See part 1 for all of the disclaimers
Lost Paradise 2
Kristina Von Deering was finally settled into the house she rented for the duration of her stay in Montreal. The first thing Kris tackled after she finished moving in all her stuff was to install her powerful laptop computer in the small spare room that she decided would serve as an excellent office. Once everything was all hooked up, Kris logged onto her computer and accessed the Arabian horse breeding program's computer in Innsbruck. This way, she can still manage her business affairs with the program even while she was overseas. Kris could keep in touch with the daily reports from the full time veterinarian working there, potential buyers and everyday problems. Kris knew her staff were some of the best and could probably handle any problems that came up, but she took comfort in being able to keep an eye on things from abroad.
Once Kristina had checked things out with the stables and was satisfied everything was running smoothly, she realized that she would need somewhere to re-work the stunts for the movie. The previous stunt coordinator had done a poor job of planning the movie stunts originally; cheap equipment, improper assignments given to the numerous stunt people, and god knew what else. She knew that she was going to need a planning room. Kris looked about the room, save for her laptop computer sitting on the big wooden desk in a corner, she decided that there was enough room left for her to make it into a planning area to re-work the stunts. So much to do and so little time to do it.
By having her own quiet place, Kris could peacefully re-work all of the stunts, starting with the easiest ones and working her way to the larger ones. She knew that there will most definitely be long evenings and that she'd possibly have to pull some all-nighters to get them all done on time. She was very thankful for this small room instead of the trailer they gave her on the set. Kris also managed to talk Robert into doing all the physical stunts first that needed very little to no equipment like fights, falls down stairs, high falls into water, etc. His cooperation bought her a little more time to fix up the more difficult stunts scheduled for later the next week.
The following days had passed with a semblance of a routine. Kris met with the crew at 5am to prepare for the coming day. They went over rehearsals and coordinated the fights and falls, all the physical stunts. Then, breaks often divided her time between re-vamping some of the stunts and coaching the less experienced stuntmen in how to improve their performances by supplying them with tricks of the trade.
No matter the grueling hours and possible risks, Kris loved her job as both a stuntwoman and stunt coordinator. And for the first time in a long time, she looked forward to taking her lunch break with someone else. Namely, a young blonde gopher who went by the name of Nicole McGrail. They had continued to meet under the tree they had met for their first lunch together. Kris didn't have much chance to see the younger woman during working hours, so these times together were very nice. A couple of times, Robert had assigned Nicole to Kris, to help the stunt coordinator in anyway necessary. The young gopher not only excelled at any assigned task given to her, but she also managed to lighten any atmosphere. The times they were together, people found them both teasing one another, which left the crew in stitches. The crew-wide practical jokes every once in a while kept up a constant chuckle while those two were around.
Montreal's Old Port was the site of today's stunt. The stunt itself was a relatively easy one if everything went according to plan. A speeding car was supposed to jump off one of the docks and into the St-Lawrence River where boats and tow trucks on the shore would pull the vehicle out of the water once filming was done. The one drawback about it all wasn't even about the stunt. It was about the scheduling of the planned stunt. Because it was going to be performed in the late evening, Kris knew that Nicole probably wouldn't be there because of her father.
As Kris sat in her trailer reviewing the stunt, she also had to take into account crowd management. Because tonight was a Friday night, she knew they'd be dealing with a fair amount of tourists, curious onlookers and wandering pedestrians. She made a quick call on her cell phone to confirm they had adequate security personnel to deal with the crowd and hung up satisfied. She glanced at her watch and noticed that it was nearly six o'clock. She knew that was when Nicole usually quit working for the day.
She didn't know why she felt this way, but Kris wanted to see Nicole one more time before the younger woman left to go home. Just the thought of Nicole having to go home to a possibly volatile situation made Kris' blood boil with anger. How she wished that Nicole would leave that place once and for all for her own safety and peace of mind.
As Kris opened the door and stepped out of her trailer, she quickly scanned the area. Not too far away, in a small gathering of three people, she locked eyes with Robert and smiled. She knew that where Robert was, Nicole usually wasn't too far away. And she was right. A balding man, who had been talking to Robert, shifted his weight and revealed the petite form of Nicole scribbling away on a notepad while people talked. Kris walked up to them with a grin. "Hi."
Upon her approach, Robert smiled and nodded to the other two men as they departed, leaving only Robert and Nicole.
"Kris!" Nicole smiled brightly, glad to see her friend. "Taking a break?"
"Well," Kris felt a blush crawl over her cheeks. She couldn't believe this was happening to her. "I just wanted to see you before you left for home," the dark-haired woman explained shyly as she lowered her eyes slightly. "I wanted to make sure that you'll be okay...going home." Kris felt a little uncomfortable knowing that she wouldn't be the one driving Nicole home like she had been doing for the last few days. With the last minute meeting being called by Robert, there was no way she would be able to do that today.
She sheepishly brought her blue eyes back up and saw Nicole with a huge grin on her face looking back at her with sparkling green eyes.
'What a surprise this will be!' Nicole thought to herself. "There's been a change of plan." She announced, seeing the confused look on Kris' face. Nicole looked briefly at Robert and smiled as her uncle nodded. She looked back to Kris. "I've been assigned to work with you this evening."
"Really?" Kris smiled, happy to know that they would be spending more time together. The times that Nicole had been assigned to Kris had been so much fun, and the younger woman always seemed to know what Kris needed even before it was asked for. But then the thought of Nicole's father crossed her mind. How much trouble will this change of plans cause for the young woman?
Robert caught the slight frown on the dark-haired woman's face as she looked at him. He smiled briefly at Kris before looking back at his niece. "So remember Nick, I left a message on your father's answering machine about your working late. If you have any problems, let me know okay?" the director waited until Nicole nodded silently before smiling to both women and left.
"Listen," Kris suddenly said, seeing the worried look that crossed Nicole's face at the mention of her father. "The meeting's about to start. Why don't we make our way there and afterwards I'll treat you to a nice dinner?" Kris almost laughed at the change of expression on the younger woman's face at the mention of food. "How about Kiomi's?"
Nicole just stared at the tall woman, not sure if she had heard right. "Kiomi's?" she asked with a touch of doubt. "But that's such an expensive restaurant." Nicole continued to look at Kris who was still smiling. "I'm sure we could go to a less expensive one like..."
"You like Japanese food, right?" Kris asked, biting back a chuckle.
"Yes, but..." Nicole started.
"I heard you mention to Alex that you would love to eat there one day," the older woman stated. "Is that true?"
"Yes it is, but..."
"Then it's settled." Kris said, crossing her arms over her chest. "Do you have any more objections?" she asked the blonde woman with a raised eyebrow that brooked no argument. She watched in amusement as Nicole tried to speak, her mouth going through the motions but little else. "Good." Kris gently guided the younger woman toward the meeting place, chuckling to herself at seeing the unusual sight of a speechless Nicole.
The evening had come and gone too fast, much to Nicole's chagrin. Both Kris and she had enjoyed each other's company at the restaurant immensely. It thrilled Nicole to no end to notice how much more relaxed Kris was in her presence compared to a few days ago. Much to Nicole's surprise, her tall, dark friend laughed more, participated in the conversation more and even managed to crack a few one liners and jokes of her own.
Nicole had learned so many things concerning the tall Austrian. Kris had opened up to her, talking about her early start as a stuntwoman, her trips to Japan where she learned to speak the language, and her horse breeding program amongst other things. But she had been surprised or maybe a little disappointed that Kris hadn't mentioned anything too personal like her parents, her friends or if Kris had anyone in her life right now. After all, she is a beautiful woman and Nicole had a hard time imagining Kris without someone in her life. She remembered with a blush the small hint of jealousy that gripped her mind at the thought of someone being intimate with the dark-haired beauty. She had surprised herself even more by hoping that she would be the one that could be with her
For a fleeting moment, she had imagined Kris as more than just a friend. She wondered briefly what it would feel like to find herself surrounded by those long, muscular arms, or even to kiss her beautiful lips. But she quickly shook that idea out of her head. Nicole was comfortable with the gay lifestyle, having been in Alex's presence for some time, but it didn't mean that Kris was also.
The rest of the evening was spent on the set where the stunt was going to be performed. Kris knew that they weren't going to have any chance for rehearsals. This was going to be a one shot deal. Throughout all the preparations, Nicole had stayed by Kris' side all evening taking notes as Kris dictated them. She was amazed at the amount of energy and life that radiated from Kris as she immerged herself completely into this and every other stunt she prepared. Not a single detail escaped her attention. She even made sure all the bolts were secure on the ramp. She personally kept in touch with the security boats that were just out of camera range but close enough to render assistance to the stuntman if needed. She also spent quite some time discussing the plan with the driver, giving him pointers or suggestions for when the car actually plunged into the deep river.
