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    A time to fight and a time to heal

    Cold rain continued to fall without reprieve. Unrelenting, merciless in it’s intent to turn the ship into a water logged vessel of pure misery. Every inch of the ship was soaked, saturated to the point where the water just sat unabsorbed, there was no possibility that it could get any wetter. The sails hung limply, soggy patches of white against the dark sky. This was not the time to fight the waves or force direction. This was a time to grip the helm and hold on, staying upright the only goal.

    Shane’s hands were wrinkled prunes and Bette felt the cold dampness down to her very bones. It was her turn at the wheel, her feet planted, her eyes scanning the horizon and skyline. All she saw was white capped waves, dark clouds and streaks of lightening.

    “I’d be drier if I lived in the bottom of the sea…” Passing a bottle of rum to the Captain, Shane squeezed out her hat, plopping it back on her head with a grimace.

    “You’d be warmer too. Fuck…” Bette took a long draught from the bottle, the bite from the liquor moving down her throat nicely.
    And on and on it went, no end in sight… dark and stormy, lightening off in the distance and thunder rumbling overhead. The ship valiantly met each drop with all the gusto Bette demanded of it. Cresting another wave, the bow rose high then came crashing down on the other side and Bette felt the pull of the rope around her waist to keep her onboard.

    There was no time to dry out, no time to sleep, no time to take a break. She missed the sun, she missed being warm, but mostly she missed Tina. Missed her with a yearning in her heart that ate at her insides, her own dark cloud over her head. Gulping hot coffee with a splash of rum, she urged her trusty crew on, determined that today would not be the day her ship sank.

    When she could, she made time to check on the blonde every few hours, worried more than she could say about the arrow injury and Tina’s fragile heart. Killing Sir William unraveled the healer, this Bette knew. Tina had never killed before. And it ate at her like an insidious poison, this Bette knew as well.

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    Comments

    1. “If their kissing was slow and sensual before it was practically on a glacier pace now, grass grew quicker than the time they spent kissing, tongues dancing over each other, the very air shared between them.” Good God woman. I’ve read and now I need to take a breath and read again. And collect my thoughts.

      What to address first? The storm? A ten year old Bette? Their love making? The garden? I have so many thoughts about the garden. Tina learning it is okay to do what has to be done to protect her family and Bette learning it is okay to learn about herbs and identify mushrooms and to be a soft bear in a cave. To work the soil. The perfect yin and yang. And their helping each other to heal. So connected. So beautiful. Proof? “How was it that the same woman who slashed and fought and barreled her way through a crowd of attackers could also be so gentle, so tender. The same woman who was like a lion in battle, a cobra with a sword… the same woman could carefully tether the tenderest of flowers, making Tina’s heart swell with affection. Could that dichotomy exist in her as well?” Yes, it most definitely can.

      But uh oh. How dare they take Alice. The boy king summoning our captain? I can’t wait for Bette’s response. Let me enjoy this chapter one more time and compose a more complete comment.

      • I’m w/U Billy.
        Initially, I consume BK’s words in a whoosh!! Then after swallowing, and trying to calm my racing heart, I can re-read and begin to form coherent thoughts . . . well . . . most of the time . . .

      • On a glacier pace. Can you even imagine? The ten year old Bette story is something to ruminate on. I think it speaks volumes for who she becomes and why even when she does what her father wants she can’t get his approval. He frowns at the sword play but then doesn’t build her up when he allows her a chance to use a weapon. She can never win.
        I like how you describe them as a yin and yang and how one learns to be soft and the other to protect.

        And you, my dear Billy are so right – how DARE they take Alice? And to summon Bette like a common maid or low ranking house Lord? The audacity. Looking forward to your more detailed analysis.

    2. Okay. There is a lot to cover. In a sense, to me, this chapter is a true symphonic depiction of our couple’s physical healing, psychological reawakening and a total solidification of their passion, connection and love. Bette is physically healing and finally regaining some of the safety she felt prior to her father dragging her ten year old self out of bed to perform an execution. If there was ever any doubt that this man was a monster it was dispelled with this harrowing story. This explains a lot of who Bette became and the importance of Tina in her world. As for Tina, she is still struggling. Her shoulder badly injured. The muscle taking time to heal. Her heart even longer. Bette trying to reach Tina. To get Tina to talk about and understand the need to kill William. The justification. Why can’t Tina understand?

