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: This is the third piece in the Mills & Boon 'bodice ripper' style. It is pretty much essential that you read the first two installments, "Rising" and "Falling" before you undertake the reading of this story, as events directly follow on in this one. Although this story may not be quite as, how shall I say, impassioned, I thought it best to try and get some sort of plot going!

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: Again I'd like to say thanks to all those people out there who took the time to read this style and get back to me with their comments. Also thanks to my stepmother, Christine, who put up with me ranting about various scenes and dashing in to write them down when I was really meant to be doing the gardening, at least that is why I took a week off work! I didn't travel over the mountains for nothing you know...four hours waiting for a bus at Lithgow, I'll do what I want! That means I have to say thanks to Hotel Lithgow for their power point...and beer! VB (aka Victoria Bitter), now has a new term...'Voracious Bard'. Not plugging the pub, but hey, the Publican gave me his card, I feel obliged... "The Lithgow", est. 1906, 130 Main Street, Lithgow 2790, Australia...another one bites the Xenaverse. I'm trying to get back to Sydney...honestly I am... Thanks also to Glen, Jack, Trevor and Whisky for keeping an eye on my computer, damn good blokes, never met them before, but hey, you get that, bar flies from hell, onya fellas.

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

A Curse on Both Your Houses

by Archaeobard

archaeobardJanice froze silently in her position on the soft leather couch, a terrible sensation creeping up her spine with chilly fingers. The room was dim with tension, and Janice could see the whites of Charles Trendall's eyes glowing luminously at the doorframe, a hint of arrogance in his lolling posture. The ruthless, black steel of the nine-millimeter Browning he held, contrasted sharply to the mirth in his gaze. It was not that Janice was unfamiliar with firearms, yet never had she been exposed to one in such a compromising position.

"What do you think you're doing?" Janice heard Mel whisper in a frightened voice to her right. The Southerner had managed to retrieve her ruined dress and was now clutching the torn fabric protectively to her breasts with white-knuckled fingers.

"I've come to settle the score Melinda." Charles drawled, his voice no longer drunken and stuporous. "You break my heart, and I'll shatter hers." he gestured absently with the Browning towards Janice's naked chest.

"I didn't think you had one." Janice sneered, seemingly unaffected by the threat from the Trendall son.

"Humour is not one of your attributes Covington." Charles spat, allowing his gaze to wander over the small woman's exposed flesh, focussing finally on her breasts. "Pity you wasted the others." he said with a patronisingly raised brow.

"You'll never know." Something liquid and dangerous entered Janice's voice and she heard Mel draw in a sharp breath beside her. Charles too, picked up on the change in tone and responded by pushing himself from the doorframe.

"I agree." he muttered, shrugging slightly, his dark eyes darkening to a malevolent and murderous glare. He smiled once in dejected humour, before pulling the trigger on the Browning.

Mel screamed in anticipated anguish as she saw Janice screw her eyes up tightly to shut the impact of the bullet that never followed. Slowly she opened them to see Charles Trendall staring in complete incomprehension at his unfired weapon.

"Next time," Janice warned, "make sure you chamber a round." she spat out quickly before launching herself from the couch in Charles' general direction.

Charles did not have time to react or cock his pistol before the half naked form of Janice Covington barreled into him about the waist, sending him careening through the open door way to slam unforgivingly against the opposite wall of the corridor. The Browning loosened from his grip to skitter and clatter noisily across the corridor, out of the reach of Charles' desperately scrabbling fingers.

"Bitch!" Charles yelled as he grabbed Janice viciously about the throat. "I could snap you like a twig." he continued in a guttural voice as Janice choked and gagged in his vice-like grasp.

"You wouldn't dare." Melinda's hard voice suddenly reached Janice through ringing ears. She flicked her eyes up to the Southerner, now devoid of the ruined dress, Charles Trendall's Browning firmly held in both hands.

"Ah, Melinda, nice of you to join us." Charles graced the tall woman with a maniacal stare. "Now, you wouldn't spoil the entertainment would you?" he asked, tightening slightly his grip around Janice's throat.

The archaeologist gasped once and struggled feebly against the stern grasp. Mel dropped her gaze for a second to take in the entirety of the scene.

