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



Russell's car was totalled. And even though the accident hadn't been his fault, he still got demerit points, a big fine and three months loss of licence for driving over the limit. Russell couldn't care less; he had more things to worry about, like not having had any alcohol for three full days now.

He had started getting the shakes, and that was the least of his discomfort. He had woken up one time certain that there were ants crawling under his skin and worms wriggling around mercilessly in his brain. He could not escape them, not even in sleep. If there was a hell, he was certain that this was it.


Frances. His daughter was not leaving anymore. He tried to derive some comfort from the knowledge but it wasn't possible. He tried to smile for her sake but he feared that it came out looking more like a grimace.

"Can I get you anything?" Frances was worried.

"No." He squeezed his eyes shut. Then a clear thought made its way into his mind. It might have come in the form of Marie's voice, he wasn't sure. "I need to be checked into rehab," he said finally.

So instead of being discharged, Kevin Russell was admitted to rehab instead.

Frances wandered around the house listlessly. She knew that she should be feeling more hopeful now that her father was receiving treatment but she could not shake off the depression that had snuck up on her in the days that followed his accident.

She had not felt like seeing anyone--not Nell, not Kristen, not anyone from Taters. She knew they were concerned but she needed space and time for her mind to process everything which had occurred in the short span of time. Eleanor and Teagan had both rung her after learning of her father's accident. They had suggested coming over to keep her company but she had refused their kind offers.

Taters was open for business again. Russell had left Tammy and the chefs in charge. Frances had told Tammy that she would be happy to help out with a shift or two if she needed, but Tammy had been adamant not to burden Frances if she could help it. The most urgent thing for Tammy was to look for someone to help out in the kitchen; until then, Kristen and Ramsey would have to be on six days a week.

Then there was the cook off. Kristen would have to take Russell's place in it if they did not end up pulling out instead, which was what Kristen was pushing for, stating a rather convincing case that they had more important things on their plate than a silly cook off.

The knock on her front door caused Frances to frown. She was in no mood to see, much less talk to, anyone. She hoped her lack of response would deter them but the knocking continued, much to her annoyance.

She finally flung the door open to reveal Nell and Eleanor. They wore worried but determined expressions. "Don't you guys have to work?" she asked, surprised to see them at her house in broad daylight. She had expected it to be the postman.

"And hello to you too, Missy!" Nell huffed as she walked into the house with Eleanor. Eleanor chose to take a softer approach and leaned over to give Frances a hug. "To people like us who take note of time passing, it's a Saturday. What are you doing?"

"Nothing," Frances replied dully. Saturday? Had she been cooped up in the house for that many days? "I'm thinking maybe I should rearrange the furniture in this house. Do some spring cleaning."

"Honey, are you okay?" Eleanor asked, taking in Frances' unkempt appearance.

"Yeah. I'm just tired, you know? A lot's happened," Frances tried to explain.

Nell stared at her and allowed her stern expression to soften. "We know, darl, but you're not doing yourself any good by cooping up in the house."

"I don't feel like going out. What's wrong with that?" Frances said defensively.

"I spoke to Kristen; even she hasn't seen you," Nell said accusingly. "And she lives on your property!"

"What? You spoke to Kristen? Since when were you chummy with her?" Frances asked irritably, not liking the fact that her friends were checking up on her.

"She's worried about you too," Nell said finally. "We all are. What can we do to help?"

Frances sighed. "I don't know. Nothing. I just need some space, you know? From everything that's happened. Dad's okay. Or he will be, at least. I can't even visit him till they say I can. It's a little freaky and my head's imagining crazy things like maybe they're keeping him locked up and away from me against his will." At Nell's panicked look, Frances shook her head. "I know. I know it's not true. There's nothing wrong with me. I just... my mind just needs to process what's going on. I'll be fine in a day or two."

"It's been five days since your Dad's gone to rehab. We're not trying to be unreasonable, darl."

Frances' shoulders slumped. She knew that Nell was right. "Okay. I'm just gonna grab a shower and we can get out of here for a bit, okay?" she acquiesced. Nell and Eleanor smiled at her suggestion and suddenly Frances felt much better about her decision.

Her shower was quick but cleansing. She threw on a simple black dress with thin shoulder straps. It fell just past her knees. She left her damp hair down to dry. Nell and Eleanor flanked her as they left her house. The fresh air immediately made her feel so much better. Sandals in hand, she walked to Nell's truck barefooted, enjoying the feel of grass under her feet.

