Snap Shots: Part 2
Chapter 12


Disclaimers: Please see Part 1.



Tess Alexander strode through the main entrance of the 'Snap Shots' building, a few minutes before eight o'clock - in the bloody morning she mumbled to herself. Standing in main reception she looked around the vacant room before taking off again towards the back of the building. Today was June the fourth; the employee's general meeting and every member of staff had to be there. It was usually held in the evening, but Tess stated that she and Nikki had an important appointment at five o'clock so she asked whether it could be rescheduled. It had… to the morning instead, and she was not best pleased with this as it meant having to get up earlier than usual.

Walking down the back corridor the brunette could hear a loud slamming sound echo through the passage, followed by a cheer of obvious triumph. She frowned and stopped just out side the door, holding her ear to the barrier with a confused expression. The voices inside grew louder…

“Ha ha, read it and weep losers, who's the champion now eh? All praise the mighty one chaps.”

That deep voice was most definitely Stan.

“Oh please I saw you looking for gods sake…you are a cheat!”

No doubt that was Jason.

“I agree, there is something dodgy going on here…Stan, let me check your sleeves.”

That was Carl, with him doing all outdoor shoots including weddings and schools; it was a change to have him in the office!

“He is not cheating, I was sitting next to him the whole time!”

Tess smirked as she heard Kat's voice; she knew just what Jason's reply to that remark would be and listened closely with a knowing grin.

“Oh for gods sake Kathryn, of-course you are going to say that, you two are sleeping together fer crying out loud!”

“Bingo!” Tess whispered with a smug grin.

As silence filled the room Tess decided that was her time to enter and slammed open the door, watching her colleagues jump in reaction. Oh I will never get tired of doing that she told herself, hiding the self-satisfied smirk. A crowd of wide-eyed, though friendly faces looked at her with surprise that quickly turned to relieved amusement.

“Well well, I was beginning to think you wouldn't turn up.” Jason said. “Nice do, did you get it cut?” He asked remarking to Tess's hair; she had visited the salon the day before and had a few inches taken off the length; it now rested upon her shoulders and had been layered for extra body.

“Yep” Tess replied. “Thought I needed a slight new look.”

“Uh huh…looks good. Anyway Robert called in about ten minutes ago, he is running a little late so we are passing the time by playing a few games.” He waved the deck of cards around in his hand. “Want to play, there is a fifty pence stake per hand.”

Tess pursed her lips. “Sure might as well; what are we playing? Poker, Black Jack, Pontoon, Rummy?”

Kat grinned. “Not exactly.”

“What then?”

She licked her lips. “Um… Snap!”

Tess froze in her descent towards the empty seat. “Huh… Snap? You are playing a kiddies game for fifty pence stakes?” She looked around the circle of grinning faces. “I suppose I don't need to guess whose idea this was… Jason.” She turned to the man with arched brows.

“Hey what makes you think it's me?” He asked indignantly.

“Because you're the one with a pack of 'Happy Family' cards in your desk drawer!” Tess pointed out.

Kat looked towards Jason smiling. “You have 'Happy Family' cards in your drawer?”

The man fidgeted in his seat. “Well they were left by one of the kiddies who came in for a shoot with her parents a while ago, I forgot to hand them in is all.”

“Never mind that,” Kat stated. “Whip them out, we can play 'Happy Families' instead.”

Tess's head dropped to her hand. “Ugh god, me and my big mouth.” She mumbled.

Just then the door swung open and Robert trudged into the staff room, arms loaded down with manila folders and stacks of paper. “Good morning everyone, how are you all? Welcome to Snap Shots annual meeting… I'm glad you could all make it here so early in the morning.” He paused to a series of mumbles and groans. “Hey don't blame me, I wasn't the one who had an urgent appointment this afternoon that couldn't wait.”

All eyes turned to Tess, as she in turn glared at the burly man.

Robert smiled innocently. “Nice to see you in so early anyway Tess, thank you, and nice hair. Say your face is healing really well, I can hardly see that scar any more.”

Tess narrowed her eyes. “It's called foundation Robert; covers a multitude of sins. Anyway, how can you call this the annual meeting when this is the third of such in the past year!”

He shrugged. “I like to be thorough.” Bending down he deposited a thick pile of papers on the table, scattering the small stack of fifty pence pieces over the shiny surface. “So are we all ready to get started?” Robert moved off towards his pride and joy and selected a cappuccino, “I can see an awful lot of eager faces here.”

Blinking, the green eyed photographer smirked. “Don't confuse eager with tired or hung over Robert.”

“Hey!” Carl screeched from beside her. “Who here has a hangover?”

