Panther by Teagen2

Panther
by Teagen2

Disclaimers: Alternative Content Warning: This story depicts a loving relationship between two women. This story is not for those under the age of eighteen.

Uber Warning: This story is an uber. The two characters are based off of the leading ladies of XENA WARRIOR PRINCESS.

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Part 1

 

I can’t believe my uncle is dragging me with him this summer to Brazil. All I wanted to do was….nothing this summer. Now I’ll be stuck in some god forsaken jungle for three and a half months. My mom has been at the base camp for a year now. I was cursed into a family of biologists and naturalists. I’m being haled off to the great Brazilian rain forest. I roll my eyes at the thought. “Erica, get your feet off the chair.” my uncle scolds. “I swear.”

“Of let’s not have that.” I mumble under my breath. I sigh and put my headphones on my ears. Great, I’m gonna turn twenty-two in the jungle. Whoopi. My uncle watches me with glee as my head bobs slightly to the rock beat blaring out of my Walkman.

Just as I closed my eyes, a jolt threw me completely out of my seat. “Ahhh.” I yelled as another jolt threw me back against my now empty seat. “What’s going on?”

“Turbulence I guess.” he said louder than necessary. He moved toward the front of our small plane. I braced myself as the plane angled sharply down, sending me careening down the aisle into the wall. My heart beat wildly as I realized we were going straight down. I heard a huge roar before everything went black.

I awoke blinking against the rays of the sun. “Uncle Ryan.” I moan as I try to move, but can’t. I use my elbows to prop myself up. My legs are caught underneath a piece of…..tree. I look around to find that I was outside, surrounded by forest. I look around, but see no wreckage of the plane. I do see pieces of metal randomly scattered on the ground. I try to move my right leg and free it. I free my left leg without much trouble, neither are broken. I stand shakily and dust myself off. “Uncle Ryan.” I call, louder this time. The only sounds I hear are insects. “Where’s the plane?” I ask myself. I look towards the sun. I notice that its late afternoon. It was ten last night when we crashed. I had been unconscious for most of the day.

I began to walk south to see if I could see exactly where I was. We had another hundred miles to go before we would have reached my mother. So I know I was way off from where I should be. I tried not to think about all of the dangerous wildlife that lurk here. I knew I had to find a safe place to bed down. I’m gonna be here for awhile. I found a small rock formation that I could sit under. It was just big enough for me to sit underneath without being rained on if the weather changed.

I shook and shivered through the night even though it wasn’t very chilly. As soon as the sun came up again, I headed in the same direction I started in. I had to come across something eventually. “Yeah headhunters, giant anaconda maybe.” I joked. Whether or not I liked it, my mom’s and uncle’s knowledge of nature has rubbed off on me. I detected a change in the air. I turned my nose to the scent. My eyes rested on an animal.

My eyes grew wide as the jaguar stared at me with deadly eyes. I stood still, trying to look harmless. It jumped down from its perch and charged. “Oh shit.” I took off in a full run for the hill ahead. Something told me to run for that hill. I heard the cat on my heels, literally. I was a mere four inches ahead. Suddenly I heard a terrifying cry. Then I realized the cat was no longer chasing me. I stopped and turned around. If I didn’t see it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t believe it. A panther was tearing the smaller cat to shreds as they fought. Poor thing didn’t have a chance. Neither did I. I knew a stroke of luck when I saw it. I once again ran for the hill. I ran up and down the other side.

I smiled as I saw a small waterfall emptying into a small lagoon. “Water.” I cautiously approached the edge. The canopy above casted a dark shade over the water. Seeing no danger I squatted, filled my hand with water and sipped. I looked at my reflection. Two days in a rain forest and I already look like shit. My blond hair now has a muddy tint to it. I dunked my head in just long enough to wet my hair. “Oh that feels good.” I whispered. The heat was terrible here. Almost immediately after waking up, I had removed my blue flannel shirt and tied it around my waist. My NIKE’s were now covered in dirt too.

I surveyed the lagoon. I had to find a place near it to think and have water within reach, but I couldn’t stay here. Every animal within miles probably drinks here. I looked over and saw an enormous snake slide into the water. I stepped away from the edge. It was a boa constrictor. I headed to the other side of the water and began walking again. I saw a family of chimpanzees swinging in some nearby trees. “How did Jane Goodall do this?” A shriek came from one of the chimps. I knew it was a danger call.

The panther was behind me! I took a deep calming breath. I continued to walk, refusing to stop. The panther increased its pace, but did not charge me. It was doing much worse. It was stalking its prey, me. After seeing the fight with the jaguar, I really didn’t want to stick around. I muscled up all my energy and ran for it. I turned to see if it was still behind me. It was running, but it wasn’t trying to catch me. It just…followed me. It didn’t take long for me to tire out and stop. I collapsed from exhaustion, trying to catch my breath. I lifted my head. It was gone.
Now I was lost. Not that I wasn’t before, but I had no idea where the water hole was. I decided to once again start a trek in one direction. My stomach rumbled. I was going to get sick soon if I didn’t eat something. I came across nothing I knew I could eat. I saw numerous plants and berries, but they were poisonous. I had to stop twice because I came across snakes. There was no way I could survive if I was bitten by one. I guess its normal to feel like your being watched in the jungle, but I did feel it. It was probably that giant black cat.

My feet as well as my head began to ache. To the touch, I felt hot. “I can’t get sick. I won’t get sick.” I said to myself. Soon I had to stop. I just couldn’t go on. Now the tears were starting to come. I was here….alone…My uncle is dead….My mom is a thousand miles away. I’m gonna die here. I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand. The crying is not helping my fever any. I heard the sound of branches cracking. I looked up. “Ahhhhh!” I scrambled to my feet. A woman had stepped out from behind a tree and was heading towards me. A spear was in her hand. She had stopped her advance when I screamed. Her face contorted in compassion as she saw I was crying. I suddenly realized she was white, not a native of the region. I took her in from head to toe.
Her clothing was some kind of skin. It was almost Native American in appearance with the pants and the oversized shirt. The red breech cloth was consistent of the tribes in this area, and to think I hated when my folks drove facts like that into my brain. I’m glad they did. No shoes, but well groomed. She didn’t give off a wild woman look at all. She looked at her weapon and then placed it on the ground, then standing to her full height. Long black hair that went past her shoulders.

I backed myself up against a tree. I was scared and she knew it. She took small steps towards me. There was a crude knife at her side. She now stood in front of me. Her hand reached up and touched my face. She looked at me with amazement. She wiped the tears that fell on her fingers. Her facial expressions seemed animal like in nature. “Ummmm.” She jumped back as she heard my voice. She cocked her head to the side. I racked my brain for possible dialects she might speak. “Kia?” No response. “Likima.” No response. She just looked at me. The panther suddenly appeared next to her. “Ahhhh!”. She grasped me gently as I started to move.

“Mmmm.” She shook her head no. She reached down and stroked the animal’s head. I sighed in relief.

Communication seemed to be in order. I needed to find out what she language she spoke. I placed my hand on my chest. “Mika….Erica.” I pointed to her. “Mika?” She didn’t understand it would seem. I repeated it.

“I do…not…understand.” I mentally slapped my forehead. Her speech was slow and pronounced strangely, but she spoke English.

“My name is Erica.”

“Erica.” she repeated, placing a hand on my chest.

“Yes.” I smiled. She smiled. She placed a hand on her chest.

“Orie.” She placed her hand on top of the panther’s head. “Balla.” We both heard the noise as something was coming towards us. She took my hand, picked up her weapon, and pulled me with her.

We ended up at a crude tree house, rather more of a platform in the trees with a roof. She helped me climb up and we sat. There were leaves that were very soft to the touch, lining the ‘nest.’ “Orie.” She turned and looked at me. I smiled confirming my analysis of her name. Orie means ‘Eyes of Water’ in Pawaw. Her eyes were blue. I needed to find out how she got here. “Are you Pawaw?” She shook her head no. “What are you?”

“Orie.” she answered.

“No, I mean. Who are…your people?”

“Not people. Mosa.”

“Mosa. Animal god?” She nodded. “I don’t understand.”

“I am…prayed?”

“Worshipped? You’re worshipped by the Pawaw?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“I am difff…different.” She was not sure that she was pronouncing her words correctly.

“Gall says I must be Mosa.” She cocks her head again. “You are different too.” Balla distracts me for a moment as she bounds up the tree and sits down near us.

“Have you lived here long?” I gestured to our surroundings.

“Yes.”

The sun was beginning to set. Orie handed me something similar to a banana. I ate it quickly, inhaling it. She smiled and handed me two more. As I ate those, Orie pulled a woven blanket over to the leaves. It was definitely a Powaw design. She moved the leaves around to make a better ‘mattress’. She motioned for me to join her and I did. The leaves were surprising supporting. My bed back home wasn’t as comfortable as this. The warm body next to me didn’t hurt either. I was lulled to sleep by the close presence of this woman and the sounds of night in the jungle.

I woke up alone. Orie was gone, but Balla was lying several feet away. “So.” I stretched. “You’re Orie’s pet huh?” The animal simply yawned. I sat and contemplated the turn of events. The Pawaw are a well known tribe. They trade with hunters and trappers. They also welcome outsiders. If Orie can take me to the nearest village, I’m sure they can help me get home. It was a stroke of pure luck that Orie is connected to that particular tribe. The only tribe I cared to hear about.

