Language warning: Not often but yes.
Love and sex warning: This story definitely portrays a loving relationship between two women.
Violence Warning: A little, unless you also count a projectile camera and battered door.
Thanks: I would like to thank first of all Garnet for doing a wonderful job in beta reading this story. To Carolyne, for her constant support throughout, and giving me the kick up the backside to continue writing whether she realised or not. And last but no means least Tammy, for all the invaluable information on horses that she gave me and for naming the two horsey characters.
Let me know what you think: firstname.lastname@example.org
IThe person on the other end of the phone ranted and raved with no sign of stopping. It was a voice so loud that it echoed off the thankfully empty waiting room. Jason held the receiver away from his ear with a scrunched up face, thankful that there were no customers in this early. At the first moment of silence, he put the phone back to his ear ready to speak, only to thrust it away again when the irate voice started up.
Lowering his head, light brown locks fell into his eyes and his body began to shake. It was at this point that Tess walked in, finding the seemingly deflated, man sitting with the phone away from his ear, his body shook. Tess frowned and took a step closer, wondering whether the guy was all right.
Sensing movement Jason looked up, and it was then that the woman could see that he was in fact laughing. Jason clamped his hand over his mouth and rolled his eyes, pushing the phone in Tess’s direction. With a questioning smile she accepted the noisy apparatus. Curiously she moved it towards her ear listening.
“AND ANOTHER THING…”
Tess pulled the phone away with a inquiring grin, she put her hand over the mouth piece, “What’s all this about?”
Jason shook his head and laughed, “I haven’t even had the opportunity to ask…but I get the impression it is somebody who thinks we are a delivery company of some kind, who seem to have messed up a dispatch.” He poked out his bottom lip with a shrug.
Tess pulled the phone back to her ear, grinning evilly as she listened to the woman’s rants; just then Kat walked into the office. The blonde woman looked at the amused expression on both Tess and Jason’s face and enquired as to what was going on. Jason quickly filled the woman in and Kat motioned for Tess to hand over the phone, the tall woman did so with a grin. Kat put the receiver to her ear:
“…BE HERE YESTERDAY…SO HOW MUCH LONGER DO I HAVE TO WAIT?”
“Ahem…all I can do is apologise for the mix up Mrs…?”
Jason eyes bulged as he listened to Kats polite, docile voice.
“Mrs Simons…and say that we will do all in our power to get your delivery back from Scotland as soon as possible.”
Tess grinned at Jason.
“SCOTLAND…HOW IN HELL DID IT END UP IN SCOTLAND.”
The blonde woman pulled a face down the phone while the sandy haired man shook his head, “You are evil.” He whispered.
Kat nodded her head. “Yes Mrs Simons…that is where your…hold on a moment please” she paused, “Oh my…Mrs Simons…yes that is where your Deluxe Inflatable Vibrating Toy Boy has been shipped.”
Kat slammed down the phone quickly, unable to hold her composure any longer. Jason had given up and had rush to the other side of the room, trying to lessen the sound of his hysterics. Just then Robert walked out into the waiting room, to see Jason doubled over in laughter, Tess with an amused smirk on her face, and Kat chuckling silently.
“What on earth is going on here?”
Jason tried unsuccessfully to calm, but failed as the phone started ringing again. Kat look at him expectantly but realising he was in no condition to answer the shrilling apparatus, still there was no way she was going to pick it up now.
With a confused look to a smirking Tess, Robert picked up the phone “Good morning Snap Shots…No…No a photography studio…No I am sorry…ok then…yes good bye.” He put the phone back down and looked back and forth between the sniggering work mates. “That was some woman thinking we were Express Deliveries.”
Kat and Jason looked at each other once more and burst into laughter, leaving a bewildered Robert wondering what the hell was going on.
Tess wondered why she was doing this; they usually hired a courier to send out the proofs of the photographs, to those who didn’t come in for a viewing. So why was she driving all the way back out into the countryside to deliver them herself. It had been an impulse suggestion that she would bring them over, and even then she had wondered why. Not that she was busy today…though it was a Friday, she’d only had one sitting in the morning and had the rest of the day to her self. The dark woman had planned on taking a trip down to Boscastle, to see her mother over the weekend. It was a good job she had not called with plans.
Steering her car into the courtyard, Tess pulled into a side car park by the garages. She grabbed the folder from the passenger seat and got out, pulling her thick padded jacket out the back before locking the door behind her.
It was getting colder, but the snow had more or less disappeared, leaving behind the odd remains of icy, grey slush. Placing the plastic folder between her jean clan knees, the tall woman slipped on her black jacket. Once ready she retrieved the folder and resumed her trek to the front door. She rung the bell and waited, wishing she had donned some gloves as well.
It was a few moments before the door opened; James looked at the woman and smiled, “Miss Tess, nice to see you again.”
Tess smiled, “You too James, is Mr Morris in?”
The butler shook his head, “No…he and Mrs Morris had to go out on Official business…but he told me you were coming round this afternoon and I was to take the proofs with thanks. He says the family will go over them tonight and call in to the studio Monday with his decisions.”
Tess nodded, “Ok…well here you go.”
James took the folder, “Are you sure you would not like to come in for a warm drink, it is awfully cold out there today.”
