In the Good Old Summer Time
By Akiela Xal
Copyright: Some of the characters are owned by Renaissance Pictures/Universal, etc, etc, etc, but the story is entirely from my imagination.
Violence: No worse than you would see on an average Xena episode.
Subtext/sex: Heh… try maintext.
Teaser: While on vacation, things go from bad to worse. Can Janice and Mel’s love withstand the test?
Started: July 6, 2009 Finished: July 12, 2009
Feedback: If you’ve got any, positive or negative, or if you’d like to see more to this story email me at AkielaXal@yahoo.com
Janice Covington closed the door behind her and dropped her briefcase on the floor, shoving it out of the way with one booted foot. She sighed in relief, glad to finally be finished grading term papers. Her grades were turned in and she was free for the summer.
Normally she would be preparing for a dig, but since the Nazi’s had invaded Greece, her location of choice, she wouldn’t be able to go this summer. Janice didn’t really know what to do with herself, but she’d find something to occupy her time.
She was startled from her reverie when a pair of long arms wrapped themselves around her from behind. Janice leaned her head back on her lover’s chest as she basked in the feeling. She tilted her head a little to one side as warm lips began to nibble at her neck. “Mmm. Feels good,” she murmured.
“Mmmhmm.” The nibbling continued as one of Mel’s hands worked its way into Janice’s shirt. The other hand slowly found its way to Janice’s belt. In moments the belt was loose and her pants were undone. Mel gently teased one of Janice’s nipples with her left hand and slid her right inside Janice’s boxer shorts.
Janice spread her legs wider to give her lover better access. She reached her own hands back and kneaded Mel’s ass. Her body began to tremble with the need for release.
“Come for me, baby,” Mel whispered and ran her tongue gently around the shell of the nearby ear. It was enough to send Janice over the edge with an explosion of sensation. Mel cradled Janice against her as the smaller woman rode out her orgasm.
“Wow. That was some greeting,” Janice finally said, when she’d recovered enough for coherent speech. Turning in her lover’s arms, she asked, “Not that I’m complaining, but what brought that on?”
“Maybe it’s the full moon or somethin’,” Mel said coyly. “Or maybe I just missed you. But whatever it is, I’m as horny as a cat in heat.”
“Are you now?” Janice asked, arching an eyebrow. Although they’d been together for nearly two years, Mel and Janice hadn’t been lovers all that long, and the things that came out of her otherwise prim and proper lover never ceased to amaze her. “I’ll just have to see if I can do something about that,” Janice said as she backed the taller woman against the door. She kissed her determinedly, bordering on the edge of roughness as she unbuttoned Mel’s blouse. Freeing the snowy globes from their prison, Janice took one in each hand, teasing them into erect points. She kissed her way along Mel’s jaw, down her neck, and finally took one nipple into her mouth. “Mmm,” she moaned. Janice liked every part of her lover’s body, but she was definitely a breast woman. She could spend hours worshipping these perfect spheres.
Mel’s hips bucked against Janice, reminding her of her lover’s need, so Janice obligingly slid one hand inside the taller woman’s skirt, finding her pleasure center with ease. She expertly manipulated her lover’s body, bringing her over the edge, not once, but twice, before reluctantly removing her hand.
They were locked in a tender, post-coital embrace when they heard a throat clearing from somewhere in the vicinity of the dining room, followed by a female voice saying, “Dinner is served, madams.”
“Shit,” Janice muttered into Mel’s chest. You’d think after nearly two years living here, I’d remember…
It wasn’t the first time Adele, their housekeeper, had caught them in a compromising position. The older woman never batted an eye, never let on that she was interrupting anything other than normal every day conversation. She just went about her business, regardless of the state of undress or current activity of the two women for whom she worked.
