DISCLAIMER: The characters and universe all belong to Shed Productions. The actual arrangement of words herein is mine, however (but, I openly invite the aforementioned corporate entity to steal at will, and gladly surrender all rights to their tender loving care). I'm not worth much (...I mean FINANCIALLY) so suing would be, well, pointless.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Firstly I'd like to say thanks to Julie for beta reading this and putting it up on her sight. Secondly, this is my first fanfic so any feedback - good or bad - would be great. Lastly, enjoy
Nikki held Helen until her sobs turned into hiccups, she then guided her to a chair and passed her a tissue.
"Helen what do you mean you want him back? What happened?"
"The only time I went to a doctor is to get the pregnancy verified and I went back to my old squat after I got back from America. One of the girls in the squat trained to be a nurse before she got addicted so she helped me with the birth. I know that it was stupid, that anything could have happened but at the time I was too high to care. Only the people in the squat knew that Nick even existed but one night I got into a fight and had to go to hospital. I took Nick with me because I didn't trust anyone in the squat with him, the nurse at the hospital must have realised that I was an addict, because before I knew what was happening a social worker was in the cubical asking me questions. I promise that I took good care of him Nikki but the social workers and nurse thought because of my addiction I couldn't take proper care of him. They took him into care." Helen started crying again and Nikki took her back into her arms.
"Where did they take him? Did they say you could have him back if you got clean?" Nikki asked while rocking Helen to try and comfort her.
"No, they just said he would be better cared for. They just took him."
"OK, well I know some people, I'm going to give them a ring and see what they can find out. What is his name and when did he get put into care?"
"You mean you are not angry? I thought you would be going mad."
"I'm not angry Helen, why should I be?"
"I just thought...it doesn't matter." Helen replied slightly subdued, if Nikki had been mad at least it would have shown she cared.
Helen told her the information and Nikki went into her study to make the calls so Helen could collect herself in private. A smile came to her lips when Helen had told her she had named her son Nicholas after her because 'he had your eyes and dark hair, even at birth, he reminded me of you'. Helen had been embarrassed when relaying the information.
Nikki emerged 30 minutes later to see a totally composed Helen staring at her expectantly. "They said they'd get straight on it and fax me the information, if they have any, tomorrow. I also contacted my solicitor and he says when he gets the information he'll look into our options and discuss it with us. It should all be there when we wake up...talking of waking up why don't we both turn in for the night, it's nearly three am and I'm worn out."
Helen gave a tired nod, she had been feeling tired but now she felt totally drained. She moved when she felt Nikki's hand on her back guiding her towards the stairs. At her bedroom door Helen stopped.
"Night, Nikki, Thank you."
"No problem, I'll do everything I can to get him back for you Helen." With this Nikki disappeared into her room and closed the door.
Although she was feeling tired Nikki found that her brain was in overdrive. There were a lot of questions she had wanted to ask Helen but seeing the state she was in Nikki had bit her tongue, now they were all returning.
She tossed and turned for what seemed like hours and was just drifting off when a small knock on her door brought her awake.
"Nikki? Are you awake?" A Scottish voice drifted into the room.
"Yeah, I couldn't sleep."
"Same here. Do you mind if I come in?"
"Not at all."
Nikki watched as Helen approached and sat on the side of the bed, she sat looking at the floor for a couple of seconds before turning to Nikki.
"Do you think I can get him back?"
"I believe that if you can prove that you are no longer on drugs and that you have a stable life to offer him that you have a chance. If anyone can convince the judges of that it is my solicitor."
"I didn't mean to get pregnant but when I found out I was, the baby became the most important thing in my life. I never mistreated him and he never did without. He became my obsession in a way because I thought of him as my link to you, even though I knew you weren't involved he looked so much like you. I wouldn't have done anything to hurt him." Helen said with conviction. Nikki noticed that she was shivering, before she could think better of it she scooted over to the other side of the bed and pulled the cover back for Helen to get in. The smaller woman contemplated it for a second before sliding beneath the cover.
"I believe you, you don't have to worry, I'll do everything I can to get him back." Nikki promised.
A silence followed, Helen had snuggled down into the covers so Nikki assumed she was asleep.
"Thank you Nikki I will never be able to repay you for all you've done for me. I don't know why but you've stuck by me and you'll never know how grateful I am." She heard Helen whisper just before she succumbed to sleep.
Nikki woke the next morning to feel a weight on her chest pinning her down, frowning she looked down only to nearly stop breathing when she saw Helen using her shoulder as a pillow and looking very comfortable and content. A quick recap of her memories told her that nothing had happened other than the revelation about Helen's son. She was trying to decide whether she was happy with the fact they hadn't made love the night before or not when she felt Helen move.
Nikki's breath grew ragged when she felt Helen rub her check again her shoulder trying to cuddle closer. Helen's right leg moved to spread across both of Nikki's and her arms tightened around the taller woman's. Every movement went straight to Nikki's core and she let out a quiet groan. It obviously wasn't quiet enough as on hearing the noise Helen's head raised from Nikki's shoulder and tired confused eyes tried to focus on the woman below her.
"Nikki?" Helen asked puzzled.
"Morning, how are you feeling now?" Nikki questioned trying to distract them both from the provocative position they were in.
"Me? Fine." Helen stated letting her head slump back to Nikki's shoulder. She found the was finding the warmth and comfort of being this close to Nikki to appealing to move.
"Good...good, then maybe we should get up." Nikki suggested.
"Um." Helen agreed still not moving.
It was a couple a seconds before Helen eventually seemed to notice the intimate positions they were in a rolled off Nikki hoping the other woman didn't notice her blush. She need not have worried for as soon as her limbs were freed Nikki shot out of the bed and left the room.
"I'll go and check if anything has been faxed." She mumbled before all but running from the room.
A couple of minutes later, giving them both time to compose themselves, Helen headed down the stairs. She found Nikki sat at the kitchen table sipping coffee and reading through some papers.
"Are they about Nick?" Helen asked, her mind cranking back to the reason she had been in Nikki's bedroom that night.
"Yeah, I haven't finished reading it all yet but it looks like they found him pretty easily and when he was put into care it was stated that you could apply for custody and the courts would grant it if you could show you could take suitable care of him. Given this my solicitor thinks that with proof you have been through rehabilitation and have stayed off drugs ever since you have a chance of regaining custody." Nikki said smiling at the way Helen's face lit up with a radiant smile when she heard the news. "The solicitor is filing custody papers as we speak so I'm going to book us plane tickets for late tonight unless you'd rather travel by day?"
"Wait, what? Plane tickets?" Helen said confused and a little scared, she hadn't been back to England since she left for a new life, how would she react to seeing it all again.
"Yeah, we have to speak to the solicitor and go to court, if the person filing for custody doesn't turn up to the hearing it kind of looks like you don't care so they don't grant it." Nikki teased.
"I know, I just wasn't thinking properly, I hadn't thought about going to England."
"Well you go and pack while I phone the airline and Liz to let her know to expect us." Nikki said giving Helen another reason to not want to go back.
They arrived in England early the next day. Helen had not slept well on the plane, Nikki suggested it was because she was not used to sleeping in anything but a bed, Helen had smiled and agreed although she knew it was for a different reason.
As they picked their luggage up Nikki warned Helen of the press, they didn't know they were coming but usually some paparazzi were stationed at the airport just in case a story emerged. Most of Helen's story had been reported in the press, they had reported Helen's dependence on drugs and Nikki returning to help but they only knew that Helen and Nikki had been best friends at school. No-one, it seemed, knew that they were former lovers and they both knew if any of the press found out about it then it would be front page news. Returning for Helen's child was going to raise a few eyebrows and questions were probably going to be asked.
They arrived at Nikki's house with no harassment from the press but both knew it wasn't going to last for long, as soon as word got out that Nikki had been spotted at the airport or that a car had been spotted entering her house the newspapers would send someone to find out why she had returned.
As Helen feared Elizabeth was waiting for them at the door. She welcomed Nikki with a warm hug but she had to settle for a wary hand shake. As they all stepped into the living room the atmosphere turned awkward, Helen and Elizabeth didn't want to speak and Nikki wasn't sure what to say as talking to one would leave the other out.
"I think I'll go and unpack." Helen said eventually.
"OK, do you need any help taking your suitcases up?" Nikki asked quickly, grabbing at the only source of conversation.