Tess turned to the man and stared into his eyes. “Hmm, okay. Blood shot eyes, slight sway while still sitting. For gods sake, Carl you are almost emitting a potent aroma; I bet the air around you is fifty percent proof!” She made to shuffle her chair away with a grin. “Should I be sitting near you when I am driving later?”

Carl smiled serenely. “Ah but it was worth if for what I went home with last night. Sexy blonde, firm backside, long legs…and the biggest pair of… Ouch…Hey!” He rubbed his throbbing forehead with a pout.

Kat smiled sweetly. “And next time it will be more than just a marker pen I throw at ya, you misogynistic… womanising… dirty minded…”

“Okay that's enough.” Robert sat at the head of the table. “Man I almost feel like I am sitting a bunch of kids here. Let's get this meeting under way guys and gals, we all have busy days today so the sooner we get this started the sooner we get finished.”

“I agree.” Tess leaned back in her chair folding her arms. “Get on with it.”

The manager nodded. “Right. Okay point one… I want to talk about a few thought's I've had on upgrading the coffee machine.” Robert looked around confused to an outburst of deliberate groans.


Tess decided the meeting had been the shortest one to date. It lasted only thirty-five minutes with Roberts's topics of debate being another new coffee machine, the prospect of accepting a teenager on college work experience, and a new promotion campaign. The first two topics had taken ten minutes to discuss, where as the third was thrown open to debate. Still it didn't take long for Robert to agree to Tess's idea of free makeovers for glamour shots. They were always a popular aspect of the business, and to offer the free makeovers could more than triple the bookings.

Leaning on the back two legs of her chair, Tess swung her body back and forth in a precarious motion, her legs resting on the surface of her desk. She checked her watch and realised it was only ten o'clock, seven hours before Nikki's appointment and four before they were to leave for London. She estimated that the journey would take about two hours and wanted to make sure she had enough time to navigate the busy and sometimes one-way streets of London in order to find Harley Street. Today Nikki was to meet with Doctor Jacobson and they were both feeling more than a little anxious about seeing the specialist, especially Nikki.

What the hell am I still doing here? Tess thought. I'm sitting here doing bugger all while Nikki is at home probably still as nervous as she was when I left this morning. Righting the chair, Tess made an executive decision. Home!

Pulling her jacket from the back of her chair she shrugged into the lightweight denim and grabbed her keys from the corner of the desk. With a satisfied nod that she had everything Tess left her studio.

Walking through the back corridors the brunette stopped outside Kats studio knocked quietly on the door. “Anybody home?”

“Yeah Tess come on in.”

Tess twisted the door handle and pushed open the heavy wood. She looked inside Kats studio to find the photographer in the middle of a family shoot. She smiled apologetically. “Sorry, just wanted to say bye and I'll see you tomorrow.”

Kat winked. “See you tomorrow, T good luck with whatever this appointment is that you don't seem to want to tell us about!”

She rolled her eyes. “Soon okay.”

“Okay… see ya.”

Tess nodded. “Later” and shut the door. She carried on through the building, navigating a twist and turn before entering the main reception. There she had a short debate with Jason about advantages and disadvantages of buying store brought fresh pasta before finally leaving. She really had no idea about what the man was talking about but knew that if she just agreed with him she would get out faster, and it had worked.


Tess arrived home just before eleven o'clock, happy to see the sun shining high in the mid-morning sky. It was surprisingly hot though, the air thick and humid, stifling the atmosphere. Parking the Blazer next to Janie's Moped, Tess turned off the engine and pulled her long frame out into the hot, sticky atmosphere; disturbing her fringe as she wafted cool gusts of air with a folded sheet of paper. She was hot, and beads of sweat ran down her forehead and back.

Taking off her jacket, Tess slung it over her shoulder as she approached the front door; opening it and stepping into the cool house as a certain golden hound thrust her up against the wall.

“Hey 'tow tow' calm down mutt before you rupture something!” Tess stared at the excited dog. “SIT!” The dog fell to the ground with a whimper. “Good girl, now give me your paw.” Leto lifted her front leg producing her paw with a look of pure boredom. “Good 'tow tow', now calm down and bugger off!” Leto huffed and walking off into the living room, picking up her bone as she went.

Grinning at the sight Tess shook her head knowing that although Leto's operation had been a few weeks ago and the wound had supposedly healed, she still didn't want to take any chances. Dropping her jacket on the banister Tess wandered into the kitchen where she found the housekeeper routing through a cupboard. “Hey Sam, how's things?” She dropped her keys onto the table.

“Oh fine, I was just looking for a pot of silver polish. Nikki has a little Celtic cross on a chain that I said I would polish for her, she wants to wear it when you go out tonight. I tell you what, Tess she seems awfully nervous, I don't know where you two are going later but she has been rather anxious since I arrived.”

Tess frowned. “Hmm, yeah okay, where is she now?”

