Second Chance

By Sunflower (aka Ali F.)

January 2003

Disclaimers: The characters in this story sure look like those drop dead gorgeous ladies from that show we all love, but trust me, it's not them. Unfortunately, Xena and all others belong to the nice folks over at MCA/Universal, not me L . However, THIS story, characters and everything else are the sole possession of the author and may not be reproduced, posted, translated or sold without the author's permission. Sorry, but yes, you will have to beg.

There are graphic descriptions of two consenting adult women in sexual situations in this story, so if that bothers you for whatever reason, don't read it. Or even better, review your concepts, you have no idea of what you're missing. Now, if for any reason it is illegal for you to view such material, then do yourself a favor and move. In the meantime, do me a favor and don't read this until it is no longer a crime for you do so. Why do bad drivers follow me around, regardless of where I am?

A special thanks to my beta readers Maria and Ethel... I'm starting to think I can not live without you!!!

All comments are welcomed! Please write to sunflower25br@yahoo.com.br

**************

Melanie was working late, as usual. The little guy with the jackhammer was also working late inside her skull, her headache so strong that it would even get the Dalai Lama to commit a serious attempt against life. After reviewing the last manila folder sitting on her inbox, she checked her watch and blew out a resigned breath as it read 2 a.m. 'That's what I get for wanting to be top, top, top... I get top, top, top work shoved up my...' she let her eyes wander across her desk, taking note of something that didn't quite belong.

A small package was sitting on the left corner, conspicuously hiding behind her inbox. Her curiosity getting the best of her forced her to move towards the package, a little cautious at first, but then eager after she spotted the note left by Lauren, her assistant. In nicely handwritten letters it read "I know you hate these, but this one is worth it. Hope you can find it in your BIG kind heart to forgive me." Melanie snorted at the comment, "Ha... big, kind heart. She must be delusional." As she opened the package, her eyes squinted in anger when she saw what the material was. 'Lauren, you bad puppy... I hate demo tapes, and you KNOW IT.'

Being one of the top agents for celebrities in the southeast USA, Melanie received thousands of demo tapes every week. From day one she had instructed her staff that not only did she not accept demo tapes, but also she despised them. "Good artists don't need demo tapes. They don't look for us, we look for them," she remembered herself saying time after time, and still she had a damned demo tape in her hands. Her first instinct was to trash the stupid thing, but on the other hand, this could be a valuable opportunity to learn what her assistant considered 'worth it.' She inserted the tape in the VCR and waited for the machine to do its business. Melanie's eyes almost popped out of their sockets when she spotted a known face displayed on the 40" flat screen in her office. The sound of her own voice startled her as she jumped to her feet, still wide eyed "KRIS??"

"Holly, sweet Jesus... what the... I can't believe it. It's really her... Kristen Dallowe."

Melanie was so involved in her own babbling she paid no attention to the performance of the short blonde with big emerald green eyes on the screen in front of her. Memories of her clumsy self, drooling over the blond cheerleader filled her mind. Kristen Dallowe was every boy's dream, she was the perfect homecoming queen, the perfect prom queen, hell, Kristen was the perfect everything. It seemed that any important event at Logham High had Kristen Dallowe's touch all over it. She was in all the plays, editor of the school paper, cheerleader captain and of course, girlfriend of the school's most famous quarterback, Brett Cummings. Melanie, on the other hand, was a very shy, very tall, very clumsy teenager. The kind everyone made fun of, except for Kristen. The blonde always seemed to have a smile to spare. Melanie looked forward to her chemistry class, the only class where she actually had someone to talk to. Despite the other kids' mocking, Kristen never seemed to mind pairing with Melanie for lab. By the end of their senior year, Melanie had found many more interesting things about Kristen other than her good spirits and nice attitude. After graduation and subsequent end of the school year, they lost contact with each other. During her college years Melanie found herself constantly thinking of her perky short mate from high school.

College was a time of revelations for Melanie, she found out she wasn't so tall, after all, or so clumsy either. She discovered an inner strength she didn't know existed and also that, regardless of her wishes, her eyes would eventually lie on girls, and not boys, like most other girls. Being in the middle of southeast nowhere, she thought, sucked.

Her first real sexual experience with women came when she moved to New York, in order to become the best friggin agent of the East Coast. Her career blossomed parallel to her personality. Melanie became a confident, determined businesswoman, a real shark in her field. It seemed like she could turn anyone into a star, and so she did, including herself.

Whenever she could find spare time, she would hit the bars and hunt for one night stands to fill in the gap in her chest and release some pent-up frustration. On rare occasion she would find someone who could put a patch in her heart, and whenever that was the case, she would run. Being in control was important, it was essential for her survival in wild New York.

The tape finished playing and Melanie awoke from her reverie to stare at a blue screen. She decided to take the tape home and give it another look during the weekend. She left her office, still thinking about a certain blonde whom was now awakening all of Melanie's instincts with long gone memories of shared showers during PE class. 'Ok, Warriors, there better be an interesting crowd tonight...' she thought as she drove through Atlanta's streets towards the city's best girls-only club, Warriors, with a single objective in mind, releasing some of the energy the end of her workday had brought into her body, especially her lower body parts.

**************

Kristen still wondered how she went from Miss Most Likely to Succeed, to a nobody who sang at the worst low life, dark pub of Marville, GA. After her high school graduation all her college plans and career dreams as a singer were traded for a marriage to Brett. Kristen was a vivacious woman with an artist's soul. Brett wanted nothing else of life than to go to work, make some money and come home to watch football games with his buddies. They rarely talked and it didn't take too long for both to discover their marriage was a mistake. Fortunately this mistake did not result in children. Their break-up was nice and quiet and each one went on with their lives. They promised to stay in touch, but their lack of mutual interests eventually drove them away apart.

Tonight was no different than most nights. Kristen was singing to a crowd of drunk, stinking men. They didn't care whether she was singing Shania Twain's latest hit or Ten Little Indians, they never paid attention to what came out of her mouth, but their eyes paid tribute to every twist her body made up on stage. After she finished her last piece, she thanked the crowd as usual and walked off stage, muttering under her breath "Yeah, thank you assholes... I really couldn't have done it tonight without the jerking off motions I got from the peanut gallery... BASTARDS."

She stormed into the manager's office and yanked the door open; almost scaring to death the middle aged fat pig who sat behind a filthy desk with a girl who could be his granddaughter attached to his waist like an octopus. At first startled, the couple kept on going about their business disregarding Kris' presence. She looked at the disgusting scene playing before her, and squeezed her eyes shut in an attempt to make it all go away. She opened them slowly and absorbed the office, its smell and mostly, its occupants and with that, she made her decision. 'I deserve better. I deserve a second chance at life.'

"You know what, Bob? You are one hell of a disgusting pig, but of course, that's no news, not to you, not to me, not to the aliens in outer space. And you know what else, Bob?" she said taking a dangerously closer step to the astonished half dressed man, whose eyes seemed about to fly out of his face and hit the wall on the other side of the room.

He cleared his throat and asked in a shaky hoarse tone, "What?"

"I don't like dirt, so I don't mix with pigs", she said enunciating each word carefully.

"Uhhh?? What do you mean?" he asked, looking very confused.

'Did I really expect him to understand that? The heat must be getting to me, my brain is melting' she thought, before explaining to Bob what she meant.

"Let me make this easy for you, Bobby. You're a pig, this place is a dump and I don't mix with your kind, MEANING, I'm out of here. Goodbye!"

