Disclaimers: Whilst the leading ladies come across as very familiar, they are in fact products of my over active imagination, as is the whole story. No infringement is intended.

Sex/Violence: There is love between two women (or there will be eventually) in this, so if that's not your cup of tea, I wouldn't bother with this. The sex won't be graphic, but the violence might be when it pops up.

While this isn't my first fanfic, it is the first one to be posted. It's also the longest one I've ever written, and that's just the first part. So, there is lots more to come, and please don't get too impatient. Take a long view when reading it, cause that's how it's written.

Feedback: Please, don't hold back. Good, bad or indifferent, I would like to hear your views. After all, it's all about the readers.fishbulbgeek@yahoo.co.uk


Chapter 5

June 2005


Blue and Junior had a shock waiting for them when they got to the garage on Monday. Instead of the sullen and withdrawn version of Chris they had been treated to all of the previous week, they got the whistling while she worked, apparently happy one instead. Junior wisely chose not to say anything, instead burying his head in a truck that had rather catastrophically blown a gasket that weekend. It was enough to keep him busy for the whole day. Blue wondered at the sudden change in his friend, but merely smiled to himself when he spied her dancing around a customers bike as she tuned it. Whatever the reason, he was thankful. At lunchtime he got his chance to rag her about it.

"So did you get laid or something this weekend Chris? Or should I get ready to defend from pod people?" He teased as they sat out back, soaking up the sun. Chris instantly blushed, but still managed to scowl and swat at him.

"Asshole. And no, for your information, I did not get laid." She muttered. A second later she fully processed the conversation, and swatted him again. "I don't need to either, so stow that shit straight away." She warned him, poking a finger in his face. He merely chuckled at her, waiting for her to break first. After a few moments of silence she did. "I had a nice relaxed weekend that's all. Went into town on Saturday, did a bit of window shopping," she paused there, a smile gracing her face, before shaking her head and carrying on, "had a bit of a ride on Sunday. Just what the doctor ordered." She finished up, nodding emphatically to accompany her statement. Blue nodded sagely.

"Yeah, Mel mentioned that she saw you yesterday. Well, she thought it was you, but wasn't sure since you don't normally carry passengers." He said innocently. Chris snorted. He was as subtle as a house brick through the window in his assumptions.

"I was just showing a friend round town, that's all."

Blue nudged her. "A lady friend?" he leered, winking. Chris fought the blush valiantly this time, but couldn't fully stop the smile, the corners of her mouth lifting.

"Yes, she was a lady." She admitted. Blue crowed at his triumph, but Chris carried on doggedly with her point. "It's not like that though. She's new in town and I just offered to show her the delights our little town has to offer. Doing the whole, welcome wagon thing." She finished flippantly. Even to her own ears it sounded too much, and she winced internally.

"Methinks the lady doth protest too much." Blue said, but decided to let the matter drop. For now . Chris just ignored her friend, and ate her sandwich. After a few minutes the conversation turned to safer topics, as they discussed work and the latest antics of Blues kids. Chris couldn't help the occasional soft smile as she remembered events of the weekend, and Blue kept his thoughts to himself. It had been a long time since he had seen her look so at peace.


Taylor woke up late Monday morning on the couch. She groaned softly as she sat up. The couch was comfortable, but her knee ached after all the unexpected exercise it received on the bike yesterday. She couldn't help but smile as thoughts of yesterday filled her mind. Poor lass, I hope she never finds out I've been riding bikes since I was a kid. When Chris had first brought it up in the bar, it hadn't occurred to her to tell Chris that her grandfather had taught her to ride bikes on his farm in north Wales at the highly illegal age of ten. And then when she realized how close the two of them would be during the ride, she let it carry on. After all, she hadn't actually lied per se. She hadn't ridden pillion since she had mastered the basics.

