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



Her lips were warm and soft as they trailed across Frances' face, along her jawline and down her neck. Her hands mapped out familiar territory as they slipped under Frances' top, lifting goosebumps along the way. When she touched the undersides of Frances' breasts, Frances let out a low moan, followed by a throaty chuckle.

Nell's head jerked up. "What's so funny?" she asked, kissing the pulse point just below Frances' ear. She loved how Frances' eyes darkened into fathomless pools when she was aroused.

"I- Nothing. It's, oh, that feels good," Frances breathed when Nell scraped her nails along her torso. Nell's ministrations, combined with the alcohol that they had been drinking, made her head spin. Then she squeezed her eyes shut and tried to clear her head of treacherous wisps of desire. "No, wait, we can't do this. Nell?"

Nell pushed herself up from the mattress and rested her chin in her palm. "Why not?" she asked with a pout. Her fingers were still circling Frances' stomach, hoping to coax her back into the loving mood.

"Because... it doesn't feel right anymore...." Frances said softly. She leaned forward to plant a chaste kiss on Nell's face. "I think our time has passed," she said regretfully. "And we can't keep picking up where we left off whenever we want. You know I love you, right?"

A month before Frances returned from Vietnam, Nell had called it quits with Gerard, who she had been seeing for a while. Frances' unexpected return had given Nell the familiar shoulder to lean on. They had been lovers, and then best friends with occasional benefits when neither of them were with anyone special, so falling back into old habits hadn't been too difficult.

Nell narrowed her eyes but respected Frances' wishes. She pulled Frances close, however, and rested her forehead in the crook of Frances' neck. "But I'm horny...."

Frances chuckled as she relaxed in Nell's embrace. "I know, hon, we'll just have to find someone for you. What about that woman the other night at the Courthouse? She seemed pretty keen to hang out," Frances suggested, her fingers playing idly with Nell's hair.

Nell pulled her head back to roll her eyes at her friend. "She was interested in you, not me!"

"She said she would love to hang out with us," Frances reminded Nell.

"Before handing you her number," Nell retorted.

"Huh. Well then maybe I should give her a call," Frances said, her eyes dancing. She broke out into a laugh when Nell flashed her an indignant look. "Okay, okay, I won't! Christ! Heaven forbid if I chose anyone over you, Missy!"

"I need a smoke! If you can't satiate my beast, then I need nicotine!" Nell said as she scrambled off Frances' bed. "You coming?"

Frances smirked at Nell and crawled off the bed to follow her friend out of her room. "Not in the way I'd like to, but yes," she said under her breath, her lips twitching.

It wasn't that she didn't find Nell attractive anymore but her heart just wasn't into it. Like she told Nell, perhaps their time was truly over. She loved Nell and she loved their closeness but falling back into a sexual relationship with Nell would mess with her head again and she could do without that. What she needed right now was for everything to be uncomplicated.

"Hey," she said softly as she approached Nell, who looked so small sitting there on the grass beside the hammock. "You forgot your wine." Frances set down their bottle of wine and glasses and ruffled Nell's hair before dropping herself down next to her. They were facing opposite sides of the yard with their thighs touching. Frances leaned gently into Nell and they shared a smile. The night air was chilly. Frances was glad that she had her jumper on.

"I love you too," Nell said when Frances lit a cigarette. She drained her glass of wine and proceeded to top it up.

Frances rested her cheek on Nell's shoulder. "Maybe I shouldn't go back to Hanoi. I've forgotten what it's like to be in Sydney. If I'm here, then maybe Dad and I can actually build a relationship." She blew out a line of smoke as she ruminated out loud.

"You know I'd love to have you here all the time," Nell said. "I missed hanging out with you. But do whatever you need to do, darl. Do whatever you feel is good for you. I know you're still hurting."

Frances felt her breath catch. "I don't think it's ever gonna stop hurting, Nell. Maybe I should stop focussing on trying to get that to stop and start working on what I have with my Dad. Which isn't much. And if I continue to make myself absent in his life, he'll probably drink himself to death and... and I'll have no one." She didn't expect to get melodramatic but the alcohol was making everything seem so dire.

