~ Dyki Tantsi ~
by Fiur and Vlamme




Top 25: Dec. 1, 2003
Disclaimers:
The characters in this story are of our own creation so please don't use them without permission. Two of them might look like a certain duo from a famous TV show about a Warrior Princess and her Warrior Bard soulmate, but that's just coincidence.

This story was greatly inspired by Ruslana the Tigress from Ukraine and winner of The Eurovision Song Contest 2004 in Istanbul. Her singing and dancing performance and her costume at the show were very fascinating and absolutely great!

The songs "Play, Musician", "Like A Hurricane", "Wild Passion", "The Same Star", "The Tango We Used To Dance", "Dyki Tantsi" aka "Wild Dances" and "Wild Dances Part 2" belong to Ruslana and were used without permission but no copyright infringement was intended. All songs can be found on the album "Wild Dances".

For more information about Ruslana and her music check out her website at
www.ruslana.com.ua/intro_eng.html

There will also be a tiny bit of violence, some hurt/comfort and yes a loving relationship between two adult females that gets kinda graphic...blush...so if you are under age please stop reading now and come back later when you are old enough.

Vlamme's notes:
A big thank you goes to our beta reader.

Another big thank you goes to The Athenaeum for posting our stories.

And finally I would like to thank my best friend in the whole wide world Fiur. Without you writing stories would be impossible for me, so my friend that's why I'd like to dedicate this story to you!

Fiur's notes:
Vlamme, you've already said it all, so that leaves only one more thing, the most important. Thank you for your support. I wouldn't want to miss writing with you for anything in the world, especially in hard times such as the end of the year 2004.

Even when we are apart, I know that you are always at my side. And that's why I'd like to dedicate this story to you!

Comments and questions can be sent to fiur-vlamme@web.de

We will be waiting for feedback so don't be shy and drop us a note.

Now enough with the babbling and on with the story. Enjoy!

(c) Copyright by Fiur and Vlamme 2004-2005

"You want what?!" The furious outcry of her fiancÚ, combined with the dangerous skidding of the car on the wet lane as Mortimer Hayes lost control of it for a moment, made the blonde woman jerk. For a second, she closed her emerald eyes, rubbed her temples and a sigh escaped her throat. Obviously, it wasn't such a good idea to confront him with her decision now, but Jorane Jawson was fed up with the situation. The constant jealousy and fights and, in her eyes, often absurd discussions leading to nothing but delaying the inevitable. She had to put an end to it and for the young woman, it was important to do it as soon as possible.

"Don't you understand, Mortimer? You are crushing me with your love! You are suffocating me, robbing me of any chance to breathe!"

"But that is no reason to break off our engagement!" the dark haired man argued firmly, while his hands closed tighter around the steering wheel of the dark blue Mercedes he steered across the deserted country road. "Okay, fine, I'll tell you what. You need some distance and some time for yourself, I can see that. We don't have to be together or do something every day. So, I will retreat a bit..."

Jorane shook her head, sadly.

Mortimer saw it from the corner of his eyes and his usually gentle face transformed into an angry mask. "What else do you want me to do for you?" he screamed, outraged. "I sacrifice myself for you! I shower you with gifts to prove my love for you and still it's not enough!"

"I never wanted that," she replied, quietly. Jorane felt fear rise inside her, because she had never seen him angry like that.

"Yeah, but that didn't hold you back from taking it all anyway, did it? You are so ungrateful!" His foot pressed down harder on the gas and the car sped up in the dark of the night.

"Please, just take me home, where we can talk," the young woman begged, trying to keep her voice as calm as possible and suppress the panic, which began to make itself known.

"Why wait so long?" Mortimer asked. "Let's talk right now and get this out of the way!"

"Mortimer, please..."

"SHUT UP!!!" he yelled back, took one hand off the steering wheel and brandished it in front of her face. "Don't you think I know what's going on here? Do you think I'm totally stupid, or what? So, since when?"

Jorane looked at him in disbelief. "I have no idea what you are talking about, Mortimer."

"Yes, I bet you don't!" he spat, acidly. The car's speed accelerated more.

"Please, slow down..."

But the dark haired man didn't seem to hear her. "You are spending so much time with your precious horses... it's the new stable guy, isn't it? Did you think I wouldn't notice the way he looks at you?"

Annoyed, Jorane rolled her eyes.

"So, since when has this been going on?" he demanded.

"I don't know what you are trying to suggest here..."

"SINCE WHEN ARE YOU DATING HIM BEHIND MY BACK?" His eyes flashed at her furiously and Jorane was so shocked, she needed a moment to get her composure back in order to react to the angry question.

"Mortimer, he has nothing to do with the fact that I want to break up ..."

"So, you are admitting that you have an affair with him?" he interrupted her.

"No! Dear god, you don't listen at all!"

"I think I understand just fine," he growled back, annoyed.

Jorane knew he didn't understand anything at all, but after that outburst of rage she didn't want to provoke him further. She just wanted home. "Please, drive me home."

He stared through the windshield absent-mindly, before his brown eyes turned to her, looking at her almost fondly. "Yes, I will do that. To where you belong," he promised so softly that Jorane thought she had just imagined the outburst.

