DISCLAIMER: Characters from BG belong to Shed Productions and characters from ER belong to NBC.  They do not belong to me and only behave in the manner depicted because I want them to.

A Cut Above
By Humbug

Chapter One

Helen Stewart, aged 35, Consultant Surgeon and the youngest Clinical Director in St Jeremiah’s Hospital, arrived back at work from a 6 month secondment, only to find several changes had taken place whilst she had been away.  For a start the existing Directorate Manager, Karen Betts, had been poached by a private hospital with the offer of a much more attractive package then the cash-starved NHS could offer her.  She had been replaced by a young hotshot by the name of Nikki Wade, who came with glowing references for her ability to get the job done, but was not known for being willing to compromise with the clinicians she worked alongside.  Karen’s secretary, Sylvia Hollamby had also left, having decided to take early retirement to look after her husband Bobby as he had suffered a stroke.  In her place, Nikki had appointed Barbara Hunt who, at least, looked as though she had staying power and would be able to stand up to Nikki Wade’s mulish temper.

Helen sat in her office with her second in command - Jim Fenner, Consultant Surgeon, and attempted to voice her disapproval over the events that had occurred during the 6 months she had been away on secondment in the USA.

“I can’t believe you appointed a new Directorate Manager without consulting me first Jim.”

Fenner frowned in response. “I’m sorry Helen, but in the circumstances what was I supposed to do?  Karen left unexpectedly and we couldn’t expect the department to stumble along without a Directorate Manager could we?”

“I quite understand that, but you could have kept me appraised of the situation and I would have flown over for the interviews.  For God’s sake Jim, I have to work extremely closely with the Directorate Manager and I would have liked some say in who was given the job.”

“Well Simon thought Nikki Wade was the best person for the job and, in your absence, he deferred the final decision to me. ”

“Simon?  What the hell has he got to do with all this?  Are you telling me the Chief Executive of the Hospital sat in on the interviews for a Directorate Manager’s position?”

“No, of course not.  We couldn’t drag him off the golf course for long enough, but he insisted on seeing all the applications and the video tapes of the interviews, and he agreed with the rest of the panel that Wade was the best person for the job.  She’s impressively qualified, she’s young, ambitious and is willing to get the job done at all costs.  She’s also self assured enough to handle all the complaints that are inherent in a position like hers.   To be honest with you Helen, not one person on the panel disagreed with the decision to appoint her and you know how seldom that happens!”

Helen frowned. “Well I suppose it’s too late to do anything about it now anyway.  If you let me have the tapes of the interviews, I’ll check her out for  myself.  I’ll have Nikki come to see me at some point today and I’ll try to start building some bridges with her.”

“Oh, I don’t think you’ll have any problems there,” Jim grinned.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Oh nothing.  Anyway, you’ll find out soon enough.”  With that he walked out of Helen’s office, with a grin plastered  from ear to ear.

As he walked away from Helen’s office, he literally bumped into his favourite junior doctor, who was all smiles when she saw him.

“Hi Jim,” smiled Michelle Dockley, Senior House Officer. “Stewart been giving you a hard time again has she?”

“Nah, nothing that I couldn’t handle.  She’s just a bit miffed that we appointed the new Directorate Manager without her say so.”

“Oh, nose pushed out of joint is it?  Doesn’t like to think the department can carry on without her does she?  So what’s she think of Wade?”

“She hasn’t met her yet.” Jim grinned.

“Does she know Wade’s a dyke?”

“Not yet, but I’m sure she’ll soon find out - a pretty young thing like her.  As I said to her, I don’t think she’ll have any trouble getting Wade to come round to her way of thinking.”

Shell pulled a face. “Please Jim. You’ll put me off my breakfast.”

Jim continued, unabashed. “Anyway, I don’t see that being a problem for Miss PC knickers herself - you know how she likes to be seen to have representative numbers from all minority groups in the department.”

“Think they’ll get on?”