The photographer smiled, “Ah…no thanks…I guess I should get going. Catch you later James.”
The grey haired man smiled, “Good day to you Miss Tess.” And with that he shut the door.
Tess looked back at the door and shook her head, Miss Tess, that’s almost as bad as Miss Alexander…makes me feel so old.
She turned around to go back to her car, when a distant but very recognisable voice sounded far off to the left. She turned and looked around but saw nothing. Waiting, she heard the voice again, it was Nikki, and though she may have only spoken to the woman once, the voice was so familiar to her. Turning towards the gentle voice she headed in its direction; the stables.
Nikki held the grooming brush with poise, brushing the stallion with smooth confident strokes. She chatted amiably with the large black horse, telling him about her day and what she had been reading lately. Behind her a golden mare, stood eating in the corner.
She could hear the footsteps approaching, but was unable to recognise them. They seemed familiar but they didn’t belong to anybody at the house. Continuing her comforting task, she waited to see who was heading her way.
Tess arrived at the open stable door and looked inside. It was fairly light and she could make out a golden horse over in one corner of the sturdy brick structure and a black horse in the other. She frowned knowing that this was where she had heard the voice coming from, yet there was nobody in sight.
Cocking her head, and wondering why she didn’t just turn around and leave she stepped into the building. The strong smell of horses made her remember why she didn’t like the country, but she stepped further inside anyway. Not stopping until she was in the middle of the large space, Tess looked over at the black stallion. She spotted something in its close proximity.
“Well are you going to introduce yourself?” Nikki asked coming from around the side of the large horse.
Tess spotted the short blonde locks first, “Oh…hi…yeah…sorry it’s Tess, from the other day, I took the photos remember?”
Nikki fully emerged from behind the black horse, “Hey yeah…god is it that time already…I must have been out here for a while. You came to bring the pictures round right?”
Tess nodded before realising she would have to give a verbal answer, “Err…yeah. I left them with James, as nobody else seemed to be in. Guess they timed it just right.” She joked.
The small honey haired woman smiled, “Well there is always something needing my fathers presence, I didn’t see my parents at all yesterday” she paused, “…you know what I mean.”
The tall green-eyed woman smiled, desperately trying to find a conversation opener. “Hmm…so your sister said you like horses. That you want to work with them?”
Tess watched how Nikki’s face lightened up at the mention of her favourite subject, “Oh yes…I love horses. The black one over there is Thunder and the golden one eating in the corner is Jenna. Jenna is pregnant, but she won’t give birth for another few months yet, in the early spring, around March. Yep…Thunder is going to be a proud daddy soon.” She walked back over to where the black stallion calmly stood, “Aren’t you Thunder boy, yes you are going to be a daddy soon.”
The tall woman smirked, listening to Nikki talk to her horse. It was strange, but she had never really considered horses as animals worthy of spending time with, but Nikki seemed to fully enjoy their presence.
Turning around, the blonde moved towards Tess, “You don’t like horses much do you?”
The tall woman frowned, “Well it isn’t that I don’t like them. I have never been in the presence of one before, kind of unsure how to react, you know.”
Nikki grinned and held her hand out, “Well let me be the first to introduce you.”
Tess frowned and backed up a step. She was unsure of what the blonde had in mind, but was damn sure she was not going to sit on one of those things. Anyway don’t you need lessons first?
“Come on, don’t get apprehensive on me, he wont bite…and neither will I.”
Nikki grinned and held out her hand again, waiting to her the woman’s approach.
Cautiously Tess walked forward, taking the smaller woman’s hand without much thought. However at first touch, a tingling heat travelled from the blonde fingers and scorched Tess’s skin underneath. Surprised, she looked down at the entwined appendages, wondering what the woman had been holding before she entered. She looked back up at Nikki, to see her smiling face.
Not letting the hand go, Nikki pulled Tess over to the other side of the stable, where Jenna was idly watching the two women’s antics. She brought Tess to a standstill by the mares’ side. Thunder nickered softly, gaining his owners attention, wanting his grooming to continue, but Nikki knew he would not appreciate Tess having a lesson in grooming on his coat.
Lifting up her other hand, Nikki brought the brush up to Tess’s hand currently within her own grasp, and replaced it.
“Now all you have to do…is groom.”
Tess looked down at the wooden handled brush, suddenly feeling deprived. “Groom?”
Nikki grinned, “Yeah…use the brush and brush down sweet old Jenna here. It is very calming, and a great way for horse and human to bond.”
Tess grinned slyly, “Ah…I am not sure I want to bond with a horse…aren’t their laws about that kind of thing?”
The blonde smiled, “Don’t get funny with me ‘Miss Tess’. Just use the brush and start grooming…come on I bet you will actually find it quite tranquil after a while.” Nikki stepped back a little and waited, listening to the darker woman’s movements. After a while she heard a haphazard brushing sound.
“Whoa…hold on…not like that.” She moved forward, reaching out for Tess. The dark woman took a hold of Nikki’s hand and placed it with her own, not even wondering whether this was what she had in mind.
Nikki felt the strong, sinewy hand beneath her own as she lead them both towards the horse. With strong, confident strokes she pushed the brush across Jenna’s golden coat.
“See like this…how does that feel?”
