Promise Me Again by Annie101

Promise Me Again
by Annie101

Part One

Alli replaced the receiver with a smile on her face. This was what she had been waiting for. At long last Charlie had agreed to meet with her, and she could see her plan of revenge taking form.

It had taken her two years to track Charlie down, and she had been in contact with her for almost six months now with phone calls and e-mails. It had been very difficult for her to convince Charlie that she was her half-sister, and that she wanted to get to know her since she had found out about her after their father’s death. Her plan meant that she needed to get close enough to Charlie to find out what the most important thing in her life was, and then to destroy it. It was a fitting punishment for the woman who had caused her father years of pain and suffering.

She had actually known about Charlie since her father got custody of her about eighteen years earlier at age ten. She was the product of a night of indiscretion from her father’s side. He had always told her that if he had known about her, he would never have left her to live the life she was living with her drug addict mother. He had only found out about her when her mother had blackmailed him, which he had paid in order to keep Alli from getting hurt any further. He had made sure that her mother gave him custody over her as part of the deal, and she had been with him ever since.

Living with her father was incredible. He had told her that he had another daughter eight years older than she was, who didn’t want anything to do with them. She had walked out of their lives when she was sixteen, and there was nothing they could do about it. He had tried to find her on numerous occasions, but she had always stayed one step ahead. He had poured all his love on her, but had vowed that he wouldn’t stop looking for Charlie. Even her stepmother had been amazing, but she had died four years after Alli moved in.

After her first two years in her father’s house, something happened. He changed, and when she had confronted him, he had told her that he had managed to find Charlie, but that she was full of hatred, and that she didn’t want anything to do with him. He had even begged her on his knees to come home, but she had just laughed in his face. Even at age twelve Alli had been filled with hatred for her half sister, and vowed to find her and make her pay for what she had done. Her father wouldn’t have any of it. He had made her promise that she would never go looking for her sister.

She had grown up being her father’s pillar, and he had trained her to take over his company when he would retire. It had happened sooner because of his death, and she now owned one of the largest companies in the country, and was very powerful at age twenty-eight, but she was also still filled with hatred towards her sister which had increased through the years as she saw her father become a shadow of his former self.

She had broken her promise to him after his death and went looking for Charlie, whom she had only found two years later, since she couldn’t find any of the documentation he had used to find Charlie in the first place. She would make Charlie pay for taking her father away from her, because she felt that Charlie’s cruel treatment of him had had the same effect as poisoning him slowly over time.

****

“I still can’t believe I actually have a sister,” Charlie said as she was drying the dishes.

“I’m glad for you, but take it slowly. She was raised by your parents after all, which means she might be as close-minded as they were.” Megan dried her hands on a dishcloth after she had finished washing the last plate and draining the water. “Did you tell her that you’re gay?”

“No, we haven’t talked about anything as personal as that. I would prefer to talk to her in person about it.”

“I agree with Megan on that one,” Katrina said from her seat at the kitchen table. “I have a strange feeling about all this.”

Charlie laughed. “Are you sure that strange feeling isn’t from the amount of broccoli with cheese sauce that you had for dinner?”

“Charlene Palmer, if you have a problem with my cooking, just say so,” Katrina responded in a fake scolding manner.

“Shame on you Charlie,” Megan joined in.

“Never Kat, your cooking is the best ever. The flashiest five star restaurants can come and learn a thing or two from you,” Charlie said with a remorseful look on her face that brought the other two to laughter.

“I think you need to go and take some acting classes before you try to convince me of anything with that face.” Katrina laughed again.

“I can give you a few acting tips,” Megan said mischievously after she had stopped laughing.

“You can?” Charlie asked with a smile on her lips.

“Oh yes. I’ve played a nurse, a pirate, a damsel in distress, a secretary, a boss, though that one came naturally.” Megan winked at Charlie.

“My, but you do seem to have a lot of acting experience,” Charlie responded while walking over to Megan slowly.

“Wait right there!” Katrina almost flew out of her chair. “Don’t you two have any respect for an old woman and her frail heart?” she scolded them playfully. “Can’t you two wait until you get to your room, or at least until I’m not in the room? I’m even sure you two forgot I was in the kitchen with you.”

“We would never forget about you Kat, but we do like teasing you, especially since there is no frailty in that heart of yours.” Charlie gave Katrina a hug before she took Megan by the hand to leave.

“At least I’ll have the TV all to myself again tonight,” Katrina said as the two walked out of the kitchen. They just laughed.

“So, tell me more about these characters that you’ve played,” Charlie whispered into Megan’s ear as they reached the staircase.

“Well now Miss Palmer, wouldn’t it be much better if I were to show you?”

“Mmmmmm, let me think.” Charlie brought her hand up under her chin and crossed the other arm over her chest so the hand could rest under the other arm’s elbow. “I suppose it would be more educational if I were to actually see it. I’ve heard that you learn much quicker if you can form a visual image. I must admit though that I was never a good learner, and you might have to show me more than once.”

“I’ve a better idea; why don’t you join in on the acting? I would be able to see what you’re doing wrong, and give you advice as we go along. I’ve heard that you are able to remember more if you are part of the picture that you need to form.”

“That does make sense to me, but I don’t really see myself in a nurse’s uniform.”

“We can easily remedy that; you can be the doctor. You should be able to pull a lot from personal experience on that one, seeing that you’ve spent so much time in the hospital since I’ve known you. You should even be able to tell me if my portrayal of a nurse is up to standard. You don’t have to be an actor to have a critical eye.”

“There were a few… mmm… friendly nurses around when I was in hospital, so I suppose I can give you some tips on that as well,” Charlie said while lifting her eyebrow slightly.

By now the two had made it as far as their bedroom door, and Megan roughly pushed Charlie into the room and kicked the door closed behind her. “I think I rather feel like playing boss tonight. We can have a chat about your ‘friendly’ nurses another time.”

“Oooh, am I supposed to be scared?” Charlie asked teasingly.

“If you knew what was good for you, you would be. I’ve had years of experience on this one.” Megan grinned as she shoved Charlie’s larger form further back into the room.

****

Charlie woke up with a feeling that she was being watched. She opened one eye to see Megan looking lovingly down at her. Charlie smiled and opened her other eye as well. “I can think of a better way to be woken up than being stared at.”

“You’re incorrigible,” Megan said as she bent down to give Charlie a kiss.

“You weren’t complaining last night.” Charlie prevented Megan from pulling away completely, and pulled her back down for a deeper kiss.

“You keep this up and I might give you a reason to start complaining.” Megan smiled mischievously as she pulled away, but allowed her hands to roam over Charlie’s body.

“I would rather die in happiness from exhaustion than complain about our love life.”

“I would be happy to comply and work on getting your energy levels down, but we do have to leave in an hour if we are going to make that appointment with your sister.”

Charlie smiled and lay back down onto the pillow. “A younger sister; I still find it difficult to believe that my father did something like that, but then again, I shouldn’t be surprised at his actions. I think the most puzzling part is actually my mother taking Alli into her home. There is just so much to talk about.”

“Are you sure you want me to go with you?”

“Of course; you are the other half of who I am. If my sister wants to get to know me, she has to get to know you as well.”

“Please promise me that you won’t get over-excited about this, or act hastily. I know you are looking forward to this, but I agree with Katrina; something doesn’t feel right.”

“I promise, and as long as you’re there with me, I’m sure that I’ll be kept on the right track.” Charlie winked at Megan with a huge grin on her face. “With a ‘boss’ like you, I wouldn’t dare to do anything wrong, but next time I think I want to be the boss. You’ve taught me well, and I’m eager to prove myself.”

Megan moved quickly off the bed to get out of range when Charlie wanted to grab her. “I’ll remember that and will think about giving you a test on the subject, but for now, we have to get ready.”

“Spoilsport,” Charlie mumbled as she got out of bed, but her face lit up as she thought of the possibilities in the shower. She walked to the bathroom door and turned the knob to open it, but found it locked.

Megan laughed from behind the locked door. “Not this morning Miss Palmer. I know what that libido of yours is thinking, and I’ve taken precautions. You will have to be satisfied with a cold shower.”

Charlie moaned as she walked away from the door to get her clothes out. She knew that Megan was right, but since they’d been together she had found it almost impossible to keep her hands off Megan. It had been an amazing eight months since Megan returned to the farm with her, and she was still being kept to the promises she had made. Not that she was complaining about it at all. It had made for some very interesting situations indeed.

****

Alli was sitting at the restaurant table waiting for Charlie to arrive. She had been a bit put off when Charlie mentioned that she would be bringing someone along with her, but she didn’t want to strain the situation, so she had acted like it was fine. At least the other person might give her a better understanding of Charlie’s life.

She nervously kept an eye on the door when it turned 1pm. Charlie had told her that she would be exactly on time, and the photos they had exchanged over e-mail would make sure that they would find each other without a problem. Alli was still caught in her thoughts when she saw the tall dark haired figure walk into the restaurant with a small blond walking next to her. When they turned to look over the people to find her, she saw that they were holding hands and almost choked on the wine that she was drinking.

“Oh my god.” She feverishly thought of what to do. “She’s a lesbian. No wonder she didn’t want anything to do with her family.” She battled to get rid of the disgusted look that she knew was showing on her face. “Dad told me all the horrid stories of their kind, and there is no way I’m going to be mixing with them.” She closed her eyes in frustration. “But I have to. This is for Dad, and she has to pay for what she did to him. I will do whatever it takes.” She mentally willed herself to hide her feelings, and had managed it by the time Charlie and Megan arrived at the table. She smiled as she got up to greet them.

“You must be Charlie,” Alli said as she moved around the table. “I think the way we look is obvious proof that we share our father’s genes.”

“You can say that again. Your photos have definitely missed some of the details Alli.” Charlie ignored Alli’s extended hand and wrapped her in a hug. “Let me introduce you to the other half of my soul.” She pulled Megan close to her. “This is Megan, the woman I love, and the reason I breathe.”

Alli extended her hand to Megan and greeted her. There was a slight glint in her eye. She couldn’t believe her luck. She didn’t even have to delve very deep to find out what the most important thing in Charlie’s life was. It had been given to her on a platter. She couldn’t hide the smile on her face, but also knew she didn’t have to, because Charlie and Megan would just see it as her being happy to meet them.

Megan looked from one sister to the other as they talked after they had ordered their lunch. They looked very similar, but there were also some definite differences. Alli was half a head shorter than Charlie, and her features were a bit softer. Megan easily recognised the professional business woman in her, but there was also something in her that unnerved Megan. She just couldn’t put a finger on it.

“So little sis, what have you been up to besides running that huge company?”

“Finding you has taken up most of my spare time in the last two years, but meeting you face to face today has made it all worth while. Now it’s my turn for a question. How long have you two been together?”

Charlie looked lovingly at Megan as she took her hand in hers. “It has been just over a year and a half now, and I still can’t believe my lucky stars for having her in my life. It was a bumpy road in the beginning, and we still have our moments, but I would do it all again in a heartbeat as long as it always ends with her in my arms.”

Megan smiled back at her. “You are such an old romantic, but I love you for it.” She leaned over to place a kiss on Charlie’s mouth, who quickly turned it into a lingering soft kiss. “And you’re a great kisser,” Megan added softly as she pulled away slowly. She quickly glanced sideways to see what Alli’s reaction was, and was pleased to be met by a smiling face.

“I must be wrong. She seems genuinely happy for Charlie,” Megan thought to herself as she accepted her plate of food from the waiter.

“I can’t believe it’s going to be this easy.” Alli’s thoughts were in overdrive. “I’m a genius. All I need to do is to have Megan betray Charlie. That would most certainly destroy her. I just have to think of a way to do it.”

“What about you?” Charlie asked Alli. “Do you have someone special in your life?”

With those words an idea formed in Alli’s mind. “Man I’m a quick thinker,” she thought to herself with a huge smile on her face.

Charlie and Megan took that as a sign that there was someone very special in her life. “Come on, don’t hold back on us.” Megan encouraged her to speak.

“Actually I also have a girlfriend.”

“Wow, and you took this long to tell us. You must arrange to come to the farm next weekend and bring her with you. We’d love to meet her,” Charlie exclaimed.

“I’ll speak to her and let you know,” Alli said as her mind was spinning to try and think of where she was going to find someone to play her girlfriend, and who would then also make a play for Megan. “Money is the best way to do this. I will just hire an actress. It will be more convincing if the person at least has some acting skills.” She smiled again at her thoughts. Her plan was just getting better every minute.

“That smile says a lot, so I’m sure we’ll be hearing from you soon, and we’ll be preparing for your arrival.”

“I think it’s going to be great to get to know my older sister. I want to spend as much time with you as possible, and I think that visiting your farm is a great way of getting to know you, but it would also be nice if you would be able to spend some time at my place.”

“Where do you stay?” Charlie asked hesitantly.

“I still live in the big house. Dad and I shared it until his death.”

Charlie looked nervously at Megan who gave her an understanding smile and took hold of her hand. “Let’s get past your visit to the farm first, and take it from there.”

“I bet,” Alli thought to herself. “You probably have such a guilty conscience. It’s a good thing though, because I’ll use it against you.” She smiled at Charlie as she spoke out loud again. “Not a problem. It’s not like I’m going anywhere, and it’s not like I’m going to let you go after finding you either.”

A chill ran down Megan’s spine at the words and she quickly looked up at Alli, but what she saw was a sincere smile towards Charlie. “I have to try and shake this uneasy feeling,” she thought as she gladly accepted her dessert from the waiter.

Charlie smiled as she saw Megan eagerly dive into her dessert. She motioned to the waiter to bring Megan another helping of the same.

Alli saw the little interaction and she felt like ripping the two of them apart. “She’s got no right to be this happy, and this whole gay thing is just not right.” She was starting to doubt her own ability to pull this off when she realised that she’d also be part of the act, and would have to pretend to be in love with whomever she hired for the plan. To play a convincing role, she would have to lovingly touch another woman. Her father would turn in his grave if he knew. She went pale at the thought, which caused Charlie to gasp.

“Alli, are you all right?”

“Yes… yes, I’m fine. I just think my blood pressure is a bit low.”

“Do you have any medication?”

“No.”

“Waiter!” Charlie got up as she looked around her. Their waiter moved quickly to their table to assist her. “Bring us a glass of coke and any snack that’s salty.”

“Yes, ma’am.” The waiter responded and quickly moved towards the kitchen. There was no way he was going to put one foot in the wrong place with a woman like that. He returned swiftly with the glass of coke and some salt and vinegar crisps.

“Here Alli. Have this, it will make you feel better.”

“Please don’t make a scene. It happens every now and then; it’s not the end of the world. I’ll feel better soon.”

“Yes you will, after you have this,” Charlie insisted.

“I’d listen to her if I were you,” Megan added. “She can be very stubborn and always gets her way.”

“Well, I just got to get to know my sister. I’m not planning on losing her now.” Charlie defended her action.

“Thank you,” Alli muttered under her breath.

“No problem.”

At that moment Alli’s phone rang. “Allison Palmer,” she responded, and listened to the caller. “No, don’t do anything stupid, that’s not what I pay you for.” Alli had an angry expression on her face. “Hold them there. I’ll be back at the office in…” Alli had a quick glance at her watch. “Twenty minutes. That should give us half an hour to come up with a way out of the situation.” Alli switched her phone off. “I’m sorry you two. I would love to spend more time with you today, but I have a crisis at the office.”

“We understand,” Charlie said as she got up as well. “We’ll wait for your phone call to confirm next weekend.”

“Yes, I’ll speak to my… mmm… girlfriend and get back to you.”

Both Charlie and Megan wouldn’t let her go without a hug first. After Alli had left, Charlie and Megan sat down again and Megan’s second course of dessert arrived, which she accepted with a huge smile.

“So, you think I always get my way do you?” Charlie said in a sultry voice as she watched Megan eat her dessert.

Megan looked up and saw the twinkle in Charlie’s eye and the mischievous smile on her lips. “Yes, I do,” she said as she deliberately, slowly, licked her spoon clean.

“I disagree. I didn’t get my way this morning.”

“Oh but you did, you just don’t know it yet.” Megan slipped her foot out from her shoe and moved it to run up the inside of Charlie’s leg.

“That’s not the way I remember it.” Charlie had a bit of difficulty in maintaining an even tone in her voice.

“I’ll prove it to you as soon as we get to leave this restaurant.” Megan moved her foot more to touch the inside of Charlie’s thigh.

Charlie grabbed Megan’s foot just as she was pushing it towards her centre. “You keep this up and I won’t be liable for my actions,” she whispered hoarsely. “And now I’ll be frustrated for the whole five hour trip back home… or maybe we can stop somewhere on the way and see how young we can act in the truck.”

“No need for that. We have reservations at a hotel. I arranged it all with Katrina while you were taking your shower this morning.” Megan grinned at Charlie’s relieved expression. “By the way, you better pick up something nice for her, to say thank you.”

“I don’t have any problem with that.” Charlie was smiling from ear to ear.

****

When Alli eventually got home she was exhausted. The shock of finding out that her sister was a lesbian, and then the whole crisis at her company had taken its toll. She got on the phone with one of her old friends who ran a talent agency, and pleaded with her for help.

Karen listened to Alli’s story and felt sorry for her friend. She couldn’t believe the situation that she had got into, and honestly never thought she would allow herself to be associated with anyone that was gay. Not that Karen shared her beliefs; quite the contrary, but she had stopped trying to change Alli’s mind a long time ago, since she found it impossible to fight against Alli’s father’s influence.

Maybe this was the time to change, and she knew the perfect person for the job. She would be able to help two people at once, and maybe they would be able to help each other. She promised Alli that she would bring someone over the next day, after which she pulled her phone book closer to find Tracey’s number.

“Hi Tracey.”

“Oh, hi Karen.” Tracey’s response had a desolate note.

“Why so despondent?” Karen asked with concern.

“I need money, and I need it fast. It just feels like everything is slipping away from me, and I can’t keep on doing this to my child.”

“Hang in there, Tracey. Elizabeth is a great kid and she will understand. Even at age seven she is more grown up than most adults I know. And don’t be too hasty; I might have the answer to your problem. I want you to go for an interview tomorrow at a friend’s house.”

“Thanks Karen, but not even a month’s work will get me out of this one. I still can’t believe Brenda just walked out on us. It’s been over a year now, and I’m still paying for it.” Tracey was close to tears.

“This is not just a normal job.”

“What kind of a job is it then?” Tracey asked hesitantly.

“Now don’t sound like that. I wouldn’t have accepted such an assignment for any of my people if I didn’t know Alli so well. You need to pose as Alli’s girlfriend for a while. It will be on and off whenever her sister is around. She will also require you to go with her to visit on her sister’s farm. She apparently needs you to try and gain the interest of her sister’s girlfriend.”

“Her interest? You mean I need to break up their relationship while I pretend to be her girlfriend! Will I have to sleep with either of them?”

“I’m sure it won’t have to go that far, and once you get to know the couple involved you won’t have a problem with breaking them up. They are not the nicest people, and Alli’s sister is apparently the reason her father died of a broken heart. About Alli, you don’t have to worry. She’s as straight as an arrow, and against homosexuality. She is just using the situation to get someone close to the girlfriend.”

“I don’t know Karen. It sounds like an awfully mean thing to do.”

“I know what it sounds like, but why don’t you just give it a try next weekend, and if you find that you can’t do it, then walk away. I’m sure if that happens, Alli can use the excuse that you broke up. She has offered thirty thousand for the weekend alone. Even with that, you’ll be able to buy yourself some time.”

“What!” Tracey couldn’t believe her ears. It must be a desperate situation if this Alli was willing to pay that kind of money. Tracey knew that her mother would turn in her grave if she were to find out what she was about to do, but she had to think of Elizabeth, and what she was going to do wouldn’t be illegal after all. “OK, I’ll meet you tomorrow, but if I meet with your friend and think she’s a psycho, I’m out of there… and I don’t sleep with anyone, I’m no hooker. What time?”

“I knew you would be the perfect person for this. Meet me at the office at 5pm and we can go to her house from there. She has asked for complete discretion in this matter, and I gave my word.”

“No problem from my side. I wouldn’t want the world to find out what levels I’ve stooped to either.”

“Great, then I’ll see you at my office tomorrow. Sleep well.”

“Thanks Karen. Have a good night.”

After she had replaced the receiver, Tracey sank down the wall onto the floor. She pulled her knees towards her and rested her head on her arms over them. She couldn’t help the tears running down her face. Her life had changed so drastically in the last two years. First her mother got sick, and then there were all the medical bills, followed by her mother’s death eighteen months ago. Besides her feelings of absolute loss, she still had Elizabeth to look after, and the medical bills to pay. It had been a comfort to have Brenda there with her, until she had left a year ago, taking their little bit of savings with her. She couldn’t show her own pain, because she had to try and convince Elizabeth that she wasn’t the reason Brenda had left them.

Now she was being sued for money she didn’t have by the hospitals, and her landlord was about to throw them out. Not having the money would mean that she would end up homeless, and what would happen to Elizabeth then? Tracey didn’t even want to think about the possibilities. She knew what she had to do, and she would do it for her child’s sake. She didn’t think of Elizabeth as being her and Brenda’s child anymore. She was hers and hers alone.
Part Two
“Room service please.” Charlie gave Megan a quick kiss as she waited for someone to answer. “Hi, can you please send up another order of strawberries and cream to room 304? Thank you.” Charlie replaced the receiver before she wrapped Megan in her arms again. “You do know that I love you don’t you?” she said while running her forefinger along Megan’s jaw line. “You’ve made me realise that life is more than just living.”

“I know you love me. Over the last few months you’ve shown me in every possible way. I’d have to be blind not to see it, but it’s nice to hear it every so often as well.” Megan ran her own fingers over Charlie’s breasts and further down her body. “Room service better hurry up,” she said hoarsely as she pulled Charlie closer, “Or the strawberries and cream won’t be required anymore.”

“It’s certainly required for what I have in mind,” Charlie said with a wicked little grin.

Megan laughed. “How many more ways do you plan on eating strawberries and cream?”

“Let me think. In my hands I have my two favourite things in the world, well, three if you want to count the strawberries and cream as two separate things. Anyway, put them together and the possibilities are… endless…”

Megan laughed again. “And here I thought I was the one with the most experience. You keep on surprising me Miss Palmer. Is there anything else you want to teach me?”

“Seeing that you asked, remind me to pick up a packet of menthol eucalyptus sweets on our way back home.”

“Oh my god, I walked right into that one. I don’t suppose you’re going to tell me what for?”

“It will be much better if I show you,” Charlie whispered into Megan’s ear causing a shiver to run down her spine.

“You do know I’ll hold you to that promise,” Megan whispered back before running her tongue along Charlie’s earlobe.

“Oh, I’m counting on it.”

****

Karen and Tracey arrived at Alli’s house just after five thirty. They were let in by the housekeeper, who took them to where Alli was waiting in the lounge.

“Karen, are you sure I’m the right person for this job?” Tracey asked nervously as they walked down the hall. It was very obvious that Alli had money, because the house alone looked like it was worth millions, apart from the antique furniture that Tracey saw around her.

“Don’t underestimate yourself Tracey. You’re a good actress. One day you’ll get your break, and then there’ll be no holding you back. In my book, that makes you over-qualified for this job, and I’ve known you for years. You still have moral values in life, and that’s the kind of person that I need to help Alli.”

Karen and Tracey followed the housekeeper into the lounge to find Alli standing at a window with a glass of red wine in her hand. She turned around and walked towards them. Tracey’s mouth went dry when she saw Alli’s face. “What an absolutely stunning woman,” she thought.

“Karen, great to see you again.” She gave her friend a hug, and then stepped away to be introduced.

“Alli, I want you to meet Tracey Anderson. She’s a great actress as well as a dear friend of mine, and Tracey, this is Allison Palmer, a very old friend of mine and hopefully your future employer.”

Tracey held out her hand to greet Alli who did the same, but they pulled their hands away quickly as their touch set off a small electrical shock.

“Wow,” Tracey said while rubbing her hand with the other. “That only happens with my daughter.”

“You have a daughter?” Alli asked surprised.

“Yes, I have. Is there a problem with that?” Tracey asked skeptically.

“There will be if you’re planning on leaving your child alone while working for me.”

“Not that it’s any of your business, but I always leave my daughter in the care of a trusted friend.” Tracey couldn’t believe the arrogance of this woman.

“You’ll be making it my business if you leave her alone because of me,” Alli said adamantly.

Tracey tried to calm her emotions. She needed this job and wouldn’t allow Alli to provoke her any further. “You’re right, but rest assured that my child is always in good hands. I’m sure Karen will tell you the same thing.” She turned to Karen who was looking at the exchange in amusement.

“Elizabeth is always looked after. Tracey is a great mother.”

“I’m going to be hiring you on Karen’s word as acting isn’t something I’m familiar with, but I can’t believe my bad manners, can I offer either of you something to drink?”

Tracey declined while Karen said she’d help herself while Alli and Tracey spoke about their ‘relationship’.

“Thank you for wanting to hire me.” Tracey said as she sat down on a couch. “But if you don’t know anything about acting, and you’re not gay, how are you going to act your part?”

“That’s why I’m hiring you. You do the acting, and I’ll follow your lead. I’m a very quick study, and quite confident that I’ll be able to do my part.”

“Even with the physical side?”

“What physical side?” Alli asked confused.

“Holding hands, stealing a kiss here and there, that kind of thing. I’m sure Karen told me that your sister and her girlfriend were quite open in their relationship.”