"Back off Charles, let her go." Mel sneered, her voice had never sounded so unnatural.

"You don't have the nerve, just like your father." Charles bit back, daring the Southerner into the next move.

"Really?" she drawled, something dark and evil flickering in her azure eyes for the first time. She altered her stance slightly and pulled the trigger of the Browning, sending a bullet with explosive force into the floorboards directly beside Charles' head. Charles grunted at the impact so desperately close and felt several splinters of wood sink into the soft flesh of his neck and face. His steely grasp around Janice's neck loosened in his shock, and the archaeologist rolled free of the crazed Trendall son. She lay gasping for a moment on the floorboards, her hand clutching her tender throat, before pushing herself to her knees. Mel kept an eye on Charles and moved to help Janice stand with one hand, the other still aiming the Browning. As soon as Janice was upright, she stumbled with certain purpose over to Charles and sunk her booted foot with authority deep into his groin. He let out a sepulchral screech and clutched wildly between his legs.

"Bastard!" Janice spat vehemently, "I'll kill you!" She turned suddenly to Melinda and held out her hand. "Give me the gun Mel." she demanded with a voice so hard and stony that mountains would cower.

Mel was shaking her head. "You can't shoot him Janice."

"Why the hell not? You almost did." Janice reasoned with alacrity.

"I only wanted him to let you go." Mel countered, a hint of something decidedly strange entering her eyes.

"Scare him huh? I told you I was going to kill him the next time I saw him, and that time is now!" Janice made a play for the weapon in Mel's hand, yet the Southerner swerved out of the way.

"Janice, stop! He's not worth it, not to me, not to you, but you are. Stop, think!"

"Well, isn't this quaint, a lover's quarrel over me. Why don't you just get it over and done with Dr. Covington?" Charles derided condescendingly, pushing himself up casually on one elbow, daring the woman to make something of his vulnerable position, though he appeared relaxed, despite the tenseness of the situation.

"Don't tempt me Chuck." Janice bit out, a feral snarl crossing her features, yet she backed down with a silent appraisal of her own sanity.

"Go on Chuck, get out of here before Janice changes her mind." Mel almost whispered to the fallen Trendall, the pistol never wavering from its certain mark.

Charles fingered his neck lightly and dabbed at the blood trickling stickily down to his pristine white collar. He brought a hand around to look at the substance congealing quickly on his fingers. He rubbed his fore and middle fingers against his thumb, smearing the dark, reddish fluid between them. He cocked his head to one side and touched the tips of his fingers to his lips, tasting the harsh metallic flavour of the blood on their surface. He nodded his head briefly and looked at Melinda before standing shakily.

"So, the tables have turned." he mused ironically, running his blood stained fingers through his tussled hair almost impatiently before throwing his head back to laugh maniacally.

"Look at yourselves," he gestured with his hand, "do you have any idea how completely stupid you appear, strutting around half clothed and completely naked?"

He closed in a menacing step on Melinda, who had self consciously glanced down at her body. At that point he lunged, grabbing Mel by the wrist, and spinning her around so that he gun arm was twisted painfully to her side, Charles at her back.

"Drop it Melinda, before I break your wrist." Charles hissed venomously, exerting pressure on the suggested area.

"Janice?" Mel questioned, pain etched wearily on her features.

"Right here sweetheart." Janice answered lowly, unsure if she should attempt to free the Southerner or let the situation continue as was.

"I said drop it!" Charles spat again, a little louder. Mel could feel the words rumbling in his chest against her back as she fought to keep the weapon in her grasp. She could feel her hand slowly going numb, and then the pistol dropped unceremoniously to the polished floor. Charles laughed insensibly and pushed Melinda violently from him, where she slammed against the wall and slumped to the floor in a startled heap. Slowly he bent to retrieve the weapon and turned to face Janice, whose eyes were firmly planted on the fallen form of Melinda Pappas.

"So, now we are alone." Charles purred, scratching the side of his jaw with the barrel of his weapon in over confidence.

Janice's lip curled in a feral snarl, unwilling to believe that she was at a disadvantage in this little game.

"C'mon Charles, if you're going to shoot me, you may as well do it." Janice said, mimicking Charles’ earlier response to the situation in a paralysingly poisonous tone. She took a step towards the man, and holding out her arms in a surprisingly submissive gesture.