The sight of Kris so commanding in her work mesmerized Nicole. She was so much the professional in every aspect of the word. She cared deeply for the welfare of her crew, checking their equipment to make sure all was in working order. Even after some of her crew checked the driver's air tank that he was going to need once his car was submerged in the river, she went over it one final time. While Kris was there, a last check of the safety harness was performed as well as a final pep talk with the stuntdriver. Some may have thought she didn't trust her people with the safety checks. Truth was, she trusted them with her life. But since she was the coordinator and that her stuntmen trusted her with their lives, it was her job to make sure that everything was okay. Finally, she was satisfied that everything was in perfect working order.
The tall stuntwoman, turned stunt coordinator, walked up beside Robert and informed him that everything was a go. There wasn't much left to do now but wait. Kris pulled a chair over for Nicole to sit in and smiled. "You might as well be comfortable." Kris said, as she rotated her aching shoulders and neck. "Everything is up to Robert now, and that might take some time."
The stretching exercises weren't lost on Nicole and she tugged on Kris' sleeve to encourage her to take the seat herself. "Come on, sit down and just relax."
Kris turned to look at the younger woman. "What?" but was quickly guided to sit on the chair. "Nick, you need it more than I do. You look exhausted." Kris tried to argue, but Nicole would hear none of it.
"Your shoulders ache and I just want to ease the stiffness a bit." Nicole explained as she helped the dark-haired woman out of her leather jacket.
"Nick, I'm okay really." Kris started. "It's not that bad, I...ouch!" she blurted as Nicole's gentle fingers barely began their ministrations as they rested lightly on each shoulder.
"Not that bad, huh?" the younger woman teased as she proceeded to give Kris a shoulder massage. "What did you do to earn yourself such knotted muscles?" Nicole asked as her fingers tried working through the multiple knots in the broad, tense shoulders that were next to impossible to loosen.
"You don't want to know." Kris replied softly as she closed her eyes, blissfully enjoying the younger woman's touch once she got past her initial shock of yearning at Nicole's gentle touches on her aching shoulders.
"And what if I do?" she smiled with a hint of curiosity as Kris' body began to relax beneath her fingers and her head slowly began to tilt back into the relaxing touch. Nicole took one step closer to the chair to offer the dark-haired woman's head to lean softly on Nicole's chest.
Taking a deep breath, Kris decided to let Nicole know. "Don't say I didn't warn you." She half joked before beginning her short explanation. "During a stunt, I wrapped a car around a tree pretty much totaling it." She stated matter-of-factly. Kris felt Nicole's hands stop briefly as she digested this new information, and then continued with her ministrations. "That was one of those stunts that had gone bad."
"Were you badly hurt?" Nicole asked with a mixture of curiosity and concern. Nicole was pleased that Kris was so willing to talk about the accident and be so forthcoming with the details of her injuries.
Kris shrugged her shoulders, "Broken ankle, broken arm, three cracked ribs, whiplash and four days in a coma." She heard the sudden gasp behind her and chuckled. "Well, you told me you wanted to know. Now you do."
Within a minute, once the initial shock of the damage had been told, Nicole had picked up where she had left off with the massage around Kris' deltoids. The now relaxed stuntwoman couldn't believe how good this massage felt. She strongly suspected that her relaxed pleasure was due to, in part, by the massage while the other half was mainly due to the person who was giving it.
Any professional worth their reputation could have given her one, but with much less satisfaction than the amateur giving her a massage right now. The soft and surprisingly strong hands that were working through her tense muscles were so warm and caring. It had been such a long time since anybody had shown her such kindness and gentleness that she surprised herself at how much she thoroughly enjoyed the feeling.
Kris' eyes fell shut as she could feel the soft humming of Nicole's voice vibrate through her chest as her head rested against it. Kris smiled as she imagined herself under the younger woman's caring hands, feeling them slowly glide over her bare back as soft lips trailed small kisses up her spine. Slowly, those same lips would brush against her sensitive neck, nibbling slowly at her ear...
A call from the director made Kris break out of her reverie as she quickly hopped out of her chair and fumbled to get her leather jacket on. "Uh...thanks for loosening my muscles!" Kris blushed furiously as her mind went over the residual images of her imagination. "That was very nice." 'Where's that damn sleeve!' Kris thought with frustration as she fought a losing battle to put her jacket on. "Thank you...yes...hmm."
"Kris, are you okay?" Nicole asked worriedly. "I didn't hurt you, did I?"
"No!" Kris blurted quickly, shaking her head to assuade Nicole's misplaced fears. "No, you didn't." She nervously coughed before smiling at Nicole who was watching her with wide eyes. "Have to go back to work." She said, walking backwards and pointing to the stunt site behind her with a thumb. "Have to make sure everything's okay." Kris nodded to herself, "Yep, lots of work to do." And with that she turned around and disappeared in the dark.
Kris' reaction had confused Nicole greatly and the younger woman suddenly feared that she had gone overboard with her helpful nature. What had started out as a simple massage, slowly turned into something more than Nicole had intended. While massaging Kris' tense muscles and actually starting to feel them relaxing under her touch, she had broadened her area. Her wandering hands soon began trailing down the strong, broad shoulders and firm, toned arms and then worked their way back up to the soft flesh of the dark-haired woman's neck. Nicole remembered her breath catching in her throat as Kris slowly rested her head against her chest, completely relaxed. Nicole's adventurous hands had dipped down around the collarbone while massaging Kris' neck. Then, without warning, the stuntwoman had practically jumped out of her skin and ran away from her. Kris almost seemed uncomfortable as she hurried away at the director's call, which she wasn't all that sure was the only reason for her hasty departure. 'What have I done?' Nicole shook her head, cursing her stupidity. Some movement beside her made Nicole turn and look at a grinning Alex.
"What just happened here?" she asked Nicole and watched as her cousin let herself fall into the chair Kris had just vacated.
"Alex, I think I just did something really stupid here." Nicole told her friend as her head fell into her hands with her elbows leaning on her knees. "I think I just freaked her out." Nicole mumbled into her hands.
Alex took her hands out of her jeans' pockets and crouched down on one knee beside Nicole, rubbing her cousin's back with a comforting touch. "If you ask me, that wasn't the look of someone who was freaking out, Nick." Alex said as she tried to hold back a chuckle. She had caught the expression on the stuntwoman's face before she got up and it had been the look of someone in total bliss.
"Then why did she take off like that?" Nicole looked up into Alex's eyes and saw her cousin smiling back.
"You'll have to ask her yourself." The brunette said then looked out and spotted the tall Austrian not too far away beside the stunt car. "I have my own ideas, but..." Alex slowly stood up and shoved both her hands back into her jeans' pockets.
"Alex, I know that look of yours. What aren't you telling me?" Nicole demanded.
"Will you relax?" Alex laughed. "All I'm saying is that maybe Kris cares a lot more about you than she thought. Did you know that she walked all over the set today trying to find you? She seemed to be awfully worried about you Nick."
"She did?" Nicole asked, surprised at hearing this bit of information. "Kris was worried about me?" the dark-haired woman hadn't said anything about that.
"Yes she was." Alex gently squeezed Nicole's uninjured shoulder. "You seemed to have found a very good friend in Kris. Just talk to her." The brunette smiled once more and then left.
The stunt had gone as planned. Performed efficiently and with precision. The security teams and divers and gotten the driver out of the sinking car with no problems. Nobody had gotten hurt and Robert, the second unit director, had been very pleased at the results. It had been much better than what had been originally planned. The new stunt coordinator had just proven that she could work under pressure by re-working a stunt from scratch and have it performed with a minimal schedule change.
Kris stood by herself distracted as she watched the crew pull the car out of the water. She couldn't tear her mind away from the wonderful massage Nicole had given her earlier and her own stupidity when she abruptly ran away from the younger woman. Since they first met, they both spent pretty much all their free time together talking and just having fun. Kris had grown very comfortable with Nicole around. But tonight tonight she had gotten just a little too comfortable. Though it was stupid of her to have darted away like she did, she knew that if she didn't leave right then things might have gotten out of hand. Namely Kris. Nicole needed a friend right now and that's what Kris would give her, even if it meant swallowing down her own growing feelings for the younger woman. She knew she would be leaving for Austria in three months and any relationship other than friendship was out of the question. She couldn't and wouldn't do that to Nicole. 'At least tell her you're sorry for the way you acted!' Kris scolded herself and nodded, deciding to find Nicole and apologize. As she was turning to find the younger woman, Kris almost walked into Alex who was standing a few feet away.