Nell took them to a café in Marrickville. After a coffee and some food, Frances felt almost normal again.

"So where do you wanna go now?" Eleanor asked, squeezing Frances' arm softly. It was a beautiful spring day and Nell could take them anywhere they pleased in her truck.

Frances thought for a moment. "Taters."

Nell looked at her worriedly. "Darl..." she started.

"I just wanna go let everyone know that I'm fine, and then we can go somewhere else, okay?" Frances explained.

"All right. Everyone'll be glad to see you, I'm sure," Nell said, relenting. "Maybe we can go to the beach after that. It's a beautiful day for the beach. What do you reckon, Eleanor?"

Eleanor nodded. "And there's an open house tonight at a gallery on Albion Street. Would you be interested in that, Frances? Teagan finishes work at six. We could all grab dinner together before heading down."

Frances shrugged agreeably, a small smile on her face. "Sure. Sounds good."

Taters was a hive of activity. They normally got a good lunch crowd in on Saturdays and today was no exception. Frances had butterflies in her stomach at the thought of seeing Kristen. She wasn't sure what her reception would be like.

For a brief moment, Frances wondered if she might have inadvertently pushed the woman away in her quest for space. The fear made her quicken her step.

"Oh, Frances! How are you doing, sweetie? You look gorgeous," Tammy said, giving Frances a hug the moment she entered Taters. Liam was on that afternoon. He gave her a cheerful wave and wink when he saw her. He was in the middle of taking someone's order.

"I'm good. How are you coping? Have you found anyone for the kitchen yet?" Frances asked.

"Someone's on trial at the moment. But I don't think Kristen likes him very much...." Tammy said, trailing off. Frances' heart lurched at the mention of Kristen's name. "Hey girls, do you want something to eat or drink?" Tammy asked Nell and Eleanor.

Frances made a beeline for the kitchen. Nell and Eleanor trailed behind her after telling Tammy that they had just had lunch. When Frances approached the counter that separated the kitchen from the restaurant, she could hear Kristen's distasteful voice asking a poor fellow quite rhetorically if he would eat the salad that he had just prepared. Frances pitied him when the fellow actually said 'yes'. Kristen tipped the bowl of salad into the bin, telling him, "If I wanted your opinion, I would give it to you."

A smile stole over Frances' features. She enjoyed Kristen's snark way too much.

"Now I see what you mean when you say she's obnoxious at work," Eleanor murmured beside her. Frances smirked at her friend. "Damn, she is hot."

Frances was reminded once again that Eleanor fancied Kristen. She had to agree with her friend's assessment. Kristen was in a black chef jacket with the sleeves rolled up and matching black pants. Her hair was tied up in a tight ponytail, making her sharp features all the more prominent. One of her hands was on her hip while the other was scratching a temple.

"Hey Chef," Frances called out nervously. Kristen's green eyes snapped up at the sound of her voice.

"Hey," Kristen responded before flickering her eyes to Nell and Eleanor. She gave them a small smile before returning her attention to Frances. "How're you doing?"

Frances swallowed. "They finally got me out of the house," she said sheepishly, pointing to her friends. Kristen's expression softened and she looked faintly amused.

"That's what friends are for eh, Kristen?" Nell chirped. "Make you do shit you don't wanna do." She slipped an arm around Frances and pulled her head onto her shoulder affectionately.

"We're thinking of going to an art gallery tonight if you wanna join us, you know, after you finish here," Frances said nervously.

Kristen felt put in a spot. She shot the fellow on trial, Tony, an annoyed look when she caught him checking out the girls and listening in to their conversation. "Actually, I was wondering if I could talk to you about something?" She directed her question at Frances, wanting to get her alone and away from Tony's roving eyes. Frances looked really good in that dress; it was the first time Kristen had seen her in one.

"Oh, okay. Sure," Frances said quickly. She threw her friends an apologetic look and followed Kristen out into the small yard.

Kristen shut the door behind Frances so that no one could hear their conversation. "Hey," she said again, this time in a warmer tone.

"I'm sorry I haven't seen you. I've been a little messed up and I -"

Kristen shook her head. "You don't have to explain. I understand."

Frances bit her lip nervously. "So what did you want to talk to me about? Is everything okay?" she asked.