The young woman looked out the window and noticed that the landscape passed her by faster and faster. She gazed at Mortimer, whose hands were wrapped tightly around the steering wheel, so hard that his knuckles turned white and his eyes were locked on the road.

"Mortimer... would you please slow down?" Her voice pierced the uncomfortable silence.

Instead of an answer he sped up even more.

"Mortimer!" Fear and panic made her body tremble.

"It's not your fault," he finally spoke quietly. "You are so beautiful and every man wants you, I know that. But you are MY WOMAN!!!" His eyes turned to her and what Jorane saw there would forever be etched into her memories.

He stepped harder on the gas. "If I can't have you, no one else shall have you! I will make sure of that," he announced, calmly.

While Jorane's brain was trying to process what he just said, Mortimer pulled hard at the wheel and the Mercedes rolled to the other lane, where a car came at them at breakneck speed.

"MORTIMER! HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND?" she screamed, her heart beating wildly with fear, as she reached over to grab the steering wheel.

"HANDS OFF!!!" he shouted and shoved her away roughly, only thinking about putting his cruel plan into action.

At the last moment the other car managed to avoid them with squealing tires and the driver honked, loudly.

"MORTIMER!" Jorane was beside herself with terror.

"SHUT UP!!!"

"ARE YOU CRAZY? STOP THE CAR!"

"NO! It will end! HERE AND NOW!!!" Once more, Mortimer stepped hard on the gas, pressing it down until it hit the floor. The engine howled its protest, as the car flew through the night.

"Mortimer, whatever you are intending to do, please, don't," Jorane pleaded, tears running down her rosy cheeks.

A last time he looked at her. "I love you, Jorane. Nobody else will ever love you like I did. You leave me no other choice." Then he pulled hard at the steering wheel. The dark blue Mercedes left the wet road and crashed into a tree at the side.



"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" Soaked with sweat and awakened by her own fearful outcry, Jorane's emerald eyes flew open. Her heart hammered wildly against her rib cage and she panted for breath. Finally she looked around the darkened room and realized where she was. "I'm home... safe... alive... " She ran one hand through her short, damp, blonde hair. Then she grabbed a pillow and rolled on her side, hiding her face in the silky soft fabric as the tears came. "Oh God, will this never stop? It's been over a year now. Why can't I just forget the whole thing?"

After the sobs and tears had subsided, she sat up and glanced at the alarm clock sitting on the night stand, beside her bed. 07:43 a.m. shone in red numbers and Jorane rubbed her face. She pulled at the T-shirt, which stuck sweat-soaked to her body, then pulled back the light blanket and felt a sharp stab in her heart as her eyes fell on the scars of her left leg. It didn't matter how often she had seen them. Everytime it was a shock all over again. Just as it had been then, in the hospital, where the horrible pain had nearly driven her insane and the seemingly endless surgeries and physiotherapies robbed her off her strength. Jorane's bottom lip trembled and she bit down on it to keep from bursting into tears again. With her right hand she reached for the cane that leaned against the bed. Finally, she rose awkwardly and limped supported by her cane to the bathroom to take a shower.



Some time later, she sat freshly showered and wrapped in a terrycloth robe at the desk in her study, her head supported on her left arm. Lost in thought, she gazed at the document she held in her right hand. "What am I to do? I'm going to lose my house if I don't find somebody, who rents the apartment upstairs . Why can't there be just one thing without any complications in my life?"

The blonde woman sighed und put the letter aside. She opened the front drawer of her big desk and took out a clean, white sheet of paper and a pen. Carefully she unscrewed the cap of the silvery pen and began to write.

But right after the first word she stopped, starring disbelievingly at the letters in black ink that stood out sharply against the white background; Loneliness.

Jorane frowned and shook her head. "No, that's not a good subject for a poem." She crumpled the paper to a little ball and threw it in direction of the paper-basket, which stood not too far away. The ball missed its target and fell to the floor, a good couple of inches beside the basket.

"Well, today is just not my day," the blonde woman grumbled and got up from her chair. Sharp pain tore through her left leg. Jorane clenched her teeth, squeezing her eyes shut tightly. "Oh, oh, that's not good. I need to take my meds."

Carefully and slowly she moved back to the bedroom and changed into a pair of sweatpants and a clean T-shirt. Then she limped to the kitchen, grabbed the pills and a glass of water. After swallowing the strong painkillers, she made breakfast. During that Jorane's eyes fell on the ticking clock, which made the only sound in the otherwise silent apartment. "Mhh, better get some more rolls ready. David should be here in about thirty minutes and he is always hungry. I wonder where the guy puts all that stuff?"

A small smile formed on her lips with the thought of the young man, who always managed to cheer her up, no matter how bad her mood was. Yes, David Turner was her friend. Probably the only true friend she ever had in her life.


*********************************************************************


The rusty, rattly, old pick-up rolled along the street at a leisurely pace.

Ileana Surienka whistled and tapped her fingers against the steering wheel to the rhythm of the song sounding from the radio. Her long, raven hair wafted softly in the breeze coming in through the open window. On the front passenger seat, a Ragdoll tomcat lay curled up and seemed to be asleep. From time to time his pointy ears twitched.