Tess breathed deeply, wondering how brushing a stupid old horse could feel so good. Had she been missing out on something all this time?
They stood that way for some time, gently gliding the brush across the mare, neither one wanting to end the unexpected turn of events. It was a very relaxing experience for both women.
Nikki stood by the right side of Tess, both their right hands on top of each other. A sudden though sprung to the tall woman’s mind and she had to ask.
“Do you mind if I asked how you lost your sight.” She said quietly.
The blonde smiled, “Not at all…well actually I never had it to begin with…I was born this way, I have never been able to see.”
Tess just nodded.
“To be honest, I couldn’t imagine life any different. I mean we all have our own perspectives on things and how they come across to us, the impressions they make on us. I don’t feel different because I cannot see visually…I just use my other senses more. If I want to know the physical appearance of something I can feel it, if I want to know when somebody is coming I will hear them way before any other person could. To me this is normal…I have lived with it for twenty-three years now, guess I don’t know any different.”
Tess’s hand had stopped, and she was looking down at the small blonde with wonder. She had never seen it from that perspective before, and although she could not agree, especially considering her occupation, she understood Nikki completely. In only a few sentences the blonde had managed to give her a unique perspective into her own world.
Nikki moved slightly towards the brunette wondering why she had stopped. Realising she should do something, Tess pulled away quickly and took a step back.
“Listen…I really should be going. I have to get back and get some cleaning done.”
Nikki frowned, “You clean as well?”
Tess grinned, “Yep but it is my house and if I don’t do it, nobody will. I know for damn sure Leto wont.”
“Who is Leto…Your husband?”
The tall woman laughed, “God no…Leto is my dog. She is more into creating mess; I guess I have yet to teach her how to put rubbish in the bin after she has finished tearing it to shreds. Not that she does it all the time, just when she feels I have neglected her…if I am really naughty, she will even pee in my shoes.”
Nikki laughed, listening how Tess’s voice rung with enthusiasm when talking about her dog, she was obviously an important part of her life.
“I would love to meet her some time.” It was an offhanded remark, but she did mean it.
Tess smiled thinking of her dog, “Yeah, she would probably like you. You have the same colouring.”
The blonde looked up, “Oh yeah…what’s that?”
Tess frowned, trying to think of a good description for the honey-haired woman, “Ah…well err…sun, yes like the sunshine.”
The smaller woman smiled fondly, “Wow…I can actually sense that, thank you. Like the sun…so that would be warm and comforting?” She waggled her eyebrows, making Tess chuckle. “Or hot and encompassing?”
The tall woman promptly stopped, the colour draining from her cheeks.
Nikki sensed the silence and smiled, “Oh chill out ‘Miss Tess’, I was only kidding, you don’t have to answer that really. This time Nikki chuckled, as the other woman shook her head.
“So you wanna meet Leto then hey?”
“Would love to…I have always wanted a dog, but mum’s allergic so that kind of blew that idea out the window. Meant I couldn’t have a guide either…that didn’t bother me much, I have my cane.”
The taller woman frowned then looked around and saw the white stick, leaning against the corner of the wall for the first time. She didn’t actually give any thought as to whether Nikki actually used anything to get around with, but obviously that was the case.
“Well how about tomorrow…I usually take her to the park. I could bring her round here first if you would like?”
“How about I accompany you and Leto? I would love to go to the park and play fetch.”
“Oh…ok sure.” She wasn’t expecting that, but the idea of spending more time in this woman’s company was strangely appealing. “Ok I usually take her in the afternoon…say about three, is that ok.” ‘Say yes, say yes, say yes’.
“Sounds fine with me.”
The photographer smiled, “Ok then, and don’t forget to dress up in your winter woollies, it gets pretty brisk down there. Leto loves the snow, so I shall put her in her little doggie coat.”
Nikki started to laugh and Tess wondered what was so funny.
“What?” She asked.
“Oh nothing, it is just that…well I have heard a bit of your reputation. Tess Alexander, the brilliant but supercilious photographer. I cannot imagine you walking your pooch around in a little thermal coat.”
The tall woman didn’t know whether that should offend that. But decided it was not worth the hassle, besides she couldn’t muster up any annoyance for some reason. “Well I guess I better get going then.”
“Yes…see you tomorrow… ‘Miss Tess’.” The blue-eyed woman grinned and moved back over to Thunder.
Tess smiled, turned around and walked back out the stables.
She was expecting it even before she opened the door. It was inevitable really and although she did experience the odd slam of pain, it was worth it to feel so unconditionally loved.
Opening the door, Tess slid quietly through, bracing herself for the inevitable. She didn’t have to wait long, as one golden mass of muscle hurtled its self towards her in a barking frenzy.
Leto pushed her owner up against the door and barked continually, while trying to jump up in her arms to cover her with pooch smooches, as Tess called them. Realising it was futile to try and escape until she had been greeted, the tall woman slid down the door, so the dog could welcome her home.
“Are you pleased to see mommy today ‘tow tow’?”
The short haired, golden dog whimpered and proceeded to give Tess a thorough doggie greeting. She allowed the over enthusiastic dog a minute of indulgence, before finally sliding back up to her feet. She walked into her kitchen and looked down at the floor, something had caught her eye. Frowning she moved closer and bent down to pick up the object, it was a letter.