Charles licked his lips and cast a swift glance back to where Melinda was slowly dragging herself up from the floor. Something wicked darkened his eyes to an almost palpable hate as he realised the easiest way to press his advantage.

"Shoot you Covington," he sneered, momentarily distracted by Melinda's shifting frame, "now why would I do that?"

His words were cut off cleanly by the sharp retort of the Browning and the dull thud of Melinda's body as it fell back with defined certainty against he cold floorboards of the corridor.

Janice's world suddenly became a blanket of night, steeped in malice and fleshless rancour. The shot reverberated down the corridor and back again to her blind ears and sightless eyes. Blinking once, Janice saw bright blood staining flesh and was dimly aware that it was Melinda's. She realised that she should move, but her body was physically unable to carry out the instruction.

"Oh for God's sake Charles! I said to scare them, not to kill them!" It was Sofie Trendall. Making her way struttingly down the corridor to where the scene was unfolding with shocking clarity.

"I thought I told you to stay in the car." Charles bit back, casting a livid glance in his sister's direction.

"I heard shots Charles, I'm not going to stay out there while you have all the fun in here." Sofie walked over to Melinda's body and prodded it with the point of her shoe. A groan issued forth from the translator's lips and Sofie smiled coldly.

"Well, at least she's alive. I don't suffer fools gladly Charles, not even if one of them is my brother."

Janice heard one word, 'alive', and she felt her tepid blood begin to flow hotly once more through her constricted veins. She took a deep, consoling breath and forced herself to look away from Melinda and towards the two Trendalls, her eyes clouded with vicious intent.

"So, it's a family affair is it?" she asked, her voice sounding like flint on pyrite. The Trendalls cast a weary eye over her, yet it was Sofie who spoke first.

"Of course it is Jan darling, it always was. You don't think I'd let Charles here take all the glory. He gets the girl and I get the security. God knows, Daddy may have built an empire, but he didn't know how to manage it." Sofie drawled, her voice dripping like sickly sweet syrup over Janice.

"Nobody 'gets' Melinda, and I've told you before, keep your insipid terms of endearment to yourself Sofie."

Sofie let out a peal of laughter, her blonde ringlets bobbing at the side of her face in mirth.

"Jan, Jan, Jan,' Sofie mused, shaking her head slowly from side to side, "I really don't think you are...how shall I say?" She glanced briefly at Janice's naked torso and smiled crookedly. "In any position to, ah, call the shots." she finished, her smile ending in a cuttingly cold sneer.

Charles flicked an amused gaze to his sister. "Very well said my dear."

Janice graced him with a depreciative and disparaging glare. "Just tell me what you want." she spat malignantly, a hint of morbidity entering her tone.

"Why Jan, we want you to stand down darling, let Charles move in, I mean, you're not exactly an apt candidate for the affections of Melinda Pappas now, are you?" Sofie crooned, her dulcet tones whispering sonorous deception.

"Jesus Christ, you don't know anything, do you?" Janice fought hard to keep the spiteful scorn from her hard voice, but it was like fighting a losing battle.

"Know? What's there to know?" Sofie retorted, pernicious fire glinting in her barbarous eyes.

"The fact that we...love each other." It was Melinda's voice, weak with pain, drifting towards them from her crumpled position on the floor.

"Ah, so you're with us again I see." Charles broke in, fingering his weapon in remembered belligerence.

Janice started in relief once Melinda had spoken. It was as if an entire mountain had been lifted effortlessly from her slightly slumped shoulders.

"I'm with you Charles, but I'll never be with you." the voice continued.

Charles threw his head back and laughed, long and hard, an undertone of insanity crackling harshly in his throat.

"Oh, you'll play Melinda, you have no choice. Look at you, look what you have become, a groveling whore. Don't you want to rise from that position with me?"Melinda drew her legs towards her with an effort, almost with a quiet air of embarrassment.

"I can think of no position I'd wish to rise to with you Chuck." she spat, pain etched on her stubborn features. "I'd rather be dead."

"Oh, that can be arranged."

"Don’t!" Janice broke in impassionedly, "You don’t want to be a murderer."