My uncle is the only one to know the truth of why that is. My Uncle Ryan and Aunt Tameron always said the Pawaw were a very friendly tribe. Its ideals on beauty and sexuality were unique to other rain forest tribes. It was the only tribe known that practices a ‘free love’ way of thinking. Homosexuality is common factor among their beliefs. Even though very few actually are, they do not shun the act. I have accepted my sexuality. In fact the girl I’m dating now won’t like the fact I’m stuck in the middle of the jungle with a beautiful woman.

Orie climbed into view. I half expected her to swing in on a vine. Boy, I watch too much T.V. “Mango.” She says as she swings a bag off her shoulder filled with the fruit. As we began to eat our breakfast, I broached the subject of the Pawaw. “Orie, can you take me to the Pawaw?” She wipes her face with her hand.

“Why?”

“I want to go home.”

“Home?” she asks.

“Home is uhhh…where you stay, live.”

“Home.” she points to the floor we are sitting on.

“No, home for you.” I point. “Not for me.”

“Erica can stay.” I smile.

“Thank you, Orie. I can’t. I must go to my family.”

“You like me. Mosa. No family.”

“Orie, I am not a god. I must go.”

“Why?” I took a calming breath.

“Orie, will you take me to the Pawaw?”

“Yes.” she says quietly, almost sadly.

Orie didn’t say much to me as her and Balla escorted me through the forest. Orie certainly knew the jungle well. We stopped at a water hole and rested. I could tell by the markings on the trees we weren’t far from the village. This was probably their source of water. As I reached out for another drink, Orie playfully splashed water into my face from beside me. I splashed her back with a smile. Her face was stunning when she smiled. I saw the glint in her eye. It was loving. A grin remained on her face as she reached out and caressed my jaw, near my chin. When her fingers brushed my lips, I kissed them. As her hand continued to move, I kissed her palm, her knuckles, then the back of her hand. Why was this woman hidden away in this forest?

My smile faded as I caught sight of two men wearing nothing but a red wrap. They were Pawaw warriors. When Orie saw the change in my expression, she turned and stood. The men immediately dropped to their knees and bowed their heads. She wasn’t kidding, they do worship her. I knew most of the Pawaw language. The men repeated, ‘Great one’ over and over. Until Orie spoke. “Coka(Rise.) De Gall ne ma towa. (Tell Gall I am coming.)” she gestured with her spear. They nodded and headed away. She took my hand and followed behind the men.

The forest opened up to huts. Looks like I just stepped into a nature special on the Discovery Channel. There were women and children doing tasks and chores. All stopped and bowed as Orie moved through them. We stopped in front of a man wearing a lot of adornments. He too bowed. “Gall, hod ke token ua fam ah yoda justo?(Gall, have you spoken to any of the ghost hunters?)”

“Re, ne hod.(Yes, I have.)”

“Noe so sas?(Where are they?)” He pointed.

“Ha geffa doma, Mosa.(The red cliffs, Animal God)” Orie slapped her thigh. Balla fell in step next to her as she guided me away from the chief and out to the borders of the village. She stopped long enough to take a blanket from an older woman who held it out for her. It was probably a gift. She stopped and draped the blanket around my shoulders.

“Coma ua na bosa!(Bow to my friend!)” She yelled at a man that was eyeing me. Everyone went down instantly, including the man.

We sat on the edge of the huts and listened to the drums and chants as the Pawaw danced. Women would periodically approach us with fruit, bread, meat, or water. Orie would not say a word. She offered it to me before she took her share. Soon all the women were giving me the food. Some mumbled, “Hasama.” Treasured One. They must think I’m a god too. Well might as well play along. It will help me get home.

When the sun came up, we were still lying on the edge of the village. A call went out through the village. “We must go.” Orie helped me to my feet and we walked back into the village. They were several men in safari type garb. They took one look at me and asked, “Are you Erica?”

“Yeah, how’d you know that?”

“Your uncle sent out search parties looking for you.” The man smiled down at me.

“My uncle? He’s alive?”

“Yes. He has a broken wrist, but he’s okay. He said he couldn’t find you near the wreckage, so he knew you must be alive. How in the world did you get to this village?”

“Orie.” I turned to her. She continued to stare at them.

“Thank you, Orie.” he bowed. “If we hurry we can meet your uncle in the port by dark.”

“Okay. Give me a minute.” We watched as the man moved away. I noticed his jacket bore the symbol of the university my mother and uncle work for.

I didn’t know how to start to thank Orie for saving me. “Orie, if it weren’t for you I’d be hopelessly lost or dead.” My eyes started to pool. She clamped a hand on my mouth.

“No tears.” she whispered. “Go…home.” she smiled. The tears came anyway. I reached out an enveloped her. She hugged me back with equal force.

“Goodbye, Orie. Thank you.” To my surprise when I let her go, there was a wetness in her eyes too. I released her hand. “Bye Balla.” I turned and walked towards the men. They placed a jacket around my shoulders. I turned back to wave goodbye and both of them were gone.

We walked about two miles until we got to three jeeps. I was happy to arrive in the town of Pa Towan. It was our destination by plane. “ERICA!” I saw my uncle running to me with a smile.

“Uncle Ryan.” He picked me up in a fierce hug.

“Oh sweetie. Are you okay?”

“Yeah, you’ll never believe what happened.”

****

I was glad to be in a warm bed and in a building. I don’t think Uncle Ryan believed everything I told him. “Uncle Ryan,” I had to know more. “Tell me about the Pawaw.”

“What do ya wanna know?”

“What’s their word for love?”

“Oh you know that.” he chuckled. I did, but I liked how I asked him one thing and he would break out into an entire lecture. “The word is Ramas, but sometimes its Bosa.”

“Bosa means friend.” I said.

“Yeah, but friend and love are one in the same sometimes.” “Bow to my friend!”

“Really?”

“Yep. Some of the ways they show love are a lot like our customs. Kissing, hugging, making love.” I smile at him as he continues.
“You know sometimes it’s all in a gesture. Bringing food for your mate, doing their chores, or letting them eat first or….”

“Wait. What you did you say?”

“Doing their chores?”

“No, about letting them eat first.”

“Oh yeah. Kind of cool actually. To offer someone your food first is a huge thing to them because food is not all that easy to obtain in the jungle. By doing that they say, ‘I want you to be happy and healthy regardless of how little I would get.”

“But what if the person had a limitless amount at their beck and call?”

“Doesn’t matter. It’s all in the gesture. Why do you ask anyway?”

“No reason.” I turned over. “Goodnight.”

“Goodnight, Sweetie.”

****

I did not sleep last night. When the sun came up, a torrent of rain was beating down on the roof. “We’ll wait till this afternoon to leave. See if it slacks up.” My uncle turned around and handed me my backpack.

“You found it?” I smiled.

“Got your other stuff, too.”

“Cool.” I reached into my bag and pulled out my Butterfinger. I ripped the wrapper off and devoured it with a smile. “Uncle Ryan?”

“Yeah?”

“What happened with the plane anyway?” I asked between bites.

“There was something wrong with the engines. Both conked out. When we scraped a rock face, it tore a hole in the fuselage. You kinda fell out of that hole I guess. Because when I went back to check on you, you were gone. You don’t remember falling out?”

“Nope. All I remember is being tossed around like a rag doll.”

“The plane almost made it back to Pa Towan. Some of the villagers saw us going down and came to help us. I had no idea where you landed or whether you were alive.” He caressed my cheek.

“Orie found me. If it weren’t for her….” I trailed off. I looked up at him. “I have to go back.” I grabbed one of the raincoats near the door.

“Hold it!” He grabbed my arm. “What do ya mean you have to go back? Go back where?”

“To the village.” I tossed the raincoat on.

“Oh no you’re not.” I shoved him away.

“I have to tell her.” I swung the door open and ran out into the deluge.

I ran to the garage and saw Darren’s dirt bike propped against the wall. I jumped on it and started it. Just then my uncle burst through the door. “Stop, Erica!” I revved the engine.

“Follow behind me. I’m just gonna say goodbye.” I raised my feet to the pegs and off I went, screaming past my uncle.

I followed the now muddy trail back to the village. With the bike, I was able to drive almost all the way into the village instead of having to walk the last couple of miles. I stopped it out of sight and ran headlong into the village and to the place where I spent the night with her. I was praying she was still here. “ORIE!” I yelled into the woods. I wiped the moisture that poured onto my face. “Orie!” I squinted, trying to see through the rain. “Damn.” I muttered. Just as I was about to turn around and head back, she jogged up to me. “Orie!” I jumped into her arms.

“Why you come back? You go home.” she gestured.

“Ne bosa ke.” I said. She looked at me with a smile. “Ne bosa ke, Orie.” I repeated. “I’ll be back. I promise.” She watched me as I removed my necklace. I placed it around her neck. It was my astrological sign. She fingered it. I kissed her on the lips before leaving. I had to intercept my uncle before he got here. He is gonna be pissed. I heard Orie’s commanding voice over the rain.

“NE BOSA KE, HASAMA!” I smiled as I got to the bike. After two attempts, it started.

****

My uncle met me halfway down the trail. “What the hell do you think your doing?” he boomed as he got out of the jeep. “Get your ass back to the house! Go!” I angrily whirled around the jeep and headed for Pa Towan. My uncle followed close behind me all the way back. As soon as we arrived back in the house, he let loose. “Why did you pull a stunt like? You could have gotten killed!”

“I had to tell Orie something.”

“And what was so important to risk your life?”

“Ne bosa ke.” I said quietly and moved into the bedroom.