She left the pigsty of an office with the biggest smile of her life, feeling a sense of freedom she had never experience before. 'Now I can work on giving myself a second chance.'

That night Kristen got home took a long cleansing shower, as if trying to clean the entire dirt she had lived with for so long. She prepared herself a light dinner and sat in front of the television. She zapped through the channels so fast she could barely tell what was on, she wasn't paying attention to the TV, her mind was spinning with the opportunities and also the difficulties she would have to face the next morning.

In between one click and another on the remote control, her attention was caught by a glimpse of blue she had only seen once. She flipped back to David Letterman's Late Show where he was hosting a tall, elegant brunette, giving an interview on how she managed to make nobodies become superstars.

Kristen felt her throat tightening from surprise. "Holy cow... clumsy Mel, look at yourself. Oh, my... Ares will you take a look at that?" she asked her cat, who was lying on top of the television, with a paw hanging right in the middle of the screen. The black Persian simply looked up as if she had grown a second head and went right back to his sleep.

"Thanks buddy. That was some enthusiastic response." She gave her cat an evil look and went back to the interview. It was all so interesting, her brain almost fried trying to process the information coming from the telly. How the shy, clumsy kid she met at high school became this brilliant businesswoman wearing a red Armani suit and talking as if she owned the world was beyond Kristen's comprehension.

A few minutes further in the interview, dumbstruck and in awe of that lonely awkward kids' magnificent accomplishment, Kris realized her mouth was hanging open and a line of drool was working its way down the corner of her mouth, following a slow trek to the front of her shirt. 'Mel, I was the one voted most likely to be successful. Look at you. I am so proud of you.'

Grinning, she wiped absently at the drool and had a thought that could change her life if she had the guts to go through with it. 'I'd love to congratulate her on her phenomenal success. If I knocked on her door, would she remember me? Do I have the nerve to ask her for her advise on what I should do next after the 'playing the dives' phase? No, no, Kris, you can't just show up on her door, she'll know why you're there, and that's not to congratulate her. I can't do that to her. No. Just can't. I'll find some other way.' With conflicting thoughts that her appearance at Mel's office would not be well received, Kris decided a note congratulating Mel would be more appropriate, and maybe she could attach the one demo tape she made, so Mel could take a look at her and give her some advice.

With that settled she went off in search of the perfect card to convey her heartfelt congratulations. Kris had not turned into someone who would take advantage of others, even after working for pigs like Bob, she had a good heart and that never changed.

**************

Melanie stepped out of the elevator on the 15th floor early in the morning, she liked the quietness of this time of the day, it helped her prepare for the battles she had to fight. Being the president of a PR and publicity agency, whose main purpose was artistic head hunting, was never easy and by being the founder and single owner of this particular agency made the task even harder. Despite all the aggravation and demands of her position, she enjoyed it thoroughly.

She turned her desktop on and checked her e-mail, mentally taking notes of her priorities for the day. The last e-mail had a smiley face on the title that read "Do you forgive me?" Melanie felt a small smile crease her face and she double clicked on the e-mail line. She scanned Lauren's message and giggled every once in a while. She hit reply and started typing taking her time to enjoy the moment.

"Yes I forgive you, but you'll pay for it for ages and ages to come. So, why don't we start now?? That way I can make you start paying me for other stuff you owe me earlier. J Call Ms. Mallowe, she shouldn't be too hard to find, Marville is a hole in the middle of nowhere, not many hiding places there. Trust me, I know, I came from there. Ok, you can pick up your jaw from the ground now, Lauren. Try to set up a meeting with her for tomorrow at the latest. She's got potential, but we have a lot of work ahead of us and the sooner we get started... the sooner we get paid.

Don't tell her I'm the one meeting her, say it's one of the managers. I don't want to raise her hopes too high.

Thanks!

Mel

PS By the way, that was a good catch. Stop by HR, they should have a little bonus package for you... if she proves to be as good as you believe, we'll talk a serious salary raise. Get to work, Lauren."

With that done she turned her chair around, faced the city's skyline and got ready for a new day.

**************

Kristen was so nervous she was sure everyone else in the elevator could hear her heart thumping in her chest. Her eyes were glued to the lights showing the floors they were passing. When the light for the 15th floor lit up her heart stopped. She wiped the sweaty palms of her hands on her dress, straightened her sleeves, took a deep breath and walked out of the small compartment that held her somewhat safe.

From the moment she stepped out into the hallway, she could feel the power the place held, there was a tension in the air that showed her that work was getting done here and that made her at the same time more nervous, but also relieved. 'Ok, now I only need to avoid making a complete fool of myself. This is the right place, I can feel it.'

The receptionist greeted her and asked her to take a seat that it would only be a moment, she then called Lauren and told her that Ms. Mallowe was waiting at reception. Lauren came to the reception area right away and showed Kris inside the large office space, filled with smaller offices on all sides.

"Ms. Mallowe I'm sorry but the person who was to see you was tied up at a big meeting this morning and cannot talk to you right now. If you don't mind..." Lauren continued, but was abruptly cut short by Kristen's comment.

"Oh, no I don't mind at all. I understand these things happen all the time, and I'm sure it was something very important, and..." she suddenly realized she was babbling and being rude, "I'm sorry, you were saying?" 'Shut up, Kris.'

Lauren hid a tiny smile, 'Oh, my... she's nervous. I can't wait to see the two of them together, this should be interesting.'

"If you don't mind, I would like to show you to our little studio in the back of the office to start recording some background material. This is pretty standard procedure for all new potential contracts, all the material produced today will be kept in your file and will not be disclosed or used for any purposes without your permission" Lauren explained.

Kristen was a bit confused by all this professional talk, no one ever asked her if she minded recording something, much less told her they would ask for her permission to use it. And a potential contract, that sure was new to her, she was used to getting paid lousy bucks by the hour at the end of the day, no contracts, no attachments.

"Sure, that sounds great" she finally said snapping out of her shock.

Kristen went through all the routine of recordings and auditions expected in this kind of business. The small studio Lauren had mentioned seemed to her like the best studio in the East Coast, it had several pieces of sound equipment she had never seen or even heard of.

Kris did the best she could in all the activities she was submitted to, she put her heart and soul in all songs and her nerves settled after the first couple of tests. Her smile grew naturally and her body assumed its stage posture with such intensity it seemed to the audition crew she was performing to a huge crowd.

A pair of crystal blue eyes watched every motion of the petite blonde on the other side of the recording room. Her mind was spinning with the endless possibilities she could see coming for Kristen. She had talent, she had a great voice, but most important she had charisma.

Melanie's heart was also spinning, but not from work perspectives. She expected to be nervous about meeting her high school crush, but she certainly didn't expect to chicken out of it when the time came. Lauren's idea of coming up with some excuse and sending Kris directly to the studio was a lifesaver, it gave Melanie time to cool off and the opportunity to see Kris without being seen.

Melanie elbowed Lauren and whispered softly, "I'm all right now. You can bring her to my office as soon as she's done with this one." Before she left she winked at her assistant and said, "Very good catch indeed, Lauren. Good job!" As Melanie was crossing the door she caught a glimpse of her assistant's puffed chest as she instructed the technicians, "Ok guys. Let's wrap this up." Melanie smiled inwardly and headed back to her office.

**************

Melanie heard the light knock on her door, and taking a deep breath said in a vibrant controlled voice "Come in." She watched with interested eyes as Lauren stepped inside her office and was followed by a petite blonde, who looked truly surprised to see Melanie and not some small sector manager. Lauren excused herself and left the two high school friends alone. Neither said a word, they simply looked in each other's eyes as if testing the waters.

