~ In the Air ~
by sorcera

Disclaimers: Xena and company do not belong to me. They belong to MCA/Universal.

This is a work of fan fiction and no infringement is intended.

Subtext: and plenty of it.

Sex: yeah, fortunately. But only a little.

Alcohol/drugs: cuppla ciggies, cuppla vodka's, dat's all.

Violence: maybe, if you throw the computer at your wall, in the story, no.

Spoilers: none whatsoever.

p.s. I've tried to make it as uncorny as poss. But didn't get very far? sowwy.

p.p.s. I'm an Aussie, so the spelling might be a little wacky if you're not, but it's no biggie.


"What do you mean, 'go home'?" Belle was teetering on furious 'Its lunchtime for gods sake'. Her boss, Mike, had had enough, "I don't give a flying fuck what time it is Annabelle. Now get your bag, take these notes and get the hell out!" thrusting a novel of notes into her hands. Belle was, in mild terms, speechless, and even more speechless because she was speechless. Her eyes were as wide as plates, and she could just make a sort of half coughing, half gasping noise. Mike was just making a face as if to say 'Go on?. I dare ya!'. The face sobered Belle up, she took a deep breath, closed her eyes and when she opened them she gave Mike a cringing smile, turned abruptly on her heels and marched to the elevator, the wait for the lift to come up to the 26th floor, somewhat extinguished the fiery exit, but none the less, she kept her head held high.

As soon as the doors had slid shut her papers dropped, not to mention her head.

Sifting through the notes on the elevator floor was the perfect simile for what was going on inside Annabelle's head; Note 1- Children and economics/ I hope I don't lose any pay for this, Note 2 - Trademark influences for children under 15/ Oh shit I got ink on my Levi's. Note 3- "Give children a voice"/ Why didn't Brad speak up for me? Note 4- Children have opinions/ He didn't give me a chance to explain, Note 5- 1999 survey on children under 16 on popular contemporary fiction and fantasy books/ Crap, I think I left the stove on? Well almost a perfect simile.

DING. That was the elevator, telling Annabelle that her time was up. "Getting advice on life from elevators now are we Annabelle" she whispered to herself, with a semi-comical expression on her face.

Walking through the lobby of the Elizabeth St high-rise, it occurred to Annabelle, that in all her years of children's book editing, after all the stories she'd proof read, this moment, was her most childlike. That definitive moment when you're in a waiting room of a child psychologist, with a parent on either side of you. A curious combination of anger and pity emanating from their grey Armani business suits, suits that have never seen a day of pity in their lives.

'What to do, what to do?' Annabelle asked herself on the way to the car. She knew she didn't want to go home. 'Do I feel like a beer?' she inquired. 'Its only 1 o'clock? hmmm?yep!' Annabelle made it to her car intact, and with most of the notes (one or two pages had blown away) which was a bonus. She plonked them down on the top of the very economically sound red sedan she owned and pulled a cigarette case from her jeans. Annabelle refused to smoke a cigarette, unless she had rolled it first; 'there's no reward factor' she'd say if anyone was to ask her why. Which was partly true. There were many reasons she smoked rollies, one being the economic factor, 75 cigarettes out of one packet, two was they smoked longer, up to ten minutes, three was they taste better. There are more but what else does it matter if they taste better? Of course it was a good 6 months of smoking them before they did taste better, but perseverance is everything to Annabelle.

Placing the cigarette in her mouth she fished around in her hugging jeans for a lighter, her magical lighter, a friend had given it to her before she moved to France when she was 18 years old. That was 6 years ago, and the lighter was still lighting cigarettes. She would occasionally tell people this and then regret it, realising that no-one can ever tell an interesting story about themselves and expect people to appreciate it as though it were their own. There is nothing like a cigarette at lunchtime.

When she had finished her cigarette, Annabelle opened her car and chucked the notes and bag on the seat next to her and started finding her way out of the maze that was the 'Harbourside Leveled Parking Complex'. After finding the boom gate she handed her work pass into the man at the booth, and marveled at how happy this man was in his little boom gate kingdom. Annabelle felt insidious with her great big smile directed at the man, inside she was contemplating the idea of cracking the boom gate off and ramming it up his arse. She couldn't understand how he could work his crappy little boom gate in his crappy little booth, with crappy pay and still have a crappy happy smile on his wife of 14 years, two and a half child, working class face.

'I'm in a job I've always wanted, living on my own, and not even a quarter of the way through my life' she lent over and touched her wooden dash board, 'and still I'm unhappy?. Bugger that, I feel like shit.' She pondered her morose life for several minutes at the next red light. As if the green light was speaking to her mind as well as her pedal foot, she simplified her life to a short sentence: 'If I'm not happy, how can I possibly be doing what I want?'. It was too large a question to be considering on this glorious and unexpected day off?. Well, windy and cloudy, and her job is on the brink of 'x-hood', but Shannon's authentic (ha!) Irish brew will take care of that uneasiness, toot sweet.

Walking into the bar was a breath of the obviously proverbial fresh air. Stale cigarette smoke, stale beer, and if there is such an odour as stale vomit, they all met here, brought on the winds of commerce from the 4 corners of the Earth.

She made it to the bar in the back and ordered a beer, then changed her mind and got a glass of red wine instead. The barkeep regarded her with a friendly smile and a worried glance; "You weren't fired were you Belle?" Annabelle looked up and over her glass of wine answered with "I might as well've been AJ". And with that she put down her glass of wine and reached behind her to put her long blonde hair in a ponytail.

Annabelle was content with being neither beautiful nor ugly, most, she assumed, would call her 'pretty'. And like most people, she didn't think she was unattractive, she just didn't see how anyone else would see her as attractive.

"I think I would do better not to ask you what you meant" AJ said. "You are a very intelligent man AJ, and don't let me tell you otherwise, when I've had a few!" Annabelle smiled; it didn't seem as hard as she thought it would be. AJ nodded and moved away to clean some glasses.

Annabelle reached into her jeans for one of those 'self rolled' cigarettes. After lighting it she had a look on her face as though she had discovered the first inhalable orgasm, pure bliss. She took a long sip of her house red. There's nothing like a cigarette with a glass of wine. A thought briefly entered her head, one that considered the possibility of her being set up, to take the fall at work. Before she could actually examine the thought, another popped in her head; this one had an 'unthinking' written all over it? Alcohol.

She opted, surprisingly enough, for the latter.

"Oi AJ!'"

"What'll it be?" AJ said with his best impersonation of a smile.

Thinking briefly Annabelle said "Can you even imagine how many times that phrase has been used?" AJ shook his head. Seeing his look of unrestrained boredom she continued "Seriously AJ, in how many languages? In how many countries?" AJ shrugged. "They were wrong AJ,? alcohol is the only universal language." "Ah, there you are right, Belle"

"I think I'll have a scotch on the rocks thanks AJ" Annabelle spoke as though she was firmly resolved in the matter. "Harder and harder hey, Miss Annabelle?" "You better believe it AJ, but this is as far as I go, as far as my dollar will take me anyway."

"I always thought you hated this stuff?" AJ asked as he poured a shot into a glass filled to the brim with ice. "I do hate it AJ, I just can't think of a quicker way to get ratshit pissed!"

AJ looked grim; "you're not going to give me any worldly bartender advice are you?"

"Just a little, its in the job description" AJ chuckled, "bring it on" Annabelle said reflecting the chuckle. "A glass of scotch wont cure your problem?" AJ put a glass of Scotch and a glass of a clear, water like liquid in front of her, "A glass of Vodka, now that is fool proof." Annabelle smiled in appreciation and tilted her head back to rid the glass of that pesky scotch "and I think we just got an opening for some Vodka, how convenient." Another smile and AJ reached for the glass "here you go Miss Annabelle and don't worry, I don't plan on giving you any life advice? who the hell am I to do that?" "You are very wise AJ" Annabelle said as she lit another cigarette.

It was 4 o'clock by the time Annabelle left Shannon's, she didn't want to hang around for the after work group to crash her mono-party. She thought about driving home then scolded herself, and hailed a taxi. She wasn't completely 'ratshit' and knew AJ was to blame. She was at that point of drunkenness when you aren't sick but you can talk yourself into being sick. Instead, Annabelle decided to think happier thoughts, and she realised, as though someone threw a frog at her that it was her birthday on Sunday and she would be 25 years old? jeez that sounded old. 25, its kind of a nothing birthday really, past 21, not nearly 40 so not starting or finishing anything, not in the middle of anything. The only thing she could think of, in her drunken stupor was that it was a birthday when someone was surely going to buy her a cat.

Out of no-where, except maybe the deepest recesses of her less then fully functional brain (probably the right side) she started singing softly at first;

"In the jungle the mighty jungle the lion sleeps tonight, in the jungle the mighty jungle the lion sleeps tonight" and to Annabelle's delight, and to some extent relief the cab driver joined in; "A weem-a-way a weem-a-way?" Annabelle started laughing, then continued; "In the village, the peaceful village, the lion sleeps tonight" then together; "in the village the quiet village the lion sleeps tonight". They were going at it now, the volume button had been twisted too far and broken off, but no one seemed to mind.