Kristen reached a hand out to pull Frances closer to her. Her action made Frances' heart skip a beat. Kristen wasn't mad or annoyed with her. She had understood her need to hibernate. "Yeah. I'm glad you're doing okay," Kristen said as they hugged.

Frances closed her eyes and sighed softly. "So, the new guy's no good?" she asked, her lips twitching when she recalled Kristen's cutting words earlier.

"Nuh uh," Kristen murmured as she pulled away. She was secretly thrilled their hands were still linked.

"Maybe you can make him close up with Ramsey and you can come out with us," Frances suggested, swinging their hands a little.

Kristen lifted a brow. "Now that is a brilliant idea."

"I'm pretty good like that, I've been told," Frances said with a cheeky smile. Why hadn't she wanted to see Kristen for this long? Being around the woman made her feel tons better. But she knew that she had needed that time away from everyone.

"Are you really okay? I've been worried," Kristen said seriously. She had tried so hard to stay away, to not knock on the door to the house each time she passed it.

"You're really quite sweet, you know?" Frances said teasingly. Kristen looked uncomfortable at the comment and Frances chuckled. Then her tone turned serious too. "I'm sorry. It's how I cope," she said by way of explanation. "Thank you for caring."

Kristen was disappointed when Frances released her hand but the feeling faded away quickly when Frances leaned in closer and linked her hands behind her neck. "Is this okay?" Frances asked softly.

Kristen could only nod mutely in response. Her breath had caught in her throat. She slid her own hands around Frances' waist and pulled her body against her own. Frances was smiling at her in a way that made her body very warm. She could feel Frances' breath on her face as their lips hovered around each other's, teasing, not touching. Kristen's smile widened, revealing the edges of her straight, white teeth; her eyes were fixed on those curved lips and accompanying dimples.

Finally, their lips met--gently at first, then more forcefully as their hunger for deeper contact grew. Frances' arms wound themselves tighter behind Kristen and Kristen ran her hands up and down Frances' sides and back; she could feel Frances' soft warm skin through the thin fabric of the dress. Frances' dark hair fell forward and enveloped them. The fruity smell of Frances' shampoo sent Kristen's senses into overdrive. She felt addicted to this woman in her arms. It was an insane sensation.

Frances whimpered when Kristen pulled away with some difficulty. When she licked her lower lip unconsciously, she could swear that Kristen growled. And then they were kissing again, their faces slanted and their tongues searching. Frances trailed her fingers down Kristen's cheek and she stroked the smooth skin there softly. She bit down on Kristen's lip gently and felt Kristen smile.

"What are you doing to me?" Kristen asked breathlessly when their kiss broke again.

"Kissing you," Frances replied, wishing that she could be doing more than that.

"You look- I want to tear this dress off you," Kristen said in her low, husky voice, sending a spike of desire through Frances. "I have never wanted to tear anyone's dress off."

"Oh." Frances felt weak at the words and the tone in which they were delivered. "I wish you could get outta here," she murmured, leaning her forehead against Kristen's.

"So do I," Kristen answered in kind. "You are evil," she said finally as she untangled herself from Frances reluctantly. How was she supposed to go through an entire shift after that?

"Will you come out tonight? If you feel up to it...." Frances trailed off.

"It'll be late," Kristen said, looking into dark pools of desire... that was directed at her. The knowledge made her weak and feverish and she had to collect her thoughts. "I can't just dump Tony on Ramsey."

Frances nodded. "If you're still not done by the time I am, I could come to Taters and we could go home together," she offered.

Kristen smiled. "Yeah, I'd like that." She had missed Frances. Knowing that her absence was going to be a thing of the past made her happy.

They went back into the kitchen. Frances smiled when she saw Ramsey and went over to give him a hug before she left the kitchen. Kristen followed Frances' passage with her eyes. She smiled when Frances turned back to wave at her. Then she caught Tony's inquisitive eyes and rolled her own.

"What are you looking at?" she snapped at him, feeling extremely frustrated at the turn of events.



Tabou was a restaurant in Surry Hills that served traditional French cuisine. It wasn't a big place; Eleanor had rung them up after they left Taters that afternoon to make a reservation for the four of them. Teagan had rushed down after her work wrapped up, eager to see Frances. Frances was touched by her friends' concern and support.

The food was exquisite. By the end of their meal, all four women were more than a little tipsy. They had indulged in several glasses of pink champagne each.