"Hi." Alex smiled at the surprised woman. The brunette was leaning on the guardrail with both of her arms crossed over her chest.
"How long have you been standing there?" Kris asked gruffly, upset that she had been caught off guard.
"Long enough to hear you mumbling to yourself." Alex smiled and walked up to the tall woman. "I'm just here to deliver a message." she said as she handed Kris a folded piece of paper.
Kris slowly took the paper and read the note. Hi. Robert offered to drive me back home so don't worry, okay? See you at work. Nicole. The stuntwoman had taken upon herself to drive the younger woman home each day after work and this sudden change of plan made Kris wonder if she was the cause of it. She carefully folded the paper and slid it into her jacket pocket.
Seeing the older woman's shoulders slump slightly, Alex took a step closer. "You can tell me to mind my own business Kris, but if you think that you're the reason why my father drove Nicole home, you're wrong." Even with this information, Kris was still silent and looking out over the river. "My father wanted to make sure that Nicole wouldn't have any trouble once home."
"Why would I think..." Kris started but was quickly stopped by Alex.
"Kris, I know you care about Nick, your body language is a dead giveaway if someone paid enough attention. I also know that she cares a lot about you because she told me so. But she's afraid that she's made a terrible mistake a few hours ago and she thinks that she may have lost you as a friend."
Kris had a complete look of confusion on her face. "Why would she think that?" she asked as she tried to think of what Nicole might have done to feel that way. "I'm the one who made the mistake. I shouldn't have run off like that without talking to her first."
"If all those showbusiness magazines said the truth, you had a few girlfriends in your life right?" Alex asked but continued without waiting for the answer. "So I know that Nicole's touch wasn't what made you panic." she said as she unwrapped a stick of gum and put it in her mouth, chewing a couple of times before continuing. "Nicole has no idea you're gay, and she's afraid she freaked you out by the massage she gave you. Just talk to her, she might surprise you." Alex smiled and tilted her head slightly sideways, winked at the silent woman and walked away.
Kris watched the smaller woman leave and wondered what had just happened. She hadn't expected this talk with Alex, or even saw it coming, but in a way Kris appreciated the straightforwardness the young woman had offered. It hadn't been in Kris' plans to talk about her sexual preference to Nicole, since their relationship was one of friendship. But following tonight's misunderstanding, maybe it would be good to just tell Nicole and be done with it. Kris just hoped that it wouldn't be Nicole running away, completely freaked out. Then Kris remembered Alex talking about her girlfriend Sophie and Nicole seemed comfortable with the concept. 'Well, maybe she won't freak out after all.' Kris smiled to herself, feeling better already and started walking towards her Harley to go home.
Already one week had passed since Kristina arrived from Austria. The movie was moving along nicely, at least where her job was concerned. The stunts were halfway re-worked, the job having been done faster than expected. Robert had given Saturday off to most of the stuntmen, wanting them ready for the next performance on Monday.
Most of the stunt re-writing had been done from her rented house on the lake. It wasn't that Kris didn't like to work with people, but this kind of work required all of her attention, and working surrounded by people only made things more difficult by being disturbed for one reason or another.
Once she arrived at the house late that night, Kris had continued working on the scheduled stunts for a while. Little was accomplished as her mind kept wandering to the gentle massage that the younger woman had given her and the accompanying feelings. Kris gave up on work for the night, knowing that nothing would get done.
She had slipped into an old, worn pair of jogging pants and T-shirt and then grabbed a bottle of water out of the fridge. She then casually walked over to the patio doors and opened them letting in the fresh breeze from off the lake. She took several deep breaths of the fresh air as it filled the spacious bedroom and then walked over to the soft bed and let herself fall limply onto the inviting bed. She got into a comfortable position, closed her eyes and let the sounds of the gentle waves lapping at the shoreline lull her into a fitful sleep.
Even in sleep, she couldn't fight off the images of Nicole running through her mind. She kept seeing the younger woman trying to protect herself from her crazed father as she vainly tried to avoid the blows that kept raining down on her. Kris had woken up with a start from the nightmare. Sweat glistened off her tanned body, her heart beating furiously against her chest. The dream had seemed so real, hearing Nicole screaming for her father to stop, then with a shaking voice calling out for Kris to help her.
Kris sat on the edge of the bed and shakily brushed her fingers through her long, dark hair. She looked at the clock on the nightstand and saw that it read 4am. It was no use going back to sleep now. Taking a deep breath, the stuntwoman got up and changed her sweatpants for a pair of shorts and took another T-shirt out of the drawer. After brushing her teeth and tying her hair back into one thick ponytail, Kris decided that a good, long run would help her relax. After tying the laces of her running shoes tightly, Kris went through a long series of stretching exercises and then left for her run twenty minutes later. She chose the paved path that went along the lake, sharing it only with early runners and the occasional biker all out for their own early morning exercises.
Making a detour from the path, Kris had briefly gone by Nicole's house, seeing nothing special except that there were no cars in the driveway. Maybe Nicole's father was away for some time, leaving her alone at the house with a chance to relax without fear. Kris really hoped that the nightmare she had was really nothing but a bad dream. But she couldn't shake the feeling that it was real, almost as if it were a premonition of things to come for the young, innocent woman.
Half way through her run, Kris had stopped to buy a bottle of water and sat down by the shore. She watched as the sun got higher in the sky and the path became more populated with people. More runners had appeared along the shoreline as the number of bicycles had doubled since she'd been out. She even noticed a few people rollerblading along the paved path while others chose to take a leisurely walk with their dogs. Kris briefly debated whether or not to run by Nicole's house again to see if everything was okay or continue on with her run and call the younger woman on the phone, giving Nicole more time to sleep. 'I'll call her.' Kris decided as she finished her bottle and threw it into the wastebasket and continued on with her run.
About ten minutes away from her rented house, Kris spotted a blonde woman sitting by herself facing the lake. She had both of her arms tightly wrapped around her bent legs, her head resting on her knees. Kris slowed her pace and tried to see the woman's face, not an easy feat considering her arms partially hid her face.
"Nick?" Kris asked softly and noticed the blonde woman jump in surprise at the sound of someone calling her name. She quickly wiped her eyes before turning to look at Kris. Nicole looked like she hadn't slept all night. And by the look of her red, swollen eyes, she had probably been crying the whole time as well. "What happened?" Kris asked as she sat on the grass beside her friend. Last night's dream came rushing back to the forefront of her mind as Kris could feel her temper rising at the possibility that Nicole's father had struck again.
Nicole took a few deep breaths before answering, wiping her eyes one more time with the sleeve of her jean jacket. "I'm sorry." Nicole whispered. "I'm such a cry baby."
"Hey, it's okay." Kris slowly brushed her hand on Nicole's back. "You want to talk about it?" For a second, Kris thought that Nicole was shaking her head, indicating that she didn't want to, but then she started talking and relating to her friend what had happened.
"I thought everything was okay." Nicole said as she concentrated on a blade of grass she had just pulled from the ground. "He greeted my uncle in a nice way, and when Robert left " Nicole swallowed a couple of times, trying to keep the tears from starting again.
Kris didn't know what to do. She slowly reached her hand up to brush Nicole's hair away from her face but stopped midway, not sure how to proceed in a situation such as this and let her hand drop on her muscled thigh. She wanted to take the smaller woman in her arms and just hold her, to let her know that she was there for her.
"I'm sorry I lied to you Kris." Nicole said suddenly and looked up into the stuntwoman's blue eyes. "I told you I fell, that I hurt myself, I...didn't...want to burden you. My father..."
Kris could see a new wave of tears about to start and she opened her arms to let Nicole in. The younger woman didn't waste a second as she quickly wrapped her arms around the tall woman's waist and rested her head on Kris' chest. "Shhh, I've got you. It's gonna be okay." Kris promised as she hesitated briefly before wrapping her own arms around Nicole and gently brushed her hand down Nicole's long, blonde hair.
They sat there for some time neither one of them speaking, letting the peace and calm surrounding them ease away some of the memories and not make them so painful. Kris could feel Nicole's sobs ease a bit and had been replaced by the occasional sniff. Kris continued to gently rock the younger woman back and forth, resting her cheek on the blonde hair and closed her eyes.