Kristen took it all in as a delightful surprise. Her friend had changed so much and yet there were some vital characteristics of Mel that had gone untouched. She always knew the kid had potential and there was a whole lot more underneath her shy façade than she would let people see. Kristen had been the only person allowed inside Melanie's true personality and she found out that her tall friend was indeed a fascinating, witty and funny person.

Melanie on the other hand was not surprised to see that Kristen was still as vibrant as she had always been. She was still the same person who could do it all, who could be the best in anything she tried. Mel was however, shocked to see in person what little accomplishments Kristen had made given her natural talent for success. She could see the slight shaking of Kristen's hands and realized that her friend was just as nervous as she was, despite her efforts to look calm.

After a minute of staring and mutual analysis, they both started laughing.

"Oh my god, look at us. We look like complete morons staring at each other, analyzing all the details as if we had never met" Kristen said, feeling much more relaxed.

Melanie flashed her a 1000-watt smile, "I know. We're pathetic. Can we start acting normal now?"

"Please, spare me the... Good afternoon, Ms. Brooks, it's a true pleasure to be meeting with you. Who should I thank for the honor?" Melanie said as she moved towards Kristen and took her by the hand.

That brought a second round of laughter and Melanie motioned for Kristen to take a seat.

"Please, spare us both of that. So, tell me, how's life? What have you been doing? Did my staff treat you all right? Can I get you anything?" suddenly Melanie felt like a high school teenager all over again and was not capable of keeping her mouth shut.

"Mel?" Kris asked.

"Huh? What?" Mel replied.

"You're babbling."

"Oh, right. Sure" she smiled.

"Thanks. I'm fine, your staff was super nice to me. You've got a great assistant. And about life, life in Marville doesn't really change, you know? Same ole, same ole" she finished, not really wanting to tell her friend that she had married a loser and with time became one as well.

"I see. Well, do you want to discuss the details of your contract and how I plan to work things from now on, or would you like to think about all this and discuss technicalities later?" Melanie asked, truly concerned she was pushing a little too hard, too fast.

Kristen not being one to procrastinate and actually scared she might lose this golden opportunity replied "Now is as good a time as ever. Let's get down to business, shall we?"

Melanie's smile broadened with the realization that her friend's instinct for business, matched her own. 'She goes for the kill, no fooling around.'

Their afternoon soon turned into night as they discussed the technical and legal aspects of Kristen's new career. Melanie explained her responsibilities as far as promotion and releases and Kris' responsibilities in order to make it all work.

"If we want to make you into a star Kris, first thing you have to know is from now on you are already a star. You'll dress, talk and think like a star. You have to know inside your guts you are already a star. If you don't believe in yourself, no one else will. There are plenty of people out there with enough talent to make it, but only a few with the guts and will power to actually do it. So, I ask you, my friend, do you want to be a star?" Melanie asked in a serious tone, knowing this would be the turning point and most important moment of their whole conversation.

Kris took her time and considered the question. The frown in her brow showed Melanie she was lost in some serious thinking.

She lifted her gaze until it met a serious pair of blue eyes and said slowly, "You asked me if I want to be a star. My reply to you is..." she felt her breath catching up "no."

Melanie felt her heart stop beating, she opened her mouth to protest but was stopped by a vivacious blonde standing nose to nose with her.

"Hell, no, my friend. I don't want to be a star. I already am one" was Kristen's final reply.

They both smiled at each other and Melanie blew a relieved breath saying "Ok, Kris, let's get to work then... but tomorrow. Now I need a shower, a hot dinner and a good night of sleep. You almost gave me a stroke here."

Kris chuckled at her friend's manners and followed her out of the office towards the elevators.

"You know what, Ms. Brooks? You haven't changed that much," she elbowed her friend.

"You think so, Ms. Mallowe?" she gave her friend a naughty grin, "but I know something that will change very soon" she said as the doors to the elevator were closing.

"Oh yeah, and what's that?" Kris asked, her curiosity peeking.

"Your name..." Melanie replied laughing loudly at her friend's shocked face.

As the elevator started downward a loud "No way!" was heard throughout the darkened offices on the 15th floor, followed by another loud laugh from an excited brunette.

**************

Kris was amazed at how much work it actually took to promote a new artist. She found herself constantly locked up in studios recording the songs that would feature in her first CD or in other studios taking photographs and working at promotion materials. She and Melanie readily agreed that everything involving the CD would be discussed between the two and that she would fully participate in all the steps involving her new career.

Melanie was a bit anxious at first, but soon found herself relaxing as Kristen proved her value not only as a great singer and artist, but also as a clever and creative producer. They had meetings twice a week to go over the accomplishments and to discuss their next steps. After six months of close work, Kristen found her friendship with Melanie growing by the day and her admiration for the strong woman who was helping her change her life by the minute.

One Friday night, after a long and exhausting week Kristen was at the studio in the back of the agency checking some of the remix the crew had left for her review when she felt the nape of her neck hair lifting from a known presence. Without turning or moving her eyes from the editing island she said, "Hello boss. What are you doing here so late?"

Melanie felt a tiny smile on her lips and took a step closer to Kristen before answering "Just wondering what my favorite singer was up to." She placed a strong hand on Kristen's shoulder and felt a sudden chill cross her spine.

Kristen laid her head back leaning against Melanie's firm abdomen and was captured by the fire in Melanie's eyes that left her gasping for air. She quickly moved away from the tall woman standing behind her feeling her stomach turning into knots.

Kristen had always been attracted to Melanie since their high school days, in those days however, she did not understand why she had butterflies in her stomach whenever she saw or even thought of the tall brunette. Since she started working with Melanie she had heard rumors about her being gay, but her friend never showed any interest other than friendship, so Kristen resigned herself to accepting Melanie's actions as nothing but simply a friend's attentive courtesy.

Melanie felt the awkwardness of the moment and instantly missed touching Kris. She quickly recovered from the embarrassment of having crossed a line and moved towards the door. "Well, as I said just checking up on you. I'm out of here. Good night, Kris."

Kris felt like a fool. 'Why am I running from her when all I want to do is run towards her?'

"Mel, wait!" she blurted out trying to halt Melanie's quick escape. Melanie turned around and faced emerald green eyes that made her heart skip a beat. "Yeah?" she said, expecting Kristen to say something work related.

"I'm a little hungry and was wondering if you would like to keep me company?" she said, blushing a little.

Melanie gave her a crooked smile and folded her arms across her chest. "Is this some major sucking up to the boss or do you really feel like hanging out with a clumsy, too tall, shy Melanie?"

Kris made an exaggerated cross my heart motion as she replied, "Oh, dear boss, I promise there will be no sucking up involved." 'Rats.' "And yes, I would love to hang out with my best geek friend."

"Geek, huh? We'll see who's a geek after I get done messing with your name..."

**

They arrived at the restaurant still arguing about Kristen's last name. After ordering their dinner, Kris gave Melanie a serious look and inquired, "Ok, for real now. What's wrong with Mallowe?"

"Kris, please don't get upset with me, but Mallowe is not exactly a commercial name. It's long and not easy to spell. We need something short, that sticks to your mind in a second, you know?" she asked a bit uncertain of Kris'reaction.

Kris lowered her eyes and thought about that, "I see. That makes sense... do you have anything in mind?"

"Honestly?... NO. I have no clue of a good name for you. It's been giving me horrible headaches, but I can't think of anything good" Melanie replied relieved to see that Kris was not upset.