“I love you.” he sighed. “Great, just great.” I saw him rub his hands over his face.
Part 2
It was about two in the afternoon when we headed down river. I hated to travel in a boat. It was so boring. Luckily my Walkman had survived the crash, so I was able to entertain myself. The rain had dulled down to a light drizzle, but the river was a dark brown from the previous flood. My annoying cousin Darren was along for this trip. He and I have bickered like five year olds all our lives, good naturedly of course. My uncle tapped the side of my head. I lowered my headphones to my neck. “What?”

“I’ve been thinking.” I suppressed my need to congratulate him. “About your friend.”

“What friend?” Darren asked.

“What about her?” I ask.

“I can try and find out who she is if you want. There’s another Pawaw village down river from base.”

“That’s okay.” I sigh. It really doesn’t matter to me who she is. All I know is I miss her.

“What friend?” Darren asked.

“Nobody you need to worry about.” He made a rather stupid face at me. I just stuck out my tongue in response.

We began to see the beginning of the base. I have been here twice before, but always by plane, not by boat. Their funding from California was quite apparent. The buildings were almost modern in appearance. Jeeps, boats, and motorcycles were the mode of transportation. I jumped off the boat onto dry land, my backpack strapped on. “Eric!” My mom came towards me with a huge grin on her face. She and Darren are the only ones that call me Eric. I rather like it.

“Mom.” I smiled as she grabbed me in a fierce hug.

“Are you okay, Sweetie? Ryan told me what happened.”

“I’m okay, Mom.” She took a moment to run her fingers through my hair.

“Well go on up to the house.” I began my trek up to my mom’s house. With the generators the only thing we lack is television, the one true life necessity. I sat in my mom’s chair and turned on the T.V. to watch whatever movie was in the VCR.

****

My mom came in before I could begin to enjoy technology again. “Can I talk to you, Hon?”

“I guess so.”

“Are you sure you’re okay? You haven’t been sick have you?”

“No, why? I had a temperature for a few hours, but that was days ago.”

“You just look a little pale that’s all.”

“Well being lost in a rain forest can do that to a person.” I joked.

“Ryan said you met someone that helped you?”

“Yeah, Orie.” I smiled.

“Eyes of Water. Interesting name.” she commented.

“Interesting woman.”

“I know about what you said to her.”

“Figures, Uncle Ryan can’t keep anything to himself.” I sighed.

“Why?”

“Why what?”

“What makes you think you love her?”

“I just do.”

“What about Donna?”

“D-ddonna.” I stuttered. “I uhhhh…..”

“Erica, what on Earth makes you think you can keep something like that from me?” Her favorite line. As usual I say nothing. “I’m not going to give you a lecture about what I think, but I am going to tell you this…there is no way for you to be with her so forget it.”

“Forget it?” I said agitated.

“Yes. Eric, she lives in the middle of a jungle. Is that the way you wanna live?” I stood and walked back outside, not knowing what else to do. I just knew I didn’t want to hear that. The sun was beginning to set. I watched as the light began to fade. “Erica, come back inside.” My mother rubbed my shoulder. I moved away from her. “I was just stating the obvious, Eric.”

“I know.” I turn to her. “I love her. I don’t why, but I do. I’ll find a way.” I left her to finish the sunset.

Three weeks..oh gods….How in the world have I survived here for three weeks? Orie is in my mind and in my dreams. Those two nights we spent sleeping close together are burned into my mind. I do nothing all day but, sit at the riverbank or in the house. Mom has begged me to do something with her, which means something boring for the project. The only time I showed any interest in anything was when three Pawaw warriors came to see one of our guides, but my uncle kept me busy so I didn’t get to talk to them.

Now here I am chucking rocks. I’m up to five skips with one rock. Just as I hurled another one, I was hit by a small rock from behind. I turned around, expecting to see my cousin. There was no one behind me. I turned back around and waited. I was hit again. I turned to see Balla at the edge of the trees. I quickly looked around. No one was looking in my direction. I jumped up and followed Balla into the forest. We didn’t get far before Orie stepped out from behind a tree. “Orie.” I smiled. I noted before she hugged me that my necklace still hung around her neck. She had shortened it into a choker. “I missed you.” She smiled.

“I have…a..” She thought about the word she was needing. I waited patiently. “sur-surprise?” she asked. I smiled.

“You have a surprise?”

“Yes. For..you.” She carefully moved to the edge of the camp. “Can you..go with..me?”

“Now?”

“No, later. To–tom….”she gave up after the second try. “derca(Tomorrow).”

“I can try. How long will we be gone?”

“It is..your choice.”

“I’ll meet you at sunrise.” She smiled.

“Eric?” Darren yelled from the bank.

“Go.” She caressed my cheek before I walked away.

“Where were you? Taking a dump?” Darren teased.

“Up yours.” I shoved him out of my path and continued on to the house.

****

I scribbled out a note about going swimming and was out the door. Orie met me in the same spot I saw her yesterday. Balla followed close behind as Orie led me somewhere. I don’t know how long we walked exactly. Maybe two hours when Orie stopped. “Close your eyes.” I did, though I was really curious as to why.

“Okay.” She led me several more feet before she said I could look. “Oh my gods.” I gasped. “How did….” I looked up to a big tree house. The design looked straight out of the Swiss Family Robinson or something. I did recognize the Pawaw design to the structure. It had four walls and everything. I turned to her, completely speechless.

“Where did this come from?” I pointed.

“I made.” I blinked.

“You made this?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“For you.”

“For me?”

“Hasama, you stay in a big hut at home. You stay in a big hut with..me…..You don’t like it do..” she started to say.

“No, no. Its beautiful Orie.” There was that head gesture again. I have come to the conclusion it means curiosity or confusion. I choose the ladder in this instance. “Orie, you want me to live with you?” She nodded.

“I want to be gamana.”

“Gamana.” I repeated.

“Yes.” It was a beautiful admission. Gam means life, ana means mate. She wanted to be my wife. When I didn’t answer right away, her face contorted. “You do not.”

“I love you Orie, but I can’t be gamana to you….not yet anyway.”

“Why?” Oh how could I convince her I didn’t want to stay with her, when I knew in my heart I wanted to?

“Because I can’t just drop my life and run off into the woods.” I smiled. Puzzlement spread across her face. I forgot her lack of knowledge in the humor department.

****

The guilt I felt weighed heavy on my mind as she took me back home. The house was gorgeous and she obviously worked hard on it, but I’m sure she had help though. When I could, I would sneak in a caress to her back or arm. She would respond. Her Pawaw nature shined through. They were an affectionate people. When I would stop to rest, she would allow me to sit on her lap. Her nose would rub lovingly across my face and if I were luckily that warm tongue would give my neck an occasional lick or nip. I was relieved that she still loved me.

I was about to say my good-byes to Orie when my mother moved towards us. Balla remained out of view. “Erica?” Oh shit. Orie’s eyes grew wide as my mother locked eyes with her. “Hello.” she waved. “I mean, kada.”

“She speaks English, Mom.” I sighed. My mom moved to me. Orie suddenly stood in front of me. “Its okay, Orie. This my mom. She won’t hurt me.” I stepped around her.

“This is Orie.” Mom smiled.

“Mom, how many blue eyed white women do you see wandering around the jungle?”

“Oh very funny. Come on, Orie.” she motioned. I took her hand and we followed behind my mother. We all stopped as my uncle and Darren pulled up to the shore on a boat. My uncle jumped out and approached us.

“Hello.” He flattened his hand over his chest. “Ryan.” He even did a slight head bow. Orie nodded her head in acknowledgment. “Can I speak to you two?” he asked us. Mother moved away with my uncle and I turned to Orie.

“Stay here. Okay?” She nodded her head. I turned and joined them.

“Okay what are you planning on doing with her Dana?”

“Look Ryan, Eric obviously adores her enough to tread off into the woods all day. The least we can do is help this poor thing. Maybe find out who she is.” My uncle sighed.

“Are you sure you want to take on this responsibility, Erica?”

“I love her Uncle Ryan.”

“I know you do, but are you sure she wants to be here?”

“I don’t know, but doesn’t she deserve better than living in a jungle if she has a family?”

“Alright.” he sighed. “There are two possibilities: One she’s been here since she was a baby and doesn’t know anything of…civilization.” he smiled. “or she was a child when she got here. If that’s true. We should be able to pick up on it.”

“How?” I asked.

“Things around her will trigger memories and she may be able to tell us how she got here, what her name is, stuff like that. Take her into the house, Erica.” I walked back to my friend and took her hand. I opened the door and led her inside. My uncle and mom weren’t far behind.

****

She submitted to whatever I asked of her. She is now sitting on the floor, she refused to sit in a chair, so I sat with her. She wore one of my mom’s denim shirts and a pair of black sweatpants. She looked so different now in modern clothing. She sat cross-legged on the floor. “See that, Orie?” She nodded. “That’s a T.V.” She mumbled something that at first, I couldn’t make it out.

“Little buddy.” At first I didn’t believe that’s what she said, but she repeated it twice. She stared at the blank T.V. screen.

“Little buddy? What does that mean?” my mother asked.

“Gilligan’s Island.” Our heads snapped around to Darren. “You know…the skipper called Gilligan that.” he said nervously. I jumped and searched my mom’s videos until I came across the one I was looking for. Uncle Ryan turned on the television as I put Rescue From Gilligan’s Island in the VCR.

We watched her as she watched the movie. She remained completely silent. You could see those ‘wheels turning’ in her head. Uncle Ryan and Mom joined us on the floor, one on each side of us. “Orie.” My mom caressed her shoulder to get her attention. “What’s your name?”

“Orie.”

