LEGAL DISCLAIMER:Xena and Xena: Warrior Princess are registered trademarks of MCA. The character of Xena is the sole property of MCA. This story is not meant as an infringement of any copyright. The rest of the story is copyright by WolfDragon, Kris and Nicole belongs to me and the story may not be duplicated without credit to its author. Any character or name resemblance to 'real' people currently living or dead is completely coincidental.
This story depicts scenes of violence and/or their aftermath. Somewhere in this story, you might want to have a bad language warning too.
This story depicts a love/ sexual relationship between two consenting adult women. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal in the state, province or country in which you live please do not read it. If depictions of this nature disturb you, you may wish to read something other than this story.
This story is a prequel to Daredevil Hearts. It is better to read Lost Paradise before you start DDH. Comments can be sent here to WolfDragon.
I'd like to thank my Beta readers, Pat, Carole, Dawn and Trish. You guys really helped a lot. But I would like to thank a very special person. Her name is Cindy. Throughout this project and also with the Daredevil Hearts project, you have been a solid shoulder for me to lean on. Your help and great suggestions and ideas were and still are very precious to me. You're the best!J
Hope you enjoy the story as much as I had fun writing it!
Lost Paradise-- Part 1
Montreal, Canada. A city as far away from Hollywood as could be, but a location that was quickly becoming more popular to the movie makers than the crazy lifestyle of Tinseltown. In the past few years, the city had seen the number of movies filmed there growing steadily with productions from all over the world. The newly built studios, the excellent technical crews available and the European flavor the old section of Montreal offered made a lot of people choose this internationally known city over others.
One of those movies was being filmed now, a joint Canadian/Austrian production. A number of the exterior shots had already been filmed in and around Montreal, including the ones in the Laurentian mountain range only two hours north of the city. This week's schedule had the crew filming in the south section of Montreal, a few blocks away from what people called Old Montreal.
A small group of people stood in front of the small color monitor, watching the tape of the stunt that had just been performed. The movie director, a man in his mid forties, slowly nodded as the scene played through under his studious inspection. He had never worked with the Austrian stunt people before but knew of them through other directors who had worked with them. The most highly recommended was Kristina Von Deering. It was her stunt of a very tight rollover in a police car they were now watching on the small monitor.
Nodding his approval, he gave Kristina a thumbs up, indicating that the stunt was a good take. With that, he took his leave to attend other pressing matters concerning the film, leaving the small group in front of the television. The tall, dark-haired stuntwoman separated herself from the group and slowly walked over to a nearby bench. She dropped herself down onto the hard wooden surface, putting her racing gloves into her helmet and then placing the helmet down on the bench beside her. It was a very warm day and the police uniform she wore didn't help her body cool down any, especially after a particularly difficult stunt. She unbuttoned the police shirt all the way, pulling it out of the uniform's dark pants and pulled at her soaked T-shirt. She spotted a young gopher moving around the set, offering cold bottles of water to drink. Her throat was parched from the heat, so she waved the gopher over with her hand.
The young boy from the movie set ran over to the tall stuntwoman and offered her a cold bottle of water, which was accepted with a smile. She twisted off the cap and drained half of the bottle's contents before putting it down beside her helmet. She rubbed the tiredness from her face then leaned her elbows on her knees and rested her head in her hands as she closed her eyes for a moment.
This was her second day in Montreal, working for a project that had started to look like it would be a very long one. The problem was that Kris was already bored out of her mind, and she still had three months to go before returning to Austria.
She was alone in this city, none of her siblings had been chosen to work with her and she was far away from her horses. The real problem was going back to her hotel room. She had to find a house to rent so she could have her own place and get comfortable while she was here. Even though she spent a lot of time in hotels, she hated them. Kris preferred to rent when she could rather than be stuck in a hotel room, no matter how big and luxurious it was.
Once settled, she would connect her computer directly to her house in Innsbruck and keep in touch with her Arabian horse breeding program. As long as she kept working, everything was fine.
Suddenly, the sound of loud voices off to her left brought her out of her thoughts. Kristina lifted her head and opened her eyes to see a scrawny looking man groping a pretty, young woman. Kris caught sight of where the man's hands had been roaming, over the young woman's tight buttocks and waist as he made lewd comments. The young blonde woman kept backing away from her assailant as she tried to put some distance between them, all the while knocking away his wandering hands to no avail. The offending man refused to take 'no' for an answer.
Kris got to her feet and silently walked behind the blonde woman. She casually crossed her arms over her chest and gave the man a dangerous glare that promised nothing but pain. His eyes narrowed as he opened his mouth to say something and then her strong stance and manner quickly made him change his mind. The sight of the tall Austrian's smile, devoid of any humor, made him reconsider his actions as his hands slid away from the woman he was harassing. He turned and quickly walked away.
A slight frown of confusion crossed the blonde woman's features at the man's sudden departure, but quickly turned into a sigh of relief realizing that the jerk decided to leave her alone. Taking a deep breath, the young woman turned to leave. She didn't get very far as she walked right into a solid wall of muscle and flesh that was standing behind her, sending the few files she was carrying raining down onto the ground.
"Oh! Excuse me Officer!" The smaller woman exclaimed nervously as she bent down and started gathering the dropped files.
Long, slender fingers came into view as they helped in gathering the fallen files. The young woman concentrated more intensely on picking up the papers, too embarrassed to look up at the officer helping her.
"No, I'm sorry. Are you okay?" the stuntwoman asked concerned.
At the sound of the slight German accent, the voice a warm contralto, the blonde brought her eyes up and was engulfed in the most beautiful eyes she had ever seen. As she stared at the woman crouching down with her, she noticed the long, dark hair that was tied back in a tight braid, and the bangs that hung loosely just above her perfect eyebrows were a beautiful contrast to the sapphire colored eyes.
Kris suddenly felt herself biting back a smile as she let the young woman stare at her all slack jawed, as she blindly continued to pick the papers up. More often than not, the papers were missed and she searched with her hand to find where they were, unable to tear her eyes from Kris' own.
"Hmm? Oh! Yes! I'm fine, thank you." She blushed as she looked down once again, putting the papers back into the files and got to her feet at the same time as the officer. Lifting her eyes to look into the dark-haired woman's own, she took a good look at the woman standing in front of her, now realizing why the jerk had left so suddenly.
The woman was six feet tall, towering above Nicole's 5'4". The tight T-shirt underneath the opened police shirt showed an incredibly flat abdomen and the broad shoulders made for a very impressive sight. Only then did she notice that the 'Police officer' wore no gun and that she was halfway out of uniform.
Satisfied that the young woman was unharmed, Kris smiled at her, turned around to leave and picked up the equipment she had left on the bench. Her day of work was done and now she had to find something to do.
Seeing that the tall woman was about to leave, the blonde thought furiously about something to say to her, not knowing why she didn't want to see her leave. Spying the helmet on the bench, she blurted out the first thing that came to her mind. "Are you one of the stuntmen...I mean, stuntwomen for the movie?"
Kris stopped walking and looked back at the younger woman, a grin playing on her full lips. "I'm not a police officer, that's for sure." She teased. "My name is Kristina Von Deering." She offered her hand to the blonde who quickly stepped forward to shake it.
"I'm Nicole McGrail. Nice to meet you." She smiled a little nervously. Why was she so nervous? This wasn't the worried kind she realized, but an excited one. She had never felt this way toward anyone before.
A raised eyebrow from the tall woman made Nicole realize that she was still holding her hand. She quickly pulled her hand back and blushed even more as Kristina flashed her a beautiful smile.
"Are you from this area?" Kristina asked, wanting to put the young woman at ease.
Nicole was afraid of the woman's reaction to all of the staring she'd been doing. 'What's wrong with me?' she mentally shook her head. "Yes, I live in Montreal." She relaxed as soon as she saw that Kris wasn't upset. In fact, she seemed a little amused. "Where are you from?" she asked as they both started walking toward the full-face helmet left on the bench.