It didn’t faze Mel either. She continued to instigate intimate situations in the most interesting places, though having grown up around Adele might have had something to do with her ease around the other woman. Janice privately suspected that her lover was an exhibitionist at heart. Janice was glad, however, that she hadn’t been caught with her hand still inside Mel’s skirt. She wasn’t ashamed of her behavior, she just didn’t like feeling like a kid caught with her hand in the cookie jar.
~ ^ ~ ^ ~ ^ ~ ^ ~
The next afternoon found both women in the study. Janice was sprawled on a leather sofa reading an article on a recent dig at Chaco Canyon and Mel was seated at the big oak desk sorting through the mail.
“Janice, who do you know in Albuquerque?”
Janice looked up from her journal, puzzled. “No… well, just my Uncle John and his family. Why?”
“Looks like they sent you a card, or something,” Mel said. “I know it ain’t your birthday,” she winked at her lover. They’d had a very romantic and enjoyable time on Janice’s birthday the month before.
Janice blushed as she got up from the sofa and padded over to the desk. Taking the thick envelope from Mel she turned it over and saw that it had been forwarded a few times. “Hmm,” she said, “Looks like it’s been floating in the postal system long enough that it could have been a late birthday card. I wonder what Uncle John wants?”
Hitching her hip onto the corner of the desk, Janice picked up the letter opener and carefully slit the envelope. She pulled out the contents and was surprised to see a graduation announcement. “Huh.” It was from the University of New Mexico and tucked into it was a small card emblazoned with the name Thomas Matthew Covington, Doctor of Medicine. “Gee, last time I saw him, he was a little squirt running around in short pants,” Janice mussed aloud.
“Who’s that, dear?”
“Huh? Oh, my cousin Tommy. I guess he’s graduating from college.”
“Really? When’s the commencement?”
Janice glanced at the announcement. “End of next week.”
“Good, that gives us enough time to get him a gift and catch a train out there. It is in Albuquerque, I presume?”
“Yes. He’s graduating from UNM, but I wasn’t planning on going.”
“Janice Covington. He is your cousin; I should expect you to attend.”
“I don’t know, Mel…”
“He invited you, didn’t he?”
“Only to be polite.” Janice shook her head. “I haven’t seen him since we were in grade school.”
“That’s no excuse. It would be rude not to go.”
“What, Janice? There’s no reason we shouldn’t attend the graduation.”
Janice sighed. She’d have to tell her lover. “Mel, the only time I’ve talked to them since that last visit was when Dad died. They weren’t able to make it back for the funeral.”
“That’s no reason to hold a grudge, Janice.”
“It’s not that, Mel…” Janice closed her eyes, embarrassed to make this admission. “I never got around to telling them I’m a lesbian. So, if we went together, I’d either have to tell them – and there’s no way to know how they’d react – or we’d have to pretend we’re just friends…”
Janice kept her eyes closed waiting for an explosion from Mel. When it didn’t come, she peeked one eye open to see Mel standing in front of her with an unreadable look on her face.
“Did you intentionally deceive them?” Mel asked.
“Are you ashamed of this? Of us?”
“Then why on earth haven’t you told them?”
“Mel, the last time I saw them I was still a kid. I didn’t know there was anything ‘different’ about the fact that I liked to look at girls better than boys. We’ve never really been that close. Heck, I didn’t know I had an Uncle John until they came for that visit. And the only time I talked to him since then was to tell him about Dad. What was I supposed to say, ‘I’m sorry, Uncle John, your brother’s dead… and by the way, I’m gay’???” Janice threw up her hands in frustration.
“Alright, Janice, I’m sorry, I didn’t know,” Mel soothed, and put her arms around the smaller woman. “I still think we should go to the graduation. I know you don’t believe me, but you need your family, honey.
“I’ve done just fine without them all these years,” Janice muttered.
“Have you?” Mel pulled back a little to look Janice in the eyes. “Have you really done just fine without them? I seem to remember a very lonely woman… once I got you to finally open up to me. You had no one, Janice, until I came along. Do this, please? If not for yourself, then please do it for me?”