“That is your name now. What was your name then?” she pointed to the television. Just as I thought, the head gesture. “What did your mom,” she pointed at Orie, “call you?” She looked at me with uncertainty. She reflexively moved closer to me. I wrapped my arms around her.

“La…La.” She was desperately trying to form a word. I stroked her hair softly as she began to cry. “Lon-nie….Lonnie.” she repeated. I smiled at my mom. Now we had a name to go on. My uncle stood.

“Erica, why don’t you take her to bed. She must be tired by now.” I stood with Orie still holding me. My uncle unbuckled his belt and pulled it out of loops of his pants. The sudden sound made Orie curl around me.

“Shhhh. Its okay.” I was surprised that such a small sound like that could scare her. We all exchanged glances before I led her off to my room. I saw my uncle gesture for me to come back.

After I settled Orie in my bed, I returned to the living room. My uncle was on the phone. “Yeah….She’s about in her late twenties I guess. Caucasian, blue eyes, black hair. She says her first name was Lonnie…..Thanks, Jake….Alright…Bye.”

“What was that?” I asked.

“Oh. I have a friend at the immigration office in Brasilia. If Orie wasn’t born here, but in the states, he’ll probably be able to tell us her full name.”

“Why?”

“What do ya mean?” My mom asked.

“I mean why. Who cares what her name was? She’s Orie now and her home is here.”

“I thought you wanted her to find her family.”

“I don’t know anymore.” I sighed. “I’m in love with Orie, not Lonnie Uncle Ryan.” I decided to make an exit and check on Orie.

****

I opened my bedroom door and stepped in. When I turned around, I saw an empty bed. “Orie?” I look around and see that my window is open. I stuck my head out. I saw her lying on the ground, on her back. Balla was curled up next to her. I had to smile. I walked over to the bed and pulled the blanket off of it. I climbed out of my window and walked over to them. She looked up at me.

“Be-tter out here. Don’t like inside much.” I draped the blanket over her. “You stay?”

“Sure.” Despite the hardness of the ground, I felt comfortable with my head resting on her chest.

****

My mother woke us up early and she had news from Uncle Ryan’s contact. We both moved toward the house. Orie saw Darren trying in vein to cast a fishnet. She moved to him and said, “You do wrong throw.”

“Huh?” he said. He handed Orie the net when she gestured for it. She proceeded to throw it perfectly into the river. She started to show him how to pull the net in. I wanted to join them, but Mom stopped me.

“She’ll be okay with Darren.”

“Are you sure?” I chuckled.

Uncle Ryan was sitting at his desk in the living room when we entered. “What did ya find?” He spun around in his office chair to face me.

“Sit down, Eric.” Oh this is not a good sign. He picked up a piece of paper. “Jake faxed me this last night….Its a very strong possibility that this is her because he said this was the only Lonnie that matched her age that visited Brazil.”

“Well?” I was beginning to get impatient.

“Lonnie Ann Berke. Born 1971. That would make her twenty-nine.” I nodded unconsciously. That seemed about right. “She entered the country in 1976. Age five. Parents Henry and Anne Berke.” He sighed heavily.

“What?”

“It seems her parents worked for some sort of animal trade company.”

“Poachers?”

“Well they were investigated and cleared…on that.”

“What else were they charged with?” He locked eyes with me.

“Child abuse and neglect.”

“What?” Mom gasped.

“Apparently they fled here, with Lonnie, when the U.S. charged them with child abuse and child neglect. Her father must have remarried because Lonnie’s mother is listed as a Tonya Berke. She died in 1971. Right after Lonnie’s birth. Complications.”

“So, how did she get into the jungle?” I asked.

“I’ve been thinking about that.” Uncle Ryan turned around and grabbed another piece of paper. “They entered Brazil on March 16th of ’76 and left on April 3rd of ’76.” He looked up at both of us. “Without Lonnie.”

“You mean that they just abandoned her?” Mom asked. My uncle shrugged.

“It would seem so. I have my contact looking into where they were when they stayed here. We should know something soon.”

“DAD!” Darren yelled from outside. I was the first one up and out the door.

Darren came running up from the river. “What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Vern fired the rifle and Orie took off. She’s in a tree by the river.”

“Oh crap. Don’t you know that’ll scare her! You should have stopped him.” my uncle chastised before he headed with us to find Orie. Darren followed behind us.

“I tried to get her to come down, but she wouldn’t.” He took the lead to show us where she was.

Sure enough, she was in a tree. “Give me some room.” I gestured for them to move back. They did. “Orie?” I called up to her. She did not respond to my voice. “Orie, come down.” She didn’t move an inch, except for the shaking as she clutched the branch next to her. “Orie, Towa ua na.(Come to me).” I saw her eyes blink. “Ranay(Please).” Her arms released her hold on the tree. “Som si lam kima ke(No one will hurt you).”

“What the hell is she saying?” I heard Darren whisper. He never bothered to learn anything other than English. I watched as Orie slowly moved to the trunk and start to climb down. When she reached the ground, she moved away from them and went to me.

“Come here.” I enveloped her in my arms. “Its okay.”

I took her into the house and she immediately sat on the floor. I sat with her. Mom handed me a mug of water. I took Orie’s hand and placed it around the handle, showing her how to hold it. She drank gratefully. When my uncle came in, I knew he had more news by the look on his face. “While we were gone, I got this. We’ll read it later.” he said after seeing the state Orie was in.

****

It didn’t take long for Orie to develop a fascination with the television. Her speech was improving, somewhat. She still stutters and doesn’t remember certain words for things, but it is not slow. It actually sounds like she’s getting her ‘American’ accent back, probably from watching the movies. I don’t think the animalistic gestures will ever go completely away. Somehow they seem a part of her, not something that was learned. Maybe that’s why she’s a Mosa to the Pawaw.

I have seen glimpses into ‘Lonnie’. Apparently, she liked peanut butter and jelly. Mom has made seven sandwiches today. Only one was mine. Keeping with her love for me, she still offers her food to me. I gave in a took half of her third and fourth sandwiches, which made her happy. She watched Gilligan’s Island on T.V. as a child. It was now getting late and my uncle came into the living room from outside. “Hey Eric, Orie.” he smiled. He unbuckled his belt and pulled it from his trousers. Orie crawled away from him into the corner.

“Orie, its okay.” This time she curled herself into a ball and wouldn’t look at anything but him. “Uncle Ryan, its your belt. Put it where she can’t see it.” He immediately tossed it into his bedroom.

“Orie, I won’t hurt you.” he said in a soft tone. It took several minutes, but she finally understood that my uncle was not going to hit her.
After Orie was asleep, on the floor of my room, I joined them all in the living room. “Eric, she must have beaten with a belt.” she said sadly. I nodded in agreement. “What did you find out, Ryan.” Mom asked.

“They stayed in a town that holds the office to….Crazy Creatures. Its a legit company that deals in pet shops and stuff. Anyway, the town is about fifty miles from here. Further down river. There is a Pawaw village near there. I believe its Chief Red’s tribe.”

“Is it me or are there always Pawaw villages near towns?” Darren commented.

“The villages were there first, Honey.” Mom said. “The Pawaw are a very friendly people and building a town near them insures safety.”

“Oh, so are you going there?”

“No need. We’ll have Serik contact the local tribe to send us their Gonman.”

“Their what?” Darren asked.

“Gonman. Its the person in every tribe that can tell all the stories, legends, and info.” my uncle said.

“And we’re in luck because the Gonman from this village speaks English.” Mom added.

****

By the time we were up and had breakfast, the Gonman was here. He approached us and dropped to his knees. “Kada, Mosa.(Greetings, Animal God).”

“Cool.” Darren said. I elbowed him in the ribs.

“Coka(Rise).” He did instantly.

“Orie. Could you show Darren how to get the canoe down the river to the Farn trees?” she nodded. “Great.” We watched them as they headed off to the river.

“Uncle Ryan, it’s not fair sending her off like that.” I gestured.

“I know, Eric. We need to find out more.” He gestured for the man to sit.

****

“We need to you know about, Orie.”

“Mosa? Why?”

“Eric, is wanting to seal their love and be Gamana.” Well I really wouldn’t mind that, but I’m sure he’s just saying that to get the information.

“Hasama.” he bowed. Wow. News travels fast around here. “Orie was adopted by the Shaman of the next village.” He pointed down river. “He found her on a hunting trip and brought her home. His daughter die, he make Orie his daughter. The shaman die eleven years ago. Orie was made one with the panther.”

“I don’t understand.” I said.

“Orie is panther. They are same.”

“Why does she live in the jungle?” I ask.

“She choose. She doesn’t like village. Panther cannot live in cage.” I was beginning to understand her solitude.

“Thank you.” he stood, bowed to me, and left. We all watched as the man joined two others and headed away.

****

“So, what are you gonna do with Jungle Jane?” Darren chuckled as he walked back up to us. I turned around and punched him across the face, sending him down.

“You asshole!” I screamed. “Don’t call her that!” Before my uncle could intervene he jumped up and shoved me roughly.

“It was a joke okay! Lighten up.” He shoved me again.

“Hey you two! Knock it off!” Mom yelled.

Just as Darren was about to push me again, he was propelled backwards landing several feet away. Orie had literally grabbed his shirt and yanked him backwards onto the ground. She placed herself between me and my big mouth cousin. Like the idiot he is, he jumped up and charged her. She braced herself. Darren tackled her, but she was immovable. He crumpled to the ground, not moving her an inch.