"Then stay," Nell said simply, bumping Frances' shoulder with her own. She grinned. "I'd be glad to have my sidekick back in full time action."

"I'll think about it," Frances said, feeling lightheaded now that all the heaviness in her chest had dissipated. "You always help me make sense of things." She leaned closer to Nell as she mirrored her grin. Their noses were almost touching.

Footsteps caused them to pull apart slightly and Frances looked up to see Kristen trudging across the yard with a tentative look on her face. "Hello, Chef," she greeted lightly. "How was your day?"

"Busy." Kristen didn't know if she had stumbled on anything private; it looked like a cosy setting and Frances was sitting very close to her friend... Nell, was it? Had they been kissing? She didn't think that they were involved. Kristen hoped that her discomfort did not show.

"Come have a glass of wine with us," Frances offered.

Kristen was about to reject her offer when Nell piped up. "Yeah, come on over. I didn't know you live here. Kristen, right?"

Frances shifted her sitting position so that she was also facing Kristen. "Come on! I've got wine, so you'll be nice to me tonight," she added cheekily.

Kristen rolled her eyes and gave in. "Are you guys drunk?" she asked suspiciously, coming to stand in front of them. Frances and Nell had matching grins on their faces. "I have to work tomorrow."

"Oh, pffttt...." Frances said, rolling her eyes. "Me too. Here." She handed Kristen her own glass with the last bit of red wine from the bottle. "Uh oh. We're out."

Nell sighed dramatically at her friend. "I told you we should have gotten two bottles."

"Yeah, yeah, you're the wise one. Will you run down to the Bottle-O for another? I'll shout...." she said coaxingly. Kristen watched the familiar exchange in amusement, feeling slightly out of place. She was about to tell them that they didn't have to do that when Frances looked at her sharply. "Why are you still standing?" she demanded.

Kristen lifted a brow. Nell caught the look on Kristen's face and started chuckling as she got up. She patted the seat of her pants and shook her head, directing a long suffering sigh at Kristen. "Sometimes I'm not sure myself why I'm friends with such a bossy bitch." Kristen smirked.

"You, sit," Frances said, enjoying herself immensely as she pointed at Kristen, ignoring her arched look. "And you, wallet," she said to Nell, handing over the item. "More wine. Two bottles. Three. Whatever you like."

Nell swung around with her hands on her hips. "Please."

"Pretty please with a cherry on top?" Frances said, peering up under her long dark lashes, her deepening dimples making her hard to resist.

Nell managed to look mollified as she sauntered off, leaving Kristen with her tipsy friend.

When Frances noticed that Kristen was still not doing what she was told to do, she sighed, reached over, and grabbed the woman's hand. A sharp yank later, a surprised Kristen came to sit down beside her. "That's better," Frances said to herself, pleased.

"How much have you had to drink?" Kristen asked, not sure what to make of Frances in this state. Sure, they had gotten drunk together before. But then, they had been on equal footing. She had always found it amusing to observe inebriated people when she herself was sober.

Frances' forehead wrinkled. "Not a lot. I'm just behaving badly because I can." She grabbed Nell's glass and lifted it up between Kristen and herself. "Cheers."

Kristen reached for her glass of wine and clinked it against Frances'. They each took a sip and Kristen sighed when the liquid made its way into her stomach.

"I hope you don't mind drinking out of my glass," Frances said belatedly. "Heh. Too late. I've most probably given you lesbian germs."

Kristen almost snorted at that. "Hardly," she quipped dryly before taking another sip of the wine.

"Oh. Well. One can try," Frances said with a shrug of her shoulders. Kristen shot her a bemused look at that but did not comment. "Uh... so my Dad's home too?"

"Uh huh. Should we ask him to join us?" Kristen said teasingly.