Fenner smiled.  “No.  They’re much too similar.  Good looking, young, ambitious, all the rest of it.  There’s not enough room for two people like that at the helm of one department -  they’ll scratch each other’s eyes out.”

Shell laughed ruefully.  “Anyway, enough of them, how about a quick revision session on anatomy?  You know I’ve got exams to take in a few weeks Mr Fenner,” she said, as she slyly flashed him a glimpse of her suspenders underneath her white coat.

Fenner grinned lasciviously. “Of course Shell.  You know I’ll give you as much help as you need. You only have to ask,” he added as he moved his hand to cup Shell’s curvaceous bottom.

As Helen reviewed the video tapes of the Directorate Manager interviews, she had to admit she could immediately see why the panel had chosen Nikki Wade for the job.  She was confident, eloquent, clearly knew what she was taking about and, basically, stood head and shoulders above the other candidates.  The fact that she was also strikingly beautiful was not lost on Helen. For some strange reason, she had a curious awareness of Nikki - almost as though she knew her.  She couldn’t explain why - perhaps they had met before?  Eventually,  Helen decided, in their line of work it would have been quite easy to have encountered Ms Wade at a Healthcare Conference.

Sighing, Helen picked up her phone and spoke to her PA, Monica.

“Hi Monica, could you please arrange for Nikki Wade to come up and see me some time this afternoon - say about 3 pm.  I think it’s about time I met her face to face.”

“Certainly Helen, I’ll get right on to it.”

Monica smiled to herself.  Helen had only been back in the department for three hours and she already sounded weary. It was about time she learned to take things easy.

Helen walked into the lift on her way back up from lunch and noticed a woman, whom she recognised as Nikki, standing at the back trying to juggle a brief case and several folders of work.  She looked up as Helen walked into the lift and, briefly distracted, managed to drop all her belongings in a heap on the floor.

Ever the polite and civilised professional, Helen bent down to help Nikki pick up her things.  “Here, let me help you.”

“Thank you, that’s very kind of you,” Nikki purred in a low, husky voice.

As they both reached out to pick up the papers, their hands briefly brushed and Helen was shocked to feel a spark as their hands met.  She looked up and found herself staring into the deepest, darkest eyes she had ever seen.  Helen drew breath sharply and, as the lift stopped, hurriedly got to her feet.  “This is my stop - I’d better go.”

“Okay, and thanks again for helping me.”

“Anytime,” Helen answered abruptly, before swooping off down the corridor.  Helen walked to her office as fast as her legs would carry her and, once inside, quickly closed the door and leant against it, breathing heavily.  Just what the hell had happened in the lift?  Could it be possible that she had actually felt sexually attracted to another woman?  Of course not, Helen told herself.  Whatever it was she had felt, it certainly couldn’t be that.  After all, she was happily engaged and had never looked at a woman twice in her life.

Meanwhile, an equally bemused Nikki Wade continued her journey in the lift wondering who on earth the gorgeous woman was who had just elicited such a strong physical reaction in her. With her beautiful, soulful, emerald green eyes and Scottish accent, whoever she was, Nikki was determined to get to know her - intimately.

Chapter Two

Nikki continued to think about the ‘babe’ she had met in the lift as she made her way up to her new boss’s office.  When she arrived at the desk of Monica, Helen Stewart’s PA, she said a pleasant good morning.

Monica smiled and replied politely.  She liked this beautiful, energetic, young woman with her ready wit and charming conversation. “Good morning Ms Wade.  I hope you’re settling in well.”

“Yes, I am. Thank you,” Nikki answered happily.  “But please call me Nikki.  Ms Wade sounds far too formal.”

Monica laughed.  “As you wish.  I’ll just let Helen know you’re here.”

