Disclaimer: These characters may bare a resemblance to a certain duo (who don't belong to me) that we all know and love, but that's all. This is an uber story and the characters are mine.
Language warning: Not often but yes.
Love and sex warning: This story definitely portrays a loving relationship between two women.
Violence Warning: A little, unless you also count a projectile camera and battered door.
Thanks: I would like to thank first of all Garnet for doing a wonderful job in beta reading this story. To Carolyne, for her constant support throughout, and giving me the kick up the backside to continue writing whether she realised or not. And last but no means least Tammy, for all the invaluable information on horses that she gave me and for naming the two horsey characters.
Let me know what you think: firstname.lastname@example.org
There was a strange kind of sound that signalled the coming of each new day. It was like distant life, from hundreds of miles away, would echo through the dusky sky. It was familiar and comforting, creating an almost peaceful ambiance to each birth of a new day.
Smells were different to. They were cleaner, fresher, delighting the nostrils with its cool scent. It was almost as if you could tell what kind of day it would be just by experiencing these sensations as the sun rose gracefully into the morning sky.
Nikki had woken early Thursday morning, with a strange feeling of unrest, or was it excitement? She had managed to get home before her parents the day before, so was able to avoid the inquisition she was expecting from her mother upon her return from the studio. That night she had gone to bed early, wanting to get away from the hassle of listening to her mothers constant tittle-tattle. So she had proclaimed tiredness, and had escaped to the privacy of her bedroom where she fell asleep still in her day clothes.
When she had come around, she was on top of her bed, shoes still upon her feet, and book still resting on her stomach. The clock told her it was half past six, so that meant it was still pretty dark outside, and everyone but James would still be asleep.
Getting up from the bed, she walked over to the veranda doors, which lead to a small balcony from her bedroom. Grabbing the jacket that hung loosely on the corner of her vanity chair, she shrugged into its extra warmth, and opened the doors, walking out onto the small upper tier.
A brisk northerly wind blew gusts of cold air upon her face, and she shivered as it worked its tendrils around the collar of her coat. It was going to snow today, she was sure of that. The past few days had seen a rise in temperature, but now it was dropping again, and Nikki knew a good fall of snow was definitely on its way.
Folding her arms she leant forward, placing them on the black railings that surrounded the small rectangular balcony, and breathed in the cool air. She loved these times of the day; the soothing silence gave her a calming feeling that eased her sometimes-whirling mind.
With a deep sigh she let her thoughts wander, allowing the speculation as to where Tess was intending on taking her at the weekend. It would have to be somewhere that Leto would be able to go, so she was sure it would be outside. As her mind wandered, she thought back to the day before, and the strange emotion that had passed between them. She was not sure but she got the strange feeling, if only for a fleeting nano second, that Tess was going to kiss her.
Nikki shook her head, angry at the ludicrous notion; the woman had probably just paused in thought nothing more. With an even deeper sigh, brought on by an unexpected disheartened feeling, she pushed herself way from the railings and wandered back into her bedroom, closing the door firmly behind her.
There was a sudden quiet tapping on the bedroom door that led onto the landing.
"Yeah?" She whispered loudly.
The door slowly crept open and a grey head poked around the frame, "Morning Miss Morris, I heard your veranda door shut and just though I would come and see whether you required anything...a warm drink maybe, or some breakfast?" He looked at her dishevelled state with a frown, "Why, you did not sleep in your clothes last night, did you?"
Nikki smiled sheepishly, "Yes...guess I was pretty tired, I flaked out not long after my head hit the pillow. I was only lying down to read as well."
James Abbot walked into the room pushing the door to, but not completely shut. "Possibly it was your unexpected outing that tired you so?"
"Ah..." Nikki sighed, "Maybe." She chewed on her bottom lip and sat down on the corner of the bed. "I am sorry I didn't tell you where I was going, I guess it was thoughtless of me...but Lisa knew. I just didn't want you warning me about annoying mother, one day she will see that I am able to lead a life of my own James. I understand her protectiveness, but she has to understand that I need my independence too."
James sat down next to Nikki, he knew that it wasn't really appropriate for him to be doing such a thing, but the woman needed some reassurance and he wanted to provide it.