Deep within her throat, I heard the smallest of growls, sounding exactly like a cat. As Darren opened his eyes, he saw blue eyes staring down at him. He turned over on his side and came nose-to-nose with Balla. Even standing there, none of us knew where that cat came from. Without warning the big cat screamed right in his face.

“Ahhhhhh!” He jumped and ran for the house. Balla didn’t follow. Instead, she walked over and placed herself on Orie’s right side. Orie reached down and brushed her hand over Balla’s head.

Before any of us could say anything, Orie stormed towards the house. Fearing for Darren’s safety my mom and uncle followed. I did too. When we got into the house, the clothes Orie had been wearing were strewn on the floor. “Orie?” I moved into my room. She had just finished putting on her old clothes. “What are you doing?” She didn’t answer. She grabbed her weapons and stepped around me. “Orie?” I followed her back outside. We all did, including a sore Darren.

“Orie,…..CAN NOT STAY HERE!” she gestured. “CAN NOT BE LONNIE!” she yelled. I was scared. She hasn’t yelled like this before. All of our guys that were within earshot moved towards the commotion. “NOT LONNIE!” Clearly what happened with Darren was all she could take of civilization. “NE MA ORIE(I am Orie)!” She threw both arms into the air and screamed at the sky. “NE MA MOSA!” Every man that was Pawaw hit their knees. It was an awesome sight. My family and I stood with mouths agape. “NE MA SOME LONNIE!(I am not Lonnie)!” She dropped her arms and turned to us. She walked back towards me.
“Ne bosa ke, Hamasa.” She held out her hand. “Towa nae Orie(Come with Orie)?”
Part 3
I looked down at her outstretched hand and then to my family. “Hasama?” Tears began to form in my eyes. What was I going to do? Her face was also showing her emotions. She was begging me with her eyes. I didn’t reach for her hand. I turned completely around to gauge my mother’s reaction. When I turned around again, she was gone.

“Orie?” I said quietly. I walked towards the trees. “Orie!” I was crying. “ORIE!” I felt my mom’s arms come around me. “ORIE!”

“Stop, Eric.” she soothed. “She’s gone.”

“No!” I shoved her away and headed into the woods at a full run.

****

With my partial photographic memory, I was able to go straight to the tree house. It took me almost two and half hours, but I made it. As I looked up, I saw Orie sitting on the edge with her legs dangling. Balla was lying next to her. “Orie!” I called up. Her head snapped down to me. She jumped up and started to climb down. When she got to the ground, she just looked at me. “I love you, Orie.” I reached forward and brought her face down to mine for a very passionate kiss. Her arms came around me. She broke the contact after several moments. She smiled and took my hand.

We climbed up the tree together. As soon as we were at the top, Orie returned her lips to mine. She walked me backwards into the interior of the house without removing her lips from mine. “Ana, Hamasa.”

Oh gods. I certainly knew what that meant. She slowly began to caress my skin. Her hands snaked under my T-shirt and pulled it above my head. Her eyes actually looked a shade darker as she released the catch of my bra, exposing my breasts to her.
“Waseta (Beautiful).” she said before using those nimble fingers to unbutton my jeans. Every ounce of flesh she uncovered, she touched softly. That action caused a moan deep in my throat. What was I doing? Why was I allowing her to strip me? I wanted her too badly to agonize over it. I pulled my shoes off using my feet. My jeans and what was under them, were descending down my legs. I stepped out of them.

“Waseta.” she whispered. “Ne bosa ke.”

She removed her own shirt and clothing next. She was the beautiful one. Without hesitation, I latched my mouth onto her nearest nipple. A growl escaped her lips, a human one. “You’rebeautiful, Orie.” I said against that nipple, before I took it into my mouth again, sucking.

“Ohhhh.” Orie moaned and pulled me closer. She also pulled me towards the corner. With a sharp thud, she fell backwards onto her back, pulling me with her. Having my body pressed against hers was bliss. I positioned myself right over her. I wrapped my arms around her to minimize the space between us. Her hands instantly went to my hips and began to set a slow, grinding rhythm.
I felt her legs wrap around my thighs, increasing the pressure. She was wet and I don’t know if it was her throbbing or mine that I was feeling. We continued to rub against each other, steadily increasing the speed. My moans were turning to pleas. Her moans just grew louder. I felt the tremors in her center start. I had no idea whether she had ever experienced a climax before. She hissed my name through her teeth before she screamed it out. I’m sure they heard that back at base. A series of Orie’s escaped my lips as I came, still pressed against her need.

We were both trying to catch what little wind we had back in our lungs. As I did this, I realized what I had done. ‘Causal sex’ has no meaning to the Pawaw. We are bonded now. She has a right to call me her wife now. What was I going to say to my mom and uncle? The minute Orie calls me her wife, they’ll know what I did. I rolled over away from her. Orie draped a blanket, that was nearby, over us both. By being with Orie, I made that decision. I knew that. So why did I go through with this? Orie’s arms came around my waist. I felt a soft kiss to my neck as I yawned. Because I love her that’s why, was the only reason I could come up with.

****

I awoke to sounds below me. I rolled over and Orie was not sleeping next to me. I sat up to see her crouched on the corner of the house, looking down. She was fully dressed and a bow was lying next to her. I rubbed my eyes, threw my T-shirt back on, and crawled towards her. I heard the unmistakable sound of voices. Men, at least three. “Orie?” I asked.

“Shhhh.” She placed an arm around my shoulders as we continued to listen. I didn’t recognize the dialect. “Ghost hunters.” she whispered.

“Whites?”

“No, animal killers.” she whispered. The house was well camouflaged and it was so high off the ground, you’d have to walk directly underneath it and look up before you’d see it. So I wasn’t worried about being seen. They were loud and boisterous. Either they had no idea what they were doing or they were drunk. No hunter, or anyone for that matter, would make so much noise. They were bound to attract something. We waited patiently until we couldn’t hear them anymore.

Orie turned to me and smiled. “Okay?” she asks.

“Yes.” I smiled. She brought her hand up and stroked my cheek. It was late. I could tell by the waning daylight. I hope my mom and uncle aren’t too worried. With Orie, I am completely safe.

“Time to sleep.” she said softly. She gestured for me to return to the bed. I slipped under the warm blanket. Through the open door, I saw Orie stand. Her back was to me. She removed her shirt and tossed it into the house. I watched her as she continued to stare out at the jungle. She was indeed beautiful. The darkening sky was the perfect contrast for her bare back. That perfect curve in her lower back that disappeared at the waistline. The red breech cloth extended to just above her knees.

Unlike the Native American design, I noticed that the breech cloth was actually connected to pants, and not separate from leggings. The Pawaw men wore their breechcloths wrapped tightly around them with nothing covering their legs, but the women’s legs were always covered…..And why the hell am I thinking about this? One minute I’m admiring my…..wife and the next I’m giving myself a wardrobe lesson. Boy, the more I resist my uncle, the more knowledge I retain.

Her hands went to her hips. Orie seemed deep in thought about something. Finally, she turned around and sighed.

“What is it?”

She shook her head. “Nothing.” She moved to me and slid in with me. I tried not to stare too long at her chest.

“Sleep now.” she whispered. I placed my head on her chest and let the rhythm of her heart lull me to sleep.

****

I awoke again. The sun had risen already. Once again Orie was not with me. I grabbed my underwear and stood. My shirt was still on from last night. After putting them on. I walked out of the house and leaned on the railing separating me from the almost thirty foot drop to the forest floor.

A family of monkeys, a species I didn’t recognize, were playing in the branches off to the left. I watched them with fascination.
I was high in the canopy, living in the midst of these animals. It was great. I could live here. I laughed as I saw one of the babies clinging to his mother. “Ye.” It was short call. I knew it was Orie. I looked across to the neighboring tree. There she sat. She was squatting on a thick branch with no care as to how far up she was. I noticed she had something on her back. She stood and leaped to the nearest branch that was attached to our tree. She landed perfectly. She stood and walked to the edge of the house and stepped up onto the wooden platform. She reached behind her. It was meat of some kind. She was kind enough not to bring the carcass up here and clean it in front of me. As she prepared the fire pit, I asked,

“What is it, Orie?”

“Bernada.”

“Bernada? I don’t know that word.” I said. She thought carefully.

“It looks like bea-ver.” she said carefully. I nodded, telling her I understood the word.

“No tail.” she said.

“Ohhhh capybara.” I smiled.

“Cap-bar….?” She was trying to repeat what I said.

“Capa.”

“Capa.” she repeated.

“Bara.”

“Capybara.” she smiled. “Bernada easier to say.” she chuckled. I laughed.

“You’re right.” My smile faded into a content look. “Orie?” She looked up from her preparations.

“Mmmm?”

“I want to stay with you….for awhile.” She almost dropped her catch into the fire.

“You stay?”

“Yes, but I need to go back home to get some stuff. Okay?” She nodded and tenderly reached for me. I fell into soft arms willingly. She interlaced my fingers with hers.

“Gamanda.”

“Gamanda.” I repeated. She released my hand and handed me a piece of meat.

“Try.” she said. I opened my mouth and took a small bite and chewed carefully.

“Mmmm. This is good, Orie.” I took another bite. She smiled as she took a piece for herself. “Tastes like chicken.” I grinned. When she just looked at me, I had to smile. I keep forgetting that she doesn’t have an American sense of humor. “Never mind.”

****

We arrived back at the base by about noon. My uncle was not happy. But he was relieved when he saw that I was with Orie.
“I came to get some stuff.” I said as they followed me into my bedroom.

“Where are you going?” my mom asked, agitated.

