DISCLAIMER: The characters in this story belong to Shed Productions. I am borrowing them for entertainment purposes only and not for financial gain.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: The song lyrics in this chapter belong to a good friend of mine, who also is my beta. She very kindly allowed me to use her work and I am honoured that she would do so. She showed me the song and I immediately loved it, she said it would be in keeping with the story and I agree!
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the authors.

By Nico

Part 26

It was three days before the wedding and Nikki and Helen were lying in bed after an exhausting day of making sure that everything was sorted for the wedding, they wanted to make sure it all went off without at hitch. They had made love several times and were now relaxing in each others arms talking quietly.

"It would have been so nice if my parents were here to see me get married" Helen said wistfully.

"Yes it would have been. Would they have gone mental though because I'm a woman? I mean it wasn't the done thing in those days was it?"

"No it wasn't but I think they would have been happy for me, I know they would have loved you. I think my parents already knew anyway, there was no shortage of men wanting to marry me but I always turned them down and I think they had an idea as to why I wouldn't even look at any of them"

"When you think about it though, they will be with you"

"How do you mean?"

"Well if you believe in life after death, which I do then they are most definitely looking down on you and come the wedding day I think they will both be there"

"I hadn't thought of it like that" Helen smiled, the thought had never really occurred to her; "I hope they weren't looking down on me ten minutes ago" she blushed slightly at the thought.

"I hope so too! What must they think of me? Ravishing their daughter before we're married" Nikki giggled.

"They would think you were some sort of scarlet woman" Helen laughed at the thought, "I'm just as bad though, behaving like a harlot before my wedding night, in my day we had to save ourselves" Helen stuck her tongue between her teeth and smiled.

Nikki was just about to reply when she heard a strange buzzing noise; she looked around the room and wondered what on earth it could be. The buzzing noise got louder and Helen could hear it now as well.

"What's that noise?" Helen sat up and looked at Nikki.

"I don't know, I should probably find out" Nikki went to stand up and then felt like she had ice in the pit of her stomach, she noticed the book on the dressing table was vibrating and buzzing loudly.

"Oh god no" Helen had noticed it as well.

"Do you think that means the curse is broken?" Nikki asked hopefully.

"I don't know, I hope so, I don't like this Nikki" Helen started to feel panic well up inside her.

"Just relax sweetheart, I'm sure it's nothing to worry about" Nikki was worried too but tried not to let it show.

They both continued to watch the book as they held on tightly to each other, it suddenly flew open and they both jumped. The strange blue glow that Nikki remembered began to shine out from the book and her heart nearly stopped, she hoped this didn't mean what she thought it meant. A strangled sob escaped from Helen's throat and Nikki turned around to look at her.

"Oh god Nikki, it's happening again" Helen could hardly speak through her tears, she felt herself being pulled back towards the book.

"No, no it can't be" Nikki began to panic.

"Why didn't it work this time? We love each other why didn't it work?" Helen looked so distraught, Nikki's heart was breaking.

"I love you with all my heart Helen, please don't doubt that"

"I know you do, I love you too, so why is the book pulling me back in?" Helen knew deep down that Nikki really did love her.

"I don't know sweetheart, maybe this is how the curse gets broken" Nikki wanted to believe it.

Helen began to fade, almost as if she were a ghost and Nikki held on tightly to her hand but pretty soon there wasn't much left to hold as Helen began to fade in and out like a bad TV picture. They were both sobbing and professing their undying love for each other but the book still had a hold on Helen and a couple of seconds later, she disappeared completely. The book snapped shut and broke Nikki's heart as it did. Helen was gone, her reason for living and breathing was taken away from her and she had never felt pain like it. She stood up in a daze and walked over to the book, she opened it at the page where the picture was, Helen looked right back out at her but this time, there was no smile on her face, only tears. Nikki cradled the book and took it back to bed with her; she couldn't process any of what had just happened, Helen couldn't be gone. She could still feel her warmth on the sheets, she could smell her perfume on the pillow, and she could still taste her on her lips.

"Oh god Helen, why?" Nikki held on to the book and sobbed like she had never sobbed before.

Nikki began to roam around the flat aimlessly while holding the book and muttering to herself, there would be no wedding, no lifetime of happiness. No house filled with children, no sunshine and laughter, all that was gone now, impossible to bring back. Her heart had shattered in to a thousand pieces and were scattered irretrievably to the far corners of her soul, she only felt like half a person now, barely feeling as if she were alive. She had never thought she would love somebody so much that she felt like it was impossible to breathe without them, and feel that your heart was unable to beat because you couldn't hold them close.

Sometime around 6am she realised she couldn't be on her own and she had to call Yvonne, if left alone much longer she felt she would just curl up and die. She picked up the phone and kept hold of the book, it was impossible to let go.

"Hello" Yvonne's voice sounded thick with sleep, she didn't sound happy at being woken up at such a god awful hour.

"It's me"

"Nik, what's the matter?" a sickening feeling hit her in the pit of her stomach.

"She's gone" the words escaped Nikki's throat before she slid down the wall and began to make noises that made her sound as if she was in agony.

"What? Gone where?" there was no answer from the other end of the phone, "Nik talk to me, where's Helen gone?" Yvonne was really panicking now.

"Back in the book, she's gone" Nikki dropped the phone and cradled the book, rocking back and forth.

"I'll be right there, don't worry sweetheart" Yvonne realised she was talking to thin air and put the phone down quickly. She got dressed as quickly as she could while she explained to Karen.

"Oh Jesus" Karen closed her eyes, "I can't believe this, I never thought it would happen, they were made for each other" she was quickly trying to get dressed too.

"None of us ever believed it would happen, we better hurry up and get over to Nikki, the poor girl could hardly speak"

Yvonne drove as fast as she could to Nikki's place, she disregarded the speed limit, she couldn't give a damn, she needed to get to Nikki as quickly as she could. They raced up the stairs and banged on Nikki's door, she opened it and they both saw her eyes. There was nothing there now, once they had been full of warmth and love, and now they looked totally devoid of life. The Nikki they knew and loved had disappeared.

"She's gone" Nikki said once again and collapsed in to Yvonne's arms.

Nikki sat for the rest of the day just looking at Helen's picture, she wouldn't eat, and she wouldn't sleep even though it was obvious she was totally exhausted. She just kept repeating the same words over and over again to the picture.

"I wish you were here again Helen" Nikki would kiss the picture and then repeat the words over and over like a mantra. Nothing seemed to work, the book held on to Helen still.

Now and again the book would vibrate slightly and Nikki would hold her breath hoping that any minute the book would start to glow and spit Helen out again but it never did and she would be back to repeating the words. Karen and Yvonne were worried about her, they knew how much she loved Helen and it was obvious that Nikki had no desire to live without her, they weren't worried about her doing something stupid, but they felt she would just stop living and neither of them wanted that. They tried to talk to her but she refused to look at or even listen to them, her attention was focused entirely on the book and nothing they did could make her snap out of it. They went in to the kitchen so that they could talk.

"What are we going to do?" Karen rubbed her face and looked at Yvonne.

"God only knows, I can't figure out a way to get Helen back out of that book. If she can't come out for Nikki then nothing we do or say will bring her back"

"Nikki's devastated" Karen knew it was an understatement.

"I think I would be too, they had their whole lives ahead of them. Oh Jesus, the wedding, they only had until Saturday and then they would have been married" Yvonne couldn't hold herself together any longer and the tears spilled from her eyes.

"Come here love" Karen wrapped her arms around her and they cried together for a while. After they got themselves under control they went back in to the living room and sat either side of Nikki, who was still staring at the picture.

They noticed the difference in the picture, the very first time they had seen it, Helen had been smiling. But Helen wasn't smiling anymore, she was crying and they knew that whatever amount of self-awareness Helen had then she would be feeling as bad as Nikki. Nikki caressed the photograph, she felt guilty.

"This is all my fault"

"How can you say that love? Of course it's not your fault" Yvonne put her arm around Nikki's shoulder.

"It is my fault, only true love could break the curse and it wasn't broken. I refuse to believe Helen didn't love me, I know she loved me so much, so it's my fault, I didn't love her enough to break the curse. It's obvious"

"Nikki you can't think like that, we know how much you loved her"

"So if it's not my fault then whose is it? I refuse to blame Helen, it wasn't her fault" Nikki stood up abruptly and went to her bedroom.