"I think it is hard for all parents to watch their children grow up. One minute you are taking care of them, trying your best to do what is right, and the next minute the children all grow up, able to take care of themselves. But the thing is, that it does not stop the parent from wanting to do their utmost in looking out for what they will always consider 'their babies'."
Nikki shook her head, "It's not that..."
"I know I know..." James assured, "I see how it is, and although I am in no position to point out what I see, I can assure you that I am on your side, and will do whatever is in my power to help in any way I can."
The blonde smiled, "Thank you James."
The butler rubbed a slim shoulder; "I have known you from the first day Mrs Morris brought you home from the hospital. I saw you take your first step. I was there when you spoke your first word, and came home from your first day at school, all dirty with grazed knees."
"Your mother was so annoyed at your scraped up knee. She made you wear long dresses to hide the scabs...and we both know how much you hated wearing them."
The smile faded from the blondes face, "Why is she always so consumed by what people think, and making the right impression?"
James shook his head, "I cannot answer that, and all I can say is that deep down she does love you and your sister. It is hard for a person to know how to show affection when they were not accustomed to it themselves. My father worked for your grandfather as you know, and he said that your grandfather was very much how your mother is now, it could explain why she is the way she is."
"But I don't ever want to be like that James." Nikki stated, terrified by thoughts of innate shallowness.
The butler laughed, "I don't see any chance of that happening, you and your sister are both too independently minded. The trick is to be aware of others around you, and not become wrapped up in yourself, and how you want others to see you. You have a loving, caring heart Miss Morris I would not want to see that change."
Nikki blushed, "Thanks James."
Rising to his feet, the butler walked towards the door. "Well I think I should get on with my duties. It is almost time for your fathers wake up call, and I need to go start the breakfast. Which by the way leads me back to my original question...can I get you anything?"
"I will be down in about half an hour James, just give me a chance to get more presentable and I will be on my way." She paused, "But saying that, if you could get some bacon cooking, I would be most appreciative." She grinned, as she moved over to her wardrobe.
James nodded, "Bacon it is..." and he left the room with a smile.
By eight o'clock the snow had started its descent from the grey morning sky. Heavy flakes fell with purpose to the ground, thick and fast in their approach. Quickly covering the city with a never-ending blanket of brilliant white shavings that the hustle and bustle of Thursday morning commuting traffic could not disrupt. And it had stayed that way, a dense assault of snow, falling all the morning, through lunchtime and on into the afternoon.
Tess stood by a large rectangle window, on the second floor of the Snap Shots building. She looked out into the city, now sparse with only the odd shopper daring to risk the blistering cold. Traffic was minimal to, and tended to only range from different forms of public transport, and the odd snow covered car thrown in for good measure.
Craning her head to the right, she looked at the tall cathedral that stood at the bottom of Main Street. It was facing the road, so provided a clear view to the photographer, who watched casually as people filtered into the huge building. Idly, she wondered what the event was. She had never been a religious person, and often wondered what was the draw for those that were. She was pretty sure Nikki attended the church on occasion, as it was common knowledge that the Lord and Lady Mayoress attended many Sunday masses.
Turning back, she looked up into the heaving sky; the snow was still coming in fast. So far today Snap Shots had received four cancellations from snowed in customers, but she wasn't in the least bothered. However much she loved taking pictures, there were just some days, when she would prefer the solitude of working in the darkroom all day, and today was now one of those days. In fact, she had spent most of the day working away from the outside world, that when she had walked up to the window not ten minutes ago, the sight shocked her slightly. She'd never seen so much snowfall in such a short space of time, and inside her hopes of a white Christmas increased.
Hearing footsteps behind her, she turned around to see Robert walking into the storeroom, his arms full with three large boxes of camera films. Only the size of the man gave him away, and the top of the second box covered his view as he walked blindly into the room.
Not being able to see where he was going, Robert was unaware that he was walking into another box on the floor. Tess was too late in warning him, and his foot hit the box, jarring the third box on top of his pile. It fell forward, and the brunette jumped forward catching the item before it hit the ground.
"Wow...nice catch!" He said placing the other two boxes on another pile of even larger containers. The whole room was full of boxes, of different shapes and sizes.