“LETO!” The dog came happily scampering in, until she saw the ripped up envelope in her masters’ hand. Then her head lowered and she gingerly backed out of the room.
“Don’t you move.” If it was possible for a dog to gulp, Tess was sure she had just witnessed it.
“What is this?” She asked calmly
Leto’s head lowered and she lifted up her paw in hope.
“Don’t try and get around me now…you have eaten my mail, you little…hound.”
Leto whined and shuffled her still crouching body over to her master.
“Nope don’t want to know…and to think I was going to take you to the park.” Leto’s ears pricked up at her favourite word, “But maybe I wont take you to the park now. I was looking forward to taking you to the park, but the park will be one doggie less tomorrow.” Tess suddenly remembered who was supposed to be coming with them tomorrow. “Ah hell…you have some major sucking up to do ‘tow tow.’
Leaning up against the pine cupboards, the tall woman prised open the sheet of paper, in hopes of salvaging her mail.
When she realised it was nothing important, she threw it on the surface and trudged into the living room, all the while one despondent dog, grovelling closely behind. She pushed the wooden door open, and walked quietly into the room. It was sparsely decorated with two sofas, a TV, music system and small coffee table. There was only one picture on the pale sand coloured walls, of an ocean that she took while she was on holiday. It was a beautiful picture of the night sky, reflecting on the water below. When she’d developed it, the shot had captured her attention in such a way that she had enlarged it, purposely for her living room.
Dropping onto the couch, Tess folded her arms and looked down at the golden dog that was looking hopefully up at her master.
“No use Leto, you will have to kiss ass for a while longer yet.” The dog lowered its head and sunk to the floor, lying gingerly upon Tess’s feet.
Tess though back on her day. Am I crazy or I am taking the Mayors daughter to the park with me tomorrow. Jesus Christ…am I insane? She shook her head, how the hell will he react to that news, I wonder?
Lisa looked up as she saw her sister walking the living room. The younger sibling could not be sure, but she thought she noticed a strange smile on the blonde woman’s face.
“Finished with the horses?” She asked looking at her sister expectantly
Nikki nodded, “Yep.” She moved around to the front of the couch and sat down next to her sister. “The parents not back yet?”
Lisa turned her body around, facing her older sister, “Nope…so Tess Alexander brought the proofs round today…” Nikki just nodded so she continued, “I saw her arrive from up stairs…she didn’t come in and her car was there for a while.” The blonde nodded again, “So what did you talk to her about?”
Nikki smiled, it was pointless asking her sister how she knew she had been with Tess, and she knew it. “Nothing much…horses…dogs…that kind of thing.”
The brunette nodded, “Yes and…what is that it? You had Tess Alexander in there with you and all you did was talk about horses and dogs…are you insane…it is a wonder you didn’t scare her off for fear of boredom.”
“Why?” Nikki asked.
“You can not talk to a woman like her, about boring things like that. She is fairly famous you know…takes pictures of famous people. I bet she could not wait to get out of there.”
Nikki turned her head away, “Actually no…I showed her how to groom Jenna and then she asked me to the park with her tomorrow. She takes her dog down there, said she would pick me up in the afternoon.”
Lisa’s eyes bulged, “What are you going to tell mum and dad?”
The blonde girl sighed, “I don’t know and I don’t care. I am fed up with them thinking they have to look out for me all the time, I am old enough to think for myself. I am going tomorrow and I am going to have fun, and that is the end of it ok?”
The brunette smiled, “You go Nikki…I can’t believe you are going to the park with her…my friend is going to be so jealous. You know Sally?”
“Well she thinks Tess Alexander is absolutely gorgeous…she will be so jealous when I tell her this. She freaked when I told her she was taking our photographs…wait till she hears about this…I am going to call her later.”
Nikki was quiet for a while, Lisa’s comments going over in her mind.
“So she…Tess I mean…she is attractive then?
Lisa laughed, “Ha…that is an understatement sis. She is gorgeous, I think guys fall over her where ever she goes…all dark and mysterious to.”
The blonde nodded, it didn’t really bother her what Tess looked like, but she had the feeling the woman was captivating, in her looks as well as her personality.
Lisa got up, “Right I have a phone call to make.” She chuckled as she made her way out the door.
Over the night a light snow had fallen, and though it was not enough to warrant not going outside, it was enough to cover the ground with a fresh blanket of brilliant white flakes. It set the day off looking like one of those corny Christmas cards…well that is what Tess thought. Everywhere was covered, but the sun still shone brightly in the sky, and the tall woman knew it would not be long before the snow melted away. For that she was glad, not wanting to take Leto out in the dense layers of icy flakes. Leto didn’t mind though, she loved the snow; it was the rain she had a problem with. Tess could never get the animal out then, the dog would take one look at the rapidly falling drops and would shake her head, almost literally.
As suspected by the afternoon, the density of the snow fall had more or less diminished, leaving behind more sporadic grey mound of slush. Tess opened her front door and looked out, Leto peeking out between her legs.
“What do you think girl…want to go to the park?”
Leto woofed, wagging her tail furiously.
Tess looked down her legs to the mass of whining muscle, “Well don’t just stand there…go and get your lead.”