“To stay with Orie.” I said as I began to toss clothes into one of my backpacks.

“For how long?” my uncle asked.

“For awhile. I don’t know, couple weeks.”

“I don’t think so.” Mom interjected. “You’re staying right here.”

“I’m going with Orie.” I swung my bag over my shoulder. “I’ll be back.” They followed me out to where Orie was sitting on the ground, waiting for me.

Darren was talking to her until I came out. “Hey Erica. You have a new name or something?”

“Huh?” I asked as I handed the bag to Orie.

“Yeah, Game mandie or something? What does that mean? One whose close to the ground?” he laughed. My height has been the butt of his jokes for ages.

“What!” my mother gasps. Oh no.

“Gamana.” Orie clarified.

“Erica, don’t tell me…..” my uncle trailed off. My mom smiled at Orie and pulled me by the arm several feet away.

“You had sex with that woman?” she asked.

“Mom…..”

“Gamana means you bonded with her. Am I right?”

“Yes.” I sighed. “I did and I don’t regret it.”

“Erica, do you realize what you’ve done?”

“Yes.” I repeat.

“You are her mate by Pawaw law. What’s going to happen when this summer’s over?”

“I’m not going back home.” They glance at each other. Uncle Ryan literally tied me into the plane to get me to come down here. Now I just told them that I’m staying permanently. I stepped past them and took Orie’s hand. “I’ll be back in a week or two. I love you.” I said over my shoulder. I knew they would wave and they did.

****

Orie and I stopped off at a water hole and after a thorough check for unwanted guests, she convinced me to join her for a swim. After several minutes of splashing, Orie pulled me to her. Wrapping her strong arms around my waist, she placed several kisses and bites to my neck. “Ohhh that feels good, Orie.” But due to the fact we had to get back to the house before dark, we had to stop before we did something that would keep us here. At least one of us has self control and it’s not me.

I was getting pretty good at climbing the tree to the house. No sooner than we got to the house, a hard rain began to fall. We just made it inside before it opened up. Balla was lying on her side, asleep. We have an overgrown house cat. After tossing my bag in, Orie and I sat down outside watching the rain tumble off of the roof. The neighboring monkeys scrambled through the tree looking for shelter. “You know the jungle is beautiful when you’re not lost in it.” To my surprise, she chuckled.

The rain continued for most of the night. I just stayed awake, listening. When morning came, there was a comfortable chill to the air. For once it wasn’t hot and mucky. Orie had fish cooking on the fire. I sat up and rubbed my eyes. Balla came over and began licking my face. I was uneasy at first. This huge animal, which I saw slice up a jaguar, was very close to my person. I knew Orie loved Balla and somehow they are connected. She moved to me. “She wants to play.” Orie smiled and stroked the cat’s back.
I gulped.

“Play?” I ask. She took my hand and pulled me away from our bed. She placed my hands firmly on the floor, placing me on all fours. Balla stood directly in front of me. “Look her in eyes.” she said from behind me. That was what I was taught never to do.
I did anyhow. I looked directly into yellow-green eyes. I saw something strangely familiar. I couldn’t place it. Then she did it. She cocked her head to the side, just like Orie. Maybe there was something to this ‘Orie and Balla being connected’ stuff. They seem very similar.

I was so busy watching Balla, that I didn’t realize Orie was caressing my back and hips. “Mena.(Go). Orie gestured and Balla moved away and out of the house. I started to get up, when I felt Orie hold me in place. Her hands moved over my shoulders, my back, and then moved to my underwear. I moaned as they slid down my legs. Orie removed them. She then removed my T-shirt.
I closed my eyes and waited. I was naked, on all fours, and getting very aroused. Orie’s hands appeared back on my body. I felt her hips press into my butt. She was not wearing anything now either. Her arms slid around me again, this time pushing fingers into me.

“Ahhhhh. Oh Orie.” I hissed as she began to pull me backwards against her center. I planted my hands more firmly and started to push back. Orie pushed deeper into me causing me to loose all thought. She sped up the pace. I heard the grunts and moans coming from behind. She was in no way silent. “Harder Orie.” I moaned and she complied. I screamed as my climax began. She sped up even faster. It wasn’t long before I felt her weight against me as she became sated and leaned on me. I slowly lowered myself to the floor and rolled over onto my back. Orie placed her head on my chest and rested. “I love you, Orie.” I whisper as
I run my fingers lazily through her hair.

****

We spent the majority of the day close together. The humid air makes it difficult to do a whole lot. We were both resting outside of the house when sudden boom rang through the jungle. Orie jumped out of her skin. I knew it was a high powered rifle that was responsible for the commotion. Orie moved to the edge of the house and looked down. I watched as she watched something.
Suddenly, she flattened herself against the floor. I crawled over to her. I saw four men to the north. I also saw a dead monkey on the ground. The tallest of this bunch picked the animal up by the tail and examined it. I look over to Orie and she is watching them intensely. Two of the men looked like locals, the others were white. All had on hunting gear and carried rifles.

“Hey check that out.”one pointed with his gun. Orie suddenly leaped up and jumped to the next tree. I followed where the men were pointing. There was something in the trees. It was Balla! The white men took aim. By the time I got up, Orie was on the ground. She punched the first man aiming that she came to.

“HA MOSA!” One of the natives yelled. He must be Pawaw. The two natives turned tail and ran. Orie took the other man out before he could take aim at her. Orie looked up at me and gestured for me to go back inside. She turned around….and was gone. She just disappeared. I flattened myself down as I heard the moans coming from the waking men.

“Where the hell is Derha and Joasa?” One asked. “Come on. Let’s get the hell outta here.” They picked themselves up and began walking south. Orie appeared behind them. I quickly climbed down the tree and joined her.

We followed the men for a good distance before we came across a warehouse on the river. We crouched in the bushes and watched as empty cages were being taken into the building. There was some writing on the wall that I couldn’t quite make out. “Stay.” Orie whispered.

“No.” I whispered back.

“Yes.” She moved off to my left and disappeared. I reflexively crouched lower as men came out of the side door, a few feet from where I was. I recognized one of them as a native that ran. The man next to him seemed to give off a ‘boss’ vibe.

“We cannot go back there.” the native said nervously.

“And why not?”

“Mosa there. We cannot go.”

“Mosa? Look you idiot, you know I don’t speak your mumbo jumbo. Talk English.” His accent was American.

“The Animal God. The sacred protector of the jungle. She will kill us if we disturb animals.”

“You’re nuts.” he laughed. “God.” he laughed. “Yeah…right.” He continued to chuckle with no respect for the subject.

“Don saw her too.” he interjected. “Ask him.”

****

I moved my foot that was beginning to fall asleep. Suddenly, I lost my balance and flopped onto my stomach.

“What the hell?” the boss bellowed. He stomped through the bushes and right up to me. “Who the hell…..” I jumped up and ran back in the direction we came.

“Doug, Jonnie get her!” I heard from behind me.

I turned and saw three men with guns running after me. I had a good lead though. I heard a gunshot. One had stopped and fired at me. It grazed by me a foot to my right. I was positive I could outrun them. I rounded a tree and cut east, hoping to throw them off. I looked back and they were still behind me, gaining. I was starting to slow from exhaustion. I stopped and leaned against a tree to catch my breath. I felt a hand on my shoulder almost immediately.

“Hold it.” He spun me around, grabbing me by the throat.

“Let go of me!” Before he could, I heard an intense growl. I see Balla running towards us from over his shoulder. She lept up onto his back and bit him solidly on the arm.

“Ahhhhh.” I stepped away just as he was descending to the ground. She had a firm grip on his arm. Her claws were digging into the man’s back.

“Hey! Come here!” Another man stepped around his comrade and Balla. Just behind him, the third man screamed. We both looked. Orie was standing over the man, looking down at him. The man turned back and grabbed my arm.

“ORIE!” I screamed as he tried to pick me up. He managed to do it because I was just too tired to fight him. He was surprisingly strong. He gripped me around the waist and was hauling me away from them. “Get your hands off me.” I struggled against him.

“Shut up!” he yelled. “The boss don’t like snoops.”

He stopped dead in his tracks as Orie appeared in front of him, she causally drew the knife at her side. A growl matching Balla’s came from her. Her mouth never moved.

The man’s breathing escalated as fear set in. He turned around to see a panther in his path, teeth exposed. He looked between the two as they both took a step closer. “Shit!” He threw me to the ground and made a run for it.

“MENA (Go)!” Orie pointed to the man. Balla took off like a shot after him. “Hasama.” She dropped to her knees. “Okay?” she asks, pulling me up to rest in her arms.

“Yeah.” I breath. I grab my aching side as I stand. “I’m sorry. I tried to stay quiet.”

“Okay.” she smiled.

“Did you see anything?”

“Ghost hunters. Animals inside.” Just as Orie thought, they were poachers.

“What did the writing on the building say?” She cocked her to the side. Then I remembered she can’t read. I kneeled on the ground and handed her a stick. “Show me what it looked like.” Orie placed the point of the stick into the dirt and began to draw. C-O-N C-O. “Con Co. Never heard to it. Must be some kind of U.S company maybe. Come on. Let’s go see Uncle Ryan.”

****

We bounded into camp. “Uncle Ryan? Mom?” We both entered the house.

“In the kitchen.” I heard. We found them at the table. “You’re back early.” he commented.

“Does the name Con Co. ring a bell ?” I almost laughed at the expression on Orie’s face.

“Ring bell?” she asked.

“Not now, Love.” I whisper as I watch Uncle Ryan shuffle throw papers.

