice felt just as out of place here as the Southerner had felt in Macedonia.

Janice allowed her gaze to roam over the dangerous figure covertly. She half closed her eyes and gritted her teeth as she felt the now familiar stirring which always accompanied the clandestine watching of the Southerner. She stared, enthralled, as Mel raised the glass to her blood red lips and sipped lazily at the champagne within, the Southerner's eyes dipping down with the movement. Then, for some inexplicable reason, the Southerner half turned and their eyes met, Janice's green in open fascination, Mel's blue over the top of her sparkling glass. The Southerner languidly removed her glass from her lips, never letting her gaze falter. She tilted her head slightly to the side and arched a perfectly sculpted eyebrow to the line just below condescension. Janice hastily dropped her eyes and pushed herself awkwardly away from the wall, almost losing some of her champagne in her haste to appear nonchalant. She hurriedly placed the glass on a nearby table on reached to pull a cigarillo from her breast pocket. Lighting the small cigar, she cursed herself inwardly for getting caught watching, and worse, had Mel heard the comments of Sofie Trendall?

Janice knew very well that she had fallen, yet she was powerless to stop the invasion of emotion that the mere sight of the Southerner instilled within her. This was her downfall. There was something entirely enigmatic about the darksome woman that had Janice reeled in, hook, line and sinker. Not only was it the physical aspect of this woman's beauty, but the raw spark that flickered from her, igniting the fire in Janice's soul. The muscles in Janice's jaw worked as she forcefully prevented herself from raising her eyes to Mel again, almost afraid of what she might find. She hurriedly retrieved her glass and took a mouthful of champagne grimacing as the bubbly liquid made it's way down her throat.

"Jan! Darling!" Janice was dragged back from her thoughts by an over pleasant voice to her left. Janice plastered a false smile upon her bitter lips, redeposited her glass and turned to face her adversary of the evening with jaw set… Sofie Trendall.

"Nobody calls me that." she said flatly, blowing smoke out in a blue-grey plume.

"Oh Jan, seriously, it's a term of endearment." the sickly sweet voice continued to purr.

Janice's eyes narrowed and she had to fight to stop a scowl appearing on her brow. Who was this woman anyway? She was nothing, a part of the so called nouveau riché. The Trendall family had somehow managed to escape the stock market crash of 1929 and had prospered from other's misfortune. Now, a little over ten years later, the Trendall's were one of the most affluent families in the South. They had plastered themselves to the Pappas family like a barnacle to a boat, and they were on the rise. Yet Janice could see through the fake accent, the pomp and the supposed splendour that was Sofie Trendall, daughter of Richard Trendall, the man who had started it all. All the Trendall's, and especially this specimen looked down on Janice as nothing more than cannon fodder. She had to work for a living, never mind the fact that she actually enjoyed what she was doing with a passion of which the Sofie's of the world could only dream. Why Melinda Pappas was voluntarily associating herself with the likes of Janice Covington was beyond the ken of someone like Sofie.

Janice inspected the woman before her. She was a little taller than Janice, but appeared more so by way of a pair of extravagantly high heels. It was a wonder the woman could stand. She was dressed in a scandalously low cut, thin strapped outfit that seemed to shimmer with a thousand sequins. Her hair and make up were perfect. Small ringlets of blonde hair cascaded decadently about her face, swaying every time she moved her prim little head.

Holding back the lacerating comment that immediately came to mind, Janice took a deep breath.

"I'm not exactly endearing Sofie."

"Oh but you are my dear, why else would Melinda keep you around?" Sofie responded in a syrupy tone, reaching out to brush a small fragment of ash from Janice's sleeve.

Janice jerked away too late and this time could not halt the curl of her lip.

"Listen, Melinda is employed by me-"

"Yes, but there is no call for her to associate with you socially, or you with her…is there now?" Sofie jumped in like a hound after the fox.

Janice knew where this was going and she did not like it one little bit.