Ileana grinned, extended a hand and stroked his head gently. He turned on his back, wrapped two paws around her arm and began to purr as she caressed the soft, light brown colored fur of his belly. "Oh Attila, you are such a pussycat." The young woman laughed before turning her azure blue eyes back to the road.

Suddenly the car bucked. It rattled, hissed and patches of white steam rose from beneath the hood.

Ileana groaned, unhappily. "Oh no! Oh no, not that too!God damn it all to hell! Shit!" Finally the car stopped at the roadside. The dark haired woman mumbled some Russian curses, got out and kicked the door shut in anger. She opened the hood and the steam fled in one mighty cloud. "Great, absolutely great!" she exclaimed, sarcastically. She pulled her cellphone from her leather pant's pocket. But after she opened the lid, she read "no service" on the display. "Well, who would have thought! Would have been too easy, right?"

Attila stood on the driver's seat, two paws resting against the door and craned his neck through the open window, his blue eyes gazing at his mistress as a questioning "Meow" sounded.

Ileana looked at her cat and lifted him into her arms, which had him soon purring madly again. "I'll tell you what, Attila. Either, it's just not our day, or this country doesn't like us at all. Since we are here, everything goes wrong. First there are turbulences causing the plane to nearly crash. Then our whole luggage disappears mysteriously at the airport... it's probably already on its way to Brazil or something. Then we get this old tin can at the rent-a-car and now this! No, sometimes life is just not fair, am I right, buddy?"

As an answer, the cat rubbed his head against her chin, as if to say "Everything is going to be fine."

Ileana chuckled and put him back inside the pick-up. She scanned her surroundings. "God, here is nothing for miles. We're stranded at the end of the world."

But then her ears picked up something. The distinct sound of a car that drew closer.

"Oh, great. Hopefully it's not a pervert or a crazy mass murderer. That's exactely what I need to really sweeten my day." Soon after these words left her mouth she jumped to the middle of the street, waving her arms madly to get the driver's attention.

Right in front of her feet, the silvery, angular car skidded to a halt, tires squealing. The young woman waved, laughing at the shocked driver. She went to the car and rapped her knuckles politely against the window.

The driver inhaled sharply, before lowering the pane. "Are you hurt, Miss?" he asked cautiously, still slightly shocked.

Ileana chuckled and shook her head. "No, I just wanted to stop your car."

The young man noticed her accent and said, "Does everyone in your country stop cars in such a crazy way as you did? It's life-threatening!"

Still smiling, she blurted happily, "Why? My car is dead and I need to go to the town. I'm sure we can get a ride with you, because you look very nice. I just get my things and Attila."

"We? Attila?" the driver repeated confused and looked to Ileana's car, where steam was still rising from beneath the hood. He couldn't give another thought to the strange encounter because a second later, the young woman was already in the passenger seat and threw her things to the backseat, while he stared open-mouthed at the hissing fur bundle in her arms.

Wrinkling her forehead, the foreign woman suddenly looked at him. Her azure blue eyes practically piercing, she asked suspiciously, "What kind of work do you do? Or how do you say here... what do you do for a living?"

"I don't understand you..." But then his gaze followed her to the open trunk and he had to laugh.

"A rolled up mattress, a folding bed, and some other weird stuff... Well, you sure got some strange utensils back there..." the young woman responded.

"No, no. You're getting this all wrong. I need this stuff when I drive to my customers' homes in order to give them a massage for example."

Ileana relaxed back in her seat and nodded her head knowingly. "Ah, I understand. But from your appearance with jeans, T-shirt and disheveled hair I wouldn't have gathered that you are one of those people." She grinned and finished, "But you are an erotic masseur."

The young man's eyes widened. "WHAT? NO! I'm a physiotherapist!" he exclaimed shocked.

"Oh, sorry. I didn't mean to offend you or anything. It's a great job."

Confused he looked at his new passenger and sighed. "Let's just start again from the beginning, okay? My name is David, David Turner." He held out his hand and she took it.

Ileana beamed at him, "Nice to meet you, David. My name is Ileana Surienka. I'm a singer and dancer."

"You sure have a strong grip," he said while glancing at her beautiful face with the azure blue eyes. Suddenly, David mentioned, "You look kinda familiar."

"Hey, is that one of those stupid pick-up-lines you have here in your country?" Ileana asked smiling, shaking her long, black mane.

"I wouldn't dare to ask out a woman using such silly words. But still, I think I've already seen you somewhere."

"Can be," Ileana replied, mysteriously.

The young man nodded. "Maybe I will remember on the way."



The drive on the deserted country road was entertaining for them both. Ileana sang to every song that drifted from the radio, even when she didn't know the lyrics. Besides that she constantly moved her slender body to the rhythm of the music, not able to hold still for one second.

After awhile David asked, "Where were you off to?"

"Well, actually I'm searching for a place, where I can stay for an indefinite period of time."

"Aha," David answered shortly and contemplated her words.

As if she could hear his thoughts, Ileana asked, "You are from here, right? So maybe you know of a place? I am a nice and peaceful person to be with." She chuckled.

