Nikki stretched her arms and then lit another cigarette while she waited for her lunch to arrive. The meeting they had on the first morning in New York was a success and they had signed the contract with global earlier on. They had another two weeks within which to perfect their program and get it up and running. She was laughing and joking with Yvonne as her phone rang, she picked it up with a smile on her face, it would probably be Helen.
"Nikki, its Karen. Look I don't know how to tell you this but Helen is missing"
"What? What do you mean missing?" Nikki sat bolt upright.
"She isn't here, I got back from visiting my sister fifteen minutes ago and the flat is empty"
"Oh Jesus" Nikki felt sick, "go in to my bedroom quickly, in the top drawer of my chest of drawers you will find the book. Check the photograph"
"Ok just a minute" Karen ran in to the bedroom and picked up the book, she flipped through to the photograph but it was empty. "It's empty Nikki"
"Right, well that doesn't mean she isn't in there. Look I'm going to try and book a seat on the next available flight home, keep an eye on the picture, she might turn up" Nikki was going out of her mind, she didn't know what the hell to do. If Helen was back in the book, did that mean she didn't love her? It was something Nikki didn't want to contemplate at all.
"Ok, call me back and let me know when your flight is sorted out"
"Ok, bye" Nikki put the phone down and explained everything to Yvonne.
"Right, you go sort the flights out and I will call global and let them know"
"We signed a contract, we can't both bugger off"
"Bollocks to the contract, this is more important. Sort the flights out and leave global to me"
Nikki ran out of the hotel and jumped in to the nearest available taxi to sort out the flights, she turned up at the airport half an hour later and went straight to the ticket desk.
"Good afternoon madam, how may I help you" the chirpy employee smiled falsely as she spoke.
"I need to change my tickets, I'm scheduled to fly back to the UK in two weeks from now but I need to go back today. When is the next available flight?"
"That would be at 6pm madam, but if you're scheduled to fly back in two weeks then I'm going to have to change your ticket"
"Yes I know and that's why I'm here, could you please book me and my friend on the next flight and change our tickets"
"Yes I can but its going to be a little difficult. I would have to check for availability of seats"
'Could you please just check? It's important" Nikki was getting fed up; it was like talking to a brick wall.
"Yes but first I have to change your ticket. Which day would you like to fly madam?"
"Oh for god sake! I just told you, I want to fly today at 6pm, could you please check for seats and change the bloody ticket!"
"Calm down madam, I'm doing my best"
"Your best isn't good enough, either change my ticket and book me a seat or I will complain to your supervisor"
"Just one minute please madam"
An hour later and Nikki was still standing there, she had tried at intervals to get some sense out of the ticket desk staff but so far had no luck. Yvonne joined her with the luggage, she had arranged to meet her at the airport since Nikki was still waiting for the tickets to be changed and it wouldn't make sense for her to go all the way back to the hotel.
"Excuse me; are you any further forward with my tickets yet?" Nikki asked impatiently.
"I checked and there are some seats available, we need to book them quickly though as there are a lot of people trying to get on the flight"
"So why haven't you sodding well booked them then?" Nikki was losing her rag.
"Well I can't actually change the tickets without your friend present; I need to see her passport as well"
"So you sat there for an hour, without telling me that you needed to see her passport to change the ticket? It's just as well for you that she just fucking turned up!" several people nearby turned around to look at Nikki who was now on the verge of an explosion of epic proportions. She was worried sick about Helen and she didn't need all this right now.
"Nik, watch the luggage, let me sort this out" Yvonne propelled Nikki away from the desk as she raised her hands in surrender.
"Listen darlin' we need to get on this flight, so book those seats, change the tickets and here is my bloody passport. Happy now?"
"Well actually that presents another problem. For me to change the ticket then its going to cost an awful lot of money, it stops people changing their tickets whenever they feel like"
"I've got more money that you could ever dream of, so I don't give a shit how much it costs, just change them!" Yvonne looked menacing and the woman scooted off.
Ten minutes later she was back with the tickets and all was well, Nikki scowled at her as they moved off to get some coffee, and have a much needed cigarette. They ordered the coffee and waited at the counter, Nikki was restless and tapped on the counter, she couldn't keep still.
"I know its hard love but try and stay calm, getting all upset won't help. I guarantee you that when we get home, we'll find a way to get Helen back out of the book" Yvonne patted her on the shoulder.
"I don't even know if she is in the book, for all I know she's just gone off and left me"
"Don't be daft! She wouldn't leave you, she loves you"
"Anyway how did you get out of the contract with global?" Nikki changed the subject; thinking about Helen was too painful at the moment.
"After he threatened to sue us for breach of contract and I'd stopped laughing, I told him to take the program as compensation and he agreed when he realised he was getting a good deal. I'm sorry, I know we worked hard on it but we didn't have time to piss about"
"No that's fine; I'm not really bothered to be honest. I have more important things to think about"
The coffee arrived and they scanned the seating area for somewhere relatively private to sit. Just as they sat down, with the coffee, Nikki's mobile rang.
"Its Karen, Helen isn't in the book; I found a letter in the kitchen from her. She said she couldn't stay anymore, and I haven't got a bloody clue where she's gone. I don't know why she's gone either, she seemed fine before I left, she was looking forward to calling you"
"And that was all she said?" Nikki was now more worried than ever, she didn't know what was wrong with Helen or where she had gone.
"Yes that was all she said. I would have tried ringing her phone but its sitting here on the counter next to her ring" Karen said quietly, she felt like crying.
"Oh god" Nikki dissolved in to tears and passed the phone to Yvonne.