Janice sighed. She could never say no to Mel. “Alright.” But I think I’m gonna regret this.
~ ^ ~ ^ ~ ^ ~ ^ ~
Three days into their journey found Janice sitting in the smoking car, somewhere in the middle of Texas. With any luck they’d finally arrive at their Albuquerque destination sometime the next day.
Janice was tired and cranky. She didn’t really care for train rides all that much, but as Mel pointed out it was impractical to drive so far, and since Janice refused to let Mel pay the outrageous air fare, they’d compromised on the train. So here she sat, smoking her cigar and staring morosely out the window.
She’d been able to pass the time the first few days playing poker until the guys figured out she was a shark. She couldn’t help it; she’d been playing poker with her Dad and his buddies since she was big enough to hold the cards. Now she couldn’t find anyone even willing to deal her in.
She sighed. Of course she could always go sit in the club car with Mel, but she was tired of watching all those high society men, and a few of the women, flirting with Mel. There was only just so much a person could take.
She took a sip of her Scotch and wondered how long it would be before Mel succumbed to the charms of some dashing young man. It’s not that Janice thought Mel would cheat on her. No, not that. She just had a hard time believing that Mel would choose to stay with her and live the life of near secrecy they were forced to lead when there was a much easier and more ‘socially acceptable’ alternative available.
Janice sighed again.
“Well, there you are!”
Janice suppressed her startlement at the sound of Mel’s voice and turned around to see her lover standing there with her fists planted on her hips. “Been right here all afternoon,” Janice drawled.
“I declare. If I hadn’t paid extra for that sleeper cabin you’d have spent the whole trip in this car and not spent any time with me.”
Probably, Janice acknowledged privately. That was another of their arguments. With Mel’s inheritance there wasn’t much they couldn’t afford, but Janice didn’t like to rely on that. It felt too much like taking a hand-out, and if there was one thing her Dad taught her, it was to be self-sufficient.
Of course, Janice thought wryly if Dad had accepted help, he never would have been labeled a ‘grave robber’. She would still be much happier if they lived on their teaching incomes alone, but sometimes Mel just did things, like getting the sleeper car, without even consulting Janice, and it drove her nuts. Granted small as that bed was, it was a heck of a lot more comfortable to sleep in than one of these chairs. It’s just the principle of the matter, they were supposed to be a team, so they should make decisions together and pay for things… together. Or at least that’s what Janice thought, and one of the other reasons she was terrified Mel would leave her someday. If they couldn’t come to terms with this, how would they manage to weather the real storms in their future?
~ ^ ~ ^ ~ ^ ~ ^ ~
“Alright. Where is he?” Janice asked of no one in particular as she scanned the crowded platform. When she’d called to tell her Uncle John that they would be attending the commencement, he’d told her not to worry about finding a cab. Tommy would pick them up and bring them to the house. Janice scanned the sea of faces again in frustration, cursing her less than ideal stature.
“What?” Janice looked at her partner, wondering what had caused the expletive. She followed Mel’s gaze and spotted a clean-shaven young man sporting a fedora heading in their direction. Her eyes lit up as recognition set in. “Tommy!”
Tommy grinned and swept his cousin into an embrace, twirling her around.
“Stop that,” Janice protested as she slapped him playfully on the shoulder.
Mel cleared her throat.
“Oh, sorry, Mel,” Janice apologized. Placing a hand on Mel’s back she said, “Mel, this is my cousin Tommy. Tommy, this is Melinda Pappas, my… friend.” They’d finally decided to play it by ear. Neither really wanted to deceive the family, but it was going to be a very long vacation if things didn’t go well.
“Nice to meet you, Miss Pappas,” Tommy said, doffing his hat and bowing with a flourish.
