by Anne Azel
Disclaimer: The characters of Xena and Gabrielle are the property of Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended.
My thanks to the readers who have been so kind in showing their appreciation. You are a great bunch! My special thanks to Lisa, Inga and Susan, my long suffering and hard working beta readers.
Warning: This story is alternative fiction, please do not read on if you are under age or if such material is illegal in your end of the swamp.
I like it, Robbie concluded looking around the small log home while Janet busied herself getting an exhausted Rebecca to bed. The log walls were varnished a soft honey colour and the furniture was over stuffed, traditional and comfy. The sofa and chair were in a deep burgundy plaid and the matching chair a forest green.
The focus of the room was a huge fireplace of granite stones on either side of which were large windows. Robbie looked out but the night was too dark to see the view. The kitchen was to the other side, separated by a log counter with a cut stone top. The third wall was built-in bookcases with a t.v. centre inset. And the last wall opened onto a hall, off which were two bedrooms and a bathroom.
They had entered by the side door, near the kitchen. The front door was in a small entrance hall beside the living room. The front door, from what Robbie could see out the window, seemed to open onto a front porch that ran the length of the house.
It was small but very well organized and tastefully decorated. Robbie put her overnight bag down on the chair and walked over to look at the large painting over the mantel. The artist was a well known Eastern Woodland Indian painter. The image was of Corn Mother feeding her young. The subject was simple and bold in colour. Like that too, Robbie thought then wandered across the room to look at the books.
There was a scattering of popular literature but the vast majority of the books were related to educational philosophy. Hell! Billy married a school marm!
"Sorry to leave you standing there, Robbie, but I had to get Rebecca to bed," explained Janet walking back into the room.
"You're a school teacher?! Over paid, under worked, summers off, don't care about basics or kids, school teacher?!" growled Robbie lifting the book in her hand to reveal the title, Methodology in Gifted Classrooms by J. J. Layton.
"What! Listen you..." started Janet in annoyance, the red warming her cheeks. Then she saw the sparkle in Robbie's eyes. "I bet you were a real terror in school," she laughed folding her arms across her chest and giving the tall woman her best teacher look.
Robbie's face became instantly innocent as she pointed her index finger at herself. "Me?"
"Hmmm, it explains why you turned into a rude, overbearing, ego-centric workaholic," growled Janet in her best imitation of Robbie's voice.
Robbie feigned surprise and hurt and Janet walked over to her and took the book from her hand and placed it back on the shelf. Their bodies were very close now and again Janet sensed the warm, gentle heat and spicy scent of the famous actor. It's no wonder she has such a wild reputation. Robbie Williams would be very hard to resist, thought Janet.
She turned to find Robbie very close, looking down at her. For a moment there was a silence that radiated tension then Robbie stepped back and asked, "Well, are you a school marm?!"
"Yes, I'm the principal at The Bartlet School for the Gifted," revealed Janet over her shoulder as she hurried to put the kitchen counter between her and Robbie. The way she was feeling about this woman was definitely not good. Shit! "Can I get you anything? I usually have a cup of tea around this time," rambled Janet.
Robbie nodded and moved to stand by the dark window in contemplation. "Yeah, tea would be good," she responded after a minute. Damn, I must be tired. I almost kissed her! What the hell is the matter with you Williams! Robbie thought trying to pull herself together. What the hell am I doing here?!
"So just what kind of relationship did you have with my brother?" asked Robbie going on the offensive, "You never did answer me."
Janet grimaced and put down the mug that she was holding. She looked over the counter at the tall woman who had turned to look at her. Their eyes met. Janet licked her lips. There was no point in lying. Robbie would check, she knew she would. "I needed money quickly. Lots of money, so I sold my body to your brother," she answered quietly pleased that her voice hadn't cracked with the emotion she was holding firmly in check. The blue eyes registered surprise followed by doubt.
Janet swallowed and fumbled to make the tea with shaking hands. The splash of the hot water and rattle of the china were painfully loud in the deafening silence that had followed her statement. When she finally looked up Robbie was still standing there looking at her, a shrewd and calculating look on her face.
"Would you like to put your bag in your room while the tea is brewing?" Janet asked to end the silence.
"Yes," Robbie replied meeting Janet's eyes. Janet read perplexity. Robbie saw pain in the green eyes that looked back at her.
Robbie followed Janet into a bedroom that was clearly hers. Here the large logs were hung with Navaho rugs. They weren't big but they were of a good quality, Robbie noted as she leaned on the door jamb after placing her bag on the floor. "So you sell your body, huh?" she purred and saw the shock and anger rise in Janet's eyes. "How much?" she enquired with a voice laced with steel.
"It was a one-time business deal, Robbie. Back off!" Janet warned, stepping back as Robbie stepped toward her. The tall woman looked hungry and mean and she walked like a dark, jungle cat stalking its prey. Janet reached behind her as she took the last step back.
Quickly, she picked up the wood based lamp and swung it at Robbie. Robbie stopped it with one hand. For a long minute the two women glared at each other. "What did you think I was going to do? Rape you?!" drawled Robbie, one eye brow arched in annoyance.
"Let's get one thing straight here, Williams. If you are going to be part of Rebecca and my life, you will not try your little mind games or intimidations on me!" snarled Janet.
"I want to know the truth!" growled Robbie.
"Truth?!" snorted Janet, pushing past Robbie and heading for the kitchen, "After the Williams' staging I witnessed today, I'd be hard pressed to believe that truth could survive in your world!"
She walked into the kitchen and found that her hands were shaking so hard with anger, she couldn't pour the tea. Robbie stepped around the corner and Janet jumped.