"Listen to her Charles, it may be the first sensible thing she has ever said." Sofie warned.

"That does it!" The black hate once again encroached on Janice’s vision as she glared green fury at Sofie Trendall. She launched a wicked right hook at the Trendall daughter’s jaw and Sofie went down like a tonne of bricks, hitting the floorboards with a hollow thud.

"And now for you!" Janice turned her malevolent gaze on Charles, who was staring, in astounded awe at his sister's collapsed body. "Aren't you forgetting something?" Charles managed after a moment, brandishing his pistol.

"I don't give a shit." Janice swore, stalking towards her next victim with omnipresent wrath.

"You should." Charles intoned as he brought the pistol to bear.

Janice grinned out of one side of her face.

"Fuck you!" she spat before kicking the weapon from his grasp, where it fell once again with a clatter to the floor. In one fluid motion she slammed her fist into his exposed stomach and then delivered a striking uppercut to his jaw. He staggered back a few paces down the hall, hand raised in discomfort to his damaged head. Janice stormed after him like a whirlwind, slamming another right and then a left against the side of his face. With a final explosive right, she heard the sickening crunch of bone as his nose splintered and blood gushed unforgivingly over his upper lip and down his white shirt front, there it mingled absently with the wine stain of earlier that evening. Charles looked down a moment in horror, pain as yet unregistered, before keeling over to join his sister on the floor.

Janice stood over him, bare chest heaving more with spent emotion rather than fatigue. She made sure he was down for the count before focussing her undivided attention on Melinda.

"Why the hell didn't you do that before?" Mel asked in an accusing voice as Janice sank to the floor beside her. Mel’s amazement at the archaeologist's exploits was temporarily over riding her current suffering."Don't know." Janice gasped, dimly aware that Mel had uncharacteristically cursed. She tried to clear the blood from Mel with her bare hands. "Jesus, look at this." She groaned, wiping her blood stained hands against her pants.

"Janice..." no response, "Janice! It's nothing." Mel insisted, reaching up a hand to touch the archaeologist comfortingly on the shoulder.

"Goddamn it Melinda, it's not nothing! The bastard shot you!" Janice snapped back, worry causing her voice to become steely in its intent.

"Do you think I don't know that? It's just my arm." Mel's tired eyes flicked across Janice's concerned features and her voice softened. "C'mon, help me up, we can't stay here."

"Yeah." Janice seemed to come back to herself with a start, she raised a hand to brush delicately at the loose hair snared across Melinda's face. Slowly she stood and bent to support Melinda around the waist. With a palpable strength, she dragged the Southerner to her feet and let her rest a moment against the wall.

"Can you walk?" she asked, the worried tone re-entering her voice.

"Of course I can walk, just...don't let me go." Mel countered uncertainly.

"Don't worry sweetheart, I'm not letting you go anywhere unless it's with me." Janice tried to sound nonchalant and received a half smile from Mel, though somehow the Southerner's lips refused the command for a full smile.

"What about them?" Mel finally asked, casting a quick glance at the Trendalls, sprawled in varying positions in the hall.

"Leave them to rot, we don't owe them any favours." Janice spat harshly, her loathing of these two individuals sparkling clear in her expression.

"Whatever you say Janie, just take me home."

Janice frowned, "That's not a term of endearment is it?" she tried to smile.

Mel snorted in disbelief, "I guess it is, just don't hit me."

"Oh, you'll get yours."

"I'm sure I will." Mel muttered, aware of her nakedness and the slippery sensation of the blood smeared about her body by Janice's strong hands. Janice rolled her eyes, pleased that the Southerner seemed to still have some of her old self.

"Do you think of nothing else?" she queried.

"Not with you. C'mon, your car." Mel said, pushing herself unsteadily from the wall to take a few cautious steps down the corridor, using Janice as a supportive crutch.


The trip to Melinda's spacious mansion was nothing if not interesting. One naked woman and a half-clothed archaeologist made for quite a site as they drove through the main thoroughfare of Charlestown. Janice was glad it was close to midnight as they suffered only a few curious glances from the local vagrants.

"We've got to get you cleaned up." Janice said as they struggled through the front door of the Pappas mansion.

"You're telling me, I smell like a slaughtered hog." The Southerner countered mirthlessly.