Yvonne spoke to Karen who was in tears on the other end of the phone, she had gotten incredibly close to Helen and thought of her as a good friend, and she was worried sick about her. Yvonne, who was also fond of Helen, found it difficult not to cry as she heard Karen crying and could also see the look on Nikki's face. She put the phone down after a while and comforted Nikki as best she could, they didn't have long to wait now, the flight would be leaving in a few hours.
Nikki ran at full speed through Heathrow airport in the direction of the car park. Yvonne followed behind her breathing heavily; she wasn't used to all this rushing around. Nikki waited till Yvonne was belted in and then threw the car round as she reversed and went screeching off. Her tires screamed as she flung the car around the tight bends of the ramps. A while later, she screeched to a halt outside the flat and didn't even bother with the lift, she took the stairs two at a time.
She opened the door and went rushing in to find Karen packing the living room and chain smoking. On seeing her, Karen rushed forward and grabbed hold of Nikki, and hugged her tightly.
"Thank god you're back" Karen said with feeling.
"Where's the note?"
"On the coffee table"
Nikki looked down and the note was sitting next to Helen's phone and the ring. She picked the note up and read it. She could see the ink was smudged by tearstains and she looked up at Karen questioningly.
"The tearstains were there when I picked it up" Karen said quietly, wherever Helen had gone; it was obvious she was really upset about something.
"Shit! Where are you Helen? Why did you leave me?" she said aloud and then flopped down on the sofa, she picked up Helen's ring and held it tightly.
The room was quiet as the three women sat there wondering what on earth they were going to do, they could of course report her as a missing person but she was a grown woman and the police wouldn't do much about it and even if they found her, they couldn't force her to go back home if she didn't want to. Nikki had placed Helen's ring on to her little finger, it was the only finger the ring would fit on and she twirled it absentmindedly as she tried to figure out why Helen was upset and where she had gone. She suddenly had an idea and picked up the phone, Helen seemed pretty friendly with Miss Leigh and she always had a feeling there was more to it than Helen had let on.
"Hello, Miss Leigh, its Nikki Wade....I'm not doing too well actually, listen have you seen Helen at all? Only she's gone missing"
"Oh dear! I haven't seen her at all Miss Wade; do you have any idea why she has gone missing?"
"I'm not sure; all I know is that she was upset for some reason. She isn't back in the book, I know that much"
"Ok, listen to me and don't ask any questions, just trust me. When Helen was upset she would always go off on her own, she liked to go somewhere quiet to think. Now I'm not sure if its still there, but I think she may have gone home if she's gone anywhere"
"Where's home then? She never told me exactly where it was" Nikki wondered how the hell Miss Leigh knew how Helen behaved when she was upset.
"Grab a pen and write this down" she relayed the information to Nikki while she wrote it all on a piece of paper.
"Thanks Miss Leigh, I'm really grateful you could help"
"My pleasure dear, I'm very sure that's where she will be. A word of warning, Helen has a bad temper and she can get really angry very quickly. Just let her shout till she calms down and then talk to her, if she won't talk to you then keep trying, she'll listen eventually"
"Thanks, glad you told me. I better go; I need to get up there to see if I can find her"
"Ok dear, have a safe journey and when you find her, give her my love"
"Will do, thanks again. Bye" Nikki put the phone down and raced over to her computer, she connected to the internet and put a search in for 'Stewart House' she selected a link that directed her to a site where you could stay at the "Highland Hotel' formerly known as Stewart House for 300 hundred pounds a night. Nikki knew that was definitely the one, she switched the computer off and picked up her car keys.
"I know where she's gone. She's gone home to Scotland, back to the house where she was born"
"How can you be sure?" Yvonne asked puzzled.
"I can't be but from what I've been told by somebody who seems to know her for some strange reason, that's where she'll be" Nikki put her coat on and looked around for her luggage, which she realised was still in the car.
"Where are you going now?"
"I'm going to Scotland to find her; I need to know that she's ok"
"Karen and I will come with you"
"Thanks for the offer Yvonne but I need to do this on my own. As soon as I know anything I'll call you" she hugged and kissed them both and shot out of the door.
Twelve hours later, she was driving down a winding country lane on her way to Stewart House. She was tired and struggling to keep her eyes open, but desperate to find Helen. She opened the window to let some cold fresh air in, in an attempt to wake her up. She flipped the radio on and tried to concentrate on her driving and the music, willing herself not to fall asleep. She could see the house in the distance through the mistiness created by the rain, she hoped to god that Helen was around here somewhere. She carried on driving for a further ten minutes, when she had to steer out further in to the middle of the road to avoid a pedestrian. She carried on driving until something registered in her brain, she slammed the brakes on.
"Hang on a minute!" she said loudly, "I'd know that arse in jeans anywhere. Helen!"
Nikki opened the car door and stood in the rain, as Helen's rain and tear soaked face, stared sadly back at her. She quickly walked over to where Helen stood rooted to the spot. She didn't speak as she looked directly in to her eyes, Nikki noticed her eyes were no longer filled with love when she looked at her, there was only sadness. The rain hit the trees and bounced off the leaves making loud tapping sounds but all Helen could hear was the beating of her heart.
"Helen sweetheart, are you ok?" Nikki went to touch her but Helen flinched.
"Leave me alone" she carried on walking.
"Helen! Helen wait!" Nikki ran after her and pulled her around to face her. "What's going on? Why did you run away, I thought you loved me?"
"I do love you. I should be the one saying I thought you loved me"
"I do love you, what are you talking about?"
"I heard you, I heard the message you left on Trish's phone asking to know whether she was going to New York with you" Helen snatched her arm away and started to walk away again.