The karaoke session for the duet ended when the taxi pulled into the driveway outside Annabelle's apartment block. Annabelle desperately wanted to circle the block, but knew she shouldn't push her luck. She paid her fare and tipped the driver well, he smiled his thanks and drove off. Annabelle felt a sense of loss at his leaving, knowing that what took place in that taxi tonight, that feeling, whatever it was, would never happen again.

She walked up the steps and could feel the smoggy sunset filtering over her like an oil slick. Once at the top of the flight she stopped, turned around, clenched her face, and swore. Every single naughty word ever created, ebbed and flowed over Annabelle's sweet perky lips. "I cant fucking believe I left my bag in my car." The sentence was said suspiciously calmly, like it was the eye of the storm, and there was worse to come. However, the weather reports were false, all Annabelle did was drop her head in her hands and chuckled. As she started toward the road she bumped into an elderly woman; "Mrs Applebee, I'm sorry I didn't see you, I should probably uncover my eyes when I walk, it might help" Annabelle gave a half hearted, preoccupied apology.

"That's quite alright dear, I feel down in the dumps sometimes too, well not anymore, not since I got out of the espionage business, that darned service, I never agreed with the killing you understand." Mrs Applebee was the landlord of the apartment building, and had been forever as far as Annabelle was concerned. She was a 60 something, government employee, retiree. Mrs. Applebee likes to believe she was a spy for the Secret Service or some other government project. This is one of the reasons Annabelle likes her so much, always an interesting tale. She loved her despite of, or perhaps because of her fading mental abilities, Annabelle found it endearing. Like your grandmother telling you about the 'olden days'. "You were a spy for 13 years weren't you Mrs Applebee?" Mrs Applebee looked excited "Yes, 13 years, and change, I did office work after that, but the thrill had gone?Have I told you that before, dear? You know I got the job because I let J. Edgar Hoover touch my breasts, he said it?" "made him feel lucky?" Annabelle finished the sentence for her. "Yes dear, have I told you that story too?" "Yes, once, a while ago, it's a pretty amazing story Mrs Applebee, I wish I could lead such an exciting life." Mrs Applebee smiled her grandmotherly smile and said "you will dear, just make sure you never play black bitch with a man with a golden tooth" Annabelle smiled and chuckled "I'll try to avoid it, and thanks for the tip Mrs Applebee" "Ah that's no problem my dear, now tell me, why are you hanging around, like a hooker outside a barber shop?" Annabelle wasn't exactly sure how to react to the question. "I've forgotten my key Mrs Applebee, I'm locked out of my apartment, I don't suppose you could let me in?" Annabelle gave her best sorrowful, pleading face. "Why, of course dear, you just follow me, I have all the keys in my house." Mrs Applebee started towards her house, Annabelle followed.

This was why Annabelle moved here, it was because the entire Apartment building looked like something out of a Jane Austen novel, probably Pride and Prejudice. There was a house extending from the building, this is where Mrs Applebee lived, it was more of a cottage then a house, but picturesque non-the-less. The steps leading up to the entrance of the apartments was roofed with pillars holding it up. There were just three steps but they were beauties. Carved from sandstone, apparently brought from across the country, they were about 4 feet long and a foot and a half wide, and there was a pillar on either side of each step, 6 in total. Annabelle thought it looked ancient, it was magnificent, she felt like she was in the heart of Lake Country.

Mrs Applebee invited Annabelle into her little abode and went to get the key from the cabinet, but not without a detour to the kitchen fetch some cookies she had baked.

Annabelle accepted the cup of milk and cookie happily; she had missed lunch after all. She chuckled at the thought of an ex-spy, baking cookies. While enjoying her dusk snak, she glanced around the room she was in, it must have been the lounge room, although she saw no lounge chairs, it could be a living room, yet there was no television. Seeing the curiosity on Annabelle's face, Mrs Applebee answered the un-asked question; "its kind of an all purpose room, dear? but mainly museum." She gave a little chuckle "at least it could be a museum now" another chuckle. Annabelle looked around, carefully this time and saw what Mrs Applebee meant by museum. On every benchtop and every corner there was, what can only be described as artifacts, perhaps not the precise word, as these objects were not prehistoric, but they were definitely relics of some sort. "Where did you find these?" Annabelle breathed as she picked up the most intricate mask she had ever seen. "They're so beautiful." Annabelle was dumbfounded. "Ah, sturdy as hell those things, that mask you hold there, that is from a time, long ago now, I spent with a tribe in Africa. It represents an oracle the tribe had once sought, and found in the shape of a fish, a whale actually. They found the oracle, and it told them to prepare wood, fire and rocks, but not to combine them.

"The tribe did so, gathering long, spear like sticks, rocks both big and small and then built an enormous fire, partially surrounding the village. For three days they kept the fires burning and gathered more sticks and rocks, many of the tribe folk were becoming restless, and scared. On the third night a tribe across the plain they live on attacked their village, the tribe was three times the size of theirs and would have wiped them out had they not been prepared with sticks and rocks. The fight lasted until sun up, and yet the tribe had lost no men, or women for that matter. Everyone was alive, and no one had been injured. Eventually the story became a sort of religion, and although no one in the tribe today, has actually seen one, they worship the whale like some sort of deity. Every year the tribe gathers sticks and rocks and lights fires and celebrates for three days straight. I happened upon them during this celebration and was given that mask." Mrs Applebee was lost in a memory; unaware of the affect the story had on Annabelle. "It is said to have great prophetic power, although it didn't tell me the barge on the way back from the plains would sink, leaving me drenched and stranded for 3 weeks." She chuckled; "The barge was almost underwater when I boarded it, I guess I could have foretold it would sink." Annabelle chuckled with her this time. She had finished her cookies, but did not want to leave; she wanted to look around Mrs Applebee's place a little more. Mrs Applebee moved toward her; "Here you are, dear, here's the key for your apartment." "Thanks a lot Mrs Applebee, I'm sorry to be so annoying." Somewhat disappointed Mrs Applebee had remembered the key so quickly. "Not at all dear," grandmotherly smile again "its really not a problem at all, you just knock on my door anytime alright?" "Alright Mrs Applebee, and thanks again.' Annabelle smiled at her and it was returned, as sweetly as possible. She started to walk out the door felt a strange sensation come over her, she looked back, as though someone had grabbed her shoulder. "Is everything alright dear?" Mrs Applebee looked concerned. "Oh, yes, umm, fine, sorry, I thought I forgot something, but I have everything so that isn't possible."

Annabelle was befuddled; Mrs Applebee looked at her curiously. Annabelle turned and left again, the feeling had gone, but the confusion hadn't, it wasn't normal confusion either, it was a kind of 'what the hell was that Vs man I'm an idiot Vs jeez I'm tired' confusion, not your everyday stuff. Annabelle had a strange thought that she had to see more of that room and those objects, a thought that almost seemed she hadn't thought it, more heard it. She was way confused and immediately thought of her soft pillow and bed. Annabelle was a strange one; she didn't like the pillows, so much as the pillowcases. And instead of enjoying a mattress, she likes the sheets that lay on them. She raced up the stairs and into her apartment (after a serious amount of jiggling with the key, almost fearing she had to return to Mrs Applebee) and unlocked the door and ran into the kitchen. She was on one of those weird bursts of energy, when you feel like getting chased by someone, only to let them eat your dust. She practically jumped over her kitchen bench and before her feet touched the ground she pushed the button on the electric kettle. Before doing anything else she checked the stove?cool as a cucumber. Getting out her favorite mug, a big dark blue one that was made out of a mirror-like ceramic, whacked in a tea bag and then the water, and then the milk, and then popped out onto the balcony. There's nothing like a cigarette, with a cup of tea on a balcony. On the way she saw the little package her father had given her yesterday and decided to leave it a little longer. She put her mug on the plastic outdoor table, fished out a lighter and instead got her key chain, all keys present and accounted for.

Annabelle knew that cigarettes kept her up, but how could she refuse the craving. Annabelle always knew that she could go without smoking if she had to? she had just never had to. Besides that, she liked it. Most people think that smokers, in general, are inflicted with some kind of disease and that they would give up if they could. Most smokers smoke, because it feels bloody good. Sure it's dangerous, but what the hell isn't? Everything you touch, nowadays is, or contains a carcinogenic of some description. If you're going to die, and trust me readers, you will, then why not go out happy? I think this thought or revelation, if you will, is elusive to a lot of people? like health freaks, and politicians.

She didn't like to admit it, but Annabelle was lonely. In fact, she was always lonely after coming home from work. Not that she would go in search of company, she enjoyed being independent? didn't she? All her life she had longed, nay, yearned for independence, it was sort of a life goal at age 6. She revelled in the knowledge that she didn't need anyone. She hadn't needed anyone for nigh on 3 years now. Annabelle was dependent on no one; she needed no one? which, as it turns out, is lucky, because she has no one. Oh, I lie, she has her parents, her champagne drinking, 40 ft yacht owning, country club attending, face lift, boob job, chin job, peck job, pre-rolled cigarette smoking, fucking parents. Whom, of course, she loved very much. And who, she was sure, loved her very much in their own? unique? only child kind of way.