“When I left her, she was routing through the wardrobe trying to find something to wear.”

“Right.” Tess headed back out the kitchen. Time to release some nervous tension, she thought.


Dainty fingers pulled open a wide double width drawer and sunk into its contents, rummaging around the mass of garments. Nikki forced a strained breath through pursed lips as she picked up each item of clothing and identified the garment. She had been sorting through her clothes all morning, doing whatever she could to try and occupy her mind with anything other than that where she and Tess were heading later. She hadn't even bothered to get dressed and had been wandering around in her bathrobe since getting out of the shower. Now she sat on the floor rifling through her drawers.

She had contacted Doctor Jacobson only three days before and told the man she would come in for a talk. Jacobson was surprised to hear from her as she hadn't returned his call for over four weeks and he was beginning to think that Nikki was never going to be interested in considering this offer. Hell, he hadn't ever carried out this operation on a patient before and was hoping Nikki would be willing to go through with his new procedure.

Holding out another top Nikki felt around the edges as she identified which garment it was. She frowned, remembering that specific top was brown in colour and it wouldn't go with the black trousers she had picked. Nikki dropped the top back into her drawer as she wondered whether to change her choice from trousers to the cream skirt she had considered. Lisa had spent a long weekend some years ago, educating Nikki into what colours go with what so she always looked coordinated in her clothing. All she needed to do when choosing her clothes was to work out what item it was, then she would remember the name of the colour, thus remembering that black does not go with brown, or red does go with blue… etcetera.

“God I hate clothes!”

“Awe, what have they ever done to you?” Tess asked as she entered the bedroom. Already pulling off her sweater and letting her trousers slip down her legs to pool around her feet, thus slightly hindering her movement; she shuffled her feet across the carpeted floor.

“I can't decide what to wear.” Nikki turned to her side facing Tess. “Why are you shuffling your feet?”

Tess kicked the black garment across the floor. “I've just taken off my trousers. Do you have any idea how hot it is out there; you could fry an egg on the bonnet of the car.” She leaned down picking up her trousers and placed them on the bed; “I need a shower!” Nikki smiled but remained quiet and Tess noticed her tense expression. “You still nervous about later?”

She nodded.

“Want to talk about it?”

Nikki shook her head, “Nothing to talk about, I am just nervous about meeting Doctor Jacobson…I mean,” she sighed letting her head fall into her hands. “Ugh, I'm just feeling a little apprehensive…you know that.”

Tess moved forward leaning down onto her knees. “Yeah I know, but I will be with you every step of the way Nik, and remember this is just an informal chat, nothing has to be decided today.”

“Yeah your right.”

Smiling the brunette leaned forward kissing Nikki's lips gently. “But of-course. Now… we have a couple of hours before we head out to London, so how about I make a suggestion.”

“Which is?”

“Ah ha…you get dressed… just something causal for now and all will be revealed.”

“Oh!” Nikki smiled. “I can do that.” She reached out feeling Tess's scantily clad form. “And are you planning on dressing or staying in your underwear?”

Tess bit her lip as a wandering hand moved across her thigh. “Ugh… um dressed… yeah dressed.”

The small appendage carried on its journey. “Are you sure?”

Grabbing the hand before it reached its destination. “Uh huh believe me, it will be worth it; I want to take you somewhere.” She got up and headed towards the shower leaving an inquisitive Nikki full of excited speculation.


Tess had pulled on a pair of blue denim shorts and a deep red tank top before taking off down stairs to grab a few items for their spontaneous excursion. She jogged into the empty kitchen and pulled open the fridge, taking out a bottle of sparkling grape juice and a tub of cherries. Stashing them in a small navy cool bag, she chucked the carrier over her shoulder just as Sam entered the kitchen. She told the housekeeper she was taking Nikki out for an hour or two and would be back at two o'clock. Then she dashed into the laundry room and gathered a few more items.

She arrived back in the hallway as Nikki descended the stairs, a curious Leto trotting happily by her side. Tess looked down at the dog shaking her head. “No way Leto, you are not coming with us.”

Reaching the bottom Nikki pouted. “Awe… why not?” she asked, smoothing her hands over white cotton shorts and a lilac sleeveless tee shirt.

“Because!” Tess and Leto stared at each other in a silent duel. She narrowed her eyes as the dog started her customary and somewhat sneaky whine that was always guaranteed to melt the blondes' heart - It worked!

“Oh Tess come on she can come along, she just wants to go out for a while.”

Tess rolled her eyes, knowing she would get no peace from either golden haired individual so gave in. “Fine, she can come.”

Leto wagged her tail and dashed off to find the lead.

