While everyone fussed over poor little Lucy-poo, Kira went and took a much-needed shower, getting into completely different underwear and clothes. Now, she was in a skirt that was made of a sheer, orangey-floral material and was much longer at the back than the front, with a light, white blouse on top. She felt a hundred times better than the sweaty mess she had been before, but at least she didn't feel like she was going to explode anymore. She was ready to get started on that lunch/dinner buffet!

Her good mood lasted until she entered the kitchen and saw Tristan and Lucy sitting across from each other. The worst thing about the situation was that Lucy's shirt was off and she was just in her bra. Plus, her boobs were bigger than Kira's measly B-cup.

"Am I interrupting something?" she said, eyebrows up in her hairline. "Do you want me to come back in five minutes when you're done whatever you're doing?"

"Tristan's just helping me tend to my wound," Lucy said smugly. Kira noticed the first aid box opened on the table between them, but that didn't make her any less jealous. Thankfully, Tristan looked extremely uncomfortable, eyes wide and mouth tight.

"I didn't think bruises needed disinfectant cream or a band-aid?" Kira said, pulling up a chair and sitting between the two of them. She couldn't help but keep looking at Lucy's bra-clad boobs. Kira maybe should've gone for the low-cut singlet instead of this collared blouse. But to be fair, she was finally putting her necklace she'd bought in town a few days ago to good use.

"I could've had a broken bone," Lucy retorted snidely.

Kira ducked her head and examined the red mark that was beginning to form on the side of Lucy's flat stomach. At least she wasn't as tan Kira, although what little tan she did have looked a bit streaky. Fake tan, then.

"Wow, I got you good, didn't I?" Kira mused. "Maybe I shouldn't be allowed near a cricket bat in the near future."

"For all our health, I think that's a good idea, Kira," Tristan finally spoke up.

"Too bad we had to stop, though," Kira continued. "I was just beginning to get into the swing of things. No pun intended, of course." Kira enjoyed watching Tristan's hazel eyes flare in annoyance yet again. Mmm, jawline. His really was on par with Chris Evans', and his was perfection. "So," she said. "Now that we've decided that it's just a bruise, would you like to put your shirt back on? I know for a fact that my mum doesn't like half-naked girls walking around the house."

Like the time Kira had walked into the kitchen after a shower, with only a towel on, and Tristan had just happened to be in there at the same time. Total coincidence, but Kira had much fun watching the expressions flit across his face as he stared at her legs. Well, until Anna had walked in, that is.

Lucy clenched her jaw – not nearly as attractive as Tristan's or Chris Evans' – but put her shirt back on anyway. And… were they sweat patches she could see? Oh, lord.

"There are spare towels in the cupboard next to the bathroom if you want to take a shower," Kira said, congratulating herself on her unusual tact. Tristan seemed to just give up, settling back into his chair with a world-weary sigh. Kira was having great fun and was wondering where on earth Katrina had gotten off to. She would be kicking herself for missing this. Lucy, on the other hand, didn't look like she was having such a great time.

"I think I will do that," she mumbled, standing up, slipping her shirt on, and leaving.

She was gone all of one second when Tristan leaned forward and hissed, "You didn't have to be such a bitch! You hit her with a goddamn cricket ball, for god's sake! A cricket ball! I think she now understands how much you don't like her, if she didn't before!"

"That was a pretty good shot, wasn't it?" Kira mused. "Maybe I should join a cricket club, but that does sound a bit too sporty for me. They'd probably make me run laps or something." She shuddered, but Tristan didn't seem to care.

"She's your guest and you couldn't even be nice for one second?" he snapped.

Kira just raised her eyebrows, his anger totally not affecting her.

"Technically, she's my mother's guest, since I don't even live here, and I was nice! I offered her a shower." It did take her a while to think of when she'd been nice.

Tristan sunk back into his chair.

"Don't lie, you offered her a shower to subtly tell her how smelly you thought she was."

"Wow, Tristan, you're really beginning to understand the subtleties and intricacies of girly bitchiness."

"And I'm really beginning to see where your Arts degree has come into use – slipping uses like 'subtleties' and 'intricacies' into conversation. Well done."

Kira shrugged. "I did do an English major for three years, after all. All worthless if I don't know at least a few long words by the end of it. But seriously though, if you really enjoyed watching her thrust her sweaty boobs into your face, I can go and get her back for you."

"That is such an attractive image you're creating for me," Tristan deadpanned. His dry façade broke the next second though when he smiled slightly. "That was actually kinda awkward before you came in, you know." He thought for a moment. "Actually, it was awkward the whole time you were here, too."

She grinned at him. "I try my best. I would've liked to see my mum's expression if she'd come in here to find her with her shirt off! I think I handled that pretty nicely."

Tristan snorted. "If you ignore the part where you congratulated yourself on giving her a bruise, then yeah, you handled that so well."

Kira decided to ignore his sarcasm and gave herself a pat on the back anyway.

"I thought so," she said, smiling even wider when he rolled his eyes. "So what'd you get me for Christmas?" she asked suddenly, eyes widening with interest.