"I live in Innsbruck, Austria." Kris said as she grabbed her helmet and gloves and tucked them under her arm. Not wanting to go to her hotel room and stay alone, she looked around for a place to go and relax for a while and found nothing that caught her eye. She turned her eyes back to the blonde woman in front of her. "Is there anyplace near here where I could get a cold beer?"
"Oh, sure!" Nicole exclaimed excitedly, then remembered that she hadn't set foot in a bar yet, and now she was asked to name a place. Thinking furiously, she tried to remember a place that was popular by name. "There's...hmm, I know! Hmm, no..." 'I'm making a fool of myself in front of her!' Nicole thought as she quickly went through bar names in her head as she stole a glance at the older woman. Kris was standing there, watching her with a slight grin on her face. "I know a place, just...Oh!! There's 'Les Deux Pierrot' a couple of streets away. It's a very popular Francophone bistro. We could go...I mean," she paused. "I could show you and your friends where it is."
"I'd like that." Kris smiled and tilted her head slightly to catch Nicole's eyes. "Maybe you could have a beer with me?"
'Oh God! Did I hear right? Did the stuntwoman just ask me to come with her?' "Really?" her heart started beating faster at the thought of spending more time with the tall Austrian. "I'd like that. Have you ever been to Montreal before? Do you know anybody here?" Nicole asked with a smile.
The dark-haired woman shook her head. "No, this is my first time in Montreal, and no, I don't know anybody here. Actually, you're the first person I've really spoken to since I got here." she smiled as she saw the look on the young woman's face. Obviously she was up to something.
"Well, what would you say if I show you the sights?" Seeing that the woman was frowning slightly and was about to say something, Nicole quickly added, "I know you must be very busy but I'd be happy to do it."
Kris was surprised that the small woman would volunteer to guide a total stranger through a city. 'Either Nicole is a naive young woman, or she figures I'm harmless.' Kris thought with a chuckle and smiled. 'Yeah, me harmless!' What harm could be done by accepting and playing tourist? "Thank you for offering. I'd like that very much."
"Great!" Both women looked away as Nicole was called over by the movie director. "Well, I guess a gopher's job is never done." She smiled at the tall woman. "I finish at 6pm. Meet me here then?" Nicole asked enthusiastically as she started walking backwards.
Kris couldn't help but start laughing at seeing the happy bounce in Nicole's walk. "I'll be here." She chuckled and waved back at the young woman. A bright smile answered Kris and she watched as Nicole turned around and starting sprinting toward the waiting director.
Handing the files to the director who had asked for them some time ago, Nicole looked back to see the tall stuntwoman walking away towards the trailer that served as a dressing room. Nicole took a deep breath and let it out slowly, wondering what had possessed her to appoint herself as tourist guide to a total stranger. She was standing there talking to herself when her friend stepped up beside her.
"Are you hiding something from me Nick?" the stocky woman asked Nicole. She was the same height as her friend, but was built more muscularly than the blonde was. "I didn't know you knew her."
Nicole turned to look at her friend, a confused look on her face. "Huh?"
"The tall, dark-haired beauty that you were talking to? Hello?" she mimed knocking on Nicole's head, a grin playing on her lips.
"Oh! That." Nicole smiled as they both started to walk towards the director's office, near the dressing room trailer. "Samuel was trying to grope me again," she said with a disgusting shiver. "She just kind of scared him away."
"Ooh, she came to your rescue. And? Go on!" the brunette prompted with an encouraging elbow to the ribs.
"Alex!" Nicole exclaimed, laughing. "And, we just chatted a little bit, that's all." A sudden tug on her arm stopped Nicole from walking any further.
"Kristina Von Deering isn't known for her conversational skills Nick." Alex told her friend as she passed her hand through her short hair. "In fact, I heard that she's very antisocial. A loner...though a damn good looking loner, but she..." Alex stopped talking as the dressing room door opened and Kris walked out.
Closing the door behind her, the tall stuntwoman caught sight of Nicole standing nearby and gave her a smile as she walked past both women. "See you tonight." Kris said as she put her sunglasses on and swung the black leather jacket she was carrying over one shoulder.
'See you tonight?' Alex mouthed as she looked at her silent friend. Nicole was still watching Kris walking away with a silly grin on her face. "Hello? Earth to Nick?" Alex teased, making the young woman blush. "Care to explain this latest development?"
"There's nothing to explain Alex. We're going for a beer, that's all." Nicole said as she started walking again. "She doesn't know anybody here, so I thought that maybe I could show the sights to her."
"And will you be one of those sights?" Alex grinned. She loved to tease Nicole. It was so easy to make her blush.
"What?!" Nicole turned towards her friend. "What do you mean by that?"
"You know, a nice walk, a drink somewhere, a visit to her hotel room later?" Alex chuckled, she was having too much fun.
"Why would I go to Kris' hotel room?" Nicole asked, confused.
"You can be so dense sometimes, Nick!" Alex exclaimed, then a thought suddenly crossed Alex's mind. "How much do you know about Kristina?"
"That she's a stuntwoman from Austria?" Nicole replied as if that answered everything.
"Aside from knowing her job and where she comes from, what do you know about her?"
Nicole thought for a moment and realized that she knew nothing about the tall Austrian. "Nothing really." She furrowed her brow as she continued. "She was kind enough to come and help me with that Samuel creep. I just want to thank her."
"You obviously like Kris," Alex grinned. "I see your face light up when you look at her. You can't keep your eyes off of her and that smile of yours..."
"What's wrong with my smile?" Nicole asked as she crossed her arms over her chest and stared at the brunette.
"I've never seen you smile like that at anyone before, Nick." She said, imitating Nicole's pose, then smiled. "She's a very beautiful woman. I wouldn't mind getting to know her better and I think you wouldn't mind either."
"Well sure, she seems nice enough." Nicole smiled, as she thought about the tall stuntwoman. "I don't see any reasons why we can't be friends."
"You just want to be friends?" Alex lowered her voice as more technicians walked pass them. 'Poor girl, you have no idea what Kristina is really like, do you?'
The young blonde slowed her pace finally stopping and taking a deep breath. She slowly brushed her hands through her long hair. Nicole sighed. "I don't understand how I feel. I only talked to her for five minutes and it feels like I've known her forever." She took another breath and closed her eyes. "When she smiled at me, I thought that my knees were going to buckle from under me. This is so silly."
"Well, she does have a beautiful smile." Alex smiled, trying to make Nicole laugh. "And incredibly blue eyes, so tall and muscular, and a very nice tight b..."
"Alex!" Nicole laughed. "You're incorrigible. You know that?"
"Yeah, that's why you like me!" Alex laughed also, glad to see her friend in a better mood.
Six o'clock came and found Nicole sitting on the same bench where she had met Kris earlier. Taking a deep breath to calm her nervousness, she brushed her fingers through her long hair for the third time as she picked at nonexistent lint on her pink tank top. She stood up again and started pacing.
'What if she doesn't show up? Did she really say she would meet me here?' Nicole gave her head a slight shake to rid herself of these doubts as she let out a nervous laugh. She looked down at her watch and saw that it was twenty minutes after six. "Don't think she'll show up." Nicole told herself. 'What would she be doing with a kid like me? She probably found somebody more interesting to be with.' The sound of a motor coming closer made Nicole turn around.
A beautiful motorcycle was approaching slowly. The rider was dressed in faded blue jeans covered with black leather chaps, black boots and a zipped up leather jacket. Dark sunglasses hid part of the face and the black and gold helmet framed the rest of the head. Coming closer to Nicole and stopping in front of her, the easy smile quickly put the blonde at ease.
"Sorry I'm late, I got lost." Kris said loudly over the sound of the Harley's motor before shutting it down and taking her sunglasses off. "Thanks for waiting for me."
"I'm just glad you made it." Nicole smiled shyly at the leather-clad woman.