“That stuff I got for Orie has that name in it.”

“What?”

“Yeah, here it is……Crazy Critters, Orie’s parents’ employer has two sister companies, Con Co. and Para Pets. Para Pets is the name of the pet stores in the U.S. Con Co. is the base of operations.” He flipped a few pages. “They were the ones investigated. Claims of black market fur trading. Why what happened?” he looked up.

“We came across a warehouse not far from here. They tried to shoot Balla.”

“You see any captive animals?”

“Orie did.”

“What did you see, Orie?”

“Feda (Panther), joka (Jaguar), herta (Monkey).”

“Looks like there still in business. I’m going to call Brasilia. You two, sit tight.”

****

My uncle came back in several minutes later. “They’re sending a team down tonight to investigate. Let’s just hope that you guys didn’t spook them too badly.”

“Uncle Ryan?” I lowered my voice. “Do you think that Orie’s parents are still working for them?”

“Don’t know. But their fugitives in this country too. I doubt they’d still be here.” he whispered back.

We were both startled when Balla screamed. Orie stood from her spot on the floor. “What’s wrong?” Mom asked. Balla began to pace the perimeter of the room. Orie showed equal nervousness. Her eyes darted from left to right.

“Orie, what is it?” Before she could answer, I heard a gunshot. She immediately forced me to the floor as more rang out from just outside. The third shattered a window. Uncle Ryan and Mom joined me on the floor. “Orie get down!” I yelled.
Part 4
“Orie, get down!” I yelled. She was staring at the window that just shattered. Another rang out. I watched Orie fall. “ORIE!”
I crawled over to her. My mom made her way over. Uncle Ryan grabbed his rifle and headed out of the kitchen.

“Let me see, Sweetie.” Mom coaxed. She was holding her left forearm. I saw blood seeping through her fingers.

“Mom?” I asked worriedly as she removed Orie’s hand from her arm. We heard the boom of my uncle’s gun firing, then all fire ceased. “Its just a graze, Honey.” Mom assured me. “See.” I looked over and saw that it was a deep scratch. I handed my Mom another cloth to press against it.

“Orie.” Uncle Ryan came in and knelt at her side. “Is she okay?”

“Yeah. Just a graze. Eric, go get the first aid kit out of the living room. I nodded and did it as quickly as I could. I ran back in and returned to her side, handing Uncle Ryan the kit.

“Who was it?” I asked.

“They looked like poachers to me. Maybe the ones you saw today. There were two of them. I scared them off. After placing a cleaner on Orie’s wound, Mom began to wrap it in gauze. Orie was angry, very angry. Her eyes tell all. They held barely contained rage.

As soon as the hands holding her in place released her, she leaped from the floor. Despite the tears flowing from her eyes, she moved out of the room. I knew she had to be in pain.

“Eric, get her to take these.” Mom said.

“I’ll try.”

“Neither of you leave the house.” Mom called out. Great. We’re stuck here. I walked into the living room. Orie was sitting in the middle of the floor. She rocked back and forth very slowly as she held her injured arm to her chest. I hated to use the analogy, but she was acting like a wounded animal. I guess in a way she is.

I went to her and sat. “Bosa, so ke meecha? (Love, are you alright?)” I don’t know why, but I automatically start talking to her in Pawaw. She seems to respond better to it when she is upset. Her head nodded very slowly as she reached up and wiped a tear away.

“Kima (Hurt).” She cradled her hurt arm. My eyes teared up at the soft spoken word. My heart went out to my wife.

“Ne noma. (I know).” I caressed her shoulder. “Swallow these. They will take the hurt away.” I placed the two pills in her hand. She looked at me and then swallowed them.

****

I felt something furry rub against my back. Balla walked around us and placed herself next to Orie. Orie’s face still held the anger. “Hasama, meecha?”

“I’m okay, Love. What’s wrong?”

“Yoda justo (Ghost hunters).” I waited patiently for her to elaborate. “Ne ma, Mosa. Ne ma ha wacha (I am the protector). Must protect my blood.”

“Your blood?”

“Animals.”

“Orie, I don’t understand.” Balla stood from the floor.

“Must stop the animal killers.”

“Orie, listen to me. You can’t stop those men. They have guns. They’ll hurt you again.” My pleas weren’t being heard. She had already stood and went straight for the door.

“Orie. NO!” I yanked on her forearm to stop her. Then immediately regretted it. It was her hurt arm.

“Ohhh.” she winced, grabbing her injury.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

“Hasama kima, Orie. (Treasured One hurt Orie).”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.” She continued to stare at me with unbelieving eyes. “Ne bosa ke.” She turned and left with Balla.

****

I knew she would be okay. If anyone can hide in plain sight, it’s Orie. Yet I couldn’t let her go. I ran after her. Of course, she’s already blended into the forest. I headed for the house, a path I know by heart now. The animals and noises do nothing to me now. Orie has given me a new understanding of the jungle. Even alone, I know I am safe. I feel horrible. I hurt Orie, by accident. From the look in her eyes, I don’t think she knows that. “Orie.” I yelled up before climbing the tree. I reached the top, but found it empty. Running to my backpack in the corner, I grab my lantern flashlight.

Changing course, I headed towards the warehouse. I had to stop Orie before she gets herself killed. Before I got very close, I hid. Men, more than before, are walking the perimeter. Switching off my light, I waited. I saw a huge army-like truck backing up to the side entrance. Several moments passed and I saw more men carrying caged animals and loading them into the truck.

I moved as quietly as I could, trying to get closer. The ‘boss’ was writing something on a clipboard. “Make sure those monkeys get to the East Coast before tomorrow.”

“Yes sir. What about the cats?”

“There’s a couple of zoos needing new animals. We’ll decide that later. Those damn Pawaw are everywhere. Just get those monkeys to New Jersey.”

“Right.” I cursed myself for not bringing my camera. Hopefully Uncle Ryan can get the investigators here soon.

****

I saw the opening and I went for it. One door was unguarded. I slipped quietly inside. As soon as I was in, I realized I was standing on some kind of catwalk. I knelt and crawled towards the edge. Looking down, I saw that the entire warehouse was filled with cages and crates, some empty, some full. I placed myself behind a large box. The boss came back inside, removing his hat and lighting another cigar. I instinctively stopped breathing for a moment. “Where in the hell is Danial?”

“He said he spotted a few snakes. Said he was going to catch them.”

“Well he better get his ass back here. He knows I can’t go this time.”

“Whooooooo!” I man yelled excitedly as he ran in, scaring me half to death in the process. “I got that basterd! Yeah!”

“You got what idiot?” The boss asked annoyingly.

“That black cat I saw.” Oh no.

“Panther huh?”

“Yeah, damn thing just leaped out, tried to kill me.” He smiled and laughed. “But I got the drop on him.” He raised his hands, mimicking raising a rifle. “Pow.”

“Let me see it, Stupid.” He whistled and I watched as two men carried a small cage into view. It was Balla. My stomach fell into my feet.

“Balla.” I whispered. She was lying down unconscious in the cage. I knew it was her. The boss motioned for them to drop the cage. They did, with a thud. He opened up the cage, stuck his hand in, pulling something out.

“A panther’s worth a hundred for me. Right, Sir?” the gunman asked. Even though I was far away, I could see the glare he gave his employee. He held up a cartridge.

“And just how the hell do you figure that?”

“Well….when you sell ’em.”

“To who?”

“Mr….” Before he could say the name, the man interrupted.

“And just who the hell is going to buy a dead cat?!” I couldn’t stop the gasp that followed.

“Dead?” he asked. “I used the red darts just like you said.”

“Red darts are the poisoned ones. The blue are the tranks, Dumbass!”

“I’m sorry, Sir.”

“Get outta my sight.” We both watched as the man walked away. I clenched my jaw in an effort to keep the tears from coming. My wife would be lost without Balla. I have to find her. “Put the cat in the truck. Get it outta here.” I carefully made my way back to the door and quietly slipped out. So, these goons actually worked for someone else, but I don’t care right now. Now, I have to find Orie.

“Hey!” My heart stopped. “Not you again.” he said.

“Kill that bitch! Now!” I made a run for it. The shots rang out behind me, but it didn’t take long to lose them this time.

I made my way back towards the tree house, the only place I knew to go. This time I watched for signs. I saw a trail that could only be Orie’s. She was heading towards the house also. I broke into a run to catch up with her. I heard a burst of thunder boom overhead. Then I felt the first few drops of rain. I was almost there, when it began to pour. By the time I made it to the bottom of the tree, I was soaked through. I climbed up the slick branches, almost slipping twice. As soon as I reached the top, I collapsed. My lungs were burning as I tried to catch my breath. I was startled when I felt a pair to hands touch me. “Hasama.”

“Orie?” I turned over to face her from my position on the floor. I reached for her and she pulled me into her arms. “I was…” I just couldn’t catch my breath.

“Shhhh.” she soothed. “Dasca (Rest).” It seemed like a lifetime before I restored the air in my lungs.

“Balla?” I asked. Her face answered me. It was filled with sorrow. She moved away slightly.

“Killers.” she said sadly. I noticed she was still gingerly holding her arm.

“Kima?” I asked. Orie nodded her answer.

” Ner kima. Fema kima. Chica kima.(Arm hurt. Inside hurt.)”

“Oh Orie. I’m so sorry.” I wiped my eyes. “This is all my fault.”

“No.” she said immediately. “Their fault. Not yours. Many Pawaw are angry with the animal killers. Some want war.”

“What about you, Orie?”

“Want you.” she said quietly.