Robbie rolled her eyes and turned to pour the tea with steady hands and carry the mugs into the living room. The coffee table, she put the mugs down on, was in the shape of an old fashioned sled. Janet had unusual and creative taste, Robbie decided, as she sat down in the green chair and stretched out her long legs crossing her ankles comfortably. She raised an eyebrow at the angry woman who still stood in the kitchen and waited.
Janet came around the counter and dropped into the Burgundy chair at the other end of the coffee table. "That was a disgusting thing you did, you god-damn bitch," snarled Janet her voice shaking with emotion.
Robbie shrugged unimpressed. She'd been called worse. "And your business deal wasn't? I told you before, accept my authority. Everything you have ever heard about me is true and there is a lot you haven't heard. Now, tell me what I want to know."
"I am prepared to accept your intelligence and ability, Robbie. But you have no authority over my life and never will. We will start to get on a lot better when YOU accept an equal relationship with me," responded the petite woman confidently.
Robbie got the ghost of a smile that Janet found so sexy. "I'll give you this, school marm, you can hold your own! I don't want the press digging up any dirt that I don't know about and can't react to immediately. What you tell me will not go any farther."
Janet nodded. "There is not too much to tell. My grandfather was a gambler. As he got older he lost some of his sharpness and all of his money. He signed my name to some debts that he was not able to pay. He died and I found out I owed a fortune. The creditors would not consider payments and the bank would not give me a loan for that amount of money. I was facing a prison term.
I was desperate. I met your brother at a party. He was desperate too. He said he needed an heir but he didn't want any obligations to either the child or its mother. I said I'd have and raise an heir for him in exchange for the money I needed," explained Janet looking at the fireplace, her face white with stress.
Robbie got up, "I'm going to bed now. Where are you sleeping," she asked abruptly.
Janet looked up, her eyes blinking at the sudden change of subject. "Here, on the couch," she stated. Robbie nodded and was gone. Janet leaned her head back on the chair, emotionally drained by the day and by Robbie Williams. The woman was impossible, an erratic blend of fire and ice.
Robbie lay in Janet's bed, her hands folded under her head, and stared at the ceiling. She was taut with anger and she had absolutely no idea why. She had got what she wanted from Janet. She had spirit, that little one. The bed had a lingering scent of hot summer herbs and honey that she knew was the chemical makeup of Janet.
Billy had got what he wanted too. Her heart jolted and a pain filled her chest, Shit! That was it! She was jealous that Billy had bedded Janet! Get a grip here, lady! This woman is nothing to you! She probably isn't even gay. You're just experiencing some latent nesting syndrome because you like Rebecca. Reb was all right. Really, well behaved for a kid. Wonder why Billy suddenly felt he had to have a child? Then an awful realization exploded on her mind. A fear gripped her heart and she rolled out of bed, grabbing her night gown.
Janet was still sitting in the chair. She looked and felt completely numb. The bedroom door opened and in a few quick strides Robbie was in front of her, "Why did he marry you? He could have got an heir without marrying you?! Why?!" she demanded.
Janet sighed and answered in a voice devoid of energy or emotion. "He insisted. He said his child couldn't be a bastard. We even waited a few months after we were married before... He wanted no doubt that the child was his legal heir. He said it was important.
Then Robbie understood and cold icicles of fear ran down her back. "This is important," she stated seriously, fighting not to show any of her true feelings, "Did he tell you anything else?"
Janet shook her head and the towering woman seemed to relax a bit. She wore only a blue, silk bed jacket tied with a belt. The jacket ended half way between her knee and her hip. Her legs were incredibly long and shapely. She must sleep naked, Janet thought and then looked away to the dead ashes in the hearth.
Robbie looked at the woman intently. No, she didn't know anymore, she reasoned and turned on her heel and was gone. Janet barely noticed her leaving she was so exhausted.
Janet woke early, to the sound of Rebecca demanding attention. For a minute, she had no idea where she was, then the events of the day before filtered back into her consciousness. She'd better get up. No doubt her damn uninvited houseguest would want a hunk of raw meat thrown in her direction for breakfast. With a sigh, she rolled off the couch onto her feet and moved blurry eyed towards Rebecca's room. "Hi sweetheart!" she called to the small child who stood in her crib holding on to the bars. At the sight of her mom, she bounced with glee. "Want to shower with mommy this morning?" More giggles of delight.
Janet stripped off Rebecca's diaper and carried her into the bathroom. The happy child played with her rubber ducky until her mom had turned on and adjusted the water for their shower. After much singing, giggling and soap bubbles the two emerged squeaky clean and with a warm glow. Janet slipped a Toronto Maple Leaf jersey over her head and a similar one over Rebecca's. Then mother and daughter headed off for the kitchen to see to breakfast.
Robbie's bedroom door was open and after hesitating, Janet moved farther down the hall and looked in. The bed had been stripped and the sheets left neatly folded at the end of the bed. Robbie's overnight bag was zipped closed and lay on a chair. It was the only indication that Robbie was still around. Rebecca squirmed to be let down and Janet came back from her thoughts and lowered her active daughter to her feet. Rebecca looked into the room. "Mommy's room," said the child pointing.
"Yes, mommy's room," agreed Janet. "Come on Rebecca, let's get some breakfast, okay?"
Rebecca giggled and ran wobbly on her feet towards the kitchen.
"What will it be partner?" asked Janet looking over the counter and down at her daughter who looked back with serious blue eyes.
"Banana, peas," came the response.
"You'd like a banana on fresh bread?" clarified Janet with a smile at her daughter's good manners.
"Yes, peas," came the response as Rebecca ran across the room and stood by the screen door. "Oby come. Oby come," the little child reported happily.