Anyway, it was times like this, she would so very much like to voice her thoughts, she had one right now, and was almost tempted to go across the hall to Mr Gavalier's and tell him. The thought- Why do we drive on parkways? and park on driveways? - Was driving her insane? but only for a few minutes. In those few minutes she had one of those rare glimpses into the truth about our individual existence, we've all had them, where one minute, the world revolves around our little town out west, then for a short moment we notice the other 100 million galaxies and billion other planets in the universe. For that brief but morbid minute, we forget the tambourine and the drums, we forget summer and winter, and we forget Buddha and God. Anyway, the point is, Annabelle was lonely, a weak lonely this time, a lonely that would easily succumb to lethargy. And would, despite the aforesaid cigarette. It wasn't often Annabelle would go to sleep early. It wasn't because she couldn't, it was because this time, this late at night time, that she would, or any normal person would usually use for sleep, Annabelle used for Annabelle time. It isn't as 'new age' as it sounds, its simply time that Annabelle uses for reading, and thinking. I think its fair to say that Annabelle was in love with her bed. She respected and loved her bed with what can only be described as sisterly affection. She loved the idea, I suppose, of going to bed when one is tired. It's a marvelous concept if you think about it. She always fell asleep quite quickly, she could tell when she was falling, because whatever page of whatever book she was reading would go blurry, and she would shut her eyes for a second to recoup and she wouldn't want to open her eyes, when she did, and every time she did, the same thing would happen, only the page would blur faster, and her eyes would stay closed for longer. This feeling was one of the greatest in the world, especially for Annabelle, this was for several reasons. The first being that Annabelle believed she could feel herself falling asleep, which was pretty much a crock of shit but Annabelle swore it was true. She could actually feel her body recuperate, she said, feel herself getting less tired. I think she probably feels this when she wakes up, or when she was close to waking up, if she feels it at all, not during the deepest hours of sleep. She needed someone to talk to. Though not in a completely asexual way.

Sex wasn't interesting for Annabelle, in the conventional (whatever the hell that is) way anyway. Some people, and some specific things about some people, popped that little, sometimes big balloon in her loins, but no one person has ever had a remote chance of totally arousing her. Not even herself, unfortunately. Annabelle had had sexual encounters with men, but not once on those occasions had she 'been in the mood', not completely anyway. There was no excitement. Annabelle didn't care much for romance, just excitement. It was too much to ask however. There were times when she had been with someone, and not been into it, then later after crucifying the poor gentleman, had craved them, like an asthmatic craves ventolin. On these few occasions she had had to go without. Annabelle was easily aroused, in all the wrong places, places on the map that is. For example, there was one time when she was at an art auction with her dad and she had just done some bidding for him, it was all very exciting for Annabelle. Eventually she lost the stone statue, but gained a self-induced orgasm in the toilets down the hall. Another time she had been in the waiting room of a plastic surgeon, waiting for her mother to finish her consultation, reading a 'Hotrod' magazine, and the urge hit her like a Mac truck on a highway 69. She had to exit the premises on that occasion also, running into some half-finished room on the same floor?. Thank God for the builders strike. There was nothing she could do, but she got by on what she had.

Annabelle was drifting off to sleep, enjoying her book but enjoying the drifting just as much. She shut her eyes and the parcel her father gave her flashed into her mind. She squinted, as if that would get rid of the image. It didn't. Annabelle got up and walked out of her bedroom into the living room. In Annabelle's house you have to walk past the front door to get to the living room, as she was doing this she locked, having obviously forgotten earlier. Walking to the couch, where she had put the parcel she had a strange, chilling feeling, like she had left the balcony door open. She looked over to it and indeed it was very slightly open. Forgetting the parcel, again, for the moment she walked over to close it, she must be tired, forgetting to lock the door and the balcony all in the space of an hour. Annabelle hopped out onto the balcony for just a minute to get the warm, summery air. Closing her eyes she breathed in the warm air, and strangely enough felt someone breathing on her, turning around she saw nothing but the curtains blowing gently. She shook her head and thanking whatever deity it was that created Friday nights. She stepped back in and walked towards her bed, she got to her door, turned on her heels and headed back to the unopened parcel. Reaching the couch she looked around for the package. Still looking several minutes later she said aloud "What the bloody hell did I do with it?" "I've stolen it." Came a calm and albeit unexpected reply. Annabelle froze.


'NOT NOW, NOT NOW' Annabelle's mind was pleading to her body. She was sitting on her couch with her legs crossed to hide the puddle she was sure was pooling under her. Annabelle was, for lack of a better word, horny. Her assailant was sitting across from her dressed entirely in black and holding her father's package. Neither had spoken since they sat down, and neither would for a while by the look of things. Eventually Annabelle broke the silence. "So now that I've seen your face, do you have to kill me?" She couldn't keep the ecstasy out of her voice and the assailant looked at her oddly. The assailant was a woman, a tall woman, with long dark hair. Annabelle was silent waiting for an answer.

"I don't know" The woman said, she was telling the truth. Annabelle didn't understand the response, but decided not to make one of her own. Instead she nodded dumbly and looked down at her hands, which were gripping a cushion like it was a lover's back during climax. She stared at them, not willing or not able to look away, fear of taking out her present state out on her helpless assailant. Unbeknownst to Annabelle, the 'assailant' was looking at her, a curious expression on her face. She was pondering several things, ranging in importance, perhaps the most important, although not the first on her mind, was indeed the question of homicide. Although Rachel rarely had to resort to this, it was always a possibility. The thought that was occupying most of her mind was how much she would like to be that pillow in this woman's hands. A somewhat unexpected feeling as Rachel had not wanted to be a pillow in anyone's hands for a long time. This, in itself was annoying, since Rachel was a very sexual person?. When she wanted to be.

"Don't be nervous" Rachel said. 'It's definitely her voice', Annabelle thought as her loins did a backflip with a twist at the sound of it. Not looking up Annabelle said "nervous? You're tossing up whether to kill me? Why should I be nervous? Unless there's good news?" She was hopeful when she looked up into the eyes of the thief. 'It's the eyes; it's definitely the eyes', Annabelle thought as she quickly looked away.

"I'm not going to kill you" Rachel told Annabelle, as though it was her plan all along. "How very gracious of you?" Annabelle replied before she could stop herself. When she slowly looked up to face the thief again, she saw an eyebrow arched so high it would make Mt. Everest blush. Annabelle, not really knowing what to say, gave a tiny little grin as if to say; "I'm sorry, I'm not myself today". Seeing this, Rachel held back a grin and made the presumption that this woman was quite the child inside. Although, to be sure, she'd like to get in there and take a look. Annabelle was aching to hear her thief speak, but was disappointed once again.

"Who are you?" She heard herself ask, and then gripped the cushion tighter as she realised the stupidity of the question. As if she could sense how Annabelle felt, Rachel gave her a ridiculing grin, and was surprised when Annabelle smiled back. For one split second, Rachel was certain she relaxed entirely and almost got up to order pizza.

'That was weird' Annabelle thought as she looked away from the stranger.

"Alright, then tell me why are you stealing from me??" Annabelle asked, her eyes lingering over the form before her, before looking for a reply. Rachel had an 'unbelieving' look on her face. "What?" Annabelle asked seeing this.

"You don't know what this is?" More of a statement then a question. "Well no, I would have opened it, but somebody stole it." Annabelle said almost angrily but with a cheeky grin. Rachel gave her the ol' 'yeah yeah' look. "Surely your father told you what it was?" still a little sceptical. Annabelle shook her head, meaning; 'what can I tell ya?', but her curiosity was piqued. Rachel started to unwrap the parcel, shaking her head in disbelief. Annabelle, still opposite her was staring intently as she did this. She was taking an unnatural interest in this woman, all things considered. "What will you do, if I call the police?" Annabelle asked, more interested in seeing her face again then in the answer. Rachel looked up, Annabelle was at ease, "you can't call them until I leave." "Well yes I know that, but what will happen, will I get the thingy back?" "You mean, will the police catch me?" Rachel said smiling, showing her perfectly formed teeth, in her perfectly formed mouth, covered by her perfectly formed, not to mention luscious, lips. Annabelle could only manage a shy nod, and brought her hand up to cover her mouth and the drool that was surely spilling out. Rachel smiled again, Annabelle was tense, 'it's her smile, it's definitely her smile,' "10 years and not a conviction?" "In more ways then one, I'm sure," Annabelle cut in, "you seem pretty sure of yourself." Rachel smiled, and held up the object that was in the parcel. Annabelle looked at it, it was a bowl of some kind, it had intricate designs around the circumference of it, beautifully intricate. "What is it?" Annabelle asked.

"It's a bowl" Rachel said dryly. Annabelle looked at her, unimpressed. Rachel continued, "It's an ancient Grecian bowl, although it's designs have a direct link to ancient Celtic culture," quieter now, as though the bowl deserves more respect, "it's the only artifact ever found that links the two cultures. This bowl is an ancient conduit. Likely to be the only one ever found." Annabelle, although confused, was in awe "jeez, how the hell did my father get it?" It was more of an inward question voiced, she didn't think the thief would know, so she was shocked when she answered. "Your father bought it in an underground auction ring, that deals in black market items, stolen artifacts, important transitional paintings." Annabelle mouthed an 'oh'. "Many people who buy into this are usually world governments who are desperate to hide something." Annabelle nodded, then looked up at the thief, almost laughing she asked "So what are you, some sort of modern day Robin Hood, steal from the rich and give to the museums?" She looked for a response; the thief's face was as straight as an arrow. "It's true?" Annabelle asked, as though she had stumbled upon gold. Rachel smiled "Sort of." "Sort of?" Annabelle inquired. Rachel nodded, "yeah, I do steal from the rich." "Oh" was all Annabelle said. "You mean, you keep the artifacts?" Annabelle asked, a little disappointed.