"And have him tell me I shouldn't be hitting on his chef? No way!" Frances laughed. When Kristen did not say anything, she hurriedly backpedalled. "I'm just kidding. Swear," she said, lifting her hands up to show that she was harmless. "It's just that I've got sex in my head at the moment and -"

Kristen's brows jumped to her hairline at that. Frances slapped her palm against her forehead. "Oh, God! It's all coming out wrong like it always does with you, isn't it?" she groaned.

"Huh. Here you are calling me 'God' again. How can I begrudge that?" Kristen said, a smile twitching her lips. She found an inebriated Frances very entertaining. "And why do you have sex in your head at the moment?" she asked, dropping her voice into a whisper. Her voice came out lower than she had intended; Frances shot her a quick look and pursed her lips in a guilty smile.

"Oh. You know," Frances said vaguely as she sipped her wine, wondering why Nell was taking so long. The bottle shop was only two blocks down the road.

"No, I don't. Therefore the question," Kristen pressed on, enjoying herself. This definitely beat whatever she had planned to do tonight to unwind.

"Can we change the topic, please?" Frances pleaded. "I gave you wine...." she trailed off, hope colouring her voice.

Kristen bit back a chuckle. "Uh huh, and I'm supposed to be nice to you because you gave me wine?" At Frances' nod, she continued wickedly, "Exactly how nice do you want me to be?" she said suggestively, giving Frances no room to doubt what she was alluding to.

Frances would have choked on her wine if she had any in her mouth at that moment. But she didn't, so all she could do was to gape at Kristen; her mind was racing with a hundred different ways of answering that question but she wasn't sure how far she should take this unintended flirtation before the woman ran back to her flat screaming. "What, are you offering to be nice?" she asked in what she hoped was a skeptical tone, her voice breaking slightly.

Kristen shrugged as she reached over for Frances' packet of cigarettes. "I don't know. It depends. On what you mean by 'nice'." She whipped out a cigarette and put it between her lips slowly, conscious that Frances was tracking her every move with her eyes. It made her blood rush like it always did whenever she knew that she had someone's undivided attention. She lit the cigarette but instead of blowing out the smoke, allowed it to leak out slowly from between her lips. Her voice was low and a tad scratchy when she said, "I don't usually do 'nice'."

Frances could only stare at Kristen's lips as her brain attempted to catch up with what she was saying. Her way she curved her lips, slanted her eyes, lowered her voice.... The woman knew what she had and how to work it. Then she snapped to attention--Kristen was obviously baiting her as usual. Two could play this game.

Frances plucked the cigarette from Kristen's fingers and took a drag from it to give herself time to think. "Let's start slow then," she said finally, leaning closer to Kristen so that she looked right into her eyes. Then, with her heart in her throat, she lowered her eyes to Kristen's lips. Her meaning was also clear.

Kristen knew that if she wanted to stop this game that they were playing, she had to do it now. Now was the time to pull back, chuckle, and change the topic. But to pull back now would somehow mean that she had lost the challenge. And she was curious to see if Frances would carry it through. Frances, who seemed so vanilla, somehow.

Frances licked her lower lip unconsciously. Her gaze flickered from Kristen's lips to her eyes, then back to her lips. What was she doing? I absolutely cannot be thinking of kissing Kristen Black right now, she thought. But their breaths were intermingling and the cool night air was wrapping itself around them. She found herself drawn to the warmth emanating from Kristen.

She brought a hand up to push an errant lock of hair away from Kristen's face and let her fingers linger on Kristen's cheek. It was their only point of physical contact and Frances was very aware of it. "Kiss me," she challenged softly, looking back into Kristen's eyes. This had to be Kristen's choice.

For someone who had never entertained the thought of kissing women in her life, Kristen could see the irony in having her second kiss with a woman in a week. All right, she decided, she would show Frances 'nice'. She touched her lips to Frances' softly, then with more pressure. A wisp of Frances' hair tickled her face and she was reminded again exactly who she had her lips pressed against. She was about to pull away--surely that was nice enough--when Frances caught her lower lip between her lips and slid a warm tongue across it.