"You are a piece of work, do you know that? What gives you the right to assume anything about me?" she said chillingly

Sofie let out a peal of laughter and hit Janice with a lascivious grin.

"My, my, we are biting aren't we?"

Janice's scowl deepened as she felt her anger continue to rise. She knew that Sofie was trying to push her to a point where she was either going to create a scene and thereby embarrass the hostess, or simply leave, that was why she had dropped the comment in the first place. It wasn't going to happen. As Janice mused over her next move in this game of emotional chess, the orchestra began their next set of numbers. Smiling coldly at the vixen before her, Janice offered her arm.

"Would you like to dance?"

Sofie's jaw dropped to a stultifying low. She looked up and down the figure of Janice dressed in her superbly tailored pant suit and actually blushed at the implication. Taking a quick step backwards on her precarious heels, Sofie stumbled and only managed to catch herself with the aid of Janice's arm. Once steadied she dropped the black sleeve as if it had burned her and this time took a more careful step away from the woman she now perceived as a vulture. Janice smirked and let her eyes roam over the creamy shoulders of the startled woman. Her smirk deepened as she allowed her eyes to drop to Sofie's low neckline. Raising a condescending eyebrow, she spoke before the woman could fully escape.

"Don’t you play me for a fool Sofie Trendall. My reputation here is not an issue, but yours kiddo…what would Daddy say?" she said with a wink.

"I know what you are!" came the acid reply.

"How very observant of you." Janice spat dryly, "So do I, now leave."

It was said with such authority that Sofie's immediate reaction was to comply. She glanced hurriedly about the room, spotted someone to talk to and raised her chin, strutting across the floor with purpose. Janice shook her head at the woman's retreat. Stubbing her cigarillo out she cast another quick glance for Mel. Unable to see her, Janice frowned and decided it was time that she too left the scene.

Janice headed with sure steps to the entrance of the Pappas mansion, acknowledging a few people as she went. She managed to get as far as the coat rack before a sultry voice floated over her shoulder like midnight.

"Leaving so soon?"

Janice jerked at the voice. How could Melinda sneak up on her like that when every cord in the archaeologist's body was tuned to her? Didn't she know what she was doing? Of course she didn’t, she was Melinda Pappas, rich, successful, but hardly worldly.

"I have to go, we do have work tomorrow." Janice tried to reply flatly, reaching for her coat, yet she was unable to stop the small tremor in her voice. She hated herself for it.

Melinda smiled and glanced down at her elegant wrist watch to note the time.

"It's only ten thirty Janice, you can stay for another half hour at least."

Janice was riveted to those azure eyes that sparkled with such intensity that they shocked her to the core. She was shaking her head in mild protest but somehow could not manage to get the words passed her lips.

"Of course you can. Besides, I feel a little guilty, I'm afraid I've been neglecting you."

Janice smiled ruefully in recognition of the truth. At least the woman wasn't completely insensitive. Janice dared to drop her gaze from the allure of Mel's eyes to her seductive mouth which was curled up in a smirk. Her breath caught as she allowed herself to imagine those lips on hers. She took an involuntary step towards the Southerner, tilting her head back a little further. God! She was flirting with the woman! She felt the tight knot in her chest and decided that it wasn’t going away any time soon. Another half hour of this delicious self torture wasn't going to kill her, in fact, she craved it.

"Half an hour Mel, and yes, you have been ignoring me." she drawled, her voice dropping low.

Something sparked in the Southerner's eyes and her smile widened.

"Then you shall have me for the half hour." she returned lasciviously.

Janice groaned inwardly. Half an hour in public with Mel's undivided attention. Why did she do these stupid things to herself. She should have left, she should have done so many things. Instead, she let her gaze sweep over the woman before her, the delicate yet strong sweep of her neck, the sculptured shoulders exposed by the gown she wore, scooping to reveal the smallest hint of cleavage.