"How about Knott?" Kris asked. Melanie twisted her nose. "Hall?" Another nose twist. "Banks, Alston, Mitchell, Keeler???" All caused ugly faces from Melanie, to which Kris said "Ok, brains, I give up... your turn."

A sudden thought crossed her mind and Melanie smiled brightly. She straightened in her chair, cleared her throat and looked deeply into Kris' eyes, "Marry me?"

Kris felt her heart stop and before she could hold it the liquid in her mouth was flying across the table and hitting Melanie all over.

"Ok. I'll take that as no" Melanie joked.

Kris was still too shocked to say something, so Melanie went on "Good thing it's only water, otherwise this would probably stain," she said laughing lightly before she continued her speech to a dumbstruck Kristen.

"Hey, snap out of it... it was not a real proposal, I just thought I should ask before I let you use my name, that's all."

"Pardon me?" Kris managed to say still hearing bells going off in the recesses of her mind, "What did you say?"

"I said I thought I should ask before I let you use my name, Ms. Kris Brooks" she said casually, as if it was the most common thing for her to ask Kris to marry her. "So, what do you think?" she asked, pleased with Kris' reaction, 'So, she thought I was serious... I wonder what the answer would be...' she let herself drift in the prospect and then suddenly reality knocked on her door 'Wake up, mush brains... she was shocked because there is no way, no how... not because she actually thought about it.'

Kris got over her initial shock; swallowed a big gulp of water and started repeating after Melanie, "Kris Brooks... Kris Brooks... Krrrrriiiissss Brroooooookssss...."

"Yes, Kris, Kris Brooks. What do you think?" Melanie was losing her patience.

"Yes, I'll marry you" she replied with a huge grin on her face.

Melanie sported the most idiotic smile of sheer happiness on her face. 'She only said that because of the name, moron... Oh, but it sure sounds nice... what the heck, I might as well enjoy what little I can.'

She finished her inner battle and announced to the napkins who were witnessing the first gay marriage in history to take place at a cheap Mexican restaurant in Atlanta, GA, "I now declare us wife and wife..." and with that done they both burst out laughing.

**************

A year had passed and Melanie was pretty pleased with the outcome of her professional life. The agency had succeeded beyond her expectations and the profit revenues showed just that. Her pet project, working on Kris' career was also proving to be a success in the making. Officially Kris Brooks had not been presented to the general public, but the press got word that Melanie was about to release a new star and the rumors were making their way into the overly eager for gossip tabloids and into other more respectable media. Her personal life, however, was a completely different story.

Melanie was lying on the couch of her comfortable condo in Buckhead, one of the nicest neighborhoods of Atlanta. Her analytical mind was reviewing the facts of her poor love life and no answers were coming out of her mental munching.

'Give it up, Mel. There isn't a single reason... your love life is screwed up because, well, because it's screwed up... that's it.' Being around her blonde dream almost 24/7 hadn't helped much, since she was convinced her friend was straight and not the least interested in her.

Melanie had tried to date other women, mostly to try and get Kristen out of her mind. All of it proved useless in the end. Kristen permeated her every thought and whenever she wasn't in Melanie's mind, she was live and in color before her eyes. 'How can I stop thinking about her when all I do is be around her??' Melanie thought further about her future and the decision she saw coming, 'You'll have to stay away from her, Melanie. Get used to it. Her career is almost on the go and I won't be there to baby-sit her every step.' It hurt just to think of not being around Kristen anymore, but Melanie knew it was not only inevitable, it was necessary. She was going crazy with love and had nowhere to vent it.

Melanie walked into her kitchen still lost in thought, she opened the fridge, got a cold bottle of ice tea and started drinking from it when she almost choke as she looked outside to her yard. Standing right outside of her kitchen was a perky blonde waving. Melanie walked towards the floor to ceiling glass doors that led to the outside patio and slide the door opened feeling the heat wave from outside hitting her across the face.

"Sweet Jesus, it's hot out there, come on inside" she said pulling the short woman by the arm.

"Hello, boss. Good to see you too." Kris replied smiling.

"Very funny! What are you doing here on a Sunday afternoon anyhow? Don't you have anything better to do than stalk on your boss?" she asked mischievously.

"Stalking??? Excuse me, but I rang your door bell three times. I knew you were home cuz I saw your car outside, so I decided to get adventurous and jumped the fence. You should be glad I did not get caught in those bushes back there, or you would have a very much scratched star on the making to work with" the blonde retorted.

She smiled even more mischievously than her boss did as she proceeded, "But since you didn't hear the door bell, I can only assume you were very busy in here. Are you with someone?" she asked as she tried to peak past Melanie's height.

"Stop that." Melanie said as she brushed her hair back feeling very much tongue-tied. 'Yes, I was very busy... thinking of you, silly.'

"I'm alone and I guess I was just daydreaming..." Melanie finally spilled out.

"Ooohhh... Mel was daydreaming... may I know who the was the lucky gal you're thinking of?" Kristen kept her teasing.

"You. And how did you know I was thinking of a girl?" Melanie asked before she could stop herself.

"Me?? What were you thinking about me?" Kristen asked, her curiosity very tickled by this new bit of information.

"Yeah, you... don't raise your hopes too high, Ms. Me???, batting your eyes. It was work daydreaming. And you still have not answered my question." Melanie finished feeling relieved for her quick cover up.

"I see. And as of your question, well, I heard rumors, you know..." Kris answered a bit disappointed.

"No, I don't know," Melanie retorted, "enlighten me!" she finished crossing her arms over her chest in a very protective attitude.

"Uh, oh... did I just step in a mine field here, Mel? Is this a bad time? Are you in a bad mood, should I get my butt out of here before it's too late?" Kristen tried to lighten up the mood, to what she only got a raised eyebrow which spoke more than a thousand words.

"Fine," the blond gave up throwing her hands in the air, "there was some gossip in the break room at the agency about you seeing some hot shot from New York who was here. I didn't pay much attention to it until I saw the two of you chit-chatting on the press conference last week."

'Ohhhh, that....' Melanie thought. She was actually amused that Kristen thought she and Karen were flirting when in reality, Mel was pouring her feelings for Kris on her good friend, one night stand ex, ears. 'Poor, Karen. She sure seemed happy to get on that plane back to NY. I'm sure she would barf an alien if she heard me saying one more Kris this, Kris that...'

"Well, and??" Melanie inquired, still standing in her defense posture.

"And nothing, Mel... you're a grown woman, you do whatever you want with your personal life. Not that I think Ms. Tall, red-head, New York attitude was a good match for you, but that's just my humble opinion." Kris finished feeling jealous all of a sudden.

"I see. And if tall, red-head and Yankee won't do it, who do you think I should be looking for?" Melanie asked taking a step closer to Kris, narrowing her eyes and locking her gaze with the shorter woman's.

Kristen's throat felt dry and her hands began to sweat. "Uhhh.... I don't know. Someone closer to you, I guess." Kristen said in a shaky voice while she took a step backwards.

"Closer how?" Melanie asked in a dubious tone taking another step forward and giving Kris a dangerously beautiful blue stare.

"How??? Uhhh... I would say someone who wasn't so far away from you, you know? New York is, uhhh, pretty, pretty far away." Kris replied taking another step backwards and feeling the cold kitchen wall pressing against her back. 'Uh,oh... trapped' she thought, but it was too late.

Melanie practically pounced on her prey, pinning her to the wall and finalizing her hunt in a purr "Well, you could say that. So, according to your rationality I should look for someone geographically closer to me." She stopped a bit and looked up and down their glued bodies, "I can't think of anyone closer than you, Kris." Melanie finished with a raised eyebrow and labored breath.