"Hmm, I just had an idea. I know someone, who is searching for a tenant."

"Yes, really? Cool, tell me more," the young woman ordered.

"Well, my next patient... uh, no actually she is my best friend. She owns a house in a suburb of the city. It's a very quiet residential area..." He glanced at his passenger and felt small doubts rising.

Ileana misinterpreted the glance and answered promptly, "Oh, it doesn't matter! If I think about it, it's actually perfect! I need silence and lots of fresh air to write my songs." She looked at David in anticipation, who stared at the street, lost in thought. More to himself he said determindly, "Yeah, maybe that's good. At least, it can't go on like it has."

Ileana wrinkled her forehead, her body tensed and her curiosity grew. "Please, please. Tell me some more."

"Well, not much else to tell. It is a little, old house, but has a lot of charm..."

Ileana laughed. "No! Tell me more about her!" She relaxed back in her seat.

"Oh, about Jorane?"

"Jorane," the singer repeated devoutly, rolling the 'r' strongly because of her beautiful accent.

Hesitatingly, David began to talk, "I don't know what to tell you about her. It might be better if you get to know her, because I'm not so sure if she would like it when I... Jorane is a very private person in that matter."

"So, she's a lady with secrets, yes? Well, I can't wait to get to know this Jorane," Ileana said with growing excitement, a smile spreading across her features.


*********************************************************************


Some time later, they passed the first houses. Ileana could see clean streets, lined by big, old trees, well-tended gardens and nice houses. David turned into a driveway and stopped the car. Filled with happy anticipation concerning the meeting with the unknown woman, Ileana jumped out of the car. Her tomcat Attila prefered to wait, curled up in the seat. Intrigued, she scanned her surroundings. From the car, she had already noticed the big wooden sign, stating "Room for rent".

The house was almost invisible from the street because the garden looked more like a forest, but now it held all of Ileana's attention. The front of the first floor was dominated by big windows, but the curtains didn't allow any glances in from the outside. The second floor's windows had been built into the roof.

"Now, I really want to know what my new home looks from the inside."

That said, Ileana strode along the small paved way leading her to the front door. Without waiting for David, who was busy unloading their stuff from the car, the young woman climbed the two steps to the door and rang the bell. She couldn't hear anything from the inside and so she knocked loudly against the wooden door.

It took another moment until she heard a key rattling and the door finally opened.

Instandly, somebody grumbled, "You are late!"

"I'm sorry," Ileana apologized immediately, grinning from one ear to the other. Politely, she extended her hand to greet the house owner.

Dumb-founded, Jorane looked up at the tall woman standing there and beaming at her. Her gaze travelled from the beautiful face with the piercing blue eyes, over the long, dark, cascading hair, to the short top, on to the tight leather pants and down to the tied, pointy leather boots with small heels and covered with tiny metal studs, and back up.

Again and again Jorane sized up the woman, who stood in front of her door, until she found her voice and said firmly, "Begging and peddling is not welcome!"

The door was slammed right into her face and Ileana kept standing there, completely and utterly stunned.

David arrived with his and Ileana's things and asked, "Have you knocked?"

"Yes, but I'm a bit confused right now," came the short answer.

"Jorane probably didn't hear you." Forcefully, David hammered his fist against the door and soon after Jorane opened again.

"Didn't I make myself clear? I thought I said..." she spat angered, but then her eyes fell on David and surprised her voice faltered.

"Hey, Jorane. Did you get up on the wrong foot today, or what?" he asked, while breezing past her and making his way inside the house. Ileana followed him silently, trying to give the short, blonde woman a wide berth, who was shooting her suspicious looks.

"Do you want to take up root there, or will you please close the door so I can introduce you properly?" David began impatiently, when Jorane was not moving an inch from the door, staring open-mouthed at him and his companion.

Slowly she closed the door. Leaning heavily on her cane, she limped toward them and her friend said sympathetically, "Oh, got a bad day, huh? I'll make it a fast treatment today and you can rest some more."

Jorane didn't seem to have heard him, because she asked clearly irritated, "Who is she?"

"Hey, you noticed our guest?"

The blonde woman turned from the foreigner to David, sending him a disapproving glare. "I'm not in the mood for jokes!"

The tall man swallowed his next remark, running a hand through his hair a bit embarrassed. He stepped closer to Jorane and said quietly, "You are desperately searching for a tenant. Well, here is the solution to all your problems."

Jorane's gaze slid from David to the stranger, sizing her up again. She looked deeply into David's eyes. "THAT is the solution to all my problems? Have you looked at her?"

"Ohhhh yeeeaaah," David whispered, a playful leer forming on his face.

The young woman groaned and her green eyes flashed. "You! I mean she looks like one of those biker girls. Like that kind of person, who causes problems and is not solving them."

David frowned and shook his head, uncomprehendingly.

Jorane continued to whisper, "I mean she looks like she is ready to cause trouble any second!" She wanted to point her finger at the beautiful stranger, as a hoarse cry escaped her throat. "AH! I knew it, I knew it! She's gone, probably already going through my belongings to search for worthful stuff!"