"No, I'll just take one at a time. I'll have to find a place to put everything once I've unpacked it." Helen replied picking up the first of her cases and quickly heading for the stairs.
"You could of at least tried to be civil." Nikki said turning to Elizabeth as soon as Helen was out of hearing range.
"What could I say to her? We don't know each other and the only time she was here we argued in the two conversations we had."
"And whose fault was that Liz?" Nikki asked raising her eyebrows.
"Hers! If I remember correctly I don't like her because she robbed you blind." Liz retorted.
"Look I don't care about it why should you? Everything that was taken has been replaced."
"No thanks to her, everything that was taken went into the veins of her and her druggy friends."
"That's enough." Nikki almost shouted and by the look on Liz's face she knew she had gone too far. "Like you said you don't even know Helen. I admit the person you met last time was horrible but the Helen upstairs at the moment is someone special, I'd hate to think you didn't get to know her just because you didn't give her a second chance."
Neither of them noticed Helen leave her room and stop at the top of the stairs as Nikki was declaring that Liz didn't know Helen. She smiled as she heard Nikki's words, the smile was replaced by a frown as she heard Elizabeth's reply.
"I'll give her a second chance but only because you asked me to. I hope to god you know what you are getting into though Nik. I was sceptical when I heard you were putting up bail and paying for her to be rehabilitated, I was horrified when you said she was going back to America with you. Taking on her kid is even worse, do you really know what you are getting into? You will be paying to raise another person's child. I know what she used to mean to you and probably still does but are you sure she is not just using you?" Liz asked.
"God why does everyone keep saying that? Do you not think I can look after myself?" Nikki replied in desperation.
"Maybe everyone is looking out for you. I'm just playing devils advocate here Nik, I want to make sure you are aware of the chance and I accept you might be completely right all I ask is that you keep your eyes open."
"My eyes are wide open Liz and will stay that way but I don't believe Helen would do that to me."
Realising that the conversation was coming to an end and she had a chance of being spotted Helen retraced her steps back to her room before leaving noisily and running down the stairs. She stopped when she noticed that both women were staring at her quietly.
"You were quick." Nikki stated smiling at the small Scot.
"Yeah, there are some essentials that I wanted to unpack first but they aren't in the suitcase I took up." Helen explained looking at the cases that had already been brought in. "It doesn't seem to be with those though."
"Well some of the cases are still in the car." Nikki replied suddenly regretting bringing so many bags. "I'll go and get them now, wait here."
With that Nikki jumped up from her seat, grabbed the car keys and left the house. Helen stood awkwardly near the stairs for a couple of minutes. Deciding to get this out of the way she approached Liz and sat down.
"I know you don't have a very high opinion of me and I don't blame you but I'm not using Nikki. I care about her and she has done so much for me, I know you have no reason to believe me but I hope you'll give me the chance to prove it to you." Helen said earnestly.
"I hope you'll prove me wrong as well Helen, I know it'd destroy Nikki to loose you and so does everyone else, that's why we are so concerned."
"I could never willingly hurt her." Helen whispered to herself more than Elizabeth but the older woman caught the words and nodded patting her hand.
"Nikki will be pleased to know we've had this conversation, she wanted us to clear the air."
Almost as soon as they had unpacked Nikki rang her solicitor and arranged an appointment, Nikki being one of his most prestigious clients was granted a slot that very day. That was why Helen was now walking down the huge hall that housed some of London's richest solicitors, barristers, accounts and stockbrokers. The floor was lined with a thick smooth carpet, on the walls covering the expensive wall paper was even more expensive oil paintings and the chandeliers which hung of the high roof looked like crystal.
Helen looked around at the business men and women all looking pristine in their power suits and wondered if she could have been like them if her life had taken different paths. Her eyes came to rest on Nikki who was talking to a woman behind the reception desk, Nikki was one of these people, she had earned her money through hard work but she seemed to shun their world. Where as all the people around them were dressed to the code of their elite group Nikki was in her regular attire of jeans and a shirt, she was aware of the disapproving glances cast her way but ignored them, she was one of them and she knew it.
"Come on, we have to go up, David is waiting for us." Nikki said pulling Helen out of her thoughts.
Nikki guided her up a set of ornate stairs, they were wide at the bottom with statues sat on the posts but about half way up they split into two, a set of stairs sweeping to the right and a set to the left. It kept with the air of expense and sophistication of the building. They took the stairs on the left and entered a corridor that was obviously the start of some kind of office. A door separated it from the stairs and just on the other side was another wide corridor with a desk at the beginning. The receptionist waved to Nikki and told her to go through, they carried on up the corridor to see leather settee's on each side next to offices each with a name carved in a metal plaque.
Nikki directed her to the end office and knocked on a door which pronounced the occupant to be a Mr. David Metcalf M.A., L.L.B. A deep voice told them to enter and Helen followed Nikki into the room. A stocky man was stood in front of his desk with a smile on his face. He was younger than Helen would have thought to be a solicitor held in such high regard, only in his early thirties. David was handsome, from his brown cropped hair, to his blue eyes and dashing smile it all emitted a charm which Helen thought would have most women instantly snared.
"Nikki, it's nice to see you again." He said.
"It's nice to see you to David." She replied shaking the pre-offered hand. "This is Helen Stewart."
"I guessed as much, I'm pleased to meet you Miss Stewart." He said shaking her hand as well.
"Please call me Helen."
"Right, well, since you contacted me Nikki I've been looking into this case and have had some encouraging results." He said taking a seat behind his desk and picking up a file while Nikki and Helen took seats in front of the desk. "We contacted the investigator you employed to find your son and found out the details of where he has been placed." He placed photo's of the house and one of Nick playing in the garden on the table, he stopped talking as Helen picked up the photograph and studied it.
The photo she had been given was not as clear as this one, she could see Nick playing with a ball. He was everything she had imagined with short black hair and a cheeky smirk. She couldn't see his eyes properly but knew they were a deep brown, at birth he'd had a shock of black hair and brown eyes which made her fall in love with him as soon as she held the crying little bundle in her arms.
"Miss Stewart...Helen, I believe we have a very good chance of getting custody for your son but there are a few things I need to discuss with you. I applied for custody of Nick as soon as I received the phone call from Nikki and have a confirmed date for just over a weeks time as there was a case withdrawn.
Now for the case we will have to prove that the reason they took Nick off you - your drug addiction is no longer a problem. Our main obstacle is the judges, they may not think that 4 month's of good behaviour proves you aren't going to go back to drugs."
Helen frowned at this, David had said he thought they had a good chance now he was saying the courts probably wouldn't trust her, it didn't make sense.
"Now, I have an idea to get round this but you have to listen to my argument before you start questioning me about it." He said rather nervously making both women suspicious. "I not only want to apply for custody for Helen but I want to apply for parental responsibility for you Nikki." As both Nikki and Helen opened their mouths to say something he held up his hand to stop them. "Listen to me first, all that parental responsibility does is give you the powers of a parent over the child, it will not take anything away from you Helen all that Nikki will be is a back up in case anything happens to you. Nick will be living with you anyway Nikki so the only difference is it will make your decisions regarding him, if you need to make any, legal. In essence it will only be a back up for you both but in the eyes of the court it will be perfect because it will mean that if Helen does turn back to drugs then Nick will still have someone their for him and he won't have to go straight back into care. Of course I understand that you will both need time to think about this but from a legal stand point I have to point out that this gives us the best chance and I will need to know your answers quickly to formulate a case."
Both women sat quietly for several seconds lost in their own thoughts, it was eventually Nikki whose spoke.
"OK, if Helen decides she doesn't want to share responsibility for Nick or I decide I don't want to do this what will happen to the case?" She asked.
"In that case I'll call Helen's psychologist from Clouds, I've already contacted him and he says he'll testify that Helen is responsible and through the counselling realised how much she had to loose if she carried on or went back to taking drugs. Then I will call you to say how reliable Helen has been and that she hasn't shown any sign of even wanting to return to her old lifestyle and of course all the information about how you are willing to take Nick in to your home." He shrugged letting them know it was still an option.
They got ready to leave shortly after each lost in their own thoughts, just as they were about to walk out the door Nikki turned back.
"David, will we be able to go and see Nick? It might help him in the long run, what will he feel if he's just uprooted and dumped with us."