Tess place her burden down and bowed, "No problem, sorry I was a bit lax in my warning."
Robert smiled, "Well you saved me from a possible accident so thanks."
"Ah it was nothing Robert and you know it." She studied the man before grinning, "But if you insist on being grateful...you can thank me by lending me your jeep?" She looked at him with hopeful eyes.
A frown covered the burley mans face at the mention of Tess using his most prized possession again; she was always borrowing it when she needed the extra packing space, or more room for her equipment. "Why?" He folded his arms.
Tess rolled her eyes, "Because I want to use it."
"What for?" He asked again, eyeing her up and down suspiciously.
This time she shook her head, "I promised the 'Mayor'" she emphasized the word for better effect, "That I would deliver something to him today, it is ready now, and would like to get it to him. The problem is my car will not make it in this weather...and you have all that 'all wheel drive' and 'all weather tires', it would be wiser to use your jeep...so I could get there safely. You know...in one piece, and more importantly, that I would be able to get the 'Mayors' cards to him on the agreed date."
"Well I will do it then." Robert stated taking a step towards the door.
"NO..." Tess said a little too quickly. "I mean, I said I would do it, and I will...don't you trust me or something? I promise to be very gentle with your pride and joy, and treat her with the utmost respect and devotion...just like you do."
The tall man frowned, "I am not that bad."
Tess nodded, "Of course you are not. So can I borrow it? Come on, you know I am an excellent driver."
Robert shook his head, "I don't think so...why don't you just go and buy your own car for gods sake...that rust bucket you drive around is highly in need of been replaced." He held up a hand to stop the protest she was about to make, "Yes, yes I know it was your fathers and it has sentimental value, but I am speaking from a common sense point of view here. You need a new car."
The photographer tapped her foot, "Fine...you are right...I shall buy a new car...satisfied."
"Yup..." Robert nodded and took a step to leave the room
"Provided...that you let my borrow your jeep today...come on I promise to buy a new car if you allow me to use it just this one last time...come on Robert I did save you from a near accident with the boxes."
Robert sighed his arms falling limply to his side, "You buy a new one at the weekend and it is a deal."
Tess held out her hand, grasping the larger one in a firm handshake, "Deal." She said; realising with annoyance she was going to have to change her plans with Nikki for the weekend.
Pushing his hands into his pocket, Robert pulled out his keys. With a reluctant growl, he handed them over to Tess taking a little too long in letting the metal objects go.
Tess gave a firm tug and released them from his fingers, "Cheers Rob." She grinned and walked out of the storeroom, patting the distraught man on the back as she passed him.
The journey to the Mayors house was slow, taking over twice as long as usual due to slow drivers and the fresh snow causing precarious road conditions. Still she knew that the country roads would be worse, and just hoped the jeep would manoeuvre the narrow dirt tracks with ease. She was glad that at least the blizzard had stopped, as she hated driving in those conditions.
Tess arrived at the house by five o'clock, and as she pulled into the driveway she noted that one of the three garage doors was open and presumably a car was missing. She hoped that meant Mr and Mrs Morris were out. Parking the jeep at the front of the house, Tess climbed out, her booted feet sinking into the heavily snowed path.
Zipping up her heavy jacket, she pulled open the back door, and took out the box of cards. Securing it under her right arm, she slammed the door shut and made her way to the front door. It was opened before she even had a chance to knock.
Lisa stood back allowing Tess to enter then quickly closed the door behind her. "Cold out?" She asked.
"Just a bit." Tess replied as she spotted Lisa's friend Sally, standing by the entrance to the family room, blush once again evident upon her cheeks. She smiled at the girl before turning back to Lisa. "So is your father here, I have his Christmas Cards, I need to get his signature on receipt." Tess looked around hopefully.
Lisa smiled, "Have you changed jobs now...are you a delivery woman?"
Tess arched her eyebrow, trying to keep the smile from her face.
"Gosh I was only kidding!"
Just then Mrs Morris appeared in the doorway, an obvious faux smile plastered on her highly made up face.
"Miss Alexander...we were not expecting you until this evening...my husband isn't even back from work yet." She walked forward.