She picked up Helen's dress from the wardrobe and laid it on the bed; she lay down next to it while clinging on to the book. She spoke softly and neither Karen nor Yvonne could hear what she was saying but it was obvious she was talking to Helen.

"Hurry up and come back to me sweetheart, I've got your wedding dress here, we're getting married on Saturday and you need to come back to me. I've got the rings here too" she reached over in to the draw of her bedside table and picked up the box, which she laid on top of the dress. "come on sweetheart, I'm waiting" she could have sworn a look of despair crossed Helen's face as she spoke the words but thought it must have been all in her imagination.

Karen and Yvonne watched her from the doorway; there was nothing they could do to help, as Nikki's tears began to fall once again.

Part 27

Nikki opened her eyes slowly and looked around the room; she had fallen asleep on the sofa a couple of hours ago and wondered what she was doing there. Then it dawned on her, Helen was gone and it all came crashing down around her ears again. She knew Yvonne and Karen were there, she could hear them talking quietly in the kitchen. She stood up and wobbled towards the kitchen with the book still clasped in her hands. They looked surprised when she entered, they had expected her to be asleep for quite a while longer, because in the three days since Helen had disappeared she had been awake the whole time.

It was a difficult day for all of them but obviously more so for Nikki, today would have been the day that she married Helen. She cursed herself for falling asleep; she should have stayed awake because she had wanted to spend the entire day talking to the book with the faint hope that Helen could actually hear her.

"You ok love?" Yvonne knew it was a stupid question but she didn't know what else to say.

"No I'm not and I don't think I ever will be but at least I'm honest about it" Nikki tried to smile but it turned to a look of pain. "Oh well, would have been getting married today, till that bloody book stuck its oar in. Typical Helen, she'd do anything to have a lie-in" she tried to make light of it, but nothing lifted the veil of sadness and pain from her heart.

"If it's any consolation love, I'm sure Helen would much rather be here with you than stuck in there" Karen pointed to the book.

"Yeah I know she would. Thing is though, I can't understand why she isn't; I mean we love each other so much that the curse should have been broken. I can't help thinking that we just didn't love each other enough but then again what we had was so strong. Oh I don't know, I don't have any answers" Nikki rubbed her eyes and filled a glass with water, which she took a long drink from.

"I don't think there are any doubts about how much you love each other, even a complete stranger would have known how much just by looking at the pair of you. For whatever reason the curse wasn't broken, I think you can safely say that love wasn't why she isn't free" Yvonne rubbed Nikki's arm comfortingly.

"Maybe we should go to the bookshop to see Miss Leigh, after all she knows about the book, maybe she can suggest something" the thought occurred to Karen that maybe all was not lost.

"What's the bloody point? Helen isn't coming back. She had one chance of freedom with me, it didn't work and now she's back in the book. If she is ever going to come out again then it won't be for me. Miss Leigh told me all she knew the last time I saw her, its over, its all come to a fucking end!"

"Alright love, don't lose your temper with us, we were just trying to help. We miss Helen too" Yvonne put her arm around Nikki's shoulder.

"I know, I'm sorry, I'm not myself at the moment. I'm just going to go to my bedroom for a bit" Nikki wandered off to the bedroom. She lay down on the bed with the book and looked at Helen's picture, "remember this song sweetheart? I played it for you just after we got together" Nikki picked up the remote from her stereo and a song started.

Maybe it's intuition
But some things you just don't question
Like in your eyes
I see my future in an instant
And there it goes
I think I've found my best friend
I know that it might sound more than a little crazy
But I believe

I knew I loved you before I met you
I think I dreamed you into life
I knew I loved you before I met you
I have been waiting all my life

There's just no rhyme or reason
Only this sense of completion
And in your eyes
I see the missing pieces
I'm searching for
I think I've found my best friend

I know that it might sound more than a little crazy
But I believe

I knew I loved you before I met you
I think I dreamed you into life
I knew I loved you before I met you
I have been waiting all my life

A thousand angels dance around you
I am complete now that I've found you

I knew I loved you before I met you
I think I dreamed you into life
I knew I loved you before I met you
I have been waiting all my life

The song ended and Nikki pressed repeat. The picture of Helen had now changed and she was lying on a bed, mirroring Nikki's exact position. It was at that point that Nikki knew Helen was aware of her somehow, the book vibrated in her hands, it was almost as if Helen was trying to comfort her the best way she could. The song played quietly in the background as Nikki once again drifted off to sleep, she knew the only place she could be with Helen was in her dreams and right now that seemed a more attractive prospect than reality. She sank bank in to the pillows as the book hummed gently and then stopped as it too, seemed to fall asleep.

Trish was sitting in the library, trying to read as the noise of the prison seemed to echo all around her. She felt someone sharply poke her in the back; she whirled around to find Caroline standing behind her.

"What do you want?" Trish was none too pleased about being in the same prison as Caroline, never mind on the same wing.

"Just wondered how you were settling in?" it wasn't a question from somebody who cared.

"I'm fine"

"Well don't get too comfortable, keep your eyes open. I owe you one remember, and I'm going to make sure I pay it back" Caroline snarled as she placed her face just inches from Trish's, "cos thanks to you, I'm stuck in this shithole"

"It's your own fault you're stuck in here; you can't blame me for that. You were the one who decided the chance of a huge five fingered discount was too good to pass up"

"That's where your wrong darling, if you had kept your mouth shut then I would have been thousands of miles away by now so it's your fault I'm in here"

"That's not bloody fair!"

"Yeah I know" Caroline smiled cruelly at her and then left.

"You must think I'm stupid if you thought I was going to go down for what you did!" Trish shouted after her but got no response.

Trish got back to reading her book; she knew she had to learn to toughen up if she was going to survive in prison. You had to stand up for yourself because you could be sure that nobody else was going to. Prison was a harder, more unfair version of real life but then Trish wouldn't know about that because she had never lived in the real world, her parents were always there to sort her problems out for her. But this was one big problem they couldn't sort and she was entirely on her own. She felt another sharp poke in the back and realised it was time she stopped acting like a doormat.

"Why don't you just piss off! You said your piece ten minutes ago!" Trish snarled and whipped around, thinking she was going to come face to face with Caroline. She didn't, instead she came face to face with Principal Officer James Fenner.

"That's a bad temper you have there Harris" he ran his hand down her jaw and she shrank away from him, "one of these days somebody is going to teach you a lesson if you keep behaving like that, so think on" she could smell cigarettes and whisky on his breath and tried to move further away from him.

"Let go, you're hurting me" she said as he gripped her arm.

"Then learn to show me some respect and we'll get on fine" he smirked at her and left the room.

"What have I gotten myself in to this time?" Trish wondered as she tried to stop her hands shaking.

Nikki woke up after dark and lay on her bed; she had a dream about Helen. They were standing on top of a hill and it was snowing, they were watching children slide down the hill on sleds. Two of the children in particular caught her attention, a little boy and girl; she instinctively knew they belonged to her and Helen. She couldn't see their faces properly but somehow she knew. She felt Helen's arms wrap around her and she pulled her closer.

"This is perfect" Helen had said.

"It is, being here with you is all I ever dreamed of" she had replied.

"It looks like both our dreams came true" Helen whispered as she cuddled further in to Nikki.

"It took us a while but we got there in the end" she smiled down at Helen and claimed her lips in a warm soft kiss.

At that point she had woken up and felt the loss immediately, if only Helen were here now, then all her dreams would come true. She turned over in bed and wrapped her arms around the book again; she pressed her lips to the cover and closed her eyes. Her head throbbed and her heart ached, she felt as if she was falling in to a deep dark hole and slipping further and further away from Helen. There was nothing she could do to bring her back but she refused to accept the fact. While she still had a faint glimmer of hope that Helen may return to her then she felt as if she could still survive.

Lyrics: I knew I loved you by Savage Garden.