**************

It all happened so fast, Melanie was caught totally off guard. She didn't expect Kris to take her lips and to hold her so tightly, at all. Her mind was spinning with this new unexpected move from the shorter woman whom she ardently desired, and since Melanie was not one for complaining, she put her confusion aside and kissed Kris back.

Their passionate kiss slowed down and they took their time exploring each other's mouth. Kris' tongue drew delicate lines inside Melanie's mouth making the dark woman quiver with desire. Small hands roamed freely around Melanie's back, landing soft caresses that were making the tall woman light headed. After a few minutes of delight, Kris halted her movements, opened her eyes and started speaking, visibly embarrassed.

"Oh, my... Mel, I'm so sorry... I didn't mean to kiss you."

"Stop..." Mel warned her.

"I mean, I meant it, but I shouldn't have... and I'm so, so sorry, Gosh, this is so terrible..."

"Kris?? Listen to me..." Mel tried hopelessly.

Kris stammered her apologies until a sudden light of knowledge hit her, "wait a second, you kissed me back... you didn't pull away..." she said looking at Mel with renewed confidence.

"No, I didn't, that's what I'm trying to tell you here... if you'd let me..." Mel sort of asked.

Kris nodded her consent and looked up at diamond blue eyes filled with passion.

"Kris, you caught me off guard, I mean I sure didn't expect this, but I don't resent any of it. Actually I'm happy you had the guts to do what I've wanted to since high school..., mghft.. humpgfff" Melanie finished with Kris kissing her senseless once again.

The blonde dragged her taller companion up the stairs towards the master bedroom. A trail of clothes was left on their way to the bed and two very happy and fulfilled lovers spent the rest of the day exploring, tasting, touching and loving every inch of each other.

**

Kristen opened her eyes trying to focus her view on the dimly lit bedroom. She didn't recognize the settings around her, but her attention was caught by a long warm body entangled in hers. 'Well, hello there boss! It's nice waking up wrapped up in work like this...' she chuckled at her own thoughts.

Melanie opened a crystal blue orb and looked down at the giggly form inside her arms. "And what's so funny?" she asked.

Kris jumped startled and answered "Hi! You scared me..."

Melanie replied with a full smile in her face "Nobody has ever told me I'm a scary picture when naked, but I guess there's a first time for everything in life, huh?"

Kris pinned her giggling partner to the bed and enfolded her in a loving embrace, "No, silly... you're a great view when naked and you look very adorable with your hair sticking all over the place when you wake up" the blonde finished giggling too.

"Ah hem.. I see!!!" Mel said laughing harder while Kris poked her ribs "Cut that out, I'm ticklish..."

"Oohhhhh, a weak spot, this day gets better and better..." the blonde laughed enjoying this new experience. 'Play time after waking up at 7pm on a Sunday... that's new. Heck, everything that happened today is new...' with these thoughts she sat down and took Mel's hands in hers as her face went serious and a pensive frown formed on her brows.

Mel knew that look all too well, having seen it before and having sported it many times herself. 'Uh, oh... it was going all too well. Here we go!'

"So, what's on your mind?" the brunette asked.

"Just thinking..." came the shy reply.

"About us? About what happened? Or about how stupid the war against Iraq is?" Mel asked trying to lighten up the mood. 'Please don't run away now... not now...'

"Mel, all this is new to me. I mean, not just being with a woman, but being this relaxed... my marriage wasn't exactly a happy ride."

"Kris, take your time. If this is too much for you right now... I'll respect your wishes, I don't want to push you..." 'I don't want to lose you...' her mind screamed.

Kris looked at the tall brunette sitting in front of her, fear written all over her features. The shorter woman started wondering what was that could make Mel this scared. She reviewed their day, it had been perfect; the love making, extraordinary; the moments after they woke up, fun; which only left her with the words she had just told Melanie.

"Mel... are you afraid I don't want to take this any further?"

It felt like the world had just crashed under her. Melanie could barely think clear, all words failing her and hot tears stinging her eyes. No words were necessary, Kris finally understood.

"Oh, Mel... sweetie, I'm not going anywhere. I was just amazed at how different it all felt, how perfectly good it felt to be in your arms. This is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I can hardly believe I'm here with you. I mean I never thought you would be interested in me..." Kris said pulling the brunette into a tight embrace.

"Oh God..." Melanie managed to gasp out.

"Shhhh.... sweetie, relax. I'm here for good." Kris ensured her tall lover.

With that said they laid back down, comforting each other and quieting their inner fears, before falling into deep sleep. The night fell upon the two lovers entangled in bed sheets and each other's arms that held on tight, making sure they had one another.

**************

The crowd outside the hotel was wild. Teenagers, young adults and even older people were all gathered waiting for the moment Kris Brooks would step out to give an exclusive interview outside The Plaza, on one of the nicest hotels of New York City. Kris had been in the cover of all magazines in the country and in all the big talk shows. Her face was probably best known than the president's. She had been on the road releasing her first CD, which was a major hit, and her popularity had skyrocketed.

Kris could hear the hollows just outside her window and her anxiety was clearly showing in her features. She had had previous contact with crowds before, especially in the shows around the country, but never this many people and certainly not in New York.

A soft knock on her door made her forget her nervousness for a moment and one of her crew guys came in.
"Hey girl. How you doing?" Pablo asked her.

"Nervous as all hell..." Kris replied shyly.

"Relax. You'll be just fine. Big boss sent her best feelings, said she wishes she could be here today and that she'll be watching you on television..." he said ruffling some papers on his clipboard.

"Mel called?!? How come no one told me? I wanted to talk to her..." Kris said frustration evident in her voice.

She missed talking to Melanie, holding her, seeing her, making love to her, she missed Melanie all over. The tour took her away from home and her lover for almost 10 months now and it had been 2 months since she last landed foot in Atlanta and into Melanie's arms.

"Chill your jets, star girl. We're out the door in five and from there we head to Central Park Then you can go home and talk boss lady's ears off all you want, ok?" her crew assistant finished with a smirk as he left her room.

'Central Park... WOW. Who could tell? Kris Mallowe from nowhere Alabama singing live in Central Park. Guess I'll have to give Mel a special thanks when I get home...'

**

The concert was a knockout. Kris outdid herself, the crowd went nuts with her talent, style, good looks but mostly with her personality. Up on stage she was sweating charisma captivating the eyes and hearts of the thousands of fans that were singing along with her and the other millions accompanying the concert on television.

From what the technical crew told her the CD that was recorded during the concert would turn out to be a great one, probably a hit. Her release tour ended in grand style and she was as happy as she could be. There was a little party waiting for her backstage and everyone from the technical crew, dancers and band were celebrating the success their work turned out to be.

After popping the champagne, cheering Kris and remembering funny stories from their time together, the singer delivered a heartfelt speech that conveyed tears from most of those that heard her. Kris knew to give credit where credit was deserved, Mel had taught her that and she was very good at remembering details that made the difference, little things people did that meant a lot in the end. She made a point at thanking those who helped her by adding a little example of how great they were. Kris herself made a difference in those people's lives, not only by recognizing their professionalism but also for recognizing their personal effort.

All the staff laughed and cried at her speech and when she was done, they had a little surprise for her. Out of nowhere a cell phone appeared with a well-known voice on the other end.

"Hello there gorgeous... great speech!" Melanie purred.

"Hi sweetie!!!" Kris replied with a huge grin plastered on her face.