"Erm...I'll ring the home and see, sit back down for a minute. As his mother, Helen should have the right as long as someone is accompanying her."
At the possibility of seeing her son for the first time in over a year Helen wasn't sure what to do with herself. She stood in shock unable to do anything but blink, finally finding a part of her brain that worked she turned her head to look at Nikki who was stood further into the room. Nikki smiled encouragingly at Helen, the concern and hope on Nikki's face somehow seemed to unfreeze another part of Helen's brain and she suddenly realised that David was speaking to someone on the phone. Her brain finally managed to decipher what was being said and realised that he was confirming a time with the person on the other end of the phone.
Eventually he said good bye and hung up. "Well Helen, in..." David stopped and looked at his watch, "one hour and twenty minutes you are going to see your son again. I arranged it so you are both going and you have to report to a Mrs Etherridge, she says she'll be waiting, she seemed quite excited when I said you'd be there Nikki."
Nikki rolled her eyes "Right thanks David, I'll ring you tomorrow."
They were out of the building and almost to the end of the block before they spoke.
"What about getting something to eat now and then setting off, I have the address of the home and I know where it is so it shouldn't take long to get there." Nikki said. In reality she wasn't really hungry but she wanted something to take their minds of the decisions they would have to make in the next 24 hours, decisions which would change their lives whatever they decided.
"OK." Helen replied quietly, her mind was obviously occupied as well.
Nikki led them to a small, expensive restaurant not far from the legal offices they had just been in. The staff seemed to know Nikki and made jokes about her preferring their place to her own restaurant, she laughed them off.
There was little talk until finally Nikki decided to take the bull by the horns and bring up what they were both thinking.
"So what are you thinking of doing?"
"What do you mean?" Helen replied calmly.
"OK, I'll rephrase it. Would you let me take this...parental responsibility of your child?" Nikki said searching Helen's face for any clue to what she was thinking.
"To be honest, I don't know. I want my child back and I think you'd be a great mother, if there's anyone I'd trust Nick with it'd be you but it feels like I'd be declaring that I'm not a fit mother." Helen sighed and started studying the table top intently.
"That's not true Helen, everyone who knows you knows you'd be a great mother even with your past. These judges will just have the facts, they'll be looking at you on paper as outsiders, they don't know you but they have to do what they think will be best for Nick. They just want to take every precaution to make sure he's well looked after and safe." Nikki said passionately.
At this Helen laughed quietly. "You always know what to say to make me feel better."
"That's what I'm here for." Nikki smiled until the other woman turned to her and held eye contact.
"What about you? Would you take responsibility for Nick even though he's my child?"
Holding her gaze Nikki knew that she had to be completely honest Helen would know if she was lying.
"I don't know, I was going to wait until I'd met him before deciding. Although if he likes us both and you agree to it I don't think it would be a problem."
"What, even knowing he wasn't your child. Knowing he was from a guy I slept with because he looked like you and he'd give me drugs?"
"It's all in the past Helen..."
"No it's not Nikki, Nick is here...now. He is here because of my past but he is part of the present. I don't think you realise that. You say you are OK about my past, the fact that I was a drug addict but are you going to be OK with it when there is a living reminder thrust in front of your nose all the time?" Helen butted in, she wasn't sure she wanted to know the answer but it was a question that needed to be asked. She wasn't encouraged when Nikki paused before answering.
"As long as he's not like his dad then I consider him to be the only good thing to come out of your past. And because he's only 2 years old I think it'll be our responsibility to make sure he doesn't grow up to be like his father." Nikki was rewarded with a big grin from Helen. "I think we should set off for the home, we don't want to be late."
They actually arrived early and had to wait for Mrs Etherridge. When she did appear she enthusiastically shook both their hands, declaring she was so happy to meet Nikki in person, before taking them to what she called the 'play room'. As soon as they entered the room Helen noticed Nick and before Nikki could say anything she had approached the toddler.
As Helen approached Nick Nikki could see the little boy had seen her approach, he looked around cautiously before fixing his eyes on the woman who seemed to want to speak to him.
"Hi Nick." Nikki heard Helen say to him, Helen frowned when the little boy ignored her.
"Does he know we were coming?" Nikki asked Mrs Etherridge who had stayed at the back of the room with her.
"We told him he was having visitors and that one was his mother but I don't know if he understood what that meant. All the children here are below five years old and have no contact with their parents so with his age he might not know what it means to have a mother or father." She replied. Nodding Nikki turned back to Helen and Nick, Helen had tried a different tact and was sitting crossed legged in front of the boy.
"Is that your ball?" Helen asked suddenly noticing that Nick was holding the same ball that was in the picture Nikki's solicitor had shown her. Looking at her Nick nodded slowly obviously still not trusting her completely. "It's a nice ball."
"No one will play with me. Will you play ball?"
"OK." Helen replied, on hearing this Nick smiled.
'He inherited that smile from his mother' Nikki though immediately liking the boy. She had been surprised when she had first noticed the toddler Helen was walking towards. When Helen had said his father had looked like her she hadn't been lying. Nick had black hair and brown eyes the same as Nikki but that was not where the similarities ended, his skin colouring was almost the same as Nikki's and even at this young age everyone could see he was going to be tall, unlike Helen. Some of his features were Helen's though, he had the same small nose and his mouth was definitely hers.
As Nikki watched Nick ran across the room with his ball before turning and kicking it to Helen, the inflatable ball slowly drifted across to Helen who slyly took two steps forward to help the ball along. She easily stopped it before softly kicking it back.
"Do you like football Nick?" Helen asked determined to get to know her son better. He had only been six months old when he was taken away from her so she no longer knew his favourite things.
"Yes. I want to be a footballer, I'm going to play for Liverpool like Michael Owen." The young boy stated.
"You support Liverpool?" Helen asked. Nick nodded his head enthusiastically. "Well I'm from Scotland so I support Rangers but I'd have to say in England I support Manchester United."
"Manchester United are Liverpool's enemies. I'm not supposed to like you now." Nick said looking at Helen like he was trying to hate her but couldn't.
"Not when they play for England. Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard play along side David Beckham and Paul Scholes." Helen said smiling when the boys face lit up in a smile when he decided they could still be friends.
Soon some of the other children playing in the room came over when they saw that their was a new face playing football with Nick. They eventually joined in all trying to get Helen's attention, Helen roped Nikki into playing soon enough and Mrs Etherridge decided that they should all move into the garden so they could have a proper game of football. Nick was over the moon.
Helen and Nick were in one team and Nikki was in the other. Nick was by far the best player in the children and as a result Nikki's team were getting thrashed, Nikki and Helen had been trying to keep out of the game knowing it would be unfair and dangerous to tackle or play directly with the kids. Nick once again got the ball and started to run up the pitch as fast as his little legs would carry him. Seeing an opportunity Nikki scooped the small boy into her arms, effectively dispossessing him, and chipped the ball over the children's heads and into the nets of the opposition.
"Goal!" She shouted getting cheers from all her team.
"Not fair." Helen called walking up to Nikki who currently had Nick squirming and laughing in her arms. "You're not allowed to pick up members of our team, that's a foul."
"Who says?" Nikki asked cockily.
"I do." Helen said getting a mischievous glint in her eyes. "Well if that's allowed so is this." With that Helen started tickling Nikki.
"OK, OK. I give up I'm sorry." Nikki said depositing Nick back on the ground. As soon as the toddler was safe Helen attacked Nikki, before she knew exactly how it had happened Nikki found herself led on the floor, even more of a surprise was the fact that Helen was led on top of her laughing hysterically.
"Pile on." Nikki heard one of her team yell and suddenly they were engulfed in a sea of giggling toddlers.
Nikki held Helen close to her trying to stop her from getting injured. She soon became distracted when she felt the smaller woman breast brush against hers and the feel of the warm body led along her own, she felt her breathing speed up as her body responded. It was Mrs Etherridge who eventually broke into her thoughts.
"Children! What do you think you are doing, get off them at once."
Nikki slowly felt the children climb off them eventually it was just Helen led on top of her. Nikki noticed that it took Helen longer than necessary to climb to her feet but put it down to her own wishful thinking.
Helen climbed to her feet, she hoped the colour on her cheeks and her slightly erratic breathing would be put down to the fact that she'd had a pack of 15 toddlers crushing her. When she turned to look at Nikki she noticed that the taller woman had not yet stood, offering her hand she helped her up.