Now she was paying the price in the form of a bruised and swollen knee. She rolled her jeans up to inspect the damage. After a few minutes of gentle poking and prodding she decided it wasn't so bad, and gingerly raised herself off the couch. She limped into the kitchen and started pottering about. The fridge was as bare as she remembered, and she started to make a shopping list as the coffee was dripping into the pot. By the time it was finished she had managed to finish the list and make a token effort at tidying up the remarkably immaculate kitchen. Might take longer if you actually cooked a meal rather than ordering take out all the time she thought to herself, before shrugging. Cooking was never her strong point.

Luckily the pot was full enough for a coffee by that point, so she ignored herself, and went about getting ready to go out. By mid-afternoon she was ready to face the world. She hummed to herself as she backed the truck down the drive, and made her way to the shop. It was quiet, being the middle of the afternoon, and she was back at the house within the hour. She finished putting the shopping away, nodding to herself with satisfaction as she shut the fridge. At least now it didn't look like she existed on a diet of chips and beer. Although you do anyway , she thought, smiling wryly at herself. How her body hadn't defied her yet she didn't know. With a small shake of the head she pulled out a cold beer and headed into the living room. The tv was already on, and she started flicking through the channels as she popped the can open, pulling a large swallow from it before she lit up. Beer and painkillers didn't mix well, but she'd only had the one so far today, and wouldn't be having anymore.

An hour later she still sat in front of the tv, beer almost gone, bored out of her skull. A glance at the clock revealed it was almost six. I wonder if Chris has finished work yet? Well, one way to find out . With that she reached for her phone, and started dialling. Three rings later she got her answer.


"Hey. How's my favourite tour guide?" she asked, smiling.

"Hey Taylor. I'm good. How's you?" Taylor leaned back, snuggling into the couch.

"Good." Much better now. "So what have you been up to today? Anything interesting?" she asked.

"Eh. Not much. Tuned a bike, did a bunch of paperwork." Taylor laughed at the petulant tone that came out over paperwork. "Right, laugh at my pain. I bet you hated paperwork in the police just as much as I hate it now."

"Can't deny that. But at least I haven't had to do any today." Taylor retorted, still chuckling.

"And what did you do as I was slaving over a desk?"

"Well." Taylor put her feet up on the coffee table, wiggling her toes. "I now have a fully stocked fridge. So when I offer you something to drink the odds are pretty good I'll actually have it." Laughter spilled out over the phone, and she joined in, chuckling at herself. "That's partly why I called actually." She admitted.

"To tell me you've been grocery shopping? I don't know how they do things in Europe, but over here people don't generally feel the need to share that kind of information." Chris said, and Taylor smiled at the gently teasing tone she had adopted.

"Don't be a brat." She admonished. "I was wondering if you wanted to come round for coffee sometime this week." She asked, trying not to sound too hopeful.

"I'd love too. I can't make tomorrow, how about Wednesday?" Taylor grinned.

"Wednesday would be wonderful. You can tell me more about Dunston if you like." She said shyly.

"I'd like. Maybe you can tell me about Munich. I've heard it's a very beautiful city."

"It is." Taylor agreed, mind flashing back to the city that had been her home until recently. "Even though I spent a lot of time travelling, it was a good place to go back to." She continued, voice taking on a slightly melancholy tone. She shook her head.

"Well, as much as I'd love to chat, I've got to run. I've plans tonight and I'm already running a little late." Chris said apologetically.

"Oh, sorry. I'd better let you get going then. Um, come round anytime after you've finished work on Wednesday then."

"Will do. See you later."

"Okay, bye." Taylor sighed a little at the click that signalled the end of the conversation, but it was a happy sigh. She couldn't wait for Wednesday. She couldn't keep the grin from her face as she wandered through to the kitchen, snagging herself another cold beer as she picked up her current project and took it back through to the living room. The hunk of wood was small, and she'd already started to work on it. She turned it around in her hands, deciding where to start today. It was a little larger than what she'd been trying, and she was planning to make it a small paperweight. She was attempting to carve a sheep, a gentle homage to her Welsh grandfather who had first shown her the art.