"Congratulations, my love. You were explendid tonight. I wish I was there in person to have seen it, but you know how crazy things are down here at the agency." Mel said with some sadness in her voice.

"Yes, I do." Kris said as she stepped away from the loud crowd and sat on top of an equipment box in one corner, "but that's okay, I'm sure you can properly congratulate me when I get home in a few hours" she said smiling and not noticing a shadowy figure hiding close by listening intently.

"Ohhhhh, I like" was Mel's reply as she started imagining a nice congratulations and welcome back candle light dinner for her lover.

"You do, don't you? Melanie Brooks, you are so twisted I cannot even begin to describe it..." Kris laughed enjoying their relaxed playing. The ears near her enjoying every revelation this conversation was bringing up.

"Well, I may be twisted, but you sure like it" Melanie fired back.

"Of course I like it, after all I'm the one who gets to enjoy it, my love. Or are you trying to say you've been spreading it around while I was gone??" Kris asked picking on her partner.

"Silly girl... I miss you, Kris. Come home to me, ok?" Mel said more seriously.

"Yes, sir! I should be there in a few hours, in your arms, in our bed, enjoying all that twist of yours," Kris laughed.

"Okay, see you in a bit." Melanie replied with a smile on her lips and the promise of some quiet loving time with Kris.

"See you soon, my love" Kris said before hanging up.

She walked back to the crowd of staff and said out loud, "Okay, folks! Time to wrap up and go home. We all deserve some quiet, nice, REST time!"

Everyone raised their glasses and cheered once more.

While the crowd started packing up to go home the shadowy figure laughed to himself at the irony of Kris' last words. 'Let's see how quiet, nice and restful your life will become when I'm done with spreading some news, Ms. Brooks.'

**************

Kris opened the front door and scanned the condo looking for Melanie. The dim lights on the patio gave her the hint of where her lover was. She dropped her bags and went after the person permeating her every thought for the past year. She passed by the kitchen and the sight of a cold ceramic wall reminded her of their first kiss. She was amazed and happy to realize that her relationship with Melanie had become stronger and that their feelings for each other had grown even more with time.

Her eyes caught view of Melanie laying on a long recliner on the patio deck. The sight of her lover's long sleek body made Kristen's mouth water with anticipation. Two months away from one another, she decided, was too damn long. She slid the glass door open and stepped outside.

Melanie stood up and without a word took Kris in her arms. They held on for dear life, simply enjoying the warmth of each other's body. Their moment was so intense that both women had tears running down their cheeks. Melanie held Kris' face in her hands and with a shy smile whispered, "I love you! I missed you."

Kris smiled back and replied, "I missed you too. How about we plan our travelling together from now on?"

"Deal" was the last word that left Melanie's lips before she kissed Kris while taking her clothes off.

The duo jumped naked in the warm Jacuzzi that awaited them with two glasses of champagne nearby. The hot bubbly water made Melanie's skin tingle and Kris' hungry mouth on her breasts made her heartbeat race. She wasn't sure if it was the water or her own wetness that was coating her inner thighs. The sight of her blonde lover sucking her nipples was driving her insane and she was gasping for air from it.

"Love" Melanie moaned, "you're making me so horny..."

"That's the point, sweetie," Kris drawled in a sexy tone, "but don't forget to breathe" she added with a chuckle.

Melanie closed her eyes and let her mind drift with the sensations her lover was giving her. Touching, she decided, was indeed a very interesting sense. She felt her skin burn with desire on every inch Kris kissed or touched. Her lover's natural ability for sex was another plus that she could not forget.

"God, you're good..." Melanie panted heavily.

"Why, thank you ma'am..." Kris replied and went back to her tasting.

Melanie's smell, the velvety softness of her skin, the delicious taste of her sweat and desire were filling Kris' senses and almost driving her over the edge. Even after all this time together, it still surprised her how much simply touching Melanie turned her on. She had never felt this way before and it was a nice welcomed change from her past experiences. Kris felt Melanie tremble under her and that fueled her own desire even more. She could not have enough of this woman. She wanted to taste all of her.

Melanie climbed over the edge of the tub, exposing more of herself for her lover to take. The fire in Kris' eyes reflected her own and for a moment they locked gazes and no words in the universe could convey what their hearts poured through their eyes. Kris pushed the dark woman down on the patio over a thick towel carefully placed there and went down to savor Melanie's desire.

It was all too much and Melanie could not hold any longer what her body had craved for months. She let the orgasm hit her like a blast and at moment more than ever before her world became a short blonde with sparkling green eyes. The moon and the stars were the only witnesses to the moans of pleasure that followed the reunion of the two lovers that night.

**

Kris heard the phone ringing, but refused to let go of the nice dream she was having. She hid her head under the pillow and squeezed her eyes in a vain effort to make the damn thing stop ringing. Melanie had gone out running, so it was either she answered the phone or let it ring forever. After the fourth ring, she made her mind up.

"WHAT???" she shouted on the receiver.

"Melanie?" came the shy question.

"No. She's out, call later" Kris spat back.

"Kris?" the caller tested the waters.

"Yes..." Kris replied in a softer tone.

"Sorry to wake you up, boss lady, but we've got some urgent issues " the caller informed her.

"Lauren, I'm sorry, I was half asleep..." Kris apologized mentally kicking herself for going off on Melanie's assistant.

"I noticed, but don't worry about that. I think you have much bigger problems than shouting at me right now, Kris" Lauren said in a worried tone.

"What do you mean, Lauren? What's the matter?" Kris asked nervously.

"Where is Melanie?" Lauren asked.

"She's out running, she should be around the neighborhood" Kris replied with a frown on her face.

"I'm in my car on my way there, I'll try to find her and bring her home" Lauren said as she pulled out of her driveway.

"Lauren, you're scaring me. What's wrong?" Kris asked feeling her stomach turning into knots.

"Shit just hit the fan, Kris" Lauren finally answered "the press knows about you and Melanie."

Kris felt the world collapse under her feet, she felt light headed and laid back on the bed unable to think clearly. "Oh my God..." was all she could say.

"Oh my God is right Kris, cuz we'll need all his help on this one" Lauren finished not really knowing what else to say.

**

Melanie and Lauren arrived at the condo not much later. Lauren had advised Kris not to turn the TV on, she knew the blonde would not take all the garbage that was being said about her and her partner well. Kris, of course, turned the tube on as soon as she hung up the phone.

As they made their way into the condo they could hear Kris shouting at the television.

"SAY WHAT??... OH, THAT'S SUCH A LIE.... GET A LIFE YOU LOSER.... NO I DID NOT DO THAT..."

Mel and Lauren exchanged looks at the comments Kris was making and sighed. Lauren simply said, "I guess she did not take my advice and turned the TV on."

They walked into the room Kris was and Melanie hugged the small blonde with puffy eyes and an angry attitude.

"Easy there..." Melanie calmed her partner as she rubbed her back.

"Oh my God, Mel. They are saying awful things about us. And they are making you look like a creep..." Kris said between sobs.

"Whatever they say we can change. We do have a saying in all this, Kris. We'll work it out, sweetie, just calm down" Melanie continued her rubbing.

Lauren made a quick excuse and went into the kitchen to get them water. She wasn't uncomfortable with the two women cuddling. God knows how much she prayed for them to finally understand that they were in love with each other and get together, but she felt they needed this little bit of time together to comfort one another. Things were pretty bad and despite Melanie's words, Lauren knew that Kris' career and the agency were in jeopardy if they didn't deal with this situation quickly and effectively.

