Disclaimer: This is the second part to my original story Snap Shots part 1.
Language warning: Not often but yes.
Love and sex warning: This story definitely portrays a loving relationship between two women.
Violence Warning: Yes definitely more than a projectile camera this time and from about chapter 8 onwards.
Thanks: First of all I would like to thank Garnet for Beta reading this story. Tammy for once again provided me with all the relevant horsey information, and her patience in explaining to me the purpose of a girth!
And to everyone for the overwhelming feedback I receivedJ
Let me know what you think: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rosalind Morris entered the foyer of the Charnwood Hotel Sunday morning and made her way to main reception. She had left her brothers' house incredibly early that morning in order to get back to her hometown by nine o'clock. Approaching reception the small woman gave her name and was give the room she had booked the day before.
It had been a quick but sudden decision to go back home, and one she had come to only minutes before she made her booking with the Charnwood hotel. Two months was a long time to have been away, much longer than expected, but she had finally come up with a plan that would, she decided, get her daughter away from that Alexander woman once and for all. It was a simple notion really, and one the Mayoress thought she should have come upon sooner.
Checking into reception, she accepted the key for a first floor room and head off towards the stairs, not being a fan of lifts. In a few days time, she was to make her appearance known to the rest of her family, and put her plan into action. Rosalind wanted the element of surprise definitely in her favour.
Tess awoke Sunday morning to an empty bed.She looked to the digital clock on the bedside table and was surprised to find that it had gone nine o'clock. Looking around and listening to near by sounds, she couldn't see or hear any sign of Nikki, though the blonde's night clothes from the day before lay across the bottom of the bed.
Letting her head fall back to the pillows Tess yawned as she recalled the phone call from the night before. What was his name? She thought, Doctor Jacobson wanting Nikki to call him about a surgical procedure they had previously discussed. Nikki had never mentioned this to her before, in fact Tess couldn't recall Nikki ever mentioning any thing about a Doctor Jacobson
Deciding it was time to talk to the blonde, Tess pulled her long frame out of the bed and dragged her still sleepy body towards the shower. She could have done with few more hours she realised, after spending half the night laying in bed wondering who Doctor Jacobson was, she hadn't actually had much sleep at all. The photographer had even heard her mother return home at a quarter past eleven and had debated going to talk to her, but then decided against it and had spent the rest on the night thinking.
Entering the bathroom, Tess pulled off her tee shirt and stared at her tussled reflection in the mirror. Slight dark circles rimmed her glazed eyes, and she sighed at the image. Why she had worried over this so much last night was beyond her, all she had to do was ask the blonde, and she knew she would have received her answer. But it was those words, surgical procedure... closely related to hospitals and in her mind so closely related to death and the loss of somebody she loves. Tess let her hands fall to the rim of the sink, head lowered and brows drawn together in thought. A tight feeling of fear coiled in her gut, almost painful in its presence. Shaking her head she looked back into the mirror, "Come on T, you are letting your fear get a grip on you again...snap out of it." She told herself, and with that she turned away from the reflection, deciding she should really just go get ready and give Nikki her message.
Leto lay on her stomach, paws stretched out and crossed at the end, her muzzle nestled snugly in-between. She was lying through the side doorway to the kitchen, and from a distance, seemingly sleeping. But amber eyes were open and alert as she stealthily tracked the progress of one decent sized black spider as it made its way down the wall. The eyes moved with hidden intent as the eight-legged creature came closer and closer to the kitchen floor.
Hyacinth entered the kitchen through the main door and walked through the room slowly. From the corner of her eye she spotted the golden mutt and turned to give the dog some attention. She stopped curiously as she noticed the pre-occupied look in her eyes, and turned to see what the hound was looking at. An amused smile graced her lips as she spotted the source of the dogs' attention.
From the hall way Hyacinth heard the definite sounds of her daughters booted feet making their way down the stairs, and she decided to have a little fun. "Tess dear, quick come here." A moment later the photographer entered the kitchen looking at her mother in question. "Come and have a look at this will you."
By this time Leto had pulled herself up and was now close to the wall watching as the spider neared her nose. Tess approached the scene with intrigue, but it soon faded. Her eyes turned to saucers as she leapt back a foot, "Ho Jesus a spider...mum get her away from it...quick." Her voice had raised an octave in alarm.
Hyacinth rolled her eyes, "Tessa just because you are afraid of spiders doesn't mean that we all are."
"I am not afraid." The woman insisted, "I just have a healthy respect for distance around them. Eerie little things...get her away...she might eat it." Tess hovered back and forth wearily watching the dog and eight-legged creature.
Leto tracked the spider as it completed it's journey to the floor and proceeded to nudge the creepy crawly with her nose, pushing it along the tiled floor.
"Leto...leave it. Mother if she eats that thing I will never want her near me again...god that is so disgusting." Tess's eyes widened in horror, "Oh my god it's on her nose." The usually reserved woman shuddered, "Ugh, how can she stand it," she uttered in disbelief. Leto shook her head suddenly, catapulting the black creature across the kitchen. It landed on Nikki who had just entered the doorway, wondering what all the commotion was about. The brunette stood routed to her spot, and stared in horror at her lover, "Nikki don't move."