Monica hoped Nikki and Helen would get on well together.  She thought Nikki was just the right sort of fun-loving, lively individual to show Helen how to have a good time and learn to relax, instead of working so hard all the time.  However, she was also worried that they might not get on at all.  After all they were both very intelligent and very headstrong and she could see clashes were inevitable over some of the everyday decisions that had to be made when running a busy hospital department.  She just hoped Nikki could see beyond Helen’s business-like, efficient exterior to the soft, sensitive and caring individual that lay underneath the power suits.  Helen needed somebody onside - she had enough to contend with that slimy Jim Fenner always trying to wheedle his way into the top job; she certainly didn’t need any more trouble.  Monica’s musings were interrupted by her phone ringing.  It was Helen announcing that she was now ready to meet with Nikki Wade.

Helen waited nervously for Nikki to enter the room.  The episode in the lift had unnerved her and she wasn’t exactly sure how her body was going to react when she encountered the beautiful new manager in the confines of her office.  At least she had one advantage - she had known that it was Nikki in the lift, but Nikki didn’t know that the woman who had so beguiled her was her new boss.  Whatever happened, Helen had to maintain her composure.  She could not let this woman know just how much the incident in the lift had rattled her.

Nikki knocked and entered Helen’s office.  Her opening sentence was lost as she spotted ‘the babe from the lift’ sitting behind a large desk, chewing nervously at her pencil.  No, surely this wasn’t Helen Stewart?  Jim Fenner had told her that Helen was a ‘frigid old harridan’ - the woman in front of her was anything but that.  Nikki suddenly became aware that the vision in front of her had addressed her. “Sorry, I didn’t quite catch what you said,” apologised Nikki.

A flicker of amusement crossed the young Scot’s face before it was quickly replaced by the no-nonsense business mask she had been told to expect from Helen Stewart.  “I was just introducing myself - I’m Helen Stewart, Clinical Director.  I’m pleased to make your acquaintance at long last.”

Nikki shook the hand that Helen proffered, wondering if she had been mistaken in thinking she had encountered Helen in the lift.  If it was Helen, she certainly had no intention of acknowledging the fact - of that Nikki was sure.

“Right Ms Wade, can I get my PA to fetch you a drink or shall we get right down to business?”

“I’m  fine, thank you,” Nikki replied, anxious to get the meeting underway as soon as possible.

Any hope Nikki had that Helen Stewart’s cold demeanour would melt as the meeting progressed was quickly lost as Nikki realised that Helen hadn’t climbed to her lofty position by being warm and friendly.  Nikki drifted off into her own little world as Helen gave a long-winded speech about the background of the department and its staff.  She decided it must have been hard for Helen to make it this far in what was essentially still a man’s field.  After all there were still very few female surgeons and yet fewer female surgeons at Consultant level.  Clearly Helen had had to quell her passionate impulses to make it to where she had.  Once again, Nikki found herself being looked at expectantly.  Oops, just what had Helen been saying?

“Umm, sorry what did you ask me?”

Helen sighed heavily. “Ms Wade, I am far too busy to have to keep repeating everything I say to you.  Are you in the habit of not listening to what people tell you or do you have a hearing problem?  I certainly didn’t see anything in your personnel files to suggest a hearing impairment,” Helen said as she rummaged through the files on her desk.  “If you do have a problem, we have some of the best ENT surgeons in the UK working in this hospital.  I can easily set you up with an appointment.”

“Erm, thank you Helen but that won’t be necessary,” Nikki answered quietly.  “I’m not deaf, I just wasn’t listening.”

“I see,” Helen muttered coldly.  “Well, in the future I would appreciate it if you did listen to what I am saying.  In case you weren’t already aware, running a Surgical Department is a very serious business.  We have to be on our toes at all times and everything we do has to be checked and rechecked.  Medicine these days is far too litigious to leave anything to chance.  If you decide not to listen at an important procedural meeting, it could have ramifications for the future of the whole department.  Now I was given the impression that you are an extremely gifted and capable manager,  I hope I’m not going to find that Jim Fenner has once again made a decision using his trousers instead of  his brain.”