Kris looked at Nicole with a lifted eyebrow, a slow grin playing on her lips. "Thought I wouldn't show up, didn't ya?" Seeing the blush quickly covering the young blonde's face, Kris knew she had hit the bullseye.
"Well I...hmm, I...humph!" She quickly looked down at her hands, not knowing exactly what to say when a hearty laugh answered her mumbled reply. Nicole was sure that the tall woman was laughing at her. She quickly lifted her eyes to give an angry retort, but only saw good humor in the blue eyes and an easy smile showing perfect white teeth.
"Let's go for that beer, shall we?" Kris asked as she put her sunglasses on again, not moving off the motorcycle. She waited for another couple of seconds and seeing that the young woman wasn't moving asked, "Are you coming?" She offered her left hand as support.
Nicole hesitated for a moment, not knowing exactly how to approach this new mode of transportation. "I've never been on a motorcycle before."
"It's just like riding a horse..." she began and seeing that this didn't help added, "You've never been on a horse either?" This was said more like a statement than a question. "Okay, there's a first time for everything, right?" Kris smiled and gave the extra helmet to Nicole. She watched to make sure that Nicole tied it securely under her chin then clasped Nicole's hand tightly to help her onto the bike. "Just swing your right leg over the bike and sit close to me and hold on."
Nicole followed Kris' instructions and then found herself fumbling with her hands, not exactly sure where to place them. This only lasted for a short moment as Kris reached back and took Nicole's hands and wrapped them around the tall woman's waist. The sudden gesture had surprised Nicole but she soon found the position she was in very comfortable and pleasant. The motorcycle rumbled to life, sending deep vibrations through the young woman's body. "Where to?" she heard the stuntwoman yell back. Nicole pointed left with her index finger as Kris nodded. Nicole grabbed at the muscular body more tightly as the motorcycle started moving with speed.
The sudden death grip around her waist made Kris smile. Not wanting to scare the poor girl half to death, she decided to take it easy. They quickly made their way towards the bistro only a few streets away, guided by Nicole's accurate hand signals, and finally parked in front of the terrace.
Getting off the motorcycle and taking her helmet off, Nicole beamed at the older woman. "That was so much fun!" she said as she watched Kris do the same. As they both made their way towards the entrance, Nicole secretly hoped that she didn't make a fool out of herself. Nicole walked in first and quickly looked around the room for an available table. A strong arm suddenly guided her towards a table near the open window that had a clear view of her Harley. It was only seven o'clock so the crowd hadn't started to arrive yet.
Kris put her helmet on a vacant chair at their table followed by her leather jacket, and then sat down. Nicole watched with fascination at the woman sitting down across from her. Without the blue uniform shirt Kris had worn earlier, her well-defined body was even more impressive. The broad shoulders and muscular arms under the tight white T-shirt were a sight to behold. Nicole already knew what Kris' waist felt like because her hands had accidentally slipped under the leather jacket when trying to get securely settled on the motorcycle. She blushed slightly at the memory of feeling the warmth of Kris' body under her touch.
"Will you be standing all evening?" Kris asked, amused. Obviously this girl was going to go through a lot of firsts before the evening was over. She quietly watched as Nicole pulled a chair out and sat down, looking around the room with big and curious eyes.
Nicole sensed the tall woman looking at her and shyly smiled as she looked into the incredible blue eyes. "You must think I'm such a twit." Nicole said.
A slight frown crossed over Kris' features. "A twit?" she asked, not understanding the term.
"It means stupid or idiot." she explained, playing with a napkin on the table. "Here you are, visiting from another country, doing an exciting job, riding a motorcycle and I don't even know how to sit on one."
Kris chuckled, shaking her head a little bit. "I don't think you're a twit, Nicole. You never had a chance to ride a motorcycle, right?" she watched as Nick shook her head silently. "So, now you can say that you've done it, and you'll know what to do next time."
Nicole started to feel better. Not only was this woman not making fun of her inexperience, but she was also offering her encouraging words. She smiled brightly at the Austrian sitting in front of her. "I never thanked you for helping me out this afternoon, thanks."
"It was my pleasure." Kris smiled and noticed a waiter approaching their table. "What will you have?" she asked the blonde.
"It's my treat." Nicole offered and quickly added, as Kris was about to protest, "Just to say that I appreciated what you did. So, what will it be?"
"I'll take a Guinness." Kris said as she listened to Nicole speak in what she assumed was French to the waiter. Taking this moment to take a good look at her companion, Kris saw that she was a very beautiful young woman.
Her long, blonde hair was tied back in a ponytail, making her look even younger than her eighteen years. Wanting to know Nicole's age had been the first thing she had asked after parting company with Nicole earlier. The wardrobe mistress had sworn that the young McGrail was in fact of legal age. The last thing Kris wanted to do was to be accused of being with an underage kid. She had seen this happen to too many people before, and she didn't want to get caught up in that kind of trouble.
But what Kris had in mind for tonight quickly lost its appeal. She had been looking for somebody to share her bed but found that what Nicole offered her was much better than a night of sex with yet another nameless face. This young woman made her relax. She found Nicole's presence calming her in ways that she thought she could never feel again.
Then Nicole slowly looked back to Kris and smiled, her emerald eyes shining. Kris was not prepared for her reaction to this simple gesture. She usually knew what the other wanted, usually it was Kris' money or her body. But what came out of this young woman was pure friendship. Her breath caught in her throat as Nicole gently patted her hand and waited for an answer.
"I'm sorry, what did you say?" Kris blushed slightly as she was caught staring at the young blonde.
"I asked you if you are staying in Montreal for a long time?" Nicole repeated and leaned back slightly as the beer and a can of coke with an empty glass was put on the table. Smiling, Nicole paid the waiter and turned her attention back to Kris.
Kris noticed that the young woman was only drinking a coke. She was glad that Nicole didn't feel the need to impress her by drinking something that she probably never even tried before. "I'm here for three months, then I'm going back to Austria."
"But there's not three months of stunt work to do on the film." Nicole stated as she sipped at her softdrink.
"You're right." Kris smiled, taking her beer and drinking a good portion of the cold drink. She waited just a little bit, seeing that Nicole was going to ask another question. "I'll also be teaching at the Canadian Stunt School not too far away from here." She chuckled as she saw Nicole close her mouth again, her next question answered.
'If I didn't know better, I'd think that she's teasing me.' Nicole told herself as she looked at the dark-haired woman. "Are you going to visit outside Quebec?"
Another sip from the beer, "Nope."
"You mentioned riding horses. Do you have one?" Nicole couldn't help but think that she sounded like a police officer interrogating an unwilling witness. The woman wasn't much of a talker that was for sure. The word 'loner' came floating back in her mind, one of the terms Alex had used in describing Kris. But she didn't seem to be antisocial, Nicole thought, she's sitting here with me, right?
"A few." she smiled but quickly felt guilty in seeing the young woman's shoulders slump. Nicole was doing her best to start a conversation and all she got in return were a few short responses. Hardly what she would call 'holding up half of the conversation'. She just wasn't used to idle chitchat. She usually went in, did her job and got out. Meeting people was usually all the same to Kris. Talking business or doing an interview, asking or answering questions the most direct way as possible and get out.
But this girl wasn't like the others. She didn't ask the standard questions Kris was used to answering. There was no mention of the famous people Kris had met and worked with, nothing about her celebrity status back in Austria, and especially nothing about the large fortune and estate that belonged to Kris.
'Why did I think that spending some time with her was going to be fun?' Nicole thought sadly to herself as she stared down at the glass she was holding with an unnatural interest. All she wanted was to talk to her but Kris didn't even seem interested in doing that. 'Maybe I should just get up and leave. I thanked her for helping me and paid for her beer. I shouldn't embarrass myself even more. I'm obviously not somebody she's interested in talking to.'
Watching Nicole play with her glass, her eyes slightly down cast, Kris mentally berated herself. This young woman didn't deserve the cool facade she usually reserved for people she didn't know. 'But why is this girl any different? I hardly know her.' She asked herself and made an effort to think about something to ask the young blonde. "What about you?"