“We’ll just have to tell them that we aren’t a very open couple. I’m sure they’ll understand that. It still happens in this day and age doesn’t it?”

“Yes, it does. There’s still a lot of people that feel uncomfortable being themselves in front of other people, but she’s your sister and knows about you, so we should at least look like we’re a couple. I’ve made a list of all the things that I think we should know about each other, and I think we’ll need to spend some time together before the weekend to get to know each other.”

“I don’t have a lot of free time, but I’ll try to clear my schedule for a day or two.”

“You two already sound like a couple,” Karen said as she moved to stand between them. “I think this is going to work out just great.”

****

Megan walked into the kitchen to find Katrina packing a picnic basket.

“Good morning Kat.”

“Morning Megan. It sounds like you’re going to have an interesting day.”

“I am?” Megan asked in confusion before it dawned on her. “What’s she up to today?”

“Apparently you’ll both be building a tree house for Harry and Becca.”

“What do I know about building tree houses?”

“I just need you there for moral support,” Charlie said as she walked into the kitchen to stand behind Megan. She wrapped her arms around her and planted a kiss on her neck.

“I’ll give you whatever support you need.” Megan pressed herself against Charlie’s body. “But I also want to make sure that everything is ready for your sister and her girlfriend when they arrive.”

“I’m sure everything’s just right already. Between you and Kat, I’m starting to think the queen of England is coming to visit.”

“We feel that this is very important to you, so we want to make it special,” Katrina said with a smile. “By the way, what’s the girlfriend’s name?”

Megan and Charlie looked at each other, and then shook their heads from side to side. “I don’t recall Alli ever mentioning her name, do you?” Megan asked Charlie.

“No, I don’t recall her giving us any information about her girlfriend.”

“Shame on you Charlene Palmer, you obviously need to learn a lot about being a sister. My sister and I used to know everything about each other, even when we didn’t want the other to know.” Katrina laughed. “But don’t worry, if you two get along as well as you said you did, this will come naturally.”

“You never told us you had a sister,” Charlie said, with a hurt look on her face, but a glint in her eye.

“I can see the acting lessons are working, but you still have a way to go. Your eyes give you away.”

“Did you hear that Megan? Kat just told us we need to go and practice our acting.” Charlie had a huge grin on her face.

“No you don’t.” Megan turned in Charlie’s arms and started pushing her towards the back door. “There are two kids out there that you can’t disappoint.” She took the basket from Katrina on the way and shoved it in Charlie’s hands. “While Kat and I have more preparations to make.” When at the door, she gave Charlie a quick kiss on the mouth before turning her around. “I’ll be waiting for you when you’re done.”

“That better be a promise,” Charlie muttered under her breath as she walked away.

“Some days I wonder what would happen to her if you weren’t around anymore,” Katrina said while making herself a cup of coffee.

“Let’s not talk about such things. We need to concentrate on our guests.”

****

Alli stopped in front of Tracey’s house where she had agreed to pick her up. It was a small place, and reminded Alli of the neighborhood she had spent the first part of her childhood in. It caused a chill to run down her spine. She looked at her watch to make sure that she wasn’t just early. It confirmed that she was on time, and Tracey was five minutes late. She flipped her mobile open and dialed Tracey’s number. She let it ring at least ten times before closing the phone and getting out of her car. She marched up to the front door and banged on it, until she heard a voice yelling from inside that it was open.

Alli was very angry as she barged in and marched towards where she could hear someone talking. She was about to make her anger known as she walked into the bathroom, but what she saw made her stop in her tracks. In the bathtub was a little girl with her clothes on. She was glowing from her temperature and shivering from the cold water that Tracey was pouring over her body.

“Why don’t you get her to a hospital?” Alli glared at Tracey.

“Because I’m trying to get her temperature down.”

“Surely the doctors know more than you do.”

There was a flash of anger on Tracey’s face as she quickly looked at Alli and then back at her daughter. “They might know more, but they don’t do more. This happens every now and then, and this is the best thing to do. She’s already looking better. Another thirty minutes or so, and she’ll be back to normal, but I won’t leave her today.”

Alli looked at her in shock. “You can’t drop me now.”

Tracey was seething. “You storm into my house and want to get upset because I haven’t taken my child to the hospital, but in the same breath you want me to leave my child with someone else and go with you? Are you insane? Just get out of here!”

Alli stormed out of the bathroom towards the front door, but stopped when she heard the little voice speaking to Tracey. “Mommy, was that lady your new girlfriend?”

“No Angel, and she’s no one you need to concern yourself with. You just need to get better. I think we’ve broken your temperature, how’re you feeling now?” The concern in Tracey’s voice was unmistakable.

“I’m feeling much better Mommy. You can go to work now.”

“No Angel, I’m not leaving you today. Are you going to be OK in here while I go and get you some dry clothes?”

“Mommy, I’m no baby. I’ll be eight next year.”

Tracey gave a little laugh. “Yes, that you’ll be and a little smartass.”

“But Mommy, I’m smart now. Didn’t you see my report card?”

“I take that back then. You’re a little smart ass now.” Tracey and Elizabeth laughed together as Tracey tickled her daughter. “I’ll be right back.”

As Tracey walked out of bathroom she saw Alli standing in the hallway, leaning against the wall. “What are you still doing here?”

“I’ve phoned and told Charlie that we’d be late.” There was a strange calmness in Alli’s voice.

“I’ve told you that I’m not leaving my child today,” Tracey said with a sigh.

“Yes, and I admire that. As I see it, we have two options. One, I find someone else, which I don’t have time for, or two, your daughter comes with us.”

“Are you insane?” Tracey was flabbergasted.

“No, I’m being practical. You need the money from what I’ve heard, and I need you.”

“Are you sure your sister’s the mean one?” Tracey was clenching her firsts. She knew she was in a corner. If she didn’t go with Alli, they would be out on the street in a week, and if she took Alli’s offer to take Lizzy with them, she would be exposing her to Alli’s plan of manipulation. At least with the second option she could control what her daughter got exposed to.

“Come with me and you’ll see. This will be a win-win situation for both of us.”

Tracey gave a frustrated sigh. “I need to get back to my daughter, but I’ll give you an answer when we come out.”

“I’ll wait.”

Alli watched as Tracey walked back into the bathroom with the dry clothes. She smiled to herself. Her plan was getting better and better. She had worried that an actress wouldn’t be able to play the part of a lesbian convincingly, but now she knew that Tracey wasn’t just an actress, she was a lesbian as well, and the child would actually be a great addition to the setup. She tried to ignore the pang of guilt she felt in using a child for her plans, and told herself that she’d be there to look after the child and control the situation.

“Angel, do you want to play a game with Mommy this weekend?”

“What kind of game?”

“You know that Mommy’s work means that I have to play pretend all the time. Well, I have to go away with that lady for a few days and pretend to be her girlfriend, but we thought that maybe you’d like to come and play with us?”

“That’s great Mommy. I’ve always wanted to play with you. Are we leaving right now?” Elizabeth was jumping up and down while Tracey was trying to dress her.

“Hold on Angel, we need to pack some things first. Why don’t you go and get your toys, and I’ll go and speak to Alli.”

Elizabeth barely waited for her last shoe to be on before she made a straight line for her room.

“You wouldn’t think that she was sick only a short while ago,” Tracey said as she stopped in front of Alli.

“Children have an amazing ability to bounce back. So, have you made up your mind?”

“These walls are so thin that I know you heard my child’s response.”

“Yes I did. I’ll wait while you get your things ready.”

Tracey turned and walked towards the rooms as Elizabeth came running towards them. She stopped in front of Alli and held her hand out. “Hi, I’m Elizabeth.”

Alli bent down and took the little girl’s hand. “Glad to meet you Elizabeth. My name is Alison, but you can call me Alli.”

“Hi Alli. So you’re pretending to be my mommy’s girlfriend?”

“Yes I am, and you seem to be pretty smart.” Alli couldn’t help but feel drawn to this child.

“My mommy tells me that all the time. Do you want to see my report card?” Elizabeth was very excited about showing her report card to someone else. She didn’t give Alli a chance to answer before she ran back to her room. Since her grandmother had died and Brenda left, there really wasn’t anybody else to show it to except for Sharon, who looked after her while her mother had to work.

Alli could hear the admiration in Elizabeth’s voice when she spoke about her mother. It was very clear that the girl loved her mother to no ends. She started doubting what she was doing, but shook it off when images of her father with his head in his hands flooded her mind.

He came home that evening, sixteen years ago, with stitches on his forehead from a cut he got during an accident. She had to plead with him to tell her what happened. He told her that he had finally found Charlie, but that she had become just as bad as the lesbian who’s company she was in. Charlie told him that he was nothing to her and that the lesbian community was the only family she had. He begged on his knees, but she slapped his face while her lesbian lover laughed at how pitiful he was. The woman even told him that he might have given life to Charlie, but that she belonged to her world now. He was crying as he drove home which caused him to drive into a tree as his vision was blurred.

That evening he pleaded with her never to try to find Charlie, because he didn’t want Alli to go through the same pain he did. His words were still very clear in her mind, even at the age of twelve they made an impression that stayed.

“Charlie was my little girl once, but those lesbians took her away from me and corrupted her. She’s not the same person anymore. She’s just as bad as they are. I must have done something wrong in my life to deserve this, because she allowed herself to be changed and I couldn’t protect her. I’m just glad that I have a second chance with you Alli and I promise that I’ll protect you from these creatures that pretend to be loving people. I’ll make sure that you’ll always be able to see them for who they really are.”

“She’ll know the pain of rejection that you felt Dad. I’ll make sure of that.” Her thoughts were cut short when Elizabeth came running back to her.

****

“They’re here,” Charlie shouted from the porch. She ran down the stairs and waited for Alli’s car to reach the house. Megan and Katrina came through the front door to stand on the porch.

“She’s like a kid with a new toy.” There was concern in Megan’s voice. “I’m trying very hard, but I just can’t shake this uneasy feeling.”

“Maybe it’s because we’re going to have to share her with her family now?”

“As wise as always Kat.”

“I’m not saying I’m right, I’m saying it’s a possibility.”

“We’ll soon find out. Let’s walk down.”

Megan walked to Charlie and wrapped her one arm around her. “I love you,” she whispered into her ear.

“And I love you, too.” Charlie took Megan’s hand in hers as the car stopped in front of them.

Charlie and Megan were quite shocked when Alli got out of the car followed by a woman and a child. “Talk about having to get to know someone,” Charlie said as she looked at Megan with a smile on her face. “I guess in all your preparations, you didn’t prepare for a child?”

Megan laughed as she punched Charlie softly on the shoulder. “You know I didn’t, but you’re going to help me rectify that just now.”

Tracey took Elizabeth’s hand in hers while Alli took care of the luggage. They walked around the car towards Charlie and Megan. “Charlie, Megan, I’d like you to meet Tracey and her daughter Elizabeth.”

“It’s great to meet you both. Let us introduce you to Kat, the only reason this place runs so smoothly, and surrogate mother to half of us who live here.”

Katrina laughed wholeheartedly. “Don’t listen to these two. Welcome to Lentegeur, and I’m sure Harry and Becca will be very pleased to know that there’s a little visitor here.”

“Who’s Harry and Becca?” Elizabeth wanted to know eagerly.

“They are two kids that I think you’re going to have a great time with. Why don’t you come with me while your parents get settled in. We can go and look for them. Have you ever been on a farm?” Katrina held out her hand, and Elizabeth took it without question. They disappeared into the house as Elizabeth replied that she’d never been on a farm.

“She looks like a lovely child,” Megan said to Tracey.

“She’s a great child,” Tracey responded with a proud note in her voice.

“She’s remarkable. Would you believe she was sick a few hours ago? Tracey had to soak her in cold water to break the temperature. We almost had to cancel this trip, but Lizzy was so excited about coming here.” Alli gave a quick sideways look at Tracey who took hold of Alli’s hand when she spoke.

“She gets excited to go anywhere with you, Love.” Tracey gave Alli a sweet smile.

Alli looked at Megan with a nervous expression on her face. “Could you possibly show us where we can leave our bags? We’d like to freshen up a bit as well. It’s been a long trip.”

“Forgive my manners. It’s quite easy, just go up the stairs, turn left and it’s the third door on the right. Charlie and I’ll get a room ready for Elizabeth in the meantime.”

Megan looked at Charlie with a confused expression, as Alli quickly took hold of their luggage again, and almost ran into the house with Tracey following close behind her.

“Don’t look at me like that,” Charlie said. “I can just imagine why those two are running to the room. Didn’t you see the expression on Alli’s face when Tracey touched her? They obviously needed to be alone.” Charlie’s grin was growing. “Maybe we could need a little rest as well.” She wiggled her eyebrows as she pulled Megan in for a kiss that turned passionate very quickly.

Megan pulled away breathlessly. “Is that all you ever think about? Your sister looked rather nervous to me instead.”

“It just shows that there’re a few things I need to teach my little sister, but it can wait until they come down again. In the meantime….”

****

“What were you thinking out there?” Alli was seething when she closed the door behind them.

“I was thinking that I was doing my job,” Tracey replied, not believing Alli’s response. “I only held your hand for god’s sake, I didn’t have sex with you in front of your sister.”

“I thought we agreed that there would be no public display of affection?” Alli had a disgusted tone in her voice.

“Yes, but I also said that your sister would expect to see at least something. How can you get so upset from just holding someone’s hand?”

“You’re not just someone, you’re a lesbian.”

“A lesbian that’s supposed to be your girlfriend. No one’s going to believe us when you walk around with a broom stuck up your ass. I think I made a huge mistake. I can’t help you. No one can help you, unless you yourself try to make it work as well.” Tracey grabbed her bag where Alli had dropped it, and was walking towards the door, but Alli moved to stand in front of her.

“I’m sorry. You’re absolutely right, please don’t go. This is very important to me, and I have to make it work. I’ll do whatever it requires.” Alli looked almost defeated as she pleaded with Tracey. “I’ll double your money for this weekend, but please just stay.”

“Your sister must have done something terrible to you to make you this desperate, and I hate my situation for not being able to walk away from this. We need to work together or we’re both going to fail.”

“Whatever you say.” Alli sighed in relief.
Part Three
Alli looked nervously at Tracey while she was unpacking her clothing. She cleared her throat before she trusted herself to sound calm. “I’ll sleep on the floor, and you can have the bed.”

Tracey stopped what she was doing and looked up at Alli. “The bed is big enough for both of us, why would you want to sleep on the floor?”

“We don’t have to pretend while we’re behind closed doors.”

“I know that, but we’re not kids either. Didn’t we just go through this a few minutes ago? You need me, I need this job, does it ring any bells?”

Tracey’s confused expression made Alli turn around and walk towards the window before she spoke. “I would feel more comfortable doing it that way.” Her words sounded harsher than she had intended.

Tracey straightened up completely as she planted her hands on her hips. “Oh, now I get it. Do you think I’m going to take advantage of you while you’re sleeping, or do you think you’ll catch something? If it’s the first, then I’ll let you know that I’m definitely not that hard up, and if it’s the latter, then you should’ve thought your plan through more thoroughly, because we’ll have contact. I’m starting to think you don’t only have a problem with your sister, you seem to have a problem with lesbians in general!”

Alli turned around quickly and marched up to Tracey. She stopped short of touching her, and was grinding her teeth. “You should remember that I’m the one paying the bills. A little more respect would be appreciated, and keep your voice down.”

Tracey looked straight into Alli’s eyes, and without blinking, she spoke in a whisper, “Do you have PMS? I think you need to lie down on the bed while I organise a hot compress.”

Alli’s jaw dropped as she was quickly pushed backward onto the bed, while Tracey walked towards the en-suite. It took her a second before she got her bearings straight and jumped up. “I don’t have PMS!”

Tracey turned to face Alli. “Well, then I’m utterly confused.”

“What are you confused about?”

“I’m trying to figure out how you can be nice, calm, and pleading with me one minute, and then turn into this self-obsessed, arrogant, asshole the next. The only thing I can think of is PMS. That would definitely explain the mood swing.” Tracey’s anger was now apparent.

“What did you just call me?” Alli walked slowly towards Tracey.

“Now you have a hearing problem as well. I called you a self-obsessed, arrogant, asshole.” Tracey stood her ground, as Alli’s taller figure was moving closer.

“But this arrogant asshole’s money is good enough to take?”

“I’ve explained my situation to you, and I’m willing to be a part of your sordid little plan because of it, but that doesn’t mean that I have to keep my mouth shut behind closed doors, and it sure hasn’t stopped you. I might have to play a part for the outside world to see, but it won’t change who I really am.”

“Dad was right; you lesbians think you know everything. I’m sleeping on the floor!” Alli was within arm’s length when she turned towards the door and rushed out, leaving a stunned Tracey to herself.

Charlie and Megan were in an embrace at the bottom of the stairwell when Alli came flying down the stairs. She stopped next to them, but didn’t look up.

“Is there anywhere I can go to be alone for a bit?”

Charlie looked at her sister with concern. “Sure, this is a farm after all. There’s plenty of places you can go to be lone. The best idea would probably be to walk towards the stables. That way you won’t get lost. Do you need some company?”

Alli looked up at Charlie, and let her eyes go over the sight before her. Megan’s arms encircled Charlie’s waist, while Charlie’s left arm was draped over Megan’s shoulder to rest on her back. Their faces were a testimony of what they had been doing, but it was their eyes that made Alli look again. There was something in there that she’d never seen before. “No thank you,” she mumbled, before walking away.

“I think your reason for them wanting to be alone was way off the mark,” Megan said as she pulled out of their embrace. “Did you see her face?”

“Yes, but I think you’re making too much of it.”

“And you’re being inconsiderate. The pain and confusion on her face was as clear as daylight for a second.”

“Whatever lovers’ spat they had will most probably be sorted by the morning.”

“Charlie, I’m telling you that there’s more to your sister than meets the eye. I’m convinced of it now.”

“Don’t be so dramatic Megan. You and I had our fair share of trouble, and still do. It will pass. How can your uneasy feeling suddenly be supported by a mere look?”

“Call it what you like, but I’m telling you that there’s something wrong. Please go after her Charlie.” Megan’s pleading had become something that Charlie couldn’t resist.

“OK, I’ll go, if only to please you.” Charlie gave Megan a soft, but passionate kiss before she walked out of the front door after Alli.

“Now, let’s see what Tracey is up to,” Megan thought, as she made her way up the stairs.

Alli wasn’t aware of her surroundings as she walked towards the stables. “Dad, I think I know why you didn’t want me to do this. I’m not strong enough. I’ve run your company with an iron fist, just like you taught me, but seeing Charlie is so different from what you said. We haven’t even spent that much time together, but she seems so open and honest, and totally in love with Megan. Has she changed, or is she just very good at hiding who she really is? And then there’s Tracey. She’s got this amazing child that even I can see absolutely adores her. Children aren’t fake. She must be a good mother, but she has this ability to bring out the best and the worst in me. These are real life lesbians Dad, and they seem so normal. This picture doesn’t make sense.”

Alli pushed her fingers into her hair as she looked upwards groaning. “I’m so confused!”

Alli sat down on a rock as she stared out over the open fields. “I have to control my emotions. I can’t afford for Tracey to walk out on me now. I get the idea that if push comes to shove, even my money won’t make her stay. The sooner I get this plan working, the better for my own sanity.”

“Hi.” Alli jumped when Charlie spoke behind her. “I know you said you didn’t want company, but I guess it’s my responsibility as your older sister not to listen to you.” Charlie laughed as she sat down next to Alli.

“It’s ok, I still have to get used to having a sister,” Alli said, as she watched an ant making its way up her pants.

“Yes, I know the feeling.” Charlie laughed again. Katrina always said that light conversation was the best way to break the ice. “So… ummm… how’s things with Tracey?” So much for light conversation. Charlie couldn’t remember when she had last been this nervous.

“She’s fine. Just unpacking in the room.”

“Oh… well… you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself. I know what you’re doing.” Charlie felt like kicking herself when she saw Alli’s face whiten. “Man, what am I doing?” Charlie thought as she was trying to think of something else to say.

“You know… how can you know?” It looked like Alli was ready to run.

“Relax little sister. I guess Megan was right in her presumption that you haven’t been out very long. I’ve been there, and done that. Believe me when I say that leaving Tracey to cool down is probably the best thing you can do, but when you go back upstairs, you need to seriously consider your groveling strategy. Everything depends on that.”

Charlie was very glad when the colour returned to Alli’s face as she started laughing. “That’s the way to go. You need to get your mood up a bit before even attempting groveling.”

Alli couldn’t believe her ears. Her heart had almost stopped when she thought that Charlie knew all about her plan, and here she was giving her love advice instead, and rather nervously at that. “Thanks Charlie. I really needed that. Do you have any tips on the groveling part?”

“Now we’re talking. That’s my field of expertise. I should actually tell you about a few of the situations I got myself into, but let’s walk to the stables so I can introduce you to some more members of the family.” Charlie got up and pulled Alli with her. “But first you might want to shake those ants off the back of your pants. Next time you might want to take a closer look before you choose a rock to sit on.” They both laughed as Charlie helped Alli get rid of the ants.

Megan knocked softly on the bedroom door, and opened it when she heard Tracey say that the door was open. Megan walked in to find Tracey sitting on the bed trying to wipe away her tears. Megan sat down next to her, and pulled her into a hug without saying a word. Tracey couldn’t keep her emotions back. The tears ran down her cheeks again as she found comfort in Megan’s arms.

“It’s ok. I’m sure you guys can work it out,” Megan said as she stroked Tracey’s hair. “Love is worth fighting for.”

Tracey pulled out of the embrace and wiped her tears away again. “Thank you. I don’t know why I let her get to me like that.”

“Love lets us do weird and wonderful things. My relationship with Charlie is a testimony of that.”

“She’s just so impossible at times. It makes me wonder how well I really know her.”

“Do you love her?”

Tracey turned her face away. Megan’s sincerity was making what she needed to do very difficult. “It’s only acting. This is what you’re good at, and what you’re getting paid for. If nothing else, think of Elizabeth.” Tracey’s inner turmoil was showing on her face, but she used it to her advantage when she looked back at Megan. Tracey needed Megan to trust her.

“Yes, I really love her.”

“Then take the time to get to know her better, if that’s how you feel. Relationships have ups and downs, just as life does. The ups are wonderful to have, but it’s what happens when you have the downs that’ll make or break what you have. Don’t be too hard on her, but don’t let her walk all over you either.”

“Thanks Megan. Your words make sense, now we’ll just have to see if I can actually put them into practice.” Tracey got up from the bed and walked to her suitcase to finish packing away her clothes. “I suppose keeping myself busy would help.”

“It’s a good place to start. Do you need any help?”

“No, it’s fine. Maybe she’ll come back to the room before I’m done. That would give us some time alone to sort this out.”

Megan got up to leave. “OK then, but if you ever need to talk, I’m here. We’ve set up the room next to yours for Elizabeth, but she’s still out with Kat. If I see that Alli has come upstairs by the time Elizabeth and Kat get back, I’ll keep Elizabeth entertained until you guys come down.”

“Thanks.” Tracey winked at Megan with a knowing smile. “It might take a while to sort this out.”

When Megan had closed the door behind herself, Tracey sat back down on the bed again with her face in her hands. “I hope what your sister did to you is worth all this Alli, because from where I’m sitting, it’s hard to believe that these people deserve what’s coming to them.”

“Now remember what I said. You need to make her feel so special that whatever happened earlier will be the last thing on her mind.” Charlie and Allie were walking back towards the house after Charlie had introduced Allie to the various horses. Charlie would be taking Allie and Tracey horseback riding the next day with her and Megan.

“Got it.”

“Some flowers would be a good idea as well.”

“Where am I supposed to get flowers out in the middle of nowhere?”

Charlie wrapped one arm around Alli’s shoulders from the back and pulled her closer. “That’s where your big sister comes in. I do live on a farm, and we do have our own garden with the most beautiful flowers, or at least Kat has, but I’m sure she wouldn’t mind us taking a few. This is a desperate situation after all.”

“I don’t want to get you into trouble.” Alli didn’t find it very difficult to play along. It was great that Charlie accepted her the way she did. She needed Charlie to trust her for her plan to work.

“Kat is an old softy, and a hopeless romantic. Once she knows why we did it, she’ll be OK with it. Don’t worry.”

When they got to the flowerbeds, Alli opted for roses only. Twelve red roses later, they were walking back into the house. “Good luck,” Charlie said as Alli stopped in front of the stairway and looked back at her.

“Thanks again for everything,” Alli said before making her way up the stairway.

“What are sisters for?” Charlie said softly to herself as she watched Alli walk up the stairs. She was smiling from ear to ear when she entered the study where Megan sat reading.

“I actually feel like a big sister,” Charlie said as she sat down on the couch next to Megan.

“You look more like a parent who’s just seen her child taking its first step.” Megan turned slightly to lean against Charlie’s shoulder as she continued reading.

Alli knocked on the door, and waited for a response. When she didn’t get any, she turned the doorknob to see if it was unlocked. It was, so she turned it all the way and opened the door. In front of her she saw Tracey fast asleep on the bed. She could see the traces of tears on her face, and felt guilty about her outburst earlier. She placed the roses on the bed next to Tracey before she picked up her own luggage to unpack.