Part 28

A month later

Nikki had done nothing but sit around and constantly cuddle the book to her, she had tried everything she could think of to bring Helen back but nothing had worked. Yvonne and Karen hadn't left her side and they had managed at times to get her to eat or sleep for a short while but there wasn't much of an improvement, Nikki's heart was well and truly broken. Today however was different, she had spent the past four weeks in the pits of despair but today she was going to prove how much she loved Helen. She showered for the first time in days and put on some fresh clothes; she drank a cup of coffee and then woke Karen and Yvonne to tell them she was going out.

"Where are you going?" Yvonne was surprised; Nikki sat down on the bed and looked at them both.

"I'm going back to the book shop; all I've done for the past month is go on about how much I love Helen, so today I'm going to prove it. I'm giving the book back, I'm letting her go. I thought about it last night and it's the right thing to do. No matter how much we loved each other, it still wasn't enough to break the curse and I have to believe that one day she will get her freedom because I loved her enough to let her go"

"Oh Nik" Yvonne's heart was breaking for her best friend.

"It's going to be hard but its about time I started trying to get myself together a little at least, Helen wouldn't want me to behave like this, it seems such an insult to her that I have given up on everything. I still love her more than anything but its time to let her go" Nikki stood up and walked over to the door.

"Take care love, see you later" Yvonne could think of nothing else to say that would ease Nikki's pain.

"Yes you will" Nikki gave them a smile; it was the first time she had smiled since Helen had gone.

She climbed in to her car and ignored the sharp pains that were stabbing her heart, she remembered Helen sitting in the passenger seat laughing and joking with her. It seemed that everything reminded her of Helen, and painful though it was, she was glad because she never wanted to forget. she pulled out on to the road and tried not to think about what she was going to do, even though she knew the book contained the woman she loved more than anything, she knew she couldn't keep her. She had photographs of Helen that would remind her and she knew she would always keep the memories deep in her heart. She felt that what she was about to do was the ultimate act of love on her part; it was the one thing she could do for Helen that would really prove how much she cared. Some time later she pulled in to a parking space and carefully picked up the book, it would soon be time to let go.

She wandered towards the shop slowly, wanting a last few minutes with Helen before it was all over, she looked at the picture sadly. Helen looked forlornly at her, the tears were still there, they had never disappeared.

"I've got to do this Helen; I have to give you the chance to find somebody who can break the curse. I will love you for the rest of my life, and if life after death really does exist then I will love you for eternity. I hope you can hear me because I need you to know this, wherever you are sweetheart, I love you" Nikki kissed the picture and didn't care who was looking.

She took a deep breath and pushed the door of the shop open, Miss Leigh was seated behind the counter as she always was, only today she looked sad, she had seen Nikki approaching with the book and realised what must have happened. Helen didn't get her freedom after all and Nikki looked thoroughly lost without her. Nikki placed the book gently on the counter and smiled sadly.

"Hello Miss Leigh, how are you?"

"Not so good today Miss Wade, it's a very sad day for both of us"

"Yes it is but we can't be sad forever, Helen wouldn't want either of us to feel this way" Nikki was more certain than ever that Helen and Miss Leigh had some sort of connection.

"No she wouldn't, I can assure you of that"

"So that's why I'm bringing the book back. We loved each other very much but it didn't seem to be enough to set her free and I want her to have that chance with somebody else" Nikki pushed the book across the counter, "take care sweetheart, I love you" she whispered.

"That's very brave of you Miss Wade. I suppose the old saying is true, if you truly love someone then you must set them free" she said sadly.

"And if they return to you then it was meant to be. Only in this case, Helen is never going to come back to me. Please make sure that whoever gets the book next, will truly care for her, I couldn't stand knowing that she wouldn't be taken care of"

"You have my word Miss Wade, I promise you she will be taken care of"

"Thank you, and thank you for giving me the book. I might have lost her but I'm not sorry that I love her at all; I would rather have known her for a short time than never to have known her at all. Take care Miss Leigh" she briefly held on to the old lady's hand and then left the shop.

"Oh my goodness Helen, I was so sure this time" she felt a tear roll down her cheek, all she had ever wanted was for Helen to be free, her own curse did not matter much right now, she cared more about her friend.

Nikki walked down the street with her hands in her pockets, giving the book back was harder than she thought it would have been, she knew it would hurt like hell but she hadn't realised quite how much. she was going to go straight back to her car and head home but she decided to window shop instead, the fresh air would do her good and she wanted to remember the last time she had brought Helen shopping here, she wanted to privately say goodbye to her in her head even though the book had already been returned.

Miss Leigh picked the book up and wearily trudged in to the back room, she placed it down on the table, not being able to lock it away quite yet. She looked at the book for a long time; she placed her hand on it and gently rubbed the cover.

"Things were never easy where you were concerned were they my friend?" she laughed softly, "Nikki just did the most selfless thing she could ever do, despite loving you so much it hurts, she let you go" Miss Leigh was suddenly startled as the book began to vibrate violently.

She jumped in shock as the book began to rumble about on the table, a blue light began to emerge from between the pages and Miss Leigh held her breath, it couldn't be happening, could it? The book flew open and the light became brighter, Miss Leigh had to shield her eyes, there was a loud cracking noise and she opened her eyes to find a very naked Helen standing in front of her.

"Oh dear!" she exclaimed and suddenly looked away embarrassed.

"Oh bollocks!" Helen said when she noticed she was naked, "Isobel" Helen finally noticed her friend.

"Helen, you remember!"

"Yes I remember everything, where's Nikki? I need to see Nikki" Helen desperately needed to get to her; she wasn't sure how much time had elapsed since she had last seen her.

"Er oh er, look Helen, as lovely as you are, I can't think straight with you waving bits of your anatomy at me. Here put my coat on will you?" Isobel was flustered.

"Sorry!" Helen grinned, "Where's Nikki and how long since I saw her? Is the curse broken? Cos I can remember everything, oh shit! The wedding! Did I miss it?" Helen fired the questions rapidly.

"I don't know, look let me call Nikki and get her back here, she will explain everything" Isobel went through to the front of the shop and was just about to call Nikki when she walked in.

"Hi, I'm back again. I thought I would come and have a look through the books, might take my mind off Helen" she attempted a smile.

"Oh boy have I got news for you!" Isobel smiled broadly.

"What's the matter?" Nikki frowned, wondering if the old lady had a screw loose.

"Never mind standing there come with me" she grabbed hold of Nikki's hand and dragged her through to the back room.

Nikki looked up as she entered the room and stood frozen to the spot, she couldn't believe what she was seeing. She closed her eyes and opened them again but Helen was still standing there.

"Hello sexy!" Helen smiled and started to rush towards her but before she got there, Nikki collapsed on the floor in a heap.

"I know I'm drop dead gorgeous love but you're taking the piss!" Helen said as she kneeled down on the floor next to Nikki who was already starting to come around.

"Is it really you?" Nikki's eyes were wide with wonder.

"Its really me and I remember everything. You saved me Nikki, I'm free" Helen bent down and kissed Nikki softly on the lips. Nikki felt all the life and warmth flood back in to her body; it was as if somebody suddenly turned the sun on in the middle of the night.

"I...I can't believe it, I thought I'd lost you forever" Nikki was trying to take it all in.

"She's right Miss Wade, she's finally free. You loved her enough to let her go and she came back to you, it was meant to be. You proved what you had was true love and the curse was broken" Isobel sighed in relief, Helen had her freedom and pretty soon she would have her own. She could feel her life slowly start ebbing away but she wasn't sad about it, quite the opposite, she longed to move on.

"Oh Helen, I thought I would never see you again....I...I" she stammered, she felt overwhelmed by the whole thing.

"Shhh, its ok sweetheart. I'm back again and we have the rest of our lives together, I'll never leave you again, I promise"

Nikki sat up and pulled Helen in to a hug, they held on to each other tightly as they rocked back and forth. Isobel left them to it; they needed some time alone after all they had been through. They kissed and then finally pulled back to look at each other.

"Er Helen?"


"What are you wearing underneath that coat?"

"Sod all; I was totally naked when I went back in the book if you remember? I just popped back out in my birthday suit; you can imagine how awful that was!"

"Oh I don't know, I can imagine that to be pretty spectacular" she wiggled her eyebrows and grinned, she was so happy that she felt dizzy, it felt like she was high on life and love even though she knew how corny it sounded.

