DISCLAIMER: This is an Otalia-Uber fiction. The characters in this story portrays the physical and some personality attributes of the characters Olivia Spencer and Natalia Rivera from Guiding Light but they belong to me.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks to Blue for her great beta-ing skills!
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By damnation



"In a month, I'll be filing for divorce..."

Jack Canning flung his empty whisky glass against the wall, feeling a sense of satisfaction when it shattered. It angered him immensely not to get his own way. He was simply not used to it. His marriage could not be over. It wasn't. She was still his wife. All he had to do was to get rid of all the obstacles between him and Kristen before the month was up.

If she had nothing to run to, then it stood to reason she would come back to him.

He flipped open his mobile and hit a number on his speed dial. "Get over here right now and tell me everything you know about Taters. I want it off the fucking map."

Kristen was on her third glass of wine when Frances showed up. "Hey. Sorry I took so long. I wanted to check in on Dad first," Frances said, reaching for Kristen's hand that was dangling from the hammock.

"That's okay. How's Russell doing?" Kristen asked, already feeling better now Frances was there. Frances squatted down on the ground beside her and lifted Kristen’s hand to her lips. At the feel of Frances' lips brushing softly against her knuckles, Kristen's breath quickened.

"He told me to take care of myself and to stay away from Jack Canning. What happened?" Frances asked, trailing the fingers of her free hand down Kristen's cheek. "More importantly, are you okay?"

"I'm fine, now that you're here," Kristen said huskily. She pulled Frances closer to her and breathed in the scent of her shampoo. The alcohol was beginning to relax her and she could feel the knot of tension between her brows loosen.

"Oh baby," Frances murmured, pressing a kiss on Kristen's jaw. "Maybe we should all just stay away from Jaycee and pretend your ex doesn't exist." She pulled away from Kristen to look into her eyes. "Can I do anything?" she asked sympathetically.

Kristen shook her head, smiling faintly. "You're here. That's good enough for me," she said, leaning closer to touch her forehead to Frances'. "I'm sorry you had to come over. I know you're busy with your lesson planning."

"Don't apologise. I want to be here. I wanted to see you." Frances peered at Kristen through her dark lashes as she pursed her lips together, revealing a dimple.

"How did you get here?" Kristen asked, shifting herself on the hammock to make space for Frances.

"Nell drove me over. I was gonna walk but she insisted," Frances said as she rose up to sit on the hammock, leaning back against Kristen's midsection.

Kristen frowned slightly. "Is there anything that woman wouldn't do for you?" she asked before she could help herself.

Frances picked up on something in Kristen's tone and her brows knitted. "Is there something wrong?" she asked cautiously. It was nothing new that people Nell and she went out with expressed discomfort at their closeness, but with Kristen, Frances felt inclined to make things clear.

"Nothing. Just sayin'," Kristen said, attempting to brush her insecurities aside.

Frances lowered her body onto the hammock so that she was lying down, facing Kristen. The hammock swayed and sank lower at the additional weight but held firm.

"I know it's... unusual... that Nell and I are so close despite having been together. I don't..." Frances stopped as she searched for the right words. "We've been told numerous times on different occasions by different people we went out with that it's not cool. It never really used to matter, what they said. Maybe because they didn't matter. But you..." Frances stroke Kristen's cheek gently. "You matter a lot."

Kristen felt guilty. "I'm sorry. I-"

"No." Frances touched a finger to Kristen's lips, effectively silencing her. "Let me get it out first, okay?" At Kristen's mute nod, Frances replaced her index finger with her thumb, smoothing Kristen's lower lip gently.

"This is new to me and I really don't want to muck it up. We haven't been together all that long and you could even say that we don't know each other very well. But I need you to trust that I meant what I said, when I said I loved you."

Kristen's heart leaped at that and she leaned in to catch Frances' lips in hers tenderly.

"I think it's an entirely overused phrase these days but I reckon everyone means something different when they say those words," Frances murmured when Kristen's lips left hers. She splayed her fingers on Kristen's cheek, feeling ridiculously exposed; they had been in numerous more intimate positions than this but Frances had never felt this vulnerable in front of Kristen.

"You have to know that I love Nell very much. I would hate for you to feel threatened by that because both of you mean a lot to me, in different ways. She is my rock. But the one I think about all the time... the one I want to be with... is you."