Nicole's head snapped up when she realized that the older woman had talked to her. "What?"
"Have you been working on the set for a long time?" Kris asked as she watched, with fascination, Nicole's facial expressions convey the various emotions. Only seconds ago, she was on the verge of tears and then with one simple question from her, Nicole's face lit up with an exuberant smile. The emotions playing on Nicole's face seemed so honest and open. Kris was actually touched for being responsible for the beautiful smile that now graced the young woman's lips.
"Oh! No, I haven't." Nicole confessed as she shook her head and straightened in her chair. "The only reason I'm allowed to work here is because of my uncle." she stated, unconsciously playing with her straw as she talked. "He's the second unit director. I would love to work behind the camera one day. Uncle Robert said that he would teach me all that I needed to know. It's so cool. I love doing that. I always..." Nicole suddenly stopped as she realized that she was babbling, but the easy smile on the dark-haired woman's face made her relax. "I'm sorry."
For some strange reason, Kris didn't mind listening to the young woman. It was so refreshing to hear real thoughts and hopes about future dreams. She was so sick and tired of the artificial, show business crap she was used to hearing all the time. Somehow, she knew Nicole spoke from her heart and Kris thought it was endearing.
"Why would you be sorry?" Kris asked, "Will you be going to camera school to learn more?" Kris didn't miss the slight change of humor on Nicole's face before it was quickly replaced by a smile.
"I'm afraid not. My father only allows me to work on the set because I'm helping his brother and Robert promised him to keep me near." she chuckled slightly at thinking of where she was now. "Robert's okay. He trusts me more than my own father does." Nicole mumbled but saw that the tall woman had heard her comment and was relieved when Kris didn't push the subject.
"You mentioned before that this place was a Francophone bistro," Kris stated, looking around the place. "What do you mean by that?"
"Oh! Well, even though most of the Canadians speak English, French is the language we use in Quebec and it's been this way for hundreds of years." Nicole explained.
Listening to the group of people sitting besides their table Kris said, noticing for the first time the accent, "It sounds different from the French from France."
"It's very different!" Nicole laughed and started to talk about the history of the Province of Quebec.
A sudden flash crossed her mind as she quickly looked at her watch. "Oh my God, I'm going to be late!!" Nicole suddenly got up from her chair.
Seeing the look of pure panic on her companion's face, Kris gently touched her arm. "Late for what? It's only eight thirty." she frowned at the look Nicole gave her. She looked like a deer frozen by a car's headlights just before it's about to get hit.
"I have to be home by..." 'What are you going to say? That your Daddy won't allow you to play outside passed nine?' she shook her head. "I have to go. I'm sorry. I'm already late." Nicole quickly made her way towards the door.
"Hang on Nicole." Kris quickly took the helmets and her leather jacket and followed Nicole outside the bistro. She reached for the young woman's arm and stopped her. "I'll drive you, come on." There is something going on here, Kris thought. Eighteen years old and she had to be home before 9pm? Besides, she looked too damn scared for it to be just a house rule. She noticed Nicole's slight hesitation. "I'll drop you off wherever you want Nicole." she smiled, "It doesn't have to be at your door step if you don't want it."
Nicole looked up into the blue eyes that were filled with understanding. Did Kris know? How could she know? Taking a deep breath, she quietly nodded and took the offered helmet that Kris was holding out for her.
Looking at the pink tanktop that Nicole was wearing, Kris offered her leather jacket and held it for Nicole to slip into. "It's going to be cold riding. You'll be more comfortable wearing this." she smiled at Nicole.
Smiling her thanks, Nicole slipped into the oversized jacket, breathing in the smell of leather and of Kris' perfume. She waited until Kris sat down on the motorcycle before she did the same. Both women secured their helmets and before Kris had a chance to start the engine, Nicole tapped her on the arm and waited until the stuntwoman turned and looked at her. "Thanks" she said softly. A beautiful smiled answered her, making Nicole's heart skip a beat. Wordlessly, they made their way towards Nicole's house.
They were soon near the house and Nicole motioned for Kris to stop. She stole a look at the driveway and noticed that her father's car wasn't there. Nicole let a relieved sigh escape her lips. She indicated the right house and let Kris drop her off at the end of the driveway. Once stopped, Kris then shut the motor off.
"Thank you Kris. That was very nice of you." Nicole fumbled with the chin strap and took the helmet off, handing it back to Kris. Before she took the leather jacket off, she breathed in a lung full of Kris' scent, trying to burn it into memory. 'I'm acting like a real groupie.' Nicole chastised herself before handing the jacket back to Kris.
"Are you gonna be okay?" The tall stuntwoman asked, slipping into her jacket. Something was going on and Kris was surprised by the urge to find out what and help the young woman.
Nodding, Nicole smiled and turned towards the house. Taking a few steps, she stopped and looked at Kris who was still there, watching her. "I'll see you tomorrow?" she asked with hope in her voice.
"I have a stunt to perform but I'll be on the set around lunch time." Kris smiled as a big grin spread on Nicole's face. "See you then." She watched as the young woman made her way back to her home, a light bounce in her walk. Kris waited until Nicole waved goodbye and got into the house before starting up the engine again and making her way back towards her hotel.
The stunt Kris had to perform in the morning had been fairly easy but took a long time to rehearse. It consisted of a fight between gang members with the police breaking things up. Once again dressed as a police officer, Kris and a few other stuntmen dressed in the same fashion had to throw a few punches, get thrown around a few times and crashed through a glass window.
Aside from a few bumps and scrapes, everything had gone as planned. Kris was now sitting beside the movie director, Robert McGrail, and working on her second bottle of water. She looked over the plan for a more complicated stunt that was scheduled for next week, trying to figure out the best and safest way to perform it.
Robert sat there, watching Kris as she studied the layout. He had heard of her expertise in planning stunts, not just performing them. Ever since they had started to have problems with the present stunt coordinator, Robert decided to give the young Austrian more control over the decisions concerning the stunts. Maybe if he liked what she was doing he might let go of the present SC and replace him with her. He knew, from talking with other directors, that he wouldn't have any trouble with Kris. No more problems of dealing with a coordinator showing up drunk on the set.
He watched as Kris frowned and traced the notes with her finger. She shook her head slightly and mumbled something in German under her breath. Obviously something wasn't quite right for the young stuntwoman. "Did you find something wrong?" Robert asked Kris.
Kristina looked up at the director and handed the plan back to him, waiting for him to take it. He never did. "A couple of things." She lifted an eyebrow at the man, trying to figure out what he wanted.
"Would you perform the stunt the way it's written?" Robert asked, knowing her answer already.
"Exactly as is? No, I wouldn't. Too many errors." Kris wasn't the type to give people problems by refusing to perform, unlike certain actors. But when there was a risk of anybody getting hurt by poor planning, she wasn't afraid to speak up. "Why are you asking me this?"
'Direct and to the point, I like this!' Robert smiled. It was no secret that the stunt people were having problems trusting their current stunt coordinator. Seeing the SC coming on the set drunk and unprepared didn't help muster trust from the stunt crew whom he was supposed to keep relatively safe and unharmed. "You are well aware of the trouble we've had with our current SC, it's no secret, and I'd like you to re-work the stunt."
"Why me?" Kris asked. "Why not one of the other stuntmen?"
"I heard them talk Kristina. They trust you. Sebastien and Paul worked with you before right?" he said, indicating with a tilt of his head to the two stuntmen sitting beside the tree having lunch. "Some of them actually volunteered you for the job of stunt coordinator. You interested?" he asked with a grin.
'Whoa! What's going on here!' Kris looked as more stuntmen started to gather near the tree, looking at her expectantly. So much work needed to be done in taking up the job. She had to study the planned stunts, make the adjustments if necessary, study the expertise of each stuntmen, and plan for rehearsals. 'Where's Franz when I need him?' Kris wished for her brother's presence. He was the Von Deering stunt coordinator, especially Kris'. She sure could use his guidance right about now. "Can I think about this?" she asked the movie director and watched as he smiled.
