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.
Nell strummed her guitar, trying to lose herself in her music. She did not have to go in to work for a few hours yet, and she wanted to make the best of her time at home. The front door opened and Nell lifted her face. "Hello there," she greeted when Kristen exited the house.
"Hey," Kristen said with a smile, walking over to where Nell was.
Kristen shrugged as she seated herself down across from Nell. "Nothing much. Not particularly looking forward to work," she said in a heavy tone. She didn't know what to expect at Taters, if they would get into trouble with the authorities with the rat fiasco. "What about you?"
"Just hangin'. Have to go in to work later as well. Sucks," Nell grumbled, plucking on her guitar strings. "Life is such," she said with a sigh.
"So... you're a mechanic?" Kristen asked conversationally. She hadn't had much one to one time with Nell. In fact, this was probably the first time they were hanging out without Frances.
Nell nodded. "Frances mentioned that you're after a second hand car. I'll keep a lookout out for ya," she said helpfully. "Sometimes people unload their vehicles on us. We fix them up and sell them off cheap."
Kristen's face lit up. "That'll be cool, thanks."
"No wuckas, mate," Nell said with a grin. She plucked her guitar strings. "What kinda music do you like?"
Kristen shrugged. "Nothing in particular. Mellow stuff, I guess. I liked the music you guys played at Sando's. Different but really catchy."
Nell nodded. "There's this new song I keep getting flashes of in my head. Wanna hear it?" she asked.
"Yeah. For sure." Kristen folded her legs under her and shifted on the couch to make herself comfortable. She hadn't expected to find anyone at the house and had planned to go home before going in to Taters. She was glad to have found Nell on the veranda. She liked her, despite her insecurities, which were lessening the more time she spent with Frances.
Nell began strumming a few chords. Kristen was beginning to get into the piece when Nell stopped. "That's all I got," Nell said in frustration. "Can't seem to go on," she said, putting her guitar down. "I could repeat the chords but... it doesn't feel right when I do."
"It'll come," Kristen said encouragingly. "I get like that sometimes with my painting. Sometimes all it takes is for me to start on something new."
"You paint?" Nell asked with interest.
Kristen shrugged self-consciously. "I dabble. It puts me in a different headspace."
"Yeah, I totally get that," Nell agreed before they fell silent, enjoying the quiet. "I'm really sorry to hear about what happened at Taters," she said, breaking the silence.
"Bad luck," Kristen agreed. "There's foul play involved, I'm sure of it."
Kristen nodded with a sigh. "As much as I hate to say it, yes. I can't believe..." She shook her head. "You think you know someone... and then they prove to you that you don't." She was surprised at how easy it was for her to talk to Nell.
Nell smirked. "Humans. We're a pretty sad bunch. That's why I hold on to people I trust... and try to do my best by them."
Kristen assessed Nell's profile. "You're so much like Frances," she said finally.
Nell looked at Kristen in surprise. "No way, we're so different."
"Fundamentally, you're both good people. Kind. Loyal. Trustworthy, even."
Nell shook her head with a faint smile. "She's gone to work, hasn't she?" she asked, changing the topic. Kristen nodded. "Have you thought about what to get her for her birthday?"
"I'm gonna paint her something for a start. I don't know what to get her, really," Kristen confessed.
Nell smiled. "That's really sweet, darl. I'm sure she'll love whatever you give her."
"What are you getting her?"
Nell shrugged. "That song you just heard? If I can finish it in time and record it... But if I can't, I guess I'll have to go hunt around the shops for something she thinks she doesn't want but will eventually learn to appreciate."
Kristen chuckled. "She's really lucky to have you in her life," she said wistfully, thinking about her friends back home. She wondered how some of them were.
"A song and a painting? Frances is a lucky girl," Nell said with a laugh.
Frances sneezed. Her day had dragged on after her two hour class, which had gone relatively well. She wasn't able to connect with all her students, however, and that had unsettled her. But, given time, she was sure that everything would work out fine.
Before she let herself into her father's home, she threw a glance at the empty granny flat and a faint smile crept onto her face. Kristen would be home in a few hours and if she was lucky, she might see her before she went home. Kristen Black. Cameron. Black, she thought finally. She would always know Kristen as such.