Frances concentrated fully on the kiss. She moved her lips gently, but sensually and firmly. Her fingers splayed open on Kristen's cheek and slid onto her neck as she gently pulled Kristen closer. Without removing her lips from Kristen's, Frances slanted her face and touched her tongue to Kristen's, deepening the kiss. Then she lightly nipped at Kristen's lower lip--was that a catch in her breath?--and finally sank into the warmth of Kristen's mouth.

Kristen could not help comparing the kiss that she had shared with Eleanor with the kiss she was currently engaged in. That had been enjoyable, but this was hot, dark and wet. Her eyes had fluttered shut when their kiss deepened. She could taste a heady mix of wine and tobacco. When Frances' tongue tangled with hers, she felt a shiver go down her side. Frances was intimately stroking her face, stroking her tongue, breathing into her mouth--nothing was hurried. It could have gone on for a minute or ten, Kristen could not be sure.

The kiss finally wound down and they pulled away from each other, both breathing a little heavier. Frances dropped her hand from Kristen's face and the chill of the night air hit her slightly flushed cheek. Kristen opened her eyes and saw a nervous smile playing on Frances' lips. Kristen did not know what to say. That was... a little more than enjoyable.

"So what did I miss?" Nell's approaching chirpy voice splashed over them like a bucket of cold water.

"Huh? Nothing!" Frances said quickly.

"I was just gonna go take a shower," Kristen said as she started to get up.

"But I got us more booze!" Nell said with a frown, raising two bottles of wine as proof.

Kristen bit on her lower lip and its silky smooth texture reminded her that she had just been very thoroughly kissed by no one other than Frances Russell. "I'll... be back," she said in a casual tone as she walked away.

"Well hurry back!" Nell said, already twisting open a bottle of wine.

The hot water system was working fine on this occasion when a cold shower would probably be more suitable. Kristen stood under a warm spray of water, staring idly at the soap suds circling the drain. Her mind flashed back to her very recent kiss and she brought a hand to her lips unconsciously. She shook her head to clear it. So Frances was a good kisser--what about it?

She had to admit that she had developed a grudging liking for Frances, but purely in a platonic manner. Frances had a good heart and a quick tongue--oh, her tongue... Kristen shook her head again to dislodge the thread of thought her mind was taking. Turning the water off, Kristen stepped out of the shower stall and quickly dried herself with a towel. The shower had relaxed her. She felt languid and no longer like socialising. She would tell Nell and Frances that she was really tired and had to go to bed.

Wiping the vapour from the bathroom mirror, Kristen scrutinized her reflection. It had probably been too long since she had had her itch scratched. Perhaps she should have a night out on her next day off. A part of her wished that she had kept the number of at least one of the men she had slept with so that she could give them a booty call but that would be breaking her rule of not keeping contact with any of her one night stands. No repeat performances meant no hassle.

After putting on comfortable sleeping attire, Kristen contemplated jumping into bed without going back out into the yard. But the thought of them sitting there, waiting for her.... Kristen sighed.

She called back the image of Frances and Nell sitting really close to each other earlier in the night and wondered for the second time if she had interrupted them making out. Frances did mention that she had sex in her head. It had been the comment that had led to them kissing.

Kristen frowned. Even though she did not want the kiss to mean anything, she did not relish the thought of Frances making out with first Nell, then herself, just because she was sexually frustrated. She felt impelled to investigate.

The women were at the hammock, where she had left them. There was a respectable distance between them, an observation that satisfied Kristen. Frances was giggling hysterically at something Nell was saying. Kristen felt her own lips curl up in response.

Frances collected herself and noticed Kristen approaching them. "Hey. Good shower?"

Kristen nodded. "Yeah, really good. In fact, so good that I'm gonna crash instead of hang out."

Frances and Nell sported matching pouts at that. "One glass of wine before you go? A nightcap!" Nell coaxed with a glass of wine in her outstretched hand.