"Stop right there! I left her a message I don't deny that, but I wasn't asking her to go to New York with me, I was asking her where my passport was. I told her I was leaving in less than 24 hours and I needed to know. I did eventually find it and forgot that I had called her, she never called me back. I know what you heard but you took it in the wrong context"
"Oh is that right? Well she seems to think differently. She said I wasn't the first affair you'd had and that when you were finished playing with me then you would go crawling back to her like you always did. I wasn't going to hang around to have my heart broken like that Nikki, I really thought you loved me, I thought I meant something to you" Helen's heart was aching.
"I do love you, you mean the world to me Helen. Trish is a lying bitch; I've never had an affair with anybody. Did she actually come to the flat?" Nikki could see what was going on now about was cursing Trish for wrecking the best thing that had ever happened to her.
"Yes she did, look Nikki, if this was all about you having fun then just say it. I'm not hanging about here all day in the pissing down rain listening to you" Helen tried to sound as if she was no longer interested, but the fact was, she still loved her.
"This was about me falling in love with the most special person I ever met. It wasn't just a bit of fun, when we made love Helen I gave my heart to you. Look at me; can't you see how much I love you?"
Helen looked in to Nikki's eyes, and the love was there shining right back out at her like it always did. she was beginning to regret that she had ever run away, she would have trusted Nikki with her life, she should have listened to her instincts but she was afraid of losing the one person she had ever loved this much.
"If this was nothing more than fun for me, would I have flown all the way back from New York and driven all the way here for the last twelve hours just to pretend that I loved you? Would I have brought this with me to beg you to come back because I love you so much if I didn't mean it?" Nikki pulled Helen's ring from her finger and held it up.
"Nikki....I" Helen knew she had made a mistake, but it was too late, she had already accused Nikki of being untrustworthy and if they didn't have trust then it was pointless carrying on.
"If you still love me and I think you do, then you must know I'm telling you the truth. I don't love Trish and I never will. You're the only woman I want, you're the only one I've ever shared my dreams with Helen don't leave me, I love you" Nikki begged.
"I love you too" Helen flung herself in to Nikki's arms and held on tightly to her as she sobbed. "But it's already too late" Helen let go and walked away.
Nikki stood there in the rain as Helen walked away from her; she couldn't let her leave her like this. She ran after her and grabbed hold of her and twisted her around forcefully.
"Why is it too late?"
"It just is"
"Why?" Nikki asked once again but Helen stayed silent.
"Either you talk to me or I walk" Nikki waited for a response and didn't get one, "fine, here take the bloody car keys, I won't be needing them. Take my phone as well, because as we speak Karen and Yvonne are worried sick about you, make sure you call them. See you around" Nikki threw the phone and car keys at Helen and walked away.
Helen stared after her in amazement; she stood there until she almost lost sight of Nikki in the pouring down rain. Realising she couldn't leave things as they were; she went running after her, because it wasn't like Nikki to behave like this.
"Nikki wait!" she caught up with her.
"I'm sorry; I owe you an explanation at least"
"I gave you a chance to talk and you didn't take me up on it so sod you, I told you I'd walk and I am" Nikki increased the speed of her legs and Helen was struggling to keep up with her.
"Nikki!" there was no response, so Helen ran after her full speed and rugby tackled her on to the grass verge and sat on top of her, effectively stopping her from moving much.
"Get off, I'm getting wet down here" Nikki was somewhat relieved that Helen had started talking to her; a bit of reverse psychology never went amiss.
"No not till you let me explain. I love you more than anything, but do you really think its fair on you being with somebody who didn't trust you enough to stay? You need trust in a relationship and we're always going to be wondering if we can trust each other"
"Before Trish spoke to you, how much did you trust me?"
"With my life" Helen spoke without hesitation.
"I still trust you with my life"
"There you go then, you still trust me, and I know I trust you. We have something special, and we can't let it slip away just because somebody was intent on keeping us apart. I would have done exactly the same in your position, so stop feeling guilty because of one tiny mistake"
"Tiny mistake? Jesus, more like a mistake of epic proportions. All I could think about was what she said to me and how I would end up losing you and it was driving me nuts. I'm sorry and you'll never know how much" Helen began to cry softly.
"Come here" Nikki drew Helen in to her arms, "I would crawl over broken glass for you Helen and I know you would do the same for me. We need each other; we can't function when we're apart. All relationships have their ups and downs but what makes them stronger is the ability to learn from mistakes. We either let this break us or we put it behind us and let it bring us closer together"
"You're right and I'm sorry, I don't want to lose you now. I will do everything I can to make this up to you"
"There is no need, just having you back more than makes up for everything. So what do you say, all forgotten and in the past? We need to concentrate on our future now"
"Only if you're sure that's what you want" Helen wiped her eyes, she felt a weight lifting from her shoulders. Nikki stood up and pulled Helen with her.
"Of course I am. Come here, use your lips for something other than talking for once" Nikki held her arms wide open and Helen ran in to them.
They stood there kissing in the pouring down rain till they were both saturated to the skin. They pulled apart and giggled as they noticed how bedraggled they looked.
"I love you" Helen threw her arms around Nikki's neck.
"I love you too Stewart" Nikki took the ring from her pocket and placed it back on Helen's finger. Helen hugged her again; she didn't know how she had even contemplated walking away from Nikki in the first place.
"How do you fancy taking a look round there then?" Nikki pointed towards the big house in the distance.
"I would like to see the place again; I wonder who lives there now?"