Kris could have stayed this way for hours, her arms protectively surrounding Nicole. She gently kissed the top of the younger woman's head and smiled as Nicole acknowledged the gesture with a small squeeze around the waist. She heard a soft sigh and found herself disappointed when Nicole sat back, no longer in her arms.
"Thanks." Nicole smiled shyly. "That was nice. Sorry about your T-shirt, though."
Kris frowned and looked down, seeing nothing out of the ordinary, then looked back up into emerald eyes studying her.
"It's kind of wet because of my crying." Nicole explained as she wiped her eyes one last time.
"Oh! Don't worry." Kris smiled. "You didn't do the original damage." she chuckled. "I've been running since 5 AM. I'm just thankful that you didn't lose consciousness from the smell."
"Nah." Nicole grinned, her humor slowly coming back to her. "I was too comfortable to notice." she watched with amazement as a blush crawled over Kris' face. She gently layed her hand on Kris' and gave it a small squeeze. "Thank you."
"For what?" Kris asked, not sure of the reason.
"For being a friend." Nicole replied simply.
A question went through Kris' mind and she locked eyes with Nicole. "Nick, why didn't you come to the house instead of staying here alone?" she asked gently. "You know you can talk to me."
The question had surprised Nicole. She had expected questions concerning her father or what had happened, but this was so unexpected. "I didn't want to worry you or burden you with my problems." Nicole replied honestly, bending her head slightly, unable to look at Kris. A strong finger slipped under her chin and slowly brought her head back up and made Nicole look into pale blue eyes.
"I'll say this once Nick." Kris spoke softly, smiling at the woman in front of her. "You do not burden me. I want to help you, be there for you, but I can't do that if you don't let me know that you need me." the dark-haired woman slowly brushed her thumb on Nicole's cheek, wiping a lone tear away. "I'm gonna give you my cell phone number, so whenever you need me or just want to say hello, call me okay?" Kris smiled as the younger woman closed her eyes and nodded.
Nicole could still feel Kris' soft touch on her cheek and found herself wanting more. The woman was so gentle, so caring, Nicole was happy to see this side of Kris. So many people talked about her as if she were a machine, devoid of emotions. Now Nicole knew otherwise.
A sudden rush took over her body as she felt Kris kiss her forehead, causing her whole body to tingle. She opened her eyes and stared into Kris' eyes wanting to say something, anything, but her mouth refused to work. So she just sat there with a silly grin on her face. The only thing that broke the silence was Nicole's stomach suddenly rumbling to life.
Kris stood up and offered a helping hand to Nicole and smiled. "Ready for breakfast?" she asked Nicole as she was standing up. "Why don't we go to my place and I'll try to make something edible for us to eat?" Kris joked, knowing she wasn't the best cook, but she guessed that she could probably handle a few eggs, bacon and toast.
Nicole nodded vigorously and started walking along with Kris towards the house. No more keeping secrets, she decided. It wouldn't be easy, but if Kris wanted to help, Nicole would have to do her part.
Once in the house, the first thing Kris had done was to prepare a fresh pot of coffee. "I'll go take a quick shower and then I'll get the breakfast ready." she told the younger woman who was walking around the living room. "Just make yourself comfortable. There's some orange juice in the fridge if you want."
"Thanks." Nicole smiled at the departing woman and briefly caught sight of Kris' muscled back as the stuntwoman pulled her T-shirt off, causing a huge grin to grow on her face. 'What a beautiful woman.' Nicole thought to herself as she sat on the large sofa in the livingroom. She closed her eyes, remembering the feeling of Kris' arms surrounding her.
Kris stood under the hot water, letting the water jet massage her tired muscles, wishing it were Nicole's hands doing the job instead. The smaller woman hadn't said anything about Kris' sudden departure on the set the evening before and she wondered if this would be a good time to talk to Nicole, at least let her know why she had run away like that. She didn't want Nicole to think that she had done anything wrong. In fact, Nicole had done everything right, much to Kris' discomfort. If both of them were in Austria, things would be so much different.
After rinsing her hair and shutting off the water, Kris slipped into her bathrobe and stepped out of the bathroom rubbing her hair dry with a towel. She had gathered her courage to speak to Nicole and she was about to start talking when she looked at the younger woman who was lying on her side, sleeping peacefully on the sofa.
Kris smiled and took a soft blanket that was on a chair and covered Nicole. Bending down, she softly planted a kiss on the blonde woman's temple. "Just rest easy my friend." Kris whispered. A soft mumble was Kris' answer, but it was the gentle smile on Nicole's face that was Kris' greatest gift.
Nicole slowly opened her eyes. She felt slightly disoriented as she looked around the livingroom, seeing the unfamiliar furniture. It took a moment to realize where she was and quickly sat and got up from the sofa. She couldn't believe that she had fallen asleep on Kris' couch! She looked at the blanket that had been covering her and frowned. She couldn't remember any blankets when she sat down. Heck, she couldn't even remember lying down on the sofa. The blanket could only have been Kris' doing. The smell of coffee and of bacon cooking guided her towards the kitchen and the sight that greeted Nicole put a smile on her face.
Kris was making breakfast, unaware of her visitor that was quietly leaning on the kitchen's doorframe. Kris padded around the kitchen barefoot, wearing shorts and a T-shirt that was cut at mid stomach, giving a clear view of the slim waist and muscular back. The stuntwoman's long hair had been tightly braided and fell down her back. Kris stopped once in a while to look out the window and watched as some people sailboarded not too far away on the windy lake. But what made Nicole smile the most was to hear Kris hum softly. She had such a beautiful voice.
Kris suddenly felt somebody watching her and turned, seeing that Nicole had finally awakened. "Hi there." Kris smiled. "Did you have a nice rest?" she asked as she put two plates on the table.
"I'm sorry I fell asleep." Nicole said as she walked into the kitchen and noticed the time. She had been sleeping for over three hours! An embarrassed flush crawled over Nicole's face. "Why didn't you wake me up?"
"You looked like you didn't have much sleep, so I let you." A grin slowly played on the dark-haired woman's lips and she winked at Nicole. "Besides, you're so cute when you're asleep." she said then turned to finish preparing breakfast. "Coffee's ready if you want some."
Nicole blushed at the older woman's comment, "Thanks." she took the pot and refilled Kris' mug before filling her own. Then she slowly walked towards the sliding doors and looked outside. It was amazing how relaxed she felt here, in this house, with Kris. It had been such a long time since anybody had cared for her this way. Just the simple act of being covered by the blanket almost brought tears to Nicole's eyes.
"What are your plans for this weekend?" Kris asked suddenly, startling Nicole. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you jump." she apologized. Kris briefly thought of Nicole's father and this morning's scene by the lake came back to her. There were so many questions that Kris wanted to ask her.
"No, it's okay." Nicole quickly smiled. "I was just lost in my thoughts." seeing that Kris was done, she quickly helped the older woman with the plates and brought them to the table and sat down when Kris motioned for her to do so. "I don't have anything planned really." Nicole answered Kris' question. "You can say that I'm pretty much on my own for the next two weeks."
Kris looked at her smaller companion in surprise. "What happened...I mean, where's your father?"
"He left on a trip that had been scheduled some time ago. So I guess it'll be pretty quiet around the house." Nicole saw the grin on Kris' lips and a twinkle in her blue eyes.
This was the best chance Kris would get to make Nicole really enjoy herself. It'll be the best time to get to know the younger woman too. "Well, I was thinking that maybe we could go for a motorcycle ride and you could show me around Montreal?"
"Really?" Nicole exclaimed, "That would be great!"
"Where would you like to go?" Kris laughed. It was so wonderful to see Nicole so happy about doing something. Her enthusiasm was contagious.
"There are so many places I would like to show you. I don't know where to start." Nicole said, trying to find an interesting place to go to.
"What about the mountains?" The dark-haired woman asked. "I heard you talk to Alex, saying how much you missed going there."
"The Laurentians are beautiful," Nicole smiled, remembering her early trips with her mother when she was younger. "But it's about three hours away to go to Mt-Tremblant." she said disappointed.
"So? You just told me you had nothing planned."
"I don't, but..." Nicole started but was cut off.
"It's settled then." the stuntwoman grinned. "We'll finish eating, then we'll stop by your house for you to wear something warmer and we'll be on our way." Kris winked at the speechless woman and continued eating her breakfast.
Nicole didn't know what to think. What had started as another typical day with her father's insults, was slowly turning into a very exciting day. Not only was she having breakfast in Kris' house, but they were about to go for a long motorcycle ride together. Another thing that pleased Nicole greatly was that she was going to spend many hours sitting behind Kris, her arms tightly wrapped around the older woman's waist. 'Things are looking better!' Nicole thought to herself as she finished her breakfast, a big smile plastered on her lips. She slowly brought her eyes up to see Kris looking at her. "Thank you."