With that order, the dog took off on a mad search, desperate to find the one item that secured her walk. Tess smiled as she heard the unmistakable sound of a rattling metal chain.
Precisely on time, she was pulling her car by the side of the garages, at the mayors home. Leto woofed alarmed in the back seat, wondering why they had pulled up here, it definitely was not the park. Tess looked back and rolled her eyes, at the somewhat desperate expression on the hounds face.
Getting out of the car, the woman walked around to the front door, however before she could even knock Lisa was pulling it open with a beaming smile on her face. The photographer smiled at the teen before noticing another grinning face behind her. She looked at Lisa for an introduction.
“Tess I would like you to meet my friend, Sally.”
The tall woman smiled at the tall red head, who had suddenly become incredibly shy. Tess wasn’t positive, but she was sure she noticed a blush work its way around the girls’ cheeks.
Lisa opened the door fully allowing Tess to enter. She walked in and looked around expectantly for Nikki, and or her parents.
“Nikki is on her way, I think she was looking for her hat when I saw your car arrive. Mum and dad aren’t here, they have gone to a charity function, or something like that.”
Tess nodded her head, she had yet to speak, but as she was about to do so Nikki appeared in the hallway. The girl had on a pair of light blue jeans, brown boots and a thick padded jacket. Upon her head she wore a grey woolly hat that covered half her ears, and tiny wisps of her honey blonde hair poked out below.
Tess couldn’t help but smile at the vision, thinking it was funny that they had both worn similar clothing, though she was sans a woolly hat. She took a step closer to the blonde, noticing how Nikki smiled, sensing the movement towards her.
“Ready to go?” She asked
Nikki nodded, “Sure am…I have been looking forward to this. So where is Leto, in the car?”
“Sure is…wining like a baby as well, so we better get going, before she decided not to wait any longer, if you know what I mean?” Unsure of what to do, Tess waited wondering whether Nikki would want to walk out with her.
The blonde woman reached out and Tess naturally stuck her arm in the way for her to take. Nikki grinned as she hooked her arm around the taller woman’s. “Lead the way.” She proclaimed.
Lisa watched them leave with a crooked smile on her face. She turned to her friend and winked. “And you didn’t believe me.” She chastised, closing the door as the women walked out of view.
Tess walked with Nikki to her car, taking her to the passengers’ side. Leto whined as the two women came into view, and proceeded to bark at the unknown blonde. It was not a bark of warning, merely to inform Nikki that she was there and would appreciate some attention.
Tess shook her head, “Oh for Gods sake Leto shut up…you will have plenty of time to say hello when we get to the park.” She chuckled lightly at the dogs’ antics.
Leto immediately shut up upon hearing her favourite word once again. Nikki giggled at the dogs’ antics, as she got into the passenger seat and closed the door. She pulled on her seat belt and waited as Tess made her way to the drivers’ side. Leto whined and scampered around, desperate to get attention from the new girl.
As Tess got into the front seat, she turned and gave the misbehaving dog and stern look; Leto took the hint and quieted down.
The journey to the park was filled with Nikki chatting amiably to Tess, who found it unusually pleasant just to sit back and listen. She didn’t really have to say much as blue-eyed woman told her about Lisa, her horses, the red head Sally who had a crush on her. Well at least it explained to Tess why the girl blushed when they were introduced.
When Tess casually asked what her parents thought about going to the park with her, Nikki had explained that she hadn’t even told them. That it wasn’t their decision anyway as she was old enough to take care and think for her self. Tess realised it must have been hard for her to assert her independence when she was constantly surrounded by two parents who thought they were doing the right thing by wrapping her in the proverbial cotton wool.
The journey to the park took twenty minutes. Tess drove around to the back entrance and parked her car in a small area reserved for patrons’ vehicles. There were no other cars, and for that she was glad, as it meant there was a possibility the place would be quite empty.
They both got out, and while Nikki stood by the passenger door waiting, Tess opened the boot to let the whining mass of muscle out. Before she could even react, Leto had raced off to find the woman who had yet to fuss her. The golden dog raced round the car and hurtled towards Nikki, but before she would usually pounce she stopped and sat at her feet, barking furiously.
Nikki bent down, reaching for the dog, “Ok…ok…wow you are a sturdy thing aren’t you?” She said, running her hands over the ecstatic hound.
Tess stood back and watched, surprised that the mutt hadn’t tried to knock the poor girl off her feet. She grinned, shaking her head.
“Wow…what does Tess feed you?” She slapped the dogs’ chest, feeling the solid muscle underneath. The dog spun around onto her back wanting more attention.
“Right that is it ‘tow tow’ come on if you want a god damn walk you better get your ass moving girl. You have all the time in the world to get attention from Nikki.” It wasn’t until the words left her mouth, that she realised its implications. Tess thought she better correct her sentence, but Nikki spoke up.
“Come on then ‘tow tow’” she said with a smile, “I think your mommy wants to get moving.”
Nikki pushed herself back to her feet and waited as the taller woman hooked the lead to the dogs collar.
Nikki nodded and held her arm out, so she could hook it around the photographers. Once they were ready, they made their was to the fields, Leto pulling as hard as she could to get there faster.