"Looking for something?" Mel asked in a mocking voice. Having worked with Janice since Macedonia, she had come to realise Janice's inclinations, and if truth be told, she was intrigued by the anomalous archaeologist.

"No! I…" Janice snapped her eyes back up to Mel's and found only humour, not accusation. "I was just…" yet she trailed off, unable to finish the thought verbally.

"I know." Mel said, raising an eyebrow and gesturing back through the foyer to the main room in which the party was being held.

"No, I don’t think you do." Janice mumbled to herself as she followed Mel's lead back into the main room.

A brief hush literally fell over the entire room when Mel and Janice entered. Sofie had been on the war path the very moment Janice had turned to go. Janice glanced across the still room at her now, and the archaeologist's eyes narrowed when she saw the look of triumph playing over those perfect, saintly features. She shook her head, strengthening her resolve to leave the party, regardless of what she had promised Mel. Turning on her heel, she made a bid for the door, but was stopped mid-step by a strong hand around her upper arm, pulling her back. She was both startled and exalted at Mel's action, not so much that she had done it, but rather that she could feel the warmth and raw energy of the Southerner flowing into her as strong fingers held her securely. Despite the situation, it was invigorating.

"Stay." Mel said low, leaning down to speak more closely with Janice. A stray tendril of ebony hair fell down to brush lightly at Janice's cheek. Janice's mouth went dry, she could feel the soft breath of the Southerner against the side of her face. She was aching with frustration by the time she took a deep breath, sucking in the delicate yet spicy scent that was Melinda Pappas.

"I don’t have to stay here and take this Melinda, they can talk about me without me being here." Janice said coldly in a barely controlled voice. Why was Mel still leaning over her like that? Jesus, she couldn’t take much more of this and act normal. She already felt the fiery heat throbbing low in her abdomen. It was with the greatest of strengths that she prevented herself from reaching out for the woman.

"You can take your hand from my arm now Melinda." Janice continued in an almost whisper.

The corner of Mel's left eye twitched and she glanced at her hand clasped around Janice's bicep. Now that it was brought to her immediate attention, she could feel the powerful muscle beneath Janice's suit sleeve and she smiled, remembering all the physical labour that Janice put herself through. Not at all like a Sofie Trendall, this was a woman to be admired for who she was, not who she pretended to be. Slowly Mel loosened her fingers and released Janice from her hold. It was more of a tearing away than a letting go and Janice felt it for what it was, almost sensual. She frowned briefly up to Melinda's level as the Southerner dropped her arm to her side and straightened to her full imposing height.

Mel raised an eyebrow in answer and smiled knowingly.

Speaking a little louder than was necessary, her words struck Janice like a tonne of bricks, carrying through the party goers like an infectious disease.

"I believe you asked Miss Trendall to dance Dr. Covington."

At that statement, all the heads that were not already trained on the hostess and her employer turned to watch the scene with a secret sense of fascination. Janice glanced passed Mel and caught the deadly gleam in Sofie's eye.

"Yes, I did." Janice said fiercely, daring the Southerner to make something of it.

"And she refused you?"

"She did."

Mel smiled at Janice and looked over she shoulder at the beaming Trendall daughter. Her eyes narrowed mischievously. Sofie caught the look and her own expression turned to one of question.

"Now that," Mel began to the whole room, "is something I cannot understand."

A few unchecked gasps reverberated around the room and several whispers sprang up. Sofie's expression had turned to one of defined malice as she stood rooted to the floor in those facile high heels. Janice barely had a chance to stifle her own astounded intake of air before Mel had returned a sultry gaze to her.

"I take it that the offer still stands?"

Janice didn't know if she could respond. All eyes were riveted to her and she could almost hear the crowd straining to hear the next words out of her mouth. She stared dumbly at the Southerner, vaguely aware of the warm heat rising on her neck and assumed she was blushing.

"I take it the offer still stands?" Mel repeated, leaning in closer so her breathe caressed the side of Janice's face like silk.

This time Janice gathered the tattered remains of her wits, however briefly, and nodded her consent.

