by Campfire Part 3
Xena Fanfiction, Xena fanfic, Xena fan fiction, Xena and
Gabrielle fanfiction, Xena fiction
The characters in this fan fiction are not mine. They belong to MCA/Universal/USA Studios and about a dozen other folks who Iím sure are making tons upon tons of money Ė unfortunately I am not one of them. This little tale contains adult themes and language and involves (you guessed) a love tale of two women.
Note: This story takes place around Season Fourís Key to the Kingdom.
Xena goes off to help Joxer and Autolycus Gabrielle returns
home to tell her family she loves Xena.
Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Campfire Part 3
me," Xena said. "Is it me? Have you changed your mind
aboutu us? Youíll be
back here in five sunrises, right?"
hear the uncertainty and concern in the warriorís voice and
it broke her heart. Part of her wanted to bring the warrior
with her, but she knew this was something she had to do alone.
Xena wasnít the only one haunted by a past. She knew that
she had things that needed to be dealt with as well. But SHE
would deal with them and yes, she would return.
Gabrielle nodded as
she packed the last of her belongings into her fur satchel.
"Itís really not that long. You probably wonít even
realize Iím gone." The bard grinned.
Xena knelt down,
stopping Gabrielleís movements with a gentle caress to her
"Tell me you donít really believe that?"
she said softly.
her head and kissed the warriorís fingertips.
donít believe that... because I know how much Iíll miss
Xena resisted the
urge to ask once more to accompany the bard on this journey.
Instead, she pulled the bard into her arms and kissed the top
of her head affectionately. Xena relished the warmth, soaked
in it, for as long as she could. Sheíd be missing it soon
enough and she wanted to remember it for the cold nights that
lay ahead without Gabrielleís presence.
The bard pulled
back and looked into the azure eyes above her. Gods, how she
loved this woman with all her heart and soul. All the
sacrifices she made were worth it now as she felt the
warriorís arms tight around her. Perfect eyes, perfect arms
and perfect lips Ė she had to taste those lips once more.
the warriorís head and brought her down, giving a heartfelt
and very passionate kiss. Xena was a woman of many skills, but
kissing - Gabrielle had decided - was by far her best. At
least up to this point. The Gods only knew what other gifts
the woman possessed - gifts Gabrielle knew would soon be
Xena felt those
petal soft lips against hers and melted. The only other woman
she had kissed was LaoMa, but even the lavishness of LaoMaís
kisses held nothing to the young womanís she now held.
Desire was too petite a word to explain what Gabrielle
invoked. Need was a better suited but the feelings, the
deep emotions that flowed through her entire being, those were more
far reaching than a simple Ďneedí.
As lips continued
to seek, hands began to roam. Skin felt ablaze and nerves
began to tingle. Xena soon gave up Gabrielleís lips to
fixate on the pulse point of her neck, tasting the delicious
skin. The sounds of pleasure that escaped the bardís throat
brought a deep ache within the warrior. Xena knew if she kept
it up she would end up taking the bard here and now. And try
as she may she couldnít stop herself. A feeling of relief
and sadness overcame her when she felt Gabrielle place a
loving hand on her shoulder and gently push Ė putting a
small distance between them.
cool things off," Gabrielle chuckled, as she tried to
regain her senses. Xena couldnít form any words. She only
nodded her agreement.
"Besides you have a mission,
remember?" Gabrielle added, "When Joxer and
Autolycus get together you know that can only spell
trouble," the bard joked.
Xena smiled. Sheís got a
point, Xena considered silently. She
rubbed the bardís arms affectionately from shoulder to wrist
and back again.
"Iím gonna miss you, ya know," Xena
you too," Gabrielle said locking her hands into Xenaís
after another downward sweep.
"What should I
tell them?" Xena asked.
them anything. Donít even mention my name. But if they ask...
say I went to see Lila. Itís not a lie after all. I will
Xena sighed deeply.
"I wish youíd let me go with you." Xena stopped
herself from adding more. She promised herself she wouldnít
badger the bard about this, but thatís what it suddenly felt
like. Her head dropped and shoulders slumped in disappointment
with the outburst she fought so hard to control.
Gabrielle said raising the warriorís face with two fingers
under the chin. "I know you do," she said
understandingly. "But we both have walls Xena Ė things
we need to let go of. For you, talking helps. Thatís
something youíre not used to and it helps strip those
defenses away. For me Ė solitude, inner reflection is what I
The warrior smiled.