Chris managed to turn up to Caz's place only twenty minutes late, but luckily the bottle of wine was an acceptable apology.

"Go on through. You're the last to arrive, as usual." Caz called out as she headed to the kitchen to get her a drink. Chris threw herself down on the couch, sandwiching herself between Sharon and Laura who both squealed as her actions almost sent the drinks they were holding to the floor.


"Hey, watch it!" She gave a dazzling smile to both of them even as they glared.

"Hey girls. Miss me?" Laura rolled her eyes at her exuberant entrance as Sharon shook her head.

"What's gotten into you tonight?" Sharon asked. Chris just grinned, happy to see the hardworking nurse on a rare night off.

"It's good to see you to Sharon. You work too much." She said, giving the dark haired woman a hug that was well returned.

"Tell me about it. Thank god we got some new girls in to take some of the pressure off." Sharon moaned. Chris just grinned.

"I meant that it makes us look bad when you work so hard and we slack off." Sharon slapped her hard in the shoulder with a gasp.

"You brat!" Chris laughed, and grabbed the hand aimed at her again.

"Relax. I was just joshing." Sharon grabbed her hand back with a snort.

"Punk." She muttered. Chris decided not to hear her as Caz came in and handed her a glass of wine.

"Well now that we're all here, lets get the movie started." She said, sitting on the floor with her back to her own sofa, pointing a remote at the tv and starting the movie. Chris leaned back, smiling. Movie night was a ritual left over from high school. It had started life as a 'study session' for all the girls back in the day. As they got older and had clashing work schedules and other commitments, it had eventually evolved into a once a month get together. Chris looked forward to it, it was often the only time all four of them actually got together. Even for weekends at the bar had to be carefully planned.

Luckily for Chris, the movie was an action. Lots of explosions and fights, minimal plot to concentrate on. She kept drifting off throughout, remembering the day before. It had been a long time since she willingly got up before ten on a weekend. But boy, it had been worth it. Just remembering the feel of Taylor pressed up against her, surrounding her with a comforting warmth and scent that was uniquely Taylor brought a slightly dirty smile to her face. With a start she realised that the movie was over. She grabbed her cigarettes and went through to the balcony, along with Sharon.

"Good movie, huh." Sharon said, leaning over the railing to look down into the still busy street three floors below. Chris shrugged.

"It was okay." She replied, leaning back against the railing and tipping her head back to look at the stars that were just starting to show.

"Uh-huh." Sharon watched Chris out of the corner of her eyes. "I especially liked the bit when they were on the boat." She said. Chris frowned. She couldn't remember anything about a boat, but had to concede that she hadn't really watched all of it.

"Yeah, it was good." She said eventually, playing it safe. Sharon chuckled.

"I didn't think you were paying attention." Chris glanced at her. "There was no bit with a boat."

"Oh." Bugger. "That was unnecessarily sneaky. You could've just asked." She said, slightly put out.

"Okay. What's got you so distracted today Chris?"

"Guess I walked into that one, huh?" She said with a laugh.

"Yup." Chris didn't elaborate, focussing once more on the stars. Sharon wasn't as patient, however, and snapped first. "Well, now I know you're hiding something. Spill already." She demanded. Chris grinned, ever so slightly.

"I'll tell you inside. Come on, it's getting cold out here." She said, putting her cigarette out in the ashtray Caz thoughtfully provided whenever she was around. Inside Laura and Caz were sat on the sofa, giggling over something as they both topped up their glasses with a fresh bottle of wine. Of course, movie night wasn't really about the movies. It was about the gossip that followed as they consumed more wine than they should. It was wonderfully decadent and self-indulgent. She smiled to herself as she topped up her own glass. She chose to sit on the floor, leaning against the table. Sharon was just settling herself when Laura turned to her.