"You would! Have you got your credit card on you?"

"Yeah why?"

"How about you go and get me some clothes cos there is no bloody way I'm walking to the car like this!"

"Oh shit yeah! Sorry, I'll be back in ten minutes, don't go anywhere will you?" Nikki looked worried that Helen would disappear again.

"Don't you worry about that, I'm here to stay" she pointed to the book which was now a pile of blackened ashes.

"Good, cos I might be a while choosing your underwear" Nikki grinned wickedly.

"Get going you perv! I'm freezing standing here, and I want to get home so you can warm me up" she raised her eyebrow at Nikki and smiled.

"Hold on to that thought" Nikki kissed her on the cheek and then ran off to buy Helen some clothes.

Isobel came in and smiled; she put the kettle on and then sat in a chair opposite Helen.

"Its about time this happened, you're finally free"

"Yes I am and it feels wonderful but I feel so awful about what's going to happen to you"

"I told you once before, don't feel sad for me. It's been a long time coming and now I'm eager to rest. Smile dear, you've got a lot to look forward to"

"I know but you're my best friend and I'm going to miss you" Helen stood up and wrapped her arms around Isobel.

"I know and I'll miss you too, but Nikki will be there for you and you'll be just fine"

The two women held on to each other and cried softly, both through sadness and happiness, they were sad to be leaving each other when they had only just found one another after all this time but happy that they were at last finally free. They pulled apart once the kettle had boiled and Isobel told Helen that it wasn't a day for tears, it was a day for smiles and she wanted plenty of them when Nikki got back from her shopping trip.

Part 29

Nikki had driven home in a daze, finding it damn near impossible to concentrate on the traffic. She had to keep turning towards Helen just to check that she was actually still sitting there and it wasn't just all in her imagination. Helen knew what she was thinking and placed her hand on her shoulder to reassure her. They eventually made it home safely for which Nikki was thankful. As she opened the door to the flat, she placed her fingers against her lips and Helen nodded. She walked through in to the living room and called out to Yvonne and Karen.

"You two still here?" she tried to sound downcast.

"In the kitchen love" Yvonne called back.

Nikki beckoned for Helen to follow and she entered the kitchen with Helen hidden from view just outside the door. Nikki placed a sad look on her face; she threw her keys on the table and shrugged her coat off.


"Hiya, you want a coffee Nik?" Karen patted her on the shoulder, she still looked really upset.

"No not really. We got any vodka?" as Nikki spoke both women looked worried.

"Er I don't know. Coffee would be better don't you think?" Yvonne got a mug from the cupboard.

"According to Helen it tastes like floor cleaner and when was the last time you celebrated with coffee?" Nikki kept a straight face.

"Nik why don't you sit down sweetheart you look knackered" Yvonne tried to push her in to a chair and she complied.

Karen and Yvonne flashed looks at each other, they know feared for Nikki's sanity. She had just given the book back and she wanted to celebrate?

"You both think I'm a nutter don't you?" Nikki wanted to smile and it took every ounce of self-restraint she had not to.

"No of course not, we just don't understand why you want to celebrate, we thought you would be upset" Karen tried to choose her words carefully so as not to upset Nikki further.

"Yeah I was, till I met this gorgeous woman in town. Just wait till you see her" Nikki allowed a slight smile; she knew Yvonne would go mental any second.

"Oh bloody hell Nikki! Does Helen mean nothing to you? You could have at least waited a while before you took up with some soddin' floosy! I can't believe this!" Yvonne was on her high horse, she had thought the world of Helen and couldn't stand to see Nikki behaving like this, it seemed so out of character for her.

"Yvonne, please at least try to be civil when you meet the love of my life" Nikki was well and truly winding them up now.

"Love of your life? I'll bloody well give you the love of your life! How can you say that about another woman, one you've only just clapped eyes on I might add, after what you had with Helen?" Yvonne was fuming and Nikki thought now would be a good time to bring Helen in before she raised the roof.

"Nikki surely to god you can see this from our point of view?" Karen was also seething, she cared about Helen just as much as Yvonne did and Nikki seemed to be casual about the whole thing.

"We'll talk about this later, I want you to meet her now" Nikki stood up and left the kitchen before either of them could say another word and beckoned to Helen, who was desperately trying to stifle her giggles.

She pulled Helen in to the kitchen and the look of anger on Karen and Yvonne's faces turned to one of utter disbelief when they saw Helen standing there. Nikki was beaming as she wrapped her arms around Helen.

"Do you think they see me as some sort of floosy Nik?" Helen burst out laughing.

"Soddin' floosy was the term I think she used?" Nikki chuckled along with Helen.

"But....Helen...Nikki...Karen?" Yvonne gabbled.

"Helen....Nikki?" Karen couldn't speak either.

"Are you two gonna stand there flapping your lips all day? Its really Helen, she's back!"

Karen and Yvonne both rushed forward and pushed Nikki to one side while they grabbed Helen and squoze the breath from her. Helen couldn't help giggling at the faces Nikki was pulling at being left out.

"Oh don't mind me girls, Helen's only my bloody fiancée!" Nikki went in search of the vodka, and glasses, "Karen, would you please move your hand higher? It's too close to her arse" Nikki giggled as Karen shot her a look.

"It was not on her arse! How high do you think her arse is? I had my hand on her back; maybe if she was a few feet taller then we could argue the point!" Karen bantered back.

"It's not her fault she's short" Nikki poured generous measures of vodka in to four glasses.

"I'm not bloody short!" Helen managed to gasp as Yvonne and Karen refused to let go of her and clung on tightly.

"You are short, I've seen taller pixies" Nikki chucked in just a dash of coke on top of the vodka and smiled at Helen, god it felt good to have her back!

"Cheeky sod! As much as I love you both, could you let go for a minute? You're breaking my ribs" Helen smiled at Karen and Yvonne and they let go sheepishly.

"Sorry darlin' we really missed you" Yvonne said smiling.

"We really really did" Karen added.

"Aye so did Nikki, and guess what she did?"

"What did she do?" Karen picked up a glass of vodka and handed it to Helen.

"She passed out on me" Helen took her glass and raised it in a toast to everybody.

"I didn't pass out, I merely wanted to sit down" Nikki looked embarrassed.

"You ended up on your arse no matter which way you look at it!" Helen giggled.

They spent the next few hours steadily getting drunk and talking, Nikki was now totally relaxed, she had Helen back and her life was on track. She could never remember feeling as good as she did right at that moment. They explained to Karen and Yvonne about how the curse had been broken and about how the book no longer existed. As the conversation carried on, Helen noticed that Nikki had gotten quiet; she turned around to face her as she sat on her knee.

"Are you ok sweetheart?"

"What? Oh yeah I'm fine, couldn't be better" she smiled and kissed Helen.

"You've gone quiet all of a sudden"

"Oh just thinking you know....about..." Nikki suddenly burst in to tears, the past few weeks had crept up on her. Her feelings had combined with the alcohol and she couldn't hold it back any longer.

"Oh Nikki" Helen turned around properly and wrapped her arms around Nikki and rocked her gently as she sobbed on her shoulder.

Karen and Yvonne knew that they needed to be alone at this point and they both stood up.

"We're off to bed darlin's, sweet dreams, see you in the morning" Yvonne took hold of Karen's hand and led her off to the bedroom.

"Ok, night you two" Helen flashed a grateful look at Yvonne; she knew they had to talk and she also knew Nikki would be slightly embarrassed at her friends seeing her drunk and in such an emotional state.

She waited until Nikki's sobs had subsided slightly and stood up pulling her with her; she led her in to the bedroom and undressed her. She pulled back the duvet for her and pushed her down on the bed and then pulled the covers over her. Nikki lay back and let Helen look after her, it felt good to be taken care of.

"You get comfy sweetheart and I'll make you a coffee. I'll be right back" she placed a kiss on Nikki's forehead.



"Don't blow up the kitchen will you?" she managed a small smile.

"I'll try not to. Now let me see if I can remember rightly? Your not supposed to leave metal objects in a microwave are you?" a wicked glint shone in her eye as Nikki looked horrified, "don't worry, I know what I'm doing" she smiled and left the room.

