“Give me the nickel tour?” Maggie asked after Tess had begun clearing the table after dinner.
Nessa agreed, taking Maggie’s large hand and leading her from the dining room. They walked slowly as she told her friend a little about the house and its history. She opened one side of a set of doors and guided her into her father’s billiard room.
“Wow, what a nice table. Do you play?”
“Oh, a little. And you?”
Maggie chuckled. “I’ve been to a pool hall or two. I’m not a great player but I have fun.” The reporter ran her hand over the bright green felt covering the official sized table.
“Care to play? I’m a bit rusty though.”
“Want to bet on the game then?” Maggie asked, a naughty sparkle glistening in her eyes. Nessa spotted it and wondered where this would lead.
“Hmm, and what would we bet?”
“A kiss. If I win I get a kiss anywhere I want it—the same for you.”
Desire flared through Nessa’s body. Her imagination had suddenly gone wild. “A kiss? Why do I feel like I’m being hustled?”
The amusement in Maggie’s eyes increased. “I’m not that good. Besides, either way, who loses in this wager?” she said with a wink.
She had a point. Nessa went to the rack and chose her cue stick. Maggie took another. The table was set up and Nessa had first break. The girls were fairly matched and only a bit of bad luck put Nessa behind. Maggie sank her last ball and grinned.
“I won,” she grinned. “Time to pay up.”
Nessa felt her mouth go dry. Where would Maggie want this kiss? A few ideas popped into her head them her mouth went from dry to salivating. She was going to enjoy paying off the bet regardless. She just hoped none of her dedicated employees entered the room while she was paying her debt. “Where would you like it?” she asked, her lips curving as her eyes roamed over Maggie’s tall frame.
Maggie felt her blood flow drop suddenly to one area and gulped. That look nearly had her knees buckling. “Umm…. Nessa, unless you want me throwing you on top of that pool table I suggest you stop looking at me that way!”
Nessa felt an incredibly powerful feeling emerge from within for the first time in her life. The few experiences in her past held nothing to this sexual awareness that held them both in its grip. She knew without a doubt that Maggie wanted her just as much and that the spark between them had been merely waiting to be ignited. She felt like a tigress stalking her prey and that knowledge was intoxicating. Nessa looked into Maggie’s dark eyes and saw desire burning there but there was something else there as well—fear.
Why was she afraid? She doubted that Maggie was a virgin, her cockiness with her had been too real to be faked. Her mind tried to remember all their encounters to this point and realized Maggie had always been all talk and no action. Her behavior had been gentle rather than seductive even though the attraction had been there. Unable to fathom what brought such fear to Maggie’s soulful eyes she did the only thing could do, she asked.
“Maggie, why are afraid of me?”
The reporter trembled and placed the cue back into the rack, trying to get her hold of her emotions before answering.
“I’m not afraid of you Nessa. I’m…ugh! Damn it Nessa! From the first moment I saw that photo of you I’ve wanted to get you into my bed and keep you there for a long time.” She leaned on her hands on the edge of the pool table.
“So what is stopping you? You have to know I want you too?”
Maggie raised her eyes and bore them into Nessa’s. “But do you love me?” she whispered sadly.
The question surprised the billionaire. Did she? The redhead sought out her heart and wasn’t sure. Everything was just so new to her and her feelings were jumbled. “I don’t know,” she answered honestly.
“Then I won’t take you as my lover. You see, Nessa, I am very much in love with you. I won’t accept anything less than all of you because I will give all of myself. That’s why I’m afraid. I don’t want to give everything to you then suddenly have to give you up because you don’t think we’re suited. I don’t think I’d survive that. There have been too many disappointments of my own in the past. We deserve better than a wham bam, thank you ma’am.”
Nessa could only stare at her in shock. Maggie gave her a small smile and walked out of the room.
“So much for a lack of a grand statement,” she whispered to herself. “And I didn’t even get to kiss her,” she sighed.