“I beg you pardon?”  Nikki asked, visibly shaken by Helen’s comment.  “Are you trying to imply that I was given the job on the basis of how attractive Jim Fenner and the other members of the board found me?”

“It’s a possibility.”  Helen replied stiffly.  “I’ve seen it happen before.  I’ve known  many an attractive young candidate flutter their eyelashes in just the right way to get the appointment committee’s approval.”

Nikki was furious now. Her eyes flashed angrily as she rose to her full height and leant over Helen’s desk to glare at her.  “How dare you?   If you had at least bothered to read my credentials you would know I have a BA, an LLB and an MBA from Oxford University, as well as extensive experience with some of the UK’s top hospitals and universities.  The only reason I was given this job is because I was the only person who fitted the stringent criteria listed in the person specification.  As a lesbian, I find your comments that I might have manipulated male members of staff  extremely offensive.  You should be very careful what you say Miss Stewart!  If there is even a hint of this sort of inference in any of our future conversations, I will take this matter right to the top - hot shot Clinical Director or not!  Now, if that’s all Miss Stewart, I have more important things to be doing than listening to your pompous and opinionated diatribe.”  With that Nikki gave Helen one last glare and stormed out of the office.

“Is everything okay Helen?” Monica asked tentatively.  She had heard raised voices in the office and had then seen Nikki Wade storming out.

Helen looked up bleakly, grateful to see Monica’s concerned and friendly face.

“I just made a right hash of that didn’t I?”

“What on earth did you say to her Helen?”

“I - I suppose I was trying to play the hard-nosed boss but it backfired on me.  I just wasn’t thinking straight.”  ‘Straight.’ That’s a laugh, Helen thought to herself.  Damn that woman and her beautiful face.

Monica sighed gently. “I suppose you’ll be wanting a strong cup of tea then?”

Helen smiled at her faithful PA.  “You’re a life saver Monica.  Just what would I do without you? Better put two sugars in it - I think I need it to take the bitter taste out of my mouth.”

Helen’s car pulled into the driveway at about 10 pm that night after another long and exhausting day.  She was glad to see the lounge lit up - at least it meant Sean was home.  She just hoped he hadn’t brought his work home with him.

“Hi ya babe,” he said as she walked in the door.  “Are you okay?” he asked with concern, taking her coat.  “I haven’t seen you look this miserable in a long time.”

Helen smiled ruefully.  “Just that I made the acquaintance of the new Directorate Manager for the first time today and all I managed to do was offend her and cause her to threaten to report me to the powers that be.”

“What the hell for?”

“Oh, I kind of suggested she only got the job because of her looks.”

“Helen!  You idiot.  That sort of thing could get you into serious trouble - what were you thinking?”

“That’s just it - I wasn’t thinking.  I don’t know why I said what I did.”

Sean sighed.  “Don’t you think it’s because you’ve had your nose put out of joint by Fenner on this one?  He gave her the job without consulting you; you feel annoyed with him, so you take it out on her.”

Helen smiled affectionately at her fiancé.  “I thought you were a Urological Surgeon not a bloody Psychiatrist.  Have you suddenly decided to change your speciality?”

“Oh well you know I did come top of the class when I did my psychiatry rotation.  If it hadn’t been for the fact that a certain brilliant, young,  junior doctor decided to join the Royal College of Surgeons, I might have gone my own way and joined the Royal College of Psychiatrists after all.”

“Oh, so it’s all my fault that the psychiatric world has been deprived of your brilliance is it?” Helen asked, putting her arms around Sean and rubbing their noses together.

“Absolutely.  But if you play your cards right, I’ll put my brilliance in the bedroom department entirely at your disposal instead.”

“That’s the nicest thing anyone’s said to me all day,” Helen replied, taking Sean’s hand and leading him  up the stairs to one of their numerous bedrooms.