She came back into the TV room and found Melanie and Kris watching the news intently. Melanie turned to Lauren with a no nonsense attitude and motioned her to sit down.

"Okay ladies, we have a bomb situation here and the worst part is, it's already blown up. Now we can either help the wounded and fix some or simply let them die." Melanie started her speech to two interested listeners.

"I believe the main issue here is the public announcement of Kris being gay. The accusations of me harassing her and all that is just bullshit. From a professional standpoint, coming out right now would be suicidal, Kris. Yes, you are the hot chick of the moment and yes, there's a huge gay crowd out there who could use the support of a gay role model, but it's still too early in your career. So, I say we go with the our relationship is merely professional talk and let things cool off" Melanie finished not really thrilled by her own opinion. 'Damn, I wish I could just go out there and shout to whoever wanted to hear it that YES, I AM GAY and YES I DO LOVE KRISTEN BROOKS.'

Lauren didn't dare to speak, both she and Melanie were staring at a silent, thoughtful Kristen. The short woman drew in a heavy breath and felt her elbows fall down.

"Why, Melanie? Why do I have to lie to the world? Why do I have to tell them you're not the most important thing in my life, when you are?" Kristen asked feeling her anger build up again.

"Because that's just how life is, Kris. I don't like it any better than you do, but that's how things are" Melanie said moving closer to her lover and locking her gaze on an emerald green one, "Kris, this is just my professional opinion. Bottom line is, this is your life, choose what you want to do with it. I'll stand by you whatever you pick, my love."

Kris blew out a heavy sigh, "I'm sorry. Of course you're right. I guess I just needed to hear you say I have another choice. Let's tell them what they want to hear, even if I hate every minute of it."

"We'll get through this. Don't worry" Melanie reassured her lover, "Lauren, could you please call in a press conference tomorrow at the agency. Let's end this story now."

**************

The huge meeting room at the agency was packed with reporters from television, newspapers, magazines and even popular Internet websites. Everyone wanted to get first hand information on this major scandal. The crowd was getting agitated and the noise inside the room was getting louder as they anxiously waited for both Melanie and Kristen Brooks.

From Melanie's office she could hear the annoying noise coming from the room close to hers. She had arrived at the office only ten minutes before and her head was already burning with a splitting headache. She hit the intercom buzzer and was answered by a distressed Lauren.

"Yes, Mel"

"Tell these creeps to shut the fuck up. This is an office space, not some road bar..." Melanie's voice boomed through the machine.

"Yes, boss. Anything else?" Lauren asked shyly afraid her already impatient boss would snap at any moment. 'Please, God, let her keep her temper down during the conference...'

"Aspirin. And where the hell is Kris?" Melanie asked feeling her temper get the best of her.

"Right here, Mel" Kris answered as she stepped into the comfortable office.

Melanie looked up from her desk and found her lover standing before her with a determination she could not find within herself at that moment. She frowned wondering what was going on inside the pretty blonde head.

"Are you ready to go out there?" Kris asked with self-confidence.

Melanie shook her head a bit, trying to clear her thoughts. "Of course, anytime" her voice showed nothing of what her words spoke. She stood up, brushed her suit with her hands, collected her jacket from the back of her chair and walked to the door, where a glowing Kristen waited for her.

"Are you okay?" Melanie asked, amazed at how calm Kris was.

"Yes. Actually I don't think I've felt this great in a long time" Kris replied with a dangerous glint in her eyes and a sweet smile in her face.

"Ooookay" was Melanie's quiet reply.

They walked hand in hand towards the conference room with Lauren right behind. As they approached the large wood doors, both took a deep breath and looked at each other.

Melanie was shocked by what she saw in Kris' eyes, there was a mixture of a boiling energy and at the same time a soothing peace, she didn't recall ever seeing in the green depth of her lover's soul.

Kris winked at her lover and said after giving her a broad smile, "Let's go get them, tiger!"

**

The moment the double heavy doors opened the room burst into chaos. Kris saw flashes from all directions as microphones and tape records were shoved into her face along with a million questions. The loud voices of the reporters and their physical closeness made Kris a bit dizzy, but the strong hand behind her back pushing her forward restored her confidence. She stopped moving, looked up and screamed, "SHUT UP!"

The room grew silent at once and an almost scary feeling floated between the reporters. Melanie took the break her lover had provided as a chance to regain control of the situation. She stepped forward and enunciated her words clearly, "Ms. Brooks and I will answer all your questions, ONE AT A TIME. You will raise your hands and we will talk to you. Did I make myself clear?" Melanie finished staring the reporters in the eye.

A round of nods and quiet "yes, ma'am" whispers followed. Kris took her seat behind the desk set up for the conference with Melanie sitting at her side and Lauren at the other. The agency's lawyer was also there, just in case. Kris tapped her microphone to check if it was working, she then took a sip of the water glass sitting in front of her and looked to the crowd with hunter eyes. She noticed that a few looked down, while others stared at her with disgust. 'Hypocrites...'

"First of all, I'd like to get one thing straight," Kris started to a full audience, "may I ask which one of you fine journalists went public with this?"

The reporters looked around, shaking heads and wondering the same thing themselves.

"Well, ladies and gentlemen, until I get that information, you're not getting anything from me." Kris finished her statement and stood up, when she felt a light touch on her arm. She looked down to where Melanie was seated and smiled.

Melanie did not understand what Kris' strategy was or even if she had one, "What are you doing?" the dark woman whispered.

Kris bent down and said into Melanie's ear, "I'm not going into war with an unknown enemy."

The room burst into chaos once again. Angry reporters were shouting at Kris, "you can't do this. You can't keep the public from this kind of information."

Kris stood up and cast the crowd an evil glare, "Like hell I can't. No one asked me for permission to spread news about my personal life. Why should I be any different? Whenever you feel like talking I'll be right here."

The short blonde walked out of the conference room, with Melanie hot on her heels. The moment they entered the brunette's office Melanie began pacing around and fuming, while Kris threw herself on the large leather couch.

"What the hell was that, Kris? Are you of your mind?" Melanie inquired, her tone warning Kris that this was not going to be a pleasant talk.

"I did what I thought was best, Melanie. Don't lecture me for it." Kris shot back.

"Oh, pardon me, Ms. I know it all, but this is my freaking agency and you are my freaking star. I make the last call, Kristen." Melanie shouted her patience gone for the day.

Kris got up and stared at Melanie, tears welling up in her green eyes filled with sadness and disappointment, "I don't know where you got the idea that you own me, Melanie, but you are so wrong about that. As far as I'm concerned you can take my career and..." she left her thoughts unfinished as she hurried to the door and into the elevator.

**************

Melanie sat on the deck of her condo sipping on a glass of wine. She let the darkness enfold her as she looked up at the moon hiding behind thick gray clouds. Her thoughts traveled back to the afternoon and the regret she felt for her words to Kris cut through her heart as a sharp knife. She had talked too much, she had said things she didn't mean and now it was too late to take them back.

'If only I could talk to her...' her thoughts were interrupted by the phone ringing. She hurried inside kicking a chair on her way to the phone on the kitchen wall. She picked up the receiver as she vigorously brushed her chin.

"Hello" Melanie answered hoping it was Kris on the other side. She hadn't heard from her lover since that afternoon and didn't have any luck trying to track her down.

"Hey, boss. I found her." Lauren went straight to the point.

"Where? Where is she?" Melanie asked nervously.

"Turn the TV on. I'd say she really loves to be on the news." Lauren joked trying to calm her boss' spirits.