She was back five minutes later with Nikki's coffee, and a short while afterwards she had sobered up enough for them to chat. Helen had climbed in to bed beside her and Nikki rested her head on her chest.

"I'm sorry about getting so emotional, it's just I never thought I would see you again and I've never in all my life felt pain like it and I never want to again" Nikki nuzzled Helen's neck.

"I know sweetheart, I heard every word and I promise you, I felt exactly the same"

"What? You mean you heard everything?" Nikki was surprised, she knew Helen had been aware of her while she was in the book to some extent but was amazed at how much.

"Absolutely everything. When I was in the book, I wasn't really anywhere and it was all sort of misty you know? It was frightening at first and then I heard your voice and I calmed down, but I knew you were so upset and it broke my heart. All I could think about was just before I had disappeared; being pulled back in like that was horrible. Could you actually see me?"

"Yeah, I could see your picture. If I was in bed then you would be, wherever I was no matter what I was doing, then you would be doing the same. And you always had tears running down your face"

"I can't believe it worked" Helen shook her head and smiled.

"Can't believe what worked?"

"I would think things in my head, you know like lying in bed next to you or sitting on the sofa with you. I never actually thought I would show up in the picture as doing the same thing, all I could see was the mist. The tears were real; I never stopped crying the entire time"

"Oh Helen" Nikki wrapped her arms around her and pulled her close. It had been bad for her but it must have been worse for Helen, trapped and not knowing what would happen.

"You lose all sense of time in there and I didn't know how long we'd been apart. I heard you saying goodbye to me and that was bloody awful, then I heard Isobel speaking to me and I felt lighter if you know what I mean, that was when I could feel as if I was able to finally break free and force my way out. I had tried to before but it just wasn't working"

"That sounds really awful, but I'm glad your back now. I could never have survived without you, I need you"

"I know sweetheart, I need you too. And rest assured I'm not going anywhere, you're stuck with me now. We're going to get married and have babies, fall out and make up, grow old and lose our teeth together" she chuckled at the thought.

"Sounds absolutely perfect. I love you"

"I love you too. Why don't we try and get some sleep? You look worn out"

"I am tired babe. As much as I want to make love to you, what I really need is just to hold you" Nikki felt the need just to be close to Helen without taking it any further.

"I know, me too"

They both snuggled down in to the bed and lay against each other, eventually they drifted off and their breathing synchronised as did their heartbeats. All the heartbreak and the worry of the last few weeks was now only a painful memory and they both slept deeply, without a care in the world.

Part 30

Six months later

It was a warm sunny day in July and it was the day that Nikki and Helen would finally get married. They had taken the extra time to plan everything perfectly and Nikki had a few surprises up her sleeve that she was sure Helen would be over the moon with. They chose a small church just down the road from Helen's former home, it was only small and it was falling to bits but it had been the church in which her parents had married and both thought it was the perfect place. They had booked in to Stewart House and arranged to have their wedding reception and party there, they had booked separate rooms in accordance with tradition but come morning, only one of the rooms was occupied. Helen had crept in to Nikki's room, just as she was getting up to creep in to hers. The next morning they had received a bollocking from Yvonne because she thought Helen had disappeared again for some reason, which started off a conversation that had Helen compared to Houdini and had them all in hysterics.

"Right you two, say goodbye to each other for a couple of hours, we all need to get ready"

"Ohhh Yvonne" Helen complained and slid further down the bed.

"No complaints, shift your arse. Karen and I need to get you ready and then when I'm finished with you, I have to help Nikki and then get ready myself. I've got no time for pissing about, come on"

"I consider myself told off" Helen grinned and slipped her bathrobe on before getting up out of bed.

"And so you should Helen" Nikki giggled.

"You can get up as well! Pair of lazy buggers" Yvonne allowed Helen to kiss Nikki one final time and then dragged her from the room.

Nikki jumped up and went off to the shower, she sang happily to herself as she got washed. She thought back to the day that Helen had re-appeared, it had totally blown her away. Everything had been wonderful since then, all the love and laughter was back and whenever anybody walked in to their flat they could sense the happiness, it was almost tangible. The only blip on the radar had been when they found out that Isobel had died at the beginning of march, they had visited her quite often and Nikki knew she and Helen appeared to be close friends but she never asked any questions, sensing that whatever was between them was meant only for them.

Helen had visited Isobel in hospital shortly before she died, they had spent hours talking to each other and saying goodbye, they both knew the end was near. She made Helen promise that she would take her ashes back up to the house in Scotland and scatter them there, Helen had promised she would without hesitation. As Helen towel dried her hair, she had a conversation with Isobel as she did most days, she always felt like she was around looking out for her. She knew for certain that Isobel would be at her wedding that day; she had promised her before she died that she wouldn't miss it for the world.

"You ready for your makeup Helen?" Karen stood behind Helen and rested her hands on her shoulders.

"Hold your horses Karen, I ain't styled her hair yet" Yvonne piped up.

"Hurry up then, we haven't got all bloody day" Karen snapped.

"Yvonne, for god sake just ask her will you? I'll go and sort through my makeup while you do" Helen stood up and then went in to the bathroom and closed the door behind her.

"Ask me what?"

"I know you've been a bit moody for months, especially whenever the wedding has been mentioned. Helen told Nikki a while ago what was wrong with you and then Nikki told me. Look darlin' I'm not brilliant with words but I love you and I wanna be with you always and if it's what you want too then great. Will you marry me?" Yvonne pulled a box from her pocket and held it up awkwardly, she hoped Karen wouldn't turn her down, she had realised after all this time it was what she wanted too.

"Ohh Yvonne! Yes! Yes!" she jumped up and down and grabbed Yvonne and kissed her passionately.

"I love you" Yvonne managed to say as Karen kissed her half to death.

"I love you too" Karen couldn't contain her happiness; she was practically bouncing off the walls.

Helen heard the shouts in the bathroom and knew Yvonne had finally popped the question; she smiled and then opened the door.

"Any bloody chance I'll get to MY wedding on time today or what?" Helen said laughing.

"Sit down and let me do your soddin' hair then!" Yvonne gestured to a chair.

"So when are you going to drag her up the aisle then Karen?" Helen sat with her arms folded as Yvonne fiddled about with her hair.

"Not for ages yet, so stop yacking and sit still!" Yvonne grumbled.

"Oh before Christmas I reckon" Karen said in a stage whisper.

"Not ruddy likely!" Yvonne exclaimed and then pulled a face as Karen and Helen burst out laughing.

Nikki fidgeted at the altar, she was standing with Yvonne and Karen was sat nearby. Helen should have been there already and Nikki was beginning to panic, Yvonne nudged her and shot a look at her that said "stop worrying, she'll be here soon." Nikki tried to calm down and breathed deeply, as she surveyed the church. She had invited everyone she knew and the tiny church was packed out with about two hundred people, those that hadn't been lucky enough to get a seat had to stand in any available space they could find. There would be just enough room for Helen to squeeze up the aisle when she turned up, which Nikki knew would be any second because she could hear the car outside.

The vicar cleared his throat when Helen appeared in the doorway and everybody shuffled around so they could look at her. An old friend of Nikki's would be giving Helen away seeing as how she had nobody else. Nikki and Brian had met at school and they had been firm friends ever since. He held on to Helen's hand as he escorted her up the aisle and his boyfriend Colin was quietly crying and waving at them from a nearby pew even though the wedding hadn't started properly yet.

Nikki's breath caught in her throat when she saw Helen, the sunlight streamed in from the stained glass windows and created a blonde halo around Helen's head. Nikki thought it was apt, she had always thought of her as an angel. The church had seemed to light up as soon as Helen had walked in, the cold gray stone looked less stark and the atmosphere took on a feeling of warmth. Helen had to grip Brian's hand tightly, the sight of Nikki made her head spin, her dark hair and golden coloured skin contrasted beautifully with her ivory coloured suit and not for the first time in her life, Helen found herself breathless as she took in Nikki's beauty.

The same thing was going through Nikki's head, Helen's olive skin glowed against the dress and her hair hung in silky swathes on her head. She could see the beautiful shade of Helen's green eyes even from that distance and felt she could get lost in her gaze forever. Helen arrived at the altar and Brian passed her hand over to Nikki, she looked up in to her lover's warm brown eyes and her heart melted, she had waited for this day for a long time.