Tracey awoke slowly to the sounds of movement in the room. She opened her eyes slightly to see Alli filling a drawer with clothes. She took advantage of the opportunity to run her gaze over Alli. She resembled Charlie, but that was as far as it went. She had a definite corporate look, and a body that spoke of being well looked after in the gym and at the salon. Charlie’s look was more rugged and relaxed. Tracey was sure that Alli’s tan came from a sun bed, but she found herself wondering whether it was all over, or if Alli had some tan lines. She quickly closed her eyes when Alli turned around, and waited for a minute before she opened her eyes again, pretending that she had just woke up. Only then did she see the roses on the bed next to her. She picked them up as she got up, and looked at Alli, about to ask what they where for.

“Sorry,” Alli said quickly, before continuing with her task. “I shouldn’t have gotten upset with you earlier.” Alli didn’t look at Tracey as she continued talking and working. “But it might have been a good thing, because I had a long chat with Charlie, and she seems more relaxed around me than she was when we had lunch the other day. They think we had a lover’s spat, and Charlie gave me some advice.”

“I’m sorry too. Megan did the same thing. She was very supportive, but I think it’s going to be very difficult to get in between those two.” Tracey played with the petals on the roses as she spoke. “I know it’s none of my business, but somehow I find it difficult to see your sister as the monster you’ve made her out to be.”

“You’re right; it’s none of your business. My father wouldn’t have lied to me, and that’s all I need to know.” Alli could feel the anger building up in her again. “We better go downstairs and act like we’ve resolved our little issue.”

“I know what I have to do; the question is whether you can handle it Miss Hyde.”

“I can handle whatever I have to, and my surname’s not Hyde…” It took Alli a second to catch onto Tracey’s insinuation. “You really think you’re a smart ass, don’t you?”

“At least I know I’m a smart ass; you on the other hand are the one that can’t decide if you want to be Jekyll or Hyde.”

“Let’s not get into that again. We have a plan to expedite.” Alli walked to the door and opened it before she stopped to wait for Tracey to follow her. Tracey walked to her and held out her hand, which made Alli look at her in puzzlement.

“Oh god,” Tracey said as she grabbed hold of Alli’s hand and almost dragged her after her. “You’re acting like a virgin on her way to the unknown. How the hell am I supposed to do my job properly?”

“I’m not a virgin,” Alli defended herself.

“In my world you are.” That was enough to shut Alli up as they walked down the stairs hand in hand.

Charlie played with Megan’s hair while she was reading, although her thoughts were not on her actions. Megan shifted slightly against Charlie to get more comfortable as she closed the book she was reading. She angled her head and looked at Charlie’s far away expression. Megan lifted her hand and ran her fingers down the side of Charlie’s face while looking at her lovingly. Charlie turned to her as a smile formed on her lips, and bent down to kiss her. When Megan intensified the kiss, Charlie pulled away and looked her in the eyes. “What do you think about children?”

“I like children, but I’ve never really thought about having my own. Why?”

The smile on Charlie’s face faded at Megan’s words, and she turned her face away. “I was just wondering.”

“Charlie, you wouldn’t be asking me that if you weren’t thinking of something. Talk to me.” Megan guided Charlie’s face back to her.

Charlie looked into Megan’s eyes again, and saw her whole world in front of her. “I was thinking that having a child in the family might be a good idea.”

Megan sat up and turned to face Charlie again. “Are you telling me that you want us to have a child?”

“Yes.”

“That’s a huge step. How were you thinking of doing it? Fertilization or adoption?”

“I was hoping adoption. There are so many children out there that need a loving family.”

“Adopting would be my choice as well, but I still think it’s a huge step. Are you sure?”

Charlie pulled Megan into an embrace. “With you by my side, I can take on the world. I’m sure I want this, but I don’t want to pressure you into it.”

Megan rested her head on Charlie’s shoulder while looking out of the window. “I’ll admit, the thought of being a parent is a bit intimidating. Let’s both think about it for a while?”

“Take all the time you need.” Charlie rested her chin on Megan’s head while she held her in her arms.

They stood holding each other for a while until they heard footsteps on the stairs. Megan pulled out of the embrace and took hold of Charlie’s hand as they made their way out of the study. They found Alli and Tracey heading for the kitchen. Charlie and Megan smiled at each other when they saw that the two were holding hands.

“I think it’s time to go and find Kat and the kids. It’s almost dinner time, and I think you two can do with a good night’s sleep after the long trip.” Charlie gave Alli a quick wink and smiled. Their plan had obviously worked.

“Sounds like a great plan to me.” Tracey leaned her head against Alli’s shoulder, but almost jumped as Alli let go of Tracey’s hand to wrap her arm around her instead, and plant a quick kiss on her temple.

Alli twisted and turned all night. Sleeping on the floor might have made her mind feel more at ease, but her body wasn’t thinking the same thing right now. It was already morning, but she still felt like she needed hours of sleep. She could hear Tracey’s even breathing, and envied her. She turned around and tried to fall asleep again, but a knock on the door made her sit upright and listen quietly. A few seconds later, she heard a louder knock, and someone talking. She could make out Megan’s voice telling someone that she had said it was too early in the morning for breakfast. The other person, who Alli could now identify as Charlie, told Megan that seven in the morning wasn’t too early for breakfast in bed.

Alli panicked when she realized that Charlie and Megan were standing outside the bedroom door with breakfast. She quickly got up, and leaned over the bed to wake Tracey up. This proved to be very difficult. The sound of the doorknob being turned made Alli react without thinking. In a swift movement, she threw her blanket on the chair in front of the window, grabbed her pillow, and dove under the blankets to lie next to Tracey.

Charlie pushed the door open with her foot as she walked backwards into the room with a breakfast tray in her hands. Megan followed her with another one. “It’s time to wake up little sister. This is a farm after all.” They moved into the room and placed the trays on the bedside tables.

“I don’t think I’m the one you should worry about.” Alli indicated Tracey who was still sound asleep.

“Judging by the look of exhaustion on your face, I’m not amazed that she’s still sleeping.” Charlie looked as proud as could be.

Megan slapped her playfully on the arm. “Charlie!”

“What?” Charlie asked innocently.

“I think it’s time for us to leave and let them wake up properly.”

“Tracey’s still sleeping. We can keep Alli company until she wakes up. What do you think Alli?”

“Well…” Alli couldn’t speak any further before Tracey turned in her sleep, and in the process pressed closer to Alli while her arm automatically wrapped around Alli’s body. She moved her head from her pillow and rested it on Alli’s shoulder.

“A cuddler. Way to go Alli.” Charlie ducked to avoid another slap from Megan.

“Charlene Palmer, I’m going to tell Kat about you misbehaving like this. Your sister seems to have brought the kid out in you.” Megan could see how uncomfortable Alli looked, and tried to get Charlie to leave the room without making it obvious that they could see it, but to no avail. Charlie seemed to be having way too much fun playing the big sister.

Alli was still in shock as Tracey kept on moving closer to her during Charlie and Megan’s bantering. By now Tracey’s one leg was over Alli’s legs, and her hand was very close to Alli’s breast.

“Come on Megan. Tracey needs to wake up, otherwise her breakfast will get cold.”

“I told you we should’ve left them to sleep.”

Alli was seriously considering jumping out of bed while Charlie and Megan weren’t looking. She started moving slowly, but stopped when Charlie turned to her.

“Tell her you don’t mind the breakfast in bed Alli.” Charlie was looking at Alli expectantly.

“I don’t mind,” Alli said quickly, hoping that they would turn the other way again, but they didn’t. She was stuck, and her movement had gotten Tracey moving again, but it looked like she was waking up. “Thank god,” Alli thought in relief, but it was short lived. Tracey’s hand was now rubbing Alli’s breast, and she was nuzzling on Alli’s neck whispering hoarsely, “Good morning, Darling.”

“See, it worked,” Charlie said triumphantly. “She’s awake.”

Charlie’s voice registered through Tracey’s sleep-hazed mind. Her eyes flew open in shock to look upon a neck. “Oh no,” she whispered so softly that only Alli could hear. There was no mistaking whose breast she was fondling.

“Oh yes,” Alli whispered back through clenched teeth.
Part Four
Megan practically dragged a smiling Charlie out of the bedroom. As soon as they had closed the door behind themselves, Alli threw the covers off and jumped out of bed. “Why didn’t I think of locking the door? Am I losing it here?” She was running her fingers through her tousled hair.

Tracey’s feeling of anguish turned to amusement as she watched Alli pacing up and down. She tried not to laugh at the comical picture before her. “You did think of it Alli, but I told you that we had to keep the door unlocked in case Elizabeth comes looking for me.”

Alli’s flustered look made way for a smile when she saw the amusement on Tracey’s face. “Oh yes, I forgot.” The smile grew bigger on Alli’s face. “That was close wasn’t it? When I heard them at the door I did the only thing I could think of.”

“That was quick thinking and very smooth. I didn’t even feel it when you got into bed.”

Alli’s uneasiness returned at the mention of her in the bed. “I was taught to think on my feet,” she said but her thoughts were different. ‘You might not have felt me getting into bed, but you definitely felt me up.’ She went red at her thoughts and turned towards the en-suite. “I’m going to take a shower while you have your breakfast.”

Alli waited for Tracey to take her own shower and get dressed before they went down to look for the others. It was very important that it look like they had a solid relationship. This way Charlie would trust them, and not suspect what was coming. As Alli and Tracey came down the stairs, Elizabeth almost ran into them.

“Wow sweetheart,” Tracey laughed as she caught her daughter to prevent her from stumbling. “Why are you in such a rush?”

“I’m late. I promised Harry and Becca that I would meet them at the tree house at eight.”

Alli bent down to look Elizabeth in the eyes. “A tree house. That’s impressive. I’ve never been in one before.”

Elizabeth looked Alli up and down for a second. “I’ll speak to Harry and Becca. Grownups aren’t allowed in the tree house, but maybe they’ll make an exception for someone that’s never been in one before.”

“I think I’d like that, but how about a good morning kiss.” Elizabeth threw her arms around Alli and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek and a hug before she started running off again, only to be stopped by her mother clearing her throat rather loudly.

“Did you forget who I am?” Elizabeth turned around and saw the smile on her mother’s face.

“You’re a beautiful woman?” Elizabeth could see that her mom was in a playful mood and went along with it.

“Flattery will get you nowhere.” Tracey stood with her arms crossed in front of her chest.

“You’re a beautiful woman, and Alli’s girlfriend?” At hearing this Alli’s smile grew. Elizabeth was an amazing child, and in just two days she had managed to climb into her heart.

“Keep trying.” Tracey wouldn’t budge.

“You’re my mother and I love you always.” Elizabeth placed a kiss on her own hand before she blew it to her mother who caught it in her right hand and placed it over her heart. Tracey did the same, and Elizabeth caught the kiss and placed it over her heart. Tracey opened her arms, and Elizabeth ran into them to give her a hug and a kiss.

Alli looked at the display of affection between mother and daughter. This was something she hadn’t known. Her thoughts went back to the years with her real mother. All she ever got from her was beatings and instructions yelled at her. “Clean the house”, “bring another beer”, and the worst was when she had to open the door for her mother’s clients. Her adoptive mother was great, but never this affectionate. It was much better than what she was used to, but this scene in front of her made her yearn for the same kind of affection. She was pulled out of her thoughts when Tracey spoke.

“That’s better. Now go and have fun, but be careful.” Tracey gave Elizabeth a soft pat on her behind as she was about to run off.

“I will Mom. Enjoy your horseback riding.”

Tracey looked at Alli. “Horseback riding?”

“Yes, I forgot to tell you. Charlie and Megan are taking us horseback riding today. They have a few places that they want to show us.”

“I’ve never been horseback riding.”

“Neither have I, but I suppose this is the weekend of firsts. Let’s go and find those two.”

They walked into the kitchen to find Charlie, Megan and Katrina sitting at the kitchen table having a cup of coffee.

“You just missed Elizabeth. Want some more coffee?” Katrina said, as she got up to take out another two cups.

“She practically ran into us on the stairs,” Alli said as she pulled a chair out for Tracey to sit down.

“It’s so nice for her to have space. Our house and yard is rather small, and she is such an energetic child.” Tracey thankfully took the cup of coffee that Katrina offered to her. “She’s in her element here, and having other kids around is obviously a bonus. I’m afraid if I don’t keep checking, I might forget that she actually came with us.” Everyone laughed at the statement.

“So, they don’t live with you in that big mansion Alli. What do you do with yourself alone in that huge place then?”

Alli looked at Charlie, and without flinching, she answered. “Actually it’s Tracey’s choice. I’ve asked her a couple of times to move in with me, but I’m still waiting for a positive answer.”

Tracey choked on her coffee. Megan quickly patted her on the back to help. When Tracey could breathe normally again she looked up to see everyone looking at her expectantly. Her thoughts were racing to think of an answer. ‘This is what you are getting paid for,’ she thought as she turned to look at Alli. “Yes, we’ll move in with you.”

“Yes?” Alli sounded slightly taken aback.

Charlie slapped her sister on the shoulder. “She said yes!”

“Huh?” Was Alli’s only response.

“Have you turned into a blundering idiot little sister, or are you just in shock? Tracey said yes, which means they’ll be moving in with you.”

“Umm, I… I don’t know what to say.” The look Alli gave Tracey was one that promised a serious talk later, and Tracey knew that she had screwed up again.

“Just be happy. If it wasn’t just after eight in the morning, I would’ve suggested a glass of champagne, but I think we must leave the celebrations for tonight.” Megan turned to Charlie before she spoke again. “I’m sure you’ll agree that we need to take them out to dinner tonight to celebrate.”

“Definitely,” Charlie responded, before planting a kiss on Megan’s lips. “You took the words out of my mouth.” She turned towards Alli and Tracey again. “The restaurant isn’t like the fancy places you have in Cape Town, but it’s what we find to our taste out here. It’s even kids friendly, so Elizabeth can come with. She’ll be part of your family, so she should be part of the celebration.”

“That’s sounds great.” Tracey smiled at Alli and placed her hand over Alli’s hand.

“Yes, just great. I think it would be a good idea for us to take a walk don’t you?” Alli smiled at Tracey, but Tracey could see that the smile wasn’t genuine.

“I want to help Katrina to clean the kitchen first.” Tracey didn’t feel like having a confrontation that early in the morning.

Katrina put a stop to Tracey’s escape plan. “Don’t you dare my dear. You have something to celebrate.” Katrina smiled and winked at Alli.

Alli got up and held her hand out to Tracey. “Yes Angel. Let’s go and ‘celebrate’.”

Tracey looked up at Alli and knew that she had to go with her. She wasn’t looking forward to it, but she knew that she had to keep up the act. She took Alli’s outstretched hand and allowed Alli to pull her up. Alli’s hand was like a vice grip on hers, but she still smiled at the others and thanked them before they walked out of the house, although it felt to Tracey like she was being dragged out. They walked in silence for about ten minutes before they were completely out of sight. Alli let go of Tracey hand, but not before she swung Tracey towards her.

“Are you out of your mind?” Alli’s anger was now apparent.

Tracey was angry as well for never seeming to do anything right in Alli’s eyes. “You were the one that said it was up to me. I know I’m an actress, but there’s no script for this part, and I don’t read minds either. What do you want from me?”

Alli looked at Tracey, but although she wanted to shout at her, what Tracey had said was the truth. They were improvising as they went along, and Tracey was only doing what she was getting paid to do. “I’m sorry. I’m over reacting as usual. It seems that this whole situation is more than I anticipated. We’ll deal with the consequences when they come up.”

Tracey felt sorry for Alli. She was obviously out of her depth and needed all the help she could get, but she was also able to get Tracey more upset than most people. She had to admit to herself though that Alli was absolutely stunning when she got upset. Her eyes looked like sparks were flying around in them and the colour intensified. She could see the muscles in Alli’s upper arms moving as she was clenching her fists which just once again convinced Tracey that Alli must spend a lot of time working out. Tracey’s mind started drifting off as she could see images of Alli pushing weights while lying on her back. Tracey’s breathing increased when her mind went one step further, and she could see herself walking towards Alli and slowly straddling her body.

“Are you even listening to me? …….Tracey!”

Alli’s shouting brought Tracey back to reality. “What?”

Alli looked at Tracey with a slightly lifted left eyebrow. “Tracey, what’s wrong?”

“Mmm… sorry… what did you say?”

“I asked what’s wrong.”

“What’s wrong with what?”

“What’s wrong with you?”

“I’m sorry. It must be all this fresh air. I don’t know where my mind was.” Tracey went slightly red as she remembered her thoughts. “It’s been way too long since I last touched a woman,” Tracey thought as she started walking back towards the house.

Alli looked at her doubtfully, but thought it wise to leave it there when she took in Tracey’s flustered look. Alli held out her hand to Tracey who took it hesitantly. They walked back toward the house hand in hand, and halfway there Tracey pulled her hand out of Alli’s hand and wrapped her arm around Alli’s waist instead. “We have an audience,” Tracey said to Alli, who in turn wrapped her arm around Tracey’s shoulder.

The closeness brought back the memory of Tracey’s fantasy to her, and she got flustered all over again. When they reached Charlie and Megan, who were waiting for them on the porch, Tracey’s face convinced the two of them that Alli and Tracey had indeed done some ‘celebrating’ on their own.

Alli and Tracey did well on the horses. It didn’t take them very long to get used to being on the horses, so before long they were on a slow tour of the farm. Alli rode next to Charlie, and Tracey next to Megan. Tracey and Megan were a few meters behind the other two.

“I’ve been meaning to ask about the signs on the gates. We saw them as we came in, and I thought they were funny, but for some reason I don’t think we got the full meaning behind the words.” Tracey looked sideways at Megan when she heard her laugh at what she had said.

When Megan stopped laughing she looked at Tracey. “That’s a long story. In order for you to understand the meaning behind the words, I’ll have to start at the beginning of my relationship with Charlie, although back then it was anything but a relationship, that’s for sure. Do you really want to hear it?”

“Is it a romantic story?”

“Yes, but I’d say it was a rather comic romantic story.”

“Then yes, I’d love to hear it.”

As Megan told Tracey the story of how she and Charlie had got together, Charlie and Alli were having a heart to heart talk of their own.

“So little sister, how did you snag a beauty like Tracey?”

“To be honest Charlie, some days I wonder about that myself. I think I must be one of the luckiest people around.”

“Then I’m sure luck is running in the family like some other things. If the question is not too personal, how long have you been out?”

Alli cleared her throat as she was thinking of what to say. She and Tracey had gone over the basic details of how long they had been together and how they had met, but this was a bit more complicated. She decided to be as vague as possible, but also to use as much truth as she could. This would prevent her from trying to remember what she had lied about. If she only lied about everything involving Tracey, she would be able to control the situation better. “Tracey was the one who made me realize what I truly wanted and needed. I’ve been such a workaholic all my life that I haven’t really bothered with seeking out relationships. As a matter of fact, I found them to be a waste of time.”

“Was this before or after our father died?”

“It was after.”

“Did you ever sleep with men?”

“Yes I did, but the occasions were few and far in between, as were my relationships with men. I preferred my studies, and then eventually my work.”

“So Tracey’s the first woman you ever slept with?”

“Yes she is, and I’m sure she’ll be the last as well.” Alli decided to steer the conversation in a different direction. “What about you? Has there ever been anyone before Megan?”

“Yes, I came out when I was a teenager. At that point I’d kissed a few girls, but nothing serious. I made the mistake of coming out to our father first.”

Alli got very excited. This was exactly the direction she wanted their conversation to go into. “Why do you say it was a mistake?”

Charlie gave a deep sigh before she spoke. “These are not good memories for me Alli, and I really don’t want to change your image of our father. He obviously did a great job with you, and what’s in the past should really stay there and not stain our future.”

Alli’s face fell in disappointment, but Charlie didn’t see it. Alli kept quiet for a minute trying to think what to say to get Charlie to talk about it. Alli had been finding herself questioning her plan, and if it was really necessary. Charlie hadn’t shown her any of the characteristics that her father had told her about. She seemed to be this caring, loving person that she wasn’t suppose to be. Alli thought that if Charlie told her what had happened, she would either hear the truth as her dad had told her, or Charlie would lie to make herself look better. If she was going to lie, it would be the fuel that Alli needed to keep her anger going. “Dad is gone now, and nothing that you say can change what he’s done for me over the years. I do realize that no person is perfect, and that he must have made his mistakes in life just as you and I do. Hearing your story will help me understand why you weren’t around when I grew up.”

“I don’t know Alli. It’s not a pretty story, and I don’t know if I can go through the emotional turmoil of reliving it in my mind again.”

“I’m your sister Charlie, and I want to be there for you, and I want to understand.” Alli looked at Charlie pleadingly.

“OK, but there is so much to say, that I don’t think we’ll get through everything now.”

“That’s OK. Let’s just start then. It’ll make it easier to continue later.”

Charlie looked at Alli and saw the need in her eyes. “When I came out, our father and mother didn’t want anything to do with such things. They tried to fix me. Eventually, they gave me an ultimatum. I had to either let go of my wrong ways, or they would disown me. I didn’t want to be who I wasn’t, and I didn’t think they were serious. I must admit that I was a real spoiled brat at that time, and always got my way. I was wrong on that occasion. I didn’t get what I wanted, and they were serious. So at age sixteen I got thrown out of the house. I ended up on the street, not knowing how to survive on my own. All my so-called friends disappeared like mist before the sun. It was probably the worst time in my entire life.”

Alli kept on looking sideways to see the expression on Charlie’s face. She prided herself on being able to see when people were telling the truth. At this point, Charlie was a closed book to her. She didn’t see what she wanted to see. Instead she saw Charlie’s hands trembling where they were holding onto the reins. Charlie’s knuckles were white, showing that she was clenching her fists. This was something Alli knew she did herself when trying to cope while having to deal with something that was difficult for her to do.

Charlie closed her eyes and took a deep breath before she continued. “What happened to me on the streets shouldn’t happen to anyone. I was lucky to have someone there for me.” Charlie stopped again as she was trying to control herself. Thinking about what had happened all those years ago still made her want to cry.

“What happened to you Charlie?”

“I… I got gang raped.”

“Oh god,” was all that Alli could say. She tried to tell herself that Charlie had brought it on herself, but that didn’t convince her. Even if Charlie had walked away from her family as her dad told her, she didn’t deserve that. Charlie was right, no one deserved it. When Charlie didn’t say anything else, Alli didn’t try to get her to keep on speaking.

Charlie and Alli rode on in silence until they came across the pond. Megan was the one that spoke up. “Charlie honey, we’re at the pond. Didn’t you say if we felt like it when we got here that we would go for a swim?”

Charlie stopped and turned around in her seat to face Megan with a smile. She didn’t want her thoughts to ruin their outing. Before she could say anything though, Alli spoke.

“You didn’t say anything about swimming. We didn’t bring our swimming costumes with.”

“Not to worry little sister. Out here we do it au naturel.” When Charlie saw Alli’s shocked face, she had to laugh. “But don’t worry, if you feel uncomfortable with it, you can always swim in your underwear. In this heat you’ll dry quickly.”

“Come on then. Let’s go and take that swim.” Megan was off her horse before the others.

“Is this the pond you were telling me about?” Tracey asked Megan in a whisper when she stood next to her.

“Yes, the very one.” Megan winked at Tracey.

Megan and Charlie had no problem getting undressed and walking into the pond leaving a stunned Alli and smiling Tracey behind. When they were in the water up to their shoulders, Charlie turned around. “What’s wrong you two? Afraid of the water or getting naked? The water has nothing in it to be scared of, and we are just a bunch of women. If it will make you guys feel any better, we promise not to look at you until you’re in the water.” With that she took Megan in an embrace and moved away from the side.

“Come on,” Tracey said to Alli. She was pretty sure that it was the nakedness that was having Alli standing like a statue. “They said we can swim in our underwear if we want.”

Tracey started unbuttoning her blouse.

“I don’t do underwear.” These words made Tracey stop what she was doing and look up in surprise at Alli.

“You don’t wear underwear?”

“Did I not just say that?”

“Yes you did, I just can’t imagine it.”

“You don’t need to imagine it!”

“Sorry. I promise I won’t look while you get undressed. Why don’t you do it behind that rock? It’s close to the pond, and you can just walk in from there.”

“It will look rather silly for us to ‘sleep’ together and then undress a mile apart. You’ll need to come with me. We can both undress behind the rock, but you can go first, and while you get into the water I can get undressed.”

“It does sound like a plan.”

They walked to the rock where Alli turned around to give Tracey time to undress. She felt rather uncomfortable as she waited, listening to the sounds of Tracey undressing. She tried to think of anything else except what was happening behind her.

“I’m done,” Tracey said before walking into the water.

“Thanks,” Alli said and turned around when she heard the sounds of Tracey going into the water. What they didn’t realize was that it took longer before Tracey reached the deeper water from that side, so when Alli turned around she was met by a full view of Tracey’s naked back from her thighs upward. She watched Tracey walk into the water as if transfixed. Alli shook her head a few times from left to right as she busied herself in getting undressed. “This place is getting to me,” she said to herself. “First I start to like these people, and now I’m admiring a naked female body, although I must admit it is a well kept body.” Alli shook her head from side to side again. “The sooner I get back home, the better. I need to ask Tracey if she has made a move on Megan yet.” When she was naked, she walked into the water quickly to get to where Tracey was standing with her back towards her.

When Alli was covered up to her hips she sank into the water completely and swam to where Tracey waited. When she was about a meter away from Tracey she stopped. “You can turn around now.”