"So, how did it go yesterday?" She asked. Chris smiled shyly.

"Well, luckily I managed to turn up on time." She started, and Laura and Caz grinned knowingly. It was well known how much of a struggle it was for her to wake up. "So after a coffee which she had waiting for me, we went out on the bike. I showed her about a little bit, then I dropped her off back at her place." She said. It was a bare bones account of the day, and the lack of detail frustrated her listeners when they both groaned.

"All right, does someone want to fill me in?" Sharon demanded.

"It's nothing special Shar. We met Taylor last week at the Commie, and since she'd new in town I offered to show her around. Which I did yesterday." Laura immediately disputed this version.

"Please. Taylor is only the hottest lesbian to move to Dunston ever. Tall, dark and gorgeous is an understatement."

"She's not that hot." Chris lied. Laura just glared at her.

"And Chris took her out yesterday. So tell us, how did it go? And details please."

"Alright, alright." She threw her hands up in mock surrender. She had known from the start it was going to happen this way. She enthusiastically told her story to an attentive audience. When she was finished they all needed a top up, so Caz went to open another bottle for them all, while Chris and Sharon went for another smoke. Darkness had fallen fully now, and the stars were clear against the black sky. The temperature had fallen as well, and they both pulled their jackets closer around them.

"So are you going to see her again?"

"Yeah. On Wednesday actually. Just for coffee, nothing more." She stated forcefully. Sharon made a disbelieving noise in the back of her throat. Chris was starting to regret her reputation as something of a stud for the first time ever. "Seriously Shar. I think she's just lonely. I mean, she's moved to a new country, no friends, and no job. She doesn't know anyone. And I don't know what made her move, but I don't think it was a good thing. There's a pain in her eyes sometimes. And I know she doesn't get on with her family, so it's gotta be tough for her."

"Wow. That does sound tough." Chris just shrugged, feeling down herself now.

"Yeah." She breathed softly. "But that's what friends are for. To be there when you need them most. I just hope she lets me be her friend." She finished. Sharon wrapped an arm around her shoulder, giving her a quick squeeze.

"Best of luck Chris, whatever happens."

"Thanks." Chris soaked up the gentle affection of the hug for a while longer, before standing up. "C'mon, there's wine to be drunk. If I'm going into work with a hangover, it damn well better be worth it."

Taylor woke up at dawn on Tuesday morning, and spent many hours drinking coffee and watching life come to the street. People leaving the house, ready to start another day at work, neighbours rushing kids out the door to catch the bus to school. The street was a regular hive of suburban activity. By nine o'clock the street had fallen silent again, with houses locked up and empty for the day as the occupants went about their lives. She sighed, and turned again to the paper she had picked up the day before. She had already circled three ads for jobs in the small town, and now it was time to find gainful employment.

As she rinsed her coffee cup and set it to the side to dry, she checked her outfit again. She had chosen her favourite trousers, black brushed cotton, topped with a sleeveless dark blue shirt. A watch was her only jewellery. Feeling confidant she locked up the house and headed into town. Finding her way to the centre of town she parked the truck just off main street, making sure the disabled badge was prominently displayed on the dash. She slowly walked down the street until she found the bookshop that was stop number one on her list.

'The Lounge' was small, but cosy. Music was playing softly, and Taylor could smell coffee. She smiled, charmed by the homey feel of the shop. She let the door close behind her, and moved in to explore the shelves more thoroughly. All the usual categories were present. She browsed a little, until she spied someone at the back of the store. The woman looked to be about fifty, and was unpacking a box at her feet, placing the books in little stacks around her. She sensed Taylor approaching, and straightened.

"I'll be right with you darlin'." She said with a smile.

"Actually, I'm not here to buy anything." Taylor said. At this the woman stopped, and straightened. She gave Taylor a frank look.

"What are ya here for then?" She asked finally. Taylor smiled, and held up her newspaper.