The church fell silent as the ceremony began, there was a strange sort of crackle in the atmosphere, it felt almost like magic and the guests remarked upon it later on. They had all felt it, they put it down to the vibes that Nikki and Helen sent out whenever they were together. By the time the vicar pronounced them married, there wasn't a dry eye in church, it had started when they said their vows and had intensified as they exchanged the rings. Nikki and Helen walked down the aisle as everybody cheered them on and stepped out in to the sunshine, where they wrapped their arms around each other and kissed.

"Well how does it feel to be married?" Nikki smiled down at Helen.

"It feels absolutely fantastic Mrs. Stewart" Helen winked at her.

"Mrs. Stewart? No no, I think you mean Mrs. Wade" Nikki chuckled.

"I said Stewart and I meant Stewart. We got married in Scotland, you take my bloody name"

"What if we had gotten married in England? Would you have taken my name?"

"Yeah but we didn't though and therefore you are Mrs. Stewart! And that's final"

"Ooo aren't you masterful when you get going! How about you take my bloody name because I'm the tallest! Therefore I'm in charge" Nikki stuck her tongue out.

"Yeah right!" Helen sniggered, "how about we settle for a double barreled name then?"

"Yeah sounds good, Wade-Stewart sounds alright"

"Yeah but Stewart-Wade sounds better" Helen countered.

"Will you two knock it off! Argue about what you are going to call each other later, its time for the pictures" Yvonne chivvied them along while they tried to contain their giggles.

As soon as the photographs had been taken, the first of Helen's surprises had arrived. A horse drawn carriage with 4 white horses pulled up and Helen was amazed.

"Wow! Is that for us?"

"Certainly is sweetheart, its gonna take us back to the hotel so we can welcome the guests to the reception" Nikki smiled at the look on Helen's face.

"I haven't been in an open top carriage for god knows how long"

"Now is your chance to be reminded what it was like" Nikki took her hand and they made their way to the carriage as the guests bombarded them with confetti and rice.

Nikki gave Helen a hand as she climbed in to the carriage; she helped her as she re-arranged her dress and then sat beside her. Nikki wrapped an arm around Helen's shoulders and she settled back against her whilst placing her hand on Nikki's knee, they began the sedate journey back the hotel as the sun shined down on them.

Part 31

The day had gone brilliantly; Nikki and Helen had breathed a sigh of relief that nothing had gone wrong. When the wedding reception was over, the guests moved in to the ballroom for the party and a marathon boozing session began. Nikki and Helen had taken the opportunity to spend a quiet half an hour alone in their room whilst they went to change their clothes. After they had changed they sat down on the bed together and had a quiet cuddle.

"I can't begin to thank you enough for today sweetheart, it was one of the most special days of my life" Helen kissed Nikki and caressed the side of her face.

"I should be thanking you, today was wonderful and so are you" Nikki pulled Helen closer and kissed her passionately, a feeling of warmth suffused both their bodies.

"As much as I would love to get carried away, we have something to do before we go down to the party" Helen pulled away as her heart raced.

"We can continue this later" Nikki murmured seductively, "ready?" she stood up and held her hand out to Helen.

"As I'll ever be" Helen picked up the small box that contained the urn with Isobel's ashes in it, and then took hold of Nikki's hand.

They made their way back to the hill that they had stood on all those months ago when Helen had run away and stood together as they looked out across the landscape. The sky had clouded over and the wind had picked up making it feel a lot cooler than it had been earlier on that day. Nikki took hold of the cardboard box so Helen could remove the urn. Helen took the top off the urn and passed it to Nikki so that she could scatter the ashes.

"Rest in peace Isobel, Nikki and I will never forget you and we know you were here today looking over us. safe journey, I love you" the tears began to spill from Helen's eyes as she turned the urn on its side and shook it gently as the wind carried Isobel away.

Nikki felt a lump in her throat as she placed a hand on Helen's shoulder and gently squeezed it. Eventually Isobel's remains were gone and Helen put the lid back on the urn which then went back in to the box. Nikki took Helen in her arms and was comforting her when a shaft of sunlight suddenly fell at their feet; they looked at it in amazement.

"Nikki look!"

"Wow, that's amazing. I've never seen anything like it" Nikki looked up at the sky in awe.

"I knew she was with us today. I hope you're happy wherever you are, and thank you, I will always owe you so much more than I can repay" Helen blew a kiss at the shaft of sunlight that was peeking through the clouds before it suddenly disappeared.

"You really miss her don't you?"

"Aye I do, Isobel was a very good friend to me"

"I never did work out how you two knew each other so well"

"Well..." Helen was interrupted when Nikki's finger was placed on her lips.

"Its ok, you don't have to explain. You and Miss Leigh were good friends, that's all I need to know" she pulled Helen in to a hug. She knew there had been a special connection between the two women but she wanted it to remain a mystery, however they became friends was something known only to them and she didn't want to pry.

"I'll tell you one day, but for now its better left alone"

"Oh by the way, I have a surprise for you"

"Another one? You spoil me rotten enough as it is sweetheart" Helen shook her head fondly at Nikki.

"I know but I love doing it. Come on, follow me"

She led Helen over to the old stable block and they walked right down the far end of the building. As soon as they got there a horse popped its head through an opening and looked at them, Helen noticed it was a black mare and she looked very much like Eilidh.

"This is shadow, and she is yours to keep"

"Oh Nikki, she's beautiful" Helens eyes moistened as the mare nuzzled her neck affectionately, "thank you! But where are we going to keep her?"

"Here of course"

"The hotel agreed to let us keep her here?" Helen stroked the horse as she looked at Nikki.

"It wasn't their decision to make" Nikki's eyes sparkled; she knew something Helen didn't...yet.

"I'm sorry babe, but you've lost me somewhere along the line. Explain it to me again" Helen folded her arms while the horse got interested in her hay.

"It wasn't their decision to make because they don't own the place anymore" she pulled a large bunch of keys from her pocket and handed them to Helen, "you do"

"What?" Helen's legs felt weak.

"All of this, the house, the stables, the grounds. Its all yours sweetheart, I brought you back home the best way I could" Nikki got choked up and fell silent.

Helen could no longer hold back and not for the first time that day she broke down in tears, she hugged Nikki fiercely with all the strength she had. She couldn't believe it, she was home, and she was married to the most wonderful woman on earth.

"It must have cost you a fortune, I can't believe you did all this for me" Helen wiped her eyes and gave Nikki a kiss.

"Never mind how much it cost, it was more than worth it to be able to see the smile on your face. I kept all the staff on for now, you can choose what you want to do with it later on, you know keep it as a hotel or whatever. But whatever happens, it will be your choice"

"Thank you sweetheart, I don't know what I did to deserve you but I thank god I found you"

"Ditto babe. right come on, lets get back to this party or they'll be wondering where we've gotten to" Nikki held out her arm to Helen, "would you be so good as to escort me to your ballroom Mrs. Wade?"

"I would love to Mrs. Stewart" Helen's eyes twinkled in amusement and they walked off towards the house.





By the time they got to the ballroom the party was in full flow, they got some drinks and they stood talking to a few old friends of Nikki's. Nikki had already had a word with the DJ and had asked him to play a specific song for the first dance of the night, which belonged to her and Helen. They were chatting to Yvonne and Karen when the DJ spoke in to his microphone.

"Ladies and gentlemen can I have your attention please?" the DJ waited till the room was silent, "could Helen and Nikki, please make their way on to the dance floor for the first dance"

Nikki pulled Helen on to the dance floor and wrapped her arms around her.

"I'm not brilliant with words and I couldn't write anything myself so I chose a song that I thought would be perfect. It's not as good as the song you wrote for me but I hope you like it"

"Anything you've chosen will be fine by me Nikki, I love you" Helen pulled her closer and stroked the back of her neck.

"I love you too" Nikki kissed Helen gently as the music began.