"Is Kristen coming to join us?" Nell asked as she finished off the last of her Bombe Alaska dessert. "Oh my, I am stuffed," she said, sliding a little down her chair as she patted her stomach with a sated look on her face.

"Not sure. Depends on what time she finishes work."

"So... you're chummy with Kristen now, huh," Eleanor commented. She had recently straightened her flaming head of hair and the new look had given her a lot of attention. She looked stunning, dressed casually in a sleeveless blouse with floral prints and fitting jeans.

Frances flushed a little as she smiled, hoping that her friends would attribute the colour on her cheeks to the alcohol that she had consumed. "Yeah, she's... nice," she said lamely, stuck for adjectives that would not give away her attraction to Kristen. It wasn't that she wanted to hide what was going on between them; she just wasn't sure if Kristen would be comfortable with it.

"Among other things," Eleanor said with a lift of a brow. The conversation sounded like the one Frances had had with Kristen on the boat not too long ago and the memory of what had occurred right after the conversation made Frances smile distractedly.

"Are you still hanging out for her?" Nell asked Eleanor in disbelief. Eleanor's rebound rate was legendary. If someone wasn't interested, Eleanor would be in the arms of another, very interested, woman in two seconds.

Eleanor sniffed. "She's a looker but hey, she's not interested so I won't push. If she changes her mind, however...."

"You'd snap her up in a heartbeat," Teagan finished Eleanor's thought with a smirk. Teagan was the only one of the four who was in a functional long term relationship; Teagan and her girlfriend, Andrea, had been together for over four years now. Once, when asked the secret to the longevity of their relationship, Teagan had replied, "Having a separate group of friends."

"Hell yeah," Eleanor said, laughing. "Wouldn't you?"

Nell finished her glass of champagne and shrugged. "I think she's great and she's stunning but... nah, she's not really my type."

"What about you?" Eleanor asked, turning her attention to Frances.

"Huh?" Frances was at a loss. She did not want to lie outright to her friends but.... She chose to be as truthful as she could. "She's gorgeous." And sexy. Intelligent. Sarcastic. Exasperating. Infuriatingly hot. She could go on.

"I believe the question was whether you'd go for her," Teagan reiterated.

Frances nodded without a second thought. "Of course." Nell looked a little surprised at Frances' answer.

Frances' phone went off and the conversation was terminated effectively. It was a call from Taters; for a moment, Frances felt a sickening lurch in her stomach.

The last time she had gotten a call from Taters, it had been Kristen telling her that her father had been in an accident. She told herself not to be silly; Russell was in the hospital and he was doing well. She had spoken to someone from the rehab programme that afternoon and they had updated her on her father's progress.

Kristen had had a lot of incentive to get out of Taters as early as she could. She had worked Tony and herself hard to achieve that goal and had snuck out back with the phone the moment she was done. After getting an address from Frances, she hurriedly went to the bathroom to make herself look presentable.

The cab ride from Erskinville to Surry Hills took less than ten minutes. Kristen paid the driver and exited the cab. Frances had said that they were getting ready to head for the gallery soon. She spied them coming out of Tabou and jogged over to where they were.

"You're here!" Nell called out to the approaching woman.

Loosened by alcohol, Frances' three friends each gave Kristen a hug before Kristen's eyes came to rest on Frances. "Hey," she greeted softly as they began moving away from the restaurant.

"Hey," Frances returned, leaning in for a hug. Kristen's lips brushed lightly against her cheek when she pulled away, making her breath catch.

"So where's this gallery?" Kristen asked, turning to Eleanor, Nell and Teagan.

"This way," Eleanor said with a tilt of her head and the group started moving. "How've you been, Kristen? It's been a while."

Kristen smiled. "Pretty good. You know the deal with Russell...." Eleanor nodded and they both threw a discreet look in Frances' direction. Frances looked like she didn't have a care in the world at that moment; she was giggling at something Teagan was saying and Nell had an arm wrapped around her waist. Kristen frowned when Nell leaned in really close to say something in Frances' ear, eliciting another bout of giggles from her. "Anyway," she said quickly, turning back to Eleanor, "Other than that, things have been good."

"We were pretty worried about Frances. But she looks like she's having fun now. I'm sure her Dad's gonna be fine. Did she tell you that she's not going back to Hanoi?"