Tracey turned and swallowed deeply when she could partly see Alli’s breasts through the water. “This is going to be torture,” Tracey thought, as she took a deep breath before submerging herself in the water completely.
Part Five
When Alli saw Tracey’s head disappear under the water, she looked around to find Charlie and Megan. She spotted them a few meters away with their arms wrapped around each other. ‘Oh no,’ Alli thought. ‘I’m not getting that close to Tracey while we’re naked. Having to hold her hand and a quick kiss now and then is one thing, but having her naked body pressed against mine is just wrong.’ Her thoughts wandered back to the events of that morning in their bedroom. ‘Just as wrong as Tracey playing with my breasts.’ A chill ran down Alli’s spine as she remembered and could almost feel Tracey’s hand on her breast again.

When Tracey’s head appeared above the water again, she saw Alli shiver. “Are you cold?”

Alli looked back at Tracey. “No, I just feel very uneasy in this situation.”

“Just relax. We’re just a bunch of women after all.”

“Except for me, it’s a bunch of women that like other women. That changes the situation drastically for me,” Alli said abruptly.

“Alli, I understand where you’re coming from with this, but see it for what it really is.”

Alli lifted her left eyebrow slightly. “What it really is?”

“Yes. Over there is your sister, which makes her harmless although she likes other women, not even having to mention the fact that she’s obviously absolutely devoted to Megan and won’t look at another woman. Then you have Megan, who also likes women, but who I’ve not been able to get a single interested look from. She sees only one woman and the rest she just sees as people, so unless she mistakes you for your sister, she’s harmless. Then there’s me, who also likes women, but who you’re paying to play a part, and that part doesn’t include screwing you.” Tracey smiled at Alli trying to get her to relax. “So unless you’re planning to change the terms of our contract, I’m harmless as well. You need to start seeing us as actual individual people and not stereotype us under ‘this is what I believe a lesbian is’. Every gay woman doesn’t necessarily want your body.”

Alli lifted her right hand and ran trembling fingers through her hair. “You’re right. I need to relax.”

Tracey had to swallow a moan when Alli’s action exposed her right breast. ‘Don’t know about other women, but my last statement doesn’t count for me. I need to focus on the job at hand. I never got involved with co-workers before, and that’s exactly what she is, a co-worker. I’m a professional.’ Tracey’s internal struggles weren’t displayed on her face, but she needed to get distance from Alli before she betrayed herself. “Hey you two,” Tracey shouted towards Charlie and Megan. “I thought we were here for swimming?”

“This is swimming in our books, but you guys can do what you want,” Charlie shouted back.

Tracey turned back towards Alli. “I suppose we’ll just have to wait this out. Maybe we can just slowly swim around and talk.”

“Sounds like a good idea. How’s things getting on with Megan?”

“We’re talking a lot, and she sees me as a friend, but I don’t think your plan is going to work over a weekend. Those two are very close, and from what she has told me so far, they’ve gone through a lot together and walked a rather bumpy road to be where they are today. They’re not just going to fall for someone else. It will take time if it ever happens. I honestly have my doubts about your plan working.”

“I’ll decide if my plan is going to work or not,” Alli said rather harshly.

“Hey, don’t bite my head off. I’m just saying that those two are so in love that I don’t think another woman will ever get in. Surely you can see that as well, even if you don’t believe in women being with women. My only advice for you would be that we need to listen to what they’re saying and try to find out if there’s something that the one wants, but the other doesn’t.”

“I’ll think about it, but stick to my original plan for now.”

Tracey and Alli didn’t have to swim around long before Megan let them know they needed to get going or face a very upset Katrina. This time around Alli and Tracey floated in the water up to the point where the water was knee high before Alli got out to dress while Tracey waited.

At the restaurant that evening, the mood was relaxed. Elizabeth sat between Alli and Tracey at the table. After they were seated they chatted about the beautiful areas on the farm that they had seen during the horseback riding trip, and Elizabeth was very excited about being on a tractor. Harry and Becca’s father had allowed all three of them on the tractor as he gave them a lift back to the main house.

“You were right Charlie; this place is definitely not like the restaurants in Cape Town. We’ve been sitting here for ten minutes, and we’re still waiting for our orders to be taken,” Alli said while looking around the place.

“Out here we take our time while having meals. Don’t stress little sis, I’m sure we’ll be attended to.”

As Charlie spoke, a blond waitress came towards them. She was opening her little notepad as she spoke to them. “Good evening ladies. What can I get all of you to drink?”

“Hi Veronica,” Megan greeted her. “How’s your mom doing?”

“Oh hi Megan. She’s doing much better now and back on her feet. She’s actually in the kitchen and will be making your dinner tonight.”

“Wonderful,” Charlie exclaimed. “Glad she’s back in the kitchen.” She turned her attention to Alli and Tracey. “Veronica’s mother is the best cook next to Kat. She makes the most amazing ostrich steak. It’s definitely something you guys should try.”

While Veronica was waiting for Charlie to finish what she was saying, her eyes roamed over the women at the table and stopped at Tracey. ‘Now she’s cute,’ she thought as the corner of her lips turned upward slightly. ‘She could be fun to play with for a while.’

“Maybe you should introduce me to your friends here before I take your orders, Charlie.” Veronica might have asked Charlie the question, but her eyes were fixed on Tracey as she spoke.

“That there is my sister Alli.” Charlie indicated Alli as she spoke. “And that is her girlfriend Tracey, and between them is Tracey’s daughter, Elizabeth.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you all. Can I have that drinks order now?” Veronica still didn’t take her eyes off Tracey as she waited for the order. Tracey blushed at the attention and looked away.

“I’ll have an Amstel, and Megan will have a Windhoek Light.” After giving her order Charlie looked at Alli waiting for their order.

“I’ll have a single vodka, double lime and soda. Elizabeth will have a…” Alli turned to Tracey.

“Elizabeth will have a coke float, but make it a small one, and I’ll have a single gin and dry lemon.”

Veronica jotted the order down on her note pad. “Great, I’ll bring these to you shortly.” She winked at Tracey before she turned and walked away.

They went back to chatting about the day’s events, but Tracey didn’t say very much. She was still blushing from Veronica’s stare. There was no mistaking what that look was for. It made her feel good to be sexually wanted, not that she would act on anything like that. She was a responsible person, but it didn’t prevent her from feeling good. It wasn’t like she was really in a relationship, it was only acting.

Alli took part in the conversation, but she occasionally looked sideways at Tracey. She could see the redness on Tracey’s cheeks, and could see that her thoughts were not with them. Alli felt upset to think that Tracey would react that way to the waitress staring at her. ‘She’s suppose to play the role of my girlfriend and try to make a play for Megan, not some other woman.’ Alli returned her attention to the conversation at hand, with the intention of talking to Tracey as soon as the opportunity arose.

“The tree house is absolutely great. I think when I grow up I want to live in a tree house.”

“You might have a problem finding a tree house to live in Elizabeth. The ones I remember seeing in the backyards of my friends’ houses were rather small. Nothing like the one on the farm. I don’t think you’ll find such a big tree in the city to build one in. Harry, Becca and I looked for months before we found the right tree.”

“Did you build the tree house Charlie?” Elizabeth was visibly impressed.

“I sure did. With the help of Harry and Becca of course.”

Megan slapped Charlie on the arm. “Stop boasting like that. I have it on good authority that you had help from two or three other people as well.”

“Damn, the secret’s out.”

“Do you know what Elizabeth? When you’re all grown up, and you still want a tree house to live in, you can come to the farm. I’m sure Charlie will help you build it, because she’ll never grow up.” Megan couldn’t escape Charlie’s arms as they wrapped around her.

“I’ll show you a bit later that I’m all grown up,” Charlie whispered into Megan’s ear. When she pulled away she wiggled her eyebrows, and had a wicked little grin on her face that caused Megan to blush.

“I’ll keep you to that promise,” Megan whispered back at her.

In the meantime Elizabeth and Alli were discussing the possibilities of Alli being allowed into the tree house. “I did ask them if you could come up to see it, but Harry said they didn’t know you. He did say if you were to spend some time with us, you might be allowed up.”

“I don’t know about that Elizabeth. Maybe if we come back again, I’ll spend some time with you guys.”

“Are we coming back again!?” Elizabeth was so excited that she shouted it out, drawing everyone’s attention to them.

“Yes, we’ll definitely come back again.”

“Awesome! Did you hear that Mom? We’re coming back to the farm again.”

“That’s great Sweetheart.”

Veronica came back with their drinks order and dished it out to everyone. She spent a few seconds longer in front of Tracey, and brushed her arm as she moved away. “Does everyone know what they want to eat yet?”

The food orders were given, and Veronica jotted them down on her little notepad before giving Tracey another wanton look as she turned and walked away. Tracey watched her leave and blushed again.

“Excuse me, I’m just going to the ladies room.” Tracey got up to go only to be stopped by Alli.

“Hold on, I’m coming with.” They walked to the ladies room hand in hand, but once inside Alli let go of Tracey’s hand.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

“What are you talking about?”

“Don’t play coy with me. I’m sure everyone at the table has seen you flirting with the waitress.”

“I did not flirt with the waitress. She’s the one flirting with me.”

“And you’re just the innocent bystander?”

“Yes!”

“Tell that to someone who’d believe you. I saw how you blushed, and how your arms touched. She was practically having sex with you on the table!”

A dead silence followed the sound as Tracey’s hand made contact with Alli’s cheek.

“You might pay me, but I’m not a piece of trash, and you have no right to treat me like I’m one,” Tracey said in an irate voice.

“Then you need to remember that I’m the one that pays you, and I’m paying you to get Megan’s attention, not every bimbo that crosses your path.”

“You’re making me out to be some kind of whore!”

“If the shoe fits….” Alli expected the second slap and caught Tracey’s hand before it reached her cheek.

“Let go of me!” Tracey tried to pull her hand out of Alli’s grip.

“Not before you calm down.”

“You arrogant asshole. Let go of me!”

“I said, not before you calm down.”

Tracey took a few deep breaths and closed her eyes for a minute. When she opened them again she looked calm and collected. “Now, will you please let go of my hand? You’re hurting me Miss Jekyll, or is it Miss Hyde this time?” Every word was punctuated.

Alli let go of Tracey’s hand. “Ah, we’re back to that again. Stop playing these games, focus on what you’re getting paid for, and let’s get back to our seats.”

“If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear you were jealous.”

“Then it’s a good thing you know better,” Alli said abruptly.

“I could always be wrong in what I know.” Tracey felt hurt at the things that Alli had implied and needed to lash back. “For all I know you could be some pervert, and this is just some sick joke, or you could be into women and you need this type of thing to get off on.”

“I would never touch another woman sexually. Even if my life were to depend upon it!”

“Is that a challenge?”

“Are you insane? What happened to the real Tracey?”

“She stepped out for a bit when you thought it was OK to insult her like that!”

Alli was about to speak, but stopped and placed her hands on her face as she was shaking it from side to side. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that. I don’t know what came over me. I just need this to work so badly.”

“I’m not the enemy Alli. You need to trust me, or I can’t do this.”

“Trust is not something I give easily, and that’s probably what’s making this so difficult. Please don’t drop me now. If you walk out on me, I’ll have to start all over again. I’ve always seen myself as a very strong person, but I don’t think I can handle too much more of this pretend lifestyle. As it is, things aren’t looking that easy right now. The weekend is practically over, and you have the money that you needed. I don’t have anything to press you into continuing this act except for more money, which you aren’t desperate for anymore.”

Tracey gave a deep sigh. “I’ll continue this plan of yours for as long as it’s required, but I’ll only do it if you tell me the reason behind it, and if I’m comfortable with your reason.”

Alli groaned. “It’s not something I choose to discuss.”

“The choice is yours. I’ll finish this weekend as per our agreement, but if you require me to continue with this act, you’ll need to give me more than money as a reason to do so.”

“I’ll let you know once we’re back in Cape Town.”

“That’s fine by me. I think we need to get back before they send a search party in here.”

Tracey held out her hand to Alli who took it. By the time they got back to the table Veronica arrived with the last of their food. They waited for her to put the plates on the table before moving past her to take their seats.

Veronica was about to pinch Tracey’s ass, but soon found her hand in a vice grip and Alli’s head leaning in to whisper to her. “A bit of advice, don’t ever try to touch my girlfriend again. Next time I might not be so friendly.” Alli let go of Veronica’s hand and took her seat as if nothing had happened. Veronica asked if everyone had everything they needed, and quickly left without giving another glance at Tracey.

The rest of dinner went without incident except for the difficulty they had in trying to find their waitress to order the champagne.

When Megan was happy that all her guests were taken care of, she made her way to the bedroom. When she opened the door she found the room was dark, and she could see Charlie’s form under the covers. She didn’t switch on the bedroom light, but closed the door behind her before she made her way to the en-suite. She switched that light on as she walked in to open the shower taps.

“So much for promising me how grown up she was,” Megan mumbled as she started to undress. “We’re not even home for half an hour and she’s fast asleep without me.” Megan got into the shower and stood under the spray.

“Feeling rather sorry for yourself are you?” Megan jumped in fright when Charlie spoke just outside the shower door.

“If this is how you’re suppose to show me how grown up you are….” Megan was rendered totally speechless as she turned around and her eyes fell on Charlie donning a strap-on and nothing else.

“Where did that come from?” Megan whispered hotly

“I did some private shopping the other day when we were in Cape Town to meet my sister. Remember that hour-long stroll I took the next morning while you were finishing the rest of the breakfast and getting showered? So, do you like?” Charlie wiggled her eyebrows like she had in the restaurant and the same wicked little grin appeared on her lips.

“I don’t like, I love.” Megan grabbed Charlie by the arm and pulled her into the shower with her. “Now stop talking, and let me see if you know how to handle this toy.”

In the middle of the night Tracey and Alli woke up with a jolt when they heard Elizabeth screaming. Tracey was out of bed first running to the door. She saw the flash of lightning through the window before she heard it. Alli was right behind her. They stormed into Elizabeth’s room to find her curled up with her duvet over her head. “Mommy,” she yelled again.

Tracey grabbed Elizabeth in her arms and soothed her. “It’s OK Sweetheart, Mommy’s here.”

“What’s wrong?” Alli asked from where she was standing next to the bed.

“It’s OK. She’s just scared of the thunder. As soon as the storm’s over, she’ll be fine.”

Alli walked to the window to watch the storm. “I’m no weather expert, but this doesn’t look like a storm that’s just going to blow over quickly.”

“I’m staying with her. Why don’t you go back to the room and get some sleep?”

“I have a better idea. Why don’t you bring her to our room, and she can sleep on the bed with you.”

“Are you sure? She’s not going to fall asleep while the thunder’s going.”

“It’s not a problem. Maybe we can take turns and both get some sleep.”

“Thanks Alli.” Tracey lifted Elizabeth off the bed. “Come Sweetheart, you’re going to sleep in Mommy’s bed tonight.”

They walked back to their bedroom and Tracey got under the covers with Elizabeth still clinging to her. “Mommy, can you tell me a story?”

“OK, but then you have to be a brave little girl and try to sleep.”

“I’ll try.”

“What story do you want to hear?”

“Can I hear the story of Rageljie De Beer?”

“But that’s a sad story Sweetheart, are you sure?”

“I want to be as brave as she was Mom. Because it’s a true story, I know that there are little girls out there who are brave, even if they are a bit scared.

“OK then. Many years ago, when our country was still young and people were fighting over who owned the land, there lived a young girl and her little brother. It was winter and very cold, and people didn’t have a lot to eat….”

Alli got into her makeshift bed on the floor as she listened to mother and daughter. The feelings that she had earlier that day came flooding back. She groaned softly as she also remembered the terrible things she had said to Tracey earlier. ‘She’s right; I’m such an asshole. How could I have compared her to my mother? She’s no whore. Seeing Tracey with Elizabeth is proof enough of that.’

“…and the next morning the people found this little girl with barely any clothes on, frozen to death in front of a hollowed out ant hill. When they moved her, they found her little brother inside the ant hill with the little girl’s clothes wrapped around him. He was alive. They all cried when they realized what she had done. She sacrificed her clothes during that cold night, and used her body to keep the cold wind out of the ant hill to keep her little brother warm and safe.”

“Mom, do you think I could ever be that brave?”

“Yes Sweetheart, I know you could be that brave, but I hope you’ll never need to give your life to save another. I don’t think I could go on living my life if you weren’t there.”

“I promise I won’t ever leave you Mom.”

“Thank you Sweetheart.”

“Mom?”

“Yes?”

“Why is Alli sleeping on the floor if she’s your girlfriend? Did you two have a fight?”

Tracey laughed softly. “No, remember she’s only pretending to be my girlfriend. We spoke about it in the car on the way here.”

“I forgot that this was all just pretend. Does that mean we’re not coming back here again like Alli promised? Are her promises pretend too?”

“As long as we’re girlfriends, we’ll come back here. Is that OK with you?”

“It’s OK with me Mom.” Elizabeth snuggled closer to her mom with a little smile on her face. Her mom had said as long as they were girlfriends they would come back. She hadn’t said as long as they had to pretend to be girlfriends.
Part Six
Allie stopped at Tracey’s house just after seven on Sunday night. She helped to carry their luggage into the house while Tracey carried the sleeping Elizabeth. Once everything was in the house, Allie waited for Tracey to come out of Elizabeth’s room. She looked around the house more intensely now. It looked like a home, and not just a place to live. Allie tried to compare it with her house, which she hadn’t changed after her father’s death. She felt an intense desire to do something different with it now.

“Thanks for bringing the luggage in,” Tracey said as she came out of Elizabeth’s room.

“No problem.”

Alli didn’t show any indication that she was leaving. “Is there anything else?” Tracey asked.

“I was hoping we could talk. I didn’t want to get into a discussion while Elizabeth was with us.”

“Take a seat then. Can I get you some coffee?”

“That’ll be great.”

“I won’t be long.” Tracey walked towards her small kitchen.

Alli got up and followed her. “We could talk while you make the coffee.”

“I don’t have any chairs in the kitchen.”

“I don’t have a problem with standing.” When they were in the kitchen, Alli leaned against a kitchen cupboard while Tracey got everything out to make the coffee.

“So, what do you want to talk about?”

“Us.”

Tracey’s hands stilled. “Us?”

“Yes. You and Elizabeth need to move in with me.”

Tracey almost dropped the coffee mug. “What?”

“We’ll probably need to start tomorrow. Charlie and Megan will be here by Friday, because they wanted to give you time to move in first. We need to get everything sorted, and you guys settled in by then…”

“Whoa, back up there for a second!” Tracey was now staring at Alli in utter disbelief.

“We need to get you guys settled in by Friday.”

“No, go right back to the beginning. Since when are we moving in with you, and what’s this about Charlie and Megan coming?”

“Charlie spoke to me just before we left today. She said it was only fair that she take a step towards getting to know me, so they’re coming to visit us for a week.”

“There you go again with ‘us’.”

“Yes ‘us’. You were the one who said yes in front of them. Don’t you see, this is an ideal situation. I thought I’d have to wait for another invitation to go back to the farm, but they’re coming to me, and they’re doing it in five days!”

Tracey just shook her head from side to side. “Did you forget about the conversation we had on Saturday night?”

“No.”

“Well?”

“I’ll explain my reasons to you if that’s what it’ll take, but not tonight. It’ll take a while to go through everything. I’ll explain when you’ve moved in. Please, I need your help. It seems like I say this a lot lately, but I’ll do whatever you want.”

Tracey contemplated Alli’s words. For a moment she thought about the last comment. ‘I’m sure you won’t be willing to do what I want,’ Tracey smiled at her thoughts before she answered Alli. “OK, I’ll do it your way, but if I don’t feel comfortable with your reasons, I’m coming right back, and it doesn’t matter if it’s before they arrive, or after.”

****

When the car pulled into Alli’s driveway, Elizabeth was jumping up and down. “Are we going to live here?” It was more a statement than a question.

“Only for a few days, until Charlie and Megan go back home.”

“And Alli lives here all by herself?”

“It seems that way.”

“I don’t think I want to be here anymore. It must take hours to clean this house.”

Tracey had to laugh. “Yes, it’s a big house, but I’m sure she has lots of help to keep it clean.”

“That’s OK then.” Elizabeth went back to staring at the house as they approached up the hill.

Tracey’s heart was racing. They hadn’t seen Alli at all since Sunday evening. They had only spoken over the phone, as Alli made all the arrangements to give the appearance that they had moved in with her. As Tracey sat there watching her daughter looking at the big house in awe, she felt a moment of guilt about her inability to give her child the best. The guilt didn’t last very long when Elizabeth turned around and looked at her. Without a word she moved closer to Tracey and hugged her.

“I love you Mommy.”

Tracey had tears in her eyes as she hugged her daughter tightly. “I love you too Angel.”

Elizabeth pulled slightly away from Tracey as she used her fingers to wipe away her mother’s tears. “You shouldn’t be sad Mommy. This is a happy place for us.”

Tracey just stared at her daughter. Elizabeth never stopped amazing her. Before she got to reply though, the car stopped and the door was opened by a smiling Alli. Tracey’s heart skipped a beat when she saw her, and she was unable to move immediately. Elizabeth saved her once again by jumping out of the car and into Alli’s arms.

Alli felt the nervousness seep from her body when she opened the car door after it had stopped. She wasn’t prepared for the flying girl that leapt out at her, but she welcomed the feeling of the little arms wrapped around her in a tight hug. When Elizabeth rested her head on Alli’s shoulder, Alli could see the face of the woman who, for some reason, had stayed on her mind since she had last seen her. She felt a strong bond with Tracey, and knew that she needed her to be her friend, and not just the woman that she paid to help her.

It had been three days since she last saw Alli, but Tracey knew now for certain that she was falling in love with Alli, and that she was moving on very dangerous ground. Her heart would be the one thing that wouldn’t come out of this situation in one piece, but she knew she couldn’t just walk away and desert Alli, even after threatening to do so. Tracey knew that she needed to find a way to protect herself against the inevitable heartache that would follow her job’s completion.

Tracey got out of the car and walked towards the back to retrieve their luggage. “Don’t be silly,” Alli said as she turned around with Elizabeth still in her arms. “Albert will bring your things in. Angela has set up lunch on the patio and is just waiting for us.” Alli didn’t wait for a response, she just walked on, and Tracey knew that she was expected to follow.

‘How in the hell did I manage to fall for someone so different from me?’ Tracey scolded herself, but knew it wouldn’t do anything to make the feelings go away.

Lunch went well, and all the arrangements got finalized. Elizabeth would have the room next to Alli’s, which would allow Tracey to sneak into her room after Charlie and Megan went to sleep, as well as all the staff. Alli explained that she didn’t have a close relationship with her staff, and thus didn’t trust them to keep their secret. To the world outside, it would have to look like Tracey and Alli were a couple. This revelation concerned Tracey deeply. It wasn’t easy pretending in front of Charlie and Megan, but now Alli had made it even more difficult, and Tracey wasn’t too sure that Alli had actually thought the whole situation through. If Alli’s staff thought she was gay, it wouldn’t take long before more people knew about it. Tracey was afraid that Alli’s desire to take revenge on Charlie, might seriously be clouding her judgment. Alli got called away to take a business call, but asked Angela to show Tracey and Elizabeth to their rooms to unpack.

Tracey had to swallow a giggle when she saw the expression on Angela’s face. There was just no way Angela could hide her shock, when she was told that Tracey was going to share Alli’s room. As the three of them walked up the stairway, Angela kept on glancing over at Tracey, who in turn walked with a smile on her face, although she felt totally intimidated by her surroundings.

Elizabeth had no problem with her surroundings. When she saw the huge room that she was going to stay in, she ran to the queen size bed and started jumping on it. “Elizabeth! Get down from there this instant.”

“But Mom, I’ve never had such a big bed all to myself.” With that, Elizabeth jumped high in the air and landed flat on her back. “It’s so soft,” she yelled out.

“Elizabeth, I’m not going to tell you again. Get down from there this instant!”

“But Mom!”

“No buts young lady.”

Angela smiled at the mother and daughter. Although Elizabeth was being scolded, the love between the two was very obvious. Angela’s mother had worked for the Palmer family, and Angela had been reared to take over her position. At forty-five, Angela had never seen true family love in the Palmer house. This situation, although a bit out of the ordinary for her, was like a breath of fresh air. Even the bond that Alli and her father had had didn’t fool anyone in the house as being a bond of love. Alli might have thought that it was, but everyone else had really known Mr. Palmer and his ways. He had tried to mould Alli into his image after his attempts with Charlie had failed the first time around. Everyone had felt sorry for Alli, even though she had started to treat them just like he had. They still had hope that the little, scared girl they had all taken care of so many years ago, was still somewhere underneath the hard exterior Mr. Palmer had created.

****

Tracey and Elizabeth were left on their own, after Alli informed them that she needed to go into the office. The phone call she had received was to inform her of a problem that she couldn’t solve over the phone. Alli gave them free rein to do whatever, and go wherever they wanted.

Elizabeth went outside after promising her mother that she wouldn’t do anything she shouldn’t. She was hoping to find a swing or anything else to play with, but found nothing but green lawns, beautiful flowers, and Gavin, the old gardener, who she spent her afternoon talking with.

Tracey still felt intimidated by the huge house, but she decided to walk around, hoping that it would make her feel more at ease. She found a lot of bedrooms, a beautiful study with books from wall to wall, a music room, two sun rooms, a room with a pool table and bar, an indoor swimming pool, and a gym.