A nice flush crawled over Kris' face, having been caught staring again, but she continued looking at Nicole. Kris couldn't get enough of seeing her happy. Nicole was such a beautiful woman when she smiled. Kris loved the way that the blonde was looking at her, especially now, with her green eyes shinning with excitement and her grin making her nose wrinkle a little bit. She nodded to her companion, pleased that Nicole was looking forward to their little trip together. "You're welcome."
The dishes were quickly cleared and put in the dishwasher, and then Kris left to change into something more appropriate to riding. She came back wearing her usual black jeans and boots, but this time she wore a white silk blouse. Nicole couldn't help the smile that crept on her lips as she looked at the dark-haired woman.
"You look real nice." Nicole said, letting her eyes roam over the muscular body standing in front of her. She slowly reached for one of Kris' arm and glided her fingers on the smooth blouse. Then she suddenly pulled her hand away, realizing what she was doing. She looked up at Kris who was smiling down at her, seemingly not disturbed by the sudden show of affection.
"Thank you. I'm glad you appreciate it." Kris smiled as she casually leaned her hand on Nicole's shoulder and guided the younger woman towards the garage and the Harley, grabbing her leather jacket on the way. "I'll make sure to wear it more often." she chuckled slightly as it was now Nicole's turn to blush.
They were soon at Nicole's house and Kris quietly waited in the main area until Nicole called her up from her room. "Don't you just stand there. Come on up."
Kris climbed the stairs to the second floor. Nicole's room was on the left of the stairs and she slowly approached it, not wanting to catch Nicole half dressed. 'Would that be so bad if I did?' Kris caught herself thinking and smiled.
"What kind of jacket should I wear?" Nicole called out, her voice sounding muffled. "I don't have anything made of leather."
Kris slowly peeked inside the room and saw that Nicole was digging into her closet. "I guess I'll have to do something about this." Kris smiled, sitting on the edge of the bed.
"What did you say?" she asked, taking a worn winter jacket out of the closet to show Kris.
The stuntwoman shook her head no as she saw the jacket. "I said you could always wear a windbreaker. I'll be shielding you from most of the wind."
"Oh, okay." she quickly put the jacket back into her closet and closed the door.
Kris looked around the small spartan room. It was furnished with a small bed with a colorful comforter, a small TV set on top of a large desk with drawers and a rocking chair in the corner. The only personal items on display were a few books, a couple of CDs beside the CD player and a few photographs under the lamp on the small nightstand beside the bed. One of those caught Kris' attention and the taller woman got up and reached for it.
"That's my mother." Nicole smiled sadly.
"Is that you with her?" Kris grinned, looking at the small blonde child smiling in the woman's arms and looked up to see Nicole nod.
"I was ten years old when that picture was taken. She died a few weeks later." Nicole took a deep breath and smiled at Kris. "Are we ready?"
Kris nodded as she put the picture back. "She's a beautiful woman, just like her daughter." she smiled and walked out of the room, respecting Nicole's wish not to talk about, what seemed like, a touchy subject.
'Did she just call me beautiful??' Nicole asked herself as Kris left. She could feel a blush coming on and smiled. She loved how the older woman made her feel. She grabbed her windbreaker and rushed down the stairs after Kris.
Before leaving for their little trip 'up north', Kris made a quick stop at a leather store that she had discovered one evening. She had stopped at the store one day and checked out the available jackets for sale. Every evening that Kris drove Nicole home, the younger woman had worn a heavy sweatshirt topped with her jeans jacket. Kris had decided to buy her something nice and a lot more comfortable to wear. Getting off the motorcycle, Kris steered Nicole inside to buy her the leather jacket she had chosen. Of course, Kris was prepared to deal with Nicole's arguments.
The sale had been one of the easiest the salesperson had ever made. Kris had walked in with Nicole, had gone towards a specific rack and pulled out a precise size for Nicole to try. The jacket fit perfectly. Kris had handed her credit card to the clerk and paid for the jacket, then reached for the younger woman's hand, who was now wearing the new purchase, and walked out the store to get back to the bike. All that with no sound from Nicole. The young woman was stunned speechless.
As she was about to sit back on the bike, Kris felt her arm being tugged back and turned around to look at Nicole. "Hmm?"
"Kris?" Nicole asked, getting her voice back. "Why did you do that?" she looked down at the jacket she was wearing, gliding her fingers on the smooth black leather, then back up at Kris who was standing in front of her.
"Because I wanted to give you a gift?" Kris grinned. "Besides, you needed one for riding the bike."
"But I...It's so...That's too..." Nicole tried to speak, but once more, the words just wouldn't come out. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, then looked back at the taller woman. "Do you realize how expensive that was?!" she asked, but the only reaction she got from Kris was her biting her lip so she wouldn't laugh. "You have the house to rent, then you talked about renting a car, then you invited me to a very expensive restaurant and now this? Kris, you'd better..."
"Do you like the jacket?" Kris asked simply, cutting Nicole off.
"Yes, I love it but..." Kris' index finger found its way on Nicole's lips, silencing the younger woman. Nicole blinked a couple of times as she watched Kris raise an eyebrow at her then smiled.
"Don't worry about the money, okay?" she said softly as she slowly glided her finger on Nicole's lips before letting her hand drop to her side. The small gesture had caused the blonde woman to close her eyes. "I didn't do this because I can afford it, I did it because I wanted to buy you something nice and make you happy."
Nicole couldn't believe how soft Kris' finger had felt on her lips, and how her body had reacted to the simple touch, sending a shock wave coursing through her body from her head down to her toes. She suddenly found herself so disappointed when Kris had pulled away and opened her eyes to look into pale blue eyes that were looking back at her, with a beautiful smile on Kris' lips. For a moment, neither of them spoke. They just looked at each other. "I don't know what to say." Nicole finally said, tears in her eyes. "Nobody has ever did anything like this for me before." She watched as Kris slowly stepped forward and gently kissed her forehead.
"Just say 'thank you'."
Not caring how this would look, Nicole suddenly wrapped both of her arms around the dark-haired woman's neck and gave her a hug. "Thank you." she whispered in Kris' ear and soon found herself being hugged back, the stuntwoman having wrapped her arms around the smaller woman's waist.
"You're welcome." she whispered back. As she was about to let go of the younger woman, Nicole gave her a small kiss on the cheek and stepped back, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand. Surprised by the small show of affection, Kris looked at Nicole, who had started to blush slightly, and smiled. This had felt so nice, Kris wondered when was the last time she had hugged somebody outside her family. One thing was for sure, she was getting used to Nicole's little gestures and even found herself wishing for more.
Giving the blonde woman's shoulder a light squeeze, Kris sat on the Harley and invited her to do the same. They each strapped their helmets on and zipped their jackets closed. As Kris felt Nicole's arms solidly wrap themselves around her waist, she turned around and grinned at the blonde woman. "Ready?" she asked as she put her sunglasses and gloves on. She chuckled as Nicole nodded vigorously, smiling from ear to ear and Kris turned forward and started the motorcycle. Soon, both women were on their way.
What a day it had been for both Kris and Nicole. They had gone all the way to Mt-Tremblant, visited the very popular ski village, which looked a lot like a European village and took a chairlift all the way up and enjoyed the scenery of the surrounding mountains. Even though Kris had lived most of her life in the Alps, she had been pleasantly surprised by the different panorama the Laurentians offered. Instead of the jagged mountains of Southern Europe, the Laurentians offered mountain after mountain of high rolling hills filled with maple, pine, spruce and oak trees. After a stop for dinner at a restaurant and a needed stretch for the legs, they had continued back towards Montreal.
Closing the garage door after shutting off the Harley's motor, Kris took her helmet off and along with Nicole's, tied them to the bike and guided the smaller woman back into the house.
"That was wonderful Kris!" Nicole smiled, stretching her sore back. "I can't remember when I had so much fun. Thank you."
Kris walked to the closet and slipped out of her leather jacket and put it on a hanger. After hanging her jacket, she reached for Nicole's and did the same. "I'm glad you enjoyed yourself. I had fun too." Kris watched in amusement as Nicole walked to the sofa and let herself drop heavily on it, barely stifling a yawn. "Are you tired? Do you want to go home?" she asked, wishing that Nicole would stay just a little longer.