Chapter Three

Two months on and, although Helen had tried to make amends with Nikki Wade, their working relationship was still far from  harmonious.  The situation wasn’t improved by the news that both Helen and Nikki were expected to attend an important surgical conference in Brighton.  The Chief Executive himself  had suggested they both go and he had made it very clear to Helen that he wasn’t going to take ‘no’ for an answer.

After the meeting with the Chief Executive, Helen stood in her PA’s office, hands on hips, her temper rising with every passing moment.

“Come on Monica, are you telling me that there are no hotel rooms left anywhere in Brighton?”

“I’m sorry Helen but, because of the Conference, all the hotels were fully booked months ago.  You’re lucky to have been offered one room and you’ve only got that because somebody cancelled at the last minute.”

“Do you really expect me to share a room with her?”

“I’m sorry Helen, I’ve done my best. Unless one of you drops out, you’re going to have to share a room.  Anyway, it shouldn’t be that much of a problem - it’s a twin room and plenty of other delegates have to share.  Don’t tell me you’re worried about Nikki being gay because I hardly think she’s the sort who’d force herself on anyone.”

“Of course that’s not what’s worrying me, Monica.  It’s just that we haven’t exactly hit it off have we?  Can you imagine spending several nights in a room with someone you don’t really like?”

“Of course it’s going to be difficult Helen, but I imagine Nikki will be out socialising most of the time.  I can’t imagine her sitting in her room every night.  Besides, you’ve got several dinner engagements lined up, so you’ll probably hardly ever see her.”

“Well, I hope you’re right Monica, because I don’t want the Conference ruined by a bad atmosphere.”

A short while later, Jim encountered Dominic McAllister, one of  Helen’s House Officers, on his way down to the operating theatres.

“Hello Dom, my man, how’s it going?  No problems with your exams or anything?  We don’t want Miss Stewart’s blue-eyed boy to lag behind now do we?” Jim teased.

“Come off it Jim, you know she doesn’t treat me any different to the other House Officers.”

“No, but you’d like her to wouldn’t you Dom?”

Dominic blushed and Jim laughed at him.  “Mind you, have you seen that boring old stiff she’s engaged to?  Sean Parr.  I saw him lecture at the Royal College of Surgeons the other day - very clever but he’s as dry as a bone.  I would have thought a little raver like her would have had someone a bit more passionate waiting at home.  Oh well, if someone who has his fingers stuck up old men’s backsides all day turns her on, then who am I to judge?”

Dom laughed despite his loyalty to Helen.  He, himself, had been surprised to learn that Helen was engaged to Mr Parr, the eminent Urological Surgeon.  He just couldn’t understand what Helen could see in him.  Still, each to their own.

Dominic suddenly remembered he had some important information on Helen to share.  “By the way Jim, talking of someone a bit more passionate, did you hear that Helen and Nikki are having to share a room at the Brighton Conference?”

“You’re kidding!” Fenner exclaimed, inwardly delighted at the news.

Dominic continued, “Apparently, they’ve left it so late to book, they could only get a cancellation on one room so they’re stuck with each other.”

“How do you know?” Fenner asked, incredulous that someone had information before he did.

“Zandra told me. She overheard Helen and Monica rowing about it.”

“Zandra eh?  You want to watch it, Dominic.  A bright young  man like you doesn’t want to get himself tied down to some Clinic Clerk - no matter how pretty she is.”

Dominic smiled. “Don’t worry, I can look after myself Jim.”

“I’m glad to hear it.  Let’s just hope Stewart can.”  Jim leered as a thought struck him.  “You know it’s rather appropriate that Conference is in Brighton don’t you think Dom?  What with Stewart having to share a room with a dyke.”

Dominic laughed.  “I’m sure Helen will grab the first empty room as soon as it becomes available.  She won’t be getting up to anything with Nikki.  She’s completely straight.  I have no doubts about it at all.”