Janet felt her gut tighten but she smiled and said, "Good, Robbie can have breakfast with you, Rebecca."
Robbie kept a steady pace up the dirt road. It was nice running in the cool of the woods rather than out on the hard pavement of the city. The air smelt of pine not diesel and the ground was softer under foot. She picked up the pace enjoying the high that a long run always gave her. The road bent and Robbie caught a glimpse of the lake before she dropped back into the mottled shadows that lead back to Janet's log cabin.
Running up the wide wood stairs, she came to a stop on the large porch that over looked a long, narrow lake. The view was framed by tall pines and out on the lake a pair of loons called to each other in a lonely, plaintive cries.
"Oby!" came a voice from behind her and the director turned to see Rebecca standing at the screen door, looking at her.
"Hi, Rebel! How are you doing this morning?" Robbie asked feeling herself drawn to her brother's child by some powerful inner force. She carefully opened the door and stepped in. Rebecca looked way up and fell on her bum in the process. "Oops, you okay, kid?" asked the dark woman from way above her.
Rebecca reached up her small arms, "Oby up. Oby up," she insisted. Strong arms wrapped around her and the next minute, she shot up in the air and was looking down at Oby's face. She laughed happily and the tall woman laughed too.
Robbie swung Rebecca up into her arms and walked over to where Janet was working in the kitchen. "Morning," she said stiffly.
"Good morning," came a hostile voice in return.
Robbie smiled cruelly. "Still got our feathers ruffled have we?" she drawled. Janet gave her a murderous look but said nothing. She sliced a banana onto a piece of fresh bread, folded the bread over and passed it to her daughter who was still wrapped contentedly in Robbie's arms.
"What would you like to eat?" she asked the tall woman formally. Robbie looked down at Rebecca who was busily pulling out slices of banana and mushing them into Robbie's shoulder.
Robbie smiled wearily as a partly chewed piece of sticky fruit slipped down her cleavage. "You did that deliberately, didn't you?" she asked an eyebrow going up in annoyance.
"Yes," smiled Janet from behind her coffee mug as she watched her daughter be... well, her daughter. Rebecca laughed with a mouth full of banana and reached up with a sticky hand to grab Robbie's nose. Banana slime now dripped from the famous woman's face. Janet snorted into her coffee.
"Okay, Reb, you've given your mom enough entertainment at my expense," said the tall woman coming around the counter to place Rebecca in her highchair. The banana sandwich went on the floor. Robbie sighed and bent to pick it up. "I can't understand why the world is over populated," muttered the director looking disgustedly at the mushed sandwich before she dropped it into the garbage.
"Go clean up and I'll finish feeding Rebecca and get us some breakfast too," stated Janet looking at the woman who now stood beside her.
Robbie looked down at Janet. The petite woman had spunk and a nasty sense of humour. She was pretty and intelligent too. Her little brother had picked some good genetic stock it would seem. "So you are speaking to me now, huh?" she growled.
"It would be childish not to. However, for the record, you are not forgiven for your appalling behaviour last night," stated Janet turning away. She could feel Robbie behind her. Feel her warmth and the intense energy that always seemed to be around her. Then the feeling was gone, Robbie walked passed on the other side of the counter.
"Breakfast isn't necessary," stated the retreating figure.
Janet's eyes followed the arrogant woman in amazement. Robbie bullies her last night and then gets her feelings hurt this morning because Janet is still angry at her! The woman was the strangest piece of work that Janet had ever come across! Angrily, Janet peeled the remainder of the banana and passed it to her daughter to eat. "Here you are, Reb," she said softly. Now where had that come from?! Robbie had called her that. Damn! The name seemed to suit her fearless daughter too. Perplexed, she turned back to the kitchen and started to prepare blackberry pancakes for the two of them.
Robbie stormed into the bedroom and stripped off her sweats. Opening her bag, she pulled out her dressing gown and slipped it on and then took out underwear, jeans and a sweatshirt. She headed down the hall to the bathroom and was dismayed to find it smelt of the warm sweet herbs that were Janet. Shit! Why am I angry? Who cares if she thinks I'm a bastard? I am! Damn the woman anyway, Robbie grumbled, as she slipped out of her wrap, and stepped on a wet rubber ducky in the shower.
Janet had cleaned Reb up and was just placing her in her play pen when she heard the crash. She walked over to the hall and then hurried down to the bathroom door. "Are you okay?" she asked the door. No answer. "Robbie, are you okay?!"she repeated, her voice a little louder. There was still no answer. Janet knocked on the door. Nothing. She turned the knob and looked in. Robbie lay on the bathroom floor, half in and half out of the shower. Janet's shocked mind registered three things one after the other: She's naked. She's gorgeous. Oh my God, I think she's dead!
Robbie came round a few minutes later to find herself in Janet's arms and covered respectfully with a bath towel. Her head throbbed and her knee ached terribly. She closed her eyes and played hurt to the best of her ability. Janet held an ice pack on the lump growing on her temple and she was calling to her softly. "Robbie, Robbie are you okay?"
The actor milked the scene for all it was worth before opening the baby blues. "You left that duck there on purpose, didn't you?" she drawled, her eyebrow going up in question as she looked at Janet.
"Well, no, but I wish I had," revealed Janet with a grin.
Robbie nodded. "Are we even now?" she asked seriously.
"No," stated Janet, "I did not try to intimidate you! But I am sorry that you hurt yourself on Reb's toy," responded the smaller woman honestly.
Robbie sighed in annoyance. "Why, because I might sue?" she asked sharply.