Something smelled good. Frances' smile deepened when she made her way to the kitchen. She always felt fortunate to have a home cooked meal. Her father rarely cooked for her.
"Hey Dad," she greeted. Russell gave her a look of acknowledgement. "That smells wonderful."
"It better," he said gruffly. "Spent ages on it.
"Can I help?" she asked, walking over to where he was.
"You can set the table," he instructed. "And you can grab the bowl of salad from the fridge."
Frances lifted a brow. "Do I smell soup? Mushroom?" she hazarded a guess. "A three course dinner, Dad? Amazing!"
"Dessert too," Russell said, puffing out his chest. He had gone all out, immersing himself in his cooking to take his mind off what was happening to Taters. Kristen and Ramsey hadn't called; that meant no one from the Food Authorities had showed. He wasn't reassured, however. Tomorrow was a new day.
"Four courses! You're the best, Dad!" Frances said, placing the bowl of salad on the table. "Are we going to have a Christmas party for Taters, Dad?" she asked conversationally. Russell grunted. He hadn't thought about it and he said as much. "You know, we could just do something together, all of us. Play golf, maybe? Or have a picnic," Frances suggested.
"Golf?" Russell asked, sitting himself down at the kitchen table. "You play?"
Frances shook her head. "Always wanted to try it. That and lawn bowling."
"Lawn bowling? That's for old people!" Russell said in disgust. Frances shot him an amused look. "Show some respect, lass," he said warningly at the look on her face.
Frances snickered. "I like watching lawn bowling on TV," she insisted. "And it's not just an old people sport."
Speaking of parties... "What are you doing for your birthday?"
Frances shrugged. "I don't know. Nothing? It's no big deal."
"How about dinner at Taters? Make it a private function. You can invite whoever you want."
Frances lifted a brow. "That's... um... I don't mind having a dinner with just you and the crew, I suppose," she said.
Russell scratched his chin. "An intimate gathering, then."
Frances smirked. "Yeah. That. I wouldn't mind that." When Russell merely nodded without saying anything, Frances decided to change the topic. "What are you gonna do now that you've sold the house?"
Russell shrugged. "Haven't really thought about it. I might buy a yacht."
"Cool!" Frances' eyes widened. "Isn't that really expensive?"
Russell shook his head. "Not compared to owning a house. I could get a second hand 44-foot yacht for much less than a studio apartment in the city. Having it on the marina would be comparable to paying rent."
"Wow," Frances breathed out. The concept of money still boggled her mind at times. "I suppose you'd know. You'd love living on a boat, wouldn't you, Dad? You could go fishing anytime you wanted, with the comfort of your home right there with you. It's perfect." Maybe selling the house was a blessing in disguise.
"That would be the perfect life for me," Russell said grudgingly.
"And I could use your boat from time to time too," Frances said, her mind racing with the possibilities. "Think about how easy it'll be to pull chicks when you say you live on a boat, Dad!" she joked.
"Don't you be getting any fresh ideas," Russell said, shooting his daughter an affectionate look.
"What?" Frances said defensively. "I'm talking about you, not me."
"Uh huh." Russell narrowed his eyes. "Seeing that you've already... pulled chicks... I mean, pulled one yourself."
Frances rolled her eyes, embarrassed. They hadn't spoken about her relationship with Kristen. "That sounds wrong coming from you."
"Are you happy?" Russell asked seriously.
Frances looked at her father in surprise. "I am. Kristen's... great. I love her," she said simply, her heart skipping a beat at her own words.
Russell nodded. "Good. It's good to see you all grown up."
"Thought you said I was still a kid?" Frances said, smiling cheekily.
"You will always be a kid to me," Russell said. "But you're also a woman in your own right, so... it's good to see that you're happy with your choices."
Frances could only smile at her father's words. "Thanks, Dad." She wanted to say that she loved him but the words could not leave her lips. At their shared look, however, she knew that he knew how she felt, and that was enough for her.
