"Something about me you find interesting?"
"Wanna tell me what it is?"
"Then quit staring at me before I take your eyes out."
Not the most auspicious beginning to the friendship that Xena shared with Ephiny today. That first conversation had taken place when Xena and Gabrielle had first met the Amazons almost four years ago. Yet Xena remembered it like it was yesterday. Ephiny, Gabrielle and she had been through difficult and wonderful times together. And as Xena waited near the low stage for Ephiny to arrive for the joining ceremony, her memory slipped back to that one afternoon??..
The 'Hooves and Harlots' as the warlord Krykus was so fond of referring to the Centaurs and the Amazons, had defeated and captured him and his army. He would be put on trial for the murder of Terrais and crimes against both nations. There had been bridges built across the unease and the unknown of the two very different groups. In death, Terrais had brought about the understanding she had always thought was possible.
Gabrielle had accepted the right of caste passed onto her from the amazon princess. Even though she was young and naive, there was no disputing that she had the potential to honor the rite bestowed upon her. Queen Melosa would make sure that Gabrielle understood what was expected of her.
Xena was gathering their few possessions when Ephiny entered the hut that the warrior had been sharing with Gabrielle.
"Where's Gabrielle?" she asked.
"She's being instructed by Queen Melosa on some of the amazon ways she must know as an amazon princess." Ephiny replied. "They'll meet us later in the dining area." Ephiny continued to stand near the door, watching Xena.
"What is it now, Ephiny?" queried the warrior as she turned towards the amazon. They had formed an uneasy alliance to find the truth about Terrais's murder, Phantes's innocence and the warlord Krykus's real intentions. But the hostility and mistrust from when they had first met, still simmered just below the surface.
When Ephiny didn't answer, annoyance got the better of Xena.
"What bothers you so about me, Amazon?" she practically taunted Ephiny. "Is it the fact that I defeated your queen for the right to rule the Amazon Nation if I choose?" She took a step towards the unmoving amazon. "Or is it that I'm leaving and taking your amazon princess with me?" Another step brought her to within inches of reaching Ephiny.
Ephiny watched the warrior princess slowly approach her. She was raging inside. All the events of the past few days roiling near the surface of her control. She had lost one of her closest friends and amazon princess. She'd had to accept the fact that a mere slip of a girl was to one day inherit the right to rule the amazons. Her beloved queen had been taken to task by this arrogant, insolent, maddening, powerful, beautiful, sexy??.
Xena watched Ephiny's eyes turn from flashing rage to something deeper.
"Or is it this?" Xena purred as she stood directly in front of the amazon. Before Ephiny could answer or react, Xena grabbed Ephiny by the back of the head and kissed her fiercely.
At first, Ephiny was stunned. Then she brought her hands up to Xena's shoulders and tried to push her away. But Xena was too strong for her. She was struggling under the assault of Xena's lips, when the warrior abruptly released her.
The two women's eyes blazed at each other. Ephiny's fury was making her heart race and her breathing heavy. Before she could think of the consequences, she brought her right hand up with the intent of slapping Xena as hard as she could.
Xena grabbed Ephiny's wrist before her hand could make contact. The air nearly crackled with the intensity exchanging between them.
"Is that really what you want to do to me, Ephiny?" Xena's voice vibrated with sexuality. "Or might you want to do something far more pleasurable?"
Ephiny was about to explode with unreleased tension. She stared at the fire in the blue eyes of the warrior princess for the briefest moment. Then she reached up with her free hand and pulled Xena down to her lips. Kissing her with unbridled passion, Ephiny could feel her rage and frustration focus into lust for this incredible and infuriating woman. When Xena responded, the amazon lost the tight control she had on her senses.
Xena pulled Ephiny into a tight embrace as they kissed with fervor. Each woman battled for dominance, allowing their tongues to fight in each others mouths. They sucked and nipped at each other, without realizing they were reaching a point where control was nonexistent.
The warrior made the first venture towards the only possible conclusion for what they had started. Her hands left the amazon's strong back with it's smooth skin and began to stroke what she could reach of the soft leather covering Ephiny's breasts. She separated enough from the tight hold she had on Ephiny to find one nipple hard and erect, obviously needing to be touched. She didn't stop kissing Ephiny. But the kissing had become slightly less volatile, and more sensual. She could feel the hunger growing in her own loins, just as she imagined Ephiny could feel it in hers. She then dropped her hands to Ephiny's skirt. The warrior slid her hands down the amazon's thighs and up under her skirt. As Xena had suspected, Ephiny was hot and wet, definitely in need of what the warrior wanted to give her.
Ephiny could hardly think at all. She was running on pure passion. Her body had taken control and that body wanted to be devoured by the warrior still kissing her so vehemently. Her breast and nipple reacted to the warrior's touch seemingly of their own accord. Then Xena's hands grasped the breeches under Ephiny's skirt, pulled them off her hips, and let them drop between Ephiny's ankles. Ephiny could no more have stopped her, even if she had wanted to.