"Are you OK? You're not hurt are you?" She asked concerned, she was relieved when a goofy smile spread across Nikki face.
"No, I'm fine."
Looking to the children Nikki noticed that Mrs Etherridge had them all lined up and they were all looking at the floor guiltily. It looked like Mrs Etherridge was going to reprimand them.
"Mrs Etherridge, we have to go now." She said distracting the older woman's attention.
"Erm...I'll have to see you out. Go back to the play room children." She called, the children hung around looking at Helen and Nikki. It was Nick who asked what they were all thinking.
"You will come back won't you?"
"Of course we will." Helen replied for both of them smiling from ear to ear to hear that her son wanted to see them again. "Maybe next time we can even get Nikki to play fairly."
"Hey!" Nikki exclaimed indignantly while following Mrs Etherridge into the building.
Since the day they had visited Nick in his foster home things had moved fast. Helen had decided she would do anything to get him back even if it meant Nikki being granted the status of parent to increase their chances. After the meeting Nick, Nikki decided that she wouldn't mind the responsibility of caring for a child and agreed also.
With this information David complied his case and four days after Helen's first visit they returned to the home and along with Mrs Etherridge explained to Nick that Helen and Nikki wanted to take him to live with them. After being unsure at first he was excited when he heard that this would mean he'd be moving to America.
Now they were all stood in court waiting for the judge to deliver his decision, they had given their argument and Helen had to admit that it was strong. The only thing the opposition could argue was that uprooting Nick to live in America and the media attention surrounding Nikki might be detrimental to him. Of course it hadn't helped that the press had discovered what Nikki had returned for, they hadn't discovered that Nick was Helen's child but it wasn't for want of trying.
The judge had finally retreated to consider the case. It had been over five minutes before he had returned. Now he had returned and was staring down at the fidgeting Helen, she was that nervous that she actually thought she might faint.
She noticed the judges mouth moving but couldn't make out what he was saying, her mind thought it was funny that he was speaking silently and she suddenly had to bite back a bout of hysterical laughter. The judge had stopped moving his mouth now and was frowning at her and she suddenly found herself staring at Nikki. It was only when she found herself being shaken that her mind made sense of the noise around her.
"Helen? Did you hear what he said? Helen?" She heard Nikki's concerned voice say.
Helen gave into what her body wanted and fell against Nikki, she totally surrendered when she felt Nikki's strong arms wrap around her in a protective embrace.
Helen slowly opened her eyes wondering why that simple task was so difficult. When she pried them open the first thing she saw was a bright white wall, as her eyes focused more she realised that it was too far off to be a wall, she was pleased when her brain came to the conclusion that it must be the roof which meant she was led on her back. She struggled to turn her head and was rewarded with the sound of Nikki's voice.
"She's awake. Helen? Are you OK?" Nikki asked sitting next to her on whatever she was led on.
"Yes. What happened?"
"We are still in court, you collapsed. We brought you in here and called a doctor. Just relax he'll be here in a minute." Nikki replied reaching up to brush some of Helen's hair out of her eyes.
"Court! Oh god, what happened? Did the judge say we could have Nick?" Helen asked sitting up.
"Helen, calm down. You have to lie back down." When fixed with one of Helen's glares Nikki went on. "Yes, the judge said we can have custody of Nick just before you fainted. He gave some conditions though."
"If I tell you do you promise to lie back down?"
"OK, well we have to stay in England for 2 weeks and have a social worker visit us once a week to make sure he's settling in and then when we go to America, we have to agree to have a social worker visit us there. If they at any time feel that he isn't settling in or the attention from the press is affecting him they will take him off us again."
"What?" Helen almost shouted she would have jumped to her feet if not for Nikki strong grip on her arm.
"Helen, lie down." She said firmly pushing the smaller women into a lying position. "If the press attention gets so bad then we can always find a way around it, we can find you some other accommodation for the two of you, we'll figure something out that doesn't involve Nick being taken from you again. Trust me!"
"I trust you Nikki." Helen answered honestly.
Nikki was prevented from replying by a knock on the door, Nikki stood as a man entered with a doctors bag.
"I'm Doctor Riley." He said shaking Nikki's hand before walking over to Helen who was still led on the couch. "Could you tell me what happened?"
"Erm...I was in court, I started to feel dizzy and then I woke up here." Helen replied looking to Nikki to see if she had answered correctly she was rewarded by an encouraging smile.
They all stayed silent as the doctor checked Helen's vital signs and vision, before asking Helen if she still felt dizzy when she replied with a negative he asked her to stand. When she did so he smiled.
"I don't think there is anything to worry about, it was probably the emotions and stress caused by your court case but if you show anymore worrying signs then contact your doctor immediately."
"Don't worry, I'll make sure she does." Nikki replied.
As Helen sat on the couch Nikki thanked the doctor and showed him out. She returned a couple of minutes later with a big grin on her face.
"Right we can go as soon as your ready then, although you should take it easy for the rest of the day. We can get a video tonight if you want."
"What about Nick?"
"We pick him up tomorrow, the home will explain to him what happens now and he gets one final night with his friends while his carers will pack his belongings then we call about midday." Nikki explained her cheery mood evaporating when she saw Helen's face fall.
"Oh...OK." Helen replied disheartened.
"Just one more night Helen, then you'll have him back." Nikki said taking the smaller woman's hand.
"I know, I've waited this long what difference is one more night going to make?"
"To you? A lot, but it will also mean a lot to Nick to get one more night with all his friends."
"Come on then, lets go home but I get to choose the video." Helen stated standing and using the grip on Nikki's hand to pull her up as well.
Nikki dropped Helen off at the house before nipping out again, she had told Helen to rest and set off to hire a video. Helen had told her which one to get but Nikki had insisted that Helen stay in the house and rest.
Now two hours later the taller woman still hadn't returned, Helen was getting increasingly worried and was pacing round the front room half an hour later when she heard car tires crunch on the gravel in front of the house. Throwing the door open Helen ran down the steps to the car to find Nikki pulling bags out of the boot with a big grin on her face.
"Where the Hell have you been?" Helen shouted.
"I went shopping."
"You could have told me!"
"Sorry, I was out when I realised we didn't have anything for Nick, he's going to be bored stiff if he moves in and there are no toys or anything for him to play with."
"Nikki don't tell me you went on a shopping spree for Nick." Helen said closing her eyes and sighing.
"Well I just bought a few things. You should have seen some of the things they had..." Nikki sounded really excited and for a few seconds Helen smiled at the way Nikki's eyes sparkled as she continued to get boxes and bags out of the boot.
"A few things!" Helen exclaimed as she saw the growing piles of toys. "Nikki, Nick is my child and I have money now, I can buy these things I can't keep taking money off you!"
"I'm sorry, I guess I went a bit over board." Nikki said looking heart broken, it took all of Helen's will not to wrap her arms around her and say everything was OK especially when she saw Nikki pout. "It's just that I saw some goal posts in the window of a shop and it got me thinking."
"Goal posts? Don't tell me you have bought some goal posts." Helen said in shock. OK Nikki had acres of fields with the house but full size goal posts was going a bit far for a two year old.
"Not full ones just these small ones." Nikki said pulling another box out of the boot and showing it to Helen, who was starting to wonder how the other woman had fit all these bags and boxes into the car.
"Nikki..." Helen started to protest.
"Sorry." Nikki said not even letting her finish. "You can pay me back for some of them or something, how about that. You should see some of them though. I got this tractor and it makes all these noises and I also bought this little computer thing, it's like a speak and spell, do you remember those? I thought I'd better get him some educational toys." Nikki was getting excited again.
"I think we'd better get all these things into the house and take a look at them. You know we are not meant to buy him loads of gifts, he's probably not used to it and we don't want to buy his love."
"I know and I promise these are the only things I'll buy him, although I was thinking of having one of the rooms decorated, we're going to be spending a lot of time in Hollywood and I don't really have a room set up for children."
Picking up a couple of bags Helen headed into the house sighing, she hadn't thought that Nikki would be so happy about having a child live with her, if anything she was expecting Nikki to act put out. This was anything but.
Nikki carried on bringing all the toys in while Helen started unpacking and inspecting them, as she was inspecting a range of brightly coloured action figures Nikki came up behind her.