"No, I'm fine." Nicole smiled. "I'm just not used to being outdoors this much." She watched as Kris entered the kitchen and called out if she wanted anything to drink. "A coke would be nice, thanks." Nicole called back. "So, what are we doing tonight?"
Did Kris hear right? Nicole still wanted to do something! Kris shook her head as she chuckled, taking two cans out of the fridge and grabbed a bag of chips from the pantry. "I thought that maybe we could take it easy for tonight." Kris said as she walked back into the livingroom and handed a can of coke to Nicole along with the bag. "It's been a long day. You're not used to doing long rides like we did." she put her own can on the coffee table and sat down beside Nicole and took her boots off. "Maybe we could just watch a movie or something?"
Nicole didn't want the day to end. She knew that all the time she had spent with the older woman today was going to have a special place in her heart. And now it seemed that Kris wasn't in a big hurry to see this day end either. Nicole smiled as she opened her can and lifted it in the air. "Good plan." She watched as Kris took her can and lazily put her feet on the table and leaned back. Following Kris' lead, Nicole took her running shoes off and settled comfortably on the sofa. "Anything good playing tonight?"
Reaching for the remote beside her, Kris clicked the TV on, turned the lights off and started channel surfing. "Oooh, The Fly is playing!" the dark-haired woman grinned at Nicole and laughed as the blonde made a big show of shuddering. "Not The Fly, huh?" she continued and spotted another movie classic. "Hmm, how about Aliens?"
"Ew, I hate those things." Nicole laughed, poking Kris slightly in the ribs, then grabbed the remote. Clicking past a few channels, she finally stopped on Gremlins. "Here are a few ugly creatures I'm sure you'll like." she teased Kris.
"Ugly creatures? Those are cute!" she replied. "They're so small and cuddly," Kris started then looked at her companion with a grin. "Just like someone I know."
"Cute and cuddly?" Nicole exclaimed. "They're green and slimy and they..." Surprised, Nicole looked up at the taller woman watching her. "Like someone you know?" Suddenly, what Kris had just said registered in her mind.
"Hmm hmm, small, cute and cuddly, just like you." Kris chuckled as she saw the beginning of a blush forming on Nicole's cheeks. "You're smaller than I am and you sure like to cuddle, I noticed that on the bike..." Kris saw that Nicole was about to say something but didn't let her. "...but I really liked it." she finished, smiling.
"You did?" Nicole asked, her voice just above a whisper. "You forgot about the cute part." Nicole surprised herself. She slowly looked up at Kris who winked at her.
"I didn't forget that part." she took the remote back from Nicole's shaking hands and switched channels again and stopped on another movie playing.
"X-Files!" Both women exclaimed at the same time then started laughing.
"I guess we'll watch this." Kris chuckled as she put the remote back on the table and took a long swallow of her coke. 'Is it getting warmer in here?' Kris asked herself, but she was pretty sure that the weather had nothing to do with the way she was feeling. She watched Nicole from the corner of her eyes and noticed that she was still blushing furiously. Kris briefly wondered if she hadn't gone too far in her teasing the younger woman, but she saw a hint of a smile tugging at Nicole's lips. Satisfied that she hadn't made her uncomfortable, Kris comfortably settled back on the sofa to enjoy the movie with a grin on her face, only wishing that Nicole would sit closer to her.
Three deep breaths later, Nicole could feel the warmth that had crawled over her face slowly go away. She couldn't believe that Kris had teased her that way, 'It almost sounded like she was flirting with me!' Nicole thought, smiling. 'So you think I'm cute and cuddly.' Nicole bit her lip as she tried not to chuckle. If Kris only knew that it was the only thing Nicole wanted to do right now. Just to be able to lean on the muscular body and have another chance to wrap her arms around Kris' waist. Nicole slowly stole a glance at the taller woman, seeing the smile on Kris' lips and turned her attention back to the movie. Whatever Kris was thinking about sure seemed nice, Nicole thought.
Kris opened her eyes at the strange sound. She noticed that the TV had a blank screen and that the movie had finished a long time ago. She blinked a couple of times and briefly wondered what was against her when she spotted Nicole comfortably nestled against her. The blonde head rested against her shoulder with her right arm loosely draped across Kris' stomach. Sometime between watching the movie and waking up, Kris had brought her own arm to rest across the younger woman's shoulder, cradling her closer to Kris.
Nicole was deeply asleep. Kris could hear her regular breathing and felt her warm breath slowly caressing Kris' neck. 'What do I do now?' Kris asked herself, she wondered if she should wake Nicole and invite her to sleep in one of the guest bedroom, or just enjoy this moment and stay as they were.
Not wanting to disturb her young companion and most importantly, not wanting to break contact with Nicole, Kris decided to stay the rest of the night like this. She slowly brought the coffee table closer to the sofa with one foot and leaned her feet back again on the table in a more comfortable position. The slight movement caused Nicole to stir slightly and tighten her hold around Kris' waist.
Kris held her breath, hoping that Nicole wouldn't wake up and let it go as the smaller woman cuddled even closer as she mumbled in her sleep. Kris softly kissed the blonde head and closed her eyes with a smile on her lips. She soon joined her companion in sleep.
Nicole couldn't remember being so comfortable. She unconsciously reached for the blankets that she must have kicked off her during the night, feeling the chill of the morning air. All she grabbed was something solid and she sleepily opened one eye to investigate. She wasn't in her room and obviously not in a bed. She saw that she was leaning against Kris, who seemed to be sleeping and that what she was grabbing had been Kris' thigh. She slowly lifted her arm off of Kris' leg and tried to untangle herself from the warm body, being careful not to wake Kris up. 'What would she say if she saw me like this?' Nicole thought, a little embarrassed at finding herself in such a position. Something was leaning across her waist and Nicole saw that it was the older woman's arm. 'Great! Now what do I do?'
Nicole quickly looked up at a pair of blue eyes looking down at her and swallowed. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to I just "
Kris lifted her arm off of Nicole and lazily stretched her tall frame. "You looked so comfortable last night, I didn't want to wake you up." Kris grinned. "I hope you don't mind."
"I should apologize. I don't know what came over me. I " Nicole slightly frowned, "Don't mind what?" she asked as she sat up.
"That I didn't wake you and let you sleep against me like this?" Kris was now sitting on the edge of the sofa, looking at Nicole uncertainly. "It was kind of comfortable and nice." She admitted softly.
That caught Nicole off guard. Here she was being nervous about how Kris would react to her being cuddled against her this way, and now she saw Kris who was the one being uncertain. "I yes, it was nice." Nicole smiled shyly. "But are you sure about being comfortable? I know I was." That came out of Nicole's mouth faster than she realized and blushed even more.
A hearty laugh escaped Kris' lips and she smiled at her companion, "I was very comfortable, Nick." then she got up and stretched some more. "Are you hungry?"
Nicole's stomach took care of answering Kris' question and both women looked at each other and laughed. "I guess I am!" Nicole got up herself and headed for the kitchen. "How about pancakes for breakfast?"
Kris hesitated for a moment before joining the younger woman. "Ah, my kitchen skills are somewhat limited." Kris mumbled as Nicole turned around to look at her. "Why don't we just go out and eat. That's what I usually do."
"Did I ask you to make breakfast?" Nicole mock glared at Kris then smiled. "I asked you if you wanted pancakes?"
"I do but " Kris started but was gently turned around and guided out of the kitchen by a chuckling Nicole.
"No buts. You go have a shower or whatever and I'll make breakfast, okay? Now go!" Nicole gently gave her a small pat on the butt and turned to start looking for the stuff she was going to need, entirely missing Kris' surprised look.
'I've decided a few times what to do or where to eat, I guess two can play this game, huh?' Kris chuckled to herself as she headed towards the bathroom.
'Le Café des Berges' was a nice little bistro that was located by the lake St-Louis near Montreal. It was also only a few streets away from where Kris had rented the house. The cafe's clientele were young people, most of them taking a break from a long ride of bicycling, rollerblading or having tied Seadoos and small boats to the cafe's marina. Sitting at a table on the terrace, four people were sipping drinks and exchanging jokes in a light banter.
Alex McGrail lazily stretched her neck and shoulders and tilted her head back, soaking in the sunshine. She briefly wondered what Nicole was doing. She had called at her house this morning only to find the answering machine at the other end of the line. It wasn't like Nicole to get out of the house on a day off that early, especially when her father wasn't home. Her cousin tended to use that time to sleep usually.
"Ah merde Alex! Are you listening?" Sophie exclaimed. Sitting at Alex's left, she poked her in the ribs with her finger, causing the brunette to break out of her thoughts. The redhead had a heavy French accent, causing her to pronounce every word precisely. "Sometimes I wonder where you're drifting to."