"It's a hotel now, which is why I'm going to book us in; we need a nice hot bath and some food"
"A hotel! Some bastard's nicked my room!" Helen smiled, time had moved on and things were different now, it wouldn't do any good to get upset about it.
"Let's go and nick it back then!" Nikki smiled mischievously
They jumped in to the car and drove off towards the hotel, they would need to call Yvonne soon, she would most likely be having major kittens at this point. Nikki brought the car to a stop in front of the house and Helen felt a chill run down her spine at being back in a place she recognised so well but knowing she was as much a stranger here as Nikki.
Peter Lewis was working late in his office; he had just come back from a few weeks holiday and was taking advantage of the quiet time to catch up. He had been so upset at the breakdown of his marriage that he was unable to face going to work so he had passed all his files on to one of his partners and had had every faith that they would deal with his clients as he would himself. He flipped open a file on one of his best clients and noticed something was amiss, ordinarily he would have waited until the next day to contact the person in question but this was too important to ignore. He picked up the phone and dialed.
Helen lay on a big four poster bed and stared around the room, this had been her bedroom so many years ago. It was strange to be there now, knowing that this place was no longer her home. Stranger still was the fact that she was sharing it with Nikki, who had managed to convince management to let her have the room even though it had been reserved for somebody else. This had been her room since birth and a wicked grin found its way to her face when she thought about making love to Nikki in this very room. It had been an old fantasy of hers to make love in there and now she was here with Nikki, it was the perfect opportunity to fulfill that fantasy.
Helen quickly undressed and slipped under the duvet as she waited for Nikki to come back from the bathroom. Nikki's mobile rang and Helen sighed, she leant over and picked it up from the bedside table.
"Oh hello, may I speak to Nikki Wade please?"
"May I ask who's calling?"
"Yes of course, could you please tell her it's Peter Lewis, her accountant"
"Ok please wait a moment. NIKKI PHONE!" she shouted across the room and Nikki came out toweling her hair.
"Who is it?"
"Peter Lewis your accountant"
"Really? Wonder what he wants at this time of night?" she frowned and took the phone from Helen and sat down beside her. "Hello peter, what can I do for you?"
"Ah hi Nikki. Listen we have a potential problem here, I just came back from holiday and noticed that one of my partners didn't question the fact that your partner Miss Harris had withdrawn a large sum of money from your account. Now I'm calling to see whether you actually authorised it because I can't find a letter of authorisation from you and it seems the bank can't either"
"No I bloody didn't! How much?"
"Four hundred thousand pounds to be exact"
"How the hell did she manage to get the money without my say-so? I'm aware there is a ten thousand limit that she could withdraw if I gave her a cherub which I never have by the way so that brings us to another problem, has she ever actually done that? And if so how many times?"
"Well it seems the bank have somehow allowed her to have the money without authorisation from you. I'm not sure about the other stuff, I would have to check, she may have cashed other cheques and I've not been aware of it. I really am sorry about this; I would never have allowed her to take the money without speaking to you first"
"Yes I know see the thing is Trish and I are no longer together and we haven't been for weeks now. She was cheating on me with somebody else, my friend found out and kicked her out of the house, that was the first I knew about it"
"You wouldn't happen to know who with would you?" he spoke casually; he had his suspicions now that he had time to think about it all.
"Yeah my friend mentioned her name; I think she said it was somebody called Caroline"
"As in my bloody wife Caroline? I thought so"
"Are you serious? You mean your Caroline? I would never have thought that of her, I mean I knew she and Trish were friendly but I would never have guessed that the two of them would get off together"
"You and me both, it all makes sense now, I should have seen the signs. So it looks like Trish is in deep shit, she obviously forged your signature on the cheque hoping that nobody would notice after it was already granted but how she managed to convince the bank I don't know. Give me time to look at the rest of the records and see what else she managed to get out of you, I can call you first thing in the morning when I know more"
"Ok thanks peter, and listen don't worry about all this, it's not your fault. I'll take it through the proper channels and make sure she is dealt with"
"Ok then, sorry to be the bearer of such bad news and for what its worth I am genuinely sorry. Enjoy the rest of your night"
"Ok, you too peter, night" Nikki put the phone down and shook her head in amazement; Trish was such a sneaky bitch!
She toweled her hair dry absentmindedly; she forgot Helen was even in the room with her as she began to wonder just how much cash Trish had stolen from her over the years. Helen had caught the gist of the conversation and left Nikki to think, she knew she would talk to her when she was ready. Nikki disappeared back in to the bathroom and came out again five minutes later, she suddenly noticed Helen was in bed and came back to earth. She climbed in to bed beside her.
"I can't believe that bloody woman! Four hundred thousand she just nicked from me!"
"What are you going to do about it?"
"I'm going to wait for my accountant to phone me in the morning and then once I've got all the info I need I'm going to nail her arse to the floor"
"I can't say I'm sorry, she deserved it"
"To be honest it's not the money that's bothering me, it's the fact that she upset you. She tried to wreck our lives and I'm going to make sure she gets a little taste of her own medicine" Nikki rolled on to her side and placed her hand on Helen's shoulder.
"So, what can I do to take your mind off it?" Helen smiled seductively.
"I think you have a pretty good idea sweetheart" Nikki smiled and lay back as Helen moved to lay on top of her. Pretty soon Helen was fulfilling her fantasy and Nikki was fulfilling a few of her own. They realised that now they were even closer, they hadn't let it break them and their love was even deeper than it had been before.