Tristan just looked at her coolly. "Why in the world would I tell you when we're about to open them in a few hours?"
"Ha!" Kira exclaimed. "So you did get me one!" She had had her doubts for a while. She'd gotten him one, of course. "Is it… a framed photo of yourself? Because if worst comes to worst, I'll just take the photo and dump the frame."

"No it is not that, surprisingly," he said sarcastically. "I put a little more thought into it than that."

"Ooh, now I'm even more excited!"

"So you got me one?" he countered back.

"Of course I did, don't be silly," she said. "And unfortunately, it's not a framed photograph of myself, though I should've thought of that earlier… I can't believe I didn't think of that before, actually!"
"Oh, lord," he muttered. "I'm kind of looking forward to seeing what this present is, in a horrifying kind of way."

"You'll love it, I'm sure," Kira declared. Anna came in just then, dressed in her horse-covered apron.

"Up you pop, Kira, you've got to help me get out the turkey. And Tristan, could you carve me up some more ham?"

That was Kira's mother. Always giving our orders, left, right and centre. Kira jumped to, anyway. Soon, the breakfast buffet had been cleared away and the lunch/dinner one set up, piles and piles of food on the table.
"It looks like you're feeding an army, mum," Kira commented, surveying the work with her hands on her hips.

Anna laughed, as she placed the last of the plates on the table.

"Well, you guys do eat a lot."

Kira thought for a moment about that and then agreed. She had been eating a lot more now that she was out here, but that was probably because she was doing so much physical exercise during the day. Her days in the city were a lot different from the ones spent out here, if that weren't obvious already.

"Alright," Anna called as she popped her head out to where the others were lounging around outside. "Present time, everyone! And then we'll get stuck into this food after that."

Kira – out of the kindness of her heart, since it was Christmas, after all – helped her mother distribute all the presents. She couldn't help but smirk when she saw a newly cleaned Lucy, who didn't seem to be acting that injured at all anymore. Most definitely not a broken bone then, so Tristan didn't need to do anymore shirtless inspections.

When everyone else had received their presents, Kira stopped playing Santa and sat down to open her own array of presents. She ended up with a pretty good haul, if she could say so herself. Anna had given her various vouchers to all her favourite boutiques on Oxford Street in Sydney, as well as some Napoleon Perdis makeup. Her mother always did get her the best presents. Katrina had given her a brand new pair of heavy-duty gloves, which even had a floral pattern on them. In her card, she made mention to the whole Napoleon/rope burn incident, that Kira still shuddered when she remembered it. A few of her friends had even mailed her some presents. It pretty much consisted of alcohol or jewellery, which Kira didn't really have much use of out here. She could just imagine how 'impressed' Katrina and Tristan would be if she brought out a bottle of raspberry flavoured vodka or midori.

And finally, she got to Tristan's present. It was a fairly large box and Kira could feel the smile growing on her face until she ripped off the wrapping and discovered…

An Akubra.

"Really?" she snapped, glaring over at Tristan. "An Akubra?!"

Tristan grinned, full of confidence.

"That's right, an Akubra. That cap of yours is getting disgusting and doesn't give you proper sun protection. Plus, you've now been here for a month and a half, it's about time someone got you into an Akubra!"

Everyone else had unfortunately tuned into their conversation and were now offering their approval of the present, urging Kira to wear it. Frowning, she opened up the box and gingerly lifted out the light brown hat, placing it on her head. As soon as she looked up, however, she came face to face with Katrina's camera.
"Got it!" the other girl crowed. "Don't worry, Tristan, I'll make sure to send it to you. And everyone else. And put it on facebook. And twitter, actually—"

"Anyway," Kira cut in, "I guess I should say thank you," she said to Tristan. They were, after all, pretty expensive, and it was actually a well thought out gift. She leaned over and hugged Tristan, lingering there a moment too long before pulling back. She received a snide look from Lucy – when would this girl be outta here again?
After everyone had received their presents, it was time to attack the buffet. Kira had managed to eat two platefuls of food and was really beginning to feel it. Once dessert was had – Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, Christmas ice-cream, and everything else Christmas – Kira was completely out for the count. She was sprawled out on her bed on her back and had no regrets about not saying goodbye to Lucy or her family, whom she had barely spoken to.


Tristan eventually poked his head around the door and laughed when he saw Kira's position and pained face.

"You shouldn't've eaten so much," he chided, coming in and leaning against the wall next to the door. He glanced around quickly, but her room was totally uninteresting. She had not put all her childhood posters and ribbons back up on display.

Kira groaned and hid her face with her arm.

"I know, but it was so good. I've just gotta sleep this off and I'll be right to tackle the leftovers tomorrow."

"This is a new side to you I haven't seen," Tristan said, sounding surprised. "The greedy food hog, side."

Kira moved her arm just enough so one eye could glare at him.

"I like Christmas food, okay?" And it had been a long time since she'd had her mother's Christmas food, and it was just delicious. How had she forgotten about that? "And is there a reason you're in here or are you just trying to piss me off?"