'She's going to say yes! I know it!' "Don't make me wait too long." Was all he said. At least she didn't say no outright. "So, how was last evening?" Robert asked, changing subjects.
Kris looked up in surprise at the director. "It was nice. Why?"
"Well Nick couldn't stop talking about it all morning." He chuckled at Kris' reaction.
'She told him?' Kris thought to herself. Obviously Nicole could talk to her uncle.
"It's been a long time since I've seen Nick smile this much." Robert said a bit sadly. "Maybe if things were different for her at home, we'd see her smile a lot more." he suddenly got up and reached for a thick file and handed it to Kris. "Take a look at what's ahead. I hope you'll agree to what I proposed." Without waiting for her answer, he left.
Kris stared at the director's retreating back, speechless. She guessed that something was wrong between Nicole and her father. She just didn't expect Robert's little slip to confirm her suspicions. She could feel her temper rising at the very thought of someone trying to do harm to the young woman. A strong feeling of wanting to protect Nicole suddenly overtook her. All she wanted to do was keep her safe. 'Where did that come from?' Kris surprised herself by the sudden thought. Sure, Nicole was nice and funny, had a very charming smile, and the fact that she was a beautiful young woman didn't hurt either. She smiled as she remembered Nicole's emerald eyes dancing with delight as she looked back at her.
Kris stood up and walked away from the hectic activities going on around the set and away from the other technicians to sit beneath a solitary, large old elm tree to clear her head. She stopped briefly at the canteen as she walked past it to buy a can of coke and a chocolate bar to snack on for lunch and then continued on her way to sit in the shade under the tree and start studying the stunt plans.
Not too far away, Nicole was chatting with Alex as they swerved and weaved their way among the crew. Everybody had stopped their activities for the lunch period and both women were looking for a place to sit down and eat. Alex could see that Nicole was searching for something or someone. Alex didn't miss the sudden smile light up on her cousin's face as she turned and caught sight of what brought on the radiant smile. As she swivelled her body around to look in the direction that Nicole was staring in, she noticed the tall, dark-haired stuntwoman sitting by herself. 'Interesting.' Alex smiled to herself as she followed Nicole towards Kris.
"Hi!" Nicole said cheerily as she flopped down beside Kris. She had been looking forward to talking to Kris again. Since she got out of bed this morning, all she could think about was the time they had spent together last evening. Aside from her uncle and Alex, Kristina had been the only one to have spent time with her. Maybe there was a chance of them becoming friends, she thought hopefully.
Kris looked up from the paper she was studying and smiled when she recognized Nicole. "Hi yourself. How are you today?" a warm feeling coursed through her body when she looked at the young woman's smile. It seemed like such a long time ago since Kris had greeted anyone, other than her family, with a smile like this.
"I'm doing great." Nicole replied and started to recite a recap of her morning.
Alex slowly sat down on the grass in front of both women, watching the scene with interest. Even though she knew Nicole, she had never seen her so relaxed and smile so much. Not even with herself. She glanced over at the dark-haired woman, Kristina wasn't what Alex had expected at all going by what she had heard about her. The woman in front of her was smiling, almost social, and seemed very interested in what Nicole had to say. So very unlike the cold and distant woman people made her out to be. At least she wasn't when Nicole was concerned.
"Oh! Kris, I'd like to introduce you to my cousin. Alex this is Kristina." Nicole said as she watched both women shake hands. She opened her lunch bag to take out her sandwich and noticed the half-eaten chocolate bar in Kris' hand.
"Nice to meet you Alex." Kris said politely with a slight smile. She lifted her chocolate bar to take another bite and stopped midway when she noticed Nicole staring at her. "What?"
"Is that your lunch?" Nicole asked and frowned as Kris nodded. She reached into the brown bag and pulled out half of her sandwich and handed it over to the dark-haired woman. "This is much better. I hope you like chicken salad."
"But..." Kris protested.
"No buts. Eat!" Nicole smiled at the look of disbelief that suddenly appeared on Kris' face. Then, a small tug at the corner of her lips turned into a smile as she nodded her thanks as she bit into the tasty sandwich. Happy that Kris had accepted her offer, Nicole took the other half of the sandwich and ate it hungrily, following her cousin's lead.
Unknown to both women, Alex was stealing glances at them every chance she could. She could barely hide her amazement as she noticed how at ease both of them seemed to be together, even though they had only known each other for twenty-four hours. Alex smiled as Kristina let a hearty laugh escape at a joke Nicole had just told. She also caught the twinkle in the stuntwoman's eyes as she looked at her cousin and smiled. Alex suddenly had the feeling that she was intruding, bearing witness to possibly something beautiful starting to happen and she didn't want to intrude. She got up to leave and gave Nicole and Kris both a smile as their eyes turned to her with questioning looks.
"Well, it was nice meeting you Kristina." Alex said as she shook her hand again. "I have to be on my way now, Sophie's waiting for me." she chuckled as she looked at Nicole. "You remember what happened last time I was late meeting her?"
Nicole nodded, "What a scene that was! She really has you wrapped around her little finger, doesn't she?" Nicole giggled, seeing the slight blush crawl over her cousin's face.
"Just wait until you fall in love, you'll find out how it is!" Alex grinned as she pointedly looked at both Nicole and Kris. "Well, have fun you two." she winked at Nicole and left.
Kristina watched the brunette leave and turned her eyes on Nicole. "You two seem very close." she said as she finished her can of coke.
"We grew up together. She's like a sister to me. We talk to each other about everything. I always know what Alex is doing and where she's going and vice versa." Nicole smiled.
"She doesn't talk much." Kris stated.
"Knowing Alex, she was probably studying you like a hawk." Nicole laughed as she took an apple out of her bag and took a bite.
"Why would she do that?" Kris asked with a lifted eyebrow. "She doesn't trust me with you?" she grinned.
"Oh that's not it. She just can't keep her eyes off a gorgeous woman when she sees one." Then it hit her. As soon as it was out, she realized what she had just said, causing her to blush furiously. "I meant that she...I mean, that you...I just...oh boy!"
Another booming laugh from Kristina made Nicole lift her head and look into pale blue eyes. "Well, you are beautiful." Nicole whispered, relieved to see that she had not embarrassed the stuntwoman.
"Thank you." Kris smiled at the blonde. "You're not too bad yourself." she watched in amusement as the blush already on Nicole's face got even deeper in color. Not wanting to make the young woman uncomfortable, Kris handed Nicole the paper she had been looking at before both women showed up. "Do you have any ideas where these houses are located?"
Thankful for the change of subject, Nicole smiled at the dark-haired woman and went over the papers that Kris had handed to her. According to the addresses, they were spread across the island of Montreal. "Are you looking to buy a house?" Nicole asked as she looked at Kris who was now leaning on her side, her head comfortably resting in her hand.
"No, I just want to rent for the time I'll be here." Kris explained as she pulled a blade of grass and played with it. "Are there any areas you would recommend?"
Nicole looked at the paper again and scanned the addresses. "This area is nice," she indicated one house then tapped a second one with her finger, "Stay away from there." She suddenly thought of a house that would probably please Kris but she had no idea how much she wanted to spend. "There's one two blocks away from where I live. It's right on the lake with a beautiful view, but I think it may be very expensive to rent."
"I'd like to see it." Kris said, looking up into Nicole's green eyes. "Maybe we could go and visit it?" she asked hopefully. The bright smile on Nicole's face at the suggestion warmed Kris all over.
"I'd love to!" the blonde woman beamed. "How about tomorrow? I can't today, I..." she let her sentence trail, not wanting to go into details of why not.
"We'll go tomorrow then." Kris smiled reassuringly, seeing Nicole's smile resurface.
"Thanks." Seeing that the activity on the set had started up again, Nicole took a deep breath and reluctantly stood up. "Gotta go back to work." she smiled at Kris, who was still leaning on the ground. "See you later."