      The garden becomes Tina’s perfect balm. Where she is happiest. Her salvation. Sister Edith? Perhaps Bette’s. At the very least she helps Bette see. “You are the best thing that has ever happened to her. And she to you. But you are up here missing her and she is down there with a broken heart. Put yourself in her world. Seems pretty simple to me, you big dolt…” and Sister Edith cackled as Bette swore, their years together not diminished by time apart, Sister Edith knew Bette like the back of her hand.” Sister Edith able to be respectful but direct. And get through to Bette. Because Bette only knew the rationale. The need. That it was truly his life or theirs. “He deserved to die.” Sister Edith reaching out to her: “Aye. He may very well have. Healers don’t get to decide that though, Captain. The best of them heal without prejudice or judgement and she… is the best I’ve seen. Ever. Imagine the conflict within…” Tina has The Gift. A gentleness of spirit. A tender heart. But she can heal. She’s very skilled. And all the killing and violence you are used to….must be overwhelming for her. Bette nodded, agreeing. “Yes. Killing Sir William… upset her, greatly. She won’t talk about it. I feel shut out. She hasn’t shut you out, my Dear. Her heart is broken. And that is a muscle that takes a long time to heal. She killed someone, brutally. Worse, she used the knowledge she carries, the knowledge of how to heal to do the deed. Captain, she knew exactly where to place that blade, how far to twist, how deep to thrust. He had no chance.” Powerful stuff. Beautifully written. But there is so much more. Perhaps my favorite section:

      Yes, Tina had used her immense healing skills to take a life. Skills Bette had taught her. And now: “I am here for you, Tee. Teach me. You learned to fight, you did that for me. For the children. So now it is my turn. Teach me about the herbs. About the plants and roots and all the things that keep you coming back here day after day. Teach me to do good with my hands….And so it was that Bette Porter, Slayer of Souls and Bringer of Death, sat cross legged in the dirt and learned which herb caused vomiting and which could be ground to make a salve that stopped bleeding. She learned to spot moss that could help with itching and moss that could start a fire. Shoulder to shoulder, they worked, the garden blooming along with their relationship. Days that became weeks and weeks that became a month. Soon a light tan coated her skin and she could proudly distinguish between a mushroom that killed and another that helped ease cramps. They pulled up all the weeds, re-harvested vegetables and mulched, Tina’s shoulder getting stronger, her heart too. Her smiles went from strained to shining, reaching her eyes as she basked in the love Bette bestowed on her.” In teaching Bette, Tina helped heal her own heart and further cement their already soid connection.

      Just as Bette had taught Tina to fight, Tina taught Bette to be still. To know real peace. Which leads to my favorite passage: “There was a gentleness of spirit within Bette that Tina drew out, a playfulness that was complicated in it’s simplicity. Being around the blonde calmed the Captain, brought out the best in her… and in return she made Tina feel safe, loved, like she could do anything, be anyone. And she wanted to be the person she was when she was with Bette.” And what did Bette want? “How was it that the same woman who slashed and fought and barreled her way through a crowd of attackers could also be so gentle, so tender. The same woman who was like a lion in battle, a cobra with a sword… the same woman could carefully tether the tenderest of flowers, making Tina’s heart swell with affection. Could that dichotomy exist in her as well?”

      Hmmm. So what is the message of this chapter? That these two women, in one sense unlikely partners, in another sense a perfect match. So. Yes that dichotomy can most certainly exist. “The children drifted towards the garden, seeking the two women who became their mothers, two unlikely warriors that captured their hearts. It was the unlikeliest of family, chosen but cemented in the love the two women bore for each other. Before long, Rowan was given a shovel to dig holes for potatoes and Peter a watering can, the garden becoming a family project.” Unlikely warriors united forever. United as lovers, as parents, and yes as warriors when they need to be.

      There is such a rhythm to this chapter. An ebb and flow. I love that you begin the chapter with a storm. A terrible storm that mirrors Tina and Bette’s wounds and frame of mind. The clearing skies and calmer seas bring sanctuary and safe harbor and the garden. And the rebirth of Tina’s spirit and the true emergence of Bette’s softer side: “It was glorious, the setting bringing out the lighthearted side of Bette, the children capturing everyone in their happiness. Tina laughed until she had to sit down watching Bette play Bear in the Cave with the little ones, mimicking a slumbering monster of a Bear that came to life when poked by sticks or chubby fingers.” One can easily visualize Bette tending the garden and playing with the children. A happy and content and hopeful Bette and Tina. Complete with a monumental resurgence of their passion and physical connection.