"Daydreaming again?" Anne said a little sarcastically.
"Sorry. I was thinking about Nick." Alex smiled and sat straighter in her chair, bringing all her attention back to the conversation.
"I was saying that maybe we could all go to Quebec City next weekend." Sophie repeated, "Neilson has to go back Monday night."
"I'm leaving for Los Angeles on Tuesday morning." Neilson corrected.
Alex scratched her head, frowning a little bit. "I don't know if I'll be able to go. There was a fire last night and a good section of the movie set got damaged. We might have to do some work then to pick up on lost time."
"Was anybody injured?" the young man asked as he flagged the waiter for another round of drinks.
"No, but the carpenters have a lot of work ahead of them to rebuild. That set was the one they were going to use for tomorrow's shooting." Alex shook her head as she remembered the phone call her father had received about the fire. "Dad sure was angry as hell!"
"Quel vacherie!" Sophie pouted, her French tended to get out more often when she was upset. "And I was looking forward to a nice weekend together."
Neilson turned to look at the Frenchwoman sitting beside him as the waiter arrived with their drinks, giving Sophie her second glass of white wine. "I'm sure we'll have another weekend. I'm only in L.A. for two weeks." he smiled as the waiter gave Anne her ice tea and put Alex's third Guinness in front of her. The rum and coke was for himself. He paid the waiter and looked at Alex. "You "
"It would be so much nicer if we could spend more time in L.A." Anne cut in as she sipped her ice tea, speaking for the first time in a long while.
"I told you Anne, this is not a vacation. I'm going there to work." Neilson explained, starting to lose patience with his grumpy girlfriend.
"Yeah, whatever." Anne said as she got up and left the group.
Sighing, Neilson turned his attention to Alex, "You mentioned Nicole. How is she doing?"
"Nicole's got a girlfriend." Sophie sang, making a big show of winking at Neilson and started chuckling.
"They're only friends." Alex stated but everybody could see the grin slowly creeping up on her lips. "At least they are for now."
"Oh? And your instincts tells you that it will develop into...." he trailed his sentence, grinning at Alex who wagged her eyebrows at him as she took a sip of her beer.
"Nick looks very happy with her. They both do as a matter of fact. I wouldn't be surprised if things got a little more, hmmm, intimate between them?" she smiled at Neilson who seemed to be happy with the news.
"That would be real nice. Nicole needs to have somebody in her life that cares for her." Neilson agreed. "She's got enough crap from that bastard who calls himself her father." he took a sip of his drink and shook his head. "She's a good woman. She deserves to be happy."
"Talking about the devil, there she is." Alex grinned as everybody turned around to look at the entrance of the terrace.
Both Nicole and Kris had walked in and were in various stages of taking their motorcycle helmets and leather jackets off. Kris suddenly bent close to whisper something in Nicole's ear, causing the younger woman to burst out laughing. Nicole turned slightly and backhanded the stuntwoman on the stomach.
Alex was so happy to see the both of them together and having fun. She waited until Nicole looked their way to wave them over with a big grin. "Hey girl!" Alex got up and hugged her cousin, then smiled at Kris who had kept her sunglasses on. "How are you doing Kris?"
"Things are good." Kris replied, looking at the others sitting at the table.
"Why don't you join us?" Alex invited them, pulling two chairs to add to the table. "Cool leather!" Alex fingered Nicole's jacket. "You bought this?" she asked as she sat down and watched Nicole put the jacket on the back of one of the available chair.
Nicole shook her head and looked at her tall companion. "It's a gift from Kris." she smiled and looked back at Alex and her friends. She nodded to Sophie then saw Neilson. "Neil!" she laughed and quickly hugged the young man. "How are you?"
"I'm doing great kid!" he kissed her on the cheek and stepped back to get a better look at his friend. "You look great." he said as they both sat down.
"Hey, I'd like to introduce you to my friend, Kristina. Kris this is Neilson, we grew up together."
Lifting her sunglasses and putting them on top of her head, Kris reached out and shook Neilson's hand. "Nice to meet you." she smiled as she sat down, putting her motorcycle helmet on the table beside Nicole's and her leather jacket on the armrest of the chair.
"It's an honor to meet you Ms Von Deering." Neilson gushed, star struck.
Nicole frowned slightly, looking from Neil to Kris and back. "You know her?" the blonde asked Neilson, confused.
"Please, call me Kris." the stuntwoman chuckled.
"Okay, Kris it is." Neil smiled. "This is so cool Nick! Ms Von...I mean, Kris is one of the reasons why I became a stuntman. You did a wonderful job in the movie 'Law & Revenge' by the way. The full burn you did was so incredible."
"Thank you. Have you been a stuntman for a long time?" Kris asked Neil, then turned to the waiter who had just arrived. "A Guinness and a coke for the lady here, please." she smiled at Nicole.
"I trained at the Canadian Stunt School in the suburbs of Montreal and graduated five years ago." he said proudly. "I was lucky enough to get myself hired on a movie project in L.A."
"The school, that's where you'll be teaching, right?" Nicole asked Kris.
"Yes. Right after I'm done with the movie we're doing in Montreal."
"Can I ask a stupid question?" Nicole asked, looking at both Kris and Neilson. "What is a full burn?"
"That's a very spectacular stunt. You set yourself on fire!" Neilson exclaimed, a little too enthusiastically.
"What?!" Nicole looked at Kris with an alarmed look. "You were on fire?"
Kris reached for Nicole's hand and gently squeezed it. "It's more complicated than that." she smiled reassuringly at her friend. "There's a lot of precautions to take before that. Lots of fire retardant gel, special clothing, a breathing apparatus."
"Still...I'm not sure I could stand the sight of you in flames." Nicole shuddered, trying to take the image of a burning Kris out of her mind.
"Especially someone you care about." Alex whispered in Nicole's ear. "Kris, did I introduce you to my girlfriend Sophie?" she asked the dark-haired woman.
"No you didn't. Nice to meet you Sophie." she shook her hand but found the redhead holding on longer than necessary.
"No, it's nice to meet you." Sophie purred, then let go of Kris' hand.
The stuntwoman's cell phone took this time to ring and Kris excused herself as she got up and answered the call, leaving Nicole with her friends. Kris stopped briefly to pay for both drinks as the waiter returned with their orders.
"Oh boy!" Neilson exclaimed. "I can't believe you're going out with Kristina Von Deering!" he said to Nicole then winced as Alex kicked him on the shin under the table. "Ow! I mean, that you get to spend time with her." he looked at Alex who was glaring back at him.
"Why are you acting so weird, Neil?" Nicole asked. "You act like Kris is some kind of superstar or something."
"She is Nick!" he tried to explain. "Kristina is very famous in Europe. She's one, if not the best stuntwoman in the world. I mean, the press hounds her everywhere she goes. She traveled the world, meeting and working with famous actors. She's also a very rich woman. They say she's got so much money, she doesn't know what to do with it."
"That's enough Neil." Alex warned, seeing that Nicole had become silent and withdrawn.
Somehow, that image of Kris wasn't making sense. Since Nicole had met Kris, the stuntwoman had been like any ordinary woman. She didn't act like a snob like most famous people were rumored to act like and hadn't seen any signs of the press following them around Montreal. And as for the money, at least now she understood why Kris was so easy going in spending it. A hand on her shoulder made Nicole look up and see worried blue eyes watching her.
"Are you okay?" Kris asked as she sat down.
"Yeah, I'm fine." Nicole replied softly, taking a sip of her coke.
Kris looked at Alex who had an angry scowl on her face, at Sophie who suddenly found her glass of wine very interesting and finally at Neilson who looked like he had made a big mistake. Turning her eyes to a silent Nicole, Kris bent down and whispered in her young companion's ear, "Can I speak to you for a minute?" she asked as she got up. "Excuse us." Kris said to the group.
"Sure." Nicole silently followed the taller woman down the three steps that led to the marina. They walked until they reached an available bench and sat down, both of them silent.
"Something's bothering you Nick. What is it?" Kris asked softly.
"It's nothing." Nicole smiled shyly. "Nothing important." she looked out at the numerous boats moored at the marina, feeling so stupid to be reacting this way.
"Nick, when I left, you were all smiles and happy, now you look like your best friend died." Kris gently lifted Nicole's chin so she would look at her. "What's wrong?"
"I didn't know you were so famous." Nicole blurted out. "Neil told me that you were some kind of celebrity in Europe, that you were often seen with the rich and famous."