"Have a good day Nick. Thanks for the sandwich." she smiled back.
"My pleasure." Nicole waved and headed for the director's trailer.
Kris watched the young woman leave, a sudden pang of loneliness grabbing hold of her. She found herself enjoying her time spent with Nicole. The young woman was honest and very friendly. Maybe it was about time that Kris put her loner days aside and made an effort to act like a friend. Maybe taking a look at the house to rent not too far away from Nicole wasn't such a bad idea after all.
Having no other stunts to do today, Kris sat up and leaned her back against the tree. She started studying the future stunts that were planned for the movie. She still had to let Robert know if she accepted the stunt coordinator job or not.
Nicole's day at work had come and gone, she had spent most of her time following her uncle around while she studied his way of working. He supplied her all kinds of helpful information that she eagerly soaked up while things on the set weren't too busy. She hoped that she could learn a lot more and be able to work full time as part of the technical crew someday. What she really wanted to do was work behind the camera. The time she usually spent at her Uncle Robert's house was filled with improvised lessons on how to handle the camera, advanced camera techniques and tricks of the trade.
She kept thinking about her uncle's offer to go live with them and continue her studying in school rather than being content with just taking notes that her uncle supplied. He had already talked to a few of his friends of his who were more than willing to teach the young woman. All Robert was waiting for was for Nicole to make the decision and take him up on his offer.
She could still hear the last conversation she had with her uncle.
"Nicole, you can't continue to live this way! You're eighteen years old. How long are you going to let your father control you this way?" Robert had asked, wiping a tear off his niece's cheek.
"But he's my father. He wants what's best for me." Nicole had replied, not believing her own words.
"By insulting you and telling you that you're worthless? That's not what loving fathers do Nick." He gently lifted her chin to look into her watery eyes. "Come live with us Nicole. Until you can find your own place to stay. You're more than welcomed to come and stay with us."
The idea was so tempting. She would no longer have to be afraid of her father and finally be free to do what she wanted to do.
Nicole shook her head. She knew that she had to leave someday, she just needed to gather all of her courage to do it. She knew that when she finally made the decision to leave home, there will probably be an awful fight with her father. How she envied her cousin, Alex, for having such a loving family. She also envied Kris for her independence and getting to see the world at such a young age. She smiled as a picture of the dark-haired stuntwoman entered into her mind's eye. Kristina had been so nice to her. Sure, she doesn't talk all that much, but she is a great listener. Even if a lot of what Nicole talked about probably wasn't of much interest to Kris, she still sat there and listened to her intently with a knowing smile or a comforting look.
The phone suddenly rang, bringing Nicole back to the present and she scrambled to answer the phone before her father did. He was in a bad mood, again. Being a stockbroker wasn't one of the easiest of jobs going. It involved tremendous amounts of pressure and lots of stress. Nicole only wished that he would leave his problems at work and not bring them home with him, taking them out on her.
She quickly grabbed the phone on the second ring. "Hello?"
"Hey girl," Alex said. "How was your lunch date?" she teased.
"It wasn't a date Alex." Nicole smiled into the phone. 'But it sure felt like one!' She smiled inwardly. "We just had lunch together."
"She looks like she's a very nice person. You like her?" Alex asked bluntly, already suspecting what the answer will be.
"I do. We have so much fun just talking with one another. Today we looked at a possible number of houses to rent. We'll be going out tomorrow and look at them." Just the thought of spending more time with Kris made her happy and giddy inside.
"You mean the two of you will be renting a house together?" Alex asked, certain that she had misunderstood what Nicole had said. Either that or she had definitely missed a very important detail.
"No silly!" She quickly corrected, even though the sudden thought did seem very interesting. 'Whoa, where did that thought sneak in from?! "It's for Kris. We're just..." she suddenly stopped what she was saying as some movement near her caught her attention. She quickly glanced over to the movement and saw her father standing in the doorway. "I have to go." she quickly said into the phone and rapidly hung up the receiver.
The tall man had his arms crossed over his chest, a stern tired look adorned his face.
Nicole flashed her father a quick smile and tried to inconspicuously move around him through the only way out. He didnt budge.
"Who was that on the phone Nicole?" Her fathers voice thundered in a dangerous tone.
Nicole knew her father had had an awful day. One of his major stock accounts had taken a nosedive on the market today, putting her father in a dangerous mood. That coupled with the fact that he had barely slept in the last two days didnt help matters. "N-no...No one daddy...I was..."
"Dont lie to me you little tramp!" her father yelled, his neck veins beginning to appear as he slapped his daughter behind the head with enough force to throw her into the wall. "You were on the phone with some little bastard werent you? WERENT YOU?!"
"N-no daddy," she sniffed trying to fight back the coming tears, crouching a little in fear of her fathers next attack. "I was on the phone with Alex, really! I wouldnt lie to you!"
Then he grabbed her by the shoulders with his strong hands. "You were talking to Alex? Didn't I tell you to stay away from that dyke?! She's nothing but trouble! Whos this bastard you were talking about? Whos Kris?" His deep voice thundered through her heart as his massive hands shook her vigorously.
"Kris isnt a boy daddy, Kris is a woman. Shes one of the stuntpeople working on Uncle Roberts movie." She explained fearfully, still caught up in her fathers painful grip. Tears freely flowed from her eyes.
McGrails eyes narrowed to tiny slits as his deranged mind processed the information. He felt an unnatural rage build-up inside of him. His grip on his daughters shoulders increased tremendously, sending more pain shooting through her. "You're moving in with her? You said you were looking for houses to rent."
"Please daddy, let go...youre hurting me." She whispered pitifully, her eyes mirroring the increased pain in her body.
"No daughter of mine will be known as one of those dykes!" he hissed as spit hit her in the face.
She looked back at him, confusion dancing through her mind. "What? I dont understand..."
"You know DAMN WELL what Im talking about you little slut! I WILL NOT ALLOW YOU TO BECOME SOME FREAK LIKE YOUR COUSIN!"
"But daddy, were just friends! Nothing is..."
"I FORBID IT! YOU WILL DO AS I SAY!!"
Before she could finish explaining, McGrail drew his right hand out aimed to strike across the side of Nicoles face. She managed to twist her body at the last minute so that the powerful blow would strike her on her shoulder blades rather than her face. Still, the force of the blow knocked her into the brick wall with a loud crunch. She cried out as the pain of the impact shot through her shoulder, producing a new wave of tears to fall down her cheeks. "Daddy PLEASE!!" she begged of her father, trying to get him to stop.
He would hear none of it. He picked her up by her injured shoulder, which caused another painful cry to escape Nicoles lips, and held her firmly, looking her straight in the eyes. "You do as I say. Stay away from her and everything will be fine." He spat out, his breathing labored.
Nicole didnt even hear his words through her pain before she felt herself being thrown down onto the hardwood floor, her knee hitting the side of the coffee table on her way. Her trembling body crumbled to the floor as she wrapped her good right arm around her injured leg and started rocking back and forth letting loose a torrent of tears.
McGrail stared down at his daughter emotionless. "I do this for your own good Nikki. Youll thank me later on." With that, he turned and left his daughter alone on the floor, crying and in pain.
The next day at noon, anyone looking for Kristina could have found her sitting exactly in the same spot under the elm tree where Nicole had found her the previous day at lunch. She lazily stretched her long frame out as she rubbed her tired eyes from all the reading she had to do after agreeing to take on the job of the new stunt coordinator. Robert McGrail had been willing to let her work her own way as long as the stunts were spectacular and within budget. She liked the freedom he offered her in this new position. She strongly felt that this was going to be a good career move on her part and that her working relationship with Robert McGrail wouldn't be all that stressful as long as she did her job.
Kris looked around for the fourth time this early afternoon trying to spot Nicole. She looked at her watch again and noticed that it was past lunchtime. They had been supposed to meet here to eat and then the plan was to go visit a few houses to rent later on. Thinking that maybe Nicole had forgotten, Kris decided to take a walk around the grounds to try and find her. As she got up from her comfy spot under the tree, she grabbed her large binder with all the stunt plans, and started to search for her new friend.