"I read the ad in the paper. If the job is still available, I'd like to apply." At this the woman's face brightened, and she stepped over the books.

"Well then. Have you much experience?" Taylor shook her head.

"None actually. I retired from the police not long ago, and moved here." Taylor had decided to go with the truth, minus a few details. The woman raised an eyebrow.

"Awful young to be retired aren't ya?"

"Disability. Banged my knee up pretty good." Taylor said, tapping the joint in question.

"Hmm." Taylor sensed that she was losing ground with the woman.

"It won't be a problem. I might not be much of a runner anymore, but I can still get by as well as anyone else."

"Fair enough." The woman said eventually. "You got a name?"

"Yeah." Taylor sighed in relief. "Taylor, Taylor Rhodes." She said, extending her hand. It was grasped firmly.

"I'm Marion. I own The Lounge as well as manage it." Marion said, waving her arm about to indicate the whole shop. "As you can see it's pretty small. Usually pretty quiet as well. Hours are long, and there's a lot of lifting involved. Books aren't the lightest things in the world." She said pointedly. Taylor just smiled. "You'll either be opening on your own, or closing, depending on the day. It's not as exciting as working for the police." She warned.

"Does this mean you're offering me the job?" Taylor asked, a little surprised. Marion shrugged.

"I'm offering you a trial. When can you start?"

"Tomorrow." Taylor said immediately. Marion smiled for the first time.

"Come round at nine. You can dress casual as well. As you can see, " she pointed at her own jeans, "I'm not much for standing on ceremony."

"Sure." Taylor said with a smile of her own. "I look forward to working with you Marion."

"Ah, go on now. I'll see ya in the morning." Taylor left, and threw the newspaper in the first bin she found. She was very surprised to have found a job so easily. Pleased, but surprised. She decided to treat herself with a coffee and pastry at the One Stop. It was quiet, and she settled herself at a table outside, reading a copy of the days local newspaper, a smile on her face.

Chris did indeed have a hangover on Tuesday morning, but after downing a handful of painkillers and about a gallon of water she felt okay, well enough in fact to mess around with Junior as he was replacing some shocks on a truck. Midway through the morning Blue took her aside on the pretence of looking over the new parts that had come in.

"What's up big guy?" She asked as they stood in front of the inventory, heads together over the invoice.

"I was speaking to Shelly," she nodded slowly, Shelly was her fathers secretary as well as the receptionist. "and she said that the boss is in meetings all of today. And a reporter is supposed to see him tomorrow as well. All highly unusual stuff. Any idea what's going on?" Chris digested this information with a frown.

"No idea. Dad hasn't mentioned anything to me."

"You don't think he's selling the place do you?" Chris looked up at Blue sharply at that, but despite her immediate instinct to deny it, she couldn't keep the small doubt at the back of her mind from stopping her. Looking back over the past couple of weeks, she had to admit something was bothering her father. In the end she settled for a shrug.

"I don't know." She finally admitted. "Things have been tough, but I don't think its that bad." Not bad enough to sell the garage, but maybe bad enough to lose some staff. "I'm sure he's just working on a new campaign to bring our customers back." She said, trying to keep the worry from her voice. She must have succeeded because Blue nodded, relief on his face. "I'll try and get some answers tonight at dinner." He went back to work, but Chris was left with a sense of unease for the rest of the day. She went and bugged Shelly in the office, but got no more details than Blue. She only got one glimpse of her father as Donny the assistant manager went into his office. The pensive look on both of their faces did nothing to settle her nerves.

So when she turned up on her parent's doorstep, she was quite convinced that she wouldn't be able to stomach a bite. Her father was on the phone, so it was just her and her mother to sit down for a pre dinner drink.

"I missed you last week." Her mother said as she handed her a glass of wine.

"I'm sorry. I made plans a while ago to dine with Ben and his wife Melanie. I forgot all about it what with the way work is at the moment." She lied. Her mother just sniffed as she sat down on the couch opposite Chris.