The blonde frowned, "Why?"
"Nikki dear." Hyacinth started, "A projectile spider has just landed on your sweater. Between your um...breasts."
Wincing Tess looked away to the golden dog that was licking her lips, "That... was... not... food... Leto." The photographer scolded the hound.
Frowning Nikki lightly fingered her chest until she came into contact with the black creature. Much to Tess's horror the woman watched as Nikki grabbed the spider and held it in her hand, "Hold on a moment." She disappeared off to the front door where she gently placed the scurrying creature onto the ground before re-shutting the entrance and making her way back into the kitchen.
Tess's face scrunched in revulsion, "Ugh how can you touch those things, that tickling feeling when one walks upon you." She shuddered at the thought.
"Oh I like that tickling feeling, it's funny." She scrunched up her nose, "I like spiders they are so cute and wriggly."
Hyacinth continued to smile at the look on her daughters face.
"When I was fourteen my dad let me have a tarantula." Nikki smiled, "I called him Fuzz, because he had such a fury body. I only had him six months before he was taken away though."
"What happened?" asked the older woman, knowing her daughter wouldn't really want to know. Tess had always held a natural dislike for the tiny creatures ever since she was little. She would say it was the thought of one being on her and her not knowing about it that made her shudder, it was the same with any insect. Hyacinth could recall many times throughout Tess's childhood when she had walked into a room and found empty drinks glasses, upside down with little creatures trapped inside. Tess would catch the bugs, but refused to transport them outside the confines of the house.
Nikki laughed, "Hmm...what happened. Well let's just say that it took Fuzz six months before he tried his first break out. I didn't realise this at the time of course...that was until I heard the screams."
Hyacinths eyes glowed in interest, "Screams?"
The blonde snickered, "Yeah turns out Fuzz had taken a little tour of the house and had...in his meanderings wandered into my mothers room. Well she had a surprise one morning when she got up and found this big fury thing playing happily in her drawer...the one that she kept her underwear in!"
Tess couldn't help it, even she had to laugh at that, just the thought of old Fuzz scaring Rosalind like that was enough for her to allow spiders a little more respect. "Oh...maybe spiders aren't so bad...especially tarantulas, I mean at least you can see them approaching on the floor...kind of hard to miss."
"So do you want to get one?" The blonde asked with faux sincerity, as she fully entered the kitchen and sat down at the pine table.
Tess followed suit, "Um let me think about that for a while...err nope, I don't think so," she deadpanned.
Nikki pouted, "Spoil sport."
The photographer shrugged, "What can I say...the only thing I like in my underwear is me thank you very much."
"Hey what about..."
"Well I think I should go and get my bag packed, I will be going home later today and don't want to leave it for the last minute." Hyacinth stated as she excited the room swiftly. Knowing the two of them as she did, she was pretty sure she knew where their conversation was about to lead.
Tess watched the retreating form of her mother, "I think you just scared her off!"
Nikki gasped in surprise and smirked, "Moi...hey can I just say that it was completely obvious where you wanted that statement to lead... I know you too well Miss Tess."
"Uh huh." Tess leaned forward picking up Nikki's hand, the one that hadn't recently just held the spider, and kissed the knuckles. The phone call from the night before instantly came to mind. "Hey you had a phone call last night."
"Yeah, who was it?" The blonde asked happily.
"A Doctor Jacobson." Tess watched as the smile fell from Nikki's lips, "He wanted to speak with you. Who is he?"
Nikki pulled away from the brunette's hand and sat rigidly in her chair, "Oh um...nobody just my doctor...err, what did he say to you?"
Tess frowned at the uncharacteristic behaviour of her lover; "He mentioned something about a surgical procedure and asked that you call him."
Nikki's face was expressionless, "Oh well, it was nothing important, I may call him some time." She moved uncomfortably in her chair, ready to leave.
"Nik, what was he talking about, what surgical procedure did he mean."
The blonde shook her head, "It's nothing trust me."
"Any kind of surgery isn't nothing Nik, what's wrong why wont you talk to me?"
"Because there is nothing to talk about." She got up from her chair, "I have to go, there are things to be done you know. Contact Sam and let her know that we will require her services, contact the RSPCA for that list of qualified stable hands...they wont get done if..."
"Nikki!" The photographer looked up at the blonde, "Your shutting me out, what's wrong and don't say nothing because I can tell okay. Sit down here and talk to me...please?"
Nikki backed away, "Tess you are blowing this all out of proportion, nothing is wrong. Now I really must go, I am late to see Thunder and Jenna and with her ready to give birth soon, I want to spend as much time with Jenna as I can." Nikki turned around swiftly and made to leave the room, bumping into the back of Tess's chair as she did.
Tess watched the retreating form with confusion, "Sure didn't seem like nothing to me," she muttered and sighed her head falling into large hands.
She had never seen this side of Nikki before; it wasn't the fact that the blonde was hiding something from her, more that it was the fact that she seemed afraid of whatever that something was. And why didn't she want to talk about it? Tess thought they could talk about anything with each other, they always had done in the past. What the hell was this that seemed so unapproachable to Nikki? Whatever it was, Tess knew she would find out.