When Tracey walked into the gym, she saw the exact same bench press she had fantasized about next to the pond, on the farm. The image that she had had that day, of Alli’s sweaty body pushing up the weights, while she straddled her, popped back into her mind. Tracey felt her temperature rising and her pulse increasing.

“I see you found my sanctuary. Care to join me for a work out?”

Tracey went ice cold at hearing Alli’s voice. This caused her previously rising temperature to suddenly settle as two bright, red spots on her cheeks. “Maybe if it was a bit cooler in here, I would, but I’m feeling too hot.”

“No problem, I’ll switch on the air conditioning while you go and change.”

Tracey swallowed hard while trying to think of another excuse, but her mind wouldn’t function. Without saying a word, she turned, and made her way to their room where she changed into a tracksuit.

When Tracey returned to the gym, she found Alli on the bench press. She was about to turn around when Alli noticed her. “Come in, but you need to stretch first.”

Tracey stood as if glued to the spot. She only moved when Alli got up to show her what to do. Alli showed her the different stretching exercises before walking to the cooler bottle to get a drink of water. When she saw that Tracey didn’t pull her leg straight enough in one of the bending movements, Alli came from behind and placed her hand on Tracey’s thigh to press it down. The touch resulted in Tracey straightening up in a flash, causing her to crash into Alli, and sending them both to the floor in a heap.

Both Tracey and Alli didn’t move for a minute. Alli because she was seeing stars after Tracey’s head connected with her jaw, and Tracey because she didn’t want to move. They were both lying on their backs, but Tracey was on top of Alli. Her head was resting on Alli’s stomach and the rest of her was nestled between Alli’s legs with her hands on Alli’s thighs.

Alli held onto her jaw, moving it from side to side to make sure it was still intact, before she pushed herself up on her elbows to look down on Tracey, who still hadn’t moved. “Are you OK?” Alli asked before pushing herself up more.

Tracey opened her eyes and bent her head slightly backwards to look up at Alli. “I think I should be asking you that question.”

“A few stars, but otherwise I’m fine. What happened?”

“I’m really sorry; I’m a very jumpy person, and you surprised me. I was concentrating very hard on getting that exercise right and didn’t see you.”

“Then I should apologize. I didn’t intend to frighten you. That was enough stretching anyway. You can start on the treadmill, while I continue on this side.”

As Tracey made her way to the treadmill, her mind was running wild. She now not only had real images of Alli on the bench press in her mind, she also had a very real idea of what it would feel like to run her fingers up Alli’s muscled thighs. Her little fantasy was becoming too real and much more vivid in her mind. She knew she had to get away from the situation and feigned a cramp in her right calf muscle. “I’ve got a cramp in my calf muscle. I think I’m going to give up on today’s exercise to go and apply some Deep Heat on it.”

“OK, but make sure you rub it until it’s warm.”

“Will do.” Tracey made her way out of the gym as quickly as possible. ‘If you only knew what I would like to rub, you would be running away from me, instead of me away from you.’ Tracey was once again red in the face by the time she closed the bedroom door behind her. She first contemplated lying down in Elizabeth’s room, but knew that it wouldn’t be a good choice with all the staff walking around in the house. She found Alli’s king size bed very comfortable and fell asleep within minutes after lying down.

****

Elizabeth found her mother asleep in Alli’s room after asking one of the staff if they had seen her. She didn’t want to wake her, so she went looking for Alli.

“Hey Kiddo,” Alli said when she saw Elizabeth walking into the gym. She was just finishing up and ready to head to the shower. “What have you been up to?”

“I like that,” Elizabeth said while looking at Alli intently.

Alli looked a bit confused. “You like what?”

“I like that you called me kiddo.”

“And why would that be?”

“Because it makes me special.”

Alli smiled. “But you are a special child.”

“I think you’re special too.”

“You do, do you?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I think special people need special treatment, and seeing that we are both special people…”

“Yes?” Elizabeth’s excitement at the unknown possibility was evident.

“How about you and I get the cook to make us some chocolate milkshakes?”

“You have a cook who can make milkshakes?”

“I sure do. I remember spending many days in that kitchen when I was just a little bit older than you. I think I had a milkshake every single day.”

“Wow, every day! Can we have a milkshake every day while we’re here?”

“I don’t see why not. I’ll probably have to exercise twice as much to get rid of all the calories, but it will be worth it.”

“What are calories?”

“Something you worry about when you get older Kiddo, but right now I’m going to have a quick shower, and then we can go downstairs for milkshakes. I’ll phone Margaret to have the milkshakes ready on the patio in fifteen minutes.”

“Couldn’t we rather have our milkshakes in the kitchen like you used to?” Elizabeth’s pleading look made up Alli’s mind for her.

“I don’t see why not.” Alli picked up the phone and dialed the kitchen extension. “Margaret, I need you to make two chocolate milkshakes… Yes, you heard correctly… No, don’t take it anywhere, we’ll have it in the kitchen … Margaret? … Margaret, are you still there?” Alli pulled the phone away from her ear and looked at it as if there was something wrong with it, before she placed it over her ear again. “Margaret? … What happened? I didn’t know we had problems with the phone system… Oh, OK, just shake the phone to make sure nothing inside it broke when you dropped it. We’ll see you in about fifteen minutes then.”

Alli replaced the phone in its cradle before she turned to Elizabeth. “All settled. Why don’t you go downstairs in the meantime and wait for me there.”

“OK, but I’ll wait in the kitchen.”

****

Margaret was still standing with the phone in her hand, staring at it like it was a foreign object, when Angela came walked into the kitchen. “Margaret, what’s wrong?”

Margaret looked up at Angela, but her face was one of utter disbelief. “She’s going to have a milkshake in my kitchen.”

“Who?”

“Alli!”

“You’re kidding.”

“No, I’m not. She just phoned me from the gym and ordered two chocolate milkshakes. She said ‘we’ll have it in the kitchen’.”

“She must be talking about her and that little girl then. When I saw that little girl and her mother earlier, I knew things were going to change around here. We didn’t even know that Alli was into women. With the way Mr. Palmer went on about it, it’s no wonder she kept it a secret.” Angela was smiling from ear to ear.

“Oh my god!” Angela jumped at Margaret’s outburst. “She’ll be here in less than fifteen minutes.” At age fifty-two, Margaret was moving her round, little body quicker than Angela had ever seen her move before. She had to grin. It was quite obvious that Margaret was excited to have Alli in her kitchen again after so many years. The two of them used to have a very strong bond, until Mr. Palmer caught Alli in the kitchen. No one knew what he did or said to her, but after that, Alli never went into the kitchen again.

****

When Alli got out of the gym shower, she realized that she had forgotten to bring clean clothes with her, so she put on a bathrobe and made her way to her bedroom. When she walked in, she found Tracey sleeping on the bed. She was lying on her side and looked very peaceful. Alli didn’t want to wake her, so she moved as quietly as possible to her cupboard and took out what she needed before walking to the en-suite to get dressed. She didn’t bother closing the door, as it wasn’t in direct sight of the bed, but something she did not think about, was that the dressing table mirror was in direct sight of the bed, and it was directly opposite the en-suite door.

Being a mother, Tracey became aware of the movement in the room. She slowly opened her eyes and saw Alli walk into the en-suite. When she disappeared through the door, Tracey turned onto her back and sighed deeply before she swung her legs off the bed to get up. As she brought her body up, her eyes couldn’t miss the refection in the mirror. She had a full on front view of a very naked Alli, reaching for her pants. Tracey kept on telling herself that she needed to look away, but she just couldn’t do it. Her eyes were transfixed on the mirror, and she was unconsciously licking her dry lips.

She watched as Alli pulled on her pants without putting on any underwear, before she picked up her golf shirt and pulled it over her head, once again without underwear. Tracey had to admit that Alli’s firm breasts certainly didn’t need support of any kind. ‘This is not fair,’ Tracey thought to herself. ‘How much temptation can one woman handle, and it’s only the first day.’ Tracey couldn’t help the moan that escaped her lips. Unfortunately it was loud enough for Alli to hear, and caused her to look up at the door. What she saw made her gasp. She was staring into the reflection of Tracey’s shocked eyes.
Part Seven
Alli stormed out of the en-suite. When she saw Tracey opening the bedroom door to leave, she grabbed her wrist and pulled her around. “How dare you watch me!”

“How dare I watch you?” Tracey gave a sarcastic laugh. “What did you expect?” Tracey pulled her wrist out of Alli’s hand and pushed her backwards. “You might be pretending, but you damn well know that I’m a lesbian.” Tracey pushed Alli even further back. She was so worked up, but she had to swallow a giggle. Alli’s shocked face was priceless. “How the hell could you not close the door? I’m a human being after all; there’s only so much temptation I can handle. A beautiful, well-toned, naked body is not something I can just ignore if it’s in my face when I wake up. You have no reason to be upset with me for what just happened, but if you’re looking for a reason, I can give you one.” Tracey grabbed Alli’s shirt collar and pulled her down into a searing kiss. She let go of Alli as quickly as she had grabbed her and marched towards the door again. When she opened the door, she glanced over her shoulder at the still very shocked and motionless Alli. “Thinking about it, you can’t get upset about that either, you needed the practice. Next time, just close the damn door!”

Alli was still staring at the door after Tracey left. She was trying to figure out how the situation managed to turn on her. Last she checked, she was the victim being ogled. The scene played out in her mind again, but for some reason, Alli wasn’t feeling as angry as she expected to be. Her mind was pondering on Tracey’s last comment though. ‘What did she mean by I needed the practice.’ She didn’t have more time to think about it, as she realized she was late for her milkshake meeting with Elizabeth.

****

When Alli walked into the kitchen, she found Elizabeth chatting with Margaret and Angela. The scene propelled her mind back in time. She could see herself having her daily milkshake and laughing at Margaret’s jokes. Margaret was able to make any milkshake you could think of. It had been a great time in Alli’s life, but it didn’t last long. Her father had shown her that she had a position in life and that it was her responsibility to uphold it. He made her promise never to begin friendships with the staff again and to end all existing ones. Causing him pain by disobeying him was one thing that Alli hadn’t wanted to do.

Alli’s thoughts got pulled back to the present by Elizabeth’s loud laugh. She looked at the scene in front of her more closely. It didn’t seem so wrong. These were just people like her, and they were giving Elizabeth the same love they had given her all those years ago. Alli felt a strong urge to be part of it again. She smiled as she walked towards the laughing people. “Did you save some milkshake for me?” Margaret and Angela stopped talking and took a step away from Elizabeth. Alli noticed it and made a mental note to talk to her staff on a more personal level like she used to when she was a child.

“I haven’t had a milkshake yet. I waited for you.” Elizabeth moved to make space for Alli next to her. “You can sit next to me.”

“Thanks Kiddo. I got held up, because I was … uhm … chatting to your mom.” Alli couldn’t prevent the rising red shade on her face as her mind quickly flashed back to the events in her bedroom.

Angela saw Alli’s discomfort and knew that there was more to the ‘chatting’ than Alli let on. She knew that Tracey and Elizabeth must be the reason behind Alli’s change, and from what she’d seen, the change was good.

Alli started talking to get her mind off her thoughts. “I haven’t really spent any time in this kitchen in the last few years, but it looks like nothing has changed.” Alli smiled at Margaret who did the same, although a bit nervously.

“How can you live in this house and not spend time in your kitchen?” Elizabeth pulled a funny face when she asked the question. “Mom and I spend lots of time in our kitchen.”

“It’s because I have wonderful people like Margaret here, who cooks for me.” Alli winked at Margaret whose smile was growing.

“Why? Didn’t your mother teach you how to cook? My mom’s a great cook and she’s going to teach me. ”

Margaret and Angela froze at Elizabeth’s question, but Alli burst out laughing. “I guess not. Neither of my mothers were like yours.” Alli knew that this was very unlike her, but Elizabeth’s honesty and openness were like a breath of fresh air, and things that were issues to Alli were made to sound insignificant. Alli felt completely at ease talking about her past.

“Wow! You have two mothers?”

“Well, I had two mothers, and it wasn’t such a great thing. They both died many years ago though.”

Elizabeth threw her arms around Alli and gave her a big hug. “I’m sorry. That must be very sad for you. I can’t imagine not having my mom around.”

Alli held on to Elizabeth while she spoke. “Thanks Kiddo, but they weren’t that important in my life. If I had a mother like yours however, I’m sure I wouldn’t want to live without her either. She’s very special.”

“Yes, and I’m very lucky to have her.”

“Well, I’d say you’re both very happy to have each other. Now, let’s get to the good stuff.” Alli let go of Elizabeth and pulled their milkshakes closer. “If memory serves me right, this is the best milkshake in town, and not to be wasted.”

Angela and Margaret were just staring at each other with faint smiles on their lips and knowing looks on their faces. This was a good change for sure, and they needed to make sure it stayed that way.

****

Tracey sat in the swing chair staring out over the beautiful garden. She was still trying to control her heart rate after seeing Alli’s naked form. ‘As if the daydreams and the incident in the gym wasn’t enough, what the hell am I suppose to do with a picture of her naked body imprinted on my mind?’ Tracey sighed deeply, knowing that she was fighting a losing battle. She had to do something to keep a level head. She had to concentrate on her goal, and that was to get Megan interested in her.

Tracey got up with a determined look on her face and walked into the house with a steady stride. She was going to make this work as soon as possible, because the sooner her job was done, the sooner she would get away from the temptation.

The following two days went by quickly. With Alli’s encouragement, Tracey made changes to the inside of the house to make it look more like a home that Elizabeth and she would feel comfortable in. Tracey was grateful for the work. It kept her mind occupied with something else besides images of Alli.

The driver took Elizabeth to school in the mornings and picked her up in the afternoons, after which she and Alli would have a milkshake in the kitchen. On Friday afternoon while they were waiting for Charlie and Megan to show up, Alli found Tracey outside, sitting on the swing chair in the secluded area of the garden. It used to be her favorite spot when she was a child. She had never understood why there was a secluded area, when no one ever went there besides her and Gavin, the gardener.

“Hi, is this your favorite spot?”

“Oh hi. It’s so peaceful and beautiful out here. What’s there not to like? When we leave here, this will (future tense) be the place that I’ll miss the most.”

“Yes, this is a beautiful spot. I had actually forgotten (past perfect tense) how great it is to just sit out here.”

“You live in this place and you don’t come out here?”

Alli laughed. “Now I know where your daughter gets her reasoning from.”

“Why?”

“She asked me the other day how I could live in a house and not go into the kitchen.”

“Some days I wonder who’s learning from whom.”

“You have one amazing kid there.”

“I know; she amazes me all the time. Why don’t you sit down? I promise I won’t bite.” Tracey smiled at Alli as she moved up to make space for her to sit.

Alli sat down and used her feet to move the swing chair. “I can’t believe I haven’t been out here for such a long time.”

“Then I’m glad you’re out here now. Maybe this is a good time for you to explain to me why you are doing this.” Tracey didn’t look at Alli when she spoke to her, but when there was no reply, she eventually turned her head.

Alli was staring at nothing in particular, and she sighed deeply. “I was wondering when you would bring that up, but I suppose this is a good time for it. Everything is ready for the visit, and Charlie phoned to say that they should be here in about three hours.”

Tracey leaned back in the chair and closed her eyes. “Good, I’m listening.”

Alli sighed again before she spoke. “Maybe I should start with my story first. The life I knew before my father took me away was hell. My biological mother was a high-class whore and hooked on drugs. I was an accident that wasn’t suppose to happen, and she never let me forget that. I got beaten and used in many ways. Mostly for cleaning and serving her, but sometimes she would allow her customers to feel me up. She was getting older and her looks were fading, so the money got less and less, and the abuse got more. One day I heard her speaking to one of her friends, who asked her why she didn’t get money from my father.” Alli’s lips curved into a sarcastic smile.

“That was probably the best advice anyone could have given her where I was concerned. She blackmailed my father, and he apparently paid a lot of money for me. About a month after I overheard that conversation, a driver came to pick me up. It was the happiest day of my life. I didn’t know how it would be living with my father, but anything would’ve been better than living with her. I didn’t hear from her again, but my father told me that she died of a drug overdose two months after I left.” Alli turned to see Tracey’s expression, but there was none. She was still leaning back in the chair with her eyes closed. Alli turned her face back to the nothingness she had been staring at before she continued to speak.

“I didn’t really get on with my stepmother, but she was far better than my mother. Image was all that counted, and as long as I behaved, she was good to me. I do think that she was scared of my father though. My father taught me a lot, and we spent most of our spare time together, but that also meant that I saw him disappearing in front of me. It took a while before I got him to tell me anything. He told me about Charlie, and how she used to be the bright spark in his life. He gave her everything that she wanted, and she paid him back by walking out on him. When she told him that she was gay at age sixteen, he tried to help her, but she refused. She walked away to be with other lesbians, and they where the reason he never got to see her again.”

“He told me that he tried over and over to get her back, but he was always blocked. Then one evening he came home after he crashed his car into a tree. He was crying because he managed to see Charlie that night, but things got ugly. He never told me exactly what happened, but he said it was all over. Charlie would never be coming home again. He faded bit by bit after that. Around about that time my stepmother died, and then it was just my father and me. He tried very hard to keep his life going, but Charlie and what she did to him was eating away at him. He died two years ago, and even though I promised him that I would never try to contact Charlie, I broke that promise because I think it’s unfair that she can live her life as if nothing happened, while her actions took away the most important person in my life.” It was quiet for quite some time after Alli stopped talking.

“That’s a very sad story, but have you ever spoken to Charlie to get her version of what happened?” Tracey still didn’t open her eyes as she spoke. “I don’t know her very well, but she doesn’t seem like a heartless person to me.”

“I got her to start telling me what happened after she left her parents, but she didn’t tell me very much. She basically implied that my father didn’t want her in his house because she was a lesbian, and that she got kicked out of the house. She even told me that she landed on the streets and got gang raped. I can’t just take her word for that. My father was great to me. He was the best thing that ever happened to me. I can’t believe that he would lie to me. I don’t really know Charlie, so I can’t take her word over his, but I must admit, now and then, I do have my own doubts.”

Tracey opened her eyes and looked at Alli with a serious face. “I can feel that this means a lot to you, and if it’s revenge that you need to get closure, I’ll do what I’m paid for, but I want you to get to know your sister and get to the bottom of this. I’m not saying your father’s a liar, but this whole story doesn’t sit right.” Tracey took Alli’s hands in hers and waited for her to look up. “I honestly don’t think hurting your sister to that extent is gong to give you what you’re looking for.”

“Thanks Tracey, I appreciate your opinion.”

Tracey let go of Alli’s hands and sat back in the swing chair again. Alli looked at her and felt at ease for the first time since they had met. She sat back as well and closed her eyes.

****

Charlie and Megan arrived at Alli’s house just after four in the afternoon. Megan could see how anxious Charlie was as they got out of the truck. This was after all the house that she had been born and spent the first sixteen years of her life in.

“Charlie, are you ok?”

“Anxious as hell, but otherwise fine.” Charlie walked around the truck and took Megan’s hand. “But with you by my side, I’ll take on the world.” Charlie bent over and gave Megan a lingering kiss.

“I’m glad to be the woman by your side. Now, let’s get inside and get some food and rest. I told you we should’ve stopped at that one stop garage. A Wimpy coffee and burger would have gone down very well, but now you have a grumpy, hungry woman on your hands.”

“Sometimes I think food is the biggest love of your life, and then I’m grateful that we’re not living in the past where you could’ve been a cannibal. I think I would have ended up being dinner most of the time.” Charlie let go of Megan’s hand as she jumped to get out of Megan’s reach.

“Keep those comments up Charlene Palmer, and you won’t get any dessert.” Megan’s lips curved into a mischievous smile.

“I don’t mind being dessert. I promise I won’t say anything else.” In a mock gesture Charlie moved her hand in front of her mouth as if closing a zip. She took hold of Megan’s hand again, and they walked up to the front door, where they rang the bell.

Angela opened the door and couldn’t believe her eyes. In front of her stood a very grown up Charlie. They had never been very close when Charlie lived in the house, because Charlie was a spoiled brat at the time, but they had all heard the last arguments in the house before Charlie got thrown out of it. “Miss Palmer, it’s great to see you again.”

“Angela?”

“Yes.”

Charlie stepped into the door and grabbed Angela in a hug. The shocked woman had no time to react. “And don’t ‘Miss Palmer’ me, I’m Charlie and this is the love of my life, Megan.”

Megan stepped forward and hugged Angela as well. “It’s great to meet you Angela.”

Angela looked from the one to the other. ‘This is getting more interesting by the day. If I hadn’t checked earlier already, this would’ve convinced me that I’m in a twilight zone.’

Angela’s thoughts were still going when Elizabeth came running down the passage. “Charlie! Megan!”

Charlie and Megan both hugged Elizabeth. “Elizabeth, it’s great to see you again. How’s life in the big house? Are you all settled yet?” Charlie bent down on one knee as she spoke to Elizabeth.

“It’s great, and the best part of it is that I get to have a milkshake every day.”

“Well then, I’m moving into this house tomorrow.” Megan licked her lips as if she had just had a milkshake.

“You aren’t going anywhere without me, and I’m not leaving the farm for milkshake. We have enough cows on the farm and should be able to make our own.”

“That won’t work Charlie.” Elizabeth’s face was very serious.

Charlie got up again and looked down at Elizabeth. “And why wouldn’t that work?”

“You need to have the cook that can make milkshakes, and Alli already has her.”

“Damn, I just can’t win!” They all burst out laughing.

“So little one, where’s Alli and your mother? I thought that they would be here to greet us.”

“They are home. I saw Mom go into the garden a few hours ago. She’s probably fast asleep again. She doesn’t know that I found her there yesterday. I didn’t want to wake her up, and she only came back into the house hours later. I don’t know where Alli is though.”

“One is probably better than neither of them, so let’s go and find your mom.” Megan took Elizabeth’s hand as she led them outside the house.

****

Alli and Tracey had both fallen asleep as they sat next to each other on the swing chair. Eventually Tracey’s head slipped to the side to rest on Alli’s shoulder. A cool breeze came up that had Tracey migrating towards the heat next to her. By the time Charlie, Megan and Elizabeth found them, Tracey was lying with her head in Alli’s lap with her left arm around Alli’s leg.

“This looks comfortable.” Charlie’s voice shocked Alli and Tracey out of their sleep, causing Tracey to jump up. Unfortunately for Alli, Tracey came up right under her chin, which caused Alli to jump up and send Tracey flying off the swing chair.

“She’s a jumpy person and shouldn’t be surprised,” Alli said to the others as she helped Tracey up while rubbing her chin. “I know out of experience.”

“If you know out of experience, you might want to stay away from me,” Tracey said while rubbing her head, not sure if the situation was something she should laugh at or cry about.

“I’d suffer through a hundred head butts a day, just to be close to you.”

Tracey realized that Alli was quicker getting into acting mode than she was. ‘Damn she’s getting good. Maybe she should be doing my job.’ Tracey wrapped her arm around Alli’s body as she leaned forward and placed a soft kiss on her chin where her head connected with it. “And I’ll make up for it every time.”

Alli looked up at her sister and Megan as she winked at them. “Now that’s a promise worth getting.”
Part Eight
On Saturday morning Alli and Tracey were sitting at the breakfast table when Elizabeth walked in. “Alli, can we please go to Ratanga Junction today? I spoke to Charlie last night, and she said that she has never gone there before. How is that even possible?”

“Sure, that sounds like a great idea. What do you think Trace?”

“Sorry?” Tracey felt a sudden warmth rise over her when she heard Alli calling her Trace.

“I wanted to know what you thought about Elizabeth’s idea of going to Ratanga Junction.”

“It sounds like a plan.”

“Great! I’ll go and tell them,” Elizabeth shouted as she ran to Charlie and Megan’s room.

“That takes care of today’s plans then. What do you think we should do with them tomorrow?” Alli looked at Tracey as she waited for her response.

“Maybe we need to do something that would allow me to get closer to Megan.” Tracey didn’t look up at Alli. She just kept on eating her breakfast.

Alli stared at Tracey, but eventually continued to eat when Tracey didn’t look at her. She ate a mouthful before she talked again. “I suppose you’re right. Maybe we should go on a picnic at Spier.”

Tracey still didn’t look up. “That’s too open. Why don’t you think of something that you and your sister can do, preferably with Elizabeth, and then Megan and I can stay at home and get to know each other better?”

Alli felt uncomfortable with Tracey’s suggestion. She didn’t feel like finishing her breakfast, so she got up to leave. “That sounds like a better plan than mine. I’m going to take a walk outside.”

When Alli left, Tracey finally lifted her head and allowed the lone tear to run down her cheek. She was being torn in two. All the intimate little things that Alli did or said were drawing Tracey closer to her, but then reality set in, and Tracey realized that it was all fake and that she had a job to do.

****

Elizabeth knocked hard on Charlie and Megan’s bedroom door.

“This had better be good…” Charlie swung the door open as she was tying up her dressing gown, but stopped her words when she looked down at Elizabeth.

Elizabeth rushed past Charlie to dive onto the bed where Megan was still lying under the covers. “But it is good! We’re going to Ratanga Junction, so you two need to get up and get ready. This is going to be so much fun. I can’t go on all the rides yet, because I’m not tall enough, but you won’t have a problem Charlie. You can even go on the Cobra. I don’t know if I want to go on the Cobra, even when I’m tall enough. It looks very scary. One of my friends at school said that she heard her older sister tell her boyfriend that she never wanted to go on the Cobra again, after she watched some scary movie about people falling out of a rollercoaster. I don’t think I want to watch that movie either…”

Charlie and Megan looked at each other over Elizabeth’s head as the child kept on telling them about Ratanga Junction. Megan wrapped the duvet more securely around her naked body as she tried to sit up. Their morning cuddling session had ended quite abruptly with the arrival of Elizabeth.