Kristen nodded happily. "Yeah. I'm glad she's staying."

"Yeah, maybe Nell and she will get back together again now that she's decided to stay," Eleanor continued conversationally.

"Huh. They were... involved?"

Eleanor nodded. "On and off. They're always chasing each other, you know? Nell would be ready and Frances wouldn't and vice versa. It's been frustrating to watch."

Kristen looked over to Frances, who was incidentally also gazing at her. Their shared smile quietened any insecurities that might have snuck up on her during her conversation with Eleanor.

"What about you? Are you seeing anyone?" Eleanor asked casually.

Kristen did not know how to answer that question. "There's... someone," was all she could say. She knew that she did not owe Eleanor any explanation but she was also aware that Eleanor might hit on her again and she wanted to make sure that it didn't happen.

"Lucky guy," Eleanor said with a smile.

Kristen considered for a brief moment before she corrected Eleanor. "Girl." At Eleanor's look of confusion, Kristen reiterated. "Lucky girl."

The Ann Snell Gallery was very tastefully done up. Despite the lateness of the hour, there were still a few people milling around, flute glasses in hand. Teagan and Eleanor knew the organisers of the open house and went in search of them. Nell made her way to the first painting--a stunning canvas of dots that formed streaks of lightning across a dark sky. Feeling blown away by the simple beauty of it, she turned to voice her sentiment to an absent Frances. Nell looked around for her friend.

She saw Frances talking to Kristen with a shy smile playing on her lips. They were standing close to each other--not quite touching, but close. Frances was an inch or two shorter than Kristen, so her face was tilted up slightly. It was a normal stance but Nell looked away, feeling as though she had intruded on a private moment.

Frances was talking to Kristen about the new guy at Taters. "Is he coming back after today?"

Frances' smile was driving Kristen to distraction. She had been replaying their most recent kiss at Taters the entire day; it had been frustrating, to say the least. "Uh. No. I don't think so," Kristen said firmly.

"Can you guys cope? I mean, will you and Ramsey be too tired doing six days a week?" Frances asked, concerned.

Kristen shrugged. "Gotta do what we gotta do."

"You're full of these one liners, aren't you?" Frances commented, smirking. At Kristen's return smirk, she continued, "I've offered my services to Tammy. If you want, I could come help you in the kitchen," she offered. She had yet to call Keiko to make an appointment for an interview; that could wait.

'Offered my services'--such innocent, blameless words. But strung together, falling from Frances' lips.... Kristen shook herself mentally and wondered for a moment if she was going crazy. Sex in the head, indeed. If she had known that drinking from Frances' wine glass one night would pave the way to all this.... Well, in all honesty, she would probably still have done it.


Kristen realised belatedly that Frances was waiting for a reply. "Sure. Why not. You already know that I'm a bitch to work for, so... jump in at your own peril," Kristen said with a shrug.

Frances sucked in a breath. "You know, those words should not sound so hot. But they do, coming from you," she said, her voice a low whisper. Kristen wanted to kiss Frances senseless but proper decorum stopped her from doing so in public. Frances touched her hand to Kristen's, linking a finger with hers loosely. "Let's go check out the paintings."

Kristen allowed herself to be led around by Frances, enjoying their closeness. Their hands would touch, separate, and link up again easily. They met up with the other women and Kristen broke away from the group to get herself a drink.

Two glasses of champagne in rapid succession later, Kristen felt much better. She stood by the long table that held several platters of hors d'œuvre with a third flute glass in her hand. She knew she wanted Frances; how it came to be this way, she had no idea. She was familiar with lust. It was the other feelings that rocked her a little.

She watched as Frances felt her absence and began scanning the room for her. Her heart quickened when dark eyes found her own and she lifted her glass of champagne in salute. She definitely wanted Frances. She watched as Frances said something to her friends and crossed the room to where she was.

"We're thinking of going," Frances said lightly. "More drinks at the Crown?" she asked, not sure if Kristen would want to join them. She had to work the next day after all.

"Only if you kiss me," Kristen said, much to both their surprises.

"Come again?" Frances asked, wanting to be sure that she had heard right. Kristen took her response to be a polite way of saying no and squirmed uncomfortably. "I thought I heard you ask me to kiss you. Right here. In front of people."

"I did."

"And you would be okay with that?" Frances asked, searching Kristen's face to see if it was the alcohol or the woman talking. "Because I would love to kiss you right now."