Tess pulled the large box from under her arm, "Well your cards were done, so I thought I would deliver them..." she took a side glance at a giggling Lisa, "...As promised, but before it got too dark, the roads are icy enough at the moment, they are bound to be worse once the temperature drops."
Rosalind nodded her head, "Wise decision." She stepped forward placing her hands out for the box and Tess passed it over.
"I will need a signature, just to state that you have received the package and are happy with the finished results."
"OK...Let me have a look."
The older woman walked over to a large hall table and placed the box on top. She pulled open the lid and reached in taking out one of the Christmas Cards. Talking the glasses that were hanging from a golden chain around her neck, she put them on and inspected the card.
Tess turned around to Lisa and her friend who were standing in the doorway to the family room. She looked at Lisa making eye contact.
"Where is Nikki?" She mouthed silently with a frown.
Lisa opened her mouth to respond...
"Well Miss Alexander, you have done a marvellous job here, I am sure my husband will be very pleased with them."
Tess smiled at the small woman, as she pulled a sheet of paper out of her inner jacket pocket. "Well if you would just sign here then Mrs Morris I will be on my way."
Rosalind took the form and picked up a gold pen from a large pad by the phone. She signed her name and gave the sheet of paper back to Tess.
"Thank you...is there anything else?" She asked keeping her eyes trained on the tall woman.
The photographer shook her head, "No that is it, Thank you Mrs Morris."
Rosalind walked to the front door, "Well thank you once again for bringing them around so promptly Miss Alexander...I am sure my husband will contact you this evening."
Tess walked out of the door, and into the cold, somehow feeling warmer now she was out of the woman's presence.
"Goodbye Miss Alexander."
Rosalind shut the door.
Tess sighed, blowing out a strained breath as she looked into the sky and noticed the snow once again falling from the thick grey clouds. She blinked rapidly as a flake hit her eyelashes, and turned away, heading back to Robert's jeep.
She was annoyed, very annoyed. So it was obvious that Mrs Morris had for some reason decided to take a disliking to her; she still didn't know why. What was so wrong about taking her daughter out for a few hours last Saturday anyway?
Pulling the keys out of her pocket, she was about to twist open the lock when she heard a voice call her. Looking up quickly, she saw James Abbot jogging towards her. He was wearing a large black coat over his shoulders, and she could tell he had come out for the intent purpose of talking to her.
"Hey James what's up?"
The butler looked towards the house before turning back to Tess. "You were not supposed to be here until later this evening Miss Tess. I do believe Miss Morris wanted to speak with you, but as she presumed you would not be here until later, she was obviously not expecting you to arrive so soon."
"Well, I get the feeling that she would be very disappointed if she missed you...so...if you want to speak to her, she is at this moment in the stables, grooming her horses."
Tess grinned at the elderly man, "Thanks James I appreciate it. Now get back inside before you catch your death."
The butler smiled, "Thank you Miss Tess...why it is a little cold out here, I think I might just do that."
With a small wave he turned around and headed back the way he came disappearing around the side of the house.
Looking briefly at the large building, Tess turned towards the path that would lead to the stables and headed off in search of Nikki.
The temperature inside the stables was a lot warmer than outside. What with the solid brick walls and heavy oak doors, it was able to keep the blistering cold winds that hammered against the walls completely out.
Dressed in heavy jeans, a sweater and incredibly warm coat, Nikki sat on a bale of hey, listening to the wind. It was beginning to gather speed, and she knew she would have to return back to the house soon, or else risk the chance of being blown away. She laughed gently to herself at the thought.
Leaning forward she rested elbows on her knees and placed her chin in her hands. She felt peaceful, even with the howling winds, rustling trees and gentle nickering and stamping of Thunder and Jenna, she still felt relaxed. She smiled to herself realising that any sound would be more welcoming that her mothers prattling. A frown suddenly replaced her smile, it was not that she didn't love her mother because she did; it was the constant feeling of suffocation that saddened her so.
Pushing back, she realised she should start making her way back to the house, when she heard the stable door open. Nikki rose to her feet, since she was in the back of the building, nobody would be able to see her from the doorway.
Nikki recognised the voice immediately and moved out into the main area of the stable. "Tess."