We were strangers
Starting out on a journey
Never dreaming what we'd have to go through
Now here we are
And I'm suddenly standing
At the beginning with you

No one told me I was going to find you
Unexpected, what you did to my heart
When I lost hope
You were there to remind me
This is the start

Life is a road, and I want to keep going
Love is a river I want to keep flowing
Life is a road, now and forever
Wonderful journey
I'll be there when the world stops turning
I'll be there when the storm is through
In the end I want to be standing at the beginning
With you

We were strangers
On a crazy adventure
Never dreaming how our dreams could come true
Now here we stand
Unafraid of the future
At the beginning with you

And life is a road, and I want to keep going
Love is a river I want to keep flowing
Life is a road, now and forever
Wonderful journey
I'll be there when the world stops turning
I'll be there when the storm is through
In the end I want to be standing at the beginning
With you

I knew there was somebody somewhere
Like me alone in the dark
Now I know my dream will live on
I've been waiting so long
Nothing's going to tear us apart

And life is a road and I want to going
Love is a river I want to keep flowing
Life is a road, now and forever
Wonderful journey
I'll be there when the world stops turning
I'll be there when the storm is through
In the end I want to be standing at the beginning
With you

Life is a road, and I want to keep going
Love is a river I want to keep going on
Starting out on a journey
Life is a road and I want to keep going
Love is a river I want to keep flowing
In the end I want to be standing at the beginning
With you

As they danced to the music, they looked deep in to each others eyes and everything else ceased to exist. A thousand words passed between them in a single look and their hearts beat as one. Neither could believe that after everything they had gone through that they were finally together; one of their dreams had finally come true.

They stayed at the party for the next few hours but they couldn't wait any longer, they had to be alone. They said goodnight to their guests and made their way upstairs, Nikki had decided she had something she wanted to say and it would be hard enough without having audience while she said it. They closed the door of the room and collapsed on to the bed, as they began to kiss.

Lyrics: At the Beginning by Richard Marx and Donna Lewis.

Part 32

The kisses had deepened and their passion began to build, but Nikki pulled back. They would have plenty of time to make love; there was something she wanted to say first.

"I've got something I want to say to you first" Nikki pulled a piece of paper from her pocket.

"I'm listening sweetheart" Helen propped herself on one elbow and looked curiously at the piece of paper Nikki was holding.

"I know I said I wasn't very good with words and I'm not but the song didn't quite say enough and I've decided not to chicken out of reading this to you after all"

"Go on" Helen smiled encouragingly and Nikki cleared her throat.

"Ok here we go..."

You became my wife today
And the keeper of my heart
I plan to spend forever here
And this is just the start

I gave my heart gladly
I no longer have to hide
I feel so strong when I am with you
As you stand by my side

You've shown me the meaning of true love
Love is no longer just a word
I feel so blessed to be loved by you
I know my prayers were heard

You touch me deep inside my soul
With a love I've never known
I'm finally where I want to be
I've found my way home

Forever is want I want with you
Our search for true love ends
Through the darkness, we found each other
Together as soul mates, lovers and friends

If you need to know how much I love you
Then just look in to my eyes
I will love you forever
For true love never dies

"I thought you said you weren't any good with words?"

"I'm not" Nikki fidgeted uncomfortably; she couldn't believe she had the courage to read it.

"It sounded terrific from where I was sitting. That was wonderful sweetheart, thank you" Helen reached over and kissed Nikki. She had a lump in her throat the entire time Nikki was speaking, "that was one of the nicest things you've ever done for me"

"Not as spectacular as yours"

"Shut up and come here"

The room was bathed in shadows, the only light came from candles that rested on big candelabras in each corner of the room. The window was open and it brought in a sweet smelling cool breeze, which drifted lazily over the two women who lay on the bed as they pressed their lips hungrily together. Hands found their way under clothes and lovingly caressed soft silky skin and nails were dragged over sensitive flesh causing delightful goose bumps.

Nikki began to undress Helen slowly, she wanted to feast her eyes on every inch of her wife but she wanted to do it slowly, wanting to prolong the pleasure as her anticipation began to build. As Helen's bra was removed, she felt the cool night air blow across her breasts and nipples that were already firm, stood to a greater degree of attention. Helen could feel the wetness between her thighs; she was incredibly turned on already, just watching Nikki undressing her. Finally they were both free of their clothes and they lay back on the bed just watching each other for a moment.

"I could get lost in your eyes" Nikki murmured softly.

Helen smiled and wrapped one leg around Nikki's; she caressed the side of her leg with her toes. Nikki ran her hand up the length of Helen's leg and felt her shiver in response. She knew all her sensitive spots and made full use of the fact, it didn't take Nikki very long to turn Helen to mush. Their arms and legs became ever more tangled with each other as they moved around on the bed, both eager to give as much pleasure as they were receiving.

"Mmmm I love the way you do that" Helen purred as she watched Nikki's hand on her body.

"How about this?" Nikki moved her hand slightly.

"Ohhhh that's even better" Helen said in to Nikki's neck before placing open mouthed kisses along her shoulder.

Nikki moaned as she felt the entire length of Helen's body slide against her, creating a wonderful friction that made her skin feel as if it was on fire. Helen ran her fingernails down Nikki's back as she rubbed their breasts together, by this point Nikki was finding it hard to breathe. Skin became slick with perspiration and it turned them on more as they slid against each other.

Nikki pushed Helen down on the bed and leaned over her, she was squirming against her but Nikki wasn't about to give in and let her have what she wanted.....yet. She kissed her way down Helen's body, tasting the salt on her skin as she did. She took hold of one of Helen's feet and began to kiss the sole, nibble on the ankle and then she began to kiss up the back of Helen's leg. When Helen felt Nikki's hot wet tongue on the back of her thigh, her eyes rolled back in her head and she shuddered, she knew exactly where Nikki's tongue was headed and she couldn't wait to have her there.

Helen felt Nikki probe her most intimate of places and moaned loudly, she had never known a feeling quite like it. A short time later, her legs began to shudder and much to her disappointment Nikki pulled away.

"Nikki" Helen complained breathlessly.

"Shhh its ok sweetheart" Nikki whispered.

Helen took the opportunity of being able to touch Nikki again now that she was lying in front of her, her hand gravitated to between Nikki's legs and she effortlessly slid inside her. Nikki moaned in to Helen's mouth and resumed her gentle exploration with her tongue, mirroring the movements of her hand. Nikki could feel she was close and began to speed up the movement of her hand, this time Helen interrupted.

"Wait not yet" Helen pulled away slightly; "together" she looked at Nikki, through eyes that were heavy lidded with desire.

Nikki nodded and then they both carried on with what they had been doing, they synchronised their movements so that they were both at the same pace. They both rested their foreheads together as they made love to each other. The room was getting uncomfortably warm now and they were damp and sticky from their exertions.

"Come on sweetheart let it go, for me" Nikki whispered breathlessly in Helen's ear.

"I...will when...you do" Helen managed to reply, she wanted them to come together.

They smiled at each other and finally pushed each other over the edge. They clamped their mouths together not wishing to alert the rest of the house to the fact they were having an amazing orgasm. They stilled the movements of their hands and fell back on the bed exhausted and breathing heavily. Nikki's eyes wandered over Helen's glistening torso, across her breasts and down her flat stomach, she could never get tired of looking at her. Helen licked her lips and put her arms behind her head, her breathing was still ragged and her chest rose and fell rapidly. She felt eyes on her and opened one eye to look at Nikki.

"You're terrible" Helen said smiling as she wrapped her arms around Nikki.

"I hope you aren't referring to my skills as a lover!" Nikki tried to look offended.

"I'm referring to the fact of you not being able to keep your eyes off me"

"Oh that well, you can't blame me, that body of yours should carry a government health warning"

"Oh yeah?"

"Oh yeah! Gorgeous legs, flat stomach, perfect breasts and your bum, don't get me started on your bum Stewart" Nikki was practically drooling.

Helen winked at her and then placed Nikki's hand on her behind, Nikki groaned and claimed Helen's lips once more. They began to make love again, their passion never waning. They made love until the sun tinged the horizon pink, and then they lay on the bed watching the sunrise through the large windows. Helen lay with her back against Nikki, who had her arms tightly wrapped around her as they watched the first sunrise of their married life.

They whispered softly to each other as they watched the sky becoming first a muted lilac colour and the steadily turning in to a bright blue. As soon as the sun was up, Nikki drew the curtains throwing the room in to a cool darkness and then she climbed in to bed beside her wife. They snuggled down together and quietly talked as they began to get sleepy.