"My Mum used to say that 'I love you' is a promise, a reminder and a gift. I think I'm beginning to get what she meant. I don't give that promise easily, Kristen." Frances bit her lower lip. "But when I do, I do so with the intention of keeping it. Okay?" She looked searchingly into Kristen's eyes.

Kristen swallowed and nodded. She did not know what she could say that would not sound inadequate so she opted to remain silent and allow the words to wrap their silky tendrils around her heart.

Frances rolled her eyes at herself as she blew out a breath. "Okay, I need a drink after that," she mumbled, righting herself on the hammock. Kristen chuckled and waited until Frances got off the hammock before sitting up. She watched Frances finish her glass of wine before topping it up and offering it to her.

"More lesbian germs?" Kristen asked coyly.

Frances snorted; this had been the very spot she had said that to Kristen, right before they had kissed for the first time. "God, why do I always say the stupidest things to you?" she asked, feeling self-conscious.

"Calling me God all the time kinda makes up for it, baby," Kristen said, her lips twitching.

Frances narrowed her eyes playfully as she picked up the half empty wine bottle to take a swig from. "Since when did you start calling me 'baby'?"

"Around the time you started calling me your girlfriend," Kristen said, feeling smug and content.

"Hm. You seem a little old for the term, actually," Frances quipped, yelping when Kristen jabbed her side in response. "Watch the merchandise, lady!"

"You are such a smart ass," Kristen murmured, shaking her head, feeling ridiculously lighthearted after the evening that she had.

Frances smirked. "You love it."

"I do," Kristen admitted in a low, scratchy voice, reaching for Frances' hand. She ran a thumb over Frances' knuckles. "I love all of you." Frances gave Kristen a sweet smile that caused Kristen's heart to flip lazily in her chest.

"Wanna take a walk with me? I think we need to go to the bottle shop before it shuts," Frances said, standing up. Kristen pulled Frances over to stand between her legs. "Hey," Frances greeted softly, resting her arms on Kristen's shoulders. She smiled when Kristen pulled her face down to hers.

"Thank you... for you," Kristen murmured as she cradled Frances' face in her hands, hoping that the simple words conveyed what she felt for Frances.

"Bet you never thought you'd say that when I dumped that pail of dirty water all over you," Frances said laughingly. She leaned into Kristen and nuzzled her neck.

Kristen let out a bark of laughter at the memory. "Hell no. Ugh, remind me again how we got to this point in time?" She stood up finally and followed Frances to the gate.

"Well... it all started when Eleanor decided that you're hot..." Frances began as they walked down the street companionably. "And you went and kissed her..." Kristen shot Frances an arched look. "... back," Frances added. That got Kristen's nod of approval and Frances snickered before continuing. "She wanted to see you again, so... insert 'me'."

Kristen chuckled at the narrative. Frances was adorable. Normally, using that adjective would make Kristen cringe, but there was no better word she could use to describe Frances on this occasion.

"We hung out, you couldn't resist my charms and fell for me. The end. Oh, wait. Insert 'hot sex' in there several times."

Kristen laughed and pulled Frances to her so that she could steal a kiss. "You're a horrible storyteller," Kristen murmured mirthfully.

"Hey! Oh, that reminds me. Insert 'rude and bossy chef' in there somewhere too. I think you need to remind me why I'm with you," Frances said, shaking her head with an aggrieved look on her face.

"Because it's always been one of your secret desires to be dominated by a rude and bossy chef?" Kristen suggested in a hopeful tone.

Frances thought for a moment. "Nah. It's the hot sex."

"Huh. I have to say, it is pretty hot," Kristen agreed and let out a soft moan when Frances kissed and bit down on her neck lightly. "Um. Can we go home now?" Kristen asked, her voice dropping an octave.

Frances stopped in her tracks and wrapped her arms around Kristen. There were a few people on the streets around them but Frances couldn't care less. She threaded her fingers through Kristen's silky hair, pushing it away from Kristen's face as she pulled her close for a heated kiss. Frances smiled when they pulled apart. "Being with you makes me so very happy."

Kristen felt her chest expand at the words. She took Frances' hand in hers. "What's this?" she asked, lifting Frances' hand up to take a closer look at what she was wearing on her wrist.