With an exaggerated sigh, Tess went back into the kitchen and grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and one of the dogs bowls. With the weather as hot as it was she knew Leto would be panting hard and wanting a drink in no time, she still wasn't quite as fit as before her operation. Tess shoved the items into her overstuffed cool bag and headed back towards the waiting duo. Nikki and Leto were already waiting outside, lead firmly attached to her red collar, leather handle securely within the blondes grasp. Tess had decided to take the car, as it would give them an extra twenty minutes of resting time that would have been taken up with walking.

They jumped into the car and Tess took off, taking a well-hidden dirt track that she had found one day while taking a walk. It led to a small, secluded area where the stream trickled down a three-foot bank like a waterfall. It was peaceful, isolated and a wonderful place to just sit and listen to the wonderful sound of nature.

Within five minutes they arrived at Tess's secret destination. “Well we're here.”

“And where is here?” Nikki asked, noting the serene sense of mystique that washed over her. “I've never been here before have I.” She heard the flapping sound of bird's wings as they flew by overhead.

Tess shook her head as she pulled her cooler from the back of the seat, thus allowing Leto freedom. The golden hound dived out of her confines of the Blazer and started her customary ritual of sniffing every nook and cranny of this new environment and peeing on most of it. Tess watched the dog with amusement. “Do you think dogs have endless bladders?”

Nikki smirked. “I think they just save it for something interesting!”


Taking a hold of Nikki's hand Tess led her over to a grassy verge by the stream. “In answer to your earlier question… no you have never been here before. I found it during a walk with Leto a few weeks ago and thought I would surprise you with it one day… maybe on a picnic or something.”

“Oh picnic, have you brought food?”

“Not really.” Tess placed the cooler and the ground, and pulled a large tartan blanket from around the handles. She shrugged the material out before letting it fall to the ground beneath them, and straitening out the edges. “There you go ma'am, a nice comfy seat.”

They sat down upon the red and green blanket

Nikki closed her eyes and sighed. “Tess, will you describe this place to me?”

“Of-course.” Jade eyes scanned her surrounds, taking in every aspect of the glen and surrounding sights. “Well to the left of us there is a huge crop of coniferous trees looking very much like a small forest, it's obviously green all year round… so full of life. There is this strange kind of stump of an old sawn down tree trunk right before the entrance to the woods, I saw it last time I was here.” She picked up Nikki's hand holding the palm face up. “It's must have been a very old tree as the circles inside it's trunk are many.” She started drawing tiny circles on the blonde's hand to emphasise her point. “You would think such a tree should not have been cut down; it must have been beautiful and majestic looking.” Kissing Nikki's palm, she lowered it to her lap. “Surrounding the rest of this clearing are normal deciduous trees of all different varieties and in the autumn the leaves will all fall to the ground covering this grassy verge with a blanket of crispy dry foliage. Ahead of us is the stream; it is about four feet wide and the water about one foot deep. It must slope at an angle because the water trickles down the stream with a gentle force and then flows down a short bank like a tiny water fall, doesn't sound too loud though does it?”

“No” Nikki smiled. “But it's like a slightly louder version of the one outside our home.”

“I bet this is the same one, only it starts getting wider and deeper the closer it gets to the river.” Tess looked around for Leto and found her lounging under the shadow of a large oak tree.

Sighing the blonde moved backwards and rested on her back upon the blanket, basking in the searing heat. She could feel the sun shine down upon her face, warming her from the outside in. “I love the way you describe things to me Tess… you create such a clear perception for me.”

Tess dragged the cooler to her side and pulled open the lid taking out the tray of cherries. She leaned onto her side facing Nikki, her head resting in the hand of her left arm. With her free hand she placed the container above Nikki's head and pulled one of the fruits from the tray.

“What are you doing?” The blonde asked, hearing the noise above her. She could smell a subtle sweet scent, but wasn't able to identify the aroma.

“This.” Tess said as she held one of the cherries suspended above Nikki's lips by the stalk. “Try it.”

She opened her mouth and accepted the fruit, pulling it from the green stalk and chewing cautiously until… “It's a cherry!” She pulled the stone from her mouth and threw it in the direction of the stream. “Oh that was tasty.”

“Want another?” Tess asked, already reaching into the plastic container.

“Mmm hmm.” Nikki opened her mouth accepting the cherry as she reached above and felt around for the container. Once within grasp she pulled one of the tiny fruits out and cupped Tess's cheek before holding the red berry against her lips. Tess bit into the fruit, taking Nikki's fingers into her mouth as she did so. Her tongue moved against the small digits causing a shudder to run through the woman below. “You're not playing fair!”

Tess smiled slowly and extracted the stone from her lips. “Why am I not playing fair? I intend on fulfilling one of my vows here today… that is definitely fair and you know me… I always keep my promises.”


She leaned closer to Nikki's ear and whispered enticingly. “Remember when we first moved into the farm house, I told you that one day soon I was going to make love to you out here.”