Cobble Stone Park wasn’t really that big. It was about the size of four-foot ball fields, with a children’s playing area at the far end, away from the main road. There were sporadically placed bushes, and trees that covered the main area, and a small pond in the centre. Unfortunately it had frozen over with the winter weather. Not that Tess minded, Leto had a tendency to dive into the pond and she didn’t like having to deal with the hound smelling like a wet dog.
Every summer the park would play host to the summer carnival, in which Tess would participate. She would work at the past times photography booth, where she would take black and white portraits of families dressed up in old style clothes. It was a huge attraction every year, and raised vast amounts of money for whatever charity was benefiting from the event that year.
Although the photographer preferred the city life, this was one open space that she didn’t mind coming to, basically because it was surrounded by the town. In the early mornings you would find people out jogging, or walking there dogs, and in Tess’s case doing both, (when she could be bothered). Around morning to midday, young children, with their parents and the elderly used it more. Around the afternoons to evenings there were more people out with their dogs or older children with nowhere else better to be.
Having never been before, Nikki held on to Tess as the tall woman manoeuvred them towards the centre of the field. She released her grip on the older woman’s arm as Tess bent down to un-clip the lead from Leto’s collar.
“There you go girl…now be good and don’t go chewing on anything unless it is something that has fallen from a tree…Ok?”
Leto barked excitedly, and as her lead was released, she took off on a mad sprint around the fields.
Nikki laughed, “Wow listen to that…I guess she really likes to get out in the open, hey?”
The photographer smiled, “Don’t all dogs…she has a fixation with the word park…though you only have to start with the ‘p’ and she is looking at you like her very life would depend on the rest of that word. But yeah, she loves it here.” Tess watched the dog sprinting towards the pond. “Oh no she is not going to…shit…LETO…NO.” She shouted.
But it was too late, the golden hound had hurled herself towards the pond, landing on the ice and sent herself skidding across the surface. Tess burst out laughing as the dog tried to right herself but her little legs kept slipping over the icy surface and she would fall over again.
“What happened?” Nikki asked amused.
Tess sucked in a breath, “Awe the stupid thing just tried to go for a swim, but the pond has completely frozen over. Now she can’t stand for falling on her butt.” Tess chuckled keeping her eyes on the confused mutt, “Oh hold on Nikki while I go and rescue her before she descends to the watery depths.”
Nikki waited with a smile as the dark woman ran off to rescue the whimpering dog. She managed to grasp a hold of its collar and pull it to safety…the whole time laughing lightly at the poor mutts plight.
“Well that will teach you for all those times I had to put up with your stinky ass on the way home wont it ‘tow tow’?” Tess stood back up and the Leto ran off as she made her way back to Nikki. “I think she may have learned her lesson…and gotten a good dose of hurt doggie pride in the process.” She stated with smugness in her expression.
The blonde started to laugh and Tess watched transfixed, unable to turn away from the small woman’s face, which had lightened up with unreserved joy. The cold wind had given the cheeks and tip of her nose a endearing rosy colour making her look incredibly cute in Tess’s eyes.
“I didn’t know they had any pride…they certainly don’t have any when it comes to begging, do they?”
Tess grinned, “I guess not.”
They linked up again idly strolling around the grassy area. Leto ran up with a recently found stick and dropped it at Nikki’s feet. She sat down and barked earnestly.
“I think somebody wants you to throw her a stick, it’s by your right foot”
Nikki bent down and retrieved the stick. She listened carefully then turned around. “This way I think,” She threw the stick into the air.
Leto made after it in a mad dash, barking at the strip of wood as it sailed through the air.
“Wow nice throw Nikki, good arm you have there. Say why did you choose to throw it that way?”
Nikki grinned, “Because I know I have a good throw.” She chuckled, “If I had thrown it the other way it would have probably landed in the road. I can hear it not far ahead, Brook street right?”
Tess frowned, “How did you know that if you said you have never been here before?”
The blonde arched an eyebrow, “Ah ha…it is all in the nose. I can smell the bakery and the fish market. Only Brook Street has a bakery and fish market on it. Oh…and the fact that I can hear slot machines, there is an amusement arcade right next to the bakery.”
Tess folded her arms amazed, “Well, well I am impressed. So what other talents do you have Miss Morris?”
Nikki waggled her eyebrows; “Oh I have many surprises up my sleeves.”
They laughed as Leto returned with the stick, ready for another turn.
They played with Leto for another half an hour, throwing the stick to see how long it would take for the dog to give in and admit defeat. However it didn’t work. Leto was having far too much fun, and had yet to show signs of slowing. In the end it was Tess who decided to call it a day, realising that Nikki would not give up if the dog wouldn’t. On her final throw she ‘accidentally’ judged the distance wrong and the stick landed on the frozen pond. Leto ran to the frozen water and looked back at her master. She made several feeble attempts at stepping on to the ice, but gave up in the end and walked away with a doggie huff.
Tess proclaimed that being as though the dog had given up they might as well start to make tracks. She put her arm out for Nikki, who took it as they began to make their way back to the car. Only an hour had gone by, but both women were beginning to feel slightly tired.
They made it back to the car and were strapped in and ready to go within two minutes. It was then that the dog decided to let her fatigue be known as she flaked out in the back of the car.