Rachel just stared at her, like she was considering something. Annabelle leaned forward in anticipation of a response? nothing. Impatient Annabelle asked again, and still nothing. The thief got up and started pacing. "Is something wrong?" Annabelle asked, worriedly. All she got was a shake of the head. Annabelle waited. Finally Rachel stopped. Annabelle's sigh of relief was audible. "I have to go." Rachel said. Silence?

"It makes sense" Annabelle eventually said. "What?" The thief asked. Annabelle looked up at that brilliant face, "I said, it makes sense, you having to leave, you are robbing me aren't you?" a nod, 'Usually I'd offer my guests a cup of coffee, but your probably in a hurry?' Annabelle was smiling when she said this, though, the occasion was inexplicably sad, both were unhappy, Rachel to be leaving Annabelle, and Annabelle because Rachel was leaving without her. "Yes" was all Rachel answered with.

Annabelle thought, Rachel paced. "Can I have a look at the bowl?" Annabelle asked. Rachel looked thoughtful, then came over to Annabelle with the bowl. Rachel was standing in front of Annabelle, and she held the bowl out to her. Annabelle took the object from the thief's hands, and accidentally, on purpose, brushed her hands over the woman's standing before her. This action, although barely a touch, sent shivers down Annabelle's spine. She quickly glanced at her thief's face and glimpsed what she thought was either relief or desire wash over her. This intensified her own desire 10 fold. She took the bowl and studied it. Annabelle stood up, inches away from the lithe form of her assailant. Both women swayed for an instant from the intensity of heat that flowed from the body opposite. Annabelle cleared her throat, "I'm going to need a name," she said "any name." Rachel thought about it. "Any name." Annabelle repeated. Again Rachel thought, this time about why she would need a name. She decided to give in, before she caved in. 'Rachel.' She said, unsure of what she had done. Annabelle smiled, 'what a nice name', Rachel smiled. Holding up the bowl Annabelle said "I don't really like this thing, it clashes horribly with my décor? why don't you have it, Rachel?" she couldn't hold in her grin. Rachel smiled modestly, as though she had been praised. "No-one gives away, 3000 year old pottery." Rachel said, feeling somewhat schoolgirlish. "That's simply not true" Annabelle said, "besides, now you aren't robbing me." "But, why?" Rachel said suspiciously. Annabelle gave her a funny look, "There's no ulterior motive here, my dad's always trying to buy my affection, I give most of it away." She lied, it was rare for her father to contact her let alone give her a gift.

Without thinking Rachel said "poor little rich girl huh?" "I resent that!" Annabelle was adamant. "I didn't mean it like that." "Then tell me, what exactly did you mean?'" Rachel raised her head to the ceiling, trying to explain herself, or think of an excuse anyway. Nothing, she just shook her head and sputtered "uh... uh? uh?" Annabelle tried not to smile at the obvious struggle that the thief was going through. She looked on, Rachel was still searching, but then turned to Annabelle, her head still shaking, literally racking her brains and then gave up. "uh? uh? I'm sorry." Annabelle looked at her, the apology was genuine, and it confused her. "Ah, it's toot sweet, happens all the time. I'm used to it." Annabelle said. Unwillingly, but necessarily Annabelle walked away from Rachel. Rachel just kept shaking her head, this time in a curious combination of annoyance, that she let Annabelle play her like that, relief, that she hadn't really offended her, and disbelief that she actually apologised. Rachel was one of those frustrating, infallible people, who rarely apologised, simply because they were rarely wrong.

Annabelle's hormones hadn't agreed with the distance put between them and their goal. Annabelle could swear she could hear them cursing her. From this distance she got the full body view of her thief, and she clenched her loins. Trying to take her mind off the ache down there she asked, "so Rachel, how much is this worth anyway?" If Annabelle's hormones had fraternal twins, they were floating around in Rachel's body. She was a lick of the lips away from panting. "It's priceless," the question didn't ease the tension. "And is that why you want it?" Annabelle asked. For the second time that night Rachel put on her 'what a ridiculous question' face and said "Actually I thought it would make a lovely soap dish," Annabelle looked at her with confusion written on her face. Rachel waited for the joke to sink in? it didn't. "Of course that's why I want it!" She chuckled at Annabelle's gullibility. Annabelle caught on, "I knew you were joking!" she said defensively. Rachel just nodded and smiled with eyebrows arched and an incredulous look on her face. Annabelle chuckled, shaking her head. "Ah," Annabelle looked up at the sound of that beautific voice, "I have to go." "Oh" Annabelle said? again. Rachel stood, staring at Annabelle. "What? You gotta go, so go!" She said, trying to keep the sadness out of her voice. "I, ah," Rachel said, pointing to the bowl in Annabelle's hands, Annabelle looked down, "oh, ha, I forgot. Here?," lifting up the bowl behind her, '"catch" Annabelle did a swinging motion with her arms, and watched on as Rachel's facial expression changed from awkwardness to horror. Rachel jumped forward, in an attempt to anticipate where the bowl would be thrown, and fell head over feet over the couch in front of her. This didn't seem to phase her as she was up and looking around in a second. She got up expecting to hear the artifact shatter, but instead was greeted by a very giggly Annabelle, holding the bowl. "Are you ok?" Annabelle asked, trying to hide her glee. She received a dirty look from the thief. "You didn't expect me to throw a 3000 year old piece of pottery did you?" giving her the exact look Rachel had given her for her gullibility. Rachel stepped forward toward Annabelle. That erased the look, quick smart, off her face, and slapped one of pleasure on her hormones. Rachel glared at Annabelle, Annabelle got nervous, and then wondered why she didn't get scared. "Are you ok?" She asked softly, "I didn't think you would have dived for it," no answer, "I was just getting you back." Annabelle looked up defensively into Rachel's eyes, inches away, they were electric blue, or should I say magnetic, as Annabelle could feel her own eyes being pulled closer. "I'm fine." Rachel said forgivingly, breaking the silence, but not the spell. Annabelle didn't say anything, she just smiled an apology. She leaned in closer as though she was going to kiss Rachel but instead when she was less then an inch away whispered "you deserved it." And with that she thrust the bowl out and into Rachel's stomach. Rachel closed her eyes and groaned, both at the sharp pain in her stomach and the disappointment of what nearly, but didn't happen. Rachel could feel the balance of power shifting, considered her bumps and bruises and wondered who was attacking who. Annabelle moved away again, this time both she and the hormones cursed herself. 'What am I doing?' she asked herself, as though she had just put the milk in the cupboard and the cereal in the fridge. Mentally slapping her forehead, she turned around to face Rachel and smiled, nervously or shyly, you can decide. "Thanks." Rachel said. They both stood in their respective sides of the room and juggled thoughts in their respective minds. Rachel looked at the bowl then nodded her thanks to Annabelle, then slowly, hesitantly, like she was tossing up whether to approach Annabelle or leave, turned around and walked toward the door. Annabelle, was glad to see the back of her for one reason only, and it wasn't to see her leave. 'It's her body, it's definitely her body.' Annabelle daydreamed. She took a small step forward, as though she was going to stop Rachel going, but then caught herself, and let her go. The door shut with a quiet

And Rachel was gone. Annabelle walked over to the door to lock it, and she would have, had there not been a knock at the door, Annabelle jumped backward, not expecting it. She got up on her tip toes to glance through the peep hole and saw the distorted figure of the beautiful woman who just left. Confused, but glad (to say the least) she was back she got off her tip toes and thought for a brief second before opening the door with a grin on her face, "Forgotten something priceless?" Annabelle asked and looked up at the tall woman, "yep" Rachel said before reaching her arm around Annabelle's waist, pulling her toward her, ignoring the shocked look on Annabelle's face and kissing her with the force of steam train. There was a small protesting 'yelp' that escaped Annabelle's lips before they were claimed, this 'yelp' of shock was exchanged for a 'groan' of passion. Rachel released the strong hold she had on Annabelle's lips and went back in for a better clasp. This time twisting her head, so as to force Annabelle's lips open, she pushed her tongue against Annabelle's teeth, and for a brief millionth of a second felt panic at the hesitation of the person on the other end of the kiss. The feeling was forgotten when her tongue, met and had a little wrestle with Annabelle's. Keeping it short and sweet, unlike the rest of her sexual repertoire, Rachel slowly closed the kiss until she could feel Annabelle's smile on her lips. Annabelle could feel her hormones having a party, in the penthouse of her body, she felt light headed. And could only smile. 'Sweet dreams' Rachel said before vanishing down the dark hallway toward the stairs. Annabelle stepped inside her apartment and leaned on the doorway, like the women in so many Gene Kelly movies. She shook her head but couldn't shake the smile off her face. Aloud she said to herself, "Sweet? Not bloody likely!"