"Good to have you back Mel." Janice grinned at the image entering her head, then she realised how truthful it could have been. The smile dropped blatantly from her lips as if it had burned her.

"Bathroom." was all Mel said as they entered the foyer."You got it."

The downstairs bathroom was plush to say the least, stylishly decorated and housing the most glorious bath Janice had ever laid eyes on, so glorious, that is could almost be described as a small pool.

"You don't do things by halves, do you?" Janice asked as they entered the room.

"I like my comforts."

"Obviously." she said as she set Mel down on the side of the tub. She moved across to run the water. Mel followed the smaller woman with her gaze, marveling at the strength and confidence that seemed to literally ooze from every pore and fibre of her being. She watched Janice go to the bathroom cabinet and search for the necessary items for tending her wound.

"How do you do it?" Mel asked across the room.

"Do what?" Janice half-turned to see the Southerner staring with almost haunted eyes at her intently.

"Manage to draw me in a make me feel safe without ever seeming to try." Mel dropped her eyes and stared at the deep blue tiles of the floor which reflected her own blue with depth and clarity.

Janice stared sluggishly at the cloths she held in her hands. She made this woman feel safe? Ever since they had been together, their lives had been nothing but a cacophony of catastrophic events, and she felt safe, even with a bullet wound? Janice shook her head slightly, this was something she completely failed to understand.

"How can you say that?" she queried, moving back towards the Southerner to sit by her while she worked on her arm.

"Because I mean it Janie, you keep my soul safe, nobody's ever done that before." Mel searched the smaller woman's face for some form of comprehension.

Janice glanced up from her work and felt a pang of ardour rise in her throat with celerity as she saw the true meaning of Melinda's words reflected in her eyes. She swallowed quickly lest the tears she felt prick at her eyes overcome her. She'd done enough crying in front of this woman to last a life time. She nodded ever so slightly, afraid her emotions would betray her and took a deep breath.

"You're right of course, it's nothing, just a flesh wound." Janice murmured softly, wiping the last of the blood clean from Mel's arm.

Melinda had to smile at the self-depreciating tone of the words, typical Janice. "Thankyou." she spoke softly, letting the love she felt for this woman exude in the simple statement of fact.

"You're welcome." Janice managed before Melinda inclined her body to arrest Janice's lips in a soulful embrace. Janice searched that kiss with hapless design, clinging to the passage of emotion and revelling in the meeting of flesh on flesh. Never had she experienced such a conflagration of caritas and desire leeching through from that entwining. Slowly Melinda pulled away, letting her lungs take the precious air they needed so desperately. She breathed heavily, taking in the spicy scent of her own arousal. She closed her eyes briefly to centre her thoughts before opening them to settle on the steamily rising water in the bath.

"Care to join me?" she asked Janice with a lasciviously sly smile.

"You're unbelievable." Janice groaned with a delightful sense of anticipation, yet she wasted no time in removing the remainder of her soiled clothing, feeling suddenly constricted, to leave them in a crumpled heap by the bath.

Mel sank languorously beneath the warm water, the misty vapours swirling cloyingly about her flesh. She exhaled a drawn out breath as she eased herself downwards, letting the soothing water take her. She sat with her back positioned against one wall of the bath, the steamy water, lapping enticingly at the tops of her breasts. She relaxed for a moment, letting her body adjust to the sensuous change in temperature, her head back, resting on the side of the bath.

"Well?" she asked finally when she realised Janice had not yet joined her. She opened one eye to see the archaeologist staring mutely at her. Janice's mind had been trapped unwittingly by the seductive sincerity in Mel's movements. The woman seemed oblivious of the effect she was having on Janice, which somehow increased Janice's acute awareness of her.

"Yeah," she muttered before easing herself stealthily beneath the waters, letting the fluid claim her body like a lover, "and you wonder how I do it." she finished, settling herself between the Southerner's legs, and allowing her smaller frame to nestle lightly against Melinda's torso.

Mel raised one hand out of the water to brush Janice's hair away from her neck. She leaned forward to place a feather light kiss against the woman's shoulder before snaking her arms lovingly about her waist beneath the waters. She felt Janice shudder slightly against her and smiled that her simple gesture had caused such a response. Mel sighed and rested her cheek against the just kissed flesh.