"So in other words, I never say anything and you never
shut up." She grinned mischievously, "So to find our
Ďanswersí we have to do the opposite Ė be more like each
Gabrielle began in mock defense, "I wouldnít go so far
is to say I NEVER shut up." Gabrielle lost her resolve at
trying to look angry and had to chuckle. Eventually, she nodded
and agreed. "Youíre right, I do talk a lot but-."
wouldnít have it any other way," the warrior said,
silencing anything else she might say. After a few moments, the
warrior chuckled to herself.
it?" Gabrielle asked curiously, cocking her head.
of when we started traveling," Xena reminisced. "I
donít think I said five sentences to you that first
wrong Ė you said six," Gabrielle countered.
"Oh yeah, well
what were they Miss Know It All," Xena teased playfully.
that. Keep quiet. Go to Sleep. If you can cook better go for
it. Leave my horse alone and last but not least, Who do you
think you are?"
amazing," Xena said dumbfounded. "How did you-?"
Gabrielle interrupted with an arch of her eyebrows. Xena
simply nodded. "Because my dear warrior, I was in love
with you from the start... And I remember everything."
The simple comment
almost set Xena on the verge of tears. Gods, how could she
have been so blind? And how is it that Gabrielle stayed with
her when she could be so cold and unfeeling at times? Xena
swore that she would remember everything about Gabrielle from
this time forward. The sound of her voice rising when sheís
happy, the way it dropped an octave lower when angered, the
different shades of blonde and auburn in her hair, the way
those dumplings taste right out of the frying pan. Even the
little things like how the bard laced her shoes or combed her
hair would be committed to memory. Oh yes. From this day
forward, Xena would remember those things and take them with
her wherever she might go.
Right now, she
realized she had to look after Joxer and Autolycus. She had to
see they didnít get themselves killed in their latest scam
she was sure they were working up. Xena prayed to the Gods
that Joxer wasnít the Ďbrainsí in this deal. If that
were the case, her time might be even more limited.
Gabrielle prodded, giving the warrior one last delicate kiss
on the lips. "Five days," she whispered. "And
if youíre not back here," the bard threatened playfully
with a pointing finger. "Iím huntiní ya down,
here with bells on Gabrielle... Just bells." The
warrior couldnít resist and loved the flush that came to the
bardís cheeks when a mental picture took shape in her mind.
With that, Xena
mounted her mare and without looking back started a gallop
toward the kingdom. Five days, Xena told herself as she rode.
Itís only five days.
It had only been a
few months since she and Xena last visited Potidaea, but it
felt like so much had changed. In fact, a lot had changed. And
not just their newfound love for one another.
Since then theyíd
been trying to put things back together, rebuilding their
trust after what had been a horrible year. Little by little,
bit by bit, things were coming together for them once more.
Gabrielle knew she and Xena would become stronger, more
unified than they ever were before.
With that thought
she held her head high as she walked through the market place
of her hometown.
Moments later, she
was standing outside of the farmhouse she grew up in. She took
a deep breath and walked up the steps of the small porch. She
tapped lightly on the door. When the door opened she was
greeted with a large smile.
Come in!" her mother exclaimed before calling into the
kitchen. "Herodotus; Lila! Gabrielleís here."
around outside briefly, "Whereís Xena?"
Gabrielle was a bit
surprised that Hecuba had asked, but grateful that her mother
Ďexpectedí the warrior to be with her.
to a nearby kingdom to help a few of our friends and I wanted
to visit so... here I am."
By now, Lila and
Herodotus had made their way to the living area. Lila rushed
over giving her big sister a hug. Herodotus, for his part, had
a warm smile and placed a loving kiss on Gabrielleís cheek.
"Well, come to
the kitchen," he said leading his girls inside,
wonderful," Gabrielle said licking her fingers.
"Best chicken Iíve had in months."
should feed you more often," Herodotus said, rising to
get a pitcher of milk, "You could use a few pounds."
He playfully squeezed her arm. The surprise with the muscle
structure he found there showed on his face.
"Iím not as
small as you think," Gabrielle teased. "And Xenaís
an excellent hunter. In fact, she takes very good care of me.