"No, because I don't like to bring harm to anyone deliberately or by accident," responded Janet with feeling, "Even if that someone had it coming!"
"I might sue!" snapped Robbie in annoyance.
"Oh yeah, the mighty Roberta Williams is going to sue because she was laid low by a rubber ducky!" mocked Janet and the two women broke out laughing.
"Ouch, that hurts!" grumbled Robbie reaching for her temple and in doing so covering Janet's hand where she held the ice pack in place. Robbie pulled her hand away immediately. "Sorry," she said awkwardly.
For a second the two women looked into each other's eyes, then Janet said, "Listen, you want to try getting up?"
"My knee is twisted. I'm letting you know in case I have to lean on you," stated Robbie seriously.
"You can lean on me," came the response and both women knew that an apology had been offered and accepted and that new lines of behaviour had been drawn between them. Robbie could not remember apologizing for her actions before, even as indirectly as she had just now done to Janet. This whole weekend was turning out to have some real surprises in it!
"Janet, I am not going to your doctor!" yelled Robbie, some time later from where she lay on the living room couch.
Reb, who was sitting contented on top of Robbie looked startled and then hit Robbie's hand. "Bad Oby! Bad Oby!" she scowled.
Robbie looked at the little girl in surprise, "Shit, you are just like your old lady," she muttered.
"Robbie don't..." started Janet who had walked over to continue the argument. Robbie had a pack of frozen peas on her knee but the knee was continuing to swell by the moment.
"Shit, mommy! Shit, mommy!" Reb repeated. Robbie roared with laughter.
"No," Janet stated firmly and Rebecca looked worried. "Bad, Rebecca," Janet said and Rebecca reached up to her mommy in tears. Janet picked up her upset daughter and held her.
"Now look what you have done!" growled the actor fighting the urge to come to Reb's defense.
"I did!? Look, Roberta, your leg is getting worse. You need medical attention."
"I'll need more than that if I go sit in a waiting room. Have you any idea how aggressive fans can be?"
"Oh, I hadn't thought of that. Look Bill, that's Doctor Perkins, is a friend of mine. I'm sure if I asked him, he'd come over after work and look at the knee. Okay?" suggested Janet swinging back and forth as she soothed the worried child.
"How good a friend?" demanded Robbie pulling herself up on her elbows and scowling.
"What?!" asked the startled woman lowering her daughter to the floor to buy some time.
"You heard me, how good a friend?"
"That is not your business, Ms. Williams," stated Janet formally, going to start the breakfast dishes in the kitchen. To her surprise, Robbie was right behind her! "Robbie! You are going to damage your leg even more!"
"I want to know!" demanded Robbie getting that stubborn look that Janet was quickly learning meant big trouble.
"Don't even think about intimidating me!" hissed Janet angrily pushing past Robbie so that she wobbled back against the counter.
"I'm family! Family has no secrets," argued the tall woman rubbing her knee in pain.
Janet snorted as she wiped Reb's highchair table clean. "Your family is totally dysfunctional!"
"Don't try to change the subject," Robbie commanded, remaining focused on her goal.
Janet sighed, rolled her eyes and turned to look at this stranger who had bullied her way into her life in a most irritating manner. "A deal. I'll tell you about my relationship with Bill and you agree to do what he says," she suggested already planning to have Bill pack Robbie off back to a city specialist.
"Okay," agreed Robbie all too readily. She had some plans forming of her own.
Janet's eyes narrowed. What was the exasperating woman up to?! Leaning against the counter she said, "Bill and I have an understanding."
"What the f... What does that mean?" Robbie amended as Reb came running around the corner and wrapped her arms around her mother's leg. She had Robbie's bag of frozen peas on her head. Janet reached down and took them off placing the plastic bag on the counter. "It means that there might be a time in the future, when Bill's practice is established, that we might consider marriage," she explained awkwardly, not looking at Robbie.
Silence. She's a lousy liar, thought Robbie, "Ahhh; would he be a good step father?"
Robbie limped past Janet, picking up the bag as she went, and returned to the couch to work on her laptop. Janet went back to her dishes and Reb quietly went to play in the ashes of the fire.
Late in the morning, the fall day clouded over and a steady drizzle started to fall. Robbie had closed up her laptop and had flipped through a number of the books on the bookshelf. There were four by J. J. Layton. Flipping to the back jacket, Robbie was startled to see Janet staring back at her in black and white. So Janet Williams was also J. J. Layton M Ed.
Janet returned from having put Reb down for her afternoon nap. "These are yours," observed Robbie as Janet walked by.
"Yes, I know," responded the author stiffly. "Bill said you were to stay off that leg until he has a chance to see it," Janet pointed out as she went to clean the ashes out of the hearth.
"I'm bored!" grumbled the famous actor, putting the book back neatly on the shelf and hobbling over stiff legged to sit back down on the couch and watch Janet work. Janet placed the ashes in a metal pail to be carried outside and dumped in a sand pit.
When she came back in from this chore, she found Robbie sitting on the floor going through her small collection of videos that she kept in the drawer under her T.V. unit. "Make yourself at home. Feel free to go through my cupboards," said Janet sarcastically as she put away the ash bucket in the broom closet.
"Thanks," muttered Robbie ignoring the barb. "You don't have any of mine," she continued peevishly.
"No," answered Janet, heading for the kitchen to put the kettle on.
"Why?" asked the Robbie looking over at the petite woman who could barely be seen over the counter from that angle.
"They're too violent," stated Janet. "I like things with happy endings."
Robbie let her face remain still and passive. Okay so Janet doesn't like her movies, so what!
"You've got Jurassic Park. Didn't the really big dinosaurs scare you?" she asked resorting to a bit of sarcasm herself.