Tess saw the blonde walk into view and smiled at the welcome sight, "Hey, I was looking for you."
"Yeah? You are here early, I though you were not bringing the cards round until tonight?" asked Nikki.
"Well I got them finished early and though I better bring them round. It is getting pretty stormy out there, and I didn't want to tackle that along with the added danger of the darkness...spooky out in these non street lamp lit roads " She pushed a hand through her hair, removing large flakes of melting snow from her dark tresses. She hated the feeling of wet windblown hair; it was an annoyance to comb.
Nikki nodded, "How are you?"
"Yes I am good...so you want to talk about Saturday, I suppose if the weather stays like this it will be off huh?"
Tess walked further into the barn, needing to be closer to the blonde. She looked around at the two horses that seemed disinterested in either woman's presence, as she stopped by Nikki's side.
"Um...I have to cancel anyway. I made a promise to do something at the weekend and cannot back out of it. It was stupid really but the only way I could get Robert to lend me his jeep so that I could get here ok."
"What was the promise?"
"That I would go buy my own jeep, and stop using his."
"And you have to do it this weekend?" asked Nikki.
"Yeah, and Saturday is a better day for me, as I am the official photographer for some big Christmas charity function in Birmingham on Sunday."
Tess scrunched her nose, "Yeah dozens of celebrities pretending to give a damn about whatever the latest cause is that's considered hip to support."
Nikki shook her head with a smile, getting a glimpse of the infamous Tess Alexander that Lisa had heard of and told her so much about.
"So I only have Saturday to get the damn car...that is unless you think car shopping with me would be considered a fun day out?" She asked hopefully with crossed fingers and toes.
"I was just thinking that." Nikki responded.
"Is that a yes?"
"Oh course, it could be fun. I just hope the weather holds off over the weekend though."
"Great...I mean, yeah I hope so too." Tess looked around the stable. "So have you finished with the beasts?"
"Yes." Nikki laughed, "They have been groomed, had their forage feed, and are now feeling well loved and cared for...I hope."
"Well in that case...would Miss Morris care for Miss Tess to escort her back to the main house?" Tess asked using her best James Abbot impression.
"Why yes I do believe Miss Morris would like that very much."
Tess held out her arm, gently took Nikki's and placed it in the crook, "Then let us get going then shall we?"
With twin smiles, Nikki and Tess walked out of the stable and securely shut it behind them.
The snow was still falling with no sign of stopping as they made their way up the long concrete path. The force of the wind blew to the side, forcing them to turn their faces away from the blistering gusts.
"You never mentioned what time you intend on picking me up on Saturday." Nikki stated in a raised voice, trying to be heard over the turbulent winds.
"I want to get there nice and early, so how does nine o'clock sound?" Tess asked above the high winds; she hoped the weather would not be like this.
"Fine with me."
She smiled, "Great."
They reached the main house, and Tess noticed Mrs Morris standing in one of the front windows watching them. Pretending she had not seen the woman, Tess walked Nikki up to her front door. Once under the porch, they were able to talk in a more normal voice, the majority of the winds howling blocked out by the brick structure.
"Your mother was watching us." Tess whispered
Nikki sighed, "Ok, thanks for letting me know." She whispered back smirking. She should have know her mother would have been somewhere around if Tess was about.
"Are you going to be alright?"
"Yeah fine, her bark is worst than her bite."
The brunette pulled a face, "Seems like she has a pretty mean bark though."
"Nothing I can't handle, I will be fine." Nikki assured her.
"Ok...if you are sure." Tess still felt a little uneasy. "Listen..." she scratched her neck, "Could I give you my mobile number, just in case you ever want to speak to me...you can call me any time. The phone is always switched on. You could call me this evening if you wish, just so my mind will be put at ease."
Nikki hesitated for just a minute, "Um...ok yes that would be great."
"Are you good at remembering numbers, cause I have cards...but..."
"Actually I am terrible at remembering numbers...you tell me what it is and I shall program it into my watch."
Tess gave out her number, as Nikki put it into her watch. Once done, she played back the data to make sure she had got the digits right. Then with slight reluctance, Tess said good-bye and made her way back to Roberts's jeep, as Nikki entered the house.