Annabelle belated waking up, only to rise, bereft, bemused, and besotted (in no particular order). She had had a rough night in bed, and not in a good way. It had occurred to Annabelle, after having a shower, brushing her teeth and putting on her pj's that Rachel was, indeed, a woman. Her discomfort about this existed on several levels. Firstly, she wondered why she hadn't realised the fact that Rachel was a woman until now, secondly, she had never felt this passionately about anyone before, let alone a woman, thirdly, she wondered when, and if she would see her again and fourthly, she chuckled over how her parents would take the news and justify it.

Annabelle got up and turned the kettle on, she was smiling despite of herself. She almost felt like giggling, but refrained and walked out on the balcony with her coffee.

There's nothing like a cigarette for breakfast.

She walked inside at about 10 o'clock to the ear drum piercing ring of her telephone.

"Richard? Richard who??" Annabelle was in her usual Saturday morning funk, "Oh yeah, I remember now," she lied, "uh, I don't know, I've got a lot of work to do, that sort of stuff," she knew she just dug the hole. "umm, sure, that sounds like fun, where was it again?? oh no, I can meet you there? you're sure?? ok thanks, 8 o'clock it is? bye Richard?Oh Richard?? How did you get my number?? Michelle?? yeah that's fine? 8 o'clock then? bye." Annabelle fell onto the couch and fake cried "bloody Michelle". She really didn't want to go out tonight, especially on a date, with a man, with anyone who wasn't 6ft tall, tanned and named Rachel? a little picky?

Annabelle was tired, she went back to bed and read for a while before falling asleep. She woke about 2 o'clock and hungry. She got dressed in her jeans and an old boyfriends T-shirt, picked up her keys, grunted, and walked to the coffee district.

The Coffee District, was just that, it had been the Coffee District for longer than anyone could remember, no-one she knew, knew the original name of the suburb, it wouldn't have mattered if they did (it was a shame, Wentworth is a nice name for a suburb).

She made it to her usual café, puffed. She wasn't that good a friend with walking. Ordered her flat white, copped the usual 'is that all' look from the guy behind the counter and took off. Annabelle got a cab to Shannon's and picked up her car. With every minute, and eventually every second, the gears in Annabelle's stomach would clinch a notch tighter in dread for the upcoming evenings events. She was going to a fancy, shmancy restaurant with a man whom she had met once at an inter-office birthday party, although it was all new to Annabelle. For her it was a blind date, and being blind drunk was the intended outcome. Driving back to her apartment she got out her cigarette case? there's nothing like a cigarette smoked in anger.

To Annabelle's surprise and relief, Richard wasn't the geekish, office joke she had envisioned him as. To the contrary, he was very attractive, and sweet, believe it or not. He even brought Annabelle some flowers. Annabelle was planning to dress down for the occasion but had changed her mind at the last minute, thinking, knowing she wasn't that mean. So she whacked on her favourite knee length skirt, it used to be a dress but she got bored with it and cut off the top. It was something out of Charlie's Angels. It's hard to describe, but lets just say it looked hot. On top she wore a plain black form fitted singlet top, again, looked hot. Her hair was up with chopsticks, which Mrs Applebee had given her when she moved in. When she answered the door Richard's mouth dropped open and he didn't speak for a good 10 seconds; "you, you look", he cleared his throat, "you look good." "thanks, you too." She smiled and invited him in but he looked at his watch, apologised and said that it was his fault, but they were running late. He was a geek in sheep's' clothes.

They pulled up to Fifty Three in Richard's BMW and waited while a valet approached them. Once inside Richard took care of the arrangements and led Annabelle to their table in the middle of the room. Annabelle took the seat facing the back wall, and waited while Richard got the attention of a waitress and the menu's. "How did you get a table here, it's suppose to be impossible?" Annabelle got the question out but didn't hear the answer. Walking passed her was the most exquisite figure she had ever seen, it had to be Rachel's. Her eyes followed the shape to the back of the room, the swaying of the woman's hips entranced her. Dressed in black, the figure sat down gracefully. It was Rachel, her hair was up, and she wasn't robbing her, but Annabelle was sure it was her. "Jeez, wouldn't want to be too conspicuous." Annabelle said. "Who's conspicuous?" Richard asked, looking around. "Oh, what? No-one, what were you saying?" Annabelle was roused from her hypnotic voyeurism, she tried to focus on Richard. Richard, who was explaining that a relative of his is a chef here and he can get a table when he wants "it's no big deal, I don't dine here often, only on special occasions." Annabelle hid her grimace and smiled a 'isn't that sweet' smile. She looked over at Rachel and for the first time noticed her dinner companion. It was a woman, pretty, with dark hair, and full red lips. She was talking, whispering really, at Rachel, barely five inches from her face. 'She's flirting with her!' Annabelle realised and felt sick. She looked on in horror as Rachel's hand fell onto the other women's. It was time to order a drink. Richard ordered a bottle of red wine and the waitress went to go away, Annabelle stopped her "I'll have a vodka on the rocks, thanks." The waitress nodded and walked away. Annabelle turned back to Richard who had a weird look on his face, "what?" Annabelle asked, as the look made her feel like she was having dinner with her father. "Nothing" returned Richard looking down at the menu. A few moments later she saw the black figure get up and move toward the kitchen. "What's back there?" Annabelle pointed in the direction Rachel went in. "Oh that's the bathroom." Richard said. The waitress returned with the drinks and Annabelle thought for a second then gulped down her vodka "I might, ah, you know?" She pointed to the toilets started to move towards them. Annabelle was on a mission. She got to the bathroom, entered and ran into a lady on the way out. Once inside, she found 3 other women in there, fixing their make-up or whatever, none of who was the person she sought. There was a door closed on one of the cubicles and Annabelle deduced that she must be in there. Annabelle was angry, angry at Rachel for being with another woman and angry with herself for being jealous. It was a relatively unused emotion with Annabelle, being that she 'had everything she wanted'. One by one the ladies left the bathroom and one by one Annabelle stepped closer to the 'prize behind door number three. When all the women had gone she locked the door to the bathroom and waited. The toilet flushed and so did her heart. The lock twisted, and so did her heart, the door opened, and so did her mouth. Rachel, too, was stunned by the beauty before her, they both glanced each other over then. Annabelle couldn't believe the sight before her, it must have been an apparition, a simple black dress, transformed. Rachel absorbed Annabelle, she drank Annabelle in, and like Joni Mitchell says; she could drink a case of her. Eventually Annabelle snapped out of it and looked up "so, who is she? Another victim?" Annabelle felt stupid, Rachel wasn't hers, she could see whoever she wanted, the tone was harsher then she meant for it to be. "What?" Rachel said as though someone had asked her for the time in Japan, "answer the question," Annabelle urged, angry. "I'm here for a meeting with a friend." Rachel said, a little confused about Annabelle's animosity. "Besides," Rachel was rolling up her dress to show Annabelle a big bruise on her side, "I don't know who came out the victim from last night." Annabelle blushed, from the tips of her toes to the top of her noggin, she was one big beetroot, not only from seeing the bruises, Rachel had accumulated last night, but from the vision (for that's what it was) of Rachel's lean body, clasped by her sweet black underwear? everything lace. A woman tried to get in to use the facilities, "It's busy!" Rachel half yelled. Annabelle kind of grunted her own, 'back off' but, it was more directed to her lower body. "So what do you want?" Rachel said, snapping Annabelle out of her daze. Looking up and trying hard to focus on the face before her Annabelle stuttered, "what? do? I?," slowly coming back from wherever she just went she understood the question, after repeating it dumbfoundedly. "I want you to tell me?," Annabelle didn't know what to say, all she could see was a peaked eyebrow, an evil look and red. "What are you doing here?" Rachel asked the question as though they were in a gang war and Annabelle was on her territory. Annabelle suddenly remembered Richard and her 'date'. Looking very shy all of a sudden, "I'm here with a friend from work." She said, she felt like a picture frame at the Smithsonian; everyone could see right through her. Rachel tilted her head forward a little, almost a nod but not quite. 'So you're on a date?' Rachel said, knowing how Annabelle felt a minute ago. "No?yes," Annabelle gave in, "I'm sorry Rachel, I feel stupid." Annabelle said, liking the way her name rolled of her tongue. "Well you should be, and not just for this little episode." Rachel was still angry, Annabelle didn't understand, "what do you mean?" Annabelle said, genuinely. "Don't give me that? don't tell me you don't know?" Rachel said, obviously annoyed. "I honestly don't know what you're talking about, so if you'd kindly stop talking in riddles?" now it was Annabelle's turn to be annoyed. Rachel looked p.oed "the bowl?" Rachel said, like it was suppose to explain her behaviour. "Yes?" Annabelle drew it out, to draw it out of Rachel. Rachel put a hand on her hip, slouched and just looked at Annabelle, waiting for her to catch on. "Perhaps there was something you forgot to mention last night?? When you gave me it?huh?" Annabelle was pretty much spontaneously combusting, minus the flames, she was at that stage of frustration where (you usually come across it when you have a little brother) you can't help but grin, like your about to laugh, but could cry, when all you want to do is yell or throttle someone. Annabelle was definitely one for the latter. She just stood there looking at Rachel with this crazy grin on her face. She was twice as annoyed because, she could still, should the chance ever arise, ravish the woman in front of her, she was oozing, yes, oozing sex. Now perhaps it was Annabelle's imagination, or libido, or labia speaking, but either way, she couldn't help but feel turned on. Instead she shook her head, slightly, like she didn't know what to do. Finally, after what seemed like an hour, but was really 29.53 seconds, Rachel made one last twist and completed the Rubik's cube. "Perhaps something about its authenticity?"