David looked up and turned around. While Jorane was still thinking about which federal bureau she should call for help, he just sighed, because he saw Ileana standing in the living room.

The tall woman was looking at some framed pictures, which sat on a chest of drawers.

Finally he cleared his throat and took the phone from his friend's hand, who exclaimed furiously, "Hey! I wanted to call the police!"

"No need," David answered. "She is in the living room, waiting." He crossed his arms over his muscled chest and said, "You are so unfriendly towards Ileana. I don't know you to be like that. What's wrong with you?"

"Ileana..." Jorane repeated. "That's a foreign name."

"Why are you making this so hard? Get to know her and I'm sure you two will get on well." More serious, he added, "Besides, it's not like you have much choice in that matter and you know that."

"Yes," Jorane sighed and her friend wrapped a strong arm around her shoulder. Together they entered the living room even though David was more shoving her in than she walked herself.



With mixed feelings the women stood in front of each other. Awkwardly, both cast their eyes to the floor until Jorane began, "Please, have a seat." She pointed to an overstuffed armchair and Ileana took a seat, as did David and finally Jorane. "I am Jorane Jawson," the blonde introduced herself.

"Jorane Jawson, beautiful," the foreigner breathed gently, gazing deeply into Jorane's eyes and winked at her. "My name is Ileana Surienka and I am very happy to meet you." For the first time the blonde noticed the accent and the rolling 'r' in Ileana's pronunciation.

"Are you serious? I think I have to apologize for my behaviour, but..."

"No problem," the dark haired woman chuckled. "It can only get better."

There was a short pause, nobody said anything, until David rose and mumbled, "Oh, my stomach is growling. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's hungry so I will go to the kitchen to make some coffee... yes, Jorane you'll get your tea. How long do we know each other, huh?" He didn't wait for an answer and went straight to the kitchen.

Now, the two different women were all alone in the living room. The young blonde was wracking her brain, trying to come up with something to talk about, while the brunette sat there, looking at her in anticipation and smiled.

"Well," Jorane said, "you would like to rent the rooms upstairs?"

"Yes, very much. But first I would like to take a look at them."

"They are in a respectable shape, if that's what you meant?" Jorane replied cooly.

"No, no. What I meant is, I have to see if they will be big enough for me." Ileana explained.

Astonished, the blonde asked, "For heaven's sake, just what do you want to do up there?"

But before the brunette could answer, Jorane blurted out the next question, "Do you have any previous convictions I should know about?"

She hadn't realized that David was back and leaning against the door frame.

He couldn't believe what kind of rude questions his friend asked. After clearing his throat he said curtly, "The tea needs to stand some more minutes but everything else is ready."

"Great, I'm so hungry, I could eat a bear!" Ileana exclaimed, jumped off her seat and followed the scent of freshly brewed coffee.

Meanwhile, David pulled his friend aside and asked stunned, "What was the meaning of that?"

Just as Jorane was about to reply in defiance, there was a knock at the door. Fearful, the young woman looked up at the tall man. "Who can that be?"

"I will go and open, you stay here." David opened the door, greeting the man, who stood in front of it, with a scowl. After a short, but heavy discussion he returned to Jorane, who asked scared, "Who was the man?"

David gnashed his teeth. "The slimy bank clerk."

"What did he want?"

Her big friend had to swallow before he decided to tell Jorane the truth. "He said if he doesn't get the next rate until the end of the week, they are going to put your house up for compulsory auction. You know if I had some more money I..."

Jorane pressed her lips together and nodded.

David felt sorry for his best friend and wanted to give her a hug, but she turned away, fighting to suppress the tears that burned in her eyes. Finally, she made a decision and went to the kitchen, where Ileana was pouring herself a big cup of coffee. Noticing the other two, the singer asked in indignation, "Tea bags?"

"What?" Jorane was totally lost, her confusion growing.

"Tea bags don't work. A good, delicious tasting tea has to be made with fresh leaves. It takes a lot of time and leisure."

Jorane tried to just ignore Ileana's opinion about tea. "Now, do you want to rent the rooms upstairs, or not? Payment has to be one week in advance and cash."

Behind her David stood, his eyes wide open and nodding his head wildly.

Confused the dark haired beauty gazed from one to the other before also nodding, if somewhat hesitatingly.

"Good, since we agree, I'd say we eat now before David perishes from hunger." With these words Jorane answered the loud growling of her friends stomach and took her seat at the round kitchen table that stood in front of the big window, which gave a great view of the garden outside.

Before Ileana joined them, she pulled the curtain aside a bit and gazed through the glass. The garden was surrounded by wildly growing hedges and trees. From the tallest tree hung a swing, its white color layer flaking off in places. The lawn looked more like a wild meadow. Weeds were growing everywhere untamed as were grass and wild flowers in every color. On the terrace sat some terracotta pots, dried plants hanging over their rims.

Jorane didn't miss Ileana's gaze and said, almost apologizing, "It looks hopelessly wild, I know. Needs some grooming..." Clearly embarrassed, she ran a hand through her short, blonde hair.

Ileana whirled around, sat down opposite to Jorane and bent over the table. "Jorane?"