They had breakfast early next morning and then they went for a walk, Helen was keen to re-visit all her old haunts. She wandered over to what had once been the stables and noticed that now it had been turned in to offices and staff accommodation. She thought of her horse Eilidh*, a lovely black mare that had been so gentle, she and Helen had been the best of friends. Like everything else now the horse had gone, disappeared in to the mists of time. A small tear trickled down her cheek and she held on to Nikki, who knew how difficult this must be for her. Helen wandered off and pulled Nikki along with her, she came to a patch of grass where the barn used to be, it obviously had not been there for some time and she thought back to the many hours she had spent there with Isobel, both in her youth and as an adult.
It was all getting too much for her and she decided to take a walk in the grounds, she knew the place like the back of her hand and in all the years that had passed it had never changed. She walked quietly hand in hand with Nikki, leading her off across a field until they came to a hill, when they got to the top; Helen pulled Nikki down on the grass with her and sat between her legs. It gave them a fantastic view of the house which sat in front of them in the distance. Helen leant further back in to Nikki and pulled her arms around her. It wasn't a warm day but the sun was shining lazily and there wasn't too much of a breeze. Nikki took in the scenery, hills were clad in heather that was a spectacular purple colour and behind them she could see rugged looking mountains, with white fluffy cotton like clouds obscuring the peaks. To the right of them a few miles in the distance a tranquil loch shimmered in the sunlight while the hills around it seemed to go on forever. She had never seen anything quite so beautiful and she felt like she could stay there forever.
"Its very beautiful" she whispered to Helen.
"Aye it is. I used to see it all every day but somehow I never got tired of looking at it, it's still so beautiful. See that hill over there?" Helen pointed to a hill to the left of them.
"Yes I see it" Nikki followed Helen's hand.
"When the winter came, we used to come out here with our sleds as kids and spend all day going up and down the hill. It used to get so cold that I couldn't feel my hands and feet but I loved it. There's a village a few miles down the road from here, my father used to invite all the children at Christmastime to come and play with all us kids on the estate. Some of those children were so poor that they couldn't afford shoes; it used to make me cry that I was never short of anything and yet those poor little ones had nothing at all. I remember my father giving them all shoes and clothes so that they were warm and dry like the rest of us, you should have seen the looks of sheer joy on their faces" Helen began to cry softly and Nikki pulled her in to a hug, she had a lump in her throat herself.
"Your father sounds like a wonderful man"
"He was both my parents were wonderful. It must have been so hard for them all those years, wondering where I was, I just disappeared"
"Yes it must have been. I'm sorry I couldn't send you back Helen, I would have tried getting you back home even if it meant losing you"
"Oh sweetheart, it's not your fault. I miss everybody and I miss being here but I also love you very much and I'm happy with you now"
"I love you too. You won't be saying that once you get to know me properly though, living with me could be sheer hell" Nikki grinned.
"What do you mean could be? Already is Wade" Helen giggled.
"Cheeky bugger! Someone is asking for a swift quick in the undercrackers!" Nikki tried to look stern and Helen burst out laughing.
"Undercrackers? Now who on earth would use such a word?"
"Oh I can think of at least two people, both big pains in the arse but both very loveable and one in particular makes my heart beat dangerously fast" Nikki placed a kiss on the side of Helen's temple.
"Does Yvonne know she has that effect on you? And should I be worried?"
"You're a bloody windup merchant Stewart! You've upset me now; I think I'll sulk for the rest of the day"
"Fantastic! Peace and quiet, ah won't that be nice" Helen winked at her.
"Keep that up and you won't get a cuddle tonight"
"Oh yes I will" Helen said with conviction.
"You're awfully sure of yourself. You should know I have iron clad willpower, I can easily resist you"
"That's probably not such a bad idea actually, I can do my all over body moisturising tonight without your interference" Helen said casually, knowing it would get Nikki hot under the collar.
"Oh dear god" Nikki was treated to visions of a naked Helen rubbing moisturiser all over her body, "sod my willpower!" she said seductively, she was about to kiss Helen when her phone rang.
Helen sat and listened quietly to the conversation, it must have been peter. Nikki was quiet mostly, while she listened to what he had to say. Shortly afterwards she put the phone back in her pocket and wrapped her arms around Helen.
"Everything is fine, as we speak, Trish is about to be picked up by the police" they both stood up and made their way back to the hotel hand in hand.
*Eilidh pronounced Aylee, Gaelic form of Helen.
Trish sat tapping her nails on the table of the interview room, she had been sitting there for an hour already and there was still no sign of anybody coming in to interview her. She was tired and the buzzing of the faulty light over her head was getting on her nerves. She knew she was in deep trouble this time, she hoped that she would get to talk to Nikki at some point to explain. She sat for a further twenty minutes and then the police officer turned up.
"Miss Harris, I apologise for the wait" DS Baxter sat down, as his female colleague sat down beside him. He placed a couple of tapes into the recording machine and switched it on. A long bleep sounded and then abruptly ended. "The interview of Miss Patricia Harris commences at 11:45am on the seventeenth of October. Present are DC Sarah Blackstock, Mr. Henry Turnstall lawyer to Miss Harris and myself DS Don Baxter. Miss Harris you do understand that you have been arrested on suspicion of fraud?"
Trish nodded her head.
"Speak up for the tape Miss Harris"
"On the fifteenth of this month, you went in to the local branch of the British United Bank and handed over a cheque on which you had forged the signature of Miss Nicola Wade. You received four hundred thousand pound is that correct?" he shuffled some papers in his hands.
"What? No, no that's not true at all" Trish began to panic.
"The bank manager was interviewed and tells us that he definitely spoke to a Miss Trish Harris, which is your name is it not?"
"Yes it is but I didn't steal that money from Nikki"
"You also handed in a cheque on two separate occasions, let me see, on the second and the tenth of this month. Both again with a forged signature and both for the amount of ten thousand pounds, is that correct?"