With her foot planted on the useless breeches, Xena suddenly picked Ephiny up and wrapped the amazon's legs around her waist. She carried the amazon over to the bed and slowly laid her back near the edge. Xena reached out for Ephiny's breasts and the nipples that were straining against the suede halter top. As she kneaded and fondled her breasts, Ephiny covered Xena's hands with her own, forcing stronger contact. When it was not enough, the amazon quickly untied the laces of her top revealing lovely and full breasts. The nipples had already contracted in anticipation of Xena's touch. Xena caressed the smooth skin and toyed with the sensitive nipples. Ephiny reached up and clasped onto the warrior's forearms. The warrior didn't ask if she could be intimate with the amazon. Ephiny's eyes burned with a need to be released, and Xena would take her there. They had gone too far to go back.
Xena brought her lips to Ephiny's breast. She alternated between sucking and stroking as the amazon arched forward to increase the delightful pressure. Still leaning over Ephiny, the warrior slipped her hand down the sleek torso, over and then under the leather skirt to the heated centered she had bared earlier. The amazon was hot, wet and so ready. Xena didn't wait to prepare her, but penetrated the inviting folds with her fingers.
Ephiny cried out as she felt the delicious invasion. Her hips surged towards the strong fingers that were stroking her inner walls with repeated thrusts. She opened her eyes, meeting the blazing challenge from the warrior. Xena was taking her pleasure, enjoying herself, daring Ephiny to surrender to her own lustful needs.
The compromised amazon had no choice. An intense orgasm was building within her. Xena was raising havoc in her body. The stroking increased in speed and depth, and Ephiny rushed towards a crushing climax.
Xena could feel the power of Ephiny's orgasm sweep through and overtake the amazon. She could feel it rush back at her as the writhing woman came. After the explosion was released, Xena slowed her thrusting to a subtle movement, but did not completely stop. She didn't think that the amazon had given her everything. But for now, she allowed her to rest.
Ephiny was stunned by the power of the orgasm she had just experienced. She was not a virgin to a woman's love by any means. But this intensity was new to her. She realized that part of the strength of feeling came from the frustrations, anger, and grief that had overwhelmed her. But the other part had come from this extraordinary woman, who knew how to use that power to possess her. It was after these thoughts had crossed her mind that she realized that Xena was still moving within her. She looked up at the warrior who was still standing between her legs smiling down at her. Predatory was the best way she could describe the smile.
"We're not finished, Amazon," purred the warrior in a slightly lecherous tone. And before Ephiny could protest, Xena knelt between her knees, forcing Ephiny's legs further apart to accommodate her. If Ephiny had thought she was sexually spent, her body was about to prove her wrong.
Xena separated the slippery folds that covered Ephiny's sex. She brought her mouth close to the heated skin and blew lightly. The cool air contrasted with Ephiny's hot nerve endings and she jumped at the sensation. When she did, Xena met her with an eager mouth. The warrior began kissing the clitoral shaft and stroking it with her tongue. Her fingers started to move again inside Ephiny.
Ephiny was climbing again. She didn't know how Xena could have figured out her body so quickly. Surely she was also an experienced lover. But the warrior's licking and stroking were urging her towards another climax. No one had ever taken her that far before. She would've had more thoughts, but Xena's tongue and fingers robbed her of any concentration save the focus between her legs. The sensations overtook her again and another orgasm erupted within her body.
The amazon had experienced yet a third orgasmic rush before the warrior allowed her to rest back on the bed, spent and sated. The fury in Ephiny had subsided and she felt calmer and more in control. Her body was both exhausted and charged from having sex with the gorgeous warrior. She looked up at Xena who was now sitting beside her on the bed.
"You were right?..slapping you is not what I want to do to you?.."
To Xena's slight smile, she asked, "So, Warrior Princess, do you give as good as you get?"
Xena cocked an eyebrow at that and said, "Why don't you tell me?"
Ephiny stood pulling the warrior up with her. She was topless and her skirt was loose and in disarray. She reached around Xena and loosened the ties to her leathers. Pealing them off her body, Ephiny was taken aback at how beautiful the Warrior Princess truly was. She pushed the thin straps holding up the shift Xena wore under her leathers down off her shoulders. The shift fell to the floor followed by the damp breeches. Ephiny removed Xena's boots and then her own. She then lay the compliant warrior back down onto the bed.
Xena let Ephiny administer to her body. She was no doubt aroused by the amazon. She felt the strong hands stroke and fondle her. The lips and tongue that followed the hands were knowledgeable and talented. Xena slowed and prolonged her responses until she couldn't wait any longer and climaxed with a quiet, restrained intensity.