“Are you going to fight them?”

“I must do this.”

“Why, Love?” She made a fist and rubbed it over heart, the Pawaw sign of mourning.

“Took part of me…Must take it back.” She must mean she wants revenge.

“Orie, Balla’s dead. She can’t come back….Let Uncle Ryan handle it.”

“No, Pawaw blood is Pawaw matter. Not Figama.” My mouth opened widely. That last word. I can’t believe she said that to me! When her eyes met mine, she knew I understood. The realization hit her quickly.

“Figama?” I spat. “Ne bosa ke, Orie! Ke jama ni nono (You call me that)!” Her hands reached for me, but I moved back.

“Eric….” She again moved closer.

“No!” Figama is a harsh, cursing term….for Americans, whites….me. The hostiles still use it. I would liken it to being called a bitch or a whore on a personal level. On a grander scale, it was an insult to our entire culture.

“Ranay (Please), Hasama.”

“Don’t you ever call me that.” I said through my teeth. “Ke so American, Orie (You are American, Orie).”

“I am Mosa.”

“Not to me….You are gamana.”

She tentatively gestured for me to take her hand. I could see the apology in her eyes before she said it.

“I am….ssss..” I waited patiently as she tried to form the word I was waiting on. “sorry?” I nodded.

****

Strange. Her speech was getting slow again. Her gestures more sharp. Maybe losing Balla shocked her more than I realized. She didn’t sleep that night or eat the next morning. I awoke alone this morning. I heard faint drum chants, so I followed them. I saw the bushes ‘come alive’ as several warriors stepped out and followed me, but made no attempt to stop me. I glanced back periodically to three men behind me. Suddenly we came upon a highly adorned man. “Coma ua ni (Bow to me).” he said sternly. Remembering my Pawaw position, I took a deep breath.

“Ne coma ua som chata (I bow to no chief). He cracked an arrogant smile. His warriors took a step further. “Ne ma ha hasama
( I am the treasured one).”

His smile faded into a surprised look. “Ana ua Mosa (Mate to Animal God).” I had a thought. His eyes widened.

“Ke (You)….” I pointed to him, then to the ground. “coma ua ni.” He did and so did his warriors, but not for long. He spat on the ground. Uh oh. He took a knife out of his belt.

“Figama.” This is not good. I started to back up, until I realized that the warriors were still behind me. They all had weapons too.

“Orie..help.” I whispered. Praying to whatever gods she believes in, that she could hear me.

****

The strike came from behind and it was hard. It knocked me forward onto my stomach. “Ow.” I whispered, reaching to the back of my head and feeling blood. Laughter from the chief rang in my ears. A foot took all the wind out of me with one kick. “Ohhh.” I groaned. A hand at the back of my head, rubbed my face into the dirt. I couldn’t breath like this and I couldn’t move. Someone’s body weight held me in place. I coughed and sputtered from the loose dirt that made it into my mouth.

A deafening scream seemed to come from everywhere. “Ahhhhh!” I heard from above me. The weight was shifted off of me, letting me up for air. I forced my eyes open, spitting and coughing the dirt out of my mouth. I saw…..Balla! She was circling all of us, with a low constant growl coming from her. This couldn’t be. I saw Balla lying in that cage. True, I didn’t feel for a pulse, but the boss said she was dead. Maybe he was wrong. I knew it was her by the shade of yellow-green that her eyes are. You don’t stare into the eyes of a female panther without remembering what those eyes looked like.

The natives were frozen with disbelief that this Mo (Animal), was protecting a non-Pawaw. Her eyes are ominous. It made my heart race, even though I know she is protecting me. Even this great chief was shaking. I stood while there attention was on the cat. “Ne ma Erica. Ana ua Mosa.” I repeated. They looked back and forth between and the panther. One man was so shaken, he dropped to his knees apologizing. I had to smile. Balla screamed at the other warriors that started towards me menacingly.

I watched as Balla dropped her head and moved towards the man that had held my face in the dirt. Looking all the part of a cat as she stalked towards him as if she was going to charge. Then something so incredible happened, that I questioned my sanity.
I watched Balla walk towards the man. Her body began to change! She morphed into…ORIE! My wife now stood in front of the man, who now was on his knees, bowing. My mouth hung open so far, I thought I’d catch a bug or two. The cat was Orie! The words of the Gonman now made since. “Orie was made one with the panther. They are same.”

Her eyes shot daggers at the bowing man. Orie’s breathing was so harsh as she tried to contain her anger, that I could hear it from where I was standing. “Re lam some yera fer (You will not touch her).” Orie said sternly. I heard the pathetic pleas for mercy, that was the man’s reply. I chose that time to go and stand with my wife, looking down at the man. She started to draw her knife. My hand stopped her.

“Ranay (Please).” Her face softened slightly, not much but I could tell.

“MENA (Go)!” She screamed at the three, shoving the man at our feet to the ground. He scrambled to his feet and ran after his friends, who were already hauling ass.

Orie turned to me. Before I could ask her anything about what just happened she said, “I am sorry, Hasama.” She got down on her knees and ducked her head, the Pawaw way of asking for forgiveness. I smiled at the fact that she did it. I reached my hand down and ran my fingers through her hair. Orie rubbed her cheek against my thigh with extreme care.

“I forgive you, Gamana.” I saw the smile when I used our titles. I felt a kiss to the leg of my jeans, then to my hand as I brought it out of her hair. “Orie, how did you do that?” I asked, as I coaxed her to stand. The head gesture. “You…uh turned into a cat.”
I said lamely. She didn’t answer. She just looked at me.

“I am Mosa.” Well I guess I knew that already, but I just got slapped in the face with the fact that she was telling the truth. All this time I thought it was because she was so reclusive and had a pet panther. Before I could ask anything else, she took my hand and pulled me towards the direction she came from.

“Where are we going?”

“Taking home.” I planted my feet and she stopped.

“The tree house is that way…..Right?” A beautiful smile spread across her face.

“Taking to river.” she corrected, which meant Uncle Ryan’s.

“Why?” I asked. “I’m not going to stay there, Orie.”

“Talk to.”

“Ohhhh. Then let’s go.”

****

After relaying our story, minus the transformation part, Uncle Ryan said the authorities were on the way from Brasilia and to stay away from them. I actually had no problem with that. Orie removed her arm from around my waist, I seized it. “The wound. Where is it?” Uncle Ryan and Mom walked over and looked down at where she had been grazed by a bullet, yet there was no wound. When the three of us looked at her, she searched for the right word.

“Magic.”Ooookkkaayy. Now my uncle probably thinks she’s nuts.

“Well her father was a shaman.” he shrugged.

“What?” I asked.

“Orie’s father was a Pawaw shaman. According to their beliefs, Orie is…protected from harm and if any shall come to her, her blood will heal all.” I raised my eyebrows.

“You buy that?” I asked. He smiled.

“Eric, you know there are many things on this Earth that can’t be explained. I have learned that whatever a tribe believes in, it has some basis of truth.” The evidence was right in front of me. Orie’s arm didn’t have a mark on it.

****

We decided to spend the night in camp. I found Orie in that same tree by the river, that she loved to climb. This time I decided to climb up with her. She looked down at me from her perch, reaching out a hand to pull me up safely next to her. She was looking out at the water, rustling over the rocks. “You alright?”

“Yes.” she said without turning her head.

“I know how much Balla meant to you. I’m sorry.” She only nodded a response. I looked down and noticed the black lines now painted on her arms. She was in mourning, so to speak. “Ne bosa ke, Orie.”

“Ne bosa ke.” she returned, almost whispering.

“Is Balla…inside you?”

“Always has been inside.”

“Can you change into her anytime you want?”

“Do not change into her. We are one.” So whichever one is strongest at the time, is the one you see, now that they share a body, not just a soul…..very strange.

“I understand.” She turned her head and smiled at me, taking my hand.

****

“Eric.” I heard my uncle call down from the ground. He startled me and Orie grabbed me to keep me from falling off the branch we were on. “I have something to talk to you about.” We both made our way to the trunk and climbed down. Uncle Ryan was holding several sheets of paper. “They raided the warehouse.”

“And?” I asked.

“They found several animals and a few empty cages.”

“What’s going to happen?”

“The government will seize control over the building and all the men that were there at the time were arrested. They’ll be tried in Brasilia.”

“So, its over.”

“It’s over…I told them that we didn’t want to press charges. The animals alone will get them all plenty of jail time.”

“Great.” I smiled. “Is that what you wanted to tell us, Uncle Ryan.”

“Actually….Orie?” She looked at him. “The animal killers they arrested, one of them was your father.” Her head went to the side. I looked from her to Uncle Ryan.

“Which one?” I asked.

“Said he was about six one, smoked cigars.”

“The boss.”

“Huh?”

“There was one that always looked like the one in charge. That’s Orie’s father?”

“Apparently so….He knows who you are.” he said to Orie. “Do you want to see him?”

“No.” she said immediately. “Shucan was father to me.” My uncle nodded his understanding. He turned and left us.

“Are you sure, Love?”

“Yes.” She took my hand and we followed my uncle back to the house. “Hasama, you are my family.” I smiled at her happily.

I have made up my mind that I’m not going back to the states. All my family is here. I may one day go back for the stuff I left behind, but my place is here, with Orie. Now how many people can say they’re married to a god….and really mean it? It will take time for my wife to get over losing Balla. But as long as they are merged, she really hasn’t lost her. This may have been the worst, hottest, and most action packed, but it has also been the best, summer of my life. I just hope I can live without television.

 
THE END

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