"Yes I admit to that but I didn't steal four hundred thousand!" Trish was getting agitated, she knew she wasn't responsible but the police seemed to think she was.
"Can you explain to me then how the bank manager identified you?"
"I don't know I've never met the bank manager, I didn't need to, the money was never over the allowed limit"
"Then we have a problem Miss Harris, because the bank manager is certain it was you and he says he knows it was you because he has met you before. At a fundraising party Miss Wade once hosted, it says here"
"Well yes I did meet him once, but only very briefly"
"Then you can't deny that he knows you, so how do you explain away that he recognised you when you handed the cheque over?"
"I don't know why he thinks it was me; I swear I never took that money!" the hole Trish was stuck in was getting deeper by the minute.
"May I suggest that you re-interview the bank manager, he may have been confused about his identification of my client" Mr. Turnstall spoke up, he knew it was a weak suggestion but he was trying to take the heat off Trish for a while.
"I have no need to; you see I have CCTV footage of Miss Harris here entering the bank..." DS Baxter was interrupted when Trish spoke.
"I want to see the footage; I can prove it wasn't me" Trish suddenly had a thought, she hadn't stolen the four hundred grand but she knew a woman who probably had.
"Its not normal procedure but in this instance I will allow it. I'm suspending this interview at 11:55am in order to show Miss Harris the CCTV footage from the bank" he pressed the stop button and led her from the room.
Nikki knocked on Yvonne's front door, Helen gripped her hand tightly, she was nervous about coming face to face with Karen and Yvonne again after what happened. She stood trembling slightly, Nikki noticed and wrapped an arm around her, she had spent the last few hours trying to convince her she had nothing to worry about. The door was opened and Yvonne's face broke out in to a huge grin when she saw who was standing there.
"Helen! Come here darlin' how are ya?" she drew Helen in to a hug and held on tightly to her.
"I'm fine thanks Yvonne. I'm really sorry I ran off like that" she said in a small broken voice.
"Don't worry about it, Nikki explained everything. Karen and I are just glad that you're safe and back where you belong sweetheart. Right come in you two, kettle is boiling and I've got some food knocking about somewhere" she pulled them both in and closed the door.
Helen walked in to the kitchen and was feeling much better than she had before, she had been dreading their reaction but Yvonne had put her mind at rest. There was only Karen left to face, she was sitting at the kitchen table when Helen walked in, and she jumped up when she noticed her.
"Hiya Karen, I'm sorry"
"Oh love, its all in the past now. I'm just glad you're safe" Karen pulled her in to a hug and the tears rolled down Helen's face, she had three very special people in her life who cared for her unconditionally, it made her feel special.
"Sit yourselves down, you're making the place look untidy" Yvonne grinned as she busied herself with making the coffee.
Caroline was standing at a check-in desk at Heathrow; she was waiting to check in for a flight to Los Angeles. She kept checking her watch hoping that the queue would move faster, she grinned when she thought of the four hundred thousand reasons why she couldn't wait to start a new life. Putting a blonde wig on and convincing the bank manager to let her have the money was easier than she had imagined. Being married to Peter had its uses, after all, if she hadn't known the bank manager's sordid little secret then he wouldn't have given her the money and she wouldn't have persuaded him to lie for her should the police ask questions. She knew if Trish hadn't been picked up then she soon would be and it served her right, she was a spineless bitch who didn't have the courage to take what she wanted.
The queue at last seemed to be moving and it wasn't soon before she passed her ticket and passport over to the woman seated behind the check-in desk. The woman smiled up at her and then looked at the passport, she excused herself and went to phone the airport police, it seemed she had just found the very woman they were looking for. She stalled until the police arrived.
"Mrs. Caroline Lewis?
"We are arresting you on suspicion of committing fraud. You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence." the officer clamped the cuffs on and Caroline was led away, she knew it was pointless trying to deny it; they would have evidence on her by now anyway.
She was taken out to a waiting police car, and pushed in to the back of it. She had come so close to freedom only to have it snatched away in the final few minutes. She was certain of one thing, Trish must have led the police to her and she was going to drag her down with her all the way.
Nikki was tinkering about on her computer when her phone rang; she picked it up quickly not wanting the noise to disturb Helen while she was having a nap. Helen was physically and emotionally worn out after the events of the last few days and Nikki knew just how she was feeling.
"Hi Nikki its Trish, please don't put the phone down. They allowed me one call and I had to talk to you"
"Make it quick Trish cos to be honest I'm not really interested"
"I took twenty grand from you and I shouldn't have done, but I took the money for a surprise for you, I booked us a holiday with it. I wanted to take you away and prove to you how much I love you. I didn't take any more than that, Caroline stole the rest"
"You had no right Trish; your reasons do not justify what you did. You will pay for what you did and Caroline will too. And don't try and lie to me, you cheated on me, if you think that's love then you have a twisted idea of how love should be"
"Oh Nikki, please...once I lost you it dawned on me how much I cared, I realised that I loved you and I wanted to make things right between us"
"Things were never right between us, however things are right between me and Helen and you did your level best to ruin it, it didn't work and Helen and I are now back together. I could deal with you stealing the money, in fact I knew that's all you were ever after deep down but what I can't deal with is what you did to Helen. I love her more than I've ever loved anyone and what you did deeply hurt us both; I will never forgive you for that"
"No buts Trish, that's it. Whatever happens to you now is in the hands of the law and I never want to set eyes on you again. If you ever come anywhere near Helen then I swear to god I will make you wish you had never been born"
"Nikki, I did it because I love you so much" Trish protested but Nikki wasn't listening, she slammed the phone down.