"I see." Kris could feel her body tense. For once, she had thought that she had met someone who didn't care if she was famous or not. Now it seemed like it mattered to Nicole.
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"Would it have made a difference?" Kris asked tersely.
"No, it wouldn't but...I don't know!" Nicole sighed. "I mean, you've met actors and celebrities. I'm just wondering why you would want to spend some time with an ordinary girl like me." she said as she got up and walked closer to the water.
"What are you talking about?" Kris asked, getting up and walked to stand in front of Nicole. "Did it ever cross your mind that maybe I like spending time with you? You're an intelligent young woman, you're funny, you're caring, you make me feel so alive." the dark-haired woman gently cupped Nicole's face in her hands and looked into teary green eyes. "I love...being with you."
"You do?" Nicole whispered, cursing her lack of self-confidence.
"Yes, I do." Kris smiled, feeling the tension slowly ebb away from her body. "I don't know why people are so impressed by celebrities." she said as she wiped a tear away from Nicole's cheek with her thumb. "Most of them are so full of themselves." she grinned, causing Nicole to chuckled a little. "I thought you knew that I was...you know..."
"Rich and famous?" Nicole replied, a grin slowly playing on her lips.
"How I hate those two words." Kris sighed, but smiled. "Yeah, that."
"No, I didn't know. It was a shock to find out. I mean you act so normal."
"Normal? Are we supposed to act differently because of it?" Kris grinned.
"You know what I mean." Nicole poked Kris in the stomach. "No matter how rich you are, I still think you spent too much money on me."
"Nicole, I'll tell you something. I'm not the type to buy friends. I bought you that jacket because I wanted to. I just wanted to please you."
"You don't need to buy me anything to please me, Kris. Just your presence makes me happy."
Kris smiled, feeling warm all over. "Really?"
"Really." Nicole smiled back and threw her arms around the stuntwoman's neck, giving her a hug.
Back on the terrace, Alex, Sophie and Neilson were hanging over the railing watching the scene at the marina and sighed. "Isn't this wonderful?" Neil grinned then frowned at Alex who elbowed him in the ribs.
"No thanks to you. God, I thought Nicole would start crying!" Alex exclaimed.
"I thought Nicole knew the facts about Kris."
"Everything's back to normal." Sophie grabbed the two friends and made them sit down in their chairs. "So let's change subjects, oui? Here they come."
Kris and Nicole were walking back to the terrace, both of them smiling. Alex had feared that the knowledge of Kris' fame and fortune would have intimidated Nicole to the point of walking away from Kris. Alex was glad that whatever they had discussed seemed to have calmed Nicole. The brunette smiled as both women sat back down at the table. "Did my father call you about the fire they had yesterday?" Alex asked Kris, wanting to get the conversation going again.
Nicole looked up at Alex from her glass of coke in surprise, "What fire?"
Taking her beer, Kris took a long swallow before nodding, "That's the phone call I just received." she answered Alex. "It seemed that a worker doing welding repairs was the cause of the blaze." She looked at Nicole as she explained. "Tomorrow's schedule has been postponed to a later date until they can rebuild the set."
"So we have tomorrow off?" Alex asked hopefully. "I sure could use another day like today." She grinned wistfully.
"I don't know about you guys, but we have to move one of the scheduled stunts earlier than planned." Kris looked at Nicole and smiled shyly. "I'm sorry, I have unexpected work to do. Do you want me to drive you home or you can stay here with your friends?" the stuntwoman asked, disappointed that this day was over so soon. She took one last swallow of her beer and stood up.
"No, I'll go back with you." Nicole smiled as she got up and slipped into her leather jacket. "I've got a lot of house cleaning to do." She turned to look at Neilson who was now standing beside Nicole. "You be careful in L.A. okay?" she said as she gave him a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
"Always." He grinned. "I'm sorry about earlier Nick. I didn't mean to "
"I know. Don't worry about it. Everything is fine." She smiled then gave a hug to Sophie and then Alex. "So, see you at work tomorrow?" she asked her cousin who rolled her eyes.
"Yeah, I guess. Unless we get word that we're not working!"
"It was nice meeting you all." Kris said politely after she had put her jacket on, then shook Neilson and Sophie's hands. "Guess I'll see you at work too." Kris teased Alex before putting her motorcycle helmet on.
"Yeah, yeah. Whatever." She grumbled but grinned at the tall woman. "You take care of her all right?" she told Kris, a hint of seriousness in her voice. "I really care about Nicole. I'd like to continue seeing her this happy."
"Of course." Kris smiled as she shook the brunette's hand.
Alex watched them leave with Kris gently guiding Nicole through the crowd and towards the black Harley-Davidson.
It was a short ride back. Having gone past Kris' house, they continued until they reached Nicole's house, drove up the driveway and turned the motor off. For a moment, neither moved. Nicole stayed sitting behind the tall woman, her arms still wrapped around Kris' waist. With a sigh, Nicole slowly disembarked from the Harley and took her helmet off, moving slightly so she stood in front of Kris. Nicole silently handed her helmet to the stuntwoman who then tied it at the back of the motorcycle.
"Will you " Kris started.
"Are we " Nicole spoke at the same time, then both women started laughing. "I'm sorry, you start." Nicole smiled as Kris took her sunglasses off and looked at her.
"Will you be having lunch with me tomorrow?" Kris asked, seeing a grin on Nicole's face.
"I was going to ask you the same thing." Nicole chuckled. "Same place, same time?"
"I'll be there." Kris smiled.
"I'll be bringing the lunch so don't buy any chocolate bars to eat okay? It's not healthy." Seeing that Kris was about to protest, Nicole quickly added. "Let me do this, please?"
Kris quietly nodded, making the younger woman smile. She took a deep breath, wanting to tell Nicole something, but after the little conversation they had at the marina, Kris wasn't sure how Nicole would hear this bit of news. Obviously the younger woman didn't know much about Kris' past and if there was one thing that she didn't want to lose, it was her friendship with Nicole. But she still feared that what she was about to say might just do that. Better to have it in the open now than to risk having it brought out in the most embarrassing moment.
"Nicole," Kris started, swallowing with difficulty, nervousness getting a strong hold on her. "The talk we had at the marina made me realize how little you know about me." She saw that she had Nicole's undivided attention, the green eyes watching her intently. "We've been spending a lot of time together and well, I'm afraid you might hear a few things concerning me."
Nicole started to worry. She had never seen Kris so nervous before. There was something that the dark-haired woman needed to say but was obviously worried about, what? Her reaction to it? "What is it Kris?" Nicole asked softly, trying to reassure the older woman. She gently laid her hand on Kris' arm, giving her a small squeeze.
Kris looked at the small hand, hoping that Nicole wouldn't pull it away in disgust. 'Just say it!' she thought and took another deep breath. "Nicole, I'm gay." 'There, I've said it.' Kris expected some kind of reaction from the younger woman, a sharp intake of air, some kind of exclamation, or maybe just turning away without saying anything.
Nicole let the breath she was holding out. She was so relieved to know it wasn't anything serious. Her biggest fear had been to hear Kris say that they wouldn't be seeing each other anymore. "So?" was all Nicole said then smiled as Kris lifted her blue eyes to look into Nicole's green. "Is that what was making you so nervous?" Nicole watched as Kris nodded silently, looking so unsure of herself. "I've seen my cousin with a string of girlfriends in the past few years. You'll have to do better than that to shock me."
"I didn't want you to find out the same way you did about "
"About you being rich and famous?" Nicole grinned as she saw Kris smile a little. "I'm glad you told me and it doesn't make a difference at all."
Kris felt like an enormous weight had been lifted off her shoulders. That could have been the only thing to hurt their relationship. She was so glad to have this out in the open. At least this way, Nicole could deal with any rumors she would hear on the set.
"I want you to know that I loved our unplanned weekend together." Nicole smiled shyly. "I'd really like it if we could continue this way."
"There's nothing I'd like more than this." Kris smiled, feeling so happy she felt like hugging the small woman in front of her.
"Great! So I'll see you tomorrow then." Nicole quickly leaned forward and kissed Kris on the cheek, "Bye." she smiled then turned to leave.
Kris sat on her motorcycle, watching the younger woman leave, speechless. She slowly reached up to touch her cheek. She knew she had a stupid grin on her face. This had gone better than expected. Nicole opened the door and Kris waved before the younger woman walked in the house. She started her Harley and backed it out of the driveway, feeling her heart beating furiously against her chest. Riding back home, Kris whistled a tune, something she hadn't done in ages.
Return to The Bard's Corner