"Mel?" Janice asked softly, her body aching with love for the woman who held her so tenderly.

"Hmm?" Mel replied absently, loosing herself in the comfort of her lover's body, lightly running her hand over the firm abdominals.

Janice took a deep breath before she spoke, "I'm only admitting this because if I didn't, I'd most likely go insane." Janice fought with her own words. The hand suddenly stopped its sultry movement against her skin.

Mel frowned at the statement and pulled her head up slowly, she half turned Janice by the shoulders so she could see into the green depths of the woman's eyes.

"What is it?" she asked, dreading something awful and incurable.

Janice took in the Southerner's worried expression and tried a reassuring smile, but it somehow never made it.

"You scared me back there...I thought..." her words faltered and she shook her head and turned away from Mel's grasp so she would not suffer the intense gaze of blue bearing down on her with complete trust and certitude.

"It's alright, I never meant to scare you Janie, I'm fine." Mel tried to soothe the woman, drawing her closer to her own body as if trying to reassure her with its physical strength and power.

"I know...just don't do anything like that again okay?" Janice had her back to the Southerner, and she was glad of the fact, since Mel could not see the tears running silently with abandon down her rueful cheeks.

Mel smiled and tenderly kissed the nape of the archaeologist's neck.

"I'll try." Her words sent a warm rush of breath over Janice's skin and she shuddered again against its authority.

"What are we going to do?" Janice replied, trying to keep the shakiness out of her voice with little success.

"I'm not sure."

Janice nodded slightly and took a deep breath. "Just hold me." she said it so lightly that Mel almost didn't hear.


Sofie Trendall had had enough of incompetents. She carefully examined the dark bruise that had formed along her jaw line as a result of the Covington woman's vicious exploits. How was she going to get to her? Obviously physical violence was not the answer. She snorted sharply in mirthless amusement at the state of her brother's ruined face, a bandage strapped firmly across his shattered nose.

"You really are an idiot!" she fumed, turning from the full length mirror as her brother strolled casually into the room.

Charles gave her a balefully loathsome look from his blackened eyes.

"If you had stayed in the car as I told you, none of this would have occurred." he spat out venomously.

Sofie giggled, "Now that is something I find very hard to believe. Do you want this family to go under?" she pressed.

Charles snorted, "You mean do I want you to go under? I don't think you want me to answer that question at the moment Sofie dear." his voice was cold and seethingly decrepit in its malice.

Sofie ignored the implied insult and walked in a small circle around her brother, trailing a hand delicately over his shoulders.

"I thought you had it all sorted out, under control. I thought you had her." Sofie was quick to turn the tables.

"It was that Covington woman, she's the one who has her, not me. I think she's always had her." Charles' tone was almost defeatist in its pitch.

"Don't you give me that, she's a woman for Christ's sake, do you really think you can't take her...by force if necessary?" Sofie asked, a wicked intent in her voice.

"We tried force Sofie dear, and look at us." He gestured wide with his hands, indicating both their injuries.

"Well then," the Trendall daughter mused, "if we can't get to them one way...we'll just have to try another. The Covington woman's father was known as a grave robber, and well, that Pappas man always was a bit of a lecherous fool, wasn't he?" she glanced sideways at Charles, a dark and vile knowledge glinting in her blue eyes.

"You're not serious." It was a statement, for despite his desire to have Melinda Pappas for himself, he realised the futility of the situation. Dragging the Covington and Pappas names, especially the Pappas name into disrepute, would not serve their cause in the long run. Yet his sister seemed driven by something greater than which he had anticipated her capable.

"Oh, on the contrary, I'm completely serious." The words were said in such a quiet malicious manner that they sent a palpable chill running rigidly down Charles' spine in a silent, pivotal shudder.


"Something still troubles me." Janice said the next morning as she lounged behind her office desk, cigarillo firmly planted between her lips.

"That being?" Mel countered. Once again she was sitting in the chair opposite Janice's desk. They had recovered sufficiently form the previous evening's exploits. If anything, the events had brought them closer together rather than torn them apart as Charles Trendall had hoped.

"How in the hell did you know how to fire that pistol?" Janice asked, puffing away at her small cigar.