Mel smiled warmly and looked across to the orchestra. She dipped her head briefly and after a moment, a slow waltz started up. She returned her striking blue eyes to Janice, who was still only standing there.

"Well?" she asked, her voice a low rumble, "Your arm?" Mel asked holding out her own left, the long, elegant hand angled slightly at the wrist. She held it there with such poise that Janice could only stare at the perfectly sculptured appendage in awe. Janice heard Mel clear her throat softly and was jerked from her immobility. Setting her face to a blank, emotionless mask she raised her right arm so Mel's hand was delicately balanced at an angle along her forearm. Even this amount of contact with the Southerner caused Janice's pulse to race with the pounding desire she felt within. What game was the Southerner playing with her? Why did she feel so helpless except to comply with this woman's wishes? These were the questions she asked herself as she walked Mel to the dance floor, all the while feeling the eyes of at least twenty people burn into her back, right between the shoulder blades.

If Janice had previously been concerned by the contact of Mel's hand with her arm, it was nothing in comparison to the near state of panic she felt when Mel slipped her hand into her own. She was grateful that the Southerner was wearing gloves, so she could not feel the dampness of her palm.

"It is customary for the lead to place their left hand on my back Janice." Mel whispered to the small archaeologist.

Janice gritted her teeth in determination and hesitantly placed her hand on the bare skin of Mel's back, just below her shoulder blades. He fingers immediately tingled with the warmth radiating from the Southerner. Janice swallowed hard and took a deep breath to calm her spiralling, wayward emotions. Why did the orchestra have to play a waltz, and a slow one at that? Janice asked herself as the two of them began to move in time to the music.

Mel could feel a decided stiffness in the woman in her arms and settled her gaze softly on Janice's. She perceived a mixture of fear, anger and desire, swirling in the jade green depths. Mel questioned the mixture with her own eyes as she moved her body in a little closer to the archaeologist. She saw Janice frown slightly as their legs brushed lightly together, fabric whispering.

"Relax Janice." Mel soothed hoping to set the archaeologist more at ease. Yet somehow, the tone of her voice only made matters worse for Janice. The smaller woman could not believe the effect the Southerner was having on her. Her body was virtually screaming at the close contact. Every fibre in her being was telling her to let go, to sink into this woman's arms and abandon any sense of control that she may have had. Yet she could not do that. She caught Sofie's scandalised gaze as they swept around the floor. This small endeavour would be the talk of the Charlestown gossip circuit for months to come. Janice did not want to be a party to that, yet she could no more walk away from this than she could fly. Something was tying her to the beauty she lead around the dance floor, something indescribably so right that no-one could consider it wrong, although many would try.

"I can’t relax." Janice grated between clenched teeth, the nerves along her arms and legs singing with confusion as the Southerner held her.

"Yes you can, it's done like this." Mel nearly whispered as she leaned down and pulled Janice to her more firmly. Janice tried to protest the movement, but was soon lost in the Southerner's compelling embrace. She forgot the music, she forgot the crowd and she forgot to dance. The two stood entwined, heedless of all around them. To Janice this was all she had ever wanted. She closed her eyes when she felt Mel remove her hand from her own and suppressed a shudder when that hand found it's way to the small of her back. Mel's other hand eased it's way languidly down from her shoulder to meet the other one. Janice was trapped in an exquisite embrace that left her speechless and breathing heavily.

"I told you I was yours for half an hour." Mel spoke lightly into her ear.

Janice opened her eyes to be met by shocking blue. Their faces were only inches apart and Janice had to stop herself from kissing the Southerner then and there.

"Why are you so afraid of me?" Mel asked as she allowed a hand to drop a little lower down Janice's back.

Janice felt the hand move and her body responded with a jolt of electricity straight to her groin.

"Dear God! Mel, what are you playing at?" she asked in a shaky voice.