Immediately, the young woman looked up and fell into large, sparkling, blue eyes, her heart rate speeding up.

In her smooth alto voice the brunette said convincingly, "No, don't change it. It is very beautiful like this... I love it wild..."

The last part was said in such a strange tone that Jorane had a feeling Ileana wasn't talking about the garden anymore. Roughly, she shoved that particular thought aside. Breathlessly, the blonde leaned back, her eyes searching for a neutral point in the kitchen to avoid looking at Ileana, because somehow she suddenly felt uncomfortable doing that. But again and again her eyes met those of her new tenant. Seductively, the brunette gazed over the rim of the cup she was drinking from.

Nobody said anything until Jorane couldn't stand it anymore and blurted, "David will now show you the rooms upstairs." She fought to get her composure back.

A bit sad, Ileana responded with a question, "Jorane? Why don't you show them to me?"

The whole time David had been concentrating on his breakfast but at that question he winced inwardly and looked concerned at his friend. Unknowingly, the brunette had hit a very sore spot.

Considerably cold, the blonde woman replied, "Climbing stairs causes pain I'd like to avoid." Jorane rose and leaning on her cane she limped from the kitchen, without saying another word.



Dismay was heavy in Ileana's voice as she looked helplessly at David, "It wasn't my intention to hurt Jorane."

The man put down his cup, trying to calm the upset, young woman. "I know. But, Jorane is very sensitive concerning this matter. She never talks about it, but the pain runs deep."

Ileana rose abruptly from the table, meaning to leave and exclaimed, "I have to go to her immediatedly to apologize."

David grabbed her arm to hold her back. "No, just leave it. Believe me, it's better this way."

At first she struggled, but then she gave in with a sigh and nodded.



Together they climbed the stairs and David noticed that Ileana was still upset. "Don't worry about it. Later she will have forgotten about it." Grinning, he added, "Do you think you're the only one?"

"What do you mean?"

"Do you think I don't have fights with her? Sometimes she drives me totally crazy with her rude behaviour."

A bit disbelieving Ileana asked, "Really?"

"Yes, but that's okay. It never gets boring."

"Boredom would be a very bad thing for me," Ileana said, already smiling again.

"I know," David replied and winked.



"There we are, your new home!" David announced, spreading his arms wide to indicate the area.

Curious, Ileana entered the apartment. First, she walked into the bright living room. "Wow, it's great! From the outside you can't guess how big the rooms truly are."

"Yeah, but it doesn't have much furniture," David mentioned.

Ileana answered, "Oh, that's just fine. I need much space to practise dancing."

The young man's eyes drifted from the parquet to the metal studs that covered the singer's black leather boots. "Alright, but do me a favour."

At the questioning look he added, "Try practising in socks first, okay? For peace's sake."

Ileana laughed loudly. "Don't worry. I'm sure we will get along just fine, Jorane and I. And now I want to see the rest of my new home."

Like a whirlwind she turned to the door that was closest to her and David couldn't help but grin wolfishly and whistled through his teeth. "What a hot chick. I'm anxious to see how this will develop."

Then he followed the beautiful woman, who had just entered the bedroom. "Now, this I would call a big bed, " Ileana said and threw herself upon it. She rested on her back and stretched her arms and legs as far as she could. "Oh, a real bed. I'm just realizing how tired I am from my long journey." But soon after, she leapt up again and went to the window. "I have a view of the beautiful garden."

David nodded, while leaning against the door's frame.

"What's behind the other door?" Ileana asked and walked back to the living room, passing David on her way.

"That's the bathroom. You don't have your own kitchen up here, so I think you'll have to share the one downstairs with Jorane."

The singer smiled. "That's fine. I prefer eating with a good friend to eating all alone."

"Don't be so sure that Jorane will join you for meals."

She grinned, poking his chest with an index finger. "Take my word for it, that I will get her to join me."

David crossed his arms. "Uh, I guess you have your work cut out for you. Are you sure, you will be able to do that? It's very hard to coax Jorane out of her shell, especially when trying to cheer her up. Believe me, I know what I'm talking about."

"Just leave that to me." Ileana struck a superhero pose and the physiotherapist had to laugh. "Oh yeah, I can so totally see it. You turning on your unbelieveable charm to get a heavily resisting Jorane to eat with you."

"Hey!" came Ileana's outcry in mocked anger and she glared at him. "I have many skills! You just wait! Does Jorane like chicken?"

"Chicken? Why?" he asked, frowning.

"Well, If I want her to join me for meals, maybe I should cook dinner today? Something from my home country? Chicken in sour cream?" she explained, smiling.

David looked at her in astonishment. "You can cook?"

The singer crossed her arms and lifted an eyebrow. "Like I said, I have many skills! When I was little I spent lots of time in the kitchen with my grandma and picked up some things here and there. Would you please be so kind to answer my question? Does Jorane eat chicken?"

"Of course."

"Good!" the dark haired beauty announced and rubbed her hands together. "Then I will create a delicious dinner tonight she won't forget as long as she lives!" she swore, grinning widely and waggling her eyebrows.

David laughed and left the room to get Ileana's things, which were still downstairs, laying in the corridor beside the front door.