"Nope, I always root for the animals," Janet observed. "But I was terrified for those kids!"
Robbie nodded. Putting kids or animals in danger really heightens tension in a screen play, she thought. "Ahhh, you want to watch a movie with me?" she asked much to her own surprise, feeling a heat climb up her face.
Janet hesitated for a minute. She really did find herself liking Robbie even though she hated the way Robbie behaved at times. She did seem to be the best of the pick in the Williams family, not that that was saying much. Reb needed to know her father's family and this was the woman, for now, that she had picked to watch over her child if anything was to happen to her.
Robbie would take that job very seriously, she knew. However inappropriately she might behave, there was a sort of noble core about Roberta Williams. It was a shame she was so filled with anger. "I was just going to make a pot of tea. I think I've got some home made oatmeal cookies. Shall we have some with the movie?" To her surprise, she saw Robbie relax, as if she had been holding her breath waiting for an answer.
"Yeah, that would be good. Those pancakes you made this morning...they were good," Robbie got out awkwardly as she pretended to read the copyright information on the video case.
Janet smiled. A compliment of sorts! It sounded like the first one she has ever given! Janet made the tea and brought it over on a tray with a plate of raisin-oatmeal cookies. Robbie slipped in the video and pulled a cushion onto the floor so that she could watch lying down. She watched intently, her blue eyes moving constantly over the screen, taking in every detail.
Janet watched Robbie. She was very beautiful and in a very, real way. She wasn't the product of dieting and makeup, she was just naturally good looking and healthy. She was almost larger than life in her vitality and presence, Janet realized. The woman, however aggressive and commanding, was mesmerizing.
"I like a good adventure show, do you?" she asked the director passing her the plate of cookies.
"Adventure show!?! God-damn-it lady, this is Spielburg! Have you really looked at this film?!"
snapped Robbie making Janet jump in surprise and spill cookies over the polished wood floor. Robbie did not appear to notice; she had grabbed the remote and was rewinding the tape, a look of utter disgust on her face.
"Okay, look, the helocopter comes in low over the water. 'Copters don't do that in real life! It's dangerous and besides aviation regulations call for five hundred feet minimum. The director chose to do that," Robbie pointed, freezing the action, "See, now look, the point of view has shifted from the 'copter to the approaching island. The viewer is forced to look up. You are approaching the Jurassic World were nature dominates and humans are made small. Spielburg is setting the stage.
Watch," Robbie ordered, starting the film again, " Look how the 'copter has to go around the small island. Already nature is dominating. And look at the shape of the island! Tall, dinosaur-like!" Robbie's mood shifted from annoyance to excitement as she warmed to her subject. "Okay, this is the valley scene. Watch! See, they go down the long valley. No 'copter pilot would do that normally. It's symbolic. You are entering the world of Jurassic Park. It is a birth image."
"Now they run into trouble. Turbulence. The missing seatbelt strap. There is confusion. They can't cope. Finally, the knotted belt; it is a very human action. It draws us to the protagonist. We bond in the common experience of having to deal with the ordinary frustrations of things like seat belts. This whole section is foreshadowing of things to come. The best laid plans are all ready falling apart. And it is in that out of control state, that we go down, down into the Jurassic World. Brilliant! See how the waterfalls in the background repeats that message?!"
"Right, now, here is the meal ticket," explained Robbie freezing the action again and pointing to the screen, "The jeep door opens and there is the Jurassic Park symbol. Blatant commercialism. I bet he sold a pile of those toy jeeps! The guy not only has the heart of an artist but a damn good business mind too! That one second of film promotes the show, reinforces the title, and sells a billion toys. You can almost hear him laughing all the way to the bank!"
One long, slender finger clicks the remote and the action starts again. "Now the jeeps enter through the gates that close behind us. Foreshadowing, right? We become trapped in a world from which not all of us will escape. Note the pink uniforms. Female references are starting to appear. Rebirth. Subtle hints that nature's reproductive cycle can not be controlled."
"Right, now we move out on the savannah. Note the tall trees creating that dinosaur height again. The jeep circles around the tree. Nature dominates. The pattern the director established at the beginning of the show is now being repeated for the dim-witted. We went down the valley, now the protagonist is seen in a reverse image, rising out of the roof of the jeep. A birth image. Human trouble again. The character, so overcome by the power of nature, falls to the ground."
"Listen to the music, stirring, building. It is female music, filled with hope and rebirth. Okay, back to the action," ordered Robbie now completely lost in her work. "Listen to this line, 'They're moving in herds,' again it's foreshadowing. The dinos will work together to defeat the humans. The music climaxes and the viewpoint shifts to the world of Jurassic Park that opens out in front of us!"
"How much of the film did we look at? Maybe a few minutes and look at how much careful planning was in it to create the prefect illusion! And you say to me," snarled Robbie turning on Janet, "That you like a good adventure story! Shit!"
Janet blinked, completely taken back by the out burst. The video played on into the silence of the room as the two women looked at each other. Robbie's facial features slowly changed from anger to confusion as if she had suddenly become aware of where she was and what she was doing. "Well, it is what I do for a living. I guess I see it differently than most," she grumbled to hide the embarrassment she felt at having shown so much of her excitement and love of her craft.
Janet laughed, her eyes sparkling with delight. Robbie looked up sharply, her temper rising; was Janet laughing at her?! "That was the most fantastic experience. I learned so much! Wow! You just opened doors for me, in terms of what I can start to pick out of film now. Please Robbie, go on! I want to learn more!" Janet begged, slipping onto the floor by Robbie in her excitement and leaning her back against the chair.