"Playing?" the response flowed out smoothly. "I'm not playing at all. I asked you here this evening for this very reason. Do you have any idea how alluring you are Dr. Covington?"

Janice's world fell around her as if a blanket of midnight had shrouded out any last chance of survival. She shook her head ever so slightly, almost imperceptibly.

"You are."

"You don't know what you're saying." Janice gasped out.

"Oh I know exactly what I'm saying. Forget Sofie Trendall and all the other fools who are here this evening. I don’t care about them. Why don't you kiss me, it's time they saw who the real Melinda Pappas is." Mel intoned softly.

Janice was about to do just that, her emotions were so strong. Yet suddenly the words of the Southerner registered for what they were. Her body stiffened and she pulled away from the woman with an accusing glare that would have melted stone.

"You…you're using me?" she spluttered, unable to believe she had gotten into this situation.

"I thought you wanted this?" Mel questioned back, a little shocked at the archaeologist's rapid retreat.

"I will not be used to prove a point Melinda. And if I stand for nothing except to make a damn spectacle in front of your society then I want no part in it. I thought you cared about me." Janice spat harshly, her anger at the Southerner on the rise.

"I do."

Janice snorted and shook her head. "But not the way I care about you." She broke from Melinda's gaze and stared about the room at the milling people. Her eyes locked onto Sofie Trendall. Janice could almost see the slimy cogs working in her head.

"I hope you've all enjoyed this." she said loud enough for all to hear. She shook her head again. "You people disgust me!" she sneered before stalking to the front entrance.

Melinda was right behind her as this time Janice managed to retrieve her coat and was in the process of pulling it on.

"Janice…Janice, wait." Mel was saying in an almost panicked voice. She reached out a hand but Janice threw it off with a violent sweep of her arm.

"No Melinda, how dare you play me like that, in front of all those people. You know how they feel about me. How could you do that?" Janice yanked an arm through her sleeve and wrestled the coat onto one shoulder.

Mel dropped her gaze to the floor. "I was trying to let them know that it doesn't matter…" she trailed off.

"Well it does, isn’t that obvious Melinda? Look at me Melinda, look real good. You've just proved that I'm not worth a damn thing, except to act as entertainment. I don’t give a shit about those people out there," Janice continued, shoving her other arm into her coat sleeve, "what I do give a shit about is you, and now, well, now I'm not so sure any more." she finished, the anger draining from her voice to be replaced by a hollow sense of defeat and betrayal.

"You can’t meant that." Mel said flatly, unable to believe that the turn of events had gone so wrong.

"Goodnight Melinda." Janice spat as she threw open the front door and headed swiftly down the steps to her car. If she had bothered to glance back, she would have noticed Melinda supporting herself on the door frame, watching the small figure disappear. Yet she didn’t turn back, not even for a brief moment. She glanced at her watch, exactly eleven. Well, that was the half hour, that was all she wanted from Melinda Pappas.


Janice made it back to her apartment and managed to strip off her pant suit, take a shower and wrap herself in a robe before the full implications of what had taken place hit her. Holding back the tears she fumbled for a bottle of scotch poured herself a healthy swig and downed it in one before the flood gates opened. She crumpled to the sofa and drew her legs up to her chin, wrapping her arms around them, she rocked slowly back and forth in an effort to comfort herself. How could this have happened? She was always in control. How could she have been duped so easily? She was mortified beyond comprehension at what had occurred. Yet as she thought about it, she was powerless to stop the onslaught of emotions that came rushing back. Melinda's soft voice in her ear, her hair brushing against her face, her hand on the small of her back. Janice groaned as her body remembered the sensations that had been coursing through her like a torrential flood. How could she have been so goddamn stupid? Bitterness welled up inside her, too pestilent to give vent to except by way of hot, desperate tears. She could feel the bile rising sickly in her throat at the horror of it all. She was Janice Covington and not one easily given to rampant displays of emotion. It was testament to her tortured passion that she now sobbed with such abandon.