Rachel said angrily. "It's a fake?" Annabelle asked, not really to anyone, but since Rachel was there, she answered. "Yes, a fake, as in a phony, as in a liar." Rachel said, although she didn't raise her hand, she might as well have been pointing at Annabelle. "Hey, I didn't know it was a fake," Rachel looked on incredulously, "it's not my fault you couldn't spot it from the real one." Annabelle spat the last comment out in haste, and I'm sure Rachel would not have let her get away with it, but there was a timid knock at the door, "Annabelle, are you in there?" it was Richard, Annabelle almost looked ashamed, Rachel tried, but couldn't hold it in, "I believe your date is calling you." she said coldly. Annabelle gave her a look that could freeze the nipples on a porn star mid-coitus. Although, believe it or not, it had the reverse effect on Rachel. "I'll be there in a minute, Richard."

Annabelle said trying to sound as calm as possible, while Rachel mimed the name 'Richard' and with her thumb and forefinger, estimated the size of his genitals. Annabelle scrunched her eyes up in a menacing gesture but her eyebrows couldn't hide the smile in her eyes. "Ok, umm, do you want me to order your dinner?" Richard asked.

"Yeah, I'll have whatever you do." Annabelle said, anxious for him to leave. "Ok, umm, do you want another drink?" Richard asked. Annabelle looked back at Rachel and answered with a shaky "yes, same again." Rachel was about to re-start the previous conversation/fight when? "Ok, umm, that was a vodka on the rocks right?" it was Richard, Rachel rolled her eyes, Annabelle's joined them. "Yes, that's right, Richard, now I'll be out soon." Annabelle tried to sound as final as possible and waited. "umm, ok." Richard finished, they could hear him shuffling his feet a little before shuffling toward the dining room. Annabelle looked back at Rachel with a martini mixture of embarrassment, relief and 'what was I thinking?' on her face. Rachel broke the silence first, "Vodka on the rocks hey?" Rachel said, amused. "what of it?" Annabelle said, feeling patronized. Rachel just raised her arms in a 'hey man?take it easy' kind of gesture. Both Rachel and Annabelle looked at each other, trying to remember what they were talking about, during these few seconds, I think, and I may have been mistaken, but I think they actually smiled at each other, a shy, 'what's going on? ' smile, but I'm pretty sure it was a smile. Then, like a slap in the face, Annabelle remembered the last thing Rachel had said to her before their intermission? so to speak. "So?you were calling me a liar?!" She said, a bitter lemon taste in her mouth, it must have been from the vodka. "Yes, you're right, I was." Rachel said, trying to regain some of the earlier anger. "Well?" Annabelle asked. "Well what?" Rachel said. "Well what now?" Annabelle said. "I don't know" Rachel answered. "I'm not a liar, you know." Annabelle wanted to make that clear. Rachel looked at her and nodded slightly in acceptance. A pause. "Well?" Annabelle asked. "I'm sorry I called you a liar, but it's not like I know you better or anything, I told you I didn't think anyone gave away 3000 year old bowls? Unfortunately I was right." Annabelle smiled sadly in sympathy. "So do you think my father still has it?" "I don't know, it could have been intercepted, it was a pretty good forgery of the original. You said your father sent you a lot of things, so I don't see why he would, now, send you a fake." Rachel said, as though she had been thinking a lot about it. Annabelle began to look very sheepish, and Rachel noticed. "What is it?" she asked Annabelle, who would not look her in the eye. "Annabelle?" Annabelle looked up, realising that was the first time Rachel had said her name. She smiled, absent mindedly and Rachel smiled back. "What?" It was barely a whisper. "I didn't think you knew my name." Annabelle said, all but grinning. Rachel reflected the smile "Of course I do, we thieves research our victims" she said sarcastically. Annabelle remembered why she was looking sheepish and the look returned, "What?" Rachel asked. "Umm?It's just that, you know when I said that my dad sent me a lot of stuff?" "Yeah?" Rachel said, anticipating bad news. "Well, hehe, I ah, I lied." Annabelle had a silly, 'please forgive me' grin on her face, and she was praying it would work. Rachel gave her a 'I should have known' face and said "well we can't do much about it now, we both have to get back." Annabelle nodded, sadly. "You to your date, and me to my meeting." Rachel continued. "If that was a business meeting, you can cut off me legs and call me shorty." Annabelle scoffed.

Rachel shook her head and said "nope." with a slight grin on her face. "Oh, as if it was!" Annabelle said. "No, I mean, we won't need to cut off your legs." Rachel said, looking down, towering over the 'petite' blonde. Annabelle rolled her eyes and looked entirely unamused, "Jeez, you're a regular riot ain'tcha?!" she said playfully slapping her stomach. "Only when the mood strikes." Rachel answered, calmly. "How bout when I do?" Annabelle said hitting her harder. Rachel doubled over more from shock then from pain, but she wasn't about to let Annabelle know that. "Oh shit, I hit your bruise didn't I?" Annabelle said, not know what to do, hoping she didn't hurt her. "yeah," Rachel started as she climbed her way back up to her full height, "but it's ok." Trying to look like a sick little kid. "Damn I'm clumsy," Annabelle started, "I shouldn't be let around people, I fuck up too often." "Bullshit," Rachel said giving her an 'I'm not buying it' look, "you're great, how many people do you know who would befriend a thief?" she asked. "Yeah, but that's different!" Annabelle protested. "How is that different?" Rachel prodded. "Well?," Annabelle thought, then smiled, "you're already a social outcast, us types gotta stick together." She finished, grinning. "Speak for yourself, I'm not a social outcast!" Rachel was joking, and wishing that she could for ever, or was it; feeling that she had been for ever? "You keep tellin' yourself that Rachel!" Annabelle finished and both chuckled. "Well I guess we'd better go." Annabelle said turning toward the bathroom door. "Wait." A hand halted her on her arm, her entire body physically shook under the beautiful pressure. She looked around to be greeted by two very inquisitive blue globes. "I just want to know where you'll be popping up next, so I can be sure and not to bump in to you again." Rachel said, trying to sound nonchalant, but failing miserably. Annabelle smiled, she thought for a second. "I'm pretty sure I'll be indoors for the next few days, I really would not like to see you tomorrow if that's ok." She said, unable, and unwilling to hold back a very shy, very sexy grin. "I will be no where near you tomorrow, say round 11 o'clock?" Rachel said, wanting to catch that grin in a similar one of her own. "That sounds good, with any luck, we'll avoid each other for ever." "I'm not a very lucky person." Rachel said. "No? neither am I." Annabelle returned, smiling her sweet little smile. They exited the bathroom, but both found it necessary to walk next to each other, allowing there fingers to momentarily brush each others and I even think and one brief stage Rachel held Annabelle's hand, but I don't have very good sight, so I could be wrong.


Annabelle tried to watch Rachel subtly and not so subtly for the rest of the evening. She wasn't sure if Richard noticed, in truth, she didn't care. She was still a little confused about the whole 'woman' thing, but she had never been so excited in all her life, she didn't want this divine feeling, whatever it was, to end. She let the jealousy run wild when Rachel touched the other woman's arm, actually she wasn't sure it was jealousy any more, just longing. When Richard tried to do the same to her she gradually would pull away, so as not to be mean, but not giving him the wrong impression. Sometimes she could see Rachel looking at her, her body could tell, it would rise a few degrees in temperature. She made sure she didn't let Rachel know she knew she was looking and tried to be as sexy as possible, she never thought she had it in her but by the end of the night she swore she could hear Rachel's labored breathing over the rest of the diners consuming desert. The night was fun, minus the Richard part, poor Richard.

Richard pulled up outside Annabelle's block of units. "I don't suppose that offer to come in is still open is it?" Richard said, knowing the answer. Annabelle gave him a look of apology and leaned over and kissed his cheek, to which he smiled and said "Michelle was right," he started, getting out of the car and going around to her side to open her door, "there is something different about you." And then smiled as she got out and looked at him funny, then smiled and both said goodnight and Richard left leaving Annabelle to ponder over the evenings events. She was pleased, and went to bed pleased. Annabelle woke at 4 in the morning and didn't even wonder why. She had had a very, very intense dream, a little blurry in places but she had the general drift still lodged in her brain. She went onto her balcony for some air, there's nothing like a cigarette after an intensely erotic dream. Annabelle was back in bed by 5 and asleep by 5 past. She was desperately in need of some dreamless sleep. And got it, not waking for another 7 hours. She got up and didn't look at the clock, thinking it was about 9 am.

Annabelle jumped in the shower and changed into some jeans and a grey mechanics shirt, with the name 'David' above the left pocket. She picked it up at her favourite second hand store down the road. She thought she'd get changed before she saw Rachel (sigh) again. After flopping back down on her bed she had a little peep over to the clock, it wasn't a big peep, because she was just figured if the clock wasn't ready for it, then it'd be closer to 11. She was right? and wrong. It was past eleven, so it was closer, but it was irretrievable. Nothing could be done, did she knock and Annabelle not hear her? Did she not come at all? She had no way of contacting her, what was she to do? What could she do? Freak out, that's what she could do? and she did. Lets not get into details, it was a very trying 4 ˝ minutes for Annabelle, she went through anxiousness, anger, frustration, confusion, bemusion, hunger and despair. All in all, not a bad effort.