"Um, Dad? Is everything okay with you? I mean... all this craziness that's happening at Taters must be really hard on you," Frances said nervously.
"I'm not drinking again, if that's what you're asking," Russell snapped. Then he sighed when Frances flinched. "I've thought about it," he conceded.
"I'm not trying to be a nag. I'm just concerned."
"I know you are. I'm fine. It's hard but I'm fine. The AA meetings are helping. As for what's happening at Taters, I don't know what to do about it. But what's the worst thing that can happen? Losing Taters would be nowhere as hard as losing your mother."
Frances choked back a sob at that. She cleared her throat. "You're... prepared to lose Taters?"
Russell shrugged. "It's a restaurant. Everyone else can find another job. I could take the time off to sail and fish. Why not."
Frances smiled at her father. "That's great positive thinking, Dad. I'm glad you're taking it so easy."
"I have nothing to lose, Frances. You're the only thing that's important to me," Russell said finally, his words causing tears to spring to Frances' eyes. "That's why I want you to stay away from Jack Canning. He's bad news."
"Don't worry, I don't plan to go anywhere near that man. But it makes me so angry... shouldn't we fight back?"
Russell snorted. "And do what? Sabotage his company? Even if I knew how to do it, which I don't, what's the point in lowering ourselves to his level?"
"But... to lose Taters to his underhand methods... that hardly seems fair, Dad," Frances persisted.
Russell shook his head as he plated up their soup. "Whoever said that life is fair?"
Saturday night could not come fast enough for Kristen. They had been jumpy since the rat fiasco, expecting the Food Authorities to shut Taters down, but no one had come. Business had taken a significant dive, however; they had gone from taking almost two hundred covers a day to barely a hundred.
A part of Kristen felt guilty. Surely none of this would have happened if not for her connection to Taters and C&C.
"Kristen?" Kristen looked up at a flustered looking Tammy. "Table Three is kicking up a fuss about not being served. They're demanding to see the chef."
"They ordered five minutes ago," Kristen said angrily after glancing at the docket and the clock. She threw her apron on the bench, exchanged a look with Ramsey, and exited the kitchen. Following Tammy, she made her way to the table of two. "What's the problem?" she asked in a calm voice, sizing them up.
"We want our food! It's been at least thirty minutes now. What kind of service is this?"
"You've only just ordered five minutes ago. A pasta, a bruschetta and two steak sandwiches take time to make," she informed them coldly. It was a lot to order between two people; she was certain that they were deliberately stirring up trouble. "Unless you want the steaks raw."
"Bullshit! We were here longer than that. Weren't we?" one of the men said, turning around to the rest of the restaurant.
"I assure you, Tammy takes down the time of order. And on this docket, it says eight thirty two." She was trying to keep a tight reign on her temper as she placed the docket on the table and pushed it towards the man.
"Well your waitress must be wrong then!" the man said snidely. "We want a refund!" He slammed a fist on the table. A few patrons who had just been seated got up to leave. Tammy went over to them hurriedly.
Kristen lifted a brow. "You haven't paid."
The man faltered but waved a hand. "Well the meal should be on the house then!"
"Like I said, you've only ordered five minutes ago," Kristen ground out. "If you want fast food, there's a Maccas on Parramatta Road. The door out of Taters is right behind me."
"Everyone's gonna hear of this!" the man said, standing up. His companion stood up with him, throwing her a dirty look. "What a fucked up establishment. We heard about the rats a few nights ago but thought we'd give you a chance. No wonder you guys didn't have the guts to go up against Jaycee."
"On the contrary, we weren't interested in going up against Jaycee," Kristen snapped. "You seem to be well-informed of our going-ons."
"If you live in the area, you'd know all about how Taters chickened out of the competition with Jaycee," the man said loudly, looking around.
"Are you looking for trouble, mate? Because I've just called the cops and they're on their way," Ramsey said from behind Kristen. "We'll let them sort it out."
The man looked uncomfortable for a split second. "Let's go," he said to his companion. "We're better off going somewhere else where the service is better and cleaner."
Kristen pinched the bridge of her nose when they left. She looked around at the remaining patrons, who looked slightly uncomfortable. "Sorry you all had to witness that," she said to them.