* * *
Maggie sat in her dark bedroom but watched the big house through her window. She couldn’t sleep, torn between being glad she finally confessed her feelings to Nessa and terrified that the redhead would bolt. The internal conversation with herself was lively hence her lack of sleep. The reporter sighed and once again glanced at the quiet house across the garden. Disgusted with her own fidgeting she released the filmy curtain and began stepping away from the window. Then a glow caught her eye.
Curious she pushed aside the curtain and stared towards the odd glow. Was someone in the garden? She doubted it was an intruder, not with the high walls and security gate. Perhaps Nessa was taking a walk? Perhaps a stroll of her own wouldn’t hurt. She grabbed a lightweight jacket and started down the stairs.
The night air was brisk but didn’t seem to silence the evening insects. Crickets could be heard but nothing else. Everything seemed peaceful. Perhaps she had just seen a reflection on something caused by the moon. Maggie walked towards where she had seen the glow, nearing the rear side of the estate. Looking up she spotted a light above on the second floor. A balcony blocked most of the light. That must have been what she saw.
She let out a sigh and started back towards the garage.
“Who’s there?” Nessa’s worried voice hissed above her.
“Shh! It’s just me, Nessa.”
“Maggie?” Nessa must have been on the balcony because she was instantly standing at the railing and looking down. “What are you doing?”
Maggie shrugged. “I thought I saw a glow or something this way and decided to look around.”
“Alone in the dark? What have you done if something had been wrong?” Nessa saw the dejected sag of Maggie’s shoulders and stopped herself from berating her further.
“Can’t sleep either?” Nessa asked softly.
Maggie shook her head and shrugged once more. “I’ll come down, just a second,” she requested. Maggie stopped her as she stepped away from the balcony.
“No, wait, let me come up there.”
Maggie grabbed hold of the sturdy trellis and vines and easily climbed up to the balcony. She threw a leg over the railing and grinned at the redhead’s expression.
“Guess you never used them to sneak out of your room as a kid, did you?”
The recluse chuckled. “No, I was a proper little lady even then. One did not go shimmying down walls in the middle of the night.”
“You missed out on a lot of fun then,” Maggie teased.
Nessa crossed her arms and shook her head. At least Maggie wasn’t angry with her if she was being playful.
The reporter glanced into Nessa’s bedroom suite. “Nice. Very feminine too,” she grinned.
“Hmm, it hasn’t changed since I was a teenager. Mother was into all that white decor and lace. Care to join me? I was having a spot of tea and watching the stars.”
Maggie agreed and joined Nessa on the wicker love seat. The balcony railing sat high enough to allow them a barred view of the moonlit garden. Neither of them spoke as they star gazed or looked at the English style garden. Then the glow appeared again.
“Odd, there’s that glow again. I wonder what’s causing it?” Maggie muttered. Nessa followed the line of the taller woman’s gaze and saw it too; only she saw what Maggie couldn’t. A woman in a flowing medieval gown was strolling from flowering bush to another, sniffing a petal here and running a delicate finger along leaves.
Nessa knew what she was seeing but not why here and now. The fair folk had often shown themselves to her family in the past when they wanted to give guidance. Was the message a blessing or a warning? She wished she knew. Even as she thought it the woman looked up from the bloom she smelled and looked up at her. A warm smile spread her lips. It was a blessing. Without speaking a word Nessa knew this was about her relationship with Maggie.
“Tell her,” the words whispered in her ear.
“But will she believe?” Nessa whispered aloud.
“Huh?” Maggie grunted, surprised by the sudden break in the silence.
The woman lifted her hand and pointed at the tall brunette. Nessa’s eyes kept staring at the fair folk and the reporter peered down, trying to see what the redhead was staring at. The glow seemed steady then began glowing brighter. As she watched, it seemed to take shape until a woman stood there, gleaming with the sheen of violet light. Maggie blinked and she was gone.
“What the…? Nessa? Did you?” Maggie pointed to where the woman had stood.
“Yes, I saw her.” Nessa placed her fingers over Maggie’s lips to stop the thousand and one questions bursting to come out.