Robbie gave a nervous smile. "Yeah? You liked that? Okay, let me rewind," smiled the director,'s picking up the remote again from where it lay in her lap. Janet eyes followed the action lingering on the spot where tight blue jeans covered Robbie's sex. Oh boy, this woman could really get my motor humming, Janet thought and then quickly turned her attention back to the screen before Robbie noticed where her eyes were.
For the next three hours, Robbie talked about her craft. She was encouraged and pleased when Janet asked intelligent, probing questions. When Reb woke from her nap, Robbie played with her on the floor while Janet prepared a chili for dinner and made bread to go with it. They'd have a fresh tossed salad too and she would ask Bill to stay.
She hadn't been really truthful about Bill. The truth was Bill wanted marriage and Janet didn't. She liked Bill a lot and she'd had satisfactory relationships with both sexes. But, well, she always thought that when she met her special person that it would be a woman. Some one like Robbie - only nice.
Bill arrived at five carrying two bunches of spring flowers. He gave Janet one as she opened the screen door and pecked her lightly on the cheek. Robbie rolled her eyes as she watched from the couch. The actor wore her black running shorts and a tank top of the same colour with a slash of gold down the sides. One long leg was bent up and the other out straight as she lounged back against the arm of the couch her arms spread wide. Blue eyes, almost inhuman in their intensity, slowly stroked up the young doctor's body. Come here, Robbie thought, I'm going to eat you alive.
Janet saw the look and narrowed hers in warning. Robbie flashed a dazzling white smile at the short, wispy-haired doctor and held out a graceful hand to accept her flowers. "How, lovely," she said in that famous voice that could turn a heart of stone to lava.
"Roberta this is Dr. Bill Perkins. Bill this is Roberta Williams," introduced Janet shaking her head and heading for the kitchen.
She knew as soon as she saw Robbie's face what the woman was going to do. She should be furious! To steal someone else's man right there in front of them was just damned disgusting! But instead, she found herself thinking it was rather funny.
"Doctor, do you think it is just my knee? It hurts up here too," cooed Robbie taking the stupefied man's hand and placing it on her inner thigh. "Maybe I ...pulled something."
It was Janet's turn to roll her eyes. She opened her mouth and put her finger in. Robbie watching Janet's antics over the poor doctor's shoulder, raised an eyebrow and smiled wickedly.
"Ms. Williams, I'm a big fan of yours! I've seen all your movies!" babbled the doctor as he examined Roberta.
"Then we have something in common, Bill, I'm a big fan of yours because you went to all the trouble of coming out here. Imagine having a doctor that does house calls! I'm so lucky you were near by." Janet buried her head in her hands and tried not to laugh.
The doctor stayed for coffee but not dinner. He wasn't invited. Janet packed him off with a personal letter of thanks from Roberta to hang in his office and a reluctant hug from Janet. Once the love-sick doctor had driven down the drive way, Janet came back in. "That, Robbie, was a new low, even for you!" she growled.
Robbie smiled broadly and stretched like a panther in the sun. "Nope, not even close to how low I can go, kid," she gloated.
Janet walked over and stood by the couch arms crossed. "And what if I'd really loved that guy?" she asked tapping a foot.
"You didn't and we both knew it. You're a terrible liar. Besides, if he can be swayed that easily, would you want him practising in this town with his plastic glove up...."
"Robbie!" interrupted Janet picking up a pillow and tossing it at the director.
Robbie caught the missile easily and looked up at Janet. Her blond hair was catching the evening light from the window bringing out the red highlights. I am going to have you, Janet Williams. You just don't know it yet, Robbie decided. Instead, she said, "Can we go out on the lake after dinner?"
"You have water on your knee, Robbie, Bill just told you to stay off it," sighed Janet knowing that she was going to let Robbie win this argument. A canoe around the lake was always beautiful in the Fall. The rain had let up and the evening was promising to be beautiful.
The three of them walked down to the lake, Robbie carrying Reb with a comfortable arm wrapped around Janet's shoulder. Janet had wrapped her arm around Robbie's waist. Before Robbie let go, she gave Janet's shoulder a small squeeze. Janet looked up and smiled and then lifted Reb to the ground.
She turned the red canoe over and slipped it into the water. Then she brought it in along the shore for Robbie to step in. With a grimace of pain, the actor got in and seated herself on the bottom leaning against the wood cross piece. Janet checked the life-jacket on Reb and handed her to Robbie. Then she spun the canoe out and putting one foot in, she pushed off with the other.
She pulled out the paddle from its holder and checked to make sure there was a floatation device under both seats then they were off.
Robbie felt a bit awkward letting Janet do all the work but that had been the condition of the canoe ride. "Trying to balance on that bad knee and paddle will put all of us in the lake," Janet had told her firmly. "If we go, you have to sit in the bottom with your leg out straight and hold on to Reb."
Robbie decided that it wasn't such a bad deal. Facing towards the stern, she was able to observe Janet openly. It was clear that Janet knew how to handle a canoe well and they slid through the water at a quiet, smooth pace. Reb, tired out with an afternoon of play, snuggled deeply into Robbie's warm chest and was soon fast asleep.
"Who owns all this land?" asked Robbie looking around. The lake was clear and deep and the forest around was just starting to show its fall colour. The only house on the lake seemed to be Janet's.
"My great grandfather owned it at one time. Then my grandfather. He gave me one lot for my twenty-first birthday. A local saw mill holds it now. They bought it for back taxes. So far, they haven't started cutting in this area. I don't know what I'll do when that happens. It will be so sad," sighed the petite woman.