Then, almost before she realised it, the door to her apartment was flung open and she was standing there. Janice had forgotten that she had given Melinda a key several months ago when they had been working almost twenty four hours a day in order to conclude a project. She cursed herself bitterly now for the act. Janice looked up sharply from her knees at the imposing figure standing stock still just inside the door as the tears flowed freely from swollen eyes.

"What do you want?" she croaked out, aware that her voice sounded foreign, even to her own ears.

"I've come to apologise." Mel said softly, compassion evident in her words.

Janice sniffed hurriedly and wiped angrily at the livid tears. She had not moved, and was still huddled on the sofa.

"You've done enough Melinda, just leave me be." Janice realised that her words sounded stagnant and hollow, because it was she who would not be able to leave well enough alone.

"I've not done nearly enough Janice. I have not been entirely truthful with you."

The words cut through Janice like a finely honed knife intent on the kill.

"No kidding, well," she sniffed again and stretched her legs down from the sofa and stood shakily. "I don’t care any more Melinda. Whatever it was you came here for, just forget it and leave, I'm not playing any more."

Despite her resolve, Janice was keenly aware she was dressed only in her robe and the dark figure of Melinda Pappas was looming dangerously close.

"You don’t understand-"

"I understand all too well Melinda. Do you think this is the first time I've ever been burned?" Janice bit out defiantly.

Melinda had the grace to look down and away as she shook her head.

"No, I don’t suppose it is." she took several steps into the room, closer to the stricken archaeologist. "But Janice, you have to appreciate that…I never meant to hurt you. I thought-"

"No you didn't think Melinda, you didn’t. I was the only one who was going to get hurt out of this, you must have know that. You can walk away, but what about me? I'm the one who…" But she couldn’t finish. She was glaring at the Southerner, all too aware of the effect the woman's closeness was having on her. She could feel her face flush as Mel stood defiant before her. She raked her gaze up and down the woman. She dragged in a harsh breath, it was much safer to focus on her eyes. Yet those eyes were such a vibrant shade of blue that she wanted to dive in and drown.

"You're the one who what?" Mel asked, moving closer still. Janice tried to back away, but was trapped by the sofa. Instead she set her jaw and hardened her resolve.

"I'm the one who loves you, can’t you see that?" Janice pleaded with spent emotion, "That's what you were toying with Melinda, I…I can’t forgive you for that. I'm not and could never be a part of who you are. We move in completely different circles, but just for a moment, a moment only, I thought I saw something else in you, something that would have just a little time for me. You took that away Melinda with your antics of this evening, and with it, you took my heart. That's the problem, that's why I can’t forgive you."

"Are you quite finished?" Mel snapped.

"Oh I'm finished alright, well and truly finished, finished with you and the whole goddamn lot of Southern society, whatever that is."

"I don’t think so."

Before Janice could protest, Mel had taken the final stride that separated them and had grabbed her about the shoulders, bringing Janice in to a crushing embrace, so swift that it was upon her in a moment. Mel searched the smaller woman's shocked green eyes for a second before catching her lips. Janice tried to move away, but Mel was too strong for her. Her fight was short lived however, as her body inadvertently sent forth a reflex response to the shattering demand of Mel's voracious kiss that she could not dispute. Her lips parted of their own volition as Mel ran her tongue over her lower lip. Janice whimpered in hopelessness as she felt the power that was Melinda reach deep inside her and tug remorselessly at her very being. Melinda's mouth was warm and tender against her own, yet so achingly potent that it was all she could do to stay upright as Mel's tongue passed her teeth in an exquisitely languid fashion in search of her own. Mel's hands were positioned so she could not escape, one gripping her behind the nape of her neck, forcing her head back, the other on her hip, pressing her to her. Janice sighed softly, wishing that she could despise this woman before her with every aspect of her being, yet knowing at the same time that she was impotent to quell the raging hunger she had for the Southerner. Then, because she could not seem to help herself, Janice raised her hands, clutching at the front of Melinda's dress, feeling the soft inviting globes of flesh beneath.

