DISCLAIMER: The majority of the characters belong to the series Bad Girls. I don't own them but I sure do like them, especially Helen Stewart and Nikki Wade. Bad Girls was created by Maureen Chadwick, Eileen Gallagher and Ann McManus. All characters from the series are the property of Shed Productions.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: The rest of the characters are mine. Please do not 'borrow' or use them without permission of the author. This story picks up immediately after Series 3, Chapter 16 "Coming Out".
THANK YOU: A very special 'thank you' to my extraordinary beta Steff for all your input and help.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Although Barbara Hunt's back was to the door her acute hearing picked up the lumbering gait of Bodybag approaching. The shuffling stopped outside her cell.
"Mail call, Hunt. You have a letter here from Wade." The disdain in Bodybag's voice was obvious.
Barbara whirled around, trying to conceal her eagerness. It had been nearly a month since Nikki's release and she had just about given up all hope of hearing from her former roommate.
Bodybag sniffed in disgust as she handed over the envelope, opened naturally. "Pretty fancy stationary for an ex-con if you ask me."
"I don't believe anyone did ask you," Yvonne Atkins remarked from behind Bodybag.
"You watch your mouth, Atkins, or you'll find yourself back on the block." With a wag of her finger and wearing her usual sour expression, Bodybag ambled off. As soon as she was out of the way, Yvonne, followed by the two Julies, crowded into the cell.
"You got a letter from Nik?" Julie Saunders asked.
"From Nik?" Julie Johnson echoed. "What does she say?" Both Julies looked at Barbara in hopeful expectation.
Yvonne smiled at her. "You don't mind sharing your letter, do you Babs?"
"Of course not." Barbara knew these women missed Nikki as much as she did. Reaching for her reading glasses, she opened the letter and began to read.
First off, I bet you thought I was never going to write. Actually, I had to get permission from my parole officer. There are a lot of asinine rules that I have to follow during my period of parole. No association with known felons is just one of many. He obviously doesn't know how wonderful you all are. Among some of the others no working at Chix for 90 days (that's where my crime took place), a curfew (I feel like I'm fourteen again), and monthly meetings for a year. If I am a good girl and don't break any rules, at the end of that time I will be on my own again. Eleven months and counting!
My parole officer, Mr. Hastings, reminds me of Mr. McAllister. He is not too bad a bloke but it sure chafed me that I had to get his permission before I could contact you. In some ways it feels like I'm still at Larkhall with screws running my life. No Fenners or Bodybags out here though, I am happy to report.
This past month has flown. There have been a number of changes in four years but it didn't take me too long to get my legs under me. I spent the first couple of days reacquainting myself with the shops and I have assembled a new wardrobe, new mobile and an MP3 player.
Trisha and I did not get together after all. We concluded that we're better off just staying friends. I have also decided to sell off my share of Chix and open a florist shop. I've just begun looking so it will probably be a while before I find exactly what I want. In the meantime I have a new job and a new flat. I'm temporarily working in a bookstore owned by a couple of mates. The flat is over the bookstore so I can literally roll out of bed in the morning and be at work in fifteen minutes, a fact that has come in quite handy a few times I can tell you!
I have also reconnected with some members of my family not my parents or brother but an aunt, Kit, and my niece Claudia. I hadn't seen Claudia since she was a newborn but last week she showed up at Chix asking for me. The main reason I agreed to see her was that I knew it would piss off my brother. Turns out there was a big row at home when Tony (my brother) found out about it. Apparently Claudia told him that she was an adult and that he should sod off. She will be starting her second year at University in the fall and much as I hate to admit this, she reminds me of myself at that age cocksure of herself, cheeky, smart, and, it goes without saying, quite good-looking.'
The listeners chuckled at this statement and Barbara adjusted her glasses before continuing.
'We have hit it off quite nicely and I am looking forward to spending more time with her. It's a bit odd having family around after so long a time without but I am also getting used to that.
Monica and I have seen each other several times since I got out. She is busy with her charities and with the two halfway houses. She sends her best to everyone and said for me to be sure and tell the Julies that Tinkerbelle is fine. Actually, having seen Tinkerbelle recently, she is more than fine. One contented fat cat is how I would describe her.'
"Ah, Tinkerbelle," both Julies murmured, remembering the cat and her kittens that Nikki had successfully arranged to smuggle out of Larkhall.
Barbara read on.
'My mates threw a party for me the day I was released and guess who dropped by to congratulate me Miss Stewart. She and I have kept in touch since then and see each other quite often. She recently went to work for Monica at Spencer's House and seems to like it. She is quite insistent that I finish my degree since I am so close. With any luck at the end of this year I will not only be a shop owner but one with a degree in English literature. We had quite a discussion the other day on the topic of soul-mates and it might interest you to know that she shares your opinion on the subject. I think the two of you have convinced me that your point of view is correct.'
Barbara grinned. Correctly assuming that her letter would be opened and read by the guards, Nikki had let her know in those few sentences that she and Helen were together without tipping her hand to anyone else.
'Well, that is most of the news for now. I am not allowed to visit you until after my parole is completed but I can accept phone calls and I will definitely write. Please say 'hello' to the Julies, Yvonne, Shaz and Crystal for me. I miss you and am counting the days until we can meet again on the outside.
Nikki had thoughtfully enclosed several phone cards along with her new number, and Barbara set them aside for later use.
"Well, she sounds happy," Yvonne remarked. "That's good. Nikki deserves it. Catch you later, Babs."
"We better go too, Ju." Julie S said. "We need to start getting things ready for lunch. Thanks for sharing the letter."
"Yeah, thanks," echoed Julie J.
Barbara smiled, re-reading the paragraph about Helen, picturing the reunion between the two lovers, relieved that they had overcome the obstacles that had kept them apart. Bodybag's voice interrupted her.
"Hunt! We need some tea!"
Sighing, Barbara folded the letter and placed it under her pillow. Nikki couldn't visit but she could talk to her by phone. Hearing her voice would be bittersweet but she was already looking ahead to making the call. Smiling at the thought she exited her cell.
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