"And I was hoping to meet your young man" She paused expectantly, and Chris automatically filled in the gap.

"David. Yes, he's very sorry he couldn't be here tonight. He's covering for a sick colleague at the bar tonight." She winced internally, having hoped, somewhat foolishly, that her mother had forgotten.

"Well, maybe next week he can find the time to meet us. Really Christine, I expected more from you."

"Yes mother." Chris accepted the scolding, wondering how on earth she was going to persuade Kevin to be her date next week.

"And really, you could have mentioned that you were dating sooner. It would have helped to avoid that embarrassment with young Kevin. He was most upset over you're behaviour. I had his Aunt on the phone asking all sorts of questions after that. Really, most embarrassing." She reiterated, as Chris tried not to roll her eyes. It's your own fault for trying to set me up without my permission. Now she was starting to get a headache as well as a stomach ache. Getting through the evening without throwing up would be an achievement at this point.

"Sorry Mother. I guess I just wanted to keep him to myself for a little while." She said contritely. She cast her gaze about the room, settling on a painting by the door. "Is this new, I don't think I've seen it in here before?" she asked, trying to change the subject.

"Yes, it is. I finished painting it last week. I had it framed for tonight." Her mother said, a touch of pride in her voice.

"It really is quite lovely. The town square at the turn of the century I believe?" Her mother beamed at her for recognizing the scene, and started talking about how she'd gotten the idea from some old postcards, and how difficult it had been working from such old material. Chris made the right noises in the right places, used to sustaining this kind of conversation with her mother with little participation. Finally her father slipped into the room, looking thoughtful. Chris immediately stepped over and gave him a kiss on the cheek.

"It's good to see you." She said, smiling. He absentmindedly kissed her back, and her worries grew. "Are you okay?" She asked quietly. He nodded, smiling at her.

"Fine. Is it time for dinner yet?" He asked, turning to his wife. She glanced at her watch, and nodded. "Excellent, lets go sit down shall we." They filed into the dining room, where Chris sat down in the middle, watching as her mother brought in the meal. Once everyone had a serving, she turned back to her father.

"So, what's going on?" she asked bluntly. He paused, his fork halfway to his mouth. Seeing her determined face, he sighed, and put the fork back down.

"What's the rumour?" He asked.

"That you're selling up." She said. There was a sharp gasp from her mother, which she ignored. Her father raised an eyebrow.

"That's a little dramatic. And wildly off base." He said.

"Christine, is it really appropriate to interrogate your father at the dinner table." Chris just glanced at her mother, who sat at the other end of the table, looking distressed.

"If it's going to affect my job, yes it is." She said, standing up to her mother for the first time in years. She felt a quiet surge of pride, and sat a little straighter in her seat. "So what is going on dad?"

"Donny is leaving. His mother-in-law is quite ill, and they've decided to move to Chicago to be closer to the rest of the family." Chris didn't know what to say to that, so she settled for taking another forkful of potatoes. They carried on eating in silence for a few more minutes. Eventually, Chris spoke again.

"So what are you going to do? Hold Donny's job open for him, or is it more permanent?"

"It's permanent. I'll have to replace him." At this Chris had to forcibly bite her tongue to keep from saying anything. She wanted that position, had for years now. She worked long hard hours, did everything that was asked of her and more, trying to show her father that she was ready for that kind of responsibility. He had never given any indication that he had noticed any of it. So she simply bit her tongue, had another forkful of dinner, and smiled at her mother when she topped up her wineglass.

Taylor was at The Lounge long before nine, coffee in hand, nervously smoking a cigarette waiting for Marion to arrive and open up. Eventually, at ten to nine, and two more cigarettes later, Marion turned up, eyes twinkling when she saw who was standing there.