Melinda smiled. “Call me Mel,” she said. She couldn’t help staring. Seeing Janice and Tommy standing next to each other with identical smiles was a bit unnerving. Tommy looked like a male version of Janice. So close in fact… “Ya’ll could be twins,” she blurted.
The cousins looked at each other and laughed. “Well,” said Tommy, wiping tears of mirth from his eyes, “I guess it only stands to reason that we’d look a bit alike.” He grinned. “Janny and I are both the spittin’ images of our fathers… and they were identical twins,” he offered with a conspiratorial wink.
After another hug, Tommy stepped back to take a good look at Janice. “Gee whiz, Janny, you haven’t changed a bit.”
“Sure I have, Tommy. I don’t wear pinafores and ruffled socks anymore.”
“You,” he said, pointing at Janice, “Never wore pinafores or ruffled socks.” Turning to Mel he said, “It drove our Aunt Gertrude nuts. She always wanted a little girl, but ended up with four boys. When Uncle Harry asked her to look after Janny, here, she thought she’d finally gotten her wish.” He turned back to Janice. “How long did it take her to figure out that those dresses she sent you to school in never even made it into the classroom?”
Janice laughed. “Nearly two years. Frankie and the others never let on that I was borrowing his clothes. It wasn’t until she came to get me for something or other and found me in a checked shirt and dungarees that she figured it out.” Janice’s smile grew with the memory. “Boy, did we have it out when she got me home. She even took the switch to me, but I told her I wouldn’t be caught dead in one of those dresses. I guess she finally gave up when Dad told her he let me wear pants out at the dig sites.”
“Janice Covington, you little hell-raiser, you,” Mel chuckled.
“That’s our Janny,” Tommy beamed.
“Janny?” Mel asked.
“It’s what the family calls me. I don’t really care for the nickname, but what can I do?” Janice shrugged.
~ ^ ~ ^ ~ ^ ~ ^ ~
The ride to the Covington home was filled with laughter. Janice didn’t know why she’d been so worried. It was like she and Tommy were still 10 years old, running around Coney Island again. She wondered why they had lost touch. Probably just a kid thing. She’d always hated writing letters; likely he had too.
The Studebaker pulled up in front of a modest adobe home on the eastern edge of town. Janice hopped out, but Tommy beat her to Mel’s door and gallantly opened it for her. He then took their bags and led the way into the house. “Mom, Dad,” he called, “They’re here!”
Alice Covington came out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on a towel. “Hello, dears. Tommy, your Father’s out back trying to figure out how to make that new barbeque work.”
“I’ll just drop these off in the bedroom and see if I can help him.”
“I hope you girls don’t mind sharing,” Alice said, “we’ve only got the one guest room.”
Janice and Mel exchanged a glance before Mel said, “No, ma’am. We don’t mind one bit, do we Janice?”
Janice coughed to hide her blush. “No, Aunt Alice. We don’t mind sharing.”
~ ^ ~ ^ ~ ^ ~ ^ ~
The next afternoon Janice and Mel were sitting on the porch swing watching a spectacular thunder storm roll in from the west. Or at least, Janice was watching the storm. Mel had her nose buried in one of Gabrielle’s scrolls. Not knowing how much free time she might have during the trip, Mel had brought a handful, and was putting this opportunity to good use.
“Says here that Xena was in Gabrielle’s body,” Mel replied distractedly.
“What?!?” Janice asked, spraying her coke everywhere.
“Not that way, silly,” Mel replied swatting Janice on the arm. “It seems Xena died and needed Gabrielle’s help to get some ambrosia.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on a minute. I thought you said this scroll was from when they’d been travelling together about a year and a half?”
“Then Xena can’t be dead. We know they were together for years.”