"You got a good job, royalties on books, a house, how come you couldn't pay off your grandfather's debt?" asked Robbie moodily. She really liked Reb but the thought of her brother and Janet together upset her. There were pieces missing in this story, she knew it.
Janet frowned. "Hasn't anyone told you that you don't ask about other people's finances?!"
"I'm going to hell in a hand basket anyway," Robbie replied a little too seriously, "So I don't have to play by societies rules. Tell me and save me the trouble of having you investigated."
Janet gave Robbie a dirty look. "You would, wouldn't you?!"
"Without a second thought," Robbie replied with predator glint in her eye.
Janet sighed. "My home is mortgaged to the maximum, royalties on educational material are pathetically low, as are educators' salaries and I'm carrying a student loan too. I was only just getting on my feet and establishing my career when I found I was thousands of dollars in debt. I....It was really scary," stammered Janet at the end, feeling all the emotion and fear of that dark time in her life returning.
"So you made a deal with my brother." Robbie snorted, looking away so that Janet couldn't see her face.
"I love, Rebecca very deeply, Robbie. I wouldn't have had a child if I wasn't prepared to be a good mother. The arrangement suited me too. I...I...don't see myself as ever marrying and yet I wanted a child."
The blue eyes swept back. "Because you're gay?" she asked. Janet nodded, and after that they paddled on quietly for awhile. Janet put her finger to her lips to signal Robbie to stay quiet. They came around a point and slid silently into a small marshy bay. There a moose chewed leisurely on underwater plants. Robbie, a city person, had never seen a real moose before. It was the size of a horse but with coarse, crude features. It would wade forward on long, knobby-kneed legs and duck its head under the water. Sometime later, the head would surface dripping water and with a mouthful of green plants.
"They can close off their nostrils and hold their breath for a long time," Janet explained. "That's why they can feed on the water plants. They are safe enough this time of the year but in the spring, they can be pretty aggressive. Along the roads, you'll see moose warning signs because the bulls become so territorial, they will charge a small car. They're clever too. The hunters will tell you that moose will sometimes circle around behind a hunter and hunt the hunter!"
Robbie nodded, enjoying listening to Janet's knowledge of the forest world. They moved on and Janet showed her the tall standing rock near the shore where red ochre rock paintings could still be seen. They were pictographs left by the Woodland Indians of the area a thousand years ago.
Robbie took metal notes. Janet was showing her scenes that she could use in her work had she known it. Janet thought she was showing Robbie the beauty of nature hoping to ease the anger that always seemed to be just under the director's surface.
When they returned, Janet made a fire and carefully locked the screen in place now that Reb had discovered fireplaces. What a mess she had been when Janet had found her that morning. And there had been Robbie, her co-conspirator, watching Reb with delight as she built grey ash hills on the floor!
Later, when Reb had been tucked into bed and the fire had burned down low, Janet opened the screen again and dropped some chestnuts on the red coals. Their shells darkened as they hissed and cracked open revealing their starchy, white centers. The two women lay in comfortable silence by the fire eating the roasted chestnuts with a bit of butter and salt.
"Dinner was really good," stated Robbie looking at the fire.
Wow! Two compliments in one day! I'm on a roll here, thought Janet. "Thanks," she said.
The 'copter will pick me up tomorrow," Robbie said suddenly. Janet looked at her in surprise. Only this morning, she would have gladly sent her packing on the end of her foot but now, well, she had sorted of taken it for granted that Robbie would stay until such time as her leg was better.
"Tomorrow's Sunday, I'll still be here to help you. Monday, I have to go back to work but you are w...I mean you could stay until your knee was a little better," stammered Janet.
Robbie raised an eyebrow, "I see I'm not welcome but you won't throw me out on the street if I'm injured," she clarified sarcastically.
"No! Robbie its not like that! I just didn't want to give the wrong impression," Janet tried to justify, only making things worse.
Suddenly, Robbie rolled up on her side and looked intently at Janet. "You are welcome to stay," Janet said playing idly with a shell from one of the chestnuts. Robbie picked up the last chestnut and peeled the white meat from the shell. She dipped it in the butter and sprinkled a bit of salt on it. Then she held it to her mouth and bit off half. The remaining piece she reached over and placed next to Janet's lips. Mesmerized by Robbie's silent actions, her lips parted to accept the warm meat into her mouth.
Warm butter lips followed and Janet found herself kissing Roberta Williams with a passion that scared her in its intensity. She pulled back in surprise, pushing Robbie back with her hands. "No!"
"Why?" asked the surprised actor. No was a word she might use but not others.
"No, I don't want to do this," said Janet wiggling out from under Robbie's long, sexy form and standing up. "I don't want to be another conquest, Robbie. I'm not interested," Janet stated emotionally.
Robbie got awkwardly to her feet. "You didn't kiss me like you weren't interested," she observed moving closer.
A straight arm stopped her. "Well, I'm not interested. I'm sorry if I gave the wrong impression. I am your brother's widow and there is Rebecca and my standing in this community to consider," Janet explained.
Robbie's temper snapped, "Oh, your standing in the community! Well, we wouldn't want your STANDING to be undermined by the likes of me fucking you, would we! Better you sell your self..."
Janet turned and slammed out of the house. A few minutes later, Robbie heard the car pull out of the drive. Rebecca started to cry.
Okay, I can handle this, Robbie tried to convince herself. I head a multi million dollar enterprise. I employ hundreds of people. What's one dirty diaper? Oh God! Gross! "Here Reb, just sit on the bed while I get rid of this thing," Robbie mumbled. Could you flush these things? No hazardous waste container around. She dropped it on the floor then turned back to Reb. "Oh boy, look at the sheets! I guess I should have cleaned you up first, huh?"