      But here we go again. A cliffhanger!!! Bette has been summoned to account for her actions. To save Alice. Of course Bette will go. The search for her mother put on hold once more. And your lucky readers guaranteed even more of this glorious adventures. The boy king has met his match I’m sure.

      • Billy. You outdid yourself with this comment. I love your first sentence – “There is a lot to cover. In a sense, to me, this chapter is a true symphonic depiction of our couple’s physical healing, psychological reawakening and a total solidification of their passion, connection and love”

        That word SYMPHONIC jumps out at me and sticks, what a beautiful description. Earlier chapters showed Bette healing, she was the one who was injured in the fighting against Eric and when she had to escape the prison cell. Tina had wounds too from the horse back riding but she was able to care for herself with help, and remained in good emotional health. This time though – her wound shocked her to the core and the pain of the shoulder injury clouded all ability to provide aid to anyone else.

        I would imagine that very few – if anyone other than Kit – know the story of ten year old Bette dragged from her warm bed to hunt and kill a clumsy beggar. Some part of her knew that she had to show Tina that she had to suffer emotional wounds in order to become the swordmaster she became. To put aside the softness and compassion and kill when needed. Once Tina saw that kindred spirit it became easier to talk about her own pain.

        Before that the garden. Like you commented, it is there that the real synergy happens. The children of course help with the bonding but Bette had to trust Tina and Tina listen to Bette for them to reach the point where they could both overcome what was bothering them. I love that the garden was your favorite part. It was mine as well. It is one thing to write of a Bette as a swashbuckler but another thing entirely to write of a gentle swashbuckler tending herbs and learning about moss. Immersing herself in Tina’s world was an important step to letting go and holding on at the same time.

        I also love that mention the chapter starting with a storm. At first I needed a simple way for them to get out and not be chased by enemy ships. A storm accomplished that but as I wrote it became something else entirely. This part of the chapter they had to do alone, Bette keeping the ship upright yet hurting physically and Tina tending her own wound but hurting emotionally. This speaks to your notion of the yin and yang. Only when together can both areas be healed. You sum it up with this – “A happy and content and hopeful Bette and Tina. Complete with a monumental resurgence of their passion and physical connection.” YES YES.

        Of course Bette will go. Alice is one of her closest friends and a member of the inner circle. That she languishes in a prison is unacceptable. And more chapters to come.

        Thank you for your comments. I treasure each one. I hope you are writing as well, I adore your story and look forward to reading it. Could I be so bold as to request a chapter over the Thanksgiving holidays? A long chapter that I can read while I digest my turkey and hide from family? One can hope.

    3. Great… great chapter. They have come through the battle, then through a storm to and now through a healing of their wounds. And this healing has included the reestablishment of the family, of the love between Bette and Tina and their dedication to their four children.

      When they first arrived, Bette indicates to Tina that this is their new home – their oasis hidden from the world. Its has many creature comforts which are needed by Tina and by Bette to heal. It has the sisters who seem to be excellent cooks and gardeners. And who can assist with childcare while Bette and Tina heal from their wounds. And there is Sister Edith whom has known Bette for a very long time. But is this Bette and Tina’s final destination? Is this where they will raise and educate their children? Possibly not. There are still the unanswered question about Maxine. And now the King summons Bette to court. And Alice is being held in the King’s jail. This means that there will be another confrontation? A peaceful life is not at hand – more adventures to come. Perhaps Bette can pay a ransom and spring Alice free. Perhaps she can give the control of the fleet to Shane and Carmen with Alice and Dana as second in command. Bette and Tina are in need of a peaceful life… the time has come to take advantage of Bette’s wealth and raise their children. To be in a place where Tina can perform her healing skills with minimal danger of attack. But there is still Maxine and the unknown mystery or prize at the end of that search.

      Tina has certainly helped Bette become the person she really wants to be: a lover of a woman who is truly her equal, who clams her storms and show her the meaning of a life well lived. And Tina has found her protector and her provider as well as a lover and the other mother for her children. Tina loves Bette and will follow her anywhere, however as Edith has pointed out, the violence of Bette’s world is over whelming. And Tina knows that eventually, it will mean Bette’s death. And Bette knows that it very well could cost her Tina or the children’s lives. They are definitely at a cross roads and decisions they make today will set the path for the rest of their lives. I just hope they talk to each other, weigh their options and choose something in which they have the best chance for a long and peaceful life. It’s a huge world with many places in which they can hide from most of their enemies. Only the most egotistical will seek the revenge when someone is well hidden and well defended. It would appear that Bette has made some preparation for this eventuality even before she met Tina. This convent is an example.