"Rats?" One of the remaining patrons asked, looking uncomfortably around him.
"We've got it sorted," Tammy said as she hurried to the man's side. "It wasn't due to uncleanliness. As you know, we've only just undergone renovation..."
Kristen allowed Tammy to do the talking as she made her way back to the kitchen with Ramsey. "You didn't really call the cops, did you?"
"Nah, just wanted to scare them off," Ramsey said, shaking his head. "Did the trick."
Kristen sighed, her brows furrowing. "I'm so over this. This is evidently a set up."
"Yeah," Ramsey agreed. "What can we do, though? I think the rats were only the beginning. Tonight's proof of that."
"This has to stop or Taters is going down," Kristen said, shaking her head. "Maybe I should quit. That way, Jack would have no reason to continue his behaviour."
Ramsey snorted. "There's no guarantee that he would stop. It would be in his favour if you leave us."
"Hey guys!" a familiar voice interrupted their conversation.
Kristen looked up and her lips immediately curved up. "Hey," she greeted softly.
"What's wrong?" Frances asked, picking up on the tension. She looked from Ramsey to Kristen. "Did something happen?" she asked, entering the kitchen to stand with them.
"Just some troublemakers," Ramsey said, shaking his head.
"And...?" Frances prompted, feeling like there was more they weren't saying.
"We think it's deliberate."
Frances sighed. "This isn't gonna go away even if we ignore it, is it?" She thought about her conversation with her father the night before and gritted her teeth. It was one thing to talk about taking things easy when you knew that someone meant you harm, and quite another to actually do so.
Kristen shrugged. "I'm afraid not. It's all my fault," she said, pinching the bridge of her nose again.
"It's not your fault that Jack Canning's a dickhead," Ramsey said. "We cannot be responsible for someone else's behaviour."
"I just wanna get outta here," Kristen said, not wanting to waste another second of her time talking about Jack. "Are we closed?"
Ramsey nodded. "Shit yeah. Let's just finish up this last docket, clean up, and get the hell outta here."
"Best thing I heard all night," Kristen murmured, giving Frances a small smile. She scanned the docket again and reached for a pan.
"I'll help," Frances said, taking stock of what needed to be done. She opened the fridges and saw that Kristen had already covered everything up. The benches looked like they had been cleaned as well. That left the floor. Frances made for the broom.
"Thanks, baby," Kristen called out from the stove.
"Anything for you, gorgeous," Frances replied with a smile.
"Ah, young love," Ramsey commented with a loud sigh, eliciting twin looks of amusement. "Just try not to kiss in front of me again. My heart might not be able to take it," he said wryly.
Kristen balled up a tea towel to throw at Ramsey.
Frances flipped through a magazine distractedly as she waited for Kristen to finish her shower. Taters' predicament frustrated her. She could only imagine how the other guys were feeling. Despite what Russell had told her, she still found it hard to stand by and do nothing when Jack was evidently out for blood.
She looked up when Kristen exited the bathroom with a towel wrapped around her body and all thoughts about Taters flew out of her head. Kristen's hair was damp and her skin was slick with moisture. This gorgeous woman was hers, Frances thought, and her heart skipped a beat.
Kristen gave her a shy smile as she rummaged an open drawer for something to put on. Frances tore her eyes away from Kristen and tried to focus on the article about how Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's relationship was allegedly over--again. Short moments later, Frances felt the bed dip and she looked up to see Kristen crawling up the bed towards her.
Kristen rested her cheek on the pillow next to Frances and flung an arm around her waist, sighing when the length of her body came into contact with Frances'. "Hey," Frances said softly, touching a hand to Kristen's cheek.
"I'm so over this, it's not funny," Kristen mumbled with her eyes closed. She pressed her face into Frances' chest and inhaled deeply.
"I know. It totally blows. I'm so sorry," Frances murmured, resting her chin on Kristen's head.
Kristen tightened her hold on Frances as she shifted. "I'm not very good company tonight."
"What are you talking about? I love your company," Frances said, smiling faintly. "Wanna know what's happening with Angelina and Brad?"