Holding the now laughing Rebecca in front of her like a time bomb, Robbie carried her into the bathroom and wedged her in the sink. Then popped her out again, remembering just in time that you had to test the water or something. With one hand, she managed to get a luke-warm flow and then wedged Reb back in. The water splashed all over!
Sometime later, Reb was washed and dried and training panties had been put on to replace the diaper. Robbie having forgotten to make a diagram before removing the last one. The director and the bathroom looked a little worse for wear but the job was done! "Okay, Rebel, bed time! You're going to have to sleep with me 'cause I'm not making up two beds," Robbie explained, and carried the child into her mom's bedroom.
Reb fretted a bit but Robbie sang to her until she went to sleep. For a while, Robbie lay thinking miserable thoughts about whether Janet had gone to spend the night with Dr. respectable-male Perkins. Eventually, though, exhaustion claimed her.
A few hours later, after driving down the back roads for a while, Janet calmed down enough to return home. She found all the lights on, a dirty diaper on the nursery floor, and an equally disgusting mess in the crib. The bathroom was a state of chaos and Robbie and Reb were curled up sound asleep like Madonna and child. For a while, Janet stood there and looked down at the beautiful pair. Then carefully she lifted Reb out and took her back to her freshly changed crib.
Robbie woke with a start the next morning. Reb was gone! Christ! I fell asleep and lost the kid! Robbie realized and leapt from the bed. Her stiff and swollen knee gave out immediately and with a cry of pain she crashed to the floor.
Janet leapt from the sofa and ran down the hall to find Robbie rolling around in silent agony.
"Do you do this every morning?" she asked walking over and offering to help the actor up.
"Reb's gone!" Robbie moaned trying to get to her feet without help.
"She's in her crib," Janet revealed.
"Shit!" muttered Robbie running a shaky hand through her hair. "Where the hell did you go?!" she snarled.
"Out," was what she got as an answer. "I'll get you some ice. When is the helicopter coming to pick you up?"
"Later," Robbie answered from between clenched teeth.
Robbie collapsed on her bed and now that Janet was out of the room she let the pain show on her face as she held onto her leg in agony. Janet returned silently and walked over to the bed. "It's worse today, huh?" she asked placing the iced bag of peas on the swollen and bruised knee.
'It's okay, just hurt a bit when I jumped out of bed," muttered Robbie, pulling away from Janet's touch. "The 'copter will be here by ten. I'll stay in here until then," she stated.
"Want breakfast in bed?" Janet asked.
"No," came the frosty reply. Janet nodded sadly and left the room.
The helocopter touched down on the lake at quarter a to ten. Robbie was already outside waiting with her soft sided overnight bag. Janet and Reb came out to say goodbye and Robbie scooped the little child up and gave her a big hug. "You be good Rebel," Robbie whispered. Then she passed the child to Janet being careful not to touch the woman.
"Thank you, Robbie. I really did need someone else with me to drive back after the funeral. I ..ah.. Well, keep in touch with Reb, okay," she finished lamely.
Robbie nodded, "Bye," she said abruptly and hobbled down to get into the helicopter. In a whirl of wind, they lifted off and Janet turned to protect Reb with her body. When she turned back, the 'copter was already disappearing over the ridge.
"Bye," Janet echoed feeling a painful loneliness settle around her.
She lowered Reb to the ground and the little child looked up into the sky and pointed, "Oby's bird gone!" she said sadly.
"Yes, she's gone." Janet sighed and took her child's hand to lead her back up to their home.
Robbie looked down at the little log home in the bush. A dull ache filled her chest and she had no idea why. She had a thousand things to do. Billy's death could not have come at a worse time with the final editing cuts of her new film under way. The dailies and their time-codes waited for her attention on CD-Rom. This procedure allowed her immediate access to any scene without the often frustrating delay of rewinding video.
She pushed Janet and Reb out of her mind and focused instead on organizing her thoughts. Her film work was acclaimed for its artistic quality. Robbie saw herself as an 'auteur', a French word that meant author. In film, it meant that the director was the driving force in establishing the film's artistic elements and style. Robbie's films had a quality to them that reflected the intelligent creativity of the director in methodology, style and theme. They were not just entertainment, they were art and Robbie had the Oscars to prove just how good she was at achieving that goal. Such success, however, did not come without a tremendous amount of energy, talent and focus. Robbie had all three qualities in great amounts.
Janet pressed the suit she would be wearing to work tomorrow. It was vital that she meet with her staff to discuss the new ministry guide lines and establish some curriculum writing teams. Janet believed that teaching the process of research and academic thought was just as important as content. That meant that all her staff had to have a common methodology woven into their classroom studies.
She sighed. It wasn't always easy to convince the teachers that they would have to give even more of their time to meet Janet's vision of education. She knew her staff was all ready doing a lot more than they were paid to do. But they were a really dedicated bunch that she had hand picked and she was sure that if she approached the issue right they would be receptive.
It would make her job a lot easier however, if each newly elected government would not change the direction of education! One of the frustrating elements of teaching was that every one who managed to conceive a child or get elected suddenly became an expert on education. They would be a lot better off if those people with the classroom experience and training were allowed to write curriculum and policy.
Janet put away the ironing board and iron. The house tonight seem so quiet and empty. It was silly. Robbie had only been there forty eight hours and yet she really missed the aggravating woman's presence. She hoped Robbie's knee would be all right.
She picked up her suit and carried it into the bedroom to hang up. There beside the bed was Robbie's card. Sprawled in a bold hand on the back were the words, 'In case I'm needed.'
I don't need you Roberta Williams, Janet thought, don't even think it!
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