Helen came in to the room rubbing her eyes sleepily, Nikki's heart melted when she saw her, this was what real love was all about and Trish was kidding herself if she thought Nikki had ever or would ever feel this way about her. Helen came towards her and sat down on her lap before burying her face in Nikki's neck as her arms wrapped themselves around her.
"Have a nice nap sweetheart?"
"Yes but I missed you"
"I missed you too. Helen?"
"What would you say if I asked you to marry me?" Nikki knew they hadn't been together long but it felt so right to want to take the step of marrying Helen, nothing else had ever felt so right.
"You mean it?" Helen's head shot up in surprise.
"Of course I mean it, I know we haven't been together long but it feels so right between us. I would understand if you didn't want to, you know cos of all that's happened lately and I know it's a big step" Nikki was rambling.
"Nikki, shhh" Helen placed her finger on Nikki's lips, "Of course I will marry you, nothing would make me happier"
"Really? Honestly?" Nikki didn't dare hope she meant it.
"Honestly, I love you so much and I would be honoured to be your wife" Helen gently stroked the side of Nikki's face, her eyes shone with so much love that it made her want to jump up and down for joy.
"Oh babe! That's brilliant! I love you too" Nikki cupped Helen's face and kissed her passionately, "right come on Stewart, you're looking a bit knackered, I think I should take you back to bed and make sure you stay there!" she picked a squealing Helen up in her arms and raced off towards the bedroom with her.
She placed her on the bed and lay beside her; they kissed slowly and sensuously as their passion began to build. Hands found remembered sensitive places and gently caressed making them both dizzy with arousal. Soft gasps and moans echoed around the bedroom, Nikki kissed Helen's throat and began to move lower.
"Oh Nicola" Helen gasped as Nikki nibbled and teased her with her tongue. She threw her arms above her head and was soon on her way to cloud nine as she gave in to the incredible sensations that were reverberating all around her body.
Three weeks later
It was now a week away from the wedding, Nikki and Helen had decided they wanted to get married as soon as possible, neither of them saw the point in waiting. Once the wedding was over with they would go on a two week honeymoon and then be back for the beginning of December when they would start planning their first Christmas together.
Nikki was standing in the living room on the phone to Yvonne; they were planning to meet in an hour so that they could all go shopping for Helen's wedding dress.
"I have a feeling we're going to be late" Nikki looked at her watch and sighed.
"Helen not up yet?"
"Yvonne, I'm telling you, that girl really loves her bed. It would take nothing short of dynamite to shift her!" Nikki smiled fondly as she thought of Helen.
"Pour a bucket of cold water over her, that should get her moving pretty quickly"
"I value my life far too much! Have you seen her when she gets pissed off?"
"No not had the pleasure of that yet!" Yvonne chuckled.
"Believe me, it's not a pretty sight" Nikki downed the rest of her coffee, "well I'll go and try to get madam out of bed and hopefully we'll be there soon"
"Alright darlin' see ya later"
"Bye" Nikki put the phone down and marched in to the bedroom.
Helen was wrapped up in the covers and her arse was sticking up in the air. One leg peeked out from underneath the cover and one of her arms was bent out behind her at an unnatural angle. Nikki wondered how on earth she could sleep like that; she didn't look in the least bit comfortable. Nikki walked over to the bed and tickled her on the leg; it was pulled back under the covers sharply.
"Come on Stewart, look lively! We're going out today"
"Ten more minutes?" Helen groaned. Mornings weren't her favourite time of the day.
"No come on get up, we're going shopping for your wedding dress remember?" Nikki involuntarily jumped as Helen shot out of bed like a flash.
"Sorry Nik, forgot. Give me ten minutes" Helen shot in to the bathroom like Linford Christie and Nikki heard the shower running.
"It must be love" Nikki chuckled softly to herself and set about making the bed while Helen was showering.
Half an hour later they were ready to go and Helen climbed in to the car; she looked like a kid on Christmas morning. She couldn't sit still and constantly fidgeted while Nikki drove.
"Have you got ants in your pants?" Nikki looked over at her lover and smiled.
"Sorry, I'm excited. I've never gone shopping for a wedding dress before" she smiled.
"Never had any soppy gits propose to you then?" Nikki was amused at the look on Helen's face.
"No, well there was a soppy git once"
"Do tell, I'm very interested" Nikki wasn't sure that she was, she didn't like the thought of a soppy bloke getting anywhere near Helen even if it had been a couple of hundred years ago.
"I remember it well, I'd just woken up and this soppy git proposed to me, goes by the name of Nikki Wade, you ever met her?" Helen began to laugh as Nikki glared at her.
"You had me going then!"
"Getting jealous were you?"
"As daft as it may seem, yes! You love it when I get all territorial don't you? You little ratfink!"
"To quote Yvonne, certainly do darlin'" Helen patted Nikki on the knee.
"You need sorting out Stewart!"
"Oh do I really? Think you're woman enough to do it then do you?" Helen winked at her.
"I reckon so, carry on like this and I might just have to prove it"
"Promises promises" Helen began to laugh again.
"You can laugh, but just you wait"
Nikki parked the car ten minutes later and pressed the button on her remote to lock it; Helen immediately fell in to step alongside her and took hold of her hand. Nikki squeezed it gently, she wanted to shout out to the whole world that this incredible woman was hers and she felt like the luckiest woman alive. Helen felt exactly the same, she was so proud to be at Nikki's side and she could never imagine feeling that way about anybody else. They saw Karen and Yvonne standing outside the bridal shop smoking. Yvonne was looking at her watch; she hadn't noticed that they were approaching.