"Oh God!" Melinda gasped against her and pulled viciously away with a deranged pant. Janice fell against the arm of the sofa, chest heaving with pent up emotion.

"That's only part of what you could have had from me Janice Covington." Mel bit out, desperately trying to get her own breathing under control. She knew the effect she was having on the archaeologist and revelled in the knowledge. Yet it was her own body that was throbbing with a frantic kind of thirst that she had never felt before.

Janice could not respond, it was all she could do to shake her head as it sagged against her chest, senses spinning sharply within.

"Do you think I intentionally set out to humiliate you this evening? Do you think I am that callous? Don’t you think I know what those people are like? I was trying to throw it back in their cowardly, two-sided faces Janice, not to degrade you in any manner. You have to believe me on that, because if you don’t I don’t know whether I can." It was said with such vehemence that Janice had to look up and grace the Southerner with a look of utter dejection.

"How can I believe you Melinda?"

"I came here Janice, just you and me, no audience this time."

Janice laughed despite herself. "And that's supposed to mean something to me?"

"I should think so."

"Back to the thinking again, but what you think and know are often two very different things Melinda." Janice spat.

"I know I want you." Mel said, moving in once more, but Janice stopped her with a hand.

Every inch of Janice's body was telling her to drop the hand and let the Southerner in, but she had to know that it was real and not some fanciful farce on the part of Melinda Pappas.

"You don’t know what you want Melinda, you think you want me, but really you just want an experience, something risque and shocking with which you can run back to your society and brag." she sneered then and shook her head. "You're just like Sofie Trendall, although somehow worse, because she at least is scandalised by the whole affair."

Mel's eyes narrowed and her jaw set in a determined line. "Look at me, do I look like a person who wants to stun my peers by the mere fact that I can? Don’t I look like something else?"

"Oh you're something else alright." Janice let her eyes flit over Mel's dishevelled and agitated appearance, her flushed face and nervous hands. "And I'm damned if…if I know why I feel the way I do about you." she spat out in a fleeting sense of defeat.

Mel heard the faltering in Janice's voice and smiled, deep, compelling and completely licentious.

"And if you feel anything like I do, I know you believe me." she said, brushing Janice's hand aside to claim her lips once more with her own. This time all of Janice's defences were down and she melted into the embrace, snaking her hands in abandon around Melinda's waist. They kissed with an unconditional craving for each other that transcended all either had ever known. Then Melinda's hands were working at the tie of Janice's robe and before she knew it, she was down of the sofa, devoid of clothing. Mel reached hungrily for her breasts and worked the nipples adeptly to hard, throbbing peaks. Janice was gasping into Mel's mouth and squirming her hips at the gluttonous sensations that were pulsing through her tortured body.

"Jesus! Melinda!" was all Janice could attempt to whimper as Mel ran a fevered hand down her side and pulled her to her.

"Do you believe me?" Mel panted.

Janice shook her head, it was all she could do. Her mind was fighting in acute desperation against her body, but whatever she was thinking flew out the window when Mel moved her hand in a teasing line up Janice's thigh to cup her sex.

"Yes, yes I believe you." Janice cried as her body jerked in response against the Southerner. Then her own hands were working furiously to unclothe the woman before her, fighting in frustration against the material that so cruelly bound her goal. After what seemed like an eternity, she was touching flesh, soft, inviting and terribly tantalising. Both women moved together in their aroused quest for release. So intense was the emotion that flowed between them that they thought they would shatter under the strain of it. After sweet, long and devouring moments, release finally came with an explosion of vigour that left both women spent and on the verge of unconsciousness.

"I believe you." Janice repeated after she had regained some semblance of shaky control. "I believe you." She said it over again, more in a way to convince herself than the Southerner. "I believe you."

The End.

P.S. I can tell you now that my thesaurus got a thorough work out on this one, I don't think it will ever be the same again!

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