By the time Elizabeth left to give them time to shower and get dressed, Charlie just sat on the side of the bed with a smile on her face, watching Megan as she got out from under the covers. “Why are you staring at me with that goofy smile on your face?” Megan wrapped her dressing gown around herself while waiting for Charlie to answer her. When she didn’t hear anything she looked at Charlie again, who still just smiled and stared at her. “What?” Megan lifted her eyebrow slightly as she once again waited for a reaction from Charlie.

“I want to have a child with you.” Absolute silence followed Charlie’s words.

Megan stared at Charlie for a few minutes before she slowly moved around the bed. When she reached the other side she wrapped her arms around Charlie and pulled her close. “I’m not going to ask if you’re sure, because I can see it in your eyes, but I’m going to ask what changed your mind.”

“Having Elizabeth around on the farm was amazing, although I still didn’t want to have a child of my own at that point, but when I saw her again the moment we stepped foot in this house, I knew my feelings where changing. This morning was just the cherry on the cake. Seeing you interact with her made me realize that I want that for us as well, and with you by my side, I know I will never regret my decision. You complete me and wipe away all my fears and insecurities as if they never existed in the first place. I want this for us.”

Tears were rolling down Megan’s face as she moved away slowly until she was able to look Charlie in the eyes. “I love you so very much.”

“And I love you.”

They held each other again. After a few minutes Charlie stirred and moved away a bit. “Can we adopt?” she asked as she stared deeply into Megan’s eyes.

“That’s the only way I want to do it.” Megan smiled as she ran her finger over Charlie’s lips.

“Then let’s get ready, before a certain young lady comes charging in here, demanding to know why we aren’t ready yet.”

****

At the end of the week Megan and Charlie couldn’t wait to get back home. They wanted to get the adoption process started as soon as possible. When they left, they invited Alli and Tracey to visit them on the farm again whenever they wanted to. As they watched the car drive away, Elizabeth ran into the house, shouting that she was going to have a milkshake.

Alli turned to Tracey who was still staring down the driveway. She couldn’t understand the anger that she had felt all week towards Tracey, but looking at her now, Alli knew what it was. She was feeling jealous, and although she knew that there was no reason for her to feel it, she couldn’t control it. “I’m paying you to act, not to really fall in love with her!”

Tracey’s head shot sideways as she looked at Alli with absolute disbelief on her face. “I beg your pardon?”

“You heard me. It looks like you want to cry. Staring at the driveway long enough will not bring her back. I don’t think you’ll get anywhere with her anyway, because they are now going to adopt a child together. I don’t want to do this anymore. If you want to go after her, go and do it on your own. I won’t be helping you anymore. And what kind of an example is that to set for Elizabeth? Should you really be teaching her that it’s OK to be someone’s mistress…”

The slap silenced Alli’s onslaught, and before she could react Tracey was gone. Alli raced after her, but as she reached their bedroom door, the door was shut in her face and she heard the turn of the lock.

“Open up this door.” Alli’s voice was soft, but filled with anger.

“Leave me alone.”

“I’m not telling you again. Open the damn door!”

“You didn’t buy me, and you’re not my boss anymore, so stop trying to tell me what to do.”

Alli started pounding on the door. “Open this door or I will kick it down.”

Alli could hear Tracey hysterically laughing in the room. “You and what army? That door looks very old and solid to me. You’ll probably hurt your little rich man’s hands. Wait, I forgot, you pay people to do the dirty work for you. The only problem you’ll have is that I’ll be gone by the time you manage to close the deal and get back here.”

Tracey heard the definite sounds of Alli kicking the door and just as she released the breath she had been holding since she heard the first kick, the door swung open and a steaming Alli walked into the room with a smug smile on her face. “You were saying?” Alli asked sarcastically as she stepped closer to Tracey who retreated slowly while trying to see if she could see a way out. When she could see none, she realized that retreating wasn’t what she was supposed to do, so she took a step forward, but Alli was still coming towards her.

“You don’t scare me. I haven’t done anything wrong. You deserved that slap and everything else that’s coming your way.”

“Are you trying to scare me now?” Alli laughed sarcastically. “Trying to swing the situation around in your favor is not going to work this time.”

“There isn’t a situation. You insulted and fired me at the same time, so now I’m packing and going home.” Tracey indicated the open suitcase on the bed, but Alli was still coming closer.

“I only spoke the truth.”

“What truth?” Tracey yelled out. “I’m not in love with Megan!”

“Then why were you crying when they left? There was no one around to act for.”

“That’s my business.”

“I know. You being in love with Megan is none of my business anymore.”

“I told you that I’m not in love with Megan.”

“Tell that to someone that will believe you. I’m going to warn my sister about you.”

“What?” Tracey couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “Are you even listening to yourself?”

“I know what I’m saying. I’m going to prevent you from hurting my sister.”

“Who are you? Did you escape from an insane asylum and replace the real Alli?”

“I’m as real as can be.”

“Then I must be caught in some kind of twilight zone, because I could swear that hurting your sister was the highest priority on your agenda, not mine!”

“Well, flirting with my sister’s soon to be wife, seems to have been the highest priority on your agenda this past week.”

“Of course it was. That’s what you paid me for! But it was only an act. I’m not in love with her, and why would that bother you anyway? If it was true, it would ultimately help you to achieve your goal.”

“Well, my goal has changed.”

“Well then, it would have helped if you told me that. Then I wouldn’t have wasted my time and your money.”

Alli’s jealousy had truly taken hold of her. She knew she was being unreasonable, but couldn’t stop herself. “Just tell me one thing. Did you sleep with Megan?”

“Are you insane?”

“Did you do it in our bed, or did you have the decency to use another room?

“How can you say all those things? How can you even think them? This was your plan. You dragged me into it. You might have paid me to do a job, but this wasn’t part of it. Just step out of my way and let me leave. You’re going to pop a vein or something if you keep on like this.”

“Don’t you be worried about me, just give me an answer to my question.”

“So what if I slept with Megan or not, or if I did it in this bed or another? You’re still insane.”

“Just give me a damn answer.” Alli closed her eyes to try and control herself.

Tracey felt like crying, but she was so angry and hurt, that she stopped caring what she was saying. “Yes. I slept with her right here in this precious bed of yours. Is that what you want to hear, even if it’s not the truth? Do you want details as well? Do you want to know how I made her scream or how she made me cum all over your bed? Surely it’s not the first time your bed has been used for sex, or is it? Are you still a virgin or is it that no man has ever taken you in your own bed? What is it? If I had to make a guess, I’d guess it to be the first. You even kiss like a virgin. Now wouldn’t that be funny if the whole corporate world had to find out that the powerful Alison Palmer was a virgin of all things. That could make for entertaining reading in the tabloids. How much do you think they would give me for such information…”

One moment Tracey was still raging on, but the next her words were cut off by Alli’s forceful lips moving on hers. At that point Tracey was so beside herself, that she just gave in and kissed Alli back.

Alli didn’t know why she lunged forward and kissed Tracey, but like her jealous rage, she couldn’t stop this either. It felt like they were devouring each other and nothing else mattered.

The kiss got deeper and deeper and they needed to get closer. Alli was the first to start unbuttoning Tracey’s shirt. After battling with the second button for way too long, Alli started pulling at the shirt and eventually ripped the shirt, causing the other buttons to go flying. It only took a few seconds to get Tracey’s bra off and once it was gone, Alli wrapped her tongue around Tracey’s one nipple while cupping the other with her hand. She sucked and played with the nipple in her mouth until it was standing out hard, before she moved to the other and did the same. Alli felt like she couldn’t get enough of Tracey’s breast, but Tracey pulled Alli’s face back up for another searing kiss with tongues twisting and fighting for dominance.

Alli’s hands were roaming over Tracey’s back and traveled down to cup her ass and pulled her even closer. Tracey moved her mouth away from Alli’s lips and along her cheekbone. She made her way to Alli’s neck and suckled on it. She continued this along Alli’s shoulder and back up again towards her ear. The moment Tracey took Alli’s earlobe in her mouth, she knew that she had found Alli’s sensitive spot. She kept her attention on it and it was driving Alli wild.

Alli could feel her own wetness starting as Tracey kept on sucking her earlobe. She worked her arms in between them to find the buttons on Tracey’s pants. She undid them quickly and let the pants fall to the ground then she got hold of Tracey’s g-string which she pulled down quickly before she once again got hold of Tracey’s ass and pulled her closer.

Tracey was beyond herself. There was no mistaking the effect she was having on Alli or the one Alli was having on her. Once her underwear was off, Tracey felt her own wetness. This made her even wilder. She pressed herself into Alli and started to feverishly work on getting Alli out of her clothes.

Once Tracey got Alli naked, she pulled her back into a kiss. Alli pressed Tracey backward and onto the bed before following her. They continued the kiss while their bodies started the age-old rhythm together as if they’d done it a thousand times before.

Tracey and Alli both froze as they heard the knock on the door. “Mom?”

Tracey and Alli both grabbed the sheets and got in under them in a flash.

“Mom, can I come in?”

Before Tracey could say anything, Alli answered. “Come in Kiddo.”

Elizabeth came running into the room. “Hey Alli.” Elizabeth jumped on the bed and sat next to her mother. “I was looking everywhere for you guys, but luckily I ran into Angela who said that you two were in the bedroom.”

Alli and Tracey looked at each other in shock. They knew that for Angela to have known where they were, she must have heard them yelling at each other, but there was no way of knowing how much she had heard.

Elizabeth looked from one to the other. “I wanted to know if we can go to the Waterfront tomorrow to watch Ice Age 2?”

“No we can’t Sweetheart. You and I have to get packing, because we’re going home today.”

“Aaaw Mom.” Elizabeth looked like she wanted to cry. “Can’t we stay just a little bit longer? You won’t mind, will you Alli?”

Suddenly it became desperately important to Alli that Tracey and Elizabeth not leave, and she found her tongue running away with her.

“Your mom’s just misunderstanding things Kiddo. You guys aren’t going anywhere, and yes, I’ll take you to watch Ice Age 2 tomorrow.”

Alli could feel Tracey stiffen under the covers. “Why don’t you run along and play outside for a bit Sweetheart. It’s such a lovely day, and I have some things to discuss with Alli before we leave. We can discuss the movie later.” Tracey was smiling at her daughter and at Alli, but Alli knew what was behind that smile.

“OK.” Elizabeth jumped off the bed before running out of the room. She pulled the door closed behind her, but pushed it open again as she looked at them from around the door. “Alli, do you know your door is broken?”

“No, but thanks for telling me Kiddo. I’ll get it fixed.”

When they could hear Elizabeth running down the hall, Tracey turned to Alli. “You son of a bitch! You not only insulted and fired me today, you also tried to molest me and in the same breath promised my child the world. And by the way, I thought you weren’t into women! You’re a lying, two faced…”

Alli still didn’t know where she was going with this, but now her temper was up. “Hey, there was no molesting going on here. If I remember correctly you were participating just as much, and if it wasn’t for Elizabeth, we would still be horizontal.”

“You bastard!”

“What happened to your vocabulary today? I’m your girlfriend. Aren’t you supposed to call me things like angel, honey, sweetheart, darling and so on?”

Tracey hit her fists on the bed in frustration before she got out of bed while completely naked, but she didn’t care. She pulled on her pants, but gave up on her shirt when she saw the state it was in. She walked over to the cupboard to get out another one. When she turned around, Alli was still lying on the bed with a smug smile on her face.

This just made Tracey more upset. She walked over to the bed and picked up the suitcase which had landed upon the floor during their brief moment of passion. She slammed it down on the bed and threw open the cupboard doors. As she took the first stack of clothing, she heard the suitcase close behind her and froze.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” Alli said calmly.

Tracey turned around and was faced by a completely naked Alli sitting on the bed, next to the closed suitcase. “And why not?”

“Because I can make your life hell. One word from me, and no one who is anyone will ever hire you. That means that you will once again be in a difficult financial situation, and we don’t want that because that would mean that Elizabeth might end up in some foster care somewhere.”

Tracey looked at Alli in shock. “Why on earth would you do something like that?”

“Because, I love Elizabeth as if she’s my own child and I want her to live in this house, and if that means that you have to stay here as well to make it happen, then so be it. This will be your home from now on.”

“If you love Elizabeth so much, then how can you hold her future as a bargaining chip?”

“Because I hold all the cards. I know enough people to ensure that I can adopt her if she lands in foster care. So, her future is not the bargaining chip. She will end up with me; it just depends on whether you’ll be there or not.”

Tears were running down Tracey’s cheeks as she ran out of the room. What she didn’t see was the pain on Alli’s face as she dug her fingers in her hair.

‘What have I done? Why did I just do that to her? Why am I forcing her to stay with me? How the hell did I almost have sex with her? What’s happening to me?’ Alli could only sit there shaking her head, trying to find the answers in the day’s events.
Part Nine
When Tracey realised that there was nothing she could do to change Alli’s mind, she agreed to move in with Elizabeth. To make things worse, Alli refused to stop the farce about their relationship. She still had her plan to see through even though she had told Tracey that she wasn’t continuing with it anymore.

It had been four weeks since Alli’s ultimatum, and the tension between Tracey and Alli was so thick, it could be cut with a knife. Tracey knew she was in a corner, but decided to play it safe until she could figure out a way to change the circumstances in her favour. In front of everyone else, she was Allison’s loving girlfriend, but as soon as they were alone, she turned a cold shoulder and refused to sleep on the same bed as Alli. If she was being forced into this life, she at least wanted to keep her dignity. She insisted on having a fold-up bed in the bedroom.

Alli tried to convince herself that everything was going her way. Her plan was still on track although it looked like it was going to take longer than she had anticipated, and she had Elizabeth staying with her so that she could take care of her, but one little thing was causing confusion. Tracey’s coldness towards her made her feel like she had lost something.

Every day became routine. At six in the morning Tracey’s alarm would go off, after which she would have a shower and get dressed before waking Elizabeth up and helping her to get ready for school. Alli would get up at the same time, but would have a workout before her shower. They would all have breakfast together by seven thirty before Alli left for work and Tracey took Elizabeth to school.

Tracey would keep herself busy by helping the staff. They were relaxing more and more around her. Tracey would pick up Elizabeth again in the afternoon and help her with her homework. Elizabeth tried to get through that part of the day as quickly as possible, because she wanted to ride her bicycle, a gift from Alli. When Alli got home in the evenings, they all had dinner together before Alli went into her study to work, and Tracey spent time playing with, or reading to Elizabeth. The day would be ended off with Alli and Elizabeth having their milkshakes together in the kitchen before Elizabeth had to go to bed. Alli would go back to her study to work, and Tracey would watch some television. Tracey however never went to bed before she was sure that Alli was asleep.

After one of these evenings, Alli woke up at one in the morning to find herself still alone in the room. She decided to go looking for Tracey, who she found in the TV room, fast asleep on the couch with a re-run of CSI showing on the television. Alli switched off the television before she sat down on the opposite couch and just looked at Tracey.

Her emotions were in turmoil. She needed Tracey to talk to her again like they used to. The only interaction they had at the moment was when people were around them, and then Alli could feel that it was all an act from Tracey’s side. She said and did what needed to be done to convince the people around them of their ongoing relationship, but never anything else. Even when they were holding hands, it felt impersonal, but Alli didn’t know what to do or say to fix it. She knew she had screwed up majorly when she gave that ultimatum to Tracey, but she was sure she did it for the right reasons. Elizabeth would have a much better future if Alli was part of her life, and she felt Elizabeth deserved that chance, but in the process she had lost Tracey’s friendship. There was no denying now that Tracy’s friendship was dear to her and most probably one of the driving forces behind her ultimatum. It wasn’t just that she didn’t want to lose Elizabeth, she also didn’t want to lose Tracey.

She needed to get the situation sorted, because it was influencing her work. It was bothering her to the point where she couldn’t concentrate on what needed to be done.

Alli was brought back from her thoughts when Tracey stirred in her sleep and turned around. Alli could now see that Tracey didn’t have a bra on as her shirt got pinned underneath her, stretching the fabric over her breasts. Alli’s eyes roamed over Tracey’s body as she became aware of little things. Tracey’s breasts were full and a part of her stomach was showing. Her left hand was resting on her thigh, while her right hand was tucked under her head. Her legs were slightly bent at the knees and she was barefooted.

Alli’s eyes went back up to Tracey’s face. There was a faint smile on Tracey’s lips. Alli’s eyes followed her neckline back to her breasts where she stopped and watched it moving up and down as Tracey breathed. She couldn’t help remembering the day of the ultimatum when she and Tracey tried to devour each other. Alli felt herself getting aroused. Her whole body felt like it was tingling. One area was definitely tingling more than the others. Her breathing got shallow and she could feel her nipples pressing against her shirt, but then Tracey moaned in her sleep while softly whispering Alli’s name.

Alli shot up out of the chair. She felt like she was caught with her hand in the cookie jar and quickly made her way back to the bedroom.

‘What the hell just happened?’ she couldn’t help asking herself when she was back in bed. ‘How can I be turned on by another woman if I’m straight? Am I gay or am I just desperate? It would surely explain a few things in my life. The reason why I’ve never really been physically involved with men, except for three, but they never did last very long. As soon as the physical part of the relationship started, it went downhill very quickly. It didn’t do very much for Eric’s ego, but Frank and Trevor were surely convinced that I was frigid.’

Alli could feel that her body was still aroused. ‘Can it really be, and is it just lust, or is there more to what I’m feeling for her?’ Alli rolled around for a while, trying to get back to sleep, but every time she closed her eyes, she saw Tracey’s body on the couch. This left her wanting every time. She eventually gave in to her body’s desires. She closed her eyes and allowed herself to gaze upon Tracey’s body in her mind, while she used her left hand to bring her body to a much-needed climax.

****

The next morning Alli decided to get perspective on everything, but that meant that she needed to talk to someone and that someone needed to know the whole situation. She phoned Karen as soon as she got to her office and arranged to meet her for lunch.

As soon as Tracey got back from dropping off Elizabeth at school, she allowed herself to sit down and think about the dream that she had once again had the night before. No matter how much she resented Alli at the moment, she just couldn’t stop the way she felt about her. Her body craved Alli’s touch, and after that fatal day four weeks ago, she had plenty to fantasise about. Every time this happened, Tracey got more upset with herself. No matter how much space she tried to put between them in that big house, it was never enough. She needed to find a way out of the situation as soon as possible. At the moment the only other person that she really spoke to was Angela. She couldn’t help the tears that were running down her face once again.

Finding Tracey crying was becoming the norm for Angela. She hadn’t known Tracey that long, but in the past four weeks they’d bonded like mother and daughter, and it was breaking her heart to see the tears on Tracey’s face every day. Tracey wouldn’t talk to her about the reason behind the tears, but she did open up to her about her life. Angela however had her own ideas about what was causing Tracey’s unhappiness. She had heard part of the argument between Allison and Tracey four weeks ago and was waiting for an opportunity to bring it up.

“Tracey, when are you going to tell me what’s wrong?”

Tracey looked up at Angela and smiled. “I don’t want to get anyone into trouble Angela. It’s better that you don’t know anything.”

“Would it have anything to do with you trying to get Megan into bed or with Alli wanting to hurt Charlie?”

Tracey looked at Angela with shock on her face. “So you did hear us.”

“My dear, you guys were shouting and the door was open.”

“She kicked it open.” Tracey had a faint smile on her face. Thinking back, the whole incident was laughable.

“That much I figured out by myself. I’ve also tried to put two and two together, but haven’t been able to get to four yet.”

“Oh Angela, it’s just so bizarre. I wouldn’t know where to begin.”

“The beginning is normally a good place.”

Tracey couldn’t hold back any more. She desperately needed advice. She told Angela about Alli’s plan and the little she knew about the reason behind it. She also told her about the ultimatum and how she felt about Alli, despite everything and the fact that Alli wasn’t really gay.

They sat in silence for a few minutes before Angela spoke. “I must say that this situation is much worse than I ever could’ve imagined.”

“I feel like I landed in quicksand, and the more I try to get out, the deeper I sink. I’m afraid that if I stay here for much longer, I might just accept my circumstances and stay because it’s the only way that I could be close to her.” The tears started running down Tracey’s cheeks again as she spoke.

“Firstly, somewhere along the line, Alli has been given the wrong information. I was here all those years ago. Charlie did not walk out of this house. She was kicked out because she came out of the closet. Mr and Mrs Palmer wouldn’t have anything to do with her, because she didn’t want to change and it wasn’t good for their social image. She was shipped off to get ‘fixed’, but she came back still gay. They told her that she had to change or they would disown her. She got kicked out of here with nothing.”

“But why would Alli think that Charlie was the reason behind their father’s broken heart?”

“Because he made her believe it! There wasn’t much that happened in this house that we didn’t know about, but we never spoke of it, because he was such a cruel man. None of us would have jobs if we dared say anything. Alli was such a sweet, scared little kid when she came here, but he changed her. He stopped her from speaking to us. She wasn’t even allowed to be a child. He reared her in his image, but I’m glad she’s retained who she really is. Since she’s brought you and Elizabeth into this house, she’s shown signs of the old Alli that we got to know so many years ago.”

“But why would he want her to believe that?”

“Because he didn’t want her to become like Charlie.”

“He doesn’t sound like a nice person, so why does Alli think he was so great?”

“Mr Palmer was one person in front of her and another behind her. You really can’t blame her for what she’s feeling or even doing for that matter. Even from his grave, he’s controlling her. There’s a big difference between knowing that you are being controlled like you are by that ultimatum she gave you, and not knowing like she is being controlled by her father.”

“But why does she say that he died of a broken heart because Charlie didn’t want to know him?”

“That is probably the biggest secret he ever kept. Even we don’t know what happened that night, but we have our suspicions. Mr Palmer said that he drove into a tree, but unless that tree was able to bleed, he hit someone and not something. His car was locked in the garage and covered until it got taken away. It stayed covered as they towed it away, and we never saw that car again.”

“If you guys never saw the car, why do you suspect that he hit a person?”

“Because back then, Mrs Palmer had a personal aide who had a young boy of eight years. He wasn’t allowed in the house, so he played outside when he came with her during school holidays. He was very inquisitive and managed to get into the oddest places. Locking the garage door was like an invitation for him to get in.” Angela laughed as she remembered the young boy.

“Well, he managed to get in all right. While inside, he lifted the cover and got inside the car to play. When Jenny went looking for him, she found him when she looked into the garage window, but she didn’t just see him. She also saw the front of the car. That’s how we know about it. The strange thing was that when Mr Palmer found out that the boy had been in the garage, Jenny resigned. She told us that she inherited a bit of money from her aunt and left the next day. We never heard from her again, and Mr Palmer was never the same after that night.”

“It seems like there are lots of skeletons in the Palmer family history, unfortunately they’re controlling the future. We have to do something Angela. Maybe if we can solve this secret and convince Alli that she has no reason to hurt her sister, she’ll let me go.”

“But why do you want to leave Tracey if you say that you love her?”

“Because she’s straight and doesn’t love me.” The tears started running down Tracey’s cheeks again.

“I’m not so sure about that, but I agree, let’s first see if we can solve this mystery.”

“Thanks Angela. My mother used to be my best friend and I could talk to her about anything, but after I lost her, I’ve felt very alone even though I had Elizabeth. You remind me so much of her.” Tracey hugged Angela before she got up. “It’s about time to pick up Elizabeth, so I better pull myself together and run.”

“Any time my dear. You and Elizabeth have crept very deep into my heart, and I’m sure into the hearts of the other staff as well. Working in this house hasn’t been pleasurable in years, but things have changed and it’s all because of you two.

****

“Karen, stop laughing.” Alli was getting irritated with her friend.

“I can’t. For years I’ve been trying to get you to see the light, and here you come up with a plan that ends up biting you in the ass and gets you to see the light at the same time. I’ve known for years that you were gay, but you were so brainwashed by that father of yours, that you couldn’t see it.”

“Stop talking about my father like that!”

Karen stopped laughing and shook her head from side to side. “I’m sorry, but from what you’ve told me, I think your father told you some lies and it didn’t stop there. If I were you, I’d investigate it more, because your sister doesn’t sound like the monster you made her out to be. I can see that you’re having doubts about him; why not just confront your doubts and do something about it. As to you being gay, like I said before, I’ve known it for a long time; all you need to do is embrace it. Act on what you feel and stop trying to analyse it. I do think that what you’ve done to Tracey was unforgivable. Are you trying to become the monster you think your sister is? If I can give you any advice on that, I would say you need to start apologising in a big way.”

Alli felt a surge of relief; Karen had put into words what she had been fighting to deny for days, and it suddenly felt so right.

“Wow, I suppose I deserved that. Do you know that you’re the only person that would be able to say what you did and still stay my friend?”

“Yeh, yeh, now can we eat? I’m starving!”

“Yes, we can eat first, but then we need to chat about what I can do to fix this whole mess I’ve created.” Alli signalled for the waiter to take their order.

****

When Alli got home that evening, she had a smile on her face and a plan on her mind. She went looking for Angela to speak to her. Tracey and Elizabeth were already at the dinner table when Alli walked in.

“Hey Kiddo.”