Jim wasn’t quite so convinced - he’d witnessed a few altercations between Helen and Nikki and he believed that there was a lot more than just mutual hostility at the bottom of it.  You could almost see the sparks that passed between them.

One of the perks of working in a major hospital in the centre of London was that you often got cheap or complimentary tickets for certain attractions, particularly after the summer season had drawn to a close.  Helen didn’t often get chance to take advantage of any of these offers but when the chance of complimentary tickets for the British Airways London Eye came up, Helen was determined not to miss the opportunity, after all she had to pass the huge wheel every day on her way into work - she might as well see what all the fuss was about.

It had been arranged that all those members of the department who were interested would meet up in the entrance of the hospital at 5 pm on the Wednesday.  Helen made sure she had no operations scheduled for that afternoon and when 5 o’clock came, she and Monica and a few other key members of the office staff made their way down to the hospital’s front entrance.  When they got there, Helen was surprised and more than a little embarrassed to see that Nikki was also there with her PA, Barbara.

Nikki hadn’t yet noticed Helen as she was standing on the periphery of the hospital florists looking at the bouquets of flowers.  As Helen watched, Nikki picked up a large bouquet of red and white roses and took them over to the counter to pay for them.  Helen’s interest was piqued.  Flowers?  Not just flowers - Roses. Who was she buying Roses for?  Roses were definitely something you bought for a lover, not a friend or relative.  Did this mean Nikki was involved with someone?

Inevitable I suppose, thought Helen.  Somebody that gorgeous is not going to be single.  For some reason Helen felt saddened at this revelation.  Now why on earth should she be saddened that Nikki was involved with someone?  It was not as if she was single herself and Sean often bought her flowers.  Could it be that she felt just a little bit jealous?  Helen’s musings were brought to a rapid conclusion when she suddenly became aware of somebody standing in front of her.  She looked up into the amused eyes of the woman who had been occupying her mind.

“Hello Helen,”  Nikki purred.  “You look like you’re on a different planet.”

“Nikki...sorry I didn’t see you there...I was...”

Nikki interrupted,  “Oh really Helen, I didn’t realise you had a problem with your eyes.  You know, we have some of the best Ophthalmologists in the Country working here.  If you want, I know somebody who could get you a referral.”

Touche!  Helen thought to herself  but, before she could reply, Nikki had walked away to join the rest of the crowd.

As it was the end of the summer season, they were lucky enough to be able to board the London Eye without having to queue.  First of all, they were ushered into the photo room and had to stand there whilst digital images were taken.  Helen didn’t really want her photo taken but there was no option.  Oh well, she thought, it was not as if she had to buy the photo at the end.  Bizarrely enough, Helen found herself standing right in front of Nikki for the photo. She had expected Nikki to stand as far away as possible but, no, Nikki seemed quite happy to stand in such close proximity that they were touching.  Helen felt warmth suffuse her body.  It would be so easy just to lean back into Nikki’s embrace and feel warm and protected in those strong arms.  Just as the photo was taken, Helen felt Nikki’s hand on her shoulder and Nikki’s face close to hers, their soft, warm skin touching.  Virtually as soon as it had begun, it was all over and the group was led out of the booth

toward the boarding gate for the London Eye.

“Are you coming, Helen?”


“Are you coming with us or are you going to stand there all day?” Monica chided in her best strict mother’s voice.

“Sorry Monica,” Helen replied, suddenly coming back down to earth.

As they were waiting to board the pod, Nikki came over to talk to Helen who was standing at the back of the group.

“Hello again.”

“Hello Nikki.”

“Look Helen, I’m sorry about before - I shouldn’t have made that crack about the Ophthalmologists.”

“No need to apologise Nikki.  I was actually quite impressed - I like a woman who can stand up for herself!”

Nikki was stunned.  Was that a compliment she just heard?  Just as she was about to reply, Helen prodded her and pointed to the retreating backs of the rest of the St. Jeremiah’s crowd.  Helen and Nikki rushed forward only to be stopped by the burly attendants.