Kristen hummed in acquiescence, so Frances began reading the article out loud whilst smoothing Kristen's back with one hand. When Frances got to an article on Kelly Osbourne and her new man in life, she glanced down at Kristen, who looked to be asleep. She quietly placed the magazine on the bedside table and slipped out of bed to turn the lights off. Then she climbed back into bed gingerly, careful not to wake Kristen.
"Good night, dearest," Frances said softly against the back of Kristen's neck as she circled her with her arms. She placed a gentle kiss on her nape. "I love you."
Kristen's lips curved up sleepily and she sighed contentedly in the embrace. "And I, you."
Frances was coaxed into consciousness by a delicious, tingling sensation. She didn't know when her shirt had come off, but the little detail was inconsequential in the greater scheme of things. She moaned softly and her body arched of its own accord. Reaching behind her, she tangled her fingers in Kristen's hair. "What are you doing?" she mumbled through smiling lips.
Kristen was pressing kisses and scraping her teeth across a smooth expanse of skin. She had wondered when Frances would awaken. Frances' breath caught when her hands brushed across her nipples; Kristen smiled against Frances' back.
"God, baby, that feels really good," Frances murmured, wetting her dry lips with her tongue. She squirmed uncomfortably, conscious of the wetness between her legs. She gasped when Kristen's fingers began circling her nipples. She covered one of Kristen's hands with her own free hand and attempted to pull it lower down her body but it refused to adhere to her instruction. "Kristen..."
"Hm?" Kristen kissed her way back up Frances' back to continue her assault on a helpless neck. When her naked breasts rubbed against Frances' back, both of them moaned simultaneously.
"Are you teasing me or is this going somewhere?" Frances rasped out, gasping again when Kristen bit down on her neck. Her eyes flew open. The room was painted gray with early morning light. Her mind idly noted that Kristen was up early for a change.
"What do you reckon?" Kristen murmured coyly, enjoying her power over Frances.
"You're driving me insane," Frances said, trying to turn around to face Kristen. Before she could do that, however, Kristen's hand trailed down her body and past the waistband of her shorts. Frances whimpered as she spread her legs to give Kristen better access. Her eyes fell shut and she drew in a ragged breath.
"You feel so good. So wet. Tell me what you want," Kristen husked out when her fingers came into contact with Frances' wet length.
"I... that... uh huh... yeah, that..." Frances managed to choke out when Kristen began drawing circles on her.
Kristen chuckled lightly. "Is that all you can manage, English teacher?" she teased.
Frances moved her hips in accordance to the rhythm Kristen's fingers were setting. The combination of Kristen's lips, teeth, body and fingers on her was intoxicating and she couldn't seem to form any coherent thoughts. "Oh, God..." She bit on her lower lip as Kristen's fingers tended to her in varying speeds. Her hand in Kristen's hair tightened its hold. "So good..."
"You are so hot, Frances," Kristen murmured. Frances' reaction was exciting her; she was all too aware of her own uncomfortable wetness against Frances' rear.
"Don't stop." Frances forced her eyes open as she turned her face. "Kiss me, baby."
Kristen met Frances' lips with her own and slid her tongue into a willing mouth. She moaned as their tongues tangled in a deep, stroking kiss that she felt in the pit of her belly. She brushed her palm across hard nipples, loving the way Frances was pressing urgently against her. The wetness against her other hand increased; Kristen breathed in the scent of Frances and a shudder went through her body.
Frances broke the kiss roughly to take a breath. "God, Kristen... you feel so good..." Her voice sounded disembodied to her own ears.
"Come for me," Kristen said hotly in Frances' ear, her low, husky voice sending sparks of desire down Frances' side to add to the building pressure in her lower abdomen.
"No..." Frances mumbled, to Kristen's surprise. "More... I want more."
"Fuck, you drive me crazy," Kristen growled out at Frances' words. She slowed her hand and increased its pressure. Frances' breath hitched. Kristen bit down gently on Frances' neck and grabbed at a breast roughly, sighing at the loud moan that was torn from Frances.