“Hi Alli.”

Alli stopped behind Tracey’s chair as she bent down to kiss her on the cheek. “Hallo my angel. Did you have a good day?” Alli could feel the shock going through Tracey’s body before she straightened up and took her seat. Tracey just looked at her with shock on her face.

“Elizabeth, what would you say about being driven to school by your mother and myself and then being picked up by the driver in the afternoons? Angela says she’ll take care of you until we get home.”

“I like it, but where would my mother be?”

“I need your mother with me. My personal assistant had to take sudden leave because of a sick family member, so I need someone to help me.”

“Cool!”

“Then it’s settled. We’ll start tomorrow.”

‘Oh god no. I can’t spend my days with her as well,’ Tracey thought as she looked at Alli with panic clearly showing on her face, but all she saw was Alli smiling from ear to ear.
Part Ten
“Are you insane?” Tracey waited until they were in their room before she shouted.

Alli made herself comfortable on the bed before she spoke. “I’m perfectly sane and reasonable. Why should I choose a stranger to be my personal assistant when I have you around?”

“But I don’t know anything about being a personal assistant!”

“I thought you were an actress?” Alli lifted her left eyebrow as she looked at Tracey.

“I am, but what does that have to do with it?… Oh, I get it. You are being a smart ass by telling me I can act like one.” Tracey was red in her face.

“And there I thought you were just a pretty face.” Alli placed her hands behind her head as she lay on the bed smiling at Tracey.

“You’re infuriating!”

“That may be, but I’m also going to be your boss, so you need to show me a little respect. Maybe you should practice acting that part of it in the meantime.”

Tracey clenched her teeth. “You’re already my boss.”

“It surely doesn’t feel like it. Just listen to the way you speak to me. It feels more like we’re caught in a lovers’ quarrel most of the time… mmm… I’m sure most people think the same.”

Tracey threw her hands up in the air as if asking for some higher help. “I’m supposed to act like we’re lovers, so I’m sure it’s fine if they think we’re having a lovers’ quarrel.”

“I’m not prepared to have a lovers’ quarrel if I only get the quarrel part and not the lover out of it. I think I’m getting the raw end of the deal here.” Alli tried very hard not to burst out laughing as she observed Tracey’s shocked face.

“There’s just no pleasing you, is there?” Tracey was shaking her head in disbelief.

“Oh, I’m sure you can please me, but let’s see how it goes in the office first,” Alli replied in a soft, low voice.

Tracey looked even more confused. She wasn’t sure if Alli really meant to give a sexual meaning to her words by her tone of voice or not. She decided it had to be her own wishful thinking.

“So, from tomorrow I’ll be your personal assistant. What would my duties be, because I’m sure you don’t want me to go around to your staff to find out what I’m supposed to do for you?”

‘I can think of one specific duty you can perform right now.’ Alli’s thoughts were running wild, causing an ache to start in her lower abdomen. She cleared her throat before she spoke out loud though. “I’ll basically be telling you exactly what to do when you do it. It will be easy enough with your desk standing in my office at the moment.”

“Since when is a personal assistant’s desk in the boss’s office?”

“Since I’m taking this opportunity to re-decorate Tina’s office while she’s on leave. She deserves it after putting up with me all these years.”

Tracey couldn’t believe what was happening. Alli had an answer for everything, and it felt like they were going in circles. “I’m going downstairs. NCIS is on television in fifteen minutes and I want to get a cup of tea before I sit down.”

“Maybe I should put a television in our bedroom. You seem to watch a lot of programs quite regularly. I’ve even wondered if I should put a bed in the TV room for you, but I think putting a television in the room might be the better idea.”

Tracey felt like the room was getting too small for her. “No!” she shouted as she quickly walked towards the door before she spoke again. “There’s no need to crowd the bedroom with a television. I like watching downstairs.” Her hand was shaking as she opened the door to almost run out.

Alli smiled to herself. She could see the effect that she had on Tracey. At least that part of her plan was working; now she just had to figure out how she was going to get the answers that she needed about her father.

****

The next morning started like any other morning, with the exception that Tracey also got dressed for work. Elizabeth was very excited about being dropped off at school by Alli and her mother.

“Alli, can I come to work with you some day as well?” Elizabeth looked expectantly at Alli.

“Of course you can Kiddo. It would be great to have you there. Maybe we can arrange for the driver to bring you to the office one day after school next week. I’ll show you around the building myself.”

“Wow! That would be so cool. Did you hear that Mom? I’m going to visit you guys at work next week.”

“Yes Angel, I heard. That’s very kind of Alli.” Tracey just glared sideways at Alli as she spoke.

When they stopped at Elizabeth’s school, she swung open the back door and jumped out of the car. Tracey opened her door for Elizabeth to give her a hug and a kiss goodbye as usual. Elizabeth wanted to walk around the car to kiss Alli goodbye as well, but Alli stopped her.

“Don’t bother coming around Kiddo, I’ll just stretch over your mom.” With these words Alli leaned over Tracey to accept Elizabeth’s kiss. Alli smiled as she heard Tracey take a deep breath when she leaned over her. She deliberately lingered by ruffling Elizabeth’s hair and telling her to have a good day at school. When she moved back, she allowed her arm to lightly scrape over Tracey’s breasts, who in turn reacted like she had been given an electrical shock.

“Anything wrong?” Alli asked innocently while she started the car.

Tracey was once again caught in an internal struggle. She was almost sure that Alli’s movement was deliberate, but at the same time she was sure that it couldn’t be. “Nothing’s wrong.”

“Are you sure?” Alli asked with a faint smile on her face.

“I just told you nothing was wrong,” Tracey responded with a hint of irritation in her voice.

Alli’s smile increased as she turned her head back again. The rest of the drive to work took place in silence.

When Alli parked her car in her designated spot, she quickly got out to open the door for Tracey who mumbled a thank you as she got out. They walked to the elevator, which was right next to her parking spot. Alli produced a key, which she inserted into a slot on the outside panel.

“This is my private elevator. I have the only key for it, but it can be overridden manually if there’s any problems.”

Tracey had to admit to herself that she was quite impressed by Alli’s office building and all the trimmings that came with it. The elevator doors opened into Alli’s office, which was another breathtaking sight. It was bigger than any office Tracey had ever seen, and she was sure that it had enough space to fit eight desks. It also had the most amazing view of Table Mountain

“This is your desk for the time being,” Alli indicated a smaller desk situated not too far from hers. “It’s got all new stationary and anything else that you might need, but if there’s anything missing, just speak to Tumi. She’s a brilliant secretary, and her office is just through those doors.” Alli pointed towards two huge mahogany doors.

“And if you need to use the ladies room, it’s the third cupboard door on the right. I wanted the comfort of having my own bathroom in my office, but I wanted it to be inconspicuous.”

“This office is definitely you,” Tracey couldn’t help but say.

“I was going to spend most of my time in this office, so I wanted it to be a place where I would feel comfortable.”

Tracey walked towards her desk and looked for a place to put her handbag before she sat down. While Alli was busy going through her messages, Tracey took the opportunity to switch on her notebook and to go through everything on her desk, but couldn’t find anything that needed doing. She looked up to speak to Alli, but her words never made it past her lips. The sight before her made her swallow, but she couldn’t tear her eyes away from it.

Alli had spectacles on as she was typing on the keypad of her notebook. Every now and then she would look at her messages again and continue typing. Tracey continued watching Alli as she worked and almost jumped when Alli’s office phone rang. She turned away quickly, while she hoped that Alli didn’t catch her watching.

“Morning Tumi. Yes I know, I’m sorry that I didn’t let you know I was in, but I got distracted when I read my messages.” Alli looked at Tracey and smiled as she spoke to her secretary. “Yes, I will be attending Clive’s meeting, but you don’t have to worry about keeping me on my schedule. Tracey has agreed to help me out for the time being while Esmeralda’s away.” Alli held Tracey’s gaze while she was listening to Tumi again. “Yes, I agree. I am a lucky woman to have a future life partner like her. Thank you Tumi.”

Tracey blushed as she heard Alli’s reply to Tumi, but tried to get out of the uncomfortable situation by speaking. “Ummm… I’m still not sure what I need to do.”

“If you look on your monitor, you will see an icon for my appointment book. I have just updated it with the meetings that I need to attend today. For now, I need you to make sure that I meet all my appointments, but when you go into each appointment, you’ll find special instructions for them. Those are notes on things that I need to have done for those appointments as well as things that I need to remember to take with me and so on. Lunch is between one and two o’clock, but I normally spend it with clients or have lunch meetings.”

The day went by very slowly for Tracey, because she had very little to do. Alli took care of everything that she needed for her appointments herself, and Tracey was left alone when Alli went out to the various meetings. Tracey did take the opportunity to leave the building at lunchtime. She made her way to the public library, which was only five minutes walk away from Alli’s office building.

Once at the library Tracey tried to find any information she could on Alli’s father. She realised though that it was going to take a long time to research the Palmer family, seeing that all newspapers from so many years ago were still archived in the old fashioned way. Her search for the day didn’t turn up very much, but at least she got started.

Tracey got back to the office just after two o’clock. At her desk was a take away Greek salad and an orange juice, but Alli was nowhere in sight. Tracey took hold of the orange juice and was just about to have a sip when she heard a loud bang behind her. She jumped with shock and spilled half the juice over her blouse.

After Alli slammed the bathroom door behind her, she walked straight to Tracey’s desk. “So, you decided to come back. Here I thought you might be hungry, but then you disappear.” Alli’s disappointment at not finding Tracey in her office when she came back made her unreasonable. It had only been one morning, but Alli was already getting used to seeing Tracey sit at her desk when she walked into her office.

Tracey was trying to clean her blouse with some tissues out of her bag, but it didn’t prevent her from getting upset with Alli. “For crying out loud, do I ever do anything right! It was lunchtime and I went for a walk. I’ve been in this damn office all morning with barely anything to do. You don’t desperately need me, because you’re doing everything yourself anyway, so why on earth would you be upset with me not being here? And look at the result of your tirade!” Tracey started unbuttoning her blouse. “I hope you have a hairdryer in that bathroom of yours,” Tracey went on to say as she walked towards the bathroom while taking off her blouse. By the time she disappeared behind the door, Tracey’s blouse was off and Alli could see the bra that she was wearing from the back. For the first time that day, Alli was speechless and her mouth very dry. As she turned to walk to her desk, she couldn’t get the image of Tracey’s supple back out of her mind.

‘How on earth does she turn every situation around on me? Wasn’t I the one that was upset with her a minute ago?’ Alli just sat at her desk and stared at Table Mountain like she was expecting it to answer her thoughts.

It took thirty minutes before Tracey emerged from the bathroom. Her blouse was back to normal, and to Alli’s disappointment, back on Tracey’s body as well. Tracey on the other hand didn’t look back to normal at all. If looks could kill, Alli was sure that Tracey would’ve been the death of her.

“I’m sorry.” Alli spoke while still seated behind her desk. She knew that she had screwed up again by becoming irrational over nothing.

“You should try to keep your temper in check. One day you’ll regret its consequences,” Tracey said bitingly.

“I’m trying to apologise here.”

“An apology doesn’t always fix everything.”

“Well, what do you want me to do then?”

“Give me something to do. I’m going to go insane from sitting around doing nothing.”

“Most people would love to sit around doing nothing. Doesn’t that notebook I got you have some games on it?”

“I’m not most people. I don’t sit around with nothing to do all day and enjoy it. Neither do I find playing computer games all day long amusing. If you don’t have anything for me to do, then I’m going home, because I’m sure that this was just for your amusement.” Tracey started getting out of her chair to grab her bag.

“OK, I’m sorry again. I didn’t mean to insult you. I do need someone to help me, but I find it difficult to entrust things to other people.”

“Then what am I doing here?”

“I’d much rather trust you than someone I only know from seeing. Please don’t go. Esmerelda used to be my right hand. She attended my meetings with me and knew what I wanted before I even asked for it.”

Tracey felt a twinge of jealousy. Alli spoke about Esmerelda as if she was the best thing since sliced bread. “Well, I warned you that I didn’t know anything about being a personal assistant, and it sounds like Esmerelda is even more than that.”

“Yes, she is great, but I know what we can do. I will take you with me wherever I go, to all my meetings and all my appointments. That way, you can learn on the run and be there when I need you.” Alli smiled about her plan.

“That’s probably the best way to learn, but how long will Esmerelda be away?”

“Her mom is very sick, so at this time it’s indefinite.”

****

Days came and went as the new routine fell into place. Tracey was a fast learner and soon became Alli’s right hand. It made her feel that she might have actually found something that she was really good at. She started thinking about the possibilities of a steady personal assistant job once Alli allowed her to leave, but that meant that she still needed to solve the Palmer family secret. She used every lunchtime to go to the library and was starting to think that it was a dead end, but that changed about six weeks after her research started.

It was the Friday before they were going to the farm to visit Charlie and Megan again. Tracey was already nervous, because she knew what she had to do on the farm. When Alli told her about the planned trip, she also told her that it was time to finalise their plan. If Tracey couldn’t get Megan interested in her, she needed to create a compromising situation. Tracey once again tried to convince Alli that there was no way that Charlie and Megan would break up over something like that, but Alli’s reply was that no such relationship existed and that she was growing tired of waiting for Tracey to do what she was supposed to.

Tracey was once again going through old newspapers when she came across a newspaper name that she never knew existed. It was mentioned in The Cape Times that The People’s Voice had to close its doors due to bankruptcy. The article mentioned that the newspaper had lost one too many court cases in which it got sued for slander. The last court case that the newspaper lost was against Andrew Palmer. The newspaper was known for printing anything and everything. According to The Cape Times article, The People’s Voice reporters had a tendency to fabricate part of their stories and that it should’ve rather been a gossip magazine instead.

Tracey eventually found the records of The People’s Voice and started looking for the article that was published about Andrew Palmer. She first came across the retraction article in which it was said that the newspaper made a mistake in falsely accusing Andrew Palmer of killing someone in a hit and run. The daughter, Charlene, who according to the reporter accused Mr Palmer, was nowhere to be found and the reporter admitted to fabricating the story. That however did not save the newspaper from being sued and eventual bankruptcy. When Tracey read the words, she went ice cold. This could be what she was looking for. The article was written in the year that Angela said Mr Palmer got rid of his car.

Tracey completely forgot about the time as she feverishly kept on looking for the original article. The article heading was what caught her eye.

“Daughter Accuses Andrew Palmer Of Murder”

As Tracey read the article, she knew that it held the answer that she was looking for. The article mentioned that Charlene Palmer witnessed the hit and run in which Mr Palmer killed Julia Brighton.

Tracey was overjoyed and sad at the same time. If this meant what she thought it did, Alli would have to let go of her plan to hurt Charlie, which meant that she wouldn’t have a need for Tracey anymore. She was sure that Alli only threatened to take Elizabeth away because she didn’t want Tracey to walk out on her and spoil her plan. This would mean that Alli would let them go, and she could put as much distance between them as she possibly could. At the thought of not seeing Alli ever again Tracey almost felt like crying, but she knew it was something that she needed to do as soon as possible. Even though she tried to hate Alli, it felt instead like her love was growing.

****

Alli was getting impatient as she waited for Tracey to get back from her lunch. She decided that they should go home early to get an early start of their drive to Charlie and Megan’s farm, because she wanted to speak to her sister as soon as possible.

She knew that she didn’t want to hurt her sister any more, but she still needed to find out what really happened all those years ago. She also needed her sister’s advice, because she didn’t know what to do about Tracey anymore. She didn’t have any experience with women and although she could see that she had an effect on Tracey, she also couldn’t break through the wall that Tracey erected around herself. She knew the only thing that kept Tracey with her was the ultimatum she gave her about Elizabeth, and the only thing that sometimes allowed Alli to hold Tracey or even kiss her, was the lie that they were living in order to hurt Charlie.

Alli realised that she had got herself into one almighty mess and that her short temper made some of the situations even worse. She had even sent her personal assistant on a three-month holiday to create the situation which allowed her to have Tracey around her most of the day. She had to admit that it was pretty selfish of her, but at that point, the idea seemed brilliant. Unfortunately it hadn’t worked as well as she had hoped for. Although they worked well together, Tracey was still distant.

When Tracey walked into the office, Alli went ballistic. “Where the hell have you been? I’ve been trying your mobile phone for the last half hour! I wanted to leave early today.”

“I’ve gone to the library like I have done every single day for the last few weeks and if you bothered to tell me about your plans, I wouldn’t have gone,” Tracey immediately shot back at Alli.

“If you were on time like you normally are, I wouldn’t be upset. Have you checked what time it is?” Alli was throwing things into her briefcase as she was packing up.

When Tracey looked at her watch, she realised that she lost track of time. She was so excited about her findings, that she didn’t realise she was almost forty-five minutes late. “I’m sorry. I lost track of time. I’ll be ready to leave in five minutes.” Tracey quickly packed up her things.

Alli relaxed a bit as she watched Tracey packing up. She was upset with herself for once again allowing her temper to take over.

They got into the elevator together and Alli hit the button for the parking level. They only went down about three levels when the power suddenly went out and the elevator got to an abrupt stop.

“Oh no!” Tracey shouted.

“Don’t worry. The backup generator will kick in soon. When these power outages started three months ago, I bought a half a million rand generator to run my whole building. It unfortunately had to come in from Germany, so it was on the water for eight weeks. It got installed about two weeks ago,” Alli explained in an even tone, hoping that it would calm Tracey who was looking very nervous.

Alli’s idea seemed to work. “Half a million rand for a generator? It must be as big as a house!”

Alli laughed. “No, it’s only the size of a small car. I had to build a soundproof room for it, because it makes so much noise.”

“Wow, I’d love to see that, but shouldn’t it be working yet?” Tracey asked nervously.

Alli didn’t want to admit that she was getting a bit worried herself. “I’m sure it’s going to kick in just now.”

They waited in silence for almost five minutes before Alli started fiddling with the emergency panel. She tried everything, but nothing worked.

Tracey could hear Alli’s attempts. “Why isn’t it working?”

“I don’t know,” Alli replied.

“What do you mean you don’t know? This is your building and your company. Didn’t they test the generator when they installed it?” Tracey’s nervousness was turning into irrational thinking.

“I don’t hold everybody’s hand to make sure they do their jobs properly! I was told that it worked!”

“If I had to spend a half a million rand on something, I would make sure that it worked properly!” Tracey’s started to sound hysterical.

“You’re being unreasonable!” Alli was shocked at Tracey’s behaviour.

“Not less unreasonable than you are. This is probably another one of your schemes to keep me from running off isn’t it? What is your plan this time? You already threatened me by using my child, what else do you think you’re going to use? I have nothing else, or did you forget where I came from. Do you want to scare me into keeping to your plan? Do you not think my child is motivation enough for me? What kind of a mother do you think I am? But I have news for you anyway. I found out what your precious father did so many years ago. He didn’t die of a broken heart; he died of a guilty conscience. You should ask Charlie who Julia Brighton was, because she saw your father kill her. You don’t need me anymore, because Charlie didn’t do anything. I want to take Elizabeth and get as far away from you as possible. This job might have helped me out of a difficult financial situation, but you’re making my life hell! Please let us go, I beg you or do you want to hold me to do more of your dirty work. Who else do you want to destroy…”

The slap was followed by dead silence. Tracey held onto her cheek where Alli’s hand connected with it.

“I’m sorry,” Alli said softly, “but you were hysterical.”

“Oh,” was all that Tracey could say while she was still holding her cheek.

At that moment, the power came back online and the elevator started moving. Not a word was spoken when they got into the car. Tracey just kept on giving quick sideways glances to see if the emotionless expression on Alli’s face changed, but it didn’t. The drive home was also in complete silence until Alli stopped the car in front of the house.

“By the way,” Alli said without looking at Tracey, “I could have saved you a lot of time at the library. I’ve known about those newspaper articles for the last four weeks. I don’t need you to dig into my family closet, I pay people to do that for me, but then again, I pay you as well don’t I?” With that, Alli got out of the car leaving a stunned Tracey behind.

As Alli walked up the steps to the front door, she knew that everything was lost. Tracey’s opinion of her was even lower than the one Alli originally had of Charlie, and to make things worse, she couldn’t blame her for it.
Part Eleven
When Tracey walked into the house, she was still stunned and trying to think of something to say or do after Alli’s declaration. She decided to make her way up to their bedroom, but came across Alli on the staircase. Tracey’s heart felt like it was clamped down when she saw the expression on Alli’s face.

When Alli saw Tracey’s hurt look as she walked towards her, she knew that she was making the right decision. She couldn’t face the hurt she was causing Tracey anymore.

“You have what you want,” Alli said softly with a dead tone in her voice.

“And what might that be?” Tracey asked uncertainly.

“You and Elizabeth can go. I have asked Angela to help you pack your things and arrange for a mover to pick up all your stuff.” Alli’s tone didn’t change.

Tracey was dumbstruck. It was the last thing she expected to hear from Alli. “But…”

Alli raised her hand to silence Tracey. “Don’t say anything else or I might change my mind. You’re right, Elizabeth shouldn’t be around a monster like myself who can sink so low as to use a daughter against her mother. I do ask that you do it under my conditions though…”

“You have conditions after everything you’ve done. You’re just like your father, do you know that? From what I’ve been told and what I’ve read, he didn’t have a heart…” Tracey’s interruption of Alli was cut short when Alli grabbed her and pulled her into a searing kiss. Alli poured all her feelings and frustrations into the kiss that was meant to hurt Tracey, but instead Tracey responded. She couldn’t help herself, and the kiss became everything but hurtful.

Alli broke the kiss when she needed to breathe. She didn’t let go of Tracey completely as she whispered into Tracey’s ear, “Don’t ever say that again. I’m nothing like my father.”

Tracey had a lump in her throat when she heard the words. She hadn’t meant to lash out at Alli again, but she had gone through so much, that she just couldn’t help herself.

Alli moved away from Tracey and started walking down the stairs before she spoke. “When you’re done packing, I’ll be in my study. We can talk about my conditions for your leaving when you’ve calmed down.

Tracey was once again dumbstruck as she walked up the stairs. She knew that she would agree to any condition Alli would ask of her, just to get away, because that kiss just once again confirmed how in love she was with Alli.

After Tracey and Angela packed her and Elizabeth’s stuff, she made her way downstairs. She had no idea how she was going to tell Elizabeth that they were leaving, but first she needed to discuss Alli’s conditions.

As she came close to the study door she could hear Alli speaking, as the door wasn’t closed properly. She didn’t want to interrupt Alli, so she waited outside the door, but when she heard her name, she stepped closer to the door to listen.

“…Yes, the house must be registered in Tracey’s name. It’s all the same information as you have for the bank account that you’re busy opening… Yes, I’m sure of it… No, don’t post anything to her, I’ll get it to her. Just make sure the house has everything that I’ve asked for in it… I don’t care how many people it takes, even if you have to do it yourself, but that house will be ready in the morning when they get there… I don’t pay you to think for me Kevin, I pay you to do what I ask you to. Just tell me if you can’t handle it, I’m sure there are many other attorneys who would jump at getting my business… Great, that’s what I want to hear. Thank you.”

When Alli put down the receiver Tracey was standing at the door, but couldn’t bring herself to knock. She heard Alli dial another number, but still didn’t move.

“Hi Megan… Great thanks… Is my sister there?… No, no need for her to phone me back… Just tell her that I’m only arriving tomorrow afternoon… Yes, I’m the only one coming… Tracey has left me… No, I don’t want to talk about it now, we can chat tomorrow… Great, see you then.”

A tear was running down Tracey’s cheek when she realised the finality of what was happening. If Alli told Megan and Charlie about her leaving, it had to be final. As Tracey lifted her hand to knock on the door, Alli’s phone rang.

“Alison Palmer… Oh, hi Karen… No, things didn’t go as planned… I really don’t want to talk about it now… No, she’s leaving because I’m letting her go… Karen, don’t start with me… She thinks I’m like my father and she called me a monster, and I’m not sure if I disagree with her… It’s no use, she’ll never fall in love with me; I’ve pushed her too far… Karen, I really don’t want to talk right now… You’re incorrigible; I know you’re my friend… You don’t have to remind me that I love her; I know I do. That’s why I can’t do this to her anymore. I’m letting her go, but I won’t let her go back to her old life. I wouldn’t be able to bear it knowing how she’s struggling, and Elizabeth is another matter. She feels like my own child… I’ve opened an account with two million rand in it for Tracey, and I’ve started a trust for Elizabeth to make sure that she will be kept in the best schools and have a chance to go to university… No, I won’t insist on seeing them. You should see the hurt look in Tracey’s face whenever she looks at me. I can’t bear to see her like that again; it kills me… No, I won’t let her come back after they’ve left. Knowing Tracey, she might feel that she owes me. She’s an amazing person, Karen and I love her with every breath that I take, but I won’t allow her to stay with me out of obligation. I wanted her to love me, not despise me, and although it’s breaking my heart, at least she’ll be happy… No Karen, there’s nothing you can say to make me change my mind… Yes, we can chat again at a later time, but that won’t make any difference… No, I don’t plan to go ahead with my plans against my sister… I’m going to tell her everything about it this weekend. She’s got a right to know about it, and if she doesn’t want to speak to me again after that, it will be my loss and one that I deserve… Thank you Karen, but it is my fault and I really must go now… Bye.”

Tracey couldn’t believe what she had heard, but her heart was singing. The fact that Alli loved her was the only thing that was running through her mind as she turned around and ran back up the stairs where she almost knocked Angela off her feet.