"Yeah. You're all clean and nice smelling now so you can sit on the hammock," Frances added persuasively, patting the hammock next to her.

Kristen smirked. She realised that she had anticipated feeling awkward around Frances but it wasn't the case. If she sat down now and had a drink with them, the night would not end with the kiss and it could be swept under the rug.

"Pretty please with a cherry on top?"

"That phrase often work for you?" Kristen asked sardonically, nodding her thanks at Nell for the glass of wine. She went over to the hammock and carefully put her weight on it. Her legs dangled beside Frances, who was sitting on a patch of grass next to her.

Frances chuckled but it was Nell who answered, "To date, all the time. That phrase and those dimples are a lethal combination."

"Hey! Stop giving away my secrets!" Frances said, slapping her friend's arm lightly.

"So Kristen, what's it like living here?" Nell asked conversationally, ignoring Frances.

"Like living anywhere else, I suppose," Kristen said with a shrug. She caught Frances' eyes and smirked. "Until this one here came into the picture. She's emptied filthy water all over me and slammed a door in my face since she's been here. Frankly, I should ask Russell to give me a week's free rent to make up for all that."

Nell snorted disbelievingly at Frances, who was visibly reddening despite the pale lighting in the yard.

"I said I was sorry," Frances mumbled in a piteous tone.

"That she did," Kristen said grudgingly. "And she made me supper one night. I guess we're even."

"Really? We're even?" Frances' eyes narrowed as she gazed suspiciously at a smirking Kristen. She rested a hand on Kristen's knee before turning her gaze on Nell. "She's been torturing me at work ever since," she said, hooking her thumb behind her at Kristen, "so it's not like she's been nice or anything."

At the mention of 'nice', Frances and Kristen were both reminded just how nice Kristen could be. Frances quickly pulled her hand away from Kristen's knee as though it was scalded and Kristen flushed slightly. Nell lifted a brow at the interesting development.

"All right, I think I'm done for the night," Kristen said, handing her empty glass to Nell. "Thanks for the nightcap, ladies," she said, getting up from the hammock just as Frances turned her body to bid her goodnight. Her hand holding the wine glass connected with Kristen's knee; red wine splashed onto Kristen's pyjama pants.

"Uh oh," Frances said in a small voice.

Kristen rolled her eyes at Frances and sighed. "I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. You fully earned your nickname, Jinx."

"Oh God...." Frances mumbled, covering her eyes with her free hand.

"Put down your glass of wine and slowly move your hand away," Kristen said, her voice low and laced with amusement. Satisfied that Frances was not going to empty the rest of her wine on her, Kristen stood up and stepped away from the hammock. "All right, this is goodnight for real now."

Nell chuckled at the display between Frances and Kristen. "Goodnight, Kristen. And can I say, it has been a pleasure."



It was a good week for Taters. Since hiring Missy, Tammy had managed to acquire another staff member, Liam, who seemed to fit in well with their existing floor crew, as well as a new kitchenhand, Sandra, to replace Frances. Russell's invitation to go out to sea had been well received by everyone, and even though he hadn't said anything about whether they were going to take part in C&C's cooking competition, Tammy was sure whatever Russell's decision was, it would not affect Taters' patronage.

Russell plated up two meals and hollered when the new floor staff was nowhere in sight. He was sporting a headache that the painkillers he had taken did nothing for. That, on top of his sore stomach was making him grumpier than usual, if that was possible.

Frances, on the other hand, was nursing her own hangover and was attempting to concentrate on the pile of dishes before her. She was rarely addressed during service unless Russell or Kristen had a bone to pick with her so she was determined to make herself as small and efficient as possible so as not to be noticed. No such luck.

"This is not a socialising venue!" Russell shouted from his station when the new guy, Liam, once again lingered too long at the dishwashing station to talk to Frances. "Lad, if I see you hovering again, I'll put you on dishes and Frances can have the day off!"

Frances immediately wished for it to happen. Liam, on the other hand, didn't. "Sorry, Boss!" he called out. "Won't do it again," he said before exiting the kitchen, but not before giving Frances a conspiratorial wink.