She couldn't do anything, she knew it, and there was only one thing she could do about it? Order pizza. "Plain cheese, pan? nope? nope? ok" Annabelle was on the phone to the delivery guy, "I'll have a plain pepperoni" Annabelle dropped the phone, in what, I cant really tell, probably a mixture of emotions, not the least of which was relief. It was indeed, Rachel. "you've got to stop doing that, don't you ever knock?" Annabelle said, breathlessly as she picked up the phone. "no I'm still here, could I get a pepperoni with that? pan or thin?" she asked Rachel, "thin." Was all she said. "yep that's it? I'm sure? thanks? bye". Annabelle slowly hung up the phone and looked as though she was preparing herself, which she very well could have been. Although for what, I don't know? I don't think she knew either. She looked up into some very clear orbs of? well I'd say blue, but it wasn't just blue, like crystal maybe, I don't know, but Annabelle did, they reminded her of her favourite coffee cup, the blue metalicy one. "Tad late ain't we?" Annabelle said, just glad she was there, but needing something to say. Already she could feel her pelvic floor squirm and clench, not an altogether unpleasant feeling.

"Ahhh," Rachel looked at her silver watch, she wore it on her jeans, on one of her belt loops. "yeah, I had some things to take care of." She finished enigmatically, although Annabelle didn't seem suspicious. "so," Annabelle started a sentence or a question but had absolutely nothing to finish it with, she thought, though not very hard, at least not about a question. "How did your date end up?" Rachel asked, you could tell she wanted to slap herself, it was a question she wanted to avoid. Annabelle looked at her quizzically, "nothing, what did you think would happen?" Annabelle said, suddenly very self conscious, like she had taken everything the wrong way? impossible I know, but these things happen in a fit of anxiety. Rachel looked awkward and shrugged her shoulders, "I don't know, he seemed like a nice enough man." Annabelle nodded, agreeing but confused, "so nothing happened?" Rachel said, and looked at Annabelle, begging for a response? a negative one. Annabelle looked at her funny, "yes." Rachel just looked shocked then suspicious, "yes?, something did happen?" she asked cautiously. "No." Annabelle said, Rachel nodded, "nothing happened?" she asked carefully. "No, nothing happened." Annabelle could see Rachel mentally wipe her brow 'phew'. "Oh," She said, easing considerably, "why not, do you think?" Rachel said, trying to hold back a smirk back from her lips and sitting down on the couch. Annabelle looked at her, she could tell Rachel was relaxing a bit now? she could tell by the grin she was trying desperately to hide. "Oh I don't know, I was a bit tired I guess, I had had a rough night the night before." Annabelle said on her way to the kitchen. She was nervous, she didn't know what would happen? well that's not true, she had a pretty good idea what would happen, just no idea of how to do it. "Oh?, Why is that," Rachel turned watching Annabelle all the way to the kitchen "Annabelle?" Annabelle turned at her name and saw a nice smile on Rachel's face, then she felt embarrassed and turned back to her wine cabinet, "I was disturbed, and I had a bad night, I couldn't sleep." She picked out a bottle of nice wine, Penfolds, it was a rare wine, but a rare occasion.

"Oh, really?" Rachel said smiling a little (she never did smile too much more than a little.) "Did it have something to do with the disturbance?" Rachel said, a little worried, but not too much about the answer. "Well, yes?and no." Annabelle said, wondering if it was a good time to broach the whole 'woman' subject. Rachel just looked at her quizzically and took the glass of wine she was extending. They touched? both had to close their eyes for several moments. Annabelle felt giddy, she had to sit down. "I have a bit of a confession? well, not so much as a confession as a problem? well, its not really a problem more of a?" Annabelle was interrupted, "Bloody hell what is it?" Rachel said comically. "well? I've?never?" Rachel was leaning closer at every word just to make sure Annabelle would finish, "beenwithawoman." Annabelle breathed out then drained the glass of wine down her throat, felt the burn, her eyes watered, she opened them and looked at Rachel, who's face was still very comical, but in a kind of Charles in Charge way, it was frozen in a shocked/ worried expression. Just then the door bell rang. Annabelle got up, wondering if she had just fucked everything up, and not in a good way. She buzzed the pizza guy up and got the pizza's. She slowly brought them back to the coffee table in between her and Rachel. She looked up to Rachel, who was looking at her, with a very thoughtful expression on her face, like she was trying to work out the Theory of Relativity in her head. She took a sip of wine, then slowly lent back on her couch. "What?are you thinking?" Annabelle asked timidly, like she was disturbing a Zen master from his meditation. "Why don't you tell me what you are thinking." Rachel said. Still in a bit of a daze. "What I'm thinking?" Annabelle asked, not really sure what the question meant. "Yeah, tell me what you're feeling." Rachel said, but not as 'patient/doctor' as is sounds. "Well," Annabelle began, still unsure, "I don't really know? I know I like you," she said glancing at Rachel, who gave her a shy smile, encouraged she went on, "I know I really like you." She said. "Are you attracted to me?" Rachel asked calmly. Annabelle thought, "ahhh," and gave in, "Good Lord, yes." And took a deep breath, in relief and anticipation of a response. Rachel smiled, "so, David," she read the name on Annabelle's top, Annabelle looked confused and then looked down, she hadn't changed, "what are you worried about?" it was a genuine question, but the answer was known to both. Annabelle went a light shade of red and wouldn't make eye contact. "What do you think?" she said, "I think?," Rachel began, "that we should enjoy this glorious day? and celebrate your birthday, with cake." Rachel said to Annabelle's dumbfounded expression, as she got up and reached behind the couch opposite her and pulled out a box, with a big Black Forest cake in it. "How on earth, did you know it was my? no wait, let me guess, 'we thieves do our research on our victims!'"

They both chuckled then opened the box and cut up the cake. With their bellies full, and not an ounce of pizza digested, Annabelle decided to take the cake down to Mrs Applebee. "Should I wait here?" Rachel asked, not wanting to, but not knowing what to do. "Of course not, come with me." Annabelle replied, and was delighted at the smile on Rachel's face.

They reached the door of Mrs Applebee's cottage and the door was opened before Annabelle got a chance to ring the Star Spangled Banner door bell. Mrs Applebee came out, "Rachel?" Rachel looked confused then delighted, "Katherine, I can't believe it." Annabelle, hadn't progressed from confused, "you two know each other?" she said, dying to know how. "I can't believe it," Rachel repeated herself, "it must be a decade, at least!" "at the very least dear." Mrs Applebee had an immense smile on her face. Rachel and Mrs Applebee hugged and Annabelle stood dumbfounded.

Still with an arm around Mrs Applebee, Rachel turned to Annabelle, "Katherine was my superior officer at Quantico, she was the best teacher I'd had." She said, still smiling.

Annabelle just shook her head in disbelief, "you were in the FBI?" she asked to both Rachel and Mrs Applebee. "Yes, dear, I told you that." Annabelle's gaze went to Rachel to hear her explanation, "No, I was never in the FBI, I left the Academy, not long after Katherine did." Annabelle nodded in vague acceptance, "so instead you thought you'd keep 'em busy?" Rachel gave her an unimpressed expression and when Mrs Applebee asked what Annabelle meant she shrugged it off, and insisted they go inside for a piece of cake. They all talked it up for hours, Annabelle was a little less shocked to find out that the J.E.Hoover story was, in fact, true also, and that Mrs Applebee was famous for it. Then Mrs Applebee took them to the front room where they had a wonderful time looking at different artifacts. And she told them several stories behind the accumulation of some of them. While looking at a particularly interesting shelf of metallic objects, Annabelle thought she recognised some of the symbols, she called Rachel over to her to have a look. Rachel playfully shoved her out of the way, to which she received a hearty slap on the arm. Rachel picked up the object in question, it was an ordinary cup carved out of wood, but as Annabelle had said, there were similar inscriptions on the side of it. Rachel smiled then put the cup down and noticed a metallic object to its right. She picked up the object, it was a disc, sort of, a round object, with its circumference as sharp as a knife. Mrs Applebee came over and said, "yes, that is a strange one, I'm not surprised you got it out, it's what you might call, unidentifiable." Rachel looked at it in awe and, strangely enough, familiarity. Annabelle saw the strange expression on Rachel's face and asked, "Looks like a pretty dangerous frizby, have you seen it before?" "I don't know, its strange, I mustn't have, if its unidentifiable, then I couldn't have, but I feel as though I have. It looks like a weapon of some sort, probably Grecian?" She just kept looking at it, "hey, snap out of it, perhaps it was yours in another life." Annabelle said chuckling. Rachel looked up and smiled, "sorry, I don't know what it is." "Well dears, I hate to be the elderly woman here, but it is getting on a bit, and we retired spies need our rest."

"Oh, sure Mrs Applebee, we didn't mean to stay so long," Annabelle said then turned to Rachel and grabbed her hand in a bold move, "come on, we've things to discuss." Rachel smiled and followed her toward the door, hypnotised by the way her hand swung in hers. "Don't be silly dear, come back anytime, goodbye for now Rachel." Mrs Applebee said as they walked out the door. "Nice to see you again Katherine." Rachel half yelled as she was dragged out the door towards the apartment.