Ephiny knew that Xena was in complete control of the sexual interactions between them. Somehow, she didn't mind being out maneuvered. Although she knew that Xena had enjoyed her touch, she was not surprised by the warrior's discipline. Afterward, she lay next to the seductress running her fingers lightly over her body.
"You never give it all away, do you, Xena?" she asked, with no offense in her tone.
"Did I disappoint you, Ephiny?"
"No! No?.not at all." Ephiny laughed at the mere thought of being disappointed with the delicious body she was still gently caressing. "It just seems to me that you wouldn't completely let go unless you were with someone you loved."
Ephiny turned and got up from the bed, looking about for her scattered clothes. "Speaking of which," she said glancing at the naked warrior who was now watching her with her hands laced behind her head. "I'd beware of Gabrielle, if I were you, Xena. She absolutely adores you, you know."
"Ephiny!" Xena protested as she watched the amazon dress, enjoying the movement of her body. "She's hardly more than a child."
"Well, she's a pretty determined 'child' to have talked you into taking her with you." Ephiny laughed. "And 'children' do have a tendency to grow up."
Xena had to laugh at the amazon's logic. "I'll keep an eye on her, I promise."
Half dressed, Ephiny reached over and pulled Xena into a sitting position. "Now get dressed or we'll be late meeting my queen and your 'child'. And I don't want to have to explain why."
After they were both dressed, Ephiny stopped Xena before she could reach the door and kissed her lightly. "Thank you."
This time Xena's smile was genuine. "The pleasure was mine, Amazon."
Gabrielle and Queen Melosa were already seated at a table when Ephiny and Xena arrived. Gabrielle's face instantly lit up when her eyes found Xena. Ephiny poked the warrior slyly in the ribs as if to prove her point. Gabrielle completely missed the subtle gesture, but Queen Melosa did not. Smiling to herself, the queen briefly pondered about what the future had in store for the young amazon princess who traveled the world with the exquisite warrior.
The next day, Xena said goodbye to the amazon queen. They had earned each other's respect. The queen and the warrior had an unspoken agreement concerning the new amazon princess. Gabrielle would keep her title while continuing to travel with the warrior. The queen believed Gabrielle would gain maturity and valuable experience at Xena's side. Attributes that would serve her well one day when she was asked to rule the Amazon Nation. In return, Xena would guide and protect Gabrielle with her life. A better bargain could not have been made.
Gabrielle joined Xena and Argo, followed closely by Ephiny and their newfound friend, Phantes. Ephiny had spent most of the morning with Gabrielle. She found that there was much more to the new princess than she had first thought. True, she was immature, inexperienced, na´ve and a touch gullible. But she had spirit, heart, determination and an innate decency about her that reminded her of Terrais. Even in her dying moments, Terrias had chosen her successor with her usual wisdom and clarity.
"I see now why you ride the horse," quipped Ephiny as Gabrielle had finally wound down after yet another story about their adventures. Xena smiled at Ephiny, glad that the pseudo tough facade that seemed to be part of the amazon's nature had returned. She would still grieve and face difficult times ahead. But Xena thought Ephiny strong enough to weather any storm. As she watched Ephiny present her mother's staff to Gabrielle, the warrior was genuinely touched. It was absolutely a gesture of affection for and confidence in the young amazon princess. It touched Gabrielle deeply and for that, Xena was grateful to Ephiny.
Xena snapped back from her memories with the arrival of Ephiny for the ceremony. She was dressed in a splendid tunic befitting the Regent of the Amazons. Gabrielle, who was at her side as her second, was equally as stunning in a more subtle queen attire. Waiting on the platform already was Kierra, the amazon with whom Ephiny would join, and Eponin, her second. She was thinking what a lucky woman Kierra was to be loved by Ephiny. And then she thought of Gabrielle, and remembered that she was also a very lucky woman. Gabrielle caught Xena's eye as she stood in front of the crowd. She smiled shyly as the warrior princess winked at her.
Ephiny too caught Xena's eye as she stood on the platform. So much had passed between them over the years. The Warrior Princess was unlike anyone she had ever known. She deeply loved the amazon she was bonding with today. And she knew that Gabrielle and Xena's love for each other surpassed anyone else she knew. But Xena was special beyond the mortals around her. She stood apart, cursed with a dangerous darkness and blessed with blinding integrity. And she had the greatest gift of all, love shared with another extraordinary woman, Gabrielle.
The priestess signaled for the ceremony to start. Xena focused on the present and the promising future. And not for the first time today, she craved to have Gabrielle in her arms, to hold her close and tell her how much she loved her. There were so many directions that the fates or the gods could have taken them. And she was appreciative of every day she shared with Gabrielle. Knowing that Ephiny and her love were entering that same state of happiness soothed her. She could wait for Gabrielle to fulfill her obligations as Ephiny's second. Then she would remind the amazon queen, just how much she loved her.