"You would?" Kristen asked uncertainly.

"I would," Frances confirmed, moving closer to Kristen. "I wasn't sure how you felt about PDA and I wasn't sure if you were comfortable in front of my friends -"

Kristen lowered her face and interrupted Frances' sentence with a chaste kiss. She sighed when Frances' hand fluttered to a rest at the back of her neck. Her touch tingled. Frances smiled as they pulled away. "So?" Kristen asked, lifting a brow.

"So what?" Frances asked.

"I said I'd go only if you kissed me. You didn't kiss me. I kissed you," Kristen said, shaking her head at Frances as though she was a slow child.

Frances rolled her eyes. "Anal! Guess it's an occupational hazard." Kristen tickled her side lightly, making her squeal. But she leaned in anyway. "Yes, Chef, whatever you want, Chef," she said before pressing her lips to Kristen's firmly.

"Oh yeah," Kristen breathed when they broke apart. "Always agree with the chef, I say."

Across the room, Nell, Teagan and Eleanor watched the exchange with open jaws.



"No, you do it this way. Hold the knife this way," Kristen said, showing Frances what she meant. "There's a pivotal point between the blade and the board. You kinda slide it as you go. That's right. Hold the cucumber down and lean the blade against your knuckles," she instructed.

Frances frowned in concentration as she imitated Kristen's actions. It came rather easily to her; after all, Russell and Marie loved to cook and she had started cooking a fair bit when she lived overseas. She may not have as much experience but she had the passion and the inclination to learn.

"It'll feel a little awkward in the beginning but you'll get used to it and it'll be smoother. Go slow. It's better to get the fundamentals right. Speed will come later."

Frances sliced a cucumber to the satisfaction of Kristen. They were standing in the kitchen at Frances' for their impromptu lesson. They had Taters' menu opened on the kitchen table and Kristen was running through the list of things that they had to prep for service. She liked how easily they worked together. Frances was used to and, dare she say it, liked Kristen’s sharp tongue. It helped that they were no longer butting heads every two seconds.

"A lot of working in a kitchen depends on you taking your initiative to make service as smooth as possible. You see something that's not done, you do it. It's as easy as that. And when it's time to roll, you do things fast but you never trade quality for speed. You communicate with the other chefs, let them know if you need help, if you're running behind. I'll be there to help if you have any questions."

"Uh huh, got it," Frances said. Her look of concentration amused Kristen.

"Wanna take a break? Go for a walk or something? It's my only day off after all."

"Let's go watch a movie," Frances suggested, rinsing her hands. "There's this Japanese animation I want to catch."

Kristen smiled, leaning against the kitchen table. "Are you asking me out on a date?"

"Depends. Are you saying yes?" Frances played along as she turned the tap off. She folded her arms with a speculative expression on her face.

"How's that dependent on my answer?" Kristen asked, frowning.

"If you say yes, then I'm asking you on a date. If you say no, then it's just me taking pity on a lonely chef and trying to get her out of her hole... unsuccessfully," Frances explained. Kristen laughed. Frances' quick wit never ceased to entertain her. "So?" Frances asked impatiently.

"So what?"

"Am I asking you out on a date?"

Kristen chuckled. "That would be... yes."

Kristen hadn't been to the movies with someone else in a long time. Mostly, she would make a trip down to the theatres alone as a treat. Frances had insisted on getting popcorn and a beverage, saying that she wanted to give Kristen the full movie date experience. Kristen was just amazed that she could still fit things into her stomach after an entire day of eating as they mucked around the kitchen.

Kristen learnt that Frances liked to go barefoot and would do so any chance she got. She waited for Frances to make herself comfortable in her seat with her legs folded up. She felt all warm and fuzzy when Frances leaned close and breathed in sharply when Frances trailed a hand down the length of her arm absently to show her affection.

Kristen turned her face to Frances and wondered for the umpteenth time what the woman was doing to her and if she knew the effect that she had on her.

"How's the date so far?" Frances asked, catching her eyes.

"Nice. Lacking," Kristen said with a playful shrug.

"Lacking!" Frances frowned at Kristen before understanding dawned upon her. Kristen was staring at her lips. It made her smile. She cupped Kristen's cheek in her hand and brought her face closer. When Kristen's lips opened slightly in anticipation, Frances grabbed a kernel of popcorn and fed it to her, much to Kristen's surprise.