Nikki swallowed - hard. “Right now?” she asked with a squeak, a heated blush covering her cheeks. “In the open?”

“Nik this isn't the open… well not really. We are secluded from the outside world. Right now it's just you, me and the squirrels in the trees but I don't think they are particularly interested unless I start feeding you nuts along with these cherries; then we may have a slight battle on our hands.”

Nikki smiled. “What about Leto?”

Smirking. “She's not interested in anything other than food and attention since I got her fixed.”

“You did… when?”

“Later!” Tess reached above Nikki's head and picked up another cherry, only this time she crushed the fruit in her fingers allowing the juices to run over the tips. “Here comes another.”

Nikki opened her mouth expecting another cherry but instead she got Tess's juice covered fingers. She hummed in delight, closing her eyes and sucking on each digit, thoroughly working her way around the long appendages with her tongue. And just as Tess was about to pull away, she grabbed a hold of the slender wrist, wrapping her own fingers around it and pulling her forward as she trailed small kisses up to the inside of Tess's elbow.

The brunette released a ragged breath, feeling tiny tingles of electricity every time the smooth lips touched her heated skin. Not being able to take a slow seduction at that precise moment she moved forward, taking Nikki's lips in a deep penetrating kiss; groaning as she tasted the sweetness of cherries in the blondes mouth. She advanced further, not breaking the kiss as she gently laid her form above the smaller woman, holding herself up on one strong arm as her other hand sunk into blonde tresses.

Nikki ran her hands along the body above, until her fingers disappeared into the brunettes' own dark hair, holding the woman close.

Eventually Tess pulled away and stared down upon Nikki's flushed countenance. “Did I tell you how much I love you today?”

“Not that I can recall no.”

“Oh!” Tess leaned down, her lips moving across the blondes' neck with tiny kisses.

“What… and you are not going to… tell me now?” She asked breathlessly.

“Hmm… nope… I'm going to show you instead.” Her hands found their way around the blonde's tee shirt and pulled it up over her head. Lips instantly dropping to the rim of Nikki's breasts that peaked out above her bra.

Her nostrils flared as she inhaled deeply, hand rising to the back of Tess's head where she held the woman in place; willing her to explore further. She growled in frustration when the woman's lips started a journey back up towards her neck. Warmth mounting within her, Nikki spread out both arms feeling around the empty space on both sides of the blanket. Suddenly she grabbed a hold of Tess and flipped her over, surprising the brunette with a surge of underlying strength. Nikki landed on top of Tess, holding her down with the weight of her own body as she reached around for Tess's hands, finding them and holding them above her head.

Tess looked up with darkening eyes, gazing at the flushed state of her lover. “Going too slow?” she asked.

Nikki leaned forward trailing kisses from the photographers chin to the side of her face, moving her tongue gently over the raised scar. “Hmm,” she replied as she held onto Tess's willing wrists with one hand, the other moving to the waist of her denim shorts. She unsnapped each button before pushing her hand inside and grabbing hold of the corner of her tank top, pulling it up and over her head.

Taking advantage of the fact that their hands had separated, Tess rolled the blonde over, trapping Nikki underneath her larger body. “I thought I was fulfilling a promise here today?”

Nikki smirked as she once again flipped Tess onto her back. “Yeah you are… but I kinda like it better up here today!”

Tess ran her hands over Nikki's back; unclipping the bra strap in her descent to the waist of the blondes' own shorts. She moved her hands under the elasticised waistband and pushed them down soft thighs. “Far be it from me to deny you anything.”

“Anything?” Nikki asked in a whisper as her body moved slowly against Tess.

“What did you have…” She closed her eyes and sighed at the increased pressure, “…in mind?”

Licking her lips, Nikki moved to the right side of the photographers face and whispered thickly in her ear.

Tess's skin flushed, a sweat breaking out over her forehead, her body aching as she listened to Nikki. When the blonde moved away she captured her face between warm hands and guided her towards her own lips, kissing her intensely. Moments later she pulled away breathlessly. “I… definitely think I can…” She swallowed trying to moisten her dry throat, but it seemed all fluids had moved to lower parts of her body. “Comply.” Tess said as she removed Nikki's shorts completely, moved the blonde tenderly to her knees then guided the smaller woman up and along her body for the most intimate of kisses.


Sam exited the front door carrying a bucket filled with fresh tepid water and a squirt of washing liquid. She handed it over with a smile to the man who was waiting patently by the nearest window. He was middle aged, and of average height with a head of dark blonde hair and matching groomed moustache. They both turned at the sound of an engine coming from the distance and Sam watched Tess's Blazer until it slowly crossed over the wooden bridge. “Ah here's Tess and Nikki now.”