Half Irish and half Chinese, Liam was a good looking lad with charm to boot. Frances would not be surprised if he had all the women at Taters wrapped around his little finger by the end of the shift. Even she was warming up to his charm. Then she snuck a look at Kristen and corrected herself. All the women but Kristen, that is. She could not imagine Kristen being wrapped around anyone's finger.

Almost as though she knew that Frances was thinking about her, Kristen looked up and arched a brow at the kitchenhand. "Jinx, stop dallying and get on with your work!" she called out with a smirk. "Otherwise you might still be here tomorrow doing those dishes when you could be snorkelling with me at the bay."

Oh yeah. It would be a shame if Kristen ever let herself be wrapped around anyone's finger. Frances spent the rest of the shift trying not to think about Kristen, wrapping and fingers. It wasn't easy but it did make her forget about her hangover.

The Taters crew was gathered in the beer garden as usual at the end of the night. Liam was still in high spirits and was entertaining Tammy and Missy with his antics. He occasionally sent a smile or a wink Frances' way. Frances had to admit that she was flattered by his attention.

"I want to talk to you all about the cooking competition," Russell said abruptly. All conversations lulled immediately at his gruff voice. "I've spoken to the owners of the other restaurants and we've decided to go along with it."

Kristen shifted in her seat.

"Kristen, you and Ramsey talk about which one of you wants to join the competition with me. They're just asking for two chefs so it'll be me and one of you."

"Okay," Kristen said, feeling a rush of relief. She would make sure that Ramsey joined the competition, not her. On the day, she would make some excuse to not show up.

Russell nodded and took a swig from his bottle. That signified the end of the announcement.

"So, Chef, how long have you been working here?" Liam asked Kristen conversationally. Apart from the people not on roster that day and the boss, she was the only person at Taters he hadn't made a connection with.

"A while," Kristen said. She had things on her mind and did not feel like conversing.

"You make good food," he continued, flashing Kristen a genuine smile. "The food here's amazing. I've been here a few times with mates and everyone raves about it. I can't tell you how awesome it is to get a job here."

Kristen gave him an absent smile as she sipped her wine. She caught sight of Frances circling the rim of her glass of water with her index finger, seemingly deep in thought. She took the opportunity to look at the woman, trailing her eyes over dark lashes, a well defined nose and smooth complexion before lingering on Frances' lips.

Frances' hair was tied up again in a ponytail, exposing a wide expanse of neck. Kristen's gaze wandered up Frances' jawline. Frances only ever wore one earring--a black hooped stretcher earring on her right ear. Kristen wondered if the stretching process had been painful.

Frances met Kristen's gaze and gave her a questioning look. Kristen gently shook her head but held Frances' eyes with her own, her lips curving into a small smile. Frances began smiling too, self-consciously, and quickly finished her glass of water before turning her attention to Liam, who had asked her a question.

"Uh, no, I don't think so. I'm still recovering from last night's drink session," Frances said sheepishly to Liam's invitation to grab a drink with Missy and himself. She found herself searching out Kristen's gaze again at that and they shared a grin. "Speaking of which... Dad, can we go? I'm tired," Frances said to her father.

Liam's eyes rounded. Apparently he hadn't known that Frances was the boss' daughter.

"You're driving," Russell said gruffly, throwing her a bunch of keys. "Kristen?"

Kristen nodded and quickly finished up her wine. She was still trying to decide if she wanted to go prowling tonight, taking into account that Frances and she were going snorkelling the next day. Regardless, she had to go home and grab a shower. She stood up and bade everyone goodnight before trailing behind Frances and Russell.

Liam looked even more confused. "Kristen lives with Frances and the boss?" he asked Tammy and Missy when they left. "And why didn't anyone tell me that Frances is the boss' daughter?"

"What does it matter?" Tammy asked, chuckling as she got up herself. "Come on, you two, I'm closing up."

Part 18

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