Kristen lifted a brow. "You tie a shoelace around your wrist."

"Yeah. Sometimes I tie it around my ankle." Kristen shook her head, smiling. "What?"

"Nothing. It's different," Kristen said as they resumed their trek to the bottle shop. She snuck a peek at Frances and smiled to herself, feeling immensely fortunate to be loved by this woman. She never thought she would ever think this but... Jack who?

Liam Murphy sat in his car, thinking about what Jack Canning had said. Things were going to get a lot messier from here on. He sighed as he massaged the back of his neck before putting his car into gear. He had to get some sleep before his shift at Taters the next day.



After dumping her bag in her room, Nell went to the kitchen and found Frances and Isobel chatting away with Ruth, cups of tea on the dining table before them. "Hello, hello," she greeted warmly, happy to find everyone home. She loved having a full house; Frances was frequently over at Kristen's and Ruth liked to hang out in her room most of the time so occasions like this were few and far between.

"Hey you." Frances looked up and smiled, happy that her best friend was home. "Tea?"

"I'll make one myself," Nell said, not wanting Frances to get up. "How's everyone today?" she asked, going over to the kettle.

"Oh, I just got some rooibos tea, Nell," Ruth said. "You should try it."

Nell looked skeptically at the box of herbal tea. "Uh... I think I'll stick to normal tea," she said. "Thanks, though." She pulled up a chair to join her friends at the table. "So what's going on?"

"Izzie was just telling us about her brother's restaurant," Ruth said.

"You'll never guess where Izzie's brother is working," Frances chimed in.

"I didn't realise that there's all this drama going on between Jaycee and Taters," Isobel said, shaking her head. "Doug just got appointed head chef at Jaycee, which I presume you know all about."

Nell's brows rose as she nodded. "Well, only what Frances has told me." She looked to Frances. "Is Taters still taking part in that cook off competition thing?" Frances shrugged. She hadn't spoken to Kristen or her Dad since the other night and wasn't sure what they had decided. "Well if it's still on, we should all go and support you guys," Nell said. Then she shot Isobel a grin. "Sorry, Taters over Jaycee, I say."

Isobel smiled. "Doesn't bother me."

"How's Kristen doing?" Nell asked.

"Yeah, good. She's thinking of getting a second hand car if you know of any. Dad's totally over public transport," Frances said, chuckling. Her mobile went off and she glanced at it, surprised. "Speak of the devil." She got up and left her friends to take the call. Isobel watched her go.

"Looks like a serious thing going on there," Isobel commented, not quite sure how she felt about it. She was glad that Frances had kept her promise to give her a call for them to hang out but as the day progressed, it became clear that Frances was only interested in being friends.

Nell smiled noncommittally. She did not like to discuss her friends' affairs.

"I haven't met Kristen, have I?" Ruth asked. "Oh hey, I was thinking maybe we could have a house party."

"She's cool. You'll like her," Nell said, drinking her tea. "A house party is a great idea. Frances' birthday is coming up."

"Oh, true? That's cause for celebration then. We should think up of a theme!"

"Yeah..." Nell said, her mind racing at the possibilities. They all looked up when Frances returned to the kitchen. "Darl, we're thinking of having a themed party for your birthday. What do you think?"

Frances wrinkled her nose. "Let's just have a party and leave my birthday out of it."

"Aw, why!" Ruth asked. "Don't you like having cake thrown at you?" she teased.

Frances' eyes widened. "Uh. No?"

"So what theme do you guys reckon?" Nell asked. If Frances did not want to have a birthday celebration, Nell didn't think she should have to explain why.

"Vampires?" Ruth suggested. She rolled her eyes at the looks her housemates threw her. "Fine. No vampires then."

"How about 'bloodbath' as a theme?" Isobel asked, looking around. "That way you can be a vampire if you wanted."

"That sounds good. I've never been to a bloodbath before," Nell said, grinning. "We'd have to give the house a makeover!" Nell was already imagining sheets dipped in red paint, streaks of red paint down the front door...

"All right, that's settled then. Man, that was easy," Ruth said, leaning back in her seat. "Two weeks from now?"

"Yes, party!" Nell crowed, pumping a fist. "You're our first official invite, Isobel," she said.

"Call me Izzie. And I'm honoured," Isobel said, smiling. "I'll be here with bells on."