Melanie felt the world collapse under her feet, "Oh, no. I guess I'll talk to you later Lauren. Thanks by the way."

She picked the remote control from the table and sighed heavily before bringing the dark box sitting in a corner to life.

Her eyes widened as she saw Kristen on a large conference room, surrounded by hundreds of journalists. Melanie sat down still in shock by her lover's crazy ideas. 'If you trying to destroy your career, Kris, you're going in the right direction. God help us!'

"Good evening. We are here live at the conference room of the Meridien Hotel downtown Atlanta, where pop star Kris Brooks is responding to the recent news of her sexual orientation and involvement with her public relations agent, Melanie Brooks." The camera cut from the reporter back to the blonde sitting behind a large desk. Kristen had her shoulders square and her whole demeanor showed that she wasn't there to play games.

She tapped her microphone like she had done earlier that day and cleared her throat.

"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I appreciate your efforts to be here tonight, on such short notice. Many of you already know that I had a similar press conference this afternoon where I asked those present who had brought this news to the public. At the time no one answered, however, after some research this afternoon and a meeting with the magazine that first published the subject I found the reporter and had the opportunity to understand why he had done such thing. Mr. Walls agreed to publicly refute his article in lieu of myself and my agent not pressing charges against him." A loud oh was heard throughout the crowd.

'Sneaky, my love. Very sneaky...' Melanie thought as she fastened her eyes on the screen where Kris continued her speech.

"You should read his apologies on the cover of the magazine he represents tomorrow morning. Unfortunately, Mr. Walls is a bit shaken by our conversation and was not able to make it here tonight. Apparently, Mr. Walls was looking for some big story to boost up his career. I would say he made a mistake."

The crowd was glued on Kristen's every movement along with millions of people watching her on television.

"I, however, am not here tonight to talk about Mr. Walls' mistake. Before I continue I would like to clarify that Ms. Melanie Brooks did not, I repeat, did not sexually harass me in any way. Ms. Brooks is a competent, highly respectable professional that would never do such a thing. And above all that she is a my best friend."

Melanie's eyes watered at Kris' words. She knew she had been harsh on Kris that afternoon, but after hearing her lover talk about her reality hit home. 'You really fucked up, Mel.' Melanie looked at her watch and wondered how long it would take her to get to the Meridien. She grabbed her purse and ran outside towards her car.

**

Lauren was also teary eyed with Kris' words.

"Let me tell you about Melanie Brooks, ladies and gentleman. Not the Melanie Brooks you all see on the cover of Forbes, but the Melanie I went to High School with, the Melanie I work with everyday. Mel is a sweet person, with a keen mind and admirable qualities. She's a good friend, a good boss and overall a kind and just individual, who cares about those who surround her more than she cares about herself."

Lauren was silently cheering Kris, 'That's right, Kris. You tell them...' The crowd sitting in front of Kris was also sharing the emotion of the short blonde's words. She spoke with a truth that sank deep down into their hearts and minds. She told them about how she first met Melanie and how they got reunited and ended up working together. Kris pointed out at just how unfair it was for someone with nothing but greed as their motive to simply throw Melanie's name in the mud.

Melanie walked into the hotel and scanned the front lobby for any indication of where the conference was being held. A receptionist got a glance of the flustered woman and pointed her to black double doors on the right as she said, "She really admires you Ms. Brooks."

Melanie didn't quite understand the girl's comment, but at this point she wasn't about to go back and get an explanation. She crossed the room, harshly making her way through the crowd to the front where Kris stood taking a sip of water. As the blonde was about to continue her speech, Melanie stopped her, "Kris!"

The blonde and the hundreds of reporters in the room turned around to see a tall woman, with disheveled hair and clad in nothing but a T-shirt, a pair of boxers and running shoes. Kris chuckled at the image in front of her and stepped down the podium, while the room grew louder with hidden and some not so hidden comments about the duo.

Kris approached Melanie and gave her an inquisitive look, "Yes?"

"Listen I know you're mad at me and you have every right to be. Hell, I am mad at me. And I know I don't own you and I shouldn't have said those things. And you're absolutely right if you don't ever want to talk to me again, but I wish you would, and..." Melanie kept on her rambling.

"Mel, are we getting to the point of this conversation any time soon? I have a crowd waiting..." Kris said in a razor sharp tone.

Melanie looked at her lover and sheepishly said, "I guess I am trying to say I'm sorry. I didn't mean what I said, not the way it sounded. I guess I just wanted to feel like I was a part of the plan."

Kris' gaze softened at every clustered word her lover was saying and she had to force herself not to laugh at the tall woman who at that instant looked more like the teenager she knew than the tough woman she worked with.

"Okay. Apology accepted, but can we finish this conversation at home? I still have a speech to end and it will be a good one, I promise you." Kris blinked at the tall woman.

"Ok, I'll just sit here then..." Melanie replied more to herself than to Kris.

The blonde stepped up on the podium again and began talking to an even more interested crowd, "Ladies and gentlemen, I present you to the topic of our conversation, Ms. Melanie Brooks."

Everyone stood up and started clapping at Melanie, who looked both shocked and embarrassed. Melanie stood up and thanked the crowd, not really having any other choice. Kris laughed at her partner who looked like she had been caught with a hand in the cookie jar. She then looked back at the crowd and started her speech again.

"As I was telling you, Melanie Brooks is indeed this wonderful woman and for that alone she doesn't deserve the kind of negative publicity she has been getting as if she was some criminal. But above all this, she never sexually harassed me."

Kris looked back at the tall woman sitting in the front row and was awarded with a full smile and mouthed thank you.

"As far as the news regarding my sexual orientation, I wish Mr. Walls would have simply asked instead of setting up this circus. Even though I do not feel that this level of a person's intimacy should be debated, I will answer the accusations made by Mr. Walls."

The expectation in the room grew with each word Kris' spoke. Melanie braced herself for what she knew was the hardest part. Unconsciously, she drew in a heavy breath along with Kris.

"I personally do not believe in lying as a way to make a living and that is why I was so angry with the information Mr. Walls published concerning Mel. I have been asked today many times if I am a lesbian. I will confess I have not replied to that question, because I wanted it to be done in the proper way. I didn't want any misunderstandings about this issue, I didn't want any misconceptions about this. So I decided to call you all in here tonight to tell you that..."

Melanie waited for Kris to say the words she had instructed her lover to say. Inside, however, her guts were churning with disappointment. What she really wanted to hear coming out of Kris' mouth was the truth, not some made up bullshit story she had created. She looked towards Kris and their gazes were locked in a powerful connection that spoke all Melanie needed to hear.

"I am here tonight to tell you that," Kris repeated herself, "YES, I am a lesbian. YES, I am in love with Melanie Brooks and YES, I am VERY proud of it."

The room broke down with craziness. Some cheered Kris while most were trying to get more details out of her. Melanie ran up to the podium and took Kris in her arms as she began to kiss her fiercely. They broke from their kiss and looked deep inside each other's soul as the noise of the room around them fainted to nothing but muffed sounds and vague shadows.

"I love you Kris Mallowe" Melanie said.

"I love you too, Melanie Brooks, but I'd sort of like to keep the Brooks on my name, you know? After all you did ask me to marry you, I guess I deserve it." The blonde replied to the chuckling tall woman embracing her.

"You sure do. I'm very proud of what you did tonight. But what about the future?" Melanie asked.

"The future? Well, I suppose we're gonna have to find out, but if you're in it, then that's enough for me." Kris responded before she was drawn again for another kiss.

 

THE END (for now!)

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