Three meals a day. Clothes when I need them and a warm bedroll
at night. I think Iím very lucky. Actually I KNOW Iím very
lucky. I wouldnít have it this good with anyone else."
No one commented on
Gabrielleís declaration as she was hoping. It was almost as
if they were denying the existence of the warrior in her life.
Gabrielle considered for a brief moment that perhaps she
should have brought Xena. If the warrior asked her parents for
her hand then she wouldnít have to explain. But as soon as
the thought entered Gabrielle vanquished it.
No. This was her
duty. These were HER parents. And Xena wasnít going to come
in on her gold mare and save the day. This was what she came
here to do and by Zeus sheíd see to it. When no one was
offering anything to the conversation, Gabrielle decided to
Iíve realized something... "
All eyes turned to
Gabrielle and she knew it was now or never. Of course, she
could live out her life with the warrior and her family would
be none the wiser to her relationship with Xena. They
wouldnít know. But she would. And that fact bothered her.
She was always very honest and outspoken with her parents and
sister. She didnít want her mother holding onto a dream of
her Ďoutgrowingí her Ďwanderlustí and settling down
with a nice Ďstable maní in the village. She owed her
mother Ė all of her family Ė the truth.
that?" Hecuba asked when Gabrielle didnít add more
after her pause.
her throat and took a deep breath.
that my life is with Xena. Iím going to stay with her for
the rest of my life."
By the look on
their faces Gabrielle could see the point just wasnít
sinking in. Sheíd have to be more direct.
going to marry anyone... "
"Oh come, now dear. Thereís a great guy out there for
you. I know it. You just havenít found him yet. And just
because youíre a widow doesnít mean youíre less wanted
nowadays. Especially a girl as pretty as you."
her temples in frustration. This was not going as well as she
you know?" Lila offered. "Why just after you and
Xena left this spring, Daniel Ė the butcherís son Ė was
going to ask dad if he could court you."
deeply. Youíre not helping here, Lila, the bard thought
Herodotus said rising from the table, turning to Lila.
"Why donít you and your mother clean the table? Iíd
like to show Gabrielle the new mare we bought."
Herodotus held up a
finger that silenced Lila instantly.
sir," she replied defeated.
With his wife and
youngest daughter clearing the dinner table, Herodotus took
Gabrielle by the elbow. "Come on, Sunset," he
grinned. "Come see the latest edition to the
sure how to take the request Ė especially since he attached
his pet name of ĎSunsetí for her to the soft-spoken order.
The name was given to her because of the color of her hair. It
was much more auburn then. He told her it reminded him of the
setting sun and every evening he would remember, as the sun
went down, how lovely his daughter looked.
unsure of his true intentions, but in any event, Gabrielle
followed him out to the barn. Chances were he was missing the
point too. And Gabrielle resolved that perhaps tomorrow she
would just come right out and declare her undying love for the
warrior Ė no mistakes could be made then.
beauty, isnít she?" he said as they walked inside. She
was as black as night Ė the coat reminding Gabrielle of the
color of her warriorís hair. Gabrielle walked up and
examined her. She wasnít a horse person by any means, but
after four years with Argo she did know a thing or two.
"Yes, she is." Gabrielle grinned, stroking the mane, listening to
her fatherís shuffling feet behind her.
beautiful as your warrior though, huh?" he remarked.
was turned. She heard the words, but she wasnít sure if he
was angry or not. One thing was obvious however. HE UNDERSTOOD
what she was trying to say earlier in the kitchen. Only
trouble now was how to respond. Facing him would be a good
start, but Gabrielle felt very stationary at the moment. Once
more she found herself nervously clearing her throat to speak
as she turned
Gabrielle responded, willing herself to face him. "Not as
beautiful as my warrior."
She didnít add
more. His face was unreadable. No comforting grin. No angry
scowl. He walked closer to her.
"I love your
sister," he began. "Sheís a pretty girl. And
talented. She can see a dress in the marketplace in the
morning and have a finished replica completed by dusk... But
you, Gabrielle Ė youíve always been beautiful and clever
and witty... Lila couldnít have ANY man she desires Ė
like I said, I love her, but Iím being realistic. You, on the
other hand... you could just bat your eyes and theyíd come
running... I guess I just canít see it. I donít
understand why youíd pick that woman."
"She has a
name father," Gabrielle replied.