Meanwhile, Ileana planned in her mind what she would need to turn the big living room into a dance studio. She tap-danced four steps, trying not to make too much noise and pivoted. "Hmm, this parquet floor is great, absolutely phenomenal. Some big mirrors for the walls and of course a stereo sytem with surround sound and I'm all set. That shouldn't be a problem at all." Again Ileana looked around her new quarters. "Yes, I think I will like it here."

"I hope so," David mentioned as he placed her things next to the bed. "But, like I said, practise dancing in socks for now."

Ileana was stunned. "You heard it downstairs? It was indeed so loud?"

"Actually no, but it's so quiet in this house every sound sticks out," the young man explained, shrugged his shoulders and lowered himself to the bed's edge.

"Jorane doesn't like music, hm?" she finally asked, hesitatingly.

"Oh, she does. Sometimes you can hear a CD or the radio playing, but it's seldom. Jorane likes it quiet to concentrate on her work. She writes poems for different women's magazines."

"Poems?" Ileana was intrigued and wanted to know more.

David nodded, a dreamy expression on his face. "Yes, beautiful poems. I've never been a big fan of prose but Jorane's... I don't know if I can explain it... you know, it's weird, but when you read her poems, they touch something deep inside of your heart. And I'm not saying that just because I'm her friend. It's the truth."

"I believe you," she responded and took a seat next to him, patting his knee gently. "I knew from the beginning that you are a very honest person."

David thanked her, blushing.

"Say, does Jorane own a horse?" Ileana changed the subject.

"Oh, you've seen the pictures in her living room?"

The singer nodded, looking at him, greatly interested. She wanted as much information as possible about her landlady. "Yes."

The young physiotherapist cleared his throat, rubbing his neck in embarrassment. "Well, uh... the pics were taken two weeks before the accident. Jorane was a very talented and successful rider, making her horse easily take the highest obstacles..."

"Oh God," the young woman interrupted him, shocked. "Please, don't tell me she fell off her horse and hurt herself that way."

"If only it would have been like that." He shook his dark blonde hair and his face darkened considerably. "No, the truth is much more horrifying."

Ileana waited with restrained breathing if David would continue, but the physiotherapist kept silent, his gaze turned to the window.

"Please, David. Tell me."

He looked at her. "I don't know if I should. It's not a beautiful story and Jorane..."

"Please. You can trust me. I just want to understand Jorane better. I want to know why she acts like she does."

David saw the sincerity in her azure blue eyes and came to a decision. He folded his hands in his lap and stared at the floor as he began to talk, "It was not a riding accident. At that time, Jorane was engaged to a guy named Mortimer Hayes. He was very jealous of everyone and everything close to her and he didn't like it at all if Jorane was giving attention to something else but him. Anyway, she wanted to break up the engagement. She wanted out of the relationship. They were in his car, driving home, as Jorane told him she wanted to leave him. Mortimer snapped and accused her of having an affair with one of the stable guys. He crashed the car into a tree, attempting to kill Jorane and himself."

Tears welled up in Ileana's eyes and she pressed a hand to her mouth. "How awful! I hope the bastard rots in jail for what he did to Jorane!"

"He's dead," David replied without betraying any emotion. "But he ruined her life! She had to give up riding! She has to live with a disabled leg forever! Jorane has to endure panic attacks and horrible nightmares! Sometimes she gets so depressed, it scares me! She retreats from everyone and lets nobody close! Not even her family!"

"But you are her best friend," she threw in.

David shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know why she makes an exception in my case."

They were silent for awhile until David saw Ileana wiping some tears from her face. He reached into his pocket and brought out a wrinkled, but unused Kleenex, giving it to the brunette. "Here. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make you cry."

Ileana took the tissue gratefully, tried her eyes and blew her nose. "It's not your fault. I did ask, didn't I? Thank you, for being so open and telling me."

David glanced at his watch and his eyes widened. "What? So late already?" He jumped quickly off the bed. "Damn!"

"What's wrong?"

"I have to hurry with Jorane's treatment. I only got one hour before I have to be at my next patient's home. See you soon." He waved shortly before leaving the room and running down the stairs.



Ileana rose and started to put the few things she still had in the wardrobe, as a sudden thought stopped her. "Attila! Oh, sweetie, I totally forgot about you!" She jogged down the stairs, out of the front door, straight to David's car, where Attila was peacefully resting on the driver seat, warm sunlight shining on his soft fur. The brunette singer opened the door. "Hey, buddy," she said softly, patting him between his pointy ears. "We're home. Time to get up."

Attila yawned widely, before slowly lifting his behind to stretch his limbs.

Ileana took him into her arms and the tomcat rubbed his head against her chin, purring contently, while they went back inside.

Soon after she had closed the door behind her, she could hear Jorane's upset voice from the living room. "WHAT? What do you mean you told her?"

"It's not so bad," David's calm answer followed.

"Not so bad? NOT SO BAD??? How would you react if I were to talk with a complete stranger about your private life? That's none of anyone's business! That's why it's called PRIVATE!"

David sighed, "I don't know why you are making such a big deal out of it. She's your new roommate. And who knows, maybe you'll be best friends with her soon."