For a Sunday afternoon the city was fairly busy and many shops were open and doing surprisingly good business. Even though the British trading laws stated that all retail outlets had to shut in one hour, from the amount of people milling around, it would appeared to have been a normal week day trade.
Rosalind had spent the morning resting in her hotel room, and then decided to go and do some window-shopping. Her monetary situation at that moment was low, but part of the plan she had in mind would soon change that for the better.
Walking down Oxford street the woman realised she was approaching the city art gallery, so decided to have a quick look at the latest attractions. As she mounted the stone steps a large multicoloured poster caught her eye, and naturally she moved to investigate. She realised it was an advertisement for Tuesday nights Modern Arts Exhibit, and as she scrolled down the list of artists a familiar name caught her eye. With a smug smile she realised she had just found the perfect venue to put her plan into action.
Across on the other side of the street, and not very far away Lisa Morris was exiting the cities multi complex cinema. Hand in hand with CJ, they made their way to the cafÈ across the road. She was in good spirits, and so far the day had been very enjoyable. CJ and herself had talked constantly on many different subjects, and she was amazed at how much they seemed to have in common.
CJ put his arms around Lisa's shoulders as they neared the pelican crossing, "So your sister Nikki right? Has she always been blind?" He asked.
Lisa shrugged, "More or less, it was quite complicated I am told."
He nodded, "And she lives with Tess Alexander...you know...as a couple?"
"Yeah." She smiled, "They met last year during a photo shoot for my dad, and I guess it just progressed from there."
Reaching the other side of the road, they headed towards their destination. CJ looked down at the brunette, "You know when I met her...Tess I mean, the other day...she didn't seem like the same person you hear so much about. She was...well...quiet I guess, but she was nice you know."
The teen nodded, "She is amazing, everybody has this opinion of her based purely upon speculation and hearsay, but the truth of the matter is she's really nice. And she loves Nikki very much...I mean, it is soooo obvious."
CJ pursed his lips with a frown as they entered the cafÈ. His brother said this woman had attacked him just because he had tried to start a conversation with the blonde. Now he really didn't want to think his brother a liar about this, but there was no way in his mind that Lisa wasn't honest in her descriptions of the photographer. Confused, he pulled out a chair for Lisa, and then sat down opposite the brunette.
Lisa took her seat not at all surprised by CJ's chivalry; he had been opening doors for her all afternoon. She looked through the window onto Oxford Street and watched the passers by. Suddenly a familiar figure caught her attention and she rose from her seat to get a better look. Leaning forward with her hands on the table she watched as the figure stood at the side of the road and waved, a second later a taxi pulled up and the woman got in. Lisa blinked in surprise, mum? She thought with confusion, it seemed so unlikely, but at the same time the teen knew it was her...she would recognise the woman anywhere.
CJ looked over to a suddenly pale Lisa, "Hey...something the matter."
Lisa shook her head and looked down, "Ugh...I...I...um I think I need to go home CJ, do you mind? I am sorry but something has just come up and I need to go."
The young man looked at the shock on the brunette's face and nodded, "Sure, if that is what you want then of course I will take you home." He got up and helped Lisa around the small tables and out the door. "Lets go back to the car park, get my car, then I will take you home...okay?"
Lisa nodded, and together they headed for the multi story car park.
Tess lay upon the top of her bed, making shapes out of the aertex designs on the ceiling. She had been there for almost an hour, and up to that point, had not wanted to move ‘why bother' she had thought. Her conversation with Nikki, or lack of as she realised, had left her feeling confused and concerned. And what was more, Nikki hade been out in the stables since their brief exchange that morning and hadn't been seen since. She wanted to give the blonde time to think, hopefully to see that whatever this thing was, she could talk to her about it...after all damn it, they were supposed to be in a relationship, didn't that mean something?
A gentle knock on the door pulled Tess's eyes from the ceiling and she turned to see her mother standing in the doorway. "Hi...how are you feeling?" Hyacinth asked. The brunette had told her about how Nikki had reacted to her message right after she had grilled her about her evening with James Abbot.
Tess shrugged and turned back her inspection of the roof, "I don't know, Nikki hasn't spoken to me all day, and I don't know why...how am I supposed to feel?"
Hyacinth entered the room and sat on the corner of the double bed, "Listen honey, I really have to get going if I am going to make it back home with enough light, but before I go I would like to leave you with a few parting words okay?"
The photographer nodded, needing some kind of input.
"From what you told me I don't think that Nikki is intentionally hiding something from you...she seems afraid to confront whatever this thing is."
"I know that but..."
"Let me finish." Hyacinth said with a smile, "From what I know of Nikki, it seems that she needs time to acknowledge whatever this thing is and then she will talk to you about it."
"But I don't know what this thing is...and that is what concerns me."
The older woman patted her daughters hand, "Listen dear, be patient with her...she is probably out there right now wondering how she is going to explain things to you. Did the Doctor you spoke to make it sound urgent that Nikki call him as soon as possible?"
"Well then...please don't worry so much...you know you will find out in the end don't you."
Tess smiled and nodded, "I get the feeling I will."
Hyacinth nodded, "Well good. Now come on and lets maybe start the ball rolling. I need to get going, but there is no way I shall be leaving without saying good by to one certain blonde first."