Rosalind Morris was waiting for her daughter in the hallway as she entered the house. She had noticed the jeep still parked in her driveway not long before, and had wondered what was going on when she spotted the two women walking back from the stables.
She walked into the hall, and stood by the table still holding the box of Christmas cards, as she waited for Nikki to come in. It had taken two minutes for the blonde to appear, and in that time the woman had come up with a million different scenarios as to what was going on behind the closed door.
Nikki walked in, knowing who would be waiting for her upon her entrance.
"I see you had a visitor." Rosalind stated.
"Yes Tess came to say hello...why?"
The woman frowned, "I just wondered what she wanted to see you for...and why. I am concerned as to what her interest is in you."
"I don't understand."
Rosalind walked to three feet in front of her daughter, "I want to know what a woman like that is doing with somebody like you."
The words stung unexpectedly, "What do you mean 'somebody like me' mother?"
"Exactly what I said. That woman is a high paid, well-known member of society, even with her introverted and somewhat aloof personality. She does not mix in our kind of circles, so I wonder what she is playing at."
"Maybe she just wants to be my friend." She told her mother, even though inside she felt an unknown desire for something more.
"Nonsense, why would she want that?"
Nikki fought against the hurt, her mothers words produced. "Well I tell you what, when she comes to pick me up on Saturday, you can ask her."
"I beg your pardon. She is taking you out on Saturday? I do not think so young lady."
Lisa appeared in the doorway listening to the conversation. Though hidden from her mothers view, Nikki sensed she was there.
"Mother, you cannot stop her, or me for that matter. I would like to go out, and it would be a nice change for me. I always get stuck doing the same old boring things, this is something different, and I am going...ok?" Nikki heard her fathers' car pulling into the driveway.
"Nicole Kathryn Morris, am I to understand you are disobeying my orders?" Rosalind advanced a step closer to her daughter.
"When will you understand I am capable of choosing my own friends and making my own decisions mother?"
Richard Morris walked into the hallway at that precise moment.
"I do not need you to vet people for me, I am a pretty good judge of character, and I like Tess ok. I am going out for the day with her on Saturday, and you cannot stop me when you have no valid reason, other than that fact that you don't trust somebody. You have never even gotten to know her mother so you cannot make that kind of judgement."
Behind the door to the family room, Lisa and Sally grinned and gave each other high five.
"I have never heard your sister speak up to you mother like that." Sally whispered.
"She has never had a reason to before." Replied Lisa.
Richard Morris walked in between the two women, "Ok, what is going on here?" he looked towards Rosalind.
"Will you please tell your daughter that she cannot possibly go out with that Tess Alexander woman at the weekend Richard."
The mayor looked at his daughter, "Nicole are you and Miss Alexander going out for the day on Saturday?"
Nikki nodded, "Yes father, she only asked me whether I would like to go car shopping with her, and I said yes."
"Then what is the problem?" He asked his wife.
Rosalind looked at the man strangely, unsure of what to say. "Well I just thought that it would not be appropriate..."
"Nonsense..." He butted in, "It is Nicole's decision. And though I can understand where you are coming from," He consoled his wife, "I am sure she will be in fine. I was a little unsure of Miss Alexander myself at first, but she is a nice woman, and a credible asset for us. Why did you know she is attending the 'Christmas for children' charity function this Sunday in Birmingham?"
Rosalind shook her head in surprised, while Nikki did the same, not surprised in the least that her father would find that a promising advantage.
"Well let us hear no more about it. It may not be the most desirable of days out Nicole, but I trust you will enjoy yourself."
Nikki grinned and thanked her father, all the while knowing that if he had not approved, there was still no way she would have missed shopping with Tess. She knew that he could not really have stopped her, and so did he, but it made things easier for her to know that he approved of Tess, and for some reason, that was strangely important to her.
Late into the evening Tess sat in her sparsely decorated living room. She lay across a large sofa, resting on her side with her head in her left hand. In her right she held the TV remote control, as she aimlessly surfed the multitude of satellite channels. She was not really interested in something to watch, her attention more upon the mobile phone lying directly in front of her.