Carefully, Ileana, with Attila in her arms, peered around the corner, glancing into the living room. She knew it wasn't nice to eavesdrop on conversations, but she was looking forward to the blonde woman's answer.

Jorane lay red faced on a foam mat, beads of sweat from exertion visible on her forehead. David knelt in front of her, her left leg in his hands, moving it back and forward.

"I don't need her to be my friend," Jorane hissed through clenched teeth. "I just want her to pay the rent on time. I'm fine on my own."

"God damnit! Why do you have to be so damn stubborn? Why don't you give her a chance? Maybe you'll like her!" David shot back seriously, stretching her leg a bit roughly.

Ileana's eyes followed their conversation like a ball in a tennis match.

Jorane bit her lip until the pain faded somewhat before she replied acidly, "Just because you like her doesn't mean I have to. If you want to date her, then ask her! But leave me alone with it, okay?"

The tall man blushed brightly.

"Aha! I knew it!" Jorane exclaimed triumphantly. "Your blushing is my proof! You've got a crush on her! David Turner and the hot leather babe, what a dream pair," she teased, grinning.

"Nonsense!" he argued firmly. Changing from remedial gymnastics to a relaxing massage of the pressure points on her feet, he also changed the subject to divert her attention from himself. "Ileana said, she'd like to cook dinner for you tonight."

Panting, Jorane lifted her head and upper body, supporting herself on her elbows. "I can cook my own dinner! I don't need her help! I can manage on my own, and neither do I need her pity nor her friendship or anything else for that matter but the rent for the apartment upstairs!" she spat, glaring.

David groaned. He knew those phrases by heart. "My goodness, Jorane! Do you actually know how you sound? Just because someone is nice to you and would like to be your friend doesn't mean they're questioning your capabilities. Who ever said you can't manage on your own? Why can't you just accept help when it is given freely? This is not about pity! But your pride is in the way like always!"

Ileana was so enraptured by the conversation, she didn't notice as Attila squirmed and writhed, freeing himself from her grip to sprint to the living room.

Jorane, who was still searching for a reply, cried out in surprise as suddenly a bundle of fur leapt on her stomach and looked at her with big, blue eyes. "What... what the hell is that?" she squeaked, starring wide-eyed at the animal that didn't move an inch.

David couldn't suppress a grin. "I'd say it's a cat. A tomcat, to be exact."

Jorane glared at him. "I can see that myself, smartass! Would you be so kind and take him off me? Where did he come from anyway?"

The blonde man grabbed Attila to lift him off Jorane, but the animal had other ideas. The cat dug his claws deeply into the woman's T-shirt and held on. Afraid he would hurt him otherwise, David let go.

Attila moved up on Jorane's body until he was able to look directly into her emerald eyes.

'Oh, my god,' Jorane thought to herself, 'his eyes are nearly as blue as Ileana's.'

The tomcat brushed his nose against Jorane's, rubbed his head against her cheek and began to purr. The young woman just sat there, completely frozen to the spot.

"He likes you," Ileana said smiling, entered the living room and knelt beside Jorane's mat.

The blonde woman looked at her dumb-founded. "What do you mean? He doesn't even know me, how can he like me?"

Ileana stroked her cat's head, who snuggled closer to Jorane and purred even louder.

David fought with himself to keep from bursting into loud laughter, because he found the shocked expression on Jorane's face very amusing. He turned away, hiding his grin behind a hand.

Searching for help, the blond woman gazed at Ileana, who smiled at her lovingly. "Animals have a good instinct," the singer explained, taking one of Jorane's hands, who was overcome by a weird feeling at the gentle touch. "And Attila has a great knowledge of human nature."

Heat flooded Jorane's face, she felt her ears burning and quickly pulled back her hand.

David couldn't contain his laughter anymore and guffawed. Tears welling up in his eyes, he held his stomach while writhing on the floor in laughter.

"Just ignore him, Ileana. He often gets such fits," Jorane said, scowling at her friend, who tried in vain to get his composure back.

He wanted to reply something but wasn't able between laughing and gasping for breath.

Jorane looked at him, wrinkling her forehead. "If you have anything to say, David, out with it!" she grumbled.

After the young man had himself back under control, he said, "No, I have nothing to add."

"So, his name is Attila?" the blonde turned to the singer, intrigued beyond all else. "Like Attila the conquerer and leader of the Huns?"

The brunette grinned and nodded.

"The name fits, don't you think?" David chimed in. "He just conquered your lap."

"Yes, this looks like the beginning of a wonderful friendship," Ileana mentioned, sending Jorane another heart melting smile.

"You think so?" the small blonde asked.

"I know it. So, can we?"

Jorane had trouble following Ileana's thought processes and so she stared at her blankly. "Can you what?"

"Be your friends?" Ileana breathed gently, their gazes locked.

The young woman was so dazed she didn't know what to answer. The look from these large, blue sapphires confused her greatly. She stammered and stuttered until she managed a hoarse, "If you want."

Ileana smiled. She wanted to embrace Jorane but refrained at the last moment, not wishing to scare her away so soon.

Attila meowed and curled up in Jorane's lap.



CONTINUED...




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