      I love the relationship between Bette and Tina. I understand the guilt Tina feels. I understand the frustration Bette feels in getting Tina to talk about it. I admire that Bette is willing to learn new things such as gardening and child care…perhaps she will try her hand at cooking. And I so appreciate their joy of having children and how they have both committed to being their parents. Now they need to provide for a stable and safe home.

      Thanks for the chapter…. anxious to find out how Bette and Tina handles this summons situation.

      • This is a great comment! I agree with you that the convent offers a home of sorts to the family, they come in limping and injured and leave strong and united. There are some questions now that you hit on – what does meeting the King mean for Bette’s quest to leave the business? Will she be able to use her money and get Alice out or is there more fighting that must occur? How much does Bette know about the court life and the danger she might be sailing into = this time without the benefit of her Whisperer to prepare her for what is to come?

        Your comment really frames the whole story in these sentences – “Tina has certainly helped Bette become the person she really wants to be: a lover of a woman who is truly her equal, who clams her storms and show her the meaning of a life well lived. And Tina has found her protector and her provider as well as a lover and the other mother for her children. Tina loves Bette and will follow her anywhere, however as Edith has pointed out, the violence of Bette’s world is over whelming. ”

        You mention it being a cross roads and I can think of no better description. Choose wisely Tina would say, like she did with the cards… but while one road may lead Bette closer to her mother it is filled with uncertainty.

        But first the summons! As you said… all the elements of a good life are in place – the children, the stability, the love. What happens next could unravel it all.

        Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Martha. Looking forward to your comments on future chapters and on the stories written by other writers.

    4. What are you doing here?” Tina asked, giggling when Bette leaned over to kiss her . . . .

      “I am here for you, Tee. TEACH ME. You learned to fight, you did that for me. For the children. So now it is my turn. Teach me about the herbs. About the plants and roots and all the things that keep you coming back here day after day. TEACH me TO DO GOOD with MY HANDS”.

      This is the dialog that brought tears to my eyes. Bette UNDERSTANDING that TINA, the healer, could help her to
      “SEE” from a different vantage point. To me, Bette’s humble heart is what drew open that creaky door that had slammed shut on Tina’s heart. And when Tina’s heart is open, Bette knows she will truly be able to have the guilt-free body with all the intimacies that it brings.

      TEACH me to DO GOOD WITH MY HANDS . . . .

      • Teach me to do good with my hands. WE need emojis for sure. Bette getting Tina to help her see things from a new vantage point. DT…. this is a remarkable comment. You see this chapter so clearly I am blown away. Teach me to do with my hands. The implications are vast and crucial to them moving forward. So glad you on board (no pun intended) with this story. Stay tuned.

    5. What a great chapter, one of my favorites. So much that touched me in different ways.

      Battling the storm was exciting – Shane made me laugh “I’d be drier if I lived in the bottom of the sea…”. This passage, I know this feeling – “There was a momentary sense of exhilaration and she caught Shane’s eye, both grinning. There was nothing quite like the feeling of coming out on the other side of a major storm.” I’ve never been on a ship during a storm, but I’ve had this feeling when coming out on the other side of other kinds of storms in my life. The deeper meaning.

      And Tina suffering physically and emotionally – “Who heals the healer? Who looks after the one who takes care of everyone else?” Bette, “My port in the storm…” with her strength and love and lovemaking and the beautiful time spent in the garden, is the one to do it. (With an assist from Sister Edith – who I love.) Just like Tina healed Bette who at 10-yrs old left her soft side behind her – what a story Bette told about killing the thief.

      Bette & Tina – I never tire of their lovemaking scenes, BK – keep ‘em coming…so hot and sexy, but full of love and intimacy. The whole package. The card game was almost another sex scene – the banter, they were flirting, it was like foreplay.

      My favorite lines:
      “Being around the blonde calmed the Captain, brought out the best in her… and in return she made Tina feel safe, loved, like she could do anything, be anyone.”