“That’s true, but Xena still died in this one. When Gabrielle was takin’ her body back to Amphipolis, she passed near Amazon Territory and Ephiny convinced her to give Xena an Amazon funeral instead and take up the mask as queen.” Mel ran her finger along the text of the scroll as she spoke. “Seems there was this awful witch by the name of Velasca who killed Melosa in a challenge and wanted to take over the tribe. Ephiny, Solari, and Eponin opposed her and supported Gabrielle.” She paused. “Anyway, Xena’s spirit realized how much Gabrielle needed her and figured out a way to come back, but she needed to possess Gabrielle in order to fight Velasca for the ambrosia.”
“I don’t believe it, Mel.” Janice shook her head. “People don’t just come back from the dead.”
“It’s right there on the parchment.”
“Look, Janice. Do you, or do you not, believe that I was possessed by Xena that first time we met?”
Janice blinked in surprise. “Sure, but that was different.”
“Not really,” Mel said, smugly. “That was Ares that I… she fought in that tomb. If he was real, then I bet ambrosia is too. And I’ve heard that can do some pretty incredible stuff.”
“I dunno Mel…”
“Just go with it, Janice.”
Sighing Janice took a sip of her coke and went back to watching the storm.
~ ^ ~ ^ ~ ^ ~ ^ ~
“Thomas Matthew Covington,” the speaker intoned as Tommy, dressed in his black cap and gown, walked across the stage to receive his diploma. Tommy shook hands with the dean and paused briefly as the photographer took a quick shot of them together before proceeding off the stage back to his seat.
Janice and the rest of the family patiently waited until the ceremony was over to congratulate Tommy on his success.
Slapping him on the back, Janice said, “Doctor Covington. I can’t believe it.”
“Eh… from what I hear you beat me to it, Janny,” he said with a smirk.
“It’s not the same Tommy. I’m a Doctor of Archaeology… you’re a Doctor of Medicine. You heal people, while I dig up dead ones.” She winked at her cousin.
Tommy was saved from responding when a friend, gown fluttering in the spring breeze, came running up. “Hey, Tommy,” he said. “A bunch of us are having a party, you coming?”
Tommy glanced at Janice before replying, “Sorry, Rick, my cousin and her friend are visiting, I’d better not.”
Janice bumped his shoulder good-naturedly. “G’wan Tommy. It’s not every day you graduate.”
“Sure, Tommy. Janice and I’ll be just fine,” Mel chimed in.
Rick’s eyes ran up and down Mel’s frame. “You’re more than welcome to come along.”
“It’s alright, son,” John Covington said. “Why don’t you all head out and have fun. Show Janice and Mel around. They’ve been pretty much cooped up in the house since they got here.”
“Would you like to come along?” Tommy asked both women.
Janice looked at Mel and shrugged, leaving the decision up to her. “Sure, why not. I never went to many parties in my college days,” Mel finally said.
“Good,” Rick said clapping his hands.
~ ^ ~ ^ ~ ^ ~ ^ ~
They’d been at the party for hours it seemed and Janice was, quite frankly, tired of holding up the wall. Not that she was really interested in it, but not one single person had come up to talk to her or ask her to dance.
As attractive as Mel was, of course, she had an abundance of dance partners, and when she wasn’t dancing she was surrounded by a gaggle of attentive young men. Janice supposed it could have been because she was ‘fresh meat’ in their eyes, and all the guys wanted a shot, but she knew it was because of her partner’s natural charm. Janice wouldn’t really have minded all that much if it weren’t for Tommy. Whenever he had the chance he had his arm around Mel, and what made matters worse was that Mel didn’t seem to mind.
Deciding she’d had enough, Janice headed outside to have a smoke. At least out there she wouldn’t have to watch these dandies pawing the woman she loved.
As Janice was passing through the door she heard a resounding slap, but didn’t bother to turn around. If she had, she would have seen Tommy rubbing Mel’s palm print from his stubbly cheek.
~ ^ ~ ^ ~ ^ ~ ^ ~
”What’s eatin’ you?” Mel finally asked her taciturn lover the next afternoon.
“Nothing,” Janice bit out.