"These are really good, they all connect together to make a even bigger figure, look." With this Nikki started to twist arms and legs and connect the figures together. When she finished she passed the figure which was twice the size back to Helen with a big grin on her face.
"Hmm," Helen replied inspecting the toy. Deciding she couldn't find anything wrong with it she put it aside and moved to a thin long box. Unpacking it she saw a pole with a ball on a string on the end of it. "What's this?"
"It's a football on a pole, apparently it improves your control with a football. Nick said he wanted to be a footballer so I thought it would help."
Putting it aside she scanned the pile of toys to see a huge box, it hadn't been there before so Helen assumed Nikki had brought it in last. "What is that?"
"It's the tractor I told you about." Nikki replied looking pleased with herself.
Walking up to it cautiously Helen tore the sticky tape of the top and peered into the box. It was indeed a tractor but a fully functioning drive-able tractor for children.
"He'll be able to ride it in the garden and we can take it back to America with us, I asked." Nikki said obviously proud of herself. Seeing her excitement Helen couldn't seem to find it in herself to reply with the retort that had risen in her. She just smiled thinly and went onto another package. Still feeling proud of herself Nikki opened the goal posts and decided to build them so Nick could play as soon as he wanted.
Helen carried on searching the fantastic array of presents, unpacking the last few she decided that the sales person at the toy shop must have seen Nikki coming and if he was working on commission he'd be a very happy man. She stood up to see an upright 4 foot goal a Nikki frowning at the instructions for the other one. Feeling a pang of tenderness for this woman Helen walked over and put her arms around Nikki's shoulders.
"Thank you Nikki." Nikki looked up from the instructions to frown at Helen.
"I thought you were angry with me."
"I was at first but this is a very nice thing you've done, I just wish you wouldn't spend all your money on me or Nick." Helen said still hugging her.
"Helen, I have more money than I need for myself and over these last couple of months you've made me really happy. It's like I finally have someone to share my life with, I guess I didn't know how lonely I actually was until you came. Now I want to make you happy but the only way I know that I can do that is by buying you stuff, I don't need this money and all that it would be doing is sitting in the bank, why can't I spend it on you?"
"Nikki you've made me happier than I remember being in my adult life. Drugs were destroying me but I never would have given them up if it wasn't for you and Nick. I never thought I'd see him again and now I'm going to have him back. I couldn't have asked more from you." Helen said sincerely before kissing Nikki's cheek.
After talking they had decided to clear the toys away, after more than ten trips up the stairs to a room Nikki had designated as the 'toy room' they had most things stored. Nikki took the ball on a pole and the nets outside and set them up in the garden and she showed Helen the room she thought would be best for Nick to stay in.
After that was done they settled down to watch the video, Helen had insisted they watch Thelma and Louise despite Nikki's protests. As Helen went to get popcorn out of the kitchen Nikki sprawled out over the settee in front of the TV. When Helen returned and saw this she raised her eyebrows, Nikki's only answer was a cheeky grin. Not to be outdone Helen laid the popcorn in a table, lifting Nikki's head the small Scot slid under before laying Nikki's head in her lap.
"Comfortable?" Helen asked sarcastically.
"Perfectly." Nikki replied hoarsely. She was remembering the first time they had been positioned like this, it was the first time they had made love. Helen's head had been on Nikki's lap as she watched TV, all those years ago on Helen's birthday.
As the movie went on Nikki relaxed more, she was pleased with the closeness they had around each other. As the end credits rolled she sat up to see Helen had fallen asleep, deciding that if she was left in that position she'd be stiff in the morning she leant over and shook Helen.
Helen woke from a pleasant dream involving Nikki to see the deep brown eyes staring intently into her own.
"The movie's finished." Nikki said at the confused look in Helen's eyes.
"Oh, I missed the end."
"Try the beginning and middle as well." Nikki said, the amused look in her eyes showed Helen that she wasn't angry. "C'mon, lets get you to bed." Blushing when she realised how provocative the sentence sounded.
With Nikki's help Helen stood and made her way to her bedroom, Nikki excused herself when Helen started to get undressed. When she returned 5 minutes later, after getting undressed herself and brushing her teeth, Helen was sat in her bed rubbing her eyes tiredly.
"You OK?" Nikki asked thinking how cute Helen looked tired and vulnerable.
"Well...I just thought I'd check everything was fine before I went to bed." Nikki said willing herself to leave.
"Nikki!" Helen said hesitantly as Nikki turned to leave. "Will you stay?..I just thought...well, erm...I'm just a bit restless and...you comfort me." Helen finished embarrassed about opening up to someone.
"Of course I'll stay with you, you only had to ask." Nikki replied touched by Helen's admissions.
Nikki slid into the bed as soon as Helen moved up to make room for her, to her surprise as soon as she was settled Helen curled up against her side and wrapped her arms around her waist.
"Everything will be fine Helen." Nikki encouraged kissing Helen's temple. They were both asleep in a matter of minutes both worn out from the emotional rollercoaster of recent events.
Nikki woke for the second time in her adult life to find Helen half lying across her and snuggled tightly against her body. She noticed that she already had the tingling feeling in the base of her stomach, she had to get out of this situation as quickly as possible.
As Nikki moved to extract herself from Helen's embrace thought two things happened, the first was that one of Helen's legs slipped between her legs and the second was that Helen woke. When Helen woke she moved to try and get more comfortable in her half conscious state but as she did her thigh pressed against Nikki's centre. Nikki closed her eyes trying to get her body under control and her breathing to an acceptable level.
When Nikki opened her eyes, after not achieving any of her aims, she noticed that Helen was fully awake and looking down at her. For a moment she thought that Helen was going to shout at her for taking advantage when she was in an emotional state but as she stared into her eyes she saw not anger but desire.
Nikki's gaze was drawn back and forth between Helen's eyes and her full mouth, hesitating for only a second Nikki's started to bring her head forward to capture the willing mouth. She smiled when she saw that Helen's head was also moving towards hers and she felt the other woman's hips buck against her thigh.
When their mouths were only a hairs width apart Nikki hesitated again, she could feel the heat and breath from Helen's own mouth. She wanted to make sure that this was what Helen wanted, she didn't want to give into her need if Helen had just woken up feeling horny and wanted nothing more than to satisfy herself.
Nikki saw Helen hesitate for only a moment before she took the last millimetre and their lips touched. The one second of softness was all Nikki felt before a shrill alarm made them both start, the fact that it was the alarm clock eventually penetrated Nikki's aroused fogged mind and she nearly threw it across the room as she felt Helen quickly pull back and roll to the other side of the bed.
She turned to Helen intending to speak to her about what had just happened but seeing the wariness on the smaller woman's face she stopped.
"We should get up, we need to get ready to collect Nick." Was what she eventually said.
Helen's head snapped up as Nikki pulled herself out of bed. She couldn't believe that the other woman could just pull her defences back up so quickly. Helen had been wondering what Nikki would do when they had both been brought back to their senses, now it seemed she was just going to pretend it never happened. It looked, to Helen, like she would have to do the same.
She waited until Nikki was out of the room before she picked up the first thing in reach and threw it across the room. Unluckily it was a glass vase, Elizabeth was not going to like the mess it made.
After they had showered and dressed they ate a silent breakfast. Helen didn't miss the looks Liz was throwing in their direction or the dirty looks she gave her on deciding that, whatever had happened, must have been Helen's fault.
When breakfast was finished Helen settled in front of the TV while Nikki decided to work out. Nikki emerged an hour and a half later saying they would have to set off soon before disappearing for another shower.
They made the trip to the home in relative silence only talking to ask questions. The children were in the garden and as they saw their two favourite adults get out of the car they all crowded around the gate.
"Are you going to play football with us again?" A young girl asked excitedly.
"Not this time, sorry kids." Nikki replied trying to make her way through the children. Luckily she was saved by Mrs Etherridge.
"Children move back and let Miss Wade and Miss Stewart through."
Giving one last apologetic look at the two women most of the children moved back to what they were doing.
"I apologise for the children, you made a very favourable impression on them with your football match." Mrs Etherridge said when they joined her on the front stairs to the house.
"That's alright, they are great kids." Helen said.
With this they moved into the house and up into the floor which held the boys bedrooms. Heading down to the end of the corridor Mrs Etherridge stopped in front of an open door and knocked before entering. Both women followed, Nikki stopped for a second to take in the room.