The drive back was a quiet one. Nikki listened to Tess’s nervous tapping on the steering wheel, speculating as to what was going through the woman’s mind. She wondered whether she would voice whatever it was that seemed to be bugging her.
Tess stared ahead not really looking at the road, there was something she wanted to ask Nikki, but didn’t know whether it was appropriate. Oh for Gods sake just ask her Tess the worst she can say is no right?
Taking a deep breath she looked towards Nikki, “Nik…I was wondering...do you fancy going out for a drink or something. I mean I understand if you would rather get back, it is just a thought really…if you want to that is.”
Nikki grinned wondering why the woman felt so nervous about asking such a simple question, “Yes I would love to…thanks”
Tess felt like a weight had just been lifted off her shoulders, and released a unknown held breath “Great…err…then we will take Leto home and go to the that place in the city centre…is that ok for you…they do some food as well if you like.”
The blonde turned her head towards the apprehensive sounding woman, “Food sounds good to…I am starving after all that fresh air…could eat a horse…no disrespect towards Jenna or Thunder though of course.”
“Great, food it is.” Tess stopped her nervous tapping and a smile spread upon her features, as she drove the rest of the way to her home.
When they got to Tess’s house, Nikki waited in the car while the tall woman deposited the happy dog back home. She gave her fresh water and food, and was back out of the house within in a minute, ready to take the blonde girl out for something to eat.
The drive into town was not quiet as Nikki opted to listen to the radio instead, tuning it into her favourite station. Tess rolled her eyes as she heard another mildly talented boy band, but smiled when she heard Nikki’s corresponding groan at the current song.
“I thought I was going to have to suffer in silence.” Tess commented
Nikki shook hear head, “Nope can’t stand this either, but sometimes you have to put up with the garbage in order to find what you are looking for.”
Tess frowned, “I usually just turn the damned thing off.”
The blonde shrugged, “Yeah suppose you could, but what if the next song happens to be one that you like…then you will miss out.”
“That’s a little profound considering we are just listening to the radio.”
Nikki laughed, “Yeah well…what can I say I like to consider myself a musical connoisseur.”
“So you like music…can you play?”
“I strum on the old acoustic occasionally…but don’t ask me to sing, because I guarantee Leto’s howling would sound better.”
Tess smirked, “I will keep that in mind.”
The usual ten-minute drive into town, took an extra ten due to the early evening traffic. As it was the run up to Christmas, shops were staying open longer and the city centre was still pretty much alive with the throngs of rowdy shoppers.
They arrived at ‘Jakes Wine Bar’ around five o’clock, before the evening crowds would arrive. Walking into the establishment a strong blast of heat engulfed them, marking a strong contrast from the rapidly dropping temperature outside.
Nikki immediately un-zipped her jacket and pulled the hat from her head, already she could feel an on coming sweat. She re-took Tess’s arm and they walked further into the bar, as the taller woman scanned around for a table.
Jakes bar was also an Italian restaurant. At the far end were the kitchens, which were open to the patrons who would watch the cooks, make their meals with a comedic edge. Juggling balls of dough between the chefs, and listening to their competitive banter, all served as a draw to the place. In the centre of the large room was the bar, which was another spot light for attention. Sometimes the bar staff would compete with the cooks for the customers’ attention, and it all served as its own kind entertainment.
The rest of the area was covered with tables, and Tess guided Nikki through, towards her usual spot. She often came here as Jake the owner was actually her work mate, Jason’s lover, and they lived together above the bar.
Finding the table empty, she and Nikki sat down across from each other, giving the brunette an unobstructed view of the blonde. She laughed.
“What’s so funny?” Nikki asked.
Tess shook her head, “Oh nothing you just look kind of cute with you hair all cow licked from that hat you were wearing…it suits you.”
Nikki scrunched her nose as she pushed a hand through her locks, “I thought it felt a bit unruly.” She said, not really comprehending what the woman had said.
Tess looked around the room. Out of the thirty or so tables, only eleven of them were occupied. She knew, that by seven the place would really start to fill up, which is why she had chosen to eat early. She liked this place, but didn’t want to subject Nikki to the hungry masses that would besiege the bar in a few hours time.
“So what would you like to drink?”
Nikki shrugged, “Surprise me…as long as it is alcohol…just not too potent, a cider would be ok.”
Tess rose from her chair, “Well it wont be a surprise anymore but a cider it is…I shall bring a menu back with me as well.”
After purchasing the cider and a coke for herself, Tess grabbed a menu and made her way back to Nikki. The woman sat listening to the soft background music, it was Mozart’s ‘Clarinet concerto’.
“I like this piece.” She commented.
Tess sat down, putting Nikki’s drink in front of her, “Hmm, they will change it soon, to a more upbeat sound. That will be when the customers start to filter in, and the entertainment begins.”
“Entertainment?” Nikki asked.
Tess went on to describe what she meant, making the woman laugh with the story of how she was once roped into joining the chefs with the juggling of the dough.
By six o’clock, they had eaten and were just sitting talking, when a loud vice called Tess from four tables away. She looked up to see her work mate Jason, sitting with his lover Jake.
Mindless of the blonde sitting in front of her, she got up and walked over to the two guys.