Mel smiled ruthlessly, watching some of the smoke from Janice's cigarillo curl its way upward to the ceiling before she graced the archaeologist with a sparkling gaze.

"Now Janie, I haven't spent years in your presence without learning a thing or two." she said in a slightly husky voice.

Janice shrugged, more in surprise than dismissal. "Well then, I'm glad you're so observant."

"So am I Janie." Mel mused.

Janice smiled at Mel's version of her name, it was a term Mel had been using since the Trendall incident of last night. To tell the truth, Janice didn't actually mind the term. Reflecting on it now, she reasoned that Melinda was the only person she voluntarily allowed to use any other name for her apart from Janice. She generally considered pet names to be useless configurations and often condescending, but in Melinda's case, the shortening of her name seemed to exude a completely personal effect that wrapped Janice in its protective arms."I like it, the way you say my name." Janice said softly, almost shyly. It was more of a confession rather than a compliment, a letting go of restraints that had been too firmly maintained.

"You have no idea how much I like saying it, and how much it means to me." the inflection of the Southerner's voice dropped slightly in its intent.

Janice's breath caught in her throat. "Don't say things like that, not here, not any more." Janice was all too aware of the intense power the Southerner possessed over her, and the possible implications of surrendering to it.

Mel looked her resolutely in the eye. "I'll say what I want."

Janice smiled at the defiance in the Southerner's voice. "You're full of surprises, aren't you?"

"I am." Mel said, her blue eyes still firmly focussed intently on Janice's green.

"Mel, don't." a hint of pleading entered Janice's voice as she was gripped both by the startling arousal that the Southerner's words instilled and the mild sense of panic that echoed in its wake.

"Don't what?" Mel asked, rising stealthily from her chair with an animal-like grace.

Janice grinned feebly and shifted back in her chair in an attempt to place more space between her and the rapidly approaching Southerner.

"Melinda." Janice warned lowly, licking her lips, her gaze flicking from Mel's eyes to her hands.

Mel raised a condescending eyebrow and smirked at Janice's verbal attempts to halt her.

"Don't think you'll stop me that easily Dr. Covington." Mel husked, stalking her prey with the utmost certainty of reward.

Janice shifted back still further in her chair as the Southerner rounded the side of the table to swivel Janice's chair so it was facing her. She plucked the cigarillo delicately from the woman's lips, took a mouthful of the acrid smoke before placing the small cigar in the ashtray on Janice's desk. She placed her hands on each of the chair arms and leaned forward, effectively trapping the archaeologist in front of her. She exhaled the cigarillo smoke in a plume over Janice's head and watched the smoke billow around her lover, surrounding her in an aromatic mist.

"I've got you now." she breathed, her face now only inches from Janice.

Janice swallowed hard, feeling the lump that had formed in her throat sink slowly to the depths of her flighty stomach. She tried a nervous smile, yet it faltered. Mel's breath played teasingly across the side of Janice's face and the customary tingling sensation it left in its course fluttered lightly across her skin.

"What are you going to do?" Janice asked, her breath coming in short gasps as the Southerner hovered with anticipation over her.

"I haven't decided." Mel sighed, letting her hooded eyes scan Janice's slightly confused expression.

Janice shook her head slightly. "Mel no, you know what hap-" yet she failed to finish her sentence as the Southerner's lips came crushing down on her own. Mel pushed Janice into the back of the chair and shifted her own position so one of her knees was resting on the seat between Janice's legs. Janice made a muffled attempt at protest, but her groans of objection were soon replaced by those of the rampant lust flowing through her impassioned veins.

Mel pulled back from the archaeologist, chest heaving and a grin plastered on her slightly flushed face.

"I think I could get used to this Dr. Covington." she panted, pressing herself enticingly down against the woman in the chair. One hand still supported part of her weight, while the other reached recklessly for the buttons on Janice's white shirt. Janice grabbed at the Southerner's wrist and sent her a look of warning. Mel simply raised a brow and cocked her head to one side until Janice released her hand. Although desperately wanting to tear the annoyingly cloying cloth from Janice's torso, she restrained herself, limiting her exploration to the undoing of a button.