It was what she would call an averaged sized room, made smaller by all the furniture in it. With the fact that there was four single beds Nikki hazard a guess that all the furniture was needed. There was only three sets of draws and two desks and for four boys it must have been cramped.
As she entered the room fully she noticed Nick, he was sat on his own on a stripped bed looking sad, he had a rucksack on his back and a holdall in his hands.
"I checked earlier and can assure you that he has everything. He's been a bit upset about leaving all his friends." Mrs Etherridge explained patting the boy on his back.
"Well, we've just promised everyone that we'll be back to play football with them so you don't have to worry about not seeing your friends again." Nikki said happily sitting on the bed next to him.
"But you said we'll be gong to another country." Nick accused.
"Yeah, but it doesn't mean we won't be coming back."
Thinking about this he seemed to cheer up, his smile soon turned into a frown as he thought about something else.
"I'm not allowed to bring my ball." he complained pouting in a way Nikki had seen on Helen numerous times.
"We thought about that, Nikki went out yesterday and bought you a new ball. You'll be able to play with it in the garden after we've got you settled in your room." Helen replied taking the young boys hand.
"I get my own room?" He asked excited.
"You sure do."
After that Nick couldn't wait to get going, he gave Mrs Etherridge a hug before going out to say a final good-bye to all his friends. Helen and Nikki waited at the end of the path with Mrs Etherridge.
"Thank you for looking after him so well." Helen said.
"It was a pleasure, he is a very special and bright boy. I don't think we've ever had a problem with him, unlike a lot of the children. I'm glad he's getting a permanent home and especially back with his mother, he deserves someone who cares about him and I can tell you both do."
Nick was awed when he saw the size of the house. Helen had sat on the back-seat with the toddler and smiled when he started climbing on the seats to try and get a better look. He was delighted to see the football nets in the biggest garden he had ever seen and had to be stopped from running directly out there to play.
He was finally pacified when they both promised to play after he had unpacked his belongings in his room. He was soon distracted when he saw the size of the room he would be staying in, he immediately ran up and jumped on the bed and was just about to climb up and start bouncing on it when Helen caught him, she lifted him onto the floor and as soon as his feet hit the floor he ran up to the desk and climbed onto the seat.
"Looks like he's pretty wired." Nikki commented watching him run from one place to the next, exploring and touching everything he saw.
"Yeah, would you mind taking him for a game of football while I unpack his things. It may use some of his excess energy. I'll join you as soon as I'm finished." Helen asked watching her son make his way into the closet and close the door.
"No problem." She replied before walking up to the door. She opened it wide and quickly snatched the boy up. "You can't hide from me." She said in a scary voice eliciting a squeal from the boy. "Do you want that game of football?" she asked replacing him on the floor.
When he nodded furiously they set off to the garden.
Nick settled in well, Liz adored him and he was happy with his new home. The first couple of days had seen him hyperactive, he wanted to try everything. He wasn't used to all the new toys and all the space so he waned to do as much as possible in as little a time as possible and it usually meant he went to bed wired. He always played football with his new nets at least once a day and didn't seem to get tired of the one sided game.
Helen was very attentive to him but a little disappointed that he always asked Nikki for his daily game of football. He enjoyed playing with all his other toys with her but always turned to the taller woman for the game he loved. It had been a couple of envious days before she had realised that it was only one hour out of the day and only one game out of them all, if he wanted to spend that time alone with Nikki then she should let him.
On the third day Helen had been playing outside with Nick, showing him how to drive his tractor. She nipped in to get a drink of water leaving Nick with Liz, as she entered the house she heard Nikki's raised voice coming from her study.
"Do you really think I don't care about the business?" Nikki shouted her tone indicating disbelief. She stopped listening to something on the other side. "How dare you say that. For the last three years I have had no time off whatsoever, I've given everything to the restaurant while you've just reaped the rewards, there wouldn't even be a business if it wasn't for me."
Forgetting about the drink Helen waked towards the study, the door was open and she could see Nikki pacing up and down the middle of the room. Helen stood leaning against the door jam not really surprised when Nikki didn't notice her.
"Two month's of in three years..." Nikki protested. Helen was now close enough to realise that Nikki had her desk phone on loud speaker so she could hear the other side of the argument, if she was right then it was William Fraiser - one of Nikki's business partners on the line.
"Two out of the last four month's, Nikki you know how much work has to go into the restaurant." William replied.
"I've left it in the hands of people I trust and I'm checking up on it while I'm over here..."
"John and I are just worried, you've taken a lot of time off since Helen came on the scene, how much more is she going to disrupt your life and we've heard about the kid, they take up a lot of time."
"Leave Helen out of this, she has got nothing to do with it. Two months is not a fraction of what I'm owed and maybe if you ever bothered with the business side of things you'd realise that."
"No, if you really think that I don't care about the business then buy me out. Find someone you think can take over me, can do as good a job and I'll sell my share to you and John. Otherwise stop hassling me." Nikki said angrily, she stopped pacing and stood glaring at the phone waiting for his answer.
"Hey, we don't want to go that far..."
"...Because you know how much I put into that business and no-one would do as much as I do." Nikki finished for him.
"Look we were worried that this time off would become a regular occurrence. We just want your word that it won't be." William replied in pacifying tones. Nikki had the upper hand now.
"You know it won't be, we just have to stay in England for two weeks and then I'll be back, it's the terms the judges put on us."
"OK, I'll inform John. If you are back a week on Saturday I'm having a barbecue, lots of your friends and customers will be there, it's in the afternoon so it'll be a family event. you could bring Helen and the child." William said, quickly trying to get them onto better footing.
"His name is Nick." Nikki said a little testily before closing her eyes and taking a deep breath. "I'll speak to Helen about it, see what she says." Nikki finished a little more calm.
"Fine, I'll see you when you get back." With this both parties hung up.
Helen was wondering if she should speak but the decision was taken out of her hands when Nikki turned around. She looked shocked when she saw Helen stood there and seemed frozen into place.
"Helen, what are you doing here?" Nikki asked shaking herself out of her brief paralysis.
"I was coming in to get everyone a drink when I heard your raised voice. I came to see what was wrong."
"Oh, well, everything's fine. Thanks for checking." Nikki replied obviously hinting that she didn't want to talk about it.
"Nikki, you are not putting anything at risk by doing this for me are you?" Helen asked not willing to let it rest as Nikki wanted.
"No, if they can't see how important this is to me...to us, then I don't want to work with them anyway. I've put everything into that restaurant while all they put in was their reputation. They are just trying to throw their weight around but they know they won't be able to maintain it as a successful business without me, now I've put them on the spot they'll back off."
"I'm glad you're here, I'm sorry if it's causing problems for you."
"It's not causing problems for me Helen. I guess if you heard the conversation you'd have heard the offer to the barbecue, wanna go? It'll be an really posh affair with lots of posturing by famous people or the ones that just think they're famous." Nikki asked smiling wickedly at Helen.
"I don't see why not, especially if we've been invited." Helen noticed that Nikki had changed the subject to avoid an awkward conversation but let it go.
"Nick will love it they have this huge swimming pool and we'll be able to introduce him to William's youngest son, he's about Nick's age."
"It should be good." This effectively ended the conversation and after a moment Nikki went back to her desk and the pile off papers in her 'to do' tray. Helen didn't want to loose Nikki's company. "Do you want to come out an play?"
"What? Helen I have some work to do." Nikki replied indicating the growing pile.
"Just an hour, Nick would really like it and he's trying out his tractor, he's already managed to drive into one of the goals. And it's a beautiful day, I know you really don't want to be stuck in this office."
She knew she had convinced Nikki when the taller woman cast her gaze from the pile of papers to Helen and then back again, Nikki's next words confirmed it.
"OK then. Save me from all this." She joked casting her arms around the office. Laughing Helen dragged her out of the room.
After two weeks and an excellent report from the welfare officer assigned to their case Nikki, Helen and Nick set off to America. They had visited the home in which Nick had lived twice so he could see his friends and he was feeling better about leaving them but was still sad. All thoughts of his friends left him when he saw the airport for the first time.