Kristen sat outside her flat with a wine glass in hand. Ever since Russell's return from rehab, everyone had made a silent pact to not drink around their boss. It was going well so far, but they had gotten slammed again at work and Kristen was glad that she still had some of the wine left at home from the other night when Frances had come over.

Russell had mentioned earlier on in the evening that Frances' birthday was in two weeks. He wanted to do something for her; her last two birthdays were spent away from home. Kristen chewed on her lower lip, wondering what she should get Frances.

Apart from her iPod, Kristen was pretty sure that Frances did not own anything first hand; she did most of her shopping at op shops--that is, if she even went shopping at all.

Frances was so different from anyone she had ever been with. Granted, she had never been with a woman prior to Frances--but it was more than that. Kristen recalled Russell's story about his friend who had spent eight hours reeling in a fish for the sport of it. She had been impressed at the man's patience and stamina but Frances' first thought was actually for the fish.

She was crazy about this woman. "Crazy is right," Kristen mumbled, shaking her head at herself. She was a woman in her mid-thirties acting like a teenager. Earlier on that night, she had called Frances just to hear her voice. It was pathetic, really. She felt like an addict. And she was totally experiencing withdrawal symptoms from not having seen Frances for two days.

Good God! What did she use to do before Frances came along? Work, shop, drink, draw... An idea struck her. A painting would make a perfect birthday gift for Frances. Getting it done in two weeks would be a rush but she knew she could do it if she put her mind to it.

Kristen picked up her mobile when it went off, surprised to find a message from Eleanor, asking if she wanted to hang out with a few women that she had met at the housewarming party. It was nice to finally make some friends, she reflected as she wrote back to Eleanor. Her life was getting back on track; it felt good to finally be able to put down roots somewhere and have everything out in the open.



Frances hurriedly stashed her folder in her bag. It was her first day at work and she had spent the entire day observing the way lessons were conducted. The last class of the day had dragged on. Kristen was waiting for her at the school lobby; they were having dinner with Russell, Ramsey and Tammy at Industrie, a French restaurant not too far from her work. She would have to change out of her work clothes at the restaurant, which was annoying. She didn't feel comfortable in the black pair of pumps that she had to wear for work.

"See you tomorrow morning, Frances," Keiko said, smiling at her newest employee.

"I'll be here," Frances said with a distracted smile. "Have a good night."

Frances pulled out her mobile to check the time. She had kept Kristen waiting for over half an hour. Frances grimaced as she stepped out of the lift.

Kristen was standing beside the huge Christmas tree with her hands stuck in the pockets of her denim jeans. Frances took a moment drink in the sight of Kristen, who looked beautiful in a long sleeved, v-neck top that showed just a hint of cleavage. Her jeans were form fitting and her heeled boots boosted her height. She could eat her up right there and then, boots and all, Frances thought with a wicked smile.

Kristen spotted Frances then and her brain froze for a moment at the sight of Frances in a smart, all black ensemble of shirt, pencil skirt and pumps. "Hey," she greeted when her brain kickstarted again. "You look... really good."

"Thanks," Frances said, looking down at her outfit a little self-consciously. "I feel really odd though. But we're late. I'm sorry, it's my fault. I'll change at the restaurant. Dad hates to be kept waiting."

"It's okay, I called him to let him know that you got held back." Kristen smiled when Frances leaned in to kiss her. She wrapped a hand around Frances' waist and planted a kiss on her lips. "Don't change out of this, baby. You look really, really good."

"Thanks. You look really good too." Frances smiled shyly and gave Kristen another kiss before pulling away. "Not bad for a fifteen dollar purchase, huh?" she said as they walked out of the building.

"Fifteen dollars? How did you manage that?" Kristen asked incredulously.

"I got the shirt and skirt from Vinnie's. The shoes cost a little more, though. I had to get them from the shops." Frances hooked a finger through Kristen's belt loop. They exchanged a smile as they strolled down Pitt Street. "How was your day off?"

"Boring. Spent most of the day doing housework," Kristen said. She had started working on Frances' birthday present as well, but she wasn't about to disclose that information. "How was your day at work?"

"Information overload. I'm really nervous about tomorrow. I'm only taking one class to start with, though, so that's good."