"Hey!" Kristen grumbled.

"Oh, that wasn't what you wanted?" Frances asked innocently. "Drink?" She lifted the cup of soft drink, smiling when Kristen caught the straw between her lips and took a sip.

Kristen pressed her lips to Frances' smiling ones and surprised Frances with the cool liquid that she was still holding in her mouth. The beverage trickled slowly into Frances mouth until there was none left. She moaned when Kristen tangled their tongues together. Their tongues and mouth felt cold, making the kissing experience a different one. Kristen blindly relieved her of the cup of drink and bag of popcorn as their kiss heated up. Frances sank her hand in silky tresses before sliding it down to cup a breast, making Kristen gasp with the action.

Frances rubbed a thumb against Kristen's breast, searching for her nipple through the fabric of her shirt and bra. When she found it, she gave it a little squeeze and Kristen groaned in Frances' mouth. Frances broke their kiss and trailed her lips along Kristen's jawline only to pause at Kristen's pulse point. She bit down on it lightly before licking the area, thrilling at the sounds that Kristen was making.

Kristen slipped her hand under Frances' top, wondering at the smoothness of her skin. Her hands slid higher and found a naked breast. She drew a breath of surprise at her discovery. Frances pulled her face away at the contact and was breathing raggedly when their eyes met in the dim cinema theatre.

"I want you," Kristen said. Her voice sounded rough and low to her own ears.

"Right here?" Frances breathed, a nervous smile playing on her lips.

Kristen looked around. The cinema was far from full but it wasn't empty either. Moreover, there were several kids and teenagers around. "I wish...." At least the area around them was unoccupied. They hadn't scarred any young kids for life.

"Okay. Now I need you to take your hand out slowly from under my shirt," Frances said softly. Kristen's eyes rounded at that, then narrowed wickedly. "Oh... don't you give me that look," Frances said breathlessly.

Kristen had never touched another woman like this before. Instead of adhering to Frances' wishes, she mirrored Frances' move earlier with her thumb and received a gasp for her effort. Her eyes darkened with desire as she watched Frances look at her helplessly. "You are incredibly attractive to me," Kristen husked out.

Frances placed a hand on Kristen's which was still under her shirt to halt its movement. She swallowed audibly. "You're driving me insane." She tugged at the hand and Kristen let go of her prize reluctantly.

Frances took a deep breath and reached for the bag of popcorn that Kristen had placed on the seat beside her. Then she grabbed a handful of it and threw one, then two kernels of popcorn at Kristen. "Evil," she commented, shaking her head at her companion.

Kristen chuckled and picked the kernels off her shirt before popping them into her mouth. The movie started and they turned their faces to the big screen but Kristen's mind was on other things, like the warm arm pressed against her own and the soft lips on her shoulder.... Frances was one to talk about evil. She tried to ignore the lips on her shoulder, but gasped when sharp teeth grazed her skin through the fabric of her shirt.

Frances shifted in her seat and pulled Kristen closer, trailing her teeth along her clothed shoulder to her bare neck. She could hear and feel the low hum in Kristen's throat. Kristen moaned when Frances' teeth found purchase in a sensitive spot on her neck. Finally, when she could not take the teasing anymore, Kristen crushed their lips together. Her hand snaked around Frances' waist and was about to slip under Frances' top again when a firm hand stopped its trek.

"No...." Frances breathed against her lips. "Let's just stick to kissing while we're in public, okay?"

Kristen growled but she stilled her hand. Laughter broke out in the audience, reminding Frances and Kristen that they were very much not alone. Frances placed the bag of popcorn in the empty seat beside her, its appeal forgotten. Then she took Kristen's face in her hands and touched their lips together again.

"Why are we not watching the movie at the movies when we can be somewhere more private, doing more than this?" Kristen husked out.

"Because... this is so much fun," Frances whispered back. "And who says we're not watching the movie? I know exactly what's going on," she said teasingly. "You, on the other hand, need to learn how to multi-task."

Kristen kissed Frances to shut her up.

They strolled down King Street, bumping shoulders and exchanging grins. They were so caught up in each other that they did not notice the man staring at them and quickly getting out his mobile phone before punching in a familiar number.

"You're not going to believe who I just saw," Edwin Richardson, C&C's Head of Acquisitions said into the phone.

Part 26

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