"Thanks mum." Swinging her long frame off the bed, Tess hugged her mother briefly before heading out the room. She picked up the single suitcase, and together they headed down the stairs, just in time to hear cautious footsteps making their way through the house.
Tess looked over the banister to see Nikki reach the phone and pick up the receiver. "Nik, what's wrong?"
The blonde started dialling her veterinarian's number from memory, "It's Jenna; I think she may soon foal so I want Monica to come take a look at her."
"Monica Fletcher...she's the vet."
The Alexander women carried on down the stairs as Nikki conversed with the woman on the other end of the line. Tess put down her mothers suitcase as Nikki hung up the phone. "She's on her way."
Hyacinth looked concerned at the blonde, "Nikki dear, will everything be alright?" she asked.
"Oh yes, I should think so. I just need Monica here to check on how Jenna is doing...there are things that I cannot do for Jenna that will need doing, so I could do with her help."
The old woman nodded, "Well that is okay then." Hyacinth looked back between her daughter and Nikki, "Well Nikki dear, I have to be going...it is a fairly long drive back to Cornwall so I need to start my journey."
Nikki nodded suddenly feeling very guilty about the fact that she had spent all morning and afternoon in the stables hiding. "I didn't realise it was so late." She looked down, "I'm sorry Cinthy; I was..."
"No need for any of that Nikki, come on now Jenna is at an important stage and she needs you there right?" Hyacinth had an idea what Nikki must have been thinking so she decided to ease her mind. Whatever it was that was bothering her, the old woman knew they would get through it together.
The small woman nodded, "Yeah I guess."
"Well then. Come here and let me give you a hug before I leave...it may be some time before I see you both again." Hyacinth looked pointedly at her daughter, "At least until you come down to Cornwall right?"
Tess rolled her eyes, "Yes mother...we'll come down to see you next time, I promise."
"Good." The sturdy woman smiled as she pulled Nikki into a goodbye hug, "Now you two take care of each other understand?"
"Yes." The others said in unison.
Hyacinth pulled away, "Well then, I guess it is now time for Hyacinth Rose Alexander, to leave the building."
Tess opened the door, and with Nikki by her side, they bid the old woman a safe journey home.
When the door shut, Tess turned around and looked down at the blonde. Nikki was silent, but she seemed to be making no moves in order to leave the photographers company so she took this as a good sign.
From the smaller woman's point of view, Nikki could feel Tess's eyes boring into her, the wariness and concern Tess was feeling was almost palpable. She breathed in deep, taking a lungful of calmness into her system, hoping to dispel the nerves that had been plaguing her all day. From the moment she entered the stables she had felt the tears threaten to come, and she had fought hard to keep them at bay. She needed to think, to wonder how she was going to tell Tess a little piece of information about herself that she had been too scared to confront. It wasn't bad, she decided, far from it in fact, most people would consider it wonderful, but for her...uncertainty of the unknown was just too unnerving to face.
Still looking down at the blonde, Tess had been watching the mirage of emotions as they played across Nikki's face. She sucked in her bottom lip nervously and chewed lightly, "Nik?"
Tess reached out and cupped a soft cheek, "What is it?"
Nikki lowered her head, but as usual Tess caught it, not allowing her to turn away from this, "Tess."
"Tell me what it is please...can't I help?" The taller woman's voice held a note of desperation. She watched as blue eyes filled with tears, tears that began a gentle flow down Nikki's cheeks. "Please don't cry Nik, I don't know what it is honey and all I want to do is help you, I don't want you to feel like this." She pulled the small frame into her body and held her close.
After a minute of silence Nikki pulled away, "Tess, look into my eyes and tell me what you see."
Tess did as requested and cupped soft cheeks, staring directly into Nikki's eyes, "I don't get it Nik...what do you want me to look for?"
Nikki's right hand came up and rested upon Tess's left, "The difference, can you see the difference, it is slight so I am told, but it is there."
Frowning Tess leaned closer and looked deep into Nikki's eyes. She alternated between one eye and the other, looking for the difference the small woman was talking about, "Nik, I don't see..." She stopped and looked again, switching from the right eye to the left. "I think I see it." She stated and looked again. Staring into Nikki's right eye she spotted light green flecks, turning to the left eye she frowned as she looked at light golden flecks. "They are slightly different colours," Tess said. "Nikki I don't...?"
The blonde nodded, "Different." She stated seriously.
The brunette blinked and shook her head, "I don't understand where you are going with this Nikki."
"That phone call...from Doctor Jacobson."
Nikki opened her mouth to speak but the shrill of the front door bell caused her to jump. Sighing she pulled away from Tess and moved to open the door. Monica Fletcher stood with a lopsided grin, "Hey Nicole, nice to see you again...so where's the patient?"
Nikki grinned, "Monica...great come on in," she moved out the way as Monica entered the house.
"Great place you have here...lovely scenery and all." The vet stopped as she almost bumped into the photographer. She frowned and let her head fall to the side, trying to recall the woman's face.
Tess smirked and looked quickly at Nikki before turning her attention back to the smaller woman with short dark hair. She was wearing a pair of green medical overalls and held a large metal case in her right hand. She arched her brow, still under the scrutiny of this dark haired woman with the quirky expression on her face. "Something wrong?" she asked.