Tess was hoping Nikki would call. Since the moment she'd given her number to the blonde, she had spent every moment with one eye and ear on the phone, wondering whether it would ring. And earlier when it did, she dove to the device before noticing her mothers name on the digital display. So she had answered the phone and asked her mother to call back on the landline, just in case the Nikki did indeed ring...but so far she had not. Tess wanted to think that was a good sign as it meant Nikki was probably ok, but she still felt a nagging disappointment...if she admitted it, she really wanted to speak to her again.
Still flicking through the channels, she thought back to the brief conversation with her mother. Hyacinth Alexander had asked when her daughter was to come down and visit her, as it had been over four months since they had last seen each other, and that was when Hyacinth had travelled up to visit Tess. Still her mother did relent due to the present bad weather, but issued an order to come visit her lonely old mother just as soon as the snow had cleared. Tess had agreed, but as she did every time she and her mother spoke, moaned about the fact that Hyacinth had moved down to Cornwall.
The relationship between mother and daughter had always been close, made even more so when her father had died. It was then that Hyacinth had decided to move, and had found a quaint little cottage on the on the outskirts of Boscastle. Tess was not too thrilled that she would be leaving the Midlands, but consented to whatever made her mother happy. And if it meant that she would get the odd holiday down to a costal town, who was she to complain?
Her perusal of the TV had strayed to the music channels, and she flicked through each station with disgust.
"Boy band." Flick, "Boy band." Flick, "Girl band." Flick, "Another boy band." Flick, "Ugh ancient band." Flick "Weird band." Flick, "Oh god...and I pay good money for this?"
She made one more attempted switch of the channel and landed on a history program, talking about the life of some unknown military leader. Shaking her head, she fought the urge to throw the remote control at the screen, and instead opted to make herself a drink.
As she got up, Leto, who had been sleeping peacefully on the floor, got up and followed her master into the kitchen. Tess was greatly aware of the hopeful expression for a possible snack, evident on the golden dogs features.
Once inside the kitchen, she made a beeline for the fridge, opening it up and surveying the contents. She really did need to so some shopping, the shelves were less than half full, and she always liked to keep a well-stocked fridge.
Deciding on the banana flavoured milk; she took out the carton and placed it on the counter, while reaching up to the wall cupboard for a glass. Leto noticed the beverage on the side and whined for some attention.
"No way dog, you don't like this stuff remember? Banana milk, last time I gave you some it ended up all over the bloody floor."
Tess filled her glass and put the carton back into the refrigerator, Leto still whining at her feet. With a dramatic sigh, she stuck her finger into the glass and pulled out some of the milk.
"Go on then, have a try...again."
Leto lapped at the finger for all of one second before the flavour hit her taste buds, and she pulled away with a snort of disgust.
"Ha...told you so." Tess proclaimed with a satisfied smile. Her moment of revelry was short lived as the ringing of her mobile filtered into the kitchen.
With a jump she darted into the living room and grabbed, noticing the unknown number in the display. With a frown and a slight feeling of disappointment that it was not whom she had hopped, she answered the call.
The photographers' ears picked up at the sound of a familiar voice, "Nikki?"
"Sorry I didn't realise it was you, the number was unknown to me."
"I have my own line in my bedroom, that could be the reason." The blonde chuckled.
"Ah ok...so how are you...how did things go earlier?"
"Fine actually, my father came home and backed me up...you know I think he might actually be starting to come around to the fact that I am not ten years old any more."
Tess laughed, "Good for him."
Nikki sat down on her bed, and then moved to lie on her back. She crossed her ankles and rested one hand upon her stomach. She felt suddenly content.
Tess walked back into the kitchen picked up her flavoured milk, and walked back into the living room, putting her glass on the floor as she got into her previous position on the couch. Leto trotted over, sniffed the glass, and snorting again at the memorable smell. She dropped herself down unceremoniously onto the carpet and closed her eyes. Tess chuckled quietly at her behaviour.
"What have you been up to this evening then?" Nikki asked, not wanting to end the conversation.
Tess leaned forward taking a drink of her milk, "Not a lot actually, pretty quiet evening for a change, and I haven't even set foot into my dark room all evening...a first for me. I kind of watched TV, spoke to my mother, who is demanding that I go down and visit her, and took Leto out for a walk when I first came in, just in the woods at the back of my house though."