“Well somethin’ sure is wrong. You’ve been madder than a bear in a hornet’s nest since yesterday.”
“What do you care?”
“Don’t start with me, Mel!” Janice shouted as she stood up and headed for the door.
“Where are you going?”
“Not that it’s any of your business, but I’m going for a walk.” Janice slammed the door behind her.
“I declare,” Mel said to the empty room.
~ ^ ~ ^ ~ ^ ~ ^ ~
Janice had been wandering the eastern Albuquerque neighborhood long enough to smoke one of her ever-present cigars. Glancing up, she could see another storm brewing, so she turned her steps towards her Uncle’s house.
She had just opened the gate, but stopped in her tracks when she saw Mel and Tommy on the porch swing. She saw Tommy hand Mel a ring and Mel kiss his cheek.
“Shit!” she swore and slammed the gate closed as she took off at a fast pace.
“Janice!” Mel called, “Wait!”
Janice broke into a run. She didn’t know where she was going, and she didn’t care. Her life was in shambles. It had finally happened. Mel had fallen for a man – her cousin, no less. “Damn,” she said as both the rain and her tears began to fall.
~ ^ ~ ^ ~ ^ ~ ^ ~
Janice didn’t know how long she’d run, but she kept pushing herself. Suddenly the ground gave out beneath her and she found herself falling over an embankment. She felt her foot catch on something, but it wasn’t enough to halt her progress. She cried out as she felt pain in her ankle from the unnatural angle it was forced into. Janice kept tumbling and found herself nearing the bottom of an eight foot arroyo. Her head struck a rock and her world went blank.
~ ^ ~ ^ ~ ^ ~ ^ ~
”Janice!” Mel called in desperation. She’d taken off after her lover immediately, but with Mel’s heels, Janice had easily out-distanced her.
Torn between stopping his cousin and protecting Mel, Tommy had chosen to stay at Mel’s side. Janice was tough. She could look out for herself, right?
Seeing recently scarred earth Mel and Tommy veered in that direction. They got to the edge of the arroyo and looked down. There, lying motionless at the bottom, was Janice.
“Sweet Jesus,” Mel breathed.
Tommy looked at the trickle of water running along the bottom and then up at the storm clouds which were now piling up against the Sandia’s. “Shit! We have to get her out of there!”
“I know. Maybe you could go find someone to help…”
Tommy grabbed Mel’s shoulders and shook her. “No! You don’t understand! That’s an arroyo.” He pointed. “With a storm like this, there could be a flash flood any minute!”
Mel started to scramble down the slope, but Tommy stopped her. “I know you love her, Mel, but stay up here where it’s safe, please?” When it looked like she would protest, he said, “Don’t do it for me. Do it for Janice. She needs you to stay safe.” He knew Mel’s skirt and heels would put her as much at risk as Janice was.
“Alright,” Mel finally acquiesced.
With that Tommy was over the side, sliding down the scree-filled embankment. He reached the bottom and just as he was about to check for a pulse he heard Janice moan. He let out a sigh of relief. “Are you ok?”
“Ow, my head,” Janice mumbled, reaching a hand up to rub the painful goose egg on the back of her head.
“No time for that, Janny. We’ve got to get you out of here. Can you walk?”
“I think… shit!” Janice tried to stand, but couldn’t put any weight on her leg. “My ankle. I think it’s busted.”
“I wish I had time to splint that,” he said, looking at the rising water, “but we have to hurry. Let me help you up and you can lean on me as we try to climb out of here.”
“Ok,” Janice nodded, then grimaced as her leg was jostled.
They’d made it about half-way up the embankment when they heard the roaring sound of on-coming water. “Hang on!” Tommy yelled as he put his right arm through the same tree root that had caused Janice so much trouble and grabbed her hand with his left.
The water hit with a rush. Janice felt her good leg slipping out from under her. “Tommy!”