“Shhh. Let’s go inside. It’s getting chilly out here,” the smaller woman suggested, taking the tall woman’s hand. Maggie looked shaken and Nessa could sympathize. She gently pushed Maggie back onto the bed and urged her to lie down. Nessa settled herself over the larger woman and placed a soft lingering kiss on her mouth. It took sever long moments but Maggie seemed to relax and settle down.
“You are used to being the one who told tales of others but this time it is my turn. Will you promise to listen to everything before you grill me for more answers?” The reporter nodded and kept her eyes locked with her own. Nessa began the story; not even realizing her hand took Maggie’s and caressed it as she spoke.
“Far into the past my ancestor, who was a woodsman, saved the life of a woman in the forest. A robber had beaten her and was about to do worse when my ancestor came upon them and rescued her. Out of no where the woman’s sister appeared and thanked him. He was stunned, of course, to find himself in the presence of fair folk. Few had ever seen them because they chose to remain apart from mankind. However, a human had done them a good deed and had to be rewarded for his bravery.”
Maggie’s eyes were wide but she didn’t say anything. Nessa continued her monologue. “The woman placed a mixed blessing upon his family and all his children for eternity. From that time forth, be it a kind or bad deed, it would return to them-“
“Tenfold,” Maggie echoed the word with her, her voice a hushed tone of awe.
Nessa smiled lovingly at the woman beneath her. “Yes, exactly. You’re familiar with the legend?”
“Not really, just something that I once read briefly…” she trailed off, remembering the night her computer behaved oddly.” She looked at Nessa. “Are you saying that woman in the garden was a ‘fair folk’? What are they exactly?”
“Some call them fairies, some the light fairies, but back then they were known as the Sidhe. People of magical abilities who quietly lived out their lives away from people.”
“Have you seen her before?”
“No, but stories passed down have spoken of seeing her when the Sidhe wanted to nudge us one way or another when something important was happening in their lives.” Nessa smiled at Maggie until the reporter understood.
“She is here because of us?”
“Yes. I believe to tell me to trust you. For good or bad, you now know why our family has always helped the less fortunate.”
“Because it comes back to you tenfold! No wonder you’re filthy rich. The more you give away the more you make.” Nessa could almost hear the gears moving in Maggie’s mind. “And what if someone in your family did something wrong?”
“Oh, there was one unfortunate fellow by the name of Robbie the Bold. He had beaten one of his servants badly when he was drunk. After that day he was constantly angering people so badly that they would pummel him. Within a month he died from a beating he had gotten for offending a man’s wife.”
“Oh crap—I remember a few days after you threw me out of your car, Karen was telling me that all your vehicles were in the shop.”
“Yes, I paid for that one, believe me. I couldn’t even take a taxi anywhere because it would suddenly stall and wouldn’t run if I was in it. That lasted for days. So, do you believe me?” she asked hopefully.
Maggie sighed. “Yeah, I believe you. Either that or we both lost it completely.”
The reporter pulled Nessa closer. “So where does that leave us? She told you to trust me but I doubt you suddenly decided you were in love with me.”
“It’s not a matter of deciding but feeling. I do know how drawn I am to you. I know when I touch you I feel like I’ve come home. Is this love? I don’t know yet. However, I think we jumped over a huge hurdle tonight. You know my dark secret and I don’t have to worry about you betraying me. Now we just spend time together.” Nessa lowered herself once more to sample Maggie’s lips. “And we kiss—a LOT,” she grinned.
* * * *
Rachel tossed the dirty linen into the basket next to the washer with a frustrated sigh.
Tess looked at her sideways. “What’s your beef this morning?”
“It them!” she hissed.
“Them? You mean Ms. O’Shea and her…friend?”
“Yes, them! I went into her bedroom and guess what I saw? The two of them snuggled up, cozy as you please, and still dressed! They have the hots for each other so why are they acting behaving like a couple of good Catholic girls?”
Tess snorted, “You young people. All you think about is sex, sex, sex! I’d explain it to you but why bother? You can’t explain color to a blind woman.”
“Well, aren’t you bitchy this morning?” the servant girl asked and turned away in a huff. Tess shook her head. Maybe Rachel will get a surprise in her lunch later on.
* * * *
To Be Continued
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