Monica rebalanced her head and pursed her lips, "Hmm...know the face, can't quite remember where from." She searched her mind, "Oh hey, you didn't once own a ferret called Arnold did you?"
She thought again, "A Bassett Hound with one ear called Gertrude?"
The photographer scoffed, "Hardly."
Monica thought harder as Nikki chuckled at her vets' typical behaviour. She was an amazing vet, but at times could be somewhat comical in her behaviour.
If it were possible a light bulb suddenly beamed above the small vets head, "I've got it...a Staffy called Leto right?"
Tess blinked, "Yeah that's it, she's out in the yard now...how did you know that?"
"I saw you in the surgery once, probably for injections or something like that. I think Leto is one of my husbands patients."
The photographer rolled her eyes, "Dominic Fletcher right?"
Monica grinned, "Yes that's him, wow small world huh." She turned to Nikki, "So you two are friends?"
"Something like that." Nikki replied and Tess smiled, "So Monica shall we go and see Jenna?"
"Lead me to her...oh I haven't seen her since I was at your fathers house, not so long ago but still, I am betting she is almost ready to foal. Gosh I am getting rather excited now."
Tess smirked bemused as the three women headed off to see the expectant mother.
It was beginning to get gloomy, the first stars in the night sky were already out and twinkling in the darkening expanse. The wind had clamed to sporadic gentle gusts, and the temperature had dropped several degrees. Out by the entrance of the back door, Leto lay on her side, eyes closed seemingly in deep slumber. She had already had her fill of greeting the new visitor, so was content to just lie back and relax.
Tess stood beside Nikki, who was leaning against the stable wall waiting for Monica. She had already answered some of the woman's questions and was now waiting for the vet to finish her examination of Jenna's present condition. She could hear the gentle voice of the vet as she spoke soothingly to the golden horse. Sighing, the blonde tapped her cane repeatedly into the cemented ground.
"You think Jenna will be okay?" Tess asked.
Nikki nodded, "Oh sure, it's getting through the eleven months that is the biggest worry...usually the labour and delivery are for the most part uneventful. Well apart from the monumental happening in itself."
Tess just nodded as Monica emerged from the barn, "Well ladies I would have to say she is close...there is a definite rise in her calcium secretions, but the amount dictates that she still has a few days left. I would suggest you keep an eye on her and call me when you need me...okay?"
"Thanks Monica, I will." Nikki released a breath.
"Listen I was wondering." The vet continued, "You mentioned something about needing some stable hands right?"
"Well this is just a thought, but I know of a young woman who would be perfect for you and the horses if you wanted. Her name is Janie; she is twenty-two and has worked with them for over seven years, her father used to train them. Anyway she came to me looking for a job last week, but I was unable to help out, I know her number if you would like me to send her round to you in the morning...well if she is still looking to work with horses that is."
Nikki beamed, "Yes...please, that would be great thank you...you know I trust your judgement with matters such as this."
Monica smiled, "Great, I will call her tonight and if all is well you will hear from either Janie, or myself in the morning."
"Thank you Monica...that would be a god send."
"No problem." The vet moved down and picked up her medical case, "Well I better be going, I shall see the both of you soon I am sure."
Nikki said her goodbyes and went back into the stables as Tess showed Monica to the door.
In the stable, Thunder stood quietly in his stall munching on his forage feed, while Jenna was out, pacing the a small area of the room. In one corner there was a large but silent generator that powered an artificial light, it was on a dimmed setting but still light enough to be able to see clearly around the area.
Nikki stood in the centre of the stable as Tess approached, shutting the door after her and wrapping her arms around the small frame from behind. She pulled Nikki close and closed her eyes, "It's amazing really isn't it...new life I mean. Personally I have never felt the need to be in that position, but it is still a wonderful aspect of nature." She opened her eyes, "Have you ever thought about it?"
Tess smiled, "No...about having a child."
Nikki shook her head, "Can't say that I have, to be honest I have never thought it worth consideration."
The blonde shrugged, "I don't know, just never have."
They were silent for some minutes until Nikki spoke, "You want to know who Doctor Jacobson is?" There was a slight tremor in the blondes' voice.
Tess moved away, pulling off her coat as she did and led the Nikki over to the sidewall of the stable. Then she moved against the wall and slid down to the straw ground, pulling Nikki with her. The women landed next to each other, shoulders and legs touching as Tess placed her denim jacket over Nikki's body. "Tell me." She said.
Nikki nodded, "Okay, but I will have to start from the beginning."
"I'm not going anywhere."
Taking a deep breath Nikki closed her eyes, "Okay. When I told you that I was blind from birth, that wasn't completely accurate."
"Please just let me explain Tess...and you will get your answers."
The brunette nodded, "Sorry...go on."
"Well...when I was born I was completely blind in my right eye, but for a while they thought my left eye to be okay. Then they noticed something, it must have been when I was a few weeks old, but the pupil of my left eye turned white." Tess nodded, listening carefully to everything Nikki was saying. "I was referred to an eye specialist where the symptoms were confirmed. It seemed I had what is called Retinoblastoma."
"What...sorry...but what is that?" Tess asked confused.