"Yes, I know
Ė Xena. Iíve heard it many times in hushed tones as I walk
for a brief moment at her fatherís attempt at guilt.
sorry that you feel hurt by the narrow minded townsfolk,"
Gabrielle said sincerely. "I never meant to bring pain to
you or the family by searching for some happiness."
"Tell me something if you would?" he asked.
Gabrielle was a bit
surprised. Her father was always a stern man. He never asked.
Always ordered. But she nodded her agreement.
The question hung
in the stable for a moment. "What do you mean?" the
bard finally asked.
"Has she hit
you? Does she beat you to keep you in line?"
Gabrielle answered. "She doesnít whip me into
submission if thatís what youíre thinking."
"Has she ever
raised a hand against you?" he prodded.
"Why are you
asking me this?" Gabrielle said growing defensive.
my question please," Herodotus said trying his best to
keep his rising temper at bay.
always been honest she reminded herself. She had to be honest
has," the bard said keeping her head held high.
Herodotus shook his
head and flailed his hands. "No Ďbutsí, Gabrielle.
Thatís not right. Iíve been married to your mother for 25
summers and never once have I struck her."
never lived the life that Xena and I have," Gabrielle
"All the more
reason why she-."
Gabrielle said cutting him off. "Listen to me please.
Herodotus held his
tongue and motioned with his hand for her to Ďget on with
Xenaís son. She was angry and she took her vengeance out on
me as a result. Itís not an excuse, father. And even to this
day, Xena is mortified by it. She regrets it and I know that
it will never happen again. She gave me her word."
believe her?" Herodotus bantered.
his head, trying to find a way to get through to his daughter.
"Sarpon, the blacksmithís wife heard that same story many
times. This spring they found her dead by the river Ė beaten
to death. He was always sorry too. Even at his trial he talked
about how much he loved her. Do you want to end up like Sarpon?"
going to happen to me." Gabrielle said with conviction.
"Xena would throw herself down on her sword before
sheíd ever raise her hand against me."
unprepared for what happened next. Her father began to cry.
He quickly coughed
it away and wiped his eyes, mumbling something about the hay
bothering his head. Gabrielle walked up and wrapped her arms
around him, holding back her own tears brought on by seeing
his pain and concern.
youíre worried, but please donít be. Iím safest with
Xena. I know this to be true father. Sheís risked life and
limb to keep me safe. Sheís battled Titans, power hungry
amazons; even Poseidon himself to keep me safe. Sheís tended
my wounds. Sheís mixed my healing herbs when Iíve been
ill. And when she thought I had died she went to the ends of
the earth just to see me Ė just to let me know how much she
cared. But in truth she didnít have to. I already knew how
much she cared. And not just because of these fearless tasks,
but all the little things she does day in and day out... She was there when I needed her, but she was there when I
didnít... I could easily wash the dishes myself each
night and I could easily put out the bedrolls. Iíve never
asked for help... but she gives it freely, expecting
nothing in return."
offer a response. He just stood in the barn, holding his
eldest daughter, wishing that she was a little girl again so
he could stop her from making this mistake that could very
well take her life one day.
story you always told me? The one about how Zeus created
people. About how he separated everyone and we have to look
for our souls."
"Itís just a
tale Gabrielle," he argued.
"No, I donít
think it is, father," Gabrielle responded. "Because
itís with Xena that I feel my best. Sheís a dark person
but thereís a light within her that most people donít see...
And as for me Ė well letís just say that Iím
capable of darkness that I never dreamed of. Iím not the
innocent, caring small town girl that so many folks see."
"What are you
she completes me. Makes me whole... and I do the same
for her... Itís like some kind of destiny, fate. I canít explain it
Ė all I know is my place is with her. Xena and I have BOTH
had are dark moments, but for the most part, we bring out
each otherís light... I know that canít be a bad thing.
And I canít imagine spending my life with anyone else but
from her fatherís embrace and started to make her way to
examine the mare. But as she turned she noticed Lila peeking
inside the barn. By the look on her face, she understood now
what Gabrielle was trying to say at the dinner table.
Herodotus noticed her presence as well and resolved that his
side of the conversation was over.
talk any sense into her," he told his youngest.
"Maybe you can, Lila."
With that, her
turned his back on Gabrielle and walked out of the barn. Lila,
who had crept inside shortly before, closed the door after he
Gabrielle. I always thought your place was with Xena, helping
people, but if sheís hurting you-."