"Come here often gorgeous?" Helen giggled as she shouted over to Yvonne.
"You cheeky little...." Yvonne shut up when she realised it was Helen, "you're gonna have to keep a close eye on that woman of yours Nik, one of these days she's gonna get herself in to trouble" Yvonne grinned and hugged both Helen and Nikki.
"Right lets get inside, it's bloody freezing out here" Karen grumbled.
"Ignore her, she doesn't like being dragged out of bed either" Yvonne rolled her eyes at Nikki and Helen.
"If you think that's the reason why I'm grumpy then sod you!" Karen glared at her; Yvonne shrugged her shoulders and followed Karen in to the shop.
"What's up with Karen I wonder?" Nikki thought out loud.
"Don't tell me you don't know?" Helen was amused.
"Don't know what?" Nikki looked at her puzzled.
"Karen is fed up because Yvonne hasn't proposed to her yet, that's what this is all about"
"When did she tell you that?"
"Then how did you know?"
"Call it women's intuition Nik" Helen winked at her and then entered the shop.
"Does no bastard tell me anything anymore?" Nikki shook her head and then followed the other women in to the shop.
They surveyed all the shop had to offer several times and Nikki was starting to get bored, she and Yvonne sat down while Karen and Helen roamed around and chatted away to each other. Nikki didn't think choosing a dress would be this hard, after all you either liked one or you didn't. She had chosen her suit in two minutes flat, she had picked a nice, simple, ivory coloured suit in a silky material and that was it, job done. She didn't see the point in spending hours picking something when you could quite easily do it in five minutes, but then again Nikki wasn't a shopper and she had noticed Helen was. She shifted position and crossed her legs, she tried to stay awake, and Yvonne was having the same trouble.
"Has she picked a dress yet?" Yvonne moaned.
"No not yet, what's up with Karen?" Nikki wanted to know if Yvonne knew.
"Search me, been in a mood for a few weeks now"
"Helen reckons she knows what's wrong with her"
"Yeah, she reckons its cos you haven't asked Karen to marry you"
"When did she tell her that?"
"Then how did she know?"
"She said it was women's intuition"
"Does no bastard tell me anything anymore?" Yvonne said and glared at Nikki when she bent over double and began laughing uncontrollably. Yvonne tried talking to her but Nikki just waved her hand and carried on clutching at her stomach as she giggled. After a few minutes she calmed down enough to speak.
"Sorry about that" Nikki took a deep breath, "that was more or less word for word the same conversation I had with Helen and you said exactly the same thing as I did"
"It's not funny! Karen wants me to ask her to marry me, how the bloody hell do I get around that one?"
"Don't you want to marry her?"
"Yeah but I'm not sure I'm ready for all that, I love her but I remember what happened the last time I got married"
"Karen is nothing like Charlie, he was a bloke for a start" Nikki tried to keep a straight face and failed.
"Yeah yeah, carry on laughing but I mean it. I'm not sure I'm ready, and I don't think she is either, she's getting carried away"
"Talk to her about it, no good comes of keeping secrets. Just tell her how you feel" Nikki sat up straight when she noticed Karen coming towards them.
"She found anything yet?"
"Yes she has so you can straighten your face Yvonne" Karen glared at her but then her face softened, "she will be out in a minute"
"I'll go and see how she is getting on" Nikki stood up and left them to it, she went over to the changing room and heard Helen cursing softly behind the curtain.
She stood there listening to the soft Scottish accent; Helen was using words that would make even the worst sufferer of Tourettes Syndrome blush. She decided to wait and see if Helen's mood improved but after a few minutes the cursing got slightly louder so she decided to offer her help.
"Havin' a wee problem in there hen?" Nikki mimicked Helen's accent.
"Aye, a bloody big problem so I am" Helen played along.
"Want me to come in there and help you out?"
"Help me out of the dress you mean? Now there's an offer!" Helen spoke seductively and Nikki felt her legs go weak.
"Well not what I really meant but I can be flexible" she pushed her hands through the curtain and wiggled her fingers at Helen who burst out laughing.
"Go and get Karen you big daft sod! I don't want your dirty hands all over my dress"
"Dirty hands? Oo that really hurt Helen!" Nikki giggled, "Hang on a minute, I'll go and get her"
Nikki wandered off and told Karen her help was required, she disappeared for ten minutes and then came back with a big smile on her face. She had seen Helen in the dress and she looked absolutely stunning. She knew Nikki would be bowled over by her.
"Ladies, take a look at this" Karen stepped out of the way to reveal Helen standing there in a pale ivory off the shoulder dress.
Nikki gasped; she couldn't believe how gorgeous Helen looked. They both knew it was supposed to be bad look to see the dress before the wedding day but neither of them had wanted to spend any more time apart than they had to. Nikki felt a lump in her throat and tears sprang to her eyes, she stood up and walked over to Helen.
"You look absolutely incredible sweetheart" she said quietly.
"Do you like it?"
"I love it, and I love you, come here" Nikki pulled Helen in to her arms and held on tightly to her.
"I love you too" Helen knew deep down that this was the perfect dress; the look on Nikki's face had confirmed it.
"We better get you out of this dress before it gets creased" Nikki pulled back to smile at her.
"Good idea, but you stay right there. Karen can help me take it off otherwise we would be in the changing room all day, I know that look in your eye"
"Damn! Thwarted again, just you wait till the wedding night; I'm definitely going to help you take it off then"
"I can't wait" Helen kissed her on the cheek and then disappeared in to the changing room with Karen following.
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