The car pulled up outside the house and the two smiling women climbed out the front. Tess approached the stranger as Nikki pulled out her cane then went to release Leto from the back seat. As she opened the door Leto jumped onto the ground cautiously, eyeing the man with some measure of concern. Nikki sensed the dogs' apprehension, and Tess watched as Leto walked protectively by Nikki's side as she approached the others. It was just like Dominic had thought. Leto had lost her overfriendly enthusiasm that she once had with unfamiliar people, opting instead to stay close by the two women and issue cautious glares. There was one instance when a temporary postman delivered the mail; she came very near to chasing him off the property, and would have done so if Nikki hadn't assured the dog that the man was perfectly friendly.

The photographer smiled sadly; it wasn't the fact that Leto was less forthcoming with strangers. That in itself was fine as she always thought the dog should show a little more reserve. No, it was the fact that Leto was less trusting, she watched people with an air of concern, not just for herself but for Tess and Nikki also. It hurt to think that her attack had left some emotional wounds.

Sam decided introductions were in order. “Tess, Nikki, I would like you to meet Ben, he is the window cleaner in these parts. I realised the other day that you didn't have one so asked Ben to come around and speak to you both.”

Tess held out her hand, taking Ben's in a firm shake. “Hi Ben, so how much do you charge, and how often do you come around?”

“For a house of your size I would charge seven pounds and I will come around as often as you like, but I average it to once a month.” Ben looked down suddenly as the stocky dog by the blonde woman's side started barking at him in a warning manner.

Tess smiled. “Hey Leto!”

Leto stopped barking and looked up at her master.

“It's okay, good girl.”

Leto's head fell to the side as she studies the man briefly before trotting up to him and falling at his feet waiting for attention. Ben bent down and scratched her stomach much to the delight of the golden dog.

“Well yeah I think that sounds okay. Once a month, at seven quid…that's fine.” Tess looked at her watch then to Nikki. “Hey Nik, we better go in and have a quick shower etcetera; we have to leave in about half an hour.”

“God yeah!” Nikki headed towards the door. “Nice to meet you Ben… sorry we have dash off like this but we have an appointment later that we really cannot miss.”

“That's alright Miss, nice to meet you too.” He bent down picking up his bucket of fresh water. “Well if you will excuse me I must get on with doing your windows.” And with a smile he headed off to the far corner of the house.

Tess watched him walk away before turning back to the housekeeper. “Well, Sam will you lock the house up when you leave and activate the alarm?”

The alarm was Tess's idea and she'd had it installed four days after the events with Bradley White. Paying for the best on the market, one that was connected to a monitoring station that would alert the necessary emergency services whenever an alarm was raised. It had taken Nikki two days to learn and memorise the lay out of the keypad but she was soon familiar with the device and comfortable in its usage.

Sam nodded. “Of-course, just leave it all to me. You two get going to this appointment of yours.”

Tess smiled as she headed into the house. They had told nobody as yet about where they were actually going and why. Nikki was still too anxious and didn't want to build expectations on anyone's part, until she was herself comfortable with what was happening. She was also trying so hard not to build up her hopes and so far it had worked.

Tess shot up the stairs three at a time and made her way into the bedroom. “Nik?”

The blonde stepped out of the bathroom, already pulling on her clothes. “Don't think I have ever showered so quickly in my life.”

“Ah ha, well we still have twenty minutes.” Tess pulled off her top. “Wanna join me in the shower?”

“Tessa Josephine Alexander, are you trying to make us late?” Nikki shook her head and continued to get dressed.

Disappearing into the bathroom Tess chuckled. “Well it was worth a try I suppose.”

Nikki heard the shower start as she sat down on the bed pulling on her shoes. She closed her eyes falling back onto covers, trying so hard not to let her mind wander and think of the approaching hours. The blonde supposed she should be doing something, anything to keep her active and away from the brooding that she was in-fact now doing but it was fruitless. Since she had risen this morning she had spent every quiet minute thinking up all possible scenarios on how this meeting could transpire. In one way or another she wasn't sure whether she like the out come of any one of her scenarios. Sorry Nicole, but I am afraid I will not be able to give you the gift of sight and you will never be able to fully appreciate and experience the visual beauty of this world, she shook her head. Or, Well I am pleased to say that you will get your sight back Nicole and you will enter a completely unknown and somewhat overwhelming territory that will change everything that you have accepted and been familiar with your whole life! She began to wonder whether she should start having second thoughts.

Suddenly she felt warm lips upon her own, shocking her because she hadn't even been aware the approach.

“Stop pondering so hard Nik.” Tess kissed her again before moving away with a smirk. “You may rupture a cell or something.”

Nikki pushed herself back to a sitting position and pulled on her other shoe. She listened as Tess put on her clothes. “What are you wearing?”


A warning tone; “Tess!”