"I love walking in wooded areas, all the sounds seem to echo, and there is a comforting kind of amity that is hauntingly familiar."
Tess rolled onto her back; "You make it sound so romantic...I bet you write poetry don't you?"
"Actually sometimes yes I do...but I assure you it is not very good."
"I would still like to hear some of it some time."
The blonde fidgeted feeling suddenly embarrassed, "Um...well maybe, I have never let anybody hear it before."
"Well if you are willing I would love to be your first test subject...but I have a feeling I am going to like them. You have a way with words Nikki, sometimes they speak to me...in a deeper sense of course"
A blush covered fair cheeks, "Thank you. Can I tell you something?"
She hesitated briefly, "I wish I was able to feel your work, I have heard so much about it that I regret I will never be able to see the beauty you capture."
Tess rolled her head to the side looking at her favourite picture on the wall, "Maybe you would like me to describe one for you, a picture I took and loved so much that I placed it here in my living room."
Nikki placed her hand under her head, "Yes...that would be wonderful." She closed her eyes, ready to concentrate on Tess's rich velvety voice.
The brunette looked hard at the shot. "It is night time...out in the middle of nowhere, and the sky is lit with a million stars like tiny chips of ice in the midnight sky...beneath the sky is the ocean...it is vast...and its icy waters move gently on the surface by a light breeze...if you were to put your hand into its water, you would be able to feel the chill and movement of the crests due to the light winds...in the centre of the sky is the moon...it is large and encompassing...fully rounded and shining bright like the daytime sun...it sheds its image onto the ocean below...and if you were to put your hand into the reflection...I bet you could feel an unexpected warmth...comforting and peaceful...When I first saw the sight, it captured something deep down inside of me...and it was like I was pulled into the moment. I wanted nothing more than to remember that feeling, so I took the shot and hung it here in my living room."
Nikki held her eyes tight closed, breathing deep. Raw emotion welled inside of her and a single tear threatened to spill from her firmly shut eyes. "That is beautiful." She whispered.
The tall woman heard the hitch in her voice, "Hey...you ok?"
"Yeah." She took a steadying breath, "I have just never heard something that has been described to me in such a way that I was able to almost picture it in my head." She opened her watery eyes. "Sounds a little strange, but it is almost like I can feel what it would be like to actually be there."
Tess lifted to a sitting position, crossing her legs. "Maybe some day I could take you there, it was and still is my most favourite place to visit."
Nikki sat up also, "Sounds like it would be wonderful."
An unexpected knock sounded at Nikki's door, she gave the permission to enter, and James Abbot opened the door quietly, "Miss Morris...your father has requested that you see him."
Tess heard what James said in the background and was disappointed that their conversation would have to come to an end.
"Sorry Tess, it seems I have to go, my father wants me."
"Ok Nikki, well thank you for ringing...it was a nice, if brief conversation."
The blonde smiled, "Yes...I guess I will see you on Saturday then, bright and early I presume?"
"Yes I will be there...good night Nikki."
They both held the phone to their ears, neither one wanting to disconnect the line. Tess could her the light breathing, "I think you should go before your father sends a search party." She said softly.
"Yeah I guess so...bye Tess."
The line went dead.
Tess pulled the phone away from her ear and looked at the black object. With a sigh she threw it lightly on to the chair to the right side of her, and flopped back down into the couch. Leto chose that moment to dive onto her master, making Tess gasp for air as the mutt landed on her stomach.
"Thanks 'tow tow'." She wheezed.
The golden dog whimpered.
"You miss her too huh? Yeah so do I."
Tess realised the impact of what she had just said, and ruffled the Terriers wide head, short hairs falling onto her black tee shirt. "Guess I am in trouble aren't I girl...this is just between you and me though ok. I don't want to loose her friendship 'tow tow'."
The hound woofed lightly, before laying her head on Tess's chest.
"You neither? Then I guess we better be careful huh?" With a deep sigh, she closed her eyes, and soon drifted into a heavy sleep, Leto still on her chest, and lines of uncertainty etched deep into her brow.