"Then make me
understand. Because there are lots of great men who could love
you. You donít have to settle for Xena."
"You donít get it. Iím not Ďsettlingí by choosing
Xena. I havenít decided to spend my life with her for lack
of quality suitors. Granted, most of the men I meet are scum
but there have been those I met that would bring a smile to
mom and dadís face if I brought them home."
the, what is it?" Lila asked. Her voice held genuine
curiosity, not contempt. "Whatís the appeal?"
Gabrielle smiled as
she thought of her warrior.
"I love her. The way she
walks, the way she talks. Her dry sense of humor. The fact
that sheís dedicated to helping others. She has a beautiful
body and a caring but battered soul underneath. She takes care
of me if Iím ill. She comes to my aid when need be. She
excepts my quest for growth... Sheís everything I ever
wanted in a mate, Lila."
could someone who loves you so beat you, Gabrielle?"
Gabrielle sighed. "Itís like I told father. She was
grieving over her son. My actions played a part in his demise
and she took her fury out on me. But she saw that what I did
was based out of love for Hope Ė my own child. It had
nothing to do with trying to hurt her. When she realized that
fact she was so grief stricken she wanted to leave. She wanted
me to go back to the amazons and live out my life with them.
But that was something I couldnít do. My place was with her
and I wouldnít take no as an answer."
The bard chuckled
in remembrance of how she and Xena went round and round about
all the reason they should part, and how the bard came up with
every reason she should stay. The warrior was exasperated by
the end of the conversation and showed it physically with her
rubbing her eyes and yawning. The chuckle Gabrielle had for
Lila soon vanished as she remembered the events that soon
"She made a
vow to me then that no matter what might happen in the future
she would never raise a hand against me again. In fact, a few
weeks later we came across the Persian Army. I nearly died
from an arrow wound. I would have died if it wasnít for Xena...
but thatís not the most important thing about the
whole event... I was convinced after that... she meant
what she said, Lila. She would die protecting me and of all
the places I could be Ė Iím safest when Iím with her.
Itís been almost
a year since that happened. I donít think Dad can lump Xena
together with the town batterer. Itís not the same
situation. Not at all. And besides Xena made me promise that
if it ever happens again that I will leave Ė and leave for
good. But itís not just a promise I made to her. Itís one
I made to myself. Like I told dad, I wonít end up like
Lila took a moment
to reflect on what her sister had said. "I believe you.
Of course I doubt mom and dad ever will, but... "
Gabrielle sighed. "I know... but they had to know the
truth. I owed them that much after all they gave me."
Lila nodded her
agreement. "Are you going to stick around still?"
she asked hopefully.
for show. "I would, but I doubt that Iíll be welcome. I
think dad is in shock now," she chuckled. "Once that
wears off, Iím sure heíll get angry Ė and mother too... I think it might be best if I just left."
"Well, let me
walk you inside." Lila grinned. "You might need to
use me for cover."
and put her arm around her sister as they left the barn.
"I love you, Lila," she said affectionately, stroking
her sisterís hair.
"I love you
Lila went inside
first with Gabrielle close behind. She saw her parents sitting
in the living area. It was obvious her mother had been crying.
dad explained things to you," Gabrielle commented softly.
Hecuba rubbed her
forehead, as if trying to relieve a headache.
knew you were... eccentric, Gabrielle. But this..."
trying to hurt you mother," Gabrielle replied.
Hecuba stood and
looked her daughter straight in the eye. "Too late."
Hecuba turned and
went to her bedroom. Gabrielle could feel her bottom lip start
to quiver just a bit and Lila felt her sister tense.
okay," Lila whispered.
itís not okay!" Herodotus exclaimed. "Look at what
youíve done here today. And for what? That murdering
harlot?" Herodotus was starting to pace, but held his
ground. "I think you should go, Gabrielle. Go back to your
whore, but when sheís used you up donít bother coming back
here. Youíve been warned."
has to be, father. Itís your choice."
Lila was amazed at
how cool headed her sister was taking all of this. And the
confidence that Gabrielle showed made Lila really admire her.
"Father," Lila started, trying to reach him.
"Stay out of
this Lila!" he shouted. "Itís not your concern or
itís not!" Lila countered just as loud. "Sheís
my sister regardless of who she loves!"