Nikki took a deep breath, this was the bit she was worried telling Tess about. "Um...Retinoblastoma, is a cancer in the eye."
Tess felt the air leave her body as a physical tremor shook her to the core. Cancer, the same disease that had claimed her fathers life. She grabbed a hold of Nikki's hand then pulled the blonde in between her long legs, "Cancer?"
Nikki nodded, "Yeah it is quite rare, and tends to only be in the one eye." Nikki felt the grip Tess had upon her tighten and she turned to her side, sitting upon the taller woman's legs, "Tess it's okay honestly."
The brunette nodded, "Um okay...please continue with this."
"Okay." Nikki thought for a moment, "Anyway when they examined my eye they found that I had multiple tumours and the only way to get rid of the cancer was to remove the eye...there was no way my vision could be saved." She took a deep breath, "Well from what my father told me, my mum wasn't too happy about having a daughter with only one eye, so she made some enquiries and eventually found a surgeon who stated that he could transplant another eye to replace the one that had been removed. By that time I had been living with one eye, and wearing a patch until I was two years old. Anyway it was said to be a very serious operation, but one that the surgeon...a Doctor Jacobson felt positive he could perform."
Tess felt a strong feeling of anger towards Nikki's mother and it suddenly dawned on her why she hadn't seen any pictures of Nikki as a young child in Rosalind's house. She had put her young child through a serious operation at such a young age just because she didn't want a child with one eye. God help me...but I do so hate that woman, she thought.
Nikki shuffled in Tess's lap making herself more comfortable as she continued, "So I had the operation, and got myself a new eye. They were all aware that due to previous damage there was no way I would be able to see, but I guess by that time everyone was used to this fact, including myself."
Tess took a hold of Nikki's hand and kissed each finger. She felt a deep emotion well inside of her and was helpless to fight its release. Silent tears fell from green eyes, trailing down her cheek where she left them, letting them fall to her jacket covering Nikki's body. She was trying to be strong for Nikki and didn't want to lose control of her emotions now.
Nikki laid her head on Tess's shoulder. Aware of her lovers' plight she released her hand from the larger grasp and gently wiped the tears away. "So basically that was how it had been for the last twenty years. Then suddenly out of the blue I get a phone call from Doctor Jacobson. I was lucky; he called when my parents were out. He said he wanted to talk to me, so arranged an appointment to meet with me at home...of course I made sure it was a time when my mum and dad were away...for some reason I got the feeling, this was something I needed to hear on my own first."
Tess nodded, "And?"
The blonde moved to a sitting position once again, "Well." She took a deep breath, "We met and he told me that he had been doing a lot of research on the restoration of sight." She bit her lip hesitantly, "He said that...well he said that there was a eighty percent possibility that he could restore at least partial sight in my right eye. Not the one that was transplanted, but the other one...that was blind from birth. It would be enough for near vision."
Tess sat up amazed, "He could restore you sight...how?"
Nikki shrugged, "Well it was only explained to me in laymen's terms but it was something to do with repairing the optic something or other, or retina... or something along those lines. Thing is that it was two years ago and I was kind of in shock from the moment he said the words ‘restore my sight'. I mean he did say it wouldn't be perfect, but I would have near vision and with help of corrective lenses I could have some measure of long distance sight as well."
Shock was evident on the brunettes face, "So what happened, it didn't work...did you tell your parents...what?" She was anxious to here this.
"I didn't tell anybody, because I didn't go through with it, I refused to have it done...it was my decision."
Tess placed her hand over her mouth and shook her head, "Why not." She asked confused, then suddenly noticed the tears forming in Nikki's blue eyes, "Nik what is it honey...is this the reason you were upset earlier?"
Nikki shrugged, and wiped a fallen tear from her cheek. She took in a shuddering breath.
"Nikki come on sweetheart, please tell me what is bothering you so."
The blonde buried her face in the photographers neck, "I'm scared Tess."
"What, of the operation...Nik, it is only natural that you would be scared sweetheart."
Shaking her head the blonde pulled away from the comfort of Tess's embrace, "No it's not that, well in a way maybe, but not really."
A sigh, "I'm scared that it won't work, and I am scared that it will." She wiped the tears from her faced with the cuff of her sweater, "I am scared to build hopes that it may work only to be disappointed when I find out it didn't. That would be more than I could bear. Yet at the same time I am terrified at the prospect of it working and being able to see for the first time in my whole life...what if I couldn't cope, what if I just couldn't get used to it. I've been blind for twenty four years...this is what I know...and no matter how much I would like to see...I am terrified that I wont be able to adjust." She took a breath, "That is why I refused to go ahead with the surgery...because sometimes I feel that I am better off the way I am...it is all I have ever been used to and all I'm familiar, comfortable with. You know the saying ‘Ignorance is bliss'. Sometimes I feel it is just best to carry on the way things are and act like I was never given this opportunity."
Tess pulled Nikki in close to her, tucking the blonde head under her chin, "I understand." She said letting her own tears fall.
The blonde turned her head towards Tess and sighed. It felt so good to finally be able to tell somebody about this; somebody she knew would not push her into anything she wasn't sure about. Nikki knew she had that with Tess...with her parents, it was different. Even her father would be excited by the news and want her to go through with it, but it was her mothers' would be reaction that forced her to keep quiet. The blonde knew she would be pushed, coerced and browbeaten into going through with the surgery and without council from somebody she could trust not to push their own desires on her, she was in a quandary as to what to do.