She had checked most of the grounds and still Nicole was nowhere in sight. She had asked another gopher who was passing by if he knew where Nicole was. With a shrug of his shoulders, he shook his head and continued on his way. Frowning at this latest info, Kris headed off to find Robert when she caught Alex sitting by herself, silently eating her lunch. As she got closer, Kris noticed the forlorn look on the brunette's face.
"Hey Alex." Kris greeted the young gopher. "Have you seen Nicole lately?" she asked in a neutral voice.
Alex looked up and smiled briefly. "Not lately, no." she looked back down, finding her sandwich suddenly very interesting.
Finding Alex's reaction intriguing, Kris kept talking. "We were supposed to meet at noon. Do you know where she was assigned to work today?"
"I'm sorry, I don't know." Alex kept playing with her food, unable to look into Kris' suspicious eyes.
"All right, something's up. What is it Alex?" she asked the woman who suddenly looked up.
"What makes you think that something's wrong?" Alex asked defensively.
Kris crouched in front of the young gopher. "You barely answer my questions, can't look me in the eyes, and you have no idea where she is. Nicole told me you guys usually kept track of each other's locations."
Alex took a deep breath and started to say something but suddenly stopped as her shoulders slumped and she returned her eyes back down to her half eaten sandwich with a defeated sigh.
"What's wrong Alex? Is Nicole okay?" Kris asked more softly but with a bad feeling slowly growing inside her.
"She wants to be alone for a while." Alex finally said. "She's gonna be okay, she just needs time." Alex looked up again, afraid that she had said too much already.
"Is somebody bothering Nicole?" Kris asked, already feeling her temper rise at the possibility. "Where is she Alex? Maybe I can help."
"And what are you going to do?" Alex asked, anger touching her voice. "Hit the bastard? Don't you think we didn't think of that already?" 'Oh God! Forgive me Nick!' Alex thought as she realized what she had just let slip. Nicole didn't want anybody to know the stuff that went on behind closed doors in her home. "There's nothing we can do if she doesn't want to help herself." she said, defeat in her voice.
"Who is it Alex?" The deep timbre of Kris' voice rumbled through the air, the muscles in her jaw had already started to dance under the bronze skin.
Alex briefly hesitated between spilling it all and keeping the information away from the stuntwoman who was looking at her with slitted eyes. Just the thought of the bastard being pummeled by the muscular woman was enough to make up Alex's mind. "It's her father." she said just above a whisper.
Kris got up and scanned once more in hope of seeing Nicole. She spotted Robert not too far away and looked down at Alex who hadn't taken her eyes off the dark-haired woman. "Thank you Alex." she smiled briefly. "I know there's something we can do."
"I hope so." the small woman said. "She's working for my father today." Alex said then watched Kris briskly stride over towards the director.
What kind of trouble was Nicole's father giving her? All Kris had heard so far was that he was a very strict father. She approached the director and waited until the technician he was talking to left. "Where's Nicole?" she asked Robert in a tone of voice that bore no nonsense.
He seemed to hesitate briefly, but quickly recovered his posture as he turned his attention to the papers he was holding in his hands. "I gave her some books to study. She wasn't feeling too well today."
"Robert, I know about her father." Kris knew she was walking a thin line. Not only did she know very little of what exactly had happened, but he could easily tell her to mind her own damn business. She just hoped that what Nicole had told her about her uncle was the truth; that he was nothing like his brother. "I just want to talk to her, Robert. Maybe there's something I can do?"
Robert relaxed a little. He took a good look at the woman and only saw an honest need to help. He didn't know why, but Robert had a strong feeling that he could talk to Kris, that she really cared about Nicole. Thinking that the stuntwoman knew the whole story, Robert was a little more talkative concerning his niece. "You know, it would be a hell of a lot easier if Nicole wasn't of legal age." he sighed, scratching his jaw. "We could just ask the court to take her out of there. But she's an adult now. It has to be her decision." Robert shook his head, frustration evident on his face. "I only wish I had known what was going on a long time ago."
So many images were going through Kris' head. What happened to Nicole to have her father's brother feel this way? Kris wanted to know the whole story but felt that it was up to Nicole to tell it at her own pace. She only hoped that the young woman would come to trust her enough to confide in her one day. "Where is she Robert?" she asked, "I promise that if she asks me to leave her alone, I will."
"Maybe you'll have more luck getting her out of my trailer." Robert smiled, giving Kris his niece's location.
The tall, dark-haired woman smiled at Nicole's uncle and left, jogging towards the movie director's trailer. She slowed down as she approached the office and took a deep breath before knocking lightly on the door. "Come in." Kris heard Nicole's soft reply. She slowly opened the door and stepped inside, not knowing what to expect.
Nicole was sitting behind the wooden desk, many opened books littered the surface in front of her. She looked so tired and worn out. Kris also noticed that the young woman had been crying lately. "Hi." Kris smiled, trying to look cheerful, but the sight of an exhausted Nicole tore at her heart.
Seeing Kris did wonders for Nicole's mood however. She smiled at the stuntwoman and put her pen down beside her note pad. "Hi. Are you looking for Robert?"
"No, actually I was looking for you." Kris said, holding herself back so she wouldn't just blurt out her questions. 'If she wants to talk, she'll do it in her own time.' "Did you eat yet?" she asked, getting closer to the desk and sitting down on a chair beside Nicole.
A surprised look crossed Nicole's face as she noticed the hour for the first time. "Oh my God, I'm so sorry! I didn't think it was so late." Nicole hurriedly moved to get up but hit her wounded knee on the edge of the desk, in the process. There was a sharp intake of air as she tried to hide a wince at the sudden pain in her knee. Her hand quickly went to the injured knee, discreetly trying to rub away the pain in her leg.
The motion hadn't gone unnoticed by Kris who quickly reached for Nicole's shoulder, squeezing gently. "Are you okay Nicole?" she asked with genuine concern. Nicole's reaction to her gentle squeeze however surprised Kris even more.
Nicole winced in pain, not bothering to hide it this time. Her hand reflexively shot up to her injured shoulder, trying to protect it.
"I'm sorry!" Kris exclaimed as she quickly knelt by Nicole's side. "Are you okay? What happened?" Kris wanted so much to take her in her arms and let her know that she wasn't alone, that she was there to help Nicole through whatever was happening. But she knew it was all up to the injured young woman to ask for that help. Kris' hands were tied until then.
"I'm okay." Nicole lied as she took a deep breath to ease the pain a little. "I'm just a klutz that's all."
Kris looked at the young blonde and frowned. "What do you mean?"
"I fell down the stairs yesterday and hurt my shoulder." Nicole told her, using the old lie she had used many times before.
Disappointment spread through Kris at the obvious lie. 'What did you expect?' Kris asked herself. 'That she would tell you the whole story and let you help? She barely knows you!' "Did you have a doctor check it out?" Kris asked instead.
Nicole shook her head as she smiled more for Kris' benefit than anything. "It's only bruised." Looking at the intense look Kris was giving her, Nicole suddenly thought that Kris had seen past her lie. She could see that the dark-haired woman wanted to say something more, and she feared that Kris would pressure her into talking about it further. Nicole didn't want to burden the older woman with her problems. Maybe one day she'd be comfortable enough to speak to Kris about it. Tension started to build up as the stuntwoman kept silent and Nicole became a little nervous. Suddenly Kris smiled back, breaking the mounting tension, which helped Nicole relax.
Respecting Nicole's choice of not wanting to talk about it, Kris changed subjects with a smile. "I'm hungry." she stated, seeing Nicole relax visibly. "Would you care to join me?" came the offer as Kris stood up and stepped away from the desk.