“Well, well, it looks like we need not ask what you are doing her. Who is the blonde?” Jake asked, pushing a hand through his thick mass of black hair. He was your typical good-looking Italian, though a little on the short side, a fact that Tess liked to tease him about mercilessly.
“The blonde is Nikki and we are just here having something to eat.”
Jason frowned, “Nikki…never heard you mention her before…I didn’t know you were seeing anybody called Nikki.”
“I am not seeing anybody Jason, we are merely here for some food. If you must know it is Nikki Morris.”
Both Jason and Jake frowned.
Tess sighed, “Nikki Morris, as in Daughter to Richard Morris.”
A sudden light dawned on Jason’s face. “Nikki Morris as in daughter to the Mayor…Tess…the Mayors daughter…you are taking out the fucking Mayors daughter?”
Tess leaned forward, “I am not taking her out…it is not like that ok…besides why would I…she is blind anyway.” She wasn’t sure whom she was trying to convince more, the two men or herself.
Jake frowned looking completely clueless, “Yeah, what does that have to do with anything?”
“Oh nothing, look I have to get back.” She looked towards Jason, “See you on Monday.”
Tess turned and walked back to the woman, waiting quietly at their table. She sat down and noticed the uncomfortable look on Nikki’s face. Feeling an instant rush of concern she reached out, taking her hand, “Nik, what’s wrong?”
Nikki pulled her hand away, “Nothing I am just feeling a little under the weather I guess. I think I need some fresh air…do you think you could take me home now please?”
Tess said yes and rose from her seat, as Nikki did the same, pulling on her coat in the process. After securing the taller woman’s arm, they navigated the tables and were on their way outside, and towards the car park.
The drive back to Nikki’s home was quite with neither the radio on, nor any form of idle talk. Tess wanted to say something, but being as though conversation starting wasn’t her strong point, she kept silent. Well there was also the fact that she got the impression Nikki didn’t really want to speak, anyway.
It was ten to seven when they pulled up outside the Mayor’s house. Tess cut the engine and turned to the still silent Nikki.
“Well here we are; how are you feeling?” She asked concerned.
“Ok I guess.”
“Do you know what caused you to feel so unwell suddenly?”
Nikki shrugged, “I was feeling fine Tess, I was having a wonderful time until I heard your conversation with those two guys behind us.”
“You heard that?”
“Of course I did…good hearing remember. Look I didn’t know that I made you uncomfortable in any way.” She said sadly, “And I am sorry I pushed to take Leto out with you, it is obvious not that you were just being polite by agreeing to let me come with you.”
Tess shook her head, wanting to speak but Nikki continued.
“I didn’t realise you had a problem with me, my bl…”
Suddenly they both turned hearing the front door to the house open and Rosalind Morris rush out the house. She headed for Nikki’s side and opened her door.
“Nicole where in Gods name have you been, we have been worried sick wondering where you were.” Rosalind looked swiftly at Tess giving her a cold stare.
“I went out with Tess to take her dog for a walk mum, that is all. Didn’t Lisa tell you were I was, I asked her to tell you if you got back first.”
Rosalind took Nikki by the arm and led her out the car. “Yes she told us dear but that was hours ago.”
“I have only been out for about four hours mum.”
Tess decided to speak up, “We only went out for something to eat, Rosa.”
The woman looked at the brunette, “Mrs Morris to you.” She turned to look at her daughter. “Now come on and lets get you inside, you must be freezing…being out in the cold” She looked accusingly at Tess once again.
The photographer wanted to say something, but after what Nikki had said, she felt suddenly deflated.
“You must never do that to us again sweet heart, do you understand how worried we were?”
Nikki sighed; it was always the same, no matter how much she craved some semblance of independence, she constantly felt like she was watched and coddled. She yearned for her parents to realise that she could manage on her own and was old enough to make her own decisions.
For a brief moment she felt the sudden urge to call out to Tess and ask her to take her away from the constant overprotection, but then she remembered the tall woman’s words at the bar. Instantly defeated, she realised she might just as well go along with her mother to placate the sudden surge in her overprotective behaviour.
“Yes mother, don’t worry…I will not be doing it again.” She said despondently.
And then she was whisked away by her mother. She disappeared behind the door and it slammed shut behind them.
Tess looked at the closed door, feeling suddenly bereft once again. It was just like when Nikki had pulled her hand away on their first meeting. Gripping the searing wheel she tried to clear her mind. ‘What the hell just happened here?’ It seemed like a dream, a whirlwind of events happening in the space of a single hour. The echoing words of Nikki telling her mother she would not do it again, hurt her deep inside. Why was she even bothered by this, she cared little for others in any other way than just a casual acquaintance, but this little blonde had just…she had no idea.
Feeling a surge of anger, that the fact she would care even the slightest that she may have hurt the blondes’ feelings, she turned on her engine and drove out of the courtyard. ‘Fuck it, why should I care…this is exactly why I don’t keep close friends in the first place…because I always fuck up.’
But with the hurt still strong in her chest, Tess knew it was not going to ease with anything short of Nikki’s understanding and forgiveness. She needed to explain, but how was that possible when she didn’t understand her own heart anymore than Nikki would herself.
End of part 2
continued in part 3