"Last night was perfect, it was how I'd always imagined my wedding night" Helen sighed happily.

"Me too, and it was all because of you. It feels so right, you and this place, it just feels like I'm where I always knew I should be" Nikki kissed Helen on the forehead and rubbed her back.

"I feel exactly like that when I'm with you, you're the person I always dreamed of finding and I'm back home. What more could a girl ask for?" Helen snuggled further against Nikki and held her tightly.

"You can ask for absolutely anything sweetheart and its yours" Nikki closed her eyes and rested her head above Helen's.

"I've got you love and that's more than enough" Helen said sleepily.

"Sweet dreams Helen, I love you"

"I love you too"

A few hours later the rest of the hotel was coming to life while Helen and Nikki were still in a deep slumber. Karen and Yvonne left them to it; they knew them only too well and were certain they had been up all night. During the day, the sun shifted lazily across the sky, it shone on the loch, it shone on the mountains, and it streamed in through the gap in the curtains but still neither of the lovers awoke. They were far too happy dreaming of each other.


The snow had covered everywhere in a thick blanket and it looked amazing as the winter sun caught the snowflakes and made them glisten in a spectrum of colours. The clouds would periodically cover the sun and the snow would begin to fall again, big flakes floated lazily down the ground where it met other flakes and bonded.

The excited sounds of children's laughter rang out as they took it in turns to slide down the hill on their sleds. A dark haired boy took hold of a little blonde haired girl and sat her on the sled in front of him; he wrapped his arms around her and then began to squeal as one of his friends gave him a push.

"Robert! Keep a tight hold of your sister!" Helen shouted down the hill to her son.

"Don't worry, Isobel is tougher than she looks, she takes after her mum" Nikki smiled and wrapped her arms around Helen.

Robert was the spitting image of Nikki and Isobel was the image of Helen. Helen had been pregnant with both children, the first pregnancy was the result of having one of nikki's eggs implanted. Isobel, the result of the second pregnancy, was Helen's biologically, Nikki had wanted a child that looked just like her wife. The two children giggled as they collapsed in the snow at the bottom of the hill and their aunties Karen and Yvonne who lived with them helped them up.

"This is perfect" Helen said.

"It is, being here with you is all I ever dreamed of" Nikki replied.

"It looks like both our dreams came true" Helen whispered as she cuddled further in to Nikki.

"It took us a while but we got there in the end" she smiled down at Helen and claimed her lips in a warm soft kiss, "oh my god!" she said when they broke apart.

"What is it, what's the matter sweetheart?" Helen pulled back and looked up at her.

"Does this seem at all familiar to you?"

"Of course we live here remember?" Helen said as she pointed at Stewart House and smiled.

"No I mean this, the snow, the kids, the conversation?"

"Yeah actually it does" Helen thought for a moment, "It was that dream wasn't it?" Helen was now amazed also as a long forgotten memory surfaced, "I was in the book and I sort of fell asleep, I dreamed all this, I heard the conversation we just had"

"Wow! I had the same dream; I can't believe we were actually dreaming this, sort of like a premonition wasn't it?"

"Maybe someone somewhere was trying to tell us that we'd be together again" Helen smiled and relaxed against Nikki once more.

The children went up and down the hill all day nonstop and never seemed to tire. They persuaded Nikki and Helen to have a go at one point and Nikki sat behind Helen as Karen and Yvonne gave them a push down the hill. Helen giggled like a child; it had been such a long time since she had last been on a sled. Nikki wasn't too impressed at the face full of freezing cold snow she had received at the end of the ride. It soon began to get darker and colder and they ushered the children inside.

Once dinnertime was over they herded all the children off to bed, the kids were excited because they were having a sleepover and it took them some time to quieten them down. As soon as the kids were asleep Nikki and Helen crept downstairs to their private living quarters. Helen had decided to keep the house open to guests but had divided the house, so that they all had their own private space while the guests had theirs. They kept on a group of staff to run the business and they largely had all day free to spend with the children whilst they weren't in school.

Karen and Yvonne had indeed gotten married, a year after Nikki and Helen. They had moved in to Stewart House with them, they all enjoyed each others company and had become a close family. Two years later Robert had come along and two years after that, Isobel had put in an appearance and they were all one big happy family. Nikki and Helen had now been married for nearly ten years and they had loved every single minute of it, they had had their fallings out like any other married couple but they had quickly sorted it out, remembering that at one point it had seemed unlikely that they would ever have been lucky to have all that they now did.

"Now that the monsters are in bed, Karen and I are gonna bugger off out for a few hours and let you two have time on your own" Yvonne placed and arm around Karen's shoulder.

"You don't have to do that" Nikki said as she pulled the cork from a bottle of wine.

"Nik's right, you don't have to go out if you don't want to, this is your home too" Helen smiled; she stood next to Nikki with her arms folded as she leaned against the countertop.

"We know but there's a film on the pictures we wouldn't mind seeing and then after that who knows, Yvonne can surprise me" Karen smiled.

"I'm too old for surprises love, you might have to settle for a bag of chips, best I can do" Yvonne chuckled.

Karen and Yvonne had disappeared off to the cinema. While Nikki and Helen poured themselves a glass of wine and settled down on the couch together in front of the TV.

"You know, I've been thinking sweetheart" Helen took a sip of her wine and looked at Nikki.

"What about?"

"Well our tenth anniversary is this summer, and I wanted to do something special"

"What did you have in mind?" Nikki looked lovingly at Helen, even after all this time she still made her heart race out of control, just like she had the very first time that they met.

"I think we should renew our vows. You asked me the first time so I'm asking you now. Mrs. Stewart, will you marry me?"

"I'd be delighted to, Mrs. Wade" Nikki wiggled her eyebrows at Helen, even after nearly ten years their names were still a bone of contention.

"Mrs. Stewart if you please" Helen joked.

"I thought we'd settled all this? The kids were named Wade-Stewart after all" Nikki said in a mock huffy tone.

"Yeah only cos I was feeling generous at the time, must have been all those post-natal hormones flooding around my body. I still think Stewart-Wade sounds better" she took another sip of her wine and placed it on the coffee table.

"You're a stubborn bugger Stewart!" Nikki smiled and pulled Helen on to her lap.

"Stewart now is it? What happened to Wade-Stewart?" Helen teased.

"You're playing with fire sweetheart!"

"Oh please punish me! It's been a whole twenty four hours since I was last punished and I've been a bad girl" Helen whispered in to Nikki's ear seductively and then ran her tongue down her earlobe.

"Bed, now" Nikki managed to say huskily as passion took over.

Several hours later the house was quiet and its occupants were in a peaceful sleep. Outside, the moon glinted off the snow and gave everything a fairytale look. Nikki and Helen slept peacefully in each others arms, if it hadn't been for Isobel then they would never have met, and after all this time they hadn't forgotten what she had done for them. If they had been awake and noticed the three figures standing at the bottom of the bed then they would have been gob smacked.

"Still as much in love as ever" Isobel said quietly, not wanting to wake the lovers, as she smiled.

"You were right, she has been good for my little girl" Robert Stewart looked on proudly as his daughter slept in Nikki's arms.

"And the little ones, such beautiful children. Nikki brought my baby home and I'm so happy that she did" Imogen Stewart dabbed at her eyes with a ghostly tissue.

"Come on, lets leave them to sleep" Isobel ushered them both away and took a last look at her friends before she left them alone for the night. In the ten years since she had died, she had flitted from place to place but Stewart House was her home and she was mostly to be found there. Nikki and Helen were not aware that Helen's entire family was there but Isobel felt sure that the children had seen them once or twice.

"Something wrong sweetheart? I thought I heard voices" Nikki said sleepily.

"It was nothing baby, go back to sleep" Helen kissed Nikki on the forehead and then settled down with a big smile on her face. She had just seen her parents and Isobel standing at the foot of the bed whilst they were talking and boy would she have a story to tell Nikki in the morning!

"Night, love you" Nikki mumbled.

"Night, love you too" Helen replied as she was enveloped in Nikki's warm embrace. It wasn't long before she drifted off as sleep re-claimed her once more.

The End

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