"Lila! Go to
Lila was about to
add more but Gabrielle put her hand on Lilaís arm stopping
her. "Please, do as he says, Lila. Heís right. Itís my
fight; not yours Ė as much as I respect you trying, let it
go. Iíll write you soon. I promise."
Lila relented to
Gabrielleís request. This was difficult on Gabrielle. She
didnít want to add to it so she did as Gabrielle asked and
thing," Herodotus continued to Gabrielle. "Donít
ever bring that wench into my home again. Do you hear
clear," she replied, picking up her satchel and staff.
She turned and made her way to the front door. "Take care
of yourself, father. Tell mother I said goodbye."
She didnít wait
for a reply. She simply walked out, not looking back.
Xena sat by the
waterís edge, skipping stones into the lake, looking rather
bored but still quite sexy in the process. Gabrielle had to
smile at the image before her. The warriorís bronze muscles
flexing with every throw. Her raven hair blowing around in the
lake breeze. By the gods, she was magnificent Ė perfection
Gabrielle was near
the clearing when Xena turned around, probably sensing her
presence, the bard assumed. Quickly, Xena dusted herself off as
she rose and walked over to meet the bard. Those pearl white
teeth blazed brilliantly and Gabrielle realized when she saw
that smile that she had made the right choice. The only
early," Xena remarked, opening her arms. "That means
it either went really good or really bad."
and slipped comfortably into the warriorís waiting embrace.
She squeezed tighter when Xena kissed the top of the bardís
"Howíd it go
at home?" the warrior asked.
home," the bard answered snuggling closer.
The response warmed
the warrior instantly. "Okay, then howíd it go at your
folks house?" the warrior posed.
wanna know," Gabrielle sighed heavily. "Letís just
say we wonít be visiting my parents for any solstice parties
in the near future. Youíll never have to deal with the
huh?" Xena said nervously. "You know I never-."
you're going to say, stop. Donít even
go there, Xena," the bard warned.
where?" Xena replied, trying to look innocent.
where," Gabrielle chuckled. "The speech routine Ė
about how Iím better off without you, my parents have a
point, yadayadayada... Donít even."
"Okay." Xena smiled. "Youíre stuck with me then. I promise - no
speeches. I would, however, like to find out what happened in
dinner," Gabrielle answered. "I promise. Right now I
just wanna hold my warrior, if thatís okay."
posed in thought. "Ummm... Okay. I think I can do
After a few
moments, Gabrielle reluctantly pulled away and tugged the
warrior with her down toward the lake again.
"So how did
your outing go? I take it Joxer and Autolycus are doing
fine, but there was an added element I didnít realize."
eyebrows crunched in question.
Zeus," Gabrielle swore.
Xena chuckled. "Seems their get rich quick scheme had
some added complications, but everything worked out in the end,
at least for the most part."
"What do you
mean?" Gabrielle replied. "What happened?"
kidnapped a baby," Xena chuckled.
were going to ransom a child?!" The bard couldnít
believe her ears. That didnít seem like anything any one of
their friends would do.
"No Ė not
exactly. Look, thatís a long story too. Why donít we set
up camp and swap stories over dinner, uh?"
"Okay." Gabrielle grinned. "Me - wood patrol and you Ė kill
fuzzy cute animal?"
"Sure." Xena smiled. "Iím so happy to see you Iíll even be
the one to skin it tonight. What do ya say?"
thatís love," Gabrielle chuckled. "I might even
make you those dumplings with the red stuff inside." She grinned coyly.
Xena placed a
loving kiss on Gabrielleís lips. "Iím glad youíre
back," she whispered sincerely.
Gabrielle took her
chance to return the gesture with a kiss of her own.
"Glad youíre glad." She smiled.
Xena then strolled confidently into the surrounding woods for dinner.
Gabrielle didnít rise immediately. Instead, she opted to
watch her warrior walk into the woods, the walk she loved to
watch. Did I make the right choice? she wondered. When Xena
turned around giving yet another brilliant smile she realized,
yes, she had.
Once the fire was
lit and the flames grew larger, Gabrielle took a spot on their
bedrolls. She considered everything that had happened in the
past two days. Tartarus, even the past four years. As she
stoked the flames with more kindling she knew Ė they could
finally move forward. Perhaps creating a fire of their own.
to Part IV