Tess kissed Nikki's forehead and ran her hand through the soft blonde hair. She realised it must have been hard for Nikki to live with this decision when every option seemed to cause her varying degrees of distress.
"What are you thinking?" The blonde asked
Tess shrugged, "How much I love you...how hard this must have been for you to have on your mind. Such a wonderful possibility, yet so many reasons to fear the potential outcomes."
Nikki turned and wrapped her legs around Tess's waist, "It is important for me to know what you think of all this Tess, I need to know." In the dull light her eyes seemed to almost look straight into the photographer.
The brunette shrugged, "I think that for now, we just have a few days to think about this. I don't want to influence your decision Nik, but I want to help you come to it in the best way I can."
"And what if I decided that I can't go through with the surgery?"
"Then you don't have to."
Nikki sighed and lowered her head, "I'm sorry I was distant with you earlier Tess." She smiled, "I knew I could talk to you about it...it just caught me by surprise."
"That's okay, but..." she paused and looked away, still finding it hard to communicate the way she was internally feeling.
Nikki took a hold of Tess's arm, "What?" She noticed the tension that invaded the taller woman's body, "What is it Tess?"
The brunette looked back, and stared into blue eyes shadowed in the dim light, "Earlier...when you sort of clammed up on me, it..." she frowned, "It hurt Nikki. I could see that you were hurting, that something was bothering you, and the fact that you didn't seem to want to share it with me, hurt." She looked away feeling slightly foolish about expressing her insecurities.
Nikki felt her heart drop, the fact that she had caused Tess any amount of anguish caused feelings of guilt. "I'm so sorry."
Tess looked back to see Nikki's trembling lip, "Hey no, I mean I understand that you were feeling scared." She sighed, "I don't want you to feel sorry for the way you acted, we both have been that way on occasions, I just needed to be honest with you." She smiled, "After the talk my mum had with me after what happened at the shopping centre I need to keep this level of truthfulness between us. Do you understand? "Nikki nodded. "Good. You needed some time to think, I understand that, and I am just glad you knew that you could talk to me."
"Always." The blonde placed her forehead against Tess's.
"Good, and do you want to know something?"
"What's that?" She faced the brunette again.
"I love you."
Nikki smiled, "I know that silly...I love you too."
"No Nikki I mean I love you." Tess kissed her softly; "No matter what happens nothing will change that...nothing could ever change that. I guess I just want you to know that I will be there for you, and help you as much as I can, but nothing will ever change my opinion of you...or feelings for you...because it is you that I love...understand?"
"Uh huh." She smiled contently, snuggled into Tess's embrace and yawned, "What time is it?"
Without looking Tess reached around and fingered the audio button on her watch. Nikki blinked in surprise, "Wow I had no idea it was getting so late."
"Want to go inside?" Tess asked.
Nikki burrowed deeper into Tess; "Hmm...in a while I just want to sit here for a bit and besides...I am too comfortable to move."
Tess smirked as she moved against Nikki, adjusting the denim jacket that was covering the small frame. "Okay...just a little while longer." She said, and closed her eyes.
In a small two bedroom flat on one of the roughest parts of the city, where street crime and drug dealers were as common as night and day, CJ White sat in his front room. He had just finished ironing his clothes for work the next day and was waiting for his brother to return home. Being a haulage driver he had many contacts in the business and it was after his brothers coercion that they had discovered Nicole Morris's need for horse transportation, and Bradley's plan had progressed from there.
He thought back to his day with Lisa Morris. It hadn't been as bad as he thought it was going to be, he also thought the brunette had a good time, at least that was until the cafÈ incident. After that she had been rather quiet all the way home and he was concerned as to the cause. She did say she would be all right, and even agreed to him phoning her in the next few days. He wasn't sure why...but he had every intention of doing so.
The sound of the front door opening and shutting signalled Bradley's return home, and by the commotion being made, CJ could tell that his brother wasn't alone. It was only seconds later that the older man entered the small living room, two other guys in tow. They were friends of Bradley's and they only ever seemed to get together for one reason. CJ sighed; knowing it was going to be a long night.
"Evening bro, so how was your date with the bitches...bitches...sister?" He laughed and his two friends followed suit. "Did you get anywhere?" He asked with a lascivious leer.
CJ shook his head; "I thought you just wanted me to get information on the woman who put you in hospital."
Bradley's friends laughed, and the older brother glared at them, "She had a fucking baseball bat...what the hell was I supposed to do against that huh?" He angrily pushed his hand into his coat pocket, pulled out a small block of resin, and proceeded to start rolling himself a joint.
"Well." CJ started, thinking carefully. "I wasn't able to get much out of her...it was the first date, and I wanted to build her trust."
One of Bradley's friends, a small man with an very old worn bikers jacket grinned and winked at CJ, but he ignored him.
"Yeah well just don't take too long about it okay." The older brother warned.