Janice squirmed against the back of the chair with increased desire as she felt Mel slip her warm hand beneath the fabric of her shirt to caress Janice's sensitive flesh with the palm of her hand. Mel moved with her, pressing her body more firmly against the archaeologist. Once more she bent to devour the smaller woman's lips with her own voracious mouth, searching and finding the reciprocal desire she sought from the woman.

"Hrmph." It was the unmistakable sound of a clearing throat.

Mel froze with her lips still imprisoning Janice's before bolting backwards from the woman, almost crashing into Janice's desk in her haste. Janice flicked her gaze upwards, half expecting Charles Trendall to be standing there as she swiftly reassembled her disarrayed shirt. Yet, her countenance altered markedly when she spied the tall form of Sir Henry stooping his way through the doorframe.

"Jesus Christ!" Janice panted, her face flushed from both desire and embarrassment at having been found in such a position.

Mel turned to watch the approaching figure and tried to get her breathing under control as the man headed in both their directions.

"Melinda, Janice." he greeted gravely, a curious mixture of amusement and amazement resting on his features.

"Sir Henry..." Mel countered, offering a perplexing smile, the emotion of her encounter with Janice still hot in her veins.

"I don't mean to ah...intrude, but I heard of the situation last night." Sir Henry continued sombrely.

Janice sank back with relief into her large chair, its leather seeming to enclose her.

"Who told you?" she asked, a note of hesitancy in her voice.

Sir Henry smiled almost in an abashed manner. "The library and the corridor are a complete shambles, it wasn't hard to establish that the Trendalls were involved." he said simply, taking the chair that Melinda offered him. Mel moved to half sit on Janice's desk.

"Charles left his pistol." Sir Henry concluded, reaching out to place the weapon on Janice's desk.

Janice stared belligerently at the offending item, realising that she had forgotten to pick the weapon up in her haste to leave the museum with Melinda last night. She met Sir Henry's eyes with starling animosity.

"Yeah, he shot Mel." Janice spat, the words a condemnation.

Sir Henry turned a disbelieving gaze on the Southerner, lost for words.

Mel shrugged, "It's nothing Sir Henry, just a scratch.," she said, shaking her head in an effort to dismiss the attention.

"That's not the point." Sir Henry continued.

"That's what I said." Janice broke in, only to receive a stubborn glare from the Southerner.

Sir Henry looked wearily between the two women.

"This can't go on."

"You're telling us." Janice responded, malevolence oozing from her livid tongue.

"Do you think they'll try anything else?" Sir Henry asked.

"I would expect so, you can't think that they will go quietly into the night never to raise their snaky heads again." Mel intoned gravely.

"Damn bastards, you'd think they'd just give in" Janice picked up her half-smoked cigarillo and placing it between her lips whilst looking alternately across the table at her lover and Sir Henry.

Mel was shaking her head. "They want something Janie. They want safety, and they think they can get it through me. At least that's the basic agenda, Charles on the other hand...well, he'll have me one way or the other."

"If he touches you again..." Janice stood abruptly behind her desk, fists clenched and resting on the battered surface. She glared at the Southerner as if she were the cause of the malice she felt welling sternly within.

"You have to report them." Sir Henry interceded, hoping to calm the archaeologist down.

"No way." Janice stormed, glancing quickly at Mel for confirmation before she spoke. "Academics are one thing, but South Carolinian society is something completely different, we'll be ostracised... without the ostraka." she said sardonically, sinking back into her chair, some of the bluster gone from her features. She shoved the cigarillo between her teeth and lit it with a conflagrant flame.

"The publicity would be too great." Mel picked up on Janice's line of thought immediately. She could see the headline now, 'HAS LESBOS MOVED TO CHARLESTOWN? VIOLENCE IN OUR MIDST'. It would not make for a pretty sight.

"Then you'll just have to leave." Sir Henry said, the cogs of his brain ticking over in tune to the women's thoughts.

Janice smiled ruefully, "And where exactly would we go where it would not look like we were running away?" she asked.

Sir Henry scratched absently at one of his sideburns, he looked down at the carpeted floor briefly before taking a deep breath and confronting the women with a firm stare.



The End.

Follow our dynamic duo to Amphipolis in the next installment of the 'bodice ripper' style!

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