“Not so fast ladies.  That pod is now full - you’ll have to get in the next one.”

“But, but....” Helen began.

The attendant continued, “It’s full.  Now the next one is only a few seconds away.  Please be patient.”

Helen looked over at Nikki who just shrugged.


When Helen and Nikki finally boarded a pod they found themselves in with a group of American tourists.

“Oh well, it looks like it’s just me and you then,” Nikki muttered, walking over to the far side of the pod.

“Yes, it does doesn’t it,” agreed Helen, suddenly at a loss as to what to say next.

Oh great, Nikki thought, stuck on a pod on the London Eye with Helen bloody Stewart and she can’t even think of anything to say.  She’ll probably start talking about the weather next.

“Well, we’ve picked a lovely clear day for it,” Helen suddenly announced and it was all Nikki could do to stop herself from laughing out loud.

“Yes, lovely day,” Nikki agreed, before walking over to the other side of the pod to check the view from there.

Wonderful, Helen thought to herself.  She can’t even bear to stay in the same place as me.

As Helen slowly made her way round all the sides of the pod, checking the view from all angles, Nikki did the same so they were always standing on opposite sides. Eventually, Nikki went to sit in the central seating area, while Helen moved back to the view over the Houses of Parliament.  The sun was just starting to go down and with it came the beginnings of a fabulous sunset.  As the pod gradually moved past the mid point of the journey, Nikki concentrated her gaze onto Helen’s shapely silhouette.  As hard as she tried, and as difficult as things were between the two of them, Nikki could not bring herself to hate this woman.  One look from those beautiful emerald eyes and Nikki knew she could forgive anything Helen said.  Then there was her fantastic figure.  From a purely aesthetic point of view, Helen’s figure just couldn’t be faulted.  She was petite but had curves in all the right places.  Nikki had heard several of her male colleagues commenting on this fact and it was all she could do not to agree wholeheartedly with them.  She really should make an effort to smooth things over with Helen and now seemed as good a time as any.  Nikki walked over and stood next to Helen, fighting back the temptation to stand behind her and put her arms round Helen's waist.

“Enjoying the view?”  Nikki asked.

“Yes,” Helen answered dreamily.  “I’ve always loved the Houses of Parliament.  It’s such a fantastic building.  I know this is going to sound childish but, in this light, it reminds me of a scene from Mary Poppins or 101 Dalmations.  You know that romantic view of London that films always seem to evoke.”  Nikki nodded.  She knew exactly what Helen meant.  There was definitely something special about the view from up here, especially at sunset.  Nikki looked carefully at Helen’s side profile and, as she did, Helen turned round and looked straight into her eyes.  Nikki’s stomach flipped.  Did Helen realise the power of her eyes?  She should travel round with a sticker warning people of the danger.  Strangely enough, Helen was having similar thoughts about Nikki’s eyes at that precise moment.  They were so deep and dark, one look and you could drown in their depths.

As Helen and Nikki stared into each other’s eyes, it seemed that neither woman could look away.  Nikki stepped forward, the close proximity of her body  making Helen feel like someone was squeezing her intestines.  Their heads moved closer together.

“Sorry, can we just squeeze in and get a picture?” one of the American tourists asked.

The moment was broken and Helen and Nikki moved away from the window and their view of the Houses of Parliament.

About five minutes later, when the pod arrived back at the boarding gate, Nikki jumped back onto terra firma and shouted a hurried goodbye to Helen, muttering something about being in a rush.  Feeling slightly upset, Helen looked down at the central seating area and noticed Nikki had left her bouquet of roses.  “Nikki!” she shouted as she jumped out of the pod but Nikki was too far away to hear.  Helen could see her in the distance, her long black coat flapping behind her as she ran.

Oh well, Helen thought, fingering the petals of the roses.  It would be a shame to waste such beautiful flowers.

Chapter 4

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