CJ nodded, but said nothing. He had been thinking about it all day, and realised that in no way did Miss Alexander attack his brother for nothing. CJ knew Bradley, they had lived alone together since their parents had died some years ago, and although he hated to admit it...Bradley was no good. He came to a decision then...there was absolutely no way he was going to allow his brother to hurt any of those women. How he was to go about this was another matter.
The photographer felt herself coming around. She didn't know what it was that had initially pulled her from her sleep, but as she became more aware of the conscious world she began to make her assumptions. Maybe it was the artificial light, maybe it was Nikki's gentle snoring, ‘ha and she said that's just me' she thought. Maybe it was the aroma of ‘Eau de stable' or just maybe it was the tone of straw that she could feel poking her in places she didn't even care to think about. Yawning she opened her eyes and lifted her head slightly, pulling pieces of straw from her face. She looked down at Nikki who was nestled closely into her, they were both on their sides and Nikki's face was burrowed between the valley of the taller woman's breasts. ‘Could explain the snoring' she thought with a wry grin.
Rubbing her eyes, Tess lifted up onto her elbow and looked out into the dim light of the stable...she froze, "Oh my god...bugger me...I...I don't believe it." She whispered lightly in shock.
Nikki mumbled in her sleep.
Tess looked down and whispered gently, "Nik...Nikki honey...for gods sake wake up will you."
Nikki stretched and rolled onto her back, frowning at the unusual feeling under her body, "Hmm...what's that, what's going on...Tess?"
The tall woman prodded the blonde lightly, "Nikki...this is amazing I can't believe this."
"What...that we fell asleep in the damned stables...neither can I." She mumbled.
Tess shook her head, "No...it's Jenna, she only gone and delivered her little foal. My god it is so remarkable." The brunette looked on in wonderment.
As the words sunk in Nikki sat up suddenly, "What! Jenna delivered... already, oh shit...I mean wow...is she okay?"
Tess smiled and looked at the scene, "Well I am no horsey expert, but by the look of things I would say that both mother and..." She twisted her head looking closely at the foal, "son I think...are doing fine."
Nikki lunged herself into Tess's arms smiling widely; she tried to keep herself from laughing hysterically, not wanting to cause alarm to mare or foal. "Quick, do you have your mobile out here?"
"Yeah it's in my jacket why?"
"I gotta ring Monica and let her know...she will have to come and check things over." Nikki found the mobile phone in the jackets inside pocket, and proceeded to dial the vet's number, "I can't believe it happened to soon...we were sure she had at least a few days left." Nikki stopped talking suddenly as the phone was answered at the other end of the line. The conversation was quick as Nikki informed the vet of the news and the woman stated that she would be on her way.
Tess moved to her knees and looked over at the mare and foal, "Nik, should we do anything?" She asked in a light whisper, not wanting to break the moment.
Nikki bit her lip, "Um what's going on...is he nursing yet?"
"Oh yes, firmly latched to his mother."
"That's good...it's important for him to feed as soon as possible. Jenna's colostrum will provide him with all the necessary antibodies to help protect him against infection." Nikki reached out and found Tess's arm, she slid down until she was able to grasp the larger hand. "We really should leave them alone, but it important to wash the umbilical cord with iodine to prevent septicaemia. I think I will wait for Monica for that though, unless you feel like doing it while I hold Jenna."
Tess grimaced, "Can it wait, I really don't like the sound of touching things I know nothing about."
A slight nod, "I am sure it will be okay...Monica should be here very soon anyway."
Sitting down into the hay, Tess crossed her legs, "So Nik, have any idea what you are going to name him?" She just couldn't keep the smile from her face as she watched the scene in front of her.
Nikki placed herself by the woman's side, "I don't know, I was kind of thinking you would like the honours."
"Really?" Tess thought hard, "Hmm, I don't know...are you sure."
"Of course." The blonde stated surely, "Just look at him, what name springs out at you?"
Looking long and hard at the foal, Tess considered the possibilities, "Well he is black in colour like his father, and he has this white mark down his nose that is shaped like a carrot." She frowned, "You know when I was younger I had a little black stuffed animal...it was a horse, and I called it Jasper. How about that...I like that name."
Nikki nodded, "Hmm...Jasper, hey I like it...Jasper it is." She sniggered, "You used to name your stuffed toys?"
The brunette scowled as she looked down, "Watch it blondie," she warned.
"Oh hey I wasn't making fun...honest." She tried so hard to keep the smile off her face, "I mean, I bet Jasper is still up stairs hidden among your collection of stuffed teddies right?"
"Actually no." The photographer sulked, "Leto used him as a chew toy about two years ago...bit his head right off. I came home and found little pieces of white stuffing all over the house."
She pursed her lips trying so hard not to laugh, "Uh hum."
Tess fought to contain the lopsided smirk that spread across her features. She looked down at a suffering Nikki, "Oh go on I can just tell you are dying to do it...go on get it over with."
And with that, the blonde (not wanting to unnerve the horses) fell into a silent laughter. She closed her eyes, her shoulders shaking uncontrollably.
"Tell anybody and I will inflict the worst punishment possible," the brunette warned jokingly.
Nikki shook her head, "Oh don't worry T," she chuckled, "nobody would believe me even if I did."
Tess folded her arms; pout truly in place. "Good," she muttered.
End of chapter 4
To be continued...
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