"Oh, baby... fuck, that's really..." Frances breathed out, only partly conscious that she wasn't forming coherent sentences. "Faster..."
Kristen did as she was told, eager to pleasure the writhing mass that was Frances. "Like that?"
"Fuck, yes..." Frances hissed. The friction of Kristen's hand against her was setting her body aflame. "Slower now... yeah, just like that..."
She could feel the delicious pressure building in her and she rode on it, whimpering helplessly, wishing that it would last forever but wanting to climax at the same time. Finally, when she couldn't take any more, she squeezed her eyes shut and her body went taut. Her toes curled as insane waves of pleasure crashed through her slender frame.
Kristen moaned; because of the way they were positioned, she could almost feel the orgasm seeping into her own body. She pressed her lips against the curve of Frances' shoulder when she felt her relax.
Frances finally turned in the intimate embrace with a satiated smile playing on her lips. Cupping Kristen's cheek with one hand, Frances pulled her in for a kiss. "Good morning to you too," she murmured against Kristen's lips.
"I love waking up with you," Kristen said, caressing Frances' features with her eyes.
"Me too. With you, that is," Frances replied, smiling when Kristen chuckled lightly. Her body arched into Kristen's and they moaned again when their breasts rubbed against each other's. "You feel so good."
"I want you again," Kristen confessed, her eyes darkening.
Frances flipped Kristen onto her back, pushed the doona off them, and straddled Kristen's waist. She pushed her hair behind her ears as she leaned down to touch Kristen's lips with her own. "Have I created a monster?" she asked teasingly when they stopped for air.
"I just can't get enough of you," Kristen drawled in a low, smoky voice, her lips twitching and her brow arching. "Is that bad?"
"Christ, I'm so into you, Chef," Frances murmured, aroused by the mere tone of Kristen's voice.
"Good," Kristen rasped out, hissing when sharp teeth found a tender spot on her neck. "I wouldn't have it any other way."
Frances trailed her fingers along the length of the fence as she walked down the leafy sidewalk with a bounce in her step. The sky was overcast but she didn't mind the prospect of walking in the rain. There were few cars on the quiet street that she was on.
She missed being close to nature. She hadn't gone camping in forever; perhaps Kristen would want to go away with her one weekend. They would have to find a place that did not require too much climbing, she thought with a faint smile.
A light honk broke her out of her reverie. Frances turned just as a window rolled down. "Hey, Liam," she greeted in surprise. "What are you doing here?"
"Just got back from a mate's. How're you going?" Liam said with an easy, dimpled grin. He really was a good looking fellow, Frances thought. "Want a lift?"
Frances shook her head. "I'm good, thanks. I'm liking the walk."
Liam pursed his lips and peered at the gray sky. "Looks like it's gonna rain though. Come on, I'll give you a lift. I insist."
Frances thought for a moment and gave in. "Thanks, Liam."
Liam sighed inwardly at what he had to do but clenched his jaw briefly. "Hop in," he said, tilting his head. Frances slipped into the passenger seat. "Oh, hey, before we go, do you mind if I borrow your mobile to send a text? I just ran out of credit and..." Before he could finish his sentence, Frances handed him her mobile with a faint smile. "Thanks, Frances. You're the best," he murmured.
After typing out a quick message, he pulled away from the kerb. "I'll just hold on to this in case my friend writes back, yeah?" he said. Frances shrugged in acquiescence. "So, what have you been up to today?"
"Nothing much. Was just hanging out at Kristen's. She's gone to meet her brother. What about you? Had a good day?"
Liam chewed on his lower lip. "Wasn't too bad. Did everything I was supposed to do," he said truthfully as he pulled a left.
"Oh, wait, you don't know where I live. I'm actually..."
"Sorry Frances," Liam said regretfully as he engaged the door lock button. Frances glanced at him curiously. "You and I are gonna have to go on a small trip."
"What do you mean?" Frances asked, confused. When Liam did not answer her, she began to feel a little uneasy. "Liam?" Liam blew out a breath but remained silent. "Where are you taking me, Liam?" Frances asked, staving off her rising panic.
"I'm afraid Jack Canning wants you to disappear."
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