      “their eyes only on each other, an entire conversation happening without one word being said.” No truer statement

      “And I am going to dance with you on the shore under the moon…” OMG, I can picture this.

      This story just gets better and better. Now I can’t wait for Bette’s next move in the next chapter.

      • Westy
        thank you SO much for you comment. I really enjoyed reading it. I liked this part that you wrote-” I’ve never been on a ship during a storm, but I’ve had this feeling when coming out on the other side of other kinds of storms in my life. The deeper meaning.” And all I can say is SAME! Nothing quite like coming out on the other side of a shit storm to make you grin like a fool right?
        I love Sister Edith too, she’s like a wise old owl who sees all and knows all. And she is very much needed right now.
        And they HAVE to dance. Before they leave to see the King, I will make them dance. On the shore. Under the moon.

        Stay tuned, thanks for taking the time to write!
        BK

    6. Hi BK,

      I’ve been looking forward to reading this chapter for a few days now, but work and other things mean I don’t have time to read it. Fortunately I will be free for the next few days and hope to have time on Friday to sit down and relax. Tomorrow I have a play date with my niece but after that I have more time.

      Take care my friend!

      • Life may very well be dull without all the fights!
        Only Bette can say for sure if that is truly what she wants. We shall have to see how the story unfolds. Great question Izzie. Thank you for commenting.

    7. BK…this is just the best story. I love it. the ebbs and flows of the action, mixed with the quiet but powerful connection between our bette & tina…and their family. I love how bette took care of tina…how she tried, even if she wasn’t sure, she did it. she learned from tina without even really realizing. I love how you brought out the fact that they actually complement each other. their strengths are a perfect balance…how tina makes bette want to be a better person, and inspires her to see a life that isn’t just fighting and fleeing. and bette’s bravery, her strength and her love and their family…makes tina a fighter, brings out her strength…how she would do anything to protect her family. growing sometimes hurts…tina realizing that she had that part in her that was capable of killing someone (because there was a threat to her family, bette, her kids) to protect her loved ones…she had to reconcile that with who she is. bette helped her see that and that was a beautiful scene. ugh. I love this story. THANK YOU, BK. I cannot wait to see what happens when bette is pulled back into fight mode.

      p.s. I smiled so wide at that The Princess Bride inspired back and forth dialogue. I half expected a “what in the world is that!?” haha.

      • Me too:

        “Truly. You have a dizzying intellect.”

        “I am a little distracted by your breasts under that shirt, I can see the outline of your nipples. You did that on purpose, which makes me think you want me to pick the cards in front of you so my hand is close to your body…”

        “You’re just stalling…”

        “Bette Porter never stalls…”

        “Then choose”

        So excellent!!

      • Stir FRY
        I KNEW you would love the Princess Bride reference. It is one of my favorite scenes. I did not start the card game with that movie in mind but once it evolved into Bette choosing which card…. I mean it was clearly a parallel! And yes… their strengths are a perfect balance. They do complement each other so beautifully. “Growing sometimes hurts” – what a great way to put the way this chapter asked each of them to explore where they could meet the other. Love it.
        So glad you love this story. I look forward to reading what your thoughts are each time I post. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    8. Hey BK,

      My apologize for not reading and commenting on Friday like i said i would do. There is simply not enough hours in a day to get everything done like i wished and wanted.

      Yeez, what more can i add tot all the wonderful comments above?!

      My thoughts and feelings are going in all directions, where to start?

      The battle against the weather at sea to bring the ship safely to their refuge, the pain, both internal and physical they have to deal with, the differences in the two, the healer who killed someone when it goes against everything Tina stands for, the fighter hardened by what her father made her do when Bette was ten years old, but who thanks to Tina can show her sensitive sides. The fighter who gives Tina everything including her heart and from whom she learns all about the secrets of the garden, the poisonous, edible and healing flowers, plants and herbs. Together and with their children, each with their own task.

      The wise words of sister Edith who knows Bette like no other and which I hope will remain in their lives.

      Just like in your other story, I am blown away by the connection between Bette and Tina, these two are made for each other and together with their children and the rest of the family I wish them a loving life without violence but no that doesn’t seem to be the case yet with the Kings summon for Bette to appear before him and with her best friend Alice in jail. The family must battle again, a battle that Bette says she will fight with Tina.

      I am very curious how this will end. A beautiful story that will keep you glued to the bitter end.

      Thank you BK for sharing your incredible talent with us!.

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