Nicole looked up at Kris and smiled. She was so thankful that Kris had let things be. Alex had urged her until she told what had happened last night, then it had been Robert's turn. But Kris had just accepted her answer and that had been it. What bothered Nicole the most was that she had lied to Kris and she had a strong feeling that Kris knew it. 'When the time is right, I'll tell her everything.' Nicole silently promised.
"I'd love to! I'm starving." Nicole replied as she got up herself, being careful not to hit her injured knee again.
They made their way out of the director's trailer and were quickly joined by a smiling Robert. "Well, I see you've succeeded in getting Nick out for some fresh air." he beamed at both women.
"We're going out to lunch. We'll be back in an hour." Nicole told her uncle, wondering why Robert was smiling so much.
"Before I forget, I'll be looking at a few houses to rent for the time I'm here. You can reach me on my cell phone if you need to contact me." Kris said as they started walking again.
"Why don't I assign Nicole to you as guide for when you drive around." Robert grinned, seeing the perfect way to have his niece spend some time relaxing, and calm down a bit. "I wouldn't want my new stunt coordinator to get lost in Montreal!"
Kris stopped walking at Robert's suggestion 'That was a sly move Robert!' Kris thought with a smile. She knew that he had tried to get Nicole out of the trailer with little success. "If Nicole doesn't mind..." she trailed, waiting to see the young woman's reaction. What she saw pleased her greatly.
If it hadn't been for her injured knee and shoulder, Nicole would have jumped into her uncle's arms. "Thank you! You don't know how much this means to me!"
"Go on," Robert laughed, seeing the excitement on his niece's face. "Good luck with your house search."
"Thanks." Kris smiled at the second unit director. "Is there a car I can borrow?" she asked quietly. "Motorcycles can be hard on the passenger."
Aware of Nicole's injuries and seeing that Kristina was interested in keeping Nicole comfortable, his respect for the Austrian stuntwoman climbed another notch and he nodded, handing Kris the company's car keys.
"We're using your car?" Nicole asked Robert, unaware of the reason why they had it. "What's wrong with the bike?" she looked at Kris.
"I thought it would be nice and comfortable." Kris said, not giving the director time to answer. "Besides, it's a little hard to chat when riding a Harley." she grinned as she guided Nicole towards the parking lot.
It had been a very pleasant afternoon for both women. Kris had managed to coax Nicole out of her self-imposed shell and come out of hiding from her uncle's trailer. She and Nicole decided to grab some lunch since they hadn't eaten yet, and Kris had let Nicole make the choice of where they would eat. Nicole had chosen a French Canadian restaurant, with the intention of introducing Kris to Quebec's traditional foods and ambiance. They both knew that Robert wasn't expecting either of them back on the set until tomorrow, which gave them plenty of time to hang out and talk. Or rather, Nicole talked while Kris listened with a smile of pure contentment as she listened with rapt attention to what the younger woman had to say and the interesting stories she was telling.
Nicole was very expressive with her hands, unconsciously touching Kris frequently as she talked. Much to Kris' surprise, she found her reaction to Nicole's constant touches pleasant and wanting more. Usually the dark-haired woman hated to be touched in anyway, shape or form. But here she was, allowing Nicole to touch her freely and she was enjoying it. The gentle squeeze of Nicole's hand on hers as she laughed at one of the younger woman's jokes felt so right. Then, Nicole excused herself to the washroom for a moment, lightly rubbing Kris' muscular arm as she got up to go.
Nicole took a few moments to relax and get her heartbeat back under control. She couldn't understand why she reacted to Kris this way. She knew that she was a touchy kind of person. She had even been teased a lot because of it, but she hadn't expected to react this way when she touched the dark-haired woman's hand. She couldn't seem to be able to break contact, or more importantly, didn't want to. Nicole knew a lot of people, some were good friends, but no one, not even Alex who was her best friend, compared to the way Nicole felt when she was in Kris' presence.
Kris made her feel like somebody, not just a little tag-along, the feeling she sometimes got when spending some time with the others. Kris listened to her and much to Nicole's surprise, the older woman had even asked many questions concerning her dreams and plans for the future. Nicole didn't understand her strong feelings for the older woman, but they weren't unpleasant, Nicole decided with a smile before going back to their table and to the beautiful stuntwoman.
After lunch they had left in Robert's BMW and had started visiting some of the houses for rent the addresses of which were scrawled on Kris' paper. They were beautiful homes, no doubt about that. They were located in nice neighborhoods, but Kris only looked at them half-heartedly, having made up her mind already at the restaurant. Nicole had spoken of a house near where she lived and according to the younger woman, it was a beautiful place. But the main reason why she had decided to take the house was simple, Kris wanted to be closer to Nicole, just in case something else happened between the young blonde and her father.
Kris was starting to care a lot more about the young woman than she would care to admit. She had never had any close friendships because of her busy schedule. Between her stunt career and her Arabian horse breeding project, which she started only two years ago in Innsbruck, she had very little time for much else. Now, here was Nicole settling into her life, quickly claiming the role of the closest friend she had ever had.
The only reason why they were still looking at the houses now, knowing that she wouldn't rent any of them, was because she didn't want to see this day end too fast. Nicole probably had to be home early, making a normal evening spent between friends very difficult. They would just have to do things together during the day.
They were now at the house Nicole had unknowingly talked Kris into renting. It was located on the island of Montreal, but on the western edge of it. The house, which was of Canadian style, had been built along the edge of Lake St-Louis. Numerous trees, offering plenty of privacy hid most of the front of the house.
Kris drove the car up to the house where a Grand Cherokee was already parked. Nicole had called the owners from the restaurant to inform them that somebody wanted to visit the house. As soon as Kris turned the motor off, a woman with shoulder length salt and pepper hair walked out of the centennial house with a smile.
"Hello. You must be Nicole and Kristina." She greeted, shaking both women's hands. "Would you like to start the tour now?"
Kris nodded and let the woman lead the way with Nicole following close behind. The first thing they saw was the large, furnished livingroom on the right with a full-length sliding door. Looking through the glass of the sliding doors was a breath taking view of the lake. Its calm waters reflected the silent image of the trees along the shoreline on its crystalline surface. Suddenly, a fish jumped out of the water sending ripples through the water distorting the mirror reflection for a few moments and then it went back to being calm once again.
"Oh Kris, it's so beautiful!" Nicole exclaimed, "Look!" she reached for the older woman's hand and pulled Kris towards the doors. Nicole quickly slid the doors open and stepped onto the wooden deck, with an amused Kris trailing behind. "What a view!" Nicole wrapped her hands around the stuntwoman's arm and gave it a squeeze.
Kris smiled at the young woman's enthusiasm, and especially at the soft squeeze that she was receiving. Standing there on the deck with Nicole, looking out at the wide lake with the wind gently blowing their hair, mixing the blonde with the raven locks, Kris couldn't think of a better place to be than here, right now. She looked down at the younger woman and smiled, gently placing her hand on Nicole's. "You like this place?" Kris asked her. She had done a quick check scanning the place with her eyes, finding the house very well furnished, clean and near Nicole; all requirements met.
As soon as Nicole felt Kris' hand on hers, she started pulling them away, blushing furiously, but the tall woman simply held them there and smiled. "It's a beautiful place Kris, but it must be so expensive."
Having heard the smaller woman speak, the owner quickly described the house. Three bedrooms, one of them offering the same beautiful view of the lake as the livingroom, two bathrooms, a modern kitchen and large dinning room. There was also a Jacuzzi and a room that served as an office. The basement was finished and had been transformed into a playroom with a pool table. There was even a two-car garage.
After hearing the price it would cost Kris to rent for three months, Nicole almost choked. "I knew it would be expensive but not that much!" Nicole whispered to Kris, but the tall, dark-haired woman just smiled and nodded to the owner.
"I'll take it." She said, looking at a speechless Nicole. "I had some money put aside, don't worry." She chuckled. "It's a beautiful place you found Nick, thank you."
Getting over her shock, Nicole smiled back at Kris, beaming with the knowledge that she had done something to please her new friend.
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