Tristan held up his hands in mock surrender.

"I just came here to thank you for your present, no need to get all feisty on me."

"Oh," Kira said, then she smiled. "So you liked them?"

'Them' was actually two Ralph Lauren shirts. Kira thought that they were a good middle ground between the two of them – they were fashionable, yet still a little bit country.

"I did, thank you. How did you get my size though? They fit perfectly."

Kira snorted at this. She'd spent well over a month in near constant communication with the man, doing a lot of staring, she was damn well going to know his size.

But instead of saying this and coming across as a total stalker, she simply said, "I guessed, and kept the receipt just in case. I'm glad you liked them."

"Yeah, well… thanks," Tristan said yet again, standing up and running his hand through his hair. Kira's eyebrows rose as he just stood there, awkwardly, not saying anything.

"So… if you're not going to come over here and give me another one of those elusive kisses, you'd better get out before Christmas lunch and breakfast comes back up."

This surprised a loud laugh out of Tristan as he said, "Wow, way to make yourself sound so appealing!" But he left anyway, quite quickly, to Kira's disappointment. She dismissed it with a shrug though – she still had time to tie him up and make him kiss her again.


On Boxing Day, Anna allowed them another day off, except for the 'smaller jobs', as she called them. Meaning, feeding and watering all the horses that were in the yards and the ones out in the back paddocks. So by the time Kira and Tristan had done their part, they'd made it back in time to miss the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. Kira had always watched the race, sometimes even going out on a friend's boat to witness it first hand, but she knew next to nothing about sailing. However, she knew the owner of one of the boats so she was pretty much glued to the television the whole day.

Somehow, Katrina managed to get it out of her that she didn't know a thing about sailing and had then proceeded to bring it up at every opportunity during the day, giving her and Tristan much pleasure as they downed their beers. Kira even had a dainty beer next to her – she'd made Tristan go buy her some Coronas so she wouldn't have to keep drinking disgusting VB or XXXX. So bloody country of them. The day was enjoyable, for the most part, mainly spent in front of the TV while they drank. The next day, however, not so much.

Kira hadn't drunken enough to feel hungover again after that horrific first time, but apparently she'd forgotten about that yesterday when she was downing beers like no tomorrow. She woke up feeling completely dusty, her stomach rolling around a bit and the gross taste of stale beer still in her mouth. She spent double the time in the shower that morning, scrubbing that smell out of her mouth and body.

What they would be doing that day didn't seem like it would be very fun with a hangover, but at least she'd be with the horses. Anna had a few people lined up to come and see her horses between Christmas and New Years, so it was their job to wash the horses and make them shine. At least there were no grey horses, but dealing with palominos that liked to roll was a pain anyway, Kira could imagine.

Katrina and Tristan brought in most of the young boys and girls, leading two each while the others followed. Kira was kind of glad for this, since she didn't have the best track record with leading horses. Plus, the ones that weren't being lead were being completely idiotic half the time, racing up and down the fence line and biting and kicking each other. Kira was not going to be kicked again. The bruise had only just faded from the last time and she was back to being comfortable wearing shorts and shaving over it without hissing in pain.

It actually wasn't too bad, surprisingly. They had to wash the horses first and Katrina and Kira managed to soak each other completely with the hose, so they were dripping along with their horses as they rubbed shampoo into their coats. Tristan had only missed out on it since he had disappeared to go find a special type of shampoo for one of the lighter coloured palominos. He just shook his head when he saw the two of them. Luckily, Kira had been wearing a darker coloured shirt, so it didn't turn see-through like last time. They had about five horses to wash and once this was done and they were rubbed down with a towel, they had a break for morning tea. Well, they didn't really have a choice since both Kira and Katrina were still sopping wet and they couldn't do much until the horses dried either.

"I don't know how you managed to stay so dry," Kira grumbled once she had had yet another shower and changed into new clothes. Her hangover was definitely gone by now, thank god.

Tristan grinned ruefully, his hazel eyes sparkling as he chomped on an apple.

"Well," he said between bites. "I've been doing this for a while. I know when to disappear when Katrina gets that look in her eye."

'That look' meaning when she'd stared at Kira for a few seconds before saying that she "looked hot." And no, unfortunately that wasn't a come-on, it was actually an 'excuse' so Katrina could douse Kira with water. What had then ensured was a scuffle over the hose and Katrina getting equally as wet, while the horses watched on in some fear.

As Kira took a seat at the table with her own apple, Katrina came in from the Shearer's Quarters with her hair still wet, grinning at both of them.

"Good to see you looking a bit drier," she said to Kira with a wink.

"Yeah, getting hosed down was so much fun," Kira replied sarcastically.

Katrina tried to look innocent but the evil look in her eyes gave her away.

"What, you looked hot!" she protested, while Kira just rolled her eyes.

"Next time you say something like that," Kira replied, "I am so running for the hills."


A/N: thanks for reading and the support, my lovelies!

Akubra – a famous Australian brand that makes wide-brimmed hats

Boxing Day – the day after Christmas which is a public (and bank) holiday