They entered and were shown straight through to a VIP lounge that accommodated VIP travellers to get them out of the eyes of the paparazzi. The lounge was made for comfort with padded seats, tables and even a bar. It also had huge windows that looked out onto the runway at that was where Nick immediately ran to when they entered. Having hold of Helen's hand, to stop him from wandering off and getting lost, he pulled her along with him.
It was around an hour before they were called to board the plane and by this time Nick was nearly bursting from excitement.
The flight was uneventful and after getting over the excitement of travelling on an aeroplane for the first time Nick fell asleep. By the end of the journey Helen was feeling extremely jealous of one of the air hostesses who spent the entire trip being very attentive and flirtatious with Nikki. A few times Helen had actually felt herself grind her teeth together.
It was during their exit from the airport that all hell broke loose. They had been assured that their baggage had already been transferred to their car so all they had to do was get through the photographers and the crowd. As Nikki was expecting the press had heard she was returning that day and as they left the safety of the aeroplane they were immediately seized upon.
Flashbulbs flashed and questions were shouted. Grabbing hold of both Helen and Nick Nikki steered them through the arrivals corridor and out into the waiting area. Noting that the waiting area was packed with bodies that they would have to squeeze through to get to the doors Nikki stepped forward to use herself as a battling ram. Pushing and side-stepping her way though the crowd, she was almost to the door when she heard Helen call out to her.
"Nikki! Where's Nick?" Helen called, when Nikki turned she could see that Helen was panicking as she searched the crowd.
Nikki pushed her way to Helen still scanning the large room. Grabbing Helen's hand they both set off through the waiting area looking for a glimpse of the little boy, they both knew it was fruitless. The room was packed with bodies, so many that it made it hard to move; there wasn't much chance they would spot a toddler.
Still gripping Helen's hand she made her way to the enquiries desk, the woman behind immediately recognised Nikki and flashed her a warm smile.
"What can I do for you Miss Wade?" She asked.
"We've lost a child, a little boy about two years old." Nikki replied glancing at Helen to see her still scanning the crowd.
"OK, I'll just page the head of airport security." The girl said still smiling helpfully.
They both waited agitatedly, after what seemed like an age a tall well built man appeared at their side and ushered them into a side room. It was basically four walls and a settee but it kept them out of the crowds who, Helen had seen, were hovering around and staring at them.
"Miss Wade, I'm Steve Hartley head of security at this airport. Now I understand this is a sensitive case but I need to ask you a few questions." He said once they had been seated.
"I'll help you as much as I can I just want to find Nick." Nikki replied.
Firstly he asked for a description which Helen gave him, down to what socks he was wearing when they set off, Nikki could see that the small Scot was on the verge of tears and she gently rubbed her back trying to offer comfort.
"OK," Hartley said after he'd written the description down. "if Nick has wandered off is there anywhere you could think that he would go?"
"Erm...well earlier he was fascinated with the planes taking off, he might head for a window but that's all I can think of."
"Who knew that you were returning to America today?"
"Most of the world, we booked tickets two days ago and the press are pretty good at getting that kind of information. I'm sure you noticed them all."
"So are the press generally respectful of you? I've seen that you've caused quite a stir claiming custody of this boy, where any of the press particularly pushy?"
"Not any more than usual..."
"What is usual where you are concerned?"
"Where is all this going?" Nikki asked confused.
"Can you just answer the question, what lengths do the press usually go to get pictures of you?"
"They camp outside my house, usually a couple turn up at the club and ask questions. A few times I've had to call the police because they break into my house, but from what my friends say it's not unusual."
"OK, does anyone have a grudge against you Miss Wade?"
"A grudge? Not that I know off."
"Has anyone threatened you? Maybe a fan in a letter or someone you know personally."
"What? No, what are you trying to say? That Nick's been kidnapped by some crazy fan?" Nikki asked jumping up from her seat to stand face to face with the man. "I have never had any threats, the press and my friends have never shown any interest in kidnapping or harming anyone close to me, now why aren't you out looking for my son?"
"I'm just trying to cover every eventuality Miss Wade, the rest of my force are out looking around the airport as we speak. It isn't unheard off for the press to try and get a celebrity child on their own and talk to them, it's a great story and they usually get more out of children, so I'm not ruling it out but if you say no-one has a grudge against you then that rules one possibility out." He summed up not seeming fazed by Nikki's outburst.
Nikki glanced at Helen again to see that she had dissolved into silent tears and was looking bewildered Nikki put her arms around the other woman and held her tenderly.
"It's going to be fine Helen, he's probably just watching the aeroplanes." Nikki whispered into her ear.
"I have everything I need for now so I'll join in the search, I might need some additional information at a later time but I'm going to leave a radio so you know what is happening."
"You know where I'll be." Nikki replied and with a nod he left.
"What if he has been kidnapped, stories have been in the press, none of them were completely right and they didn't get a picture of him but if someone had been watching us then they would have guessed who he was."
"Helen, no-one would have taken him, if I'd have had a crazy stalker then I'd have known about it. I haven't had any threatening letters and from what I've heard they make themselves known before taking any action."
"After all this I may still loose him." Helen sobbed, it was more than Nikki could watch.
"Helen, I made you a promise, do you remember? I promised that I would do everything in my power to get him back, that includes now. I'm sure he hasn't been taken but if he has I won't rest until he's found."
Twenty minutes later Helen was still resting in Nikki's embrace when a call came through the radio Hartley had left with them.
"Miss Wade, Miss Stewart."
"We're here." Nikki replied snatching it up.
"We've found him! One of my officers say he's by the windows on a corridor between terminal one and two, I'm heading over there now. We should be back with you within five minutes."
"Thank you." Was all Nikki could say. When Helen had heard the news she had buried her head in Nikki's shoulders and wept again, Nikki wrapped her arms around her and rocked her slowly.
Before Hartley arrived an airport nurse came into the room, she explained that the security chief had asked her to come and check Nick over to be on the safe side, Helen agreed reluctantly. True to his words five minutes later Hartley walked into the room leading the toddler in front of him. Helen had stood and gone to the mirror to try and make herself look presentable and was only stopped from running over to the little boy when Hartley lifted him onto the desk the nurse had procured for her check-up. Helen did move to the nurses side just to see that there were no physical signs of anything being wrong, she wasn't surprised when Nikki moved up behind her.
"Helen, Nikki, did you see the big planes? Some of them had different coloured tails." Nick said smiling and obviously excited.
"Yeah, we've seen them kiddo." Nikki replied.
"The big ones make loud noises when they go into the air." He continued oblivious to the worry he had caused.
The nurse gave him the all clear and after asking the small boy questions and determining that he had just wandered off to watch the planes, Hartley let them go. By the time they got home Nick was exhausted from his trip and after giving him a bath Helen put him to bed. After there emotional day both women weren't far behind him.
The weeks seemed to go quickly, after they had returned to America Nikki had taken a week off work to help Nick settle in. The toddler didn't seem to have any problem in that respect, he had a natural charm that seemed to make everyone love him.
After the week Nikki and Helen sat down to decide what to do about Helen's job. Helen naturally wanted to look after Nick but she also wanted to earn her own money. They came to the arrangement that Helen would still work as a manager in the club but mainly in an administrative capacity. She still planned the activities and special events but Denny would take over the actual events unless it was absolutely necessary that Helen had to be there. This way it meant that Helen could work from home, they did still hire a nanny for Nick so that Helen would actually get some work done.
It was Tuesday of the second week when the euphoria Helen felt dissolved. Nikki arrived home at 1:30 pm, Helen who had been having dinner didn't think anything about it until she asked Lynn, the women they had employed as a nanny, to look after Nick. When Helen asked what was wrong Nikki guided her into the study. Sitting down at her desk Helen felt her heard start to race.
"What's wrong Nikki?" She eventually managed to say around the lump in her throat.
"The restaurant is swarming with journalists, I've had to block my personal phone-line because of the amount of calls I'm getting from the media. I've come home because I can't get any work done and because I wanted to warn you."
"What do you mean warn me? What is all this about? What do they want from you?" Helen asked dreading the answer.
"This story was run in the British press this morning." Nikki stated fishing a newspaper out of her suitcase and throwing it onto the desk in front of Helen.
Picking the paper up and unfolding it Helen ignored the headlines and scanned the big photo of herself and Nikki on the front page. Helen remembered the scene, it had been in the first week Helen had moved to America to start a new life with Nikki. Nikki had taken her on a sight-seeing tour of Hollywood, Nikki had a arm around her waist and was leaning down to tell Helen something. It was completely innocent but with the story it accompanied it looked anything but.