She smiled. “You know the usual, why?”

Nikki shrugged. “No particular reason, I'm just trying to focus my mind on something other than the meeting with Doctor Jacobson.”

Tess thought for a while. “Well… on our drive down to London I'll tell you about the reason I got Leto spayed if you want, it's quite a funny story.”

“Oh tell me now.”

Shaking her head. “Oh no, later.” Tess knew how curious the blonde could be and knew she wouldn't stop thinking about this until she told her. The brunette thought it would be a good way to keep the blondes mind occupied. Well at least until she would give into Nikki's badgering to relinquish the information.


Heading south down the M1, traffic was typical for an early afternoon. As usual Tess preferred to spend as much time as possible alternating between the middle and fast lane; driving at a steady eighty to ninety miles per hour. They were heading south towards London and Tess spotted many large wagons coming in the opposite direction, obviously from abroad where they crossed over to England via the Channel Tunnel.

Tess turned to her left and looked briefly at the quiet blonde. Nikki hadn't spoken much since they had joined the motorway and Tess knew exactly the reason why, though she did think Nikki would brow beat the information out of her. She grinned, her vision directly on the traffic in front as she turned down the radio. “I've never known you to be so patient.”

“I'm trying so hard to keep from pleading with you here!” Nikki replied, her lips in full pouting mode.

The photographer rolled her eyes. “I can tell… you have been huffing, puffing, and fiddling with the corner of your top since we joined the motorway. I am impressed at your patience.”

“Well it's wearing thin, so spill Miss Tess before I start whining. Why did you get Leto fixed?”

Approaching a black Mini, Tess pulling right into the fast lane and overtook the shiny vehicle. “Well it was in around the first year that I got her, when she entered her first season. I started noticing that she wanted to go out more and was almost literally scratching at the door to be released. Anyway on this one particular day, it was a Saturday afternoon and I had let Leto out into the garden; she had been whining since I first let her out that morning. So I let her out and she more or less fled into the garden like her very life depended on it. I decided to follow her just to see what the hell she was up to. She disappeared around the back of the shed and as I started up the garden path I heard her barking… that kind of double, attention seeking bark, you know!”

“Oh yeah, I know the 'I want some attention' bark!”

Tess bobbed her head up and down. “Anyway you know how the fence in the old garden was slatted with gaps in-between?”

“Uh huh.”

“Well I made my way up the garden and peeped around the shed. I could not believe what I saw!” Tess paused.

“What? Oh come on Tess are you going to make be beg here?”

Sniggering. “Well there she was staring through the slats in the fence and barking her bloody head off at this young man walking his dog through the woods. She kept turning around and thrusting her… um you know…!”

Nikki rolled her eyes.

“Up between the panels as though the was offering herself to him and every so often she would have a go at digging ditch under the fence. Then she would go back to barking at the dog on a lead and shoving her back side against the damned fence… slut!”

Laughing. “Oh that's funny!”

Tess shook her head. “That isn't the worst of it. A couple of hours later, I had let her back out into the garden thinking she would behave. I realised that she had gone awfully quiet so decided to see what she was up to. I found the little bitch 'getting it on' with that same little dog from hours before! He had got into the garden through the hole Leto had been digging under the fence…!”

“Oh my god!” Nikki chuckled. “What did you do?”

“I chased that bloody mutt out of my garden, kicking its horny ass back under the fence! I was so angry at the time that I ordered her back into the house and the next day I had to take her to the vet to get a shot. Needless to say that event served to fuel my want to have her spayed. There was no way I would be able to handle half a dozen 'mongrel Leto half breeds', running around and causing havoc.”

Laugh quietly Nikki's head fell to her hands. “Ah poor Leto; so she has only ever known one moment of unadulterated passion!”

Tess shrugged. “I don't think she cares. She's gets unadulterated satisfaction every time somebody tickles her tummy, scratches behind her ears, or even feeds her for gods sake.”


“Hmm.” Tess steered the Blazer back into the middle lane and looked to the roadside as they passed a signpost. “Hey only twenty miles to go until we enter the capital. How are you feeling?”

Nikki frowned. “Up until about five seconds ago fine!”

“Oh come on Nik, you will be fine. We go in there… You do want me to go in there with you?”

“Yes.” The word was said with utter conviction.

“Well then, we go in there and just talk. Nothing has to be decided at this point in time remember?”

A small nod; “Yes.”

Tess reached over and took a hold of Nikki's hand bringing it to her lips and kissing the soft skin gently. What she hadn't told the blonde was that she was just as nervous as Nikki was herself. Half because she had no idea what was to happen and half because she felt the blondes' uneasiness and knew that even though she may be able to divert her attention from time to time, it would never fully release the tension Nikki was feeling. Only time could do that.