"Now that's what I like to see. My last assistant couldn't quite grasp the concept of clocks. Perpetually late he was." Marion unlocked the shop as she spoke, bustling through to enter a key code to disable the alarm that started beeping as soon as the door was open. "I must say I like you more already." Taylor stood in the centre of the shop as Marion continued to bustle about, still talking away. "When you open up in the morning, all you really need to remember is to enter the code, preferably before the alarm goes off, and to make sure the till is accurate before signing on. None of the fancy computers in this shop I'm afraid." She said as she went through a door marked private. "Come on through, this is the office." Taylor dutifully followed the older woman, into a cramped room that barely managed to house a small desk and chair, a fridge and a coffee table.

"Cosy." Was all she said, earning a small chuckle from her boss.

"Yes it is a bit. But it's a space to relax in, and you can bring lunch in if you like." Marion deposited her bag behind the desk, switching on the computer taking up one corner of it. "Come on, I'll show you around a little bit."

Two hours later Taylor was singing along with the radio as she happily rearranged the shelves to put more books on. The job was ridiculously simple, and Marion was easy to get along with, providing the conversation with minimal input from Taylor, which suited her just fine. To her surprise the day passed quite quickly, and she was sent home at six by Marion, who said cheekily that if she was going to be waiting at the door again, the least she could do was bring some coffee for her. Taylor just chuckled, shaking her head as she left. A quick glance at her watch and she hurried to her truck a little quicker, remembering her coffee date with Chris. God, I hope she's still working, she thought to herself, remembering her impromptu remark to come over any time after she'd finished work.

She pulled into her drive at quarter past, relieved that there was no sight of the Harley on the street. Once inside she checked her phone for messages. Seeing none she wandered into the kitchen and poured herself a glass of juice. She dug her painkillers out of her bag, and shook two into her palm. Her physiotherapist had assured her that after the surgery that the pain would lessen with time, but six months later she was still waiting.

Grimacing, she swallowed the pills, washing them down with the juice. She was sure that it wouldn't take long for her to get used to being on her feet all day in the bookshop, but until then she had to put up with the painkillers. She had been too embarresed to admit it to Marion, which is why she had waited until now to take something. Sighing again, she made her way back into the living room, switching the tv on to catch up with the news for a while. An hour later she was startled out of a light doze when there was a knock at her door. She grumpily stalked over to the front door and flung it open, still not quite awake. Whatever she was going to say died in her throat as Chris stood there, hand still raised to knock again, looking a little startled.

"Uh, hi." She said throatily. Her brain finally caught up, and she blinked, then smiled. "Why don't you come in." she said, stepping back and allowing Chris to enter the house. "Sorry about the abrupt greeting. I, uh, just woke up." She admitted as they went through to the living room.

"Oh, sorry for waking you. Is this a bad time?" Chris asked.

"Not at all. I did say you should come over any time. Please, sit. Can I get you something to drink?" Taylor asked as Chris sank into the couch with a groan.

"Whatever you're having is fine."

"Okay. Make yourself at home, I'll just get the coffee on. Milk and sugar?"

"Yes please." Chris answered, eyes shut. Taylor took this to mean yes to both, and quickly set the coffee brewing, glad that she had set the pot up before leaving this morning. Two mugs came out, and she prepped both before going back into the living room.

"Coffee will be a few minutes while it's brewing." Chris hummed something, looking quite comfortable on her couch.

"I can see why you were sleeping. This is a very comfortable couch." She said as Taylor joined her.

"It is, isn't it?" Taylor agreed, smiling indulgently when Chris opened her eyes and glanced at her host sheepishly. "Long day was it?"

"Something like that." She admitted. It had been easy to avoid her father, but much harder to avoid Blue, who pounced on her the moment he got in, demanding answers. She avoided the conversation, managing to dodge most of his questions, pleading ignorance. She could tell he didn't believe her, so she spent the day working on her own, not speaking to anybody, and trying not to think about the situation. A gentle touch on her arm brought her back to reality, and she blushed when she saw Taylor looking at her, concern obvious. "Sorry."