Kristen reached a hand behind her to unhook Frances' finger from her belt loop so that she could thread their fingers together. She tried imagining Frances teaching the next day in a similar outfit and her mouth went dry. Oh no, she was not feeling envious of Frances' students, Kristen thought.

"Are you okay?" Frances asked. Kristen was really quiet and looking rather dazed. "Kristen?"

Kristen shook her head to clear it. "Yeah. Yeah, I'm good." She had to stop thinking about tearing Frances' clothes off. She tried to snap her mind out of that line of thought by thinking about who they were going to have dinner with.

"What's wrong?" Frances asked. "Are you not feeling well?"

Kristen shook her head. "I'm fine. You... I'm..." Kristen took a breath, feeling frustrated in more than one way. "You look really good," she said a third time, sounding rather stupid to her own ears.

Frances nodded slowly. "Thank you. I got that the first time you said it..." A light went off in her head and she began to smile. "You're having dirty thoughts," she said, sounding scandalised.

"I'm having dirty thoughts," Kristen admitted in a defeated tone.

"Too bad we can't cancel because I would rather just have you for dinner," Frances said in a low voice, making Kristen's breath catch at her words.

"You are not helping matters at all, Frances," Kristen ground out, pulling Frances close. Frances hid her face in the crook of Kristen's neck. Kristen could feel her smile against her neck and her own lips curved up in response. "Oh look, we're here."

"You sound almost disappointed," Frances commented teasingly.

"What are you talking about? I'm famished," Kristen retorted as they trailed behind the maître d’.

"Me too. You're gonna taste so good tonight," Frances whispered hotly in Kristen's ear, making her blush.

"Frances..." Kristen growled. "Behave. We are having dinner with your father and our friends, and they're looking straight at us."

"Hey Dad. Sorry we're late," Frances said as they took their seats. She shot Ramsey and Tammy a smile. "Hey you two. How're things?"

"Oh my God, sweetie, you look fabulous! Doesn't she look like a completely different person, Ramsey?" Tammy exclaimed, looking Frances up and down.

"Sure does," Ramsey said with a nod.

"She looks like a kid in adult clothing, that's what she looks like," Russell said gruffly. The look of affection on his face was not lost on anyone. "Let's order. I'm starving."

"This dinner's my way of saying thank you for taking care of Taters while I was at rehab," Russell said finally when they were halfway through their meal. "I would have done it sooner but with everything going on..." Russell shrugged. "Anyway, I just wanted to let you all know that we're out of debt."

"Oh, that's fantastic news, Russell!" Tammy exclaimed. "When did you hear from the insurance company?"

Russell cleared his throat. "I didn't. They're not paying us out. I sold the house." He had debated over telling them what he had done. In the end, he decided that there was no reason why he shouldn't.

Frances stared at her father. "You love that house, Dad," she said softly, not wanting to make a big deal of it but wanting to acknowledge his sacrifice at the same time.

"Oh, Russell..." Tammy felt really bad for her boss.

"That bloody insurance company!" Ramsey growled. "How could they do this? Maybe we could send in an appeal letter or something. They have no evidence that this was an inside job!"

"Ramsey has a point, Russell," Kristen said.

Russell shrugged. "It's just a house. Anyway. It'll take a few months for all the paperwork to be done so it's not like anything's going to happen immediately. We'll talk more about this later, Kristen," he said, glancing at her.

"Yeah, sure," Kristen said, not really fussed at the idea of moving. "But I think we should definitely write an appeal letter and fight this thing because it's totally unfair."

Tammy nodded. "I'll do it," she volunteered.

An awkward silence fell over the table after that. Frances looked around at everyone's glum expression and decided to. "So what else is up, guys?" she asked conversationally. "Is anyone missing me yet?"

"Oh, of course, sweetie!" Tammy said, reaching over to squeeze Frances' hand.

Russell shook his head at his daughter. "What?" Frances asked defensively.

"What did I tell you? A kid in adult clothes," Russell said gruffly to no one in particular, eliciting chuckles all round the table. Frances put down her cutlery and folded her arms across her chest with a pout on her lips. "You're just proving me right with that look, lass. Now eat your dinner," Russell said before chuckling himself.

Frances was glad to see her father in good humour, even if it was at her expense. Not for the first time, she was glad that she had decided to stay. She flashed Kristen a dimpled smile and went back to her dinner.

Part 48

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