Walking through the door Rachel got the ball rolling, "so what is it that we so desperately need to discuss?" she said with a suspiciously sexy tone in her voice. Rachel was leaning against the door and Annabelle was still holding her hand but Rachel pulled it so she had to turn around and face her. Annabelle slowly approached Rachel, "I thought," she started as she grabbed Rachel's other hand, "that we could discuss," she continued as she gradually moved in to press the length of her body against Rachel's, "where our relationship," Annabelle moved in to kiss Rachel, then pulled back, "and where its heading." She finished as she moved in to kiss Rachel again, with a bit more force this time, she pulled back and waited. Rachel was leaning on the door still, although she looked asleep and happy. "Oi, wake up." Annabelle said, slapping Rachel on the stomach. Rachel opened her eyes slowly and said "I'm sorry, I must have been daydreaming." And smiled sweetly at Annabelle, who said, "no you weren't." and moved to kiss her again, but Rachel grabbed her arms and swung a surprised Annabelle around so that her back was to the wall. Then agonisingly slowly, Rachel moved in to kiss Annabelle. As they touched lips and both mouths opened together to allow their tongues passage, Annabelle envisioned her own little boom gate man in her mouth, and as the boom gate opened she saw the happy smile on his face, and never again did she question why the boom gate man was happy. Meanwhile Rachel and Annabelle's little show of affection was gradually getting out of control. Annabelle's throaty moan, gave Rachel the strength? or lust, to lift her up on the wall, to which Annabelle wrapped her legs around Rachel's waist and moaned again at the friction on her lower region. They again kissed, their tongues entwining and aching for more. Annabelle sucked in a sharp breath when Rachel started kissing her neck. She could have been content for weeks in that very position. Rachel, not so content, ever so slowly, brought a hand up and slid it up under Annabelle's mechanic's top. She slowly, sensually grazed her nails and fingertips across every inch of Annabelle's torso that she could reach, and was delighted when Annabelle place her hand on top of hers, and guided it towards an anticipating breast. Rachel took the milky globe of flesh in her hand and kneaded it gently, her palm brushed the nipple, which couldn't have been frozen harder, and this action caused both women to moan with pleasure. Rachel couldn't remember feeling this aroused?ever. She had had many a lover but just the physical side was enough. Annabelle, on the other hand, or the same hand, had likewise never felt like this, she knew this was right, she could feel it all over her body, the excitement she felt bubbling through her blood and pounding between her legs was undeniable. She ground herself against Rachel, and gasped at the glorious pressure.

Annabelle was trying to say something, and Rachel looked up, their eyes met and the electricity and heat was palpable. Everything slowed down and they could only hear each other's breath, and feel it on their faces. Still looking at Rachel, Annabelle breathed "bed," pant, "room." Rachel smiled and swung Annabelle up and over her shoulder and carried her to the bedroom, Annabelle laughing all the while.

Rachel flopped Annabelle down on the bed, and then flopped herself down on top of her. For a moment she just lay there on Annabelle looking at her, Annabelle quit laughing and looked back, there was a pleasant calm that came over both of them. Rachel brushed Annabelle's face with her fingertips, across her forehead, down over her cheeks and lips, Annabelle closed her eyes and inhaled deeply as though she could smell the fingertips touching her. She opened her eyes and gazed at Rachel, suddenly remembering she had no conceivable notion of what she should do, she tensed. Rachel, who had anticipated this moment, whispered "you tell me what to do." Annabelle was unsure of what to do, she thought about it, licking her lips, Rachel interrupted her, "let me do that." She purred. Annabelle tried not to smile when Rachel bent down and licked her lips, and then her own. It took some will power on both their behalves to not restart their passionate kissing, and with the heat, both should be congratulated. Again Rachel said, "tell me what to do." This time, it was more of a pleading then a telling. Annabelle smiled sensually and said "take off you're clothes".

Rachel returned the smile and stretched up, a knee on either side of Annabelle, and quickly removed her black T-shirt and started on her jeans when Annabelle stopped her; "over there." She pointed to a place next to the bed and Rachel obliged her, she slid off the bed and stood a few feet away, from there she slowly removed her jeans. Annabelle gasped, she had never seen skin that colour, or that smooth, almost embarrassed she realised she wanted to taste it. Rachel stood in her black silk underwear, awaiting her instructions, when none were forthcoming she reached around to undo her bra, "I'll do that." Annabelle croaked, and then smiled shyly, to which Rachel chuckled. Annabelle got up from the bed and stood in front of Rachel. Rachel had to close her eyes, she could feel something pushing her, from what direction she didn't know, she felt like she had been spinning around and was dizzy. Annabelle was just as bad, but didn't close her eyes, for fear the vision before her would dissipate. Instead she reached an infirm hand up to caress Rachel's abdomen, it was beautiful, it was soft but firm and beautiful. She brought the other hand up and did the same, no pressure, just gliding her fingertips and palms along the sensuous skin. Annabelle looked up and saw Rachel looking at her intently, as though she was her focus point to remain standing upright. Annabelle smiled shyly at the Irish beauty, who, in turn, raised an eyebrow in encouraging appreciation. Annabelle slowly moved around Rachel, letting her hands guide her, incase she got lost, they slid all over Rachel's body. Rachel's heart beat reminded her of a machine gun. Annabelle reached the back of Rachel, and let her hands wander from the nape of her neck to the lace of her underwear. Annabelle noticed the small intricate tattoo on Rachel's right shoulder and leaned in to kiss it, it was a bird, but wasn't made of feathers, Annabelle could tell it had writing forming it's boundaries, she was pretty sure it was Celtic writing, but some of it looked suspiciously Greek as well. Annabelle wondered about the bowl, and why Rachel really wanted it. The thought was fleeting though, as she undid Rachel's bra and let it drop to the ground. Then she hooked her thumbs around Rachel's underwear and brought them to meat their other half on the floor. Annabelle again placed her hands on Rachel and slid them all over her wonderful back, she couldn't believe the feel of it, hairless, a few endearing scars, simply stunning. She couldn't help herself, she leant in and hugged the body, as tightly as she dared before she thought it would burst into blue birds and fly away. She kissed the back, lightly at first then brought her tongue out to explore it, she licked Rachel's back and Rachel moaned, Annabelle saw her hands in fists and flexing. She ran her hands over the flexing biceps and over Rachel's beautiful neck, then paced around to face Rachel, leaving her hands on her shoulders. When they were facing each other, Annabelle took a quick, shy glance at Rachel's bare body then looked up when she heard Rachel say, "you can touch me." Annabelle looked deeply at Rachel and lost her reserve, her hands travelled slowly from Rachel's shoulders to her breasts, not pausing but going slow enough to graze her nipples, who stood to attention at the contact. Annabelle's hands continued down Rachel's body, sliding over her stomach, brushing through the dark patch of hair at the apex of her legs then, with a hand on each thigh, she slid them down her legs, she looked up to Rachel, who was still watching her and said, "at ease soldier" to that Rachel shuddered and parted her legs. On the way up Annabelle leaned in and inhaled deeply, the scent that was Rachel. She stood to face her, and grinned before leaning in and taking an erect nipple in her mouth, she sucked gently and her vagina groaned when Rachel did. Annabelle let the nipple go and stood before Rachel and said, "undress me." Rachel did so, and in record time, Annabelle's clothes had joined Rachel's on the floor, soon to be followed by her underwear. Both stood looking at each other, desire, excitement and any other word that's polite for saying horny, glowing in their eyes. Rachel had to sit down, and did, on the edge of the bed, and a good thing too, her knees were just about to buckle. She breathed deeply, then looked up at Annabelle, who was standing shyly before her. Rachel reached forward and grabbed her hand to lead her over to her, Annabelle came, with no great force and straddled the awaiting Rachel. They kissed, this time, they didn't hold anything back. After a few, good, solid kisses, Annabelle couldn't hold herself back and ground into Rachel's stomach, she could feel the slipperiness, the dead give-away, the undeniable, the wanting. As could Rachel who grabbed the back of Annabelle's head and flipped her underneath her on the bed. "I know you want me," Rachel said "I can feel it," and with that, her hand slid down between their bodies and then slid between the peach folds of Annabelle. Her hand was immediately covered in a delectable intoxicating liquid. Annabelle groaned luxuriously at the pressure Rachel was causing down there. Rachel smiled, unable to control herself she said "let me taste you." Annabelle wasn't sure if it was Rachel's voice, or the ministrations she was performing on her that were erupting this response from her but, unable to talk, she nodded yes instead.

And squirmed wonderfully as Rachel kissed her way down the First Avenue of Annabelle's body, I should say the expressway, for it took half the time to get there, and halved the agony of waiting which Annabelle silently thanked her for, besides, as they would find out, there was plenty of time later?


Annabelle woke at dawn the following morning and faxed a message into work, explaining she was 'unwell' and that 'for the benefit of the staff' she would stay home.

Then walking toward the balcony she got out a cigarette and lit it; there's nothing like a cigarette post coitus? I'm lying, there's nothing like more sex post coitus, and she threw the cigarette over the balcony and strode back into the bedroom, where, by the sounds of things, her new lover had just awoken?

The Athenaeum's Scroll Archive