"Are you okay?" Taylor could feel the tension rolling off the young woman.

"Yes. No. I don't know." Chris groaned. Taylor looked down at Chris, and made a decision.

"You know what, it's a beautiful evening. Lets take this outside." She went back into the kitchen, handing Chris her coffee as she followed. Taylor opened the back door and ushered her guest into the garden, grabbing a blanket she kept next to the door as she went. Chris watched her silently as Taylor laid the thick blanket out in a patch of sunlight and sat down. "Think of it as an impromptu picnic minus the food." She explained as Chris sat down next to her.

"This is nice." Chris said with a small smile as she closed her eyes and tilted her head to catch the full warmth of the sun.

"Mmm, it is, isn't it?" Taylor murmured. "I got a job today." She commented. Chris opened her eyes and turned to look at her in surprise.

"Really? Doing what?"

"Just working in a little bookshop in town. 'The Lounge'?" Chris shook her head.

"I've never been in, but I have driven past it a few times. Unless it's a manual I don't really read."

"It's nice. Small, but nice. And the owner, Marion, is a real hoot to work with." Taylor laughed, recalling some of the more risqué jokes the older woman had told, surprising the hell out of her. Chris shook her head.

"Cool. Maybe I'll pop in sometime. I am a little surprised though. You didn't mention anything about looking for a job last time we spoke." Taylor shrugged.

"Spur of the moment decision. I was bored of not doing anything all day. Retirement is overrated." She warned Chris seriously. "At least now I have something to do and someone to speak to." She continued nonchalantly. Just admit it, you were lonely and it was killing you. She ignored the little voice, sipping her coffee. Chris had fallen quiet, and was staring into space. The lost look on her face tugged at Taylor's heart. "Enough about me. How are you doing?" Chris shrugged, and was silent for so long that Taylor was beginning to think she wasn't going to answer, when she spoke.

"It's work. I found out yesterday that my Dad was up to something. There were lots of unusual meetings going on. Blue brought it to my attention. I said I would ask him about it at dinner. So I did." She said, staring at her coffee, unable to look at Taylor. "Turns out that Donny, the assistant manager is leaving, and Dad has to fill his position."

"So what has you looking like the weight of the world is on your shoulders? Is it Donny leaving or something else?" Taylor asked after Chris fell silent.

"I lied to Blue this morning when he asked me what I found out." Taylor could see that this was what was bothering her. She slid closer, and wrapped an arm around her shoulders, quietly offering support. "We've been friends for years, and I've never lied to him before, but when he cornered me this morning I just couldn't tell him the truth. I dodged his questions, told him I didn't know anything and hid for the rest of the day."

"Why?" Taylor asked gently.

"Because when he finds out the job is up for grabs he'll go to Dad and he'll get it. I mean, he's the perfect choice. They've worked together for years, he's reliable and has a ton of experience." Chris said forcefully.

"So why didn't you tell him?" Taylor asked, confused.

"Because I want the job!" Chris said, suddenly angry. She wrenched herself out of her arms and leapt to her feet. "I've worked hard to get the experience, harder than anyone else there and that includes Blue!" she continued to rant, pacing. Taylor remained on the blanket, shocked. "I've been doing his job for him for ages, and while he's 'grateful for the help', he never mentions it to Dad about how hard I work. And Dad has never said anything about how much I do, or how well I do it." She finished.

"You can do the job, right?" Taylor asked, standing slowly. Chris nodded. "And you obviously want it. So why don't you just go to your Dad and talk about it?" She asked.

"Because I want him to notice me and offer me the job because he thinks I deserve it. Not because I do." She whispered, wrapping her arms around herself, hanging her head. Taylor closed the distance between them, holding her close. She could see the real problem now. Chris wanted her Dad to notice her and be proud of her. She wondered if he ever had as Chris just clung to her.

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