They had entered the congested, bustling streets of London with just over half an hour to spare until Nikki's appointment. Tess navigated the roads with proficiency as she wound her way through the onslaught of surprisingly heavy traffic and of one-way systems. She looked up as a large red Double Decker bus passed them; the side of the passenger vehicle covered with advertisements of the latest released films.

She carried on their journey and soon found herself turning onto Oxford Street. Known as the heart of London and west end shopping; she had only ever been down this road once before when she was in her teens with her mother and was overwhelmed by the amount of shops there, being well over three hundred. If she did enjoy shopping she would love this place; she was damned sure Nikki would love it, though it was just so crowded.

“So tell me what's London like?” Nikki asked with excitement.

“You've never been here before?”

Shaking her head. “Not since I was a 'wee bairn'” She chuckled at her bad imitation of a Scottish accent. “I had my transplant down here, Doc Jacobson has always worked in London, though only recently it would seem has he moved to Harley Street. He must be pretty good huh?”

“I would guess so.” Tess frowned as she looked down at her watch. “Hmm, we still have a little while yet; do you want to get something to eat first. I for one am bloody starving over here.”

“Sure where do you want to go?”

Tess looked around. “Well Nik we are on Oxford Street surrounded by an abundance of shops, hotels and restaurants. Hmm…” she looked down at her watch once again. “I think we should make it quick though, I want to leave us enough time to get to Harley Street, even though we are more or less round the corner from it.” She looked out along the throng of shoppers taking in every establishment until something caught her eyes. “Hey a fast food restaurant want to go there; it's quick!”

“Sure, but where are we going to park?”

“Are you kidding, we are approaching one of the largest car parks in London.” Looking around the lively street. “Lets hope I can get a space,” she muttered.

Finding a parking space had been harder than anticipated and Tess finally managed to locate a space by a small eatery. Unfortunately by that time Nikki's nerves had raised a notch too high and she no longer wanted food. Tess decided to buy her something for later, knowing she would be hungry after her appointment at least. She herself had eaten her sandwich as they headed towards Harley Street.


The outer office of Doctor Jacobson's surgery was incredibly plush and cultural in its appearance. It held definite characteristics of somebody who had travelled the world, picking up interesting knick knacks along the way. Sitting in a large brown leather sofa, Tess looked around the office trying to identify the different clay pots, wood carved figures and other interesting objects. She could tell that Doctor Jacobson lived very well and he probably charged a fortune for his skills.

Directly across from her and Nikki was a large dark wood, stack of shelves that in its self looked like it had been carved completely by hand, and it stood almost six feet tall. Tess scanned along the four shelves, eyeing each object with interest. On the top shelf was a carved wooden figure of an ethnic woman holding her obviously pregnant stomach. Jade eyes scanned down to the next shape and she frowned at the crouching form of what she decided was the male figure, with a large phallic symbol protrude out between its thighs, each to their own, she thought with a wry smile. Shaking her head, Tess looked back to the middle-aged woman sitting behind a large oak desk. She wore a beige tweed suit, her hair was held up in a severe French twist and she wore small circular spectacles on the end of her nose. Every so often she would look up and smile politely at the couple before turning her attention back to a small computer screen.

Nikki sat beside Tess chewing nervously on her thumbnail. The photographer noticed this out of the corner of her eye and gently nudged the blonde. “Hey I thought you weren't hungry,” she teased.

The smaller woman smiled slightly but said nothing.

Tess placed her arm around Nikki's shoulder. “Hey come on, just a chat remember?”

Nikki nodded.

Just then a large set of double doors opened and a tall man walked into the outer office. His hair was black with many flecks of white and grey and he wore an expensive double-breasted navy suit with a thick silver watch around his left wrist. His brown eyes turned to Nikki and an affectionate smile graced his lips. “Nicole Morris.”

Nikki rose at the sound of her name on the familiar voice. “Um… Doctor Jacobson.”

The doctor walked forward, smiling brightly. “Please Nicole, Eric remember? No need to sound so formal.” He looked towards the brunette standing by Nikki's side and held out his hand. “And this would be Tess Alexander… wonderful to meet you, I hear you are the official shooter at the Music Awards!”

Tess nodded shaking his hand with a firm grip. “Yeah… but I didn't think that was public knowledge yet?”

The doctor smiled tapping the side of his nose. “In this city Miss Alexander it is all about whom you know and let's just say that the event manager happens to be a patient of mine.”

“Ah I see.” Tess winked with a smile and then they both looked down to a quietly smiling blonde.

“So Nicole.” Eric turned to his office. “Are you ready to talk?”

Nikki nodded. “Sure, lead the way Eric,” She said apprehensively as she took Tess's arm and together they headed into his office.

Chapter 13-14

original fiction index | xena homepage | what's new |