“Oh Angela, I’m so sorry.”

“No need to say sorry Tracey, these old bones can still handle a lot.” Angela smiled when she saw the joy on Tracey’s face. “Is leaving us making you so happy?”

“No!” Tracey almost shouted. “It’s staying that’s making me so happy.” Angela looked at Tracey with confusion on her face.

“I need you to unpack everything again. Elizabeth and I aren’t going anywhere except with Alli for a weekend away. It was just one big misunderstanding.”

“If that’s the case, I definitely don’t mind unpacking again.” Angela quickly made her way back to Elizabeth’s bedroom.

“Oh Angela, do you know where Elizabeth is?”

“She’s playing with Fluffy, or at least that what I think she called him.”

“Fluffy? Who or what is Fluffy?”

“Alli came home this morning to drop off a little puppy. She said it was a surprise for Elizabeth when she came home from school. I don’t think she even knows anyone else exists right now.”

Tracey was in awe. What she had learned about Alli in the last half hour had made her fall even deeper in love with her, if that was even possible. She made her way outside to look for Elizabeth as she had plans to make. She couldn’t admit her love to Alli without revealing that she had overheard her phone conversation, which meant that Alli would know that she knew about the money and the house and would think that she was acting as if she loved her out of obligation. She also knew that she couldn’t allow Alli to tell her about the house and money, because that would have the same affect. She needed some help, and she knew where to get it. With a smile on her face, she found Elizabeth outside walking Fluffy the puppy.

“Mom!” Elizabeth yelled as she saw her mother walking towards her. “Look what Alli gave me. Isn’t he cute? I named him Fluffy. Alli said he’s going to be a big dog one day.”

“He’s very cute.”

“Are we leaving now, because Alli said I can take him with us to the farm?”

“No Sweetheart, we’ll only be going to the farm tomorrow, but I thought that maybe the three of us could go and watch a movie tonight. I heard that ‘Over The Hedge’ is a quite funny movie. What do you think?”

“That sounds great Mom.” Elizabeth jumped up and wrapped her arms around her mother.

Tracey smiled as she was fitting the pieces of her plan together. Alli wasn’t the only one who could play games.

Alli walked out of her study to find Tracey who hadn’t come to see her yet. As she walked through the house, she found it very quiet. She looked around to see where everybody was and came across Angela putting on her coat at the front door.

“Angela, where is everybody, and where are you going?”

“Tracey gave everybody the evening off. Apparently you guys are going out for dinner and a movie.”

“Tracey gave everybody the evening off? Since when does she give the orders in this house?”

Angela struggled very hard to keep from smiling. “She is your fiancée, and living here, so everybody sees her as the mistress of the house. We have no reason not to listen to her when she gives us instructions.” Angela said innocently as she opened the door to walk out. “Have a great evening.”

Alli still stood there staring at the closed door when Tracey spoke behind her. “I hope you don’t mind, but I decided to stay and finish my contract. My mother always said it wasn’t good to leave anything half done. I also thought it might be great to go out for dinner and a movie tonight.”

Alli looked at Tracey in disbelief. “But I still needed to talk to…”

Tracey started talking to stop Alli from saying what she knew she was going to. “Elizabeth is so excited about tonight, and that puppy just made her day. You are so amazing with her.” Tracey walked closer and wrapped her arms around Alli before she planted a quick kiss on her lips. “Thank you for being there for her.” Tracey turned around to walk away again leaving a flabbergasted Alli still standing in front of the closed front door.

“By the way, you need to get dressed, or we’re going to be late,” Tracey said as she walked away.

It took a while before Alli could get herself to close her mouth and move forward. Strange things were happening, and she seemed to have been left out of the picture. She would go with the flow and see where Tracey was heading with her actions, because at that moment, Alli didn’t have a clue.

Tracey and Elizabeth had a lively conversation during dinner leaving Alli to curiously observe Tracey. Halfway through the movie, Tracey decided it was time to get popcorn. She brushed past Alli who was sitting in the aisle chair, but almost landed in her lap as she tripped over something. Alli caught her before she could fall by grabbing her hips.

Tracey knew her plan was working as she could hear Alli gasp when she closed her hands over Alli’s hands while they were on her hips. Tracey held Alli’s hands there until she was clear of the seat. “Thank you,” she whispered into Alli’s ear, while making sure to blow some air into Alli’s ear while speaking. This caused a shiver to go down Alli’s spine as Tracey straightened up to walk away.

When they got home, Alli carried a sleeping Elizabeth to bed. Tracey tucked her in with Alli standing in the doorframe watching her.

Alli knew that she needed to talk to Tracey, but she turned around to go to their bedroom to take a shower first. She was hoping to wash away the dazed feeling that she had. She needed to have a clear mind when she spoke to Tracey.

Tracey took the opportunity to quickly get into her pyjamas and into bed. When Alli got out of the bathroom, she found Tracey apparently asleep in the double bed. There was no sign of the fold up bed anywhere. ‘It’s probably better to talk to her in the morning anyway,’ Alli thought as she got into bed herself, but she couldn’t sleep. The strange happenings since they got home from work were puzzling her, especially Tracey’s decision to stay with her for now.

Alli’s thoughts were still keeping her awake more than half an hour after she got into bed. She looked down at Tracey who was breathing evenly in her sleep when she rolled around to lie right next to Alli who gasped when she felt Tracey’s breasts move up and down against her arm.

Tracey turned her face into the pillow to prevent Alli from seeing that she was awake and trying not to smile. It ended up being a very long night for Alli as Tracey’s movements had her hormones running in circles.

Alli never got an opportunity to speak to Tracey as Tracey had an early appointment at the hairdresser, and she only arrived home just before it was time to leave for the farm.

Kevin phoned Alli early in the morning to say that the house was ready to be moved into. Alli thanked him for his great service, but didn’t say anything about nobody being ready to move into the house.

The trip to the farm was uneventful except for Tracey spilling some coffee onto her shirt and asking Alli to stop next to the road so that she could change. She took off her shirt in front of Alli as she had in her office, and put a clean one on. Alli’s heart almost stopped at the sight.

When they arrived at the farm, Charlie and Megan were waiting on the porch. They saw the car from a distance already. Charlie looked puzzlingly at Alli when she saw Tracey and Elizabeth getting out of the car, but Alli lifted her shoulders and hands indicating that she had no clue herself.

Megan took charge. “We’re so glad you guys finally arrived. We were very disappointed when we heard that you weren’t going to arrive last night.”

“We’re so sorry. It was just some misunderstandings at home, but not to worry, it’s all sorted now.” Tracey winked at Alli playfully as she spoke.

‘I’d like to know what’s sorted, because my heart won’t cope with this and neither will my hormones,’ Alli thought to herself as she smiled back at Tracey.

Harry and Rebecca came running around the house. “Elizabeth!” they both shouted together.

“Harry! Becca!” Elizabeth shouted in return as she ran to them.

“Well, that makes us nonexistent for the rest of the weekend,” Alli said as she took the suitcases out of the car while watching Elizabeth running off with Harry and Rebecca.

“Well, I suppose that means we’ll have more time to ourselves then, doesn’t it my love.” Tracey’s innocent tone had Alli lifting her eyebrow.

“Come on you two, Katrina has prepared a great lunch for you guys, and you know how she gets when we leave her waiting.” Charlie took one of the suitcases from Alli as they moved towards the front door.”

“Mmm… food,” Megan smiled as she made her way up the stairs.

Charlie started laughing. “One of these days you’re going to eat me out of this house. After all this time, I still don’t know where you put all that food.”

“You’re forgetting that I have a reason to eat so much now.”

“Excuses, excuses. If you could eat all day long, I’m sure you would. Eating for two is just the cherry on top.”

“Wow, what did we miss?” Alli stopped in her tracks when she heard what Charlie said.

“Well, we actually made dinner reservations for tonight, and we were planning to tell you then, but seeing that some big mouths around here can’t keep anything to themselves,” Megan playfully punched Charlie on the shoulder. “Yes, I’m pregnant. We found out two days ago.”

Alli and Tracey congratulated the two mothers to be before they all made it into the house where Katrina was waiting for them with a mock, angry face. “Bout time you made it into the house. My food’s going to spoil if it’s not eaten right away.”

“Hi Kat,” Tracey hugged Katrina. “We’ve come all this way for your food. There’s no way it’ll be wasted.”

“Welcome back you two. It’s great to have someone else in this house for a change. Those two are driving me insane; it’s just baby talk here and baby talk there. I’m starving for a conversation without the word baby in it.” Everyone laughed at Katrina’s words as they sat down for lunch.

After they unpacked their suitcases, Tracey went to find Megan. She found her sitting next to the pool in the sun.

“Hi, Megan. Is Charlie around?”

“Oh, hi Tracey. No, she’s gone to the barn. Do you know that she’s especially breeding a filly for our child, and we don’t even know if it’s a boy or a girl yet.”

“Wow, she’s surely committed to this child.”

“Yes, that she is, but you wouldn’t have said that a few months ago. I think that seeing you and Alli with Elizabeth has done a lot towards making her see what she really wanted.”

“I’m so glad for you guys. A child is a blessing and often the ones showing us the truth through their innocence.”

“Yes, that they do, but enough about us. What’s wrong between you and Alli? You guys were acting all loving, but the tension could be cut with a knife.”

Tracey sighed. “You don’t beat around the bush do you? I was actually looking for you so that I could talk to you. I need some serious advice.”

“Well then, go ahead. I’m all ears.” Megan straightened in her chair.

“I’ll have to tell you the whole story from the beginning, but please don’t get upset until you hear all of it.”

Tracey started talking and Megan listened. At times it seemed like she was going to jump out of the chair, but she didn’t. Tracey told her all about Alli’s plan and her own part in it. She spoke about how Alli used Elizabeth against her, but also about how great she was with Elizabeth. She told her about Alli’s father and what she had discovered about him. She told Megan that she thought Alli was captive in the world that was created for her. She even told her about the conversations that she overheard and about her plans to convince Alli that she loved her for who she was.

Megan sat quietly for minutes after Tracey stopped talking. Tracey was about to get up from her chair when Megan eventually spoke. “Personally I don’t think these Palmer women know what they want until it smacks them in the face. They are so hard headed, but it seems that they both went through a tough time. I don’t think what Alli did was the right way to go about it, but it sounds like she was living in a different reality. One that you can’t blame her for. I do think that you and Elizabeth have been a great influence in changing that reality for her. I want to be angry with her for what she was planning to do to Charlie, but I can’t. I was once very much like her, but Charlie changed that, so I think that Alli deserves a chance to change. If she speaks to Charlie out of her own, I’ll stand wherever Charlie stands with her, but if she doesn’t and she still plans to hurt her, she’ll have to deal with me.”

Megan eventually lifted her head to look into the face of a crying Tracey. “And where you’re concerned, you were right in your presumption that nothing and no one would come between myself and Charlie. She is the love of my life, the centre of my being, the reason for my existence, and I know she feels the same about me. We have no doubts, although we have our moments. We make each other complete. Can you say the same about your feelings for Alli?”

“I probably wouldn’t use all the same words that you did, but I know this. Just the thought of not being around her feels like it’s going to rip my heart out and leave a hole that could never be filled.”

Megan got up from her chair and started walking towards the house. She turned around when Tracey didn’t move. “Well, don’t just sit there. We have plans to make.”

Alli only managed to get a chance to speak to Charlie alone later that afternoon when she was on her way to the pond for her swim.

“Charlie!” Alli shouted as she ran after her.

“Yes?”

“Charlie, I wanted… aaw… I was hoping… um… to speak to you alone for a bit.”

“Why are you stumbling over your words little sis? Of course you can speak to me alone. Why don’t you walk with me to the pond, and we can talk on the way.”

They started walking, but it looked like Alli didn’t know what to say. “Well, are you going to talk to me?” Charlie eventually asked.

It took Alli a few more tries before she could start talking about her plan, but when she got going, there was no stopping her. She told Charlie everything down to the smallest detail and didn’t spare herself at all. She was so involved in telling her story and keeping her eyes on the ground, that she didn’t even see that Charlie had a faint smile on her face.

“There you have it. Now you know what kind of person I really am, and I’m so sorry about what I wanted to do to you. If you want me to leave right now and never come back or speak to you again, I’ll understand, but please don’t be upset with Tracey. She only did what I forced her to do.” Alli kept on staring at the ground waiting for Charlie to explode at her.

When there was no reaction from Charlie’s side, Alli eventually looked up. What she saw took her off guard. Charlie was standing there with her arms crossed over her chest and a big smile on her face.

“Why are you smiling?”

“Because little sis, I already know all of this.”

“But how?”

“Let’s just say a little bird told me.”

“But… but…”

“Don’t ‘but’ so much. Rather tell me how you feel about Tracey.”

“What I feel about Tracey? Nothing… really… she just works for me.”

“Don’t take me for a fool little sis. The way you told your story was also a love declaration for Tracey. You made yourself out to be a spawn from hell, but in this whole story Tracey remained an angel, so you tell me how you really feel about her.”

“It doesn’t help; she hates me and I’ve given her no reason to feel anything else for me. I’m sending her away as soon as we get back to the city. She wasn’t even supposed to be here this weekend, but she started acting strangely. She suddenly wants to finish what she started, but now I’ve put a stop to it. From now on, there’ll be no more acting.”

“I know little sis, but I don’t think your love for her is an act, and neither do I think her love for you is either.”

“What?” Alli grabbed Charlie by the arm.

“You heard what I said. She loves you.”

“But she can’t.”

“You don’t make all the rules little sis. You can’t decide what can and can’t be, and by the way, we’re still talking if you missed that part.”

“What?”

“Have you become dyslectic or something? I can’t blame you for what you thought, because he put those thoughts in your head. I can’t blame you for wanting to hurt me when you thought that I was the reason he died, especially knowing that he was the closest person to you. He was a manipulating bastard, and the only good thing he ever did for me was making you hate me, because if you didn’t, then you wouldn’t have looked for me. At the end of the day, he loses and we triumph. We can see each other for who we really are, and we can see him for who he really was. He won’t be able to cause any of us any more heartache, and I actually feel sorry for him.”

A tear ran down Alli’s face as she grabbed her sister for a hug. They stood like that for a while before Charlie unwrapped herself. “Now, let’s get back to your love life.”

While Charlie and Megan were getting ready for dinner, they went over their plans.

“Knowing Veronica, she will definitely be making passes at Tracey again. She’s got a hide as thick as a rhinoceros’ and never learns her lesson. I’ve told Tracey to flirt back this time. Let’s see if we can push Alli to a point where she loses control.”

“That sounds like a plan, but what if she doesn’t?”

“If your sister is anything like you, this plan is flawless. Tracey must just take advantage of the situation.”

Charlie looked at Megan with a wicked grin on her face. She slowly dropped the towel that was wrapped around her. “Do you know how to take advantage of a situation?”

Megan walked slowly towards Charlie and stopped when she was right in front of her. “Do I ever know how to take advantage of a situation.” Megan got hold of Charlie’s shoulders and pushed her towards the bed.

“Do we even have time for this?” Charlie asked innocently.

“Don’t you play the innocent with me Miss Palmer; I want your expert tongue, and I want it now.”

They all arrived at the restaurant at seven that evening, and as Megan had predicted, Veronica was being true to herself. The waitress once again couldn’t keep her eyes off Tracey.

As Charlie placed their drinks order, Alli’s thoughts were somewhere else. Charlie had told her earlier that day to be true to her own emotions towards Tracey. She also told her to open her eyes and to see that Tracey wasn’t acting when it came to her emotions about Alli, but she hadn’t seen anything of the sort yet. Instead, Tracey had been evasive.

Tracey on the other hand was smiling at Veronica. She was doing everything that Megan had asked her to do. She really didn’t like Veronica, but if that was the way to get Alli to open up to her, then that was what she needed to do.

Veronica made sure to brush against Tracey when she passed Alli’s drink. “Windhoek Light for you and a strawberry milkshake for the little lady.” Veronica gave Elizabeth a big smile as she placed her milkshake in front of her. Although Tracey was first in line, Veronica left her drink for last. “And a very special drink for a lovely lady.”

“Special drink?” Tracey smiled flirtatiously back at Veronica.

“Yes, I mixed it myself. Don’t worry, it’s got your Vodka and lime in it, but it has a twist, and that’s my speciality.”

“Then I suppose I should give it a try, seeing that you made is especially for me.”

Veronica had a triumphant smile on her face as she winked at Tracey before going to place their food order.

Alli was fuming inside. Charlie was obviously wrong in her assumption that Tracey had feelings for her. Looking at the way Tracey had just flirted with Veronica, it was quite obvious that she didn’t care at all.

“Excuse me,” Alli said as she got up from the table. “I think I might be sick.”

Tracey looked worriedly at Megan after Alli left. “Are you sure this is going to work?”

“Oh yes,” Charlie answered instead. “She’s getting wound up. It won’t take long for her to show what she’s made of.”

“What’s wrong with Alli Mom?” Elizabeth asked.

“Nothing Sweetheart, I’m sure she’s going to be back just now.”

Alli made her way to the ladies room, where she stayed a few minutes to cool down.

“Well, that’s it then,” she said out loud to herself. “I can accept that she doesn’t love me, because I don’t deserve her love, but how can she humiliate me like that by flirting with that bloody waitress in front of everyone? She doesn’t even know her, and it looks like she’s ready to jump into bed with her. I won’t stand for this, even if I deserve it.”

Alli was walking up and down in front of the mirrors still talking to herself, when Veronica walked in. “Something wrong?” Veronica asked innocently as she walked over to the basin to wash her hands.

“Wrong? You should know what’s wrong. You’re the bloody one flirting with my fiancée.”

“It’s not my fault if you can’t hold onto her. Fiancée means not married yet, that means open waters to me.”

“You stay away from her.” Alli was fuming and fisting her hands.

“Oh come on. Be a good sport. I promise to only use her for one night… mmm… rather make that two nights. She’s gorgeous, and who knows, she might go back to you after I’m done with…”

Veronica wasn’t able to finish her sentence as Alli punched her in the face. All she saw was stars as she fell down. “Don’t you ever come close to my wife again. She’s nobody’s toy and too much of a lady for the likes of you. If you dare to even look at her again, you will know the meaning of getting crushed by Allison Palmer.”

Alli left the dazed Veronica lying on the floor when she walked out to return to their table. She smiled at everyone as she sat down. “Are we still waiting for our food?”

“Yes, it seems to be taking a bit long tonight,” Charlie replied.

They waited for another ten minutes before Veronica returned with their food. She made sure not to look in Tracey’s direction at all. “Sorry for the delay ladies, but I had a little accident in the ladies room.”

“Wow, she almost ran away from our table,” Megan couldn’t help but say. “Did you see that eye of hers?”

“Must have been a nasty fall,” Alli said as she turned her attention to the plate of food in front of her.

Charlie looked at Alli’s reaction and knew that there was more to Veronica’s fall.

The drive home was quiet. Tracey was sitting with a sleeping Elizabeth in her arms. She felt disappointed, because the plan didn’t work. Veronica hadn’t even looked at her again, so she had no opportunity to flirt with her again either. She thought the plan was working when Alli went to the ladies room, but Alli was smiling and chatting the rest of the evening. She would have to come up with another plan quickly, before Alli got the chance to talk to her about the house and money, or before she talked to Charlie. That would force her to move out, because that would mean the end of their arrangement.

When they stopped at the house, Alli took the sleeping Elizabeth up to her room and tucked her in, but she woke up. “Where’s Mommy?”

“She’s coming Kiddo. Do you want me to tell you a story so that you could fall asleep again?”
“Yes!”

Tracey walked into the room just as Alli got up. “It didn’t take much for her to fall asleep again. She tried to stay awake until you came, but she was asleep again within two minutes.” Alli smiled as she spoke.

“Thank you.”

“No thanks necessary. I would do anything for her.”

“I’m going to have a quick shower before I get into bed. Good night.” Alli turned around and quickly made her way into the room. She was desperately hoping that Alli would be asleep by the time she got out of the shower.

Alli got into bed, but didn’t fall asleep, so when Tracey got out, she was waiting for her.

“Tracey, there is something we need to speak about still.”

“Can’t it wait until tomorrow? I’m extremely tired,” Tracey said nervously.

“No, it can’t wait any longer. I need to get this sorted now. I’ve been trying to get you alone since yesterday afternoon already, but you’re either nowhere to be found, or Elizabeth is with you.”

“I don’t want to hear it!”

“What don’t you want to hear? It’s all good news for you! I spoke to Charlie, so now you don’t have to act anymore. I tried to tell you earlier, but I couldn’t find you. You’re free to go; you’re contract is up.”

“Oh, so now you have no more use for me, and I just get told to go. What about Elizabeth? Do you have any idea what this will do to her? You just said that you would do anything for her, but in the same breath you’re kicking us out.”

“I’m not kicking you out. I’ve made arrangements…”

“I don’t want to hear about your arrangements. I want…”

Alli jumped out of bed. “What do you want? You’re confusing the hell out of me. One moment you tell me you hate my guts and that you want to get as far as possible away from me, then you turn around and stay when I tell you that you can go? What’s that all about? I can only take so much!” Alli slammed her right fist against the wall. “Ouw!” Alli quickly folded her left hand around her right one. “Fuck!” she shouted again.

“Of all the stupid things to do! I thought you were so smart. You’re not a superhuman who can punch through walls. Do the maths, one fist made out of flesh and blood versus one brick wall, you lose!” Tracey walked around the bed to where Alli was standing still clamping her hand. “Give me your hand, at least I’ve got some first aid knowledge.”

Alli allowed Tracey to take her hand that was stinging from the pain. Tracey looked at the hand and then up to Alli in puzzlement. “Swelling won’t start so quickly. You must have hurt you’re hand earlier. This makes you even more stupid, slamming an already hurt hand into a wall…” Tracey stopped talking when she looked into Alli’s guilty face. “You hit her didn’t you? She didn’t have an accident, you hit her!”

Alli pulled her hand out of Tracey’s and walked away. “Someone had to bloody well put a stop to it. How do you think I felt being embarrassed like that in front of my family? You were openly flirting with her. Couldn’t you at least wait until you moved out? Do you not think I have any feelings? Have my actions not at least told you something, or did you see it and are using it to hurt me?”

Tracey started laughing. “You do have feelings for me.”

“Of course I have bloody feelings. I love you, so laugh as much as you want and get out,” Alli said sarcastically. “I can’t do this anymore. I’m going to sleep in another room. This act is over.” Alli quickly grabbed hold of her pillow, but stopped in her track when Tracey undid her dressing gown and dropped it to the floor.

“What are you doing?” Alli said breathlessly.

“I think you owe me.” Tracey smiled seductively.

“Owe you?”

“Yes, I was in for a sure thing if it wasn’t for you and your fist.”

“Don’t start with that bloody waitress again. You’re worth much more than that.”

“I know, and so are you.”

“What do you mean?”

Tracey walked towards Alli slowly and stopped inches away from her. “You’re worth more than you think. You are not the person that your father thought he made. You are the person that you became. You are the person that has traveled a long journey to be free from your past. You did it though; you saw what was really happening. We might have all been there, but you were still the one who made the final choices. I fell in love with you a long time ago, and I will still love you when time is no more.”

“You love me? But you were flirting…”

“Yes, I was flirting, but only because I wanted to get a reaction out of you. Even though you think you can control everything, your true feelings reveal themselves in your actions.”

Alli smiled from ear to ear. “You think you’re pretty smart don’t you? Did you also know that I love you?”

“Oh, I know I’m smart, but I did have a little help from Megan and Charlie, and yes, I know you love me and Elizabeth.”

Alli wrapped her arms around Tracey. “You are smart. Remind me to thank those two in the morning,” she whispered as she placed her lips over Tracey’s lips.

The kiss was gentle and full of emotion, but soon erupted into a fiery kiss. Both their bodies were longing for what they had been denied for such a long time.

Alli allowed her feelings to lead the way. She pushed Tracey back onto the bed and got out of her pajamas in a record time before she covered Tracey’s body with her own.

She wanted to melt into her. They kissed and touched as if it was their last moments together until Alli slowly made her way down Tracey’s body. When she touched Tracey with her tongue, it looked like she had sent an electric shock through her body. This encouraged Alli to delve even deeper with her tongue, and soon she tasted the fruits of her labor as Tracey bucked from her orgasm, but Alli didn’t stop there; she wanted more. She touched Tracey only gently until it looked like she had come down from her high. Then she started it all over again.

Orgasm after orgasm was getting too much for Tracey. She got hold of Alli’s head and started pulling her back up. “Please Love, I can’t any more. You’re killing me,” Tracey whispered with a smile.

“And you’re doing the same to me. I didn’t know it was possible to have an orgasm at the same time when you weren’t even touching me.”

Tracey wrapped her arms around Alli. “This is just the beginning; you’ve got so much more to experience.”

“As long as you’re by my side, because without you, it would never be the same. You and Elizabeth were the missing links in my life, but now that I have you, I’ll never let you go.”

“So, do you think it’ll work?” Megan asked Charlie as they lay in bed.

“I think it has already worked.”

“How can you be so sure?” Megan asked curiously.

“Because she’s my sister and she seems to have a mean right hook.”

“No! She hit Veronica?”

“I’m sure of it.”

“Would you defend my honor like that as well?”

“For you my love, I would ride a porcupine naked.”

“Mmm… I’d rather have you ride me when you’re naked.”

The End

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