The tug of the water was too strong for Janice and she lost her footing. Tommy did his best to hold her against the current, but was losing his grip. “Don’t let go!” he called.
Mel watched in horror as a log was swept along with the current and headed straight for her lover. “Janice!” She let out in an anguished wail as the log hit Janice and she went under. She saw Janice surface again several yards downstream – face down. “Janice!” Mel took off running as fast as her heels would allow on the muddy ground.
Tommy saw Janice surface and knew it wasn’t good. Looking up at the heavens he said, “If anybody’s up there, please let me save her!” He pushed off the embankment and started swimming downriver.
~ ^ ~ ^ ~ ^ ~ ^ ~
Janice felt like she was floating. That’s right; she was in the flooded arroyo. She looked around, expecting to see water, but instead discovered that the arroyo had widened and the flood had dissipated. She saw Tommy slogging over to her and Mel scrambling down the slope.
She looked around to see who’d spoken. It wasn’t either of her companions. Strangely, it had sounded just like her father.
She spotted a bright light. A figure was standing amidst the light, beckoning to her. She took a hesitant step towards it, but felt a tug in the other direction when she heard Mel call her name. She looked back at her lover to see both she and Tommy crouched at the side of a body… her body.
“Janice,” the figure beckoned again, “it’s time.”
“Don’t you leave me, Janice Covington!” Mel screamed. In practically a whisper she sobbed, “I love you… I need you.”
Janice looked at the figure and said, “No. Not today.” She turned and walked back to Mel. She placed a hand on the other woman’s shoulder, causing her to jump before she reentered her own body.
~ ^ ~ ^ ~ ^ ~ ^ ~
Janice hurt everywhere.
She assessed her situation and decided that wasn’t quite true. Her leg was throbbing, and felt like it was splinted. Her head and chest were also warring for attention. Her chest felt heavy, like she had a bad cold or… that’s right, she’d… drowned, but came back for Mel. Mel needed her.
She opened her eyes carefully and took in her surroundings. She was in the room she shared with Mel at her Uncle’s house. Mel was in a chair beside the bed, but half sprawled over Janice, her right hand tightly clutching Janice’s left.
Janice moved her right hand over to brush some hair off Mel’s sleeping face, but the motion woke the other woman.
“Janice? You’re awake,” she sighed in relief. “I was so worried about you.”
Memory came crashing back on Janice and she remembered why she’d run off in the first place. “Why? You have Tommy now. Isn’t that what you wanted?” she asked, resigned to her fate.
“What are you talking about?”
“Tommy. I saw him give you a ring, and you kissed him.”
Mel got up and walked over to her purse. She brought it back to her chair and rummaged around inside it for a moment. Pulling something out, she asked, “This ring?”
“I dunno. Probably,” Janice said glumly.
“It’s not what you think.”
“Sure it is, you’re gonna marry Tommy…”
“Hush!” When Mel was sure she had Janice’s attention, she said, “I’m not goin’ to marry Tommy. I was just showing him the ring I bought for you.”
“Me? I don’t understand…”
“I know we can’t be wed in the traditional sense, Janice, but I wanted somethin’ to show my love and commitment to you.” She picked up Janice’s left hand and slid the ring onto her third finger. “Janice Covington, will you be my wife?”
Tears filled the green-eyed gaze. All the heartache and jealousy washed away. She used both hands to draw Mel to her for a gentle kiss. “I love you, Melinda Pappas, and I would be honored to be your wife.”
Mel blindly dug one-handed in her purse again, this time pulling out a fairly heavy gold chain. “I know you don’t really wear jewelry, so I bought this chain. I thought you could put the ring on it…”
Janice fingered the chain, then said, “I never had any jewelry I wanted to wear before. I’d be proud to wear your ring right where it belongs… but I’ll use the chain out at digs, so I don’t lose the ring, ok?”
“I believe you by the way,” Janice whispered.
“Xena did die. But she came back because Gabrielle needed her.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”