Helen became horrified as she read the text with the photo, it told the readers how they had been lovers as teenagers, something that they had managed to hide until now, it then went on to tell the reader all about Helen's drug use and finished with the details of Nick's life. It made the entire story seem seedy and sensational.
It made Helen out to be young and innocent until she met and was seduced by Nikki, following Nikki leaving she tuned wild, voluntary took drugs for ten years and became pregnant with Nick so she could 'have Nikki's child' before Nikki came back for her so they could start there relationship again and Helen could be a kept woman. The article had commentary in from some of their old school friends, Nick's father and some of her friends at the squat. In short it made them out to be two scheming, manipulative women who had used everyone in their lives to get the life they had planned as teenagers.
"Great!" Helen said throwing the paper aside in disgust.
"Journalists from every country imaginable are camping out outside the club, the restaurant and some of the more determined ones are outside here."
"What are we going to do Nikki?" Helen said looking at the taller woman, she had never been in a situation like this.
"I've contacted some PR people, they should be here in about an hour. I've also contacted my solicitor and some security specialists. I want to make sure Nick is kept safe and the press can be unbelievable when it comes to getting a story. Do you know who could have contacted the press though? No-one knew we were lovers when we were teenagers apart from Bet and she's dead." Nikki asked running her hands in front of her face and taking a deep breath.
"I have no idea...what about Sarah? I was never sure whether she had guessed?"
"I don't think any of my parents staff would have said anything, especially not to the press."
"God, I can't believe they can print this. Will you be OK? What about your businesses? This can't be good for them, especially with William and John already annoyed with you."
"It'll be fine, this kind of stuff has a weird effect, more people come to the restaurant instead of staying away and William and John know they can't do without me. I'm more concerned about you and Nick, that's why I've set up the meeting with these people, the PR agents will tell us how to best deal with everyone and how we can still keep a good image, my solicitor will tell me my legal options and we want to avoid anymore of our private lives becoming public knowledge." Nikki explained.
There was a knock on the door and before any thing else could be said by either women Nick ran into the room.
"Nikki!" He called running up to the taller woman.
"Hi Nick, what have you been up to today?" She asked scooping the little boy up and placing him on her lap.
"I've been playing," He said wrapping his arms around her neck, "I heard you were home and I wanted to play football, will you play?"
"I can't Nick and I want you to do something for me."
"What"? He asked excitedly.
"I need you to stay in the house for the next week or so, can you do that?" Nikki asked drawing a frown from the toddler.
"Why? That means I won't be able to play football." Nick whined.
"I know but your mother and I are worried about you. Some people are trying to get a story so they can sell it to people, the story is about your mother and I, but it's false. We are worried they will try and get to you because they know we both love you and we don't want that. Please." Nikki pleaded.
"OK, I'll stay in."
"How about I set one of the rooms up as an indoor football pitch?" Nikki said grinning widely.
"Yeah!" Nick shouted jumping down from Nikki's lap. Lynn held her hand out indicating that they should leave the room but after a second he turned to Helen. "Are you OK mummy?" He asked concerned.
A combination of Nick's concern and his use of the term mummy made Helen smile. At first he had called her Helen, Nikki however had always called Helen Nick's mum and as a result, as the small boy had settled in, he had started to use Helen's proper term to address her. The little boy idolised Nikki but he always turned to Helen for love and she couldn't be happier.
"I'm fine Nick, Nikki and I just need to sort out the best way to deal with these people."
Nick ran up to Helen wrapped his small arms around his mothers neck and put a big wet kiss on her cheek before running out of the study with Lynn.
Two hours later Nikki and Helen were sat in the lounge exhausted. They'd had a hectic meeting with the PR agents, all nine of them, who had debated how to handle the situation eventually coming up with the idea that neither of them should hide. They had been told to show a 'united front', they were to go along with their regular lives and show that the stories had not effected them. In addition they had agreed to appear together on a chat show, much to Nikki's despair as she tried to avoid those kind of things, the PR people had insisted that it was vital to give their side of events.
After that Nikki had talked to her lawyer, after much discussion it had been decided that Helen should sue the newspaper for defamation of character. Again it was more or less to show the press that they could not run these kind of stories against Nikki or those connected to her without repercussions, within ten minutes Nikki had been faxed and legal proceedings were underway.
Lastly a security consultant had appeared to look around the house and grounds, he had given Nikki some plans of how he could better secure the house and Nikki had given the go ahead for the work to start the next day.
It had all seemed a bit much for Helen, all the meetings and decisions made her head spin and it seemed that they were planning for the worst case scenario. When she told Nikki, however, the other woman had said it was better safe than sorry and Helen had just nodded and left Nikki to her meetings.
Nick was pacified with his toys and was overjoyed when the indoor pitch was set up Helen and Nikki meanwhile were spending hours with the PR agents Nikki had employed, they had decided they needed to act quickly so an interview had been booked for four days time.
With the fact that Nikki never did interviews, and the stories in the press, when the news floated through to the networks that Nikki was willing to appear on a chat show with Helen they had been inundated with offers. The most prestigious, highest watched show was selected and they were now preparing. Nikki had switched the TV on a few times that day and had seen the advert of her interview on almost each commercial break.
"Don't you think they are overkilling it a bit?" Nikki asked Sophie, the woman who seemed to be in charge of the PR agents.
"You really have no idea do you?" She asked smirking at Nikki's naivety.
"What?" Was Nikki's only reply.
"Nikki you are an enigma. You've worked your way up from nothing to millionaire celebrity but yet you shun the normal codes that most of the rich and famous live by. You not only refuse publicity that the rest of the Hollywood brat pack need to stay on top but you seem to do everything to try and shock society. You've been a celebrity for what? Five years?" Not even waiting for confirmation Sophie went on. "And the public know next to nothing about you and what they do know was digged up by the press so no-one knows whether it is true or false, this is the first interview ever to take place with you and the network is expecting a big audience."
"Great." Nikki muttered liking the idea less and less.
"Relax, Helen will be there with you and we asked for a copy of the questions that will be asked so we can prepare answers before you go on. They will be no surprises." Sophie replied confidently.
"They really handed you a copy of the questions? I thought they'd want to surprise us as much as possible and try and get us to slip up." Helen said amazed.
"We gave them a list of demands, that was one of them. They knew if they didn't meet them we could easily go to another network so they agreed." Sophie answered again while shrugging.
The days seemed to go by in a blur for Nikki, they spent most of their time with the various people who were getting them ready for the interview. They had spent nearly a day trying to achieve the right 'look' for each of them, which involved dressing in numerous outfits so some people she didn't know could criticise it. After that they had endless meetings drafting out their answers to the various questions, this took nearly two days as the answers kept getting changed after consideration as they didn't want any of the replies to be ambiguous. By the end of it all Nikki was getting increasingly nervous.
In the middle of all the chaos Nikki had watched Helen, she was worried that the other woman would change her mind about the interview and ultimately decide that living with Nikki was to much hassle, after all it had caused her nothing but trouble. It had been a surprised when Nikki noticed that Helen seemed to be enjoying herself, she enjoyed trying all the clothes on and the makeover that came with finding an image, she enjoyed drafting her answers and even seemed to add a flirtatious air to her replies.
A theme through all the questions seemed to be the fact that they were lovers as teenagers, Helen and Nikki had decided not to hide the fact. Before the answers were drafted Nikki and Helen had to be asked the questions so that the PR agents knew the true answers to each questions. Everyone had been surprised when Helen had answered the question 'Do you ever regret your earlier relationship with Nikki? After all you have admitted that Nikki has been your only female lover, you must feel that she took advantage of you somewhat?'
"That's not how I remember the relationship, Nikki was never anything but honourable, if I recall I had to seduce Nikki into the relationship. She would never have taken the first step because she thought I didn't feel the same way she did, it was a good job one of us could read signs. So in answer to your question I have never regretted my relationship with Nikki and I have never felt that she took advantage of me, if anything it was the other way round."
Nikki had been surprised at the question and a little hurt. At Helen's reply she had been even more surprised, she looked at Helen.
"What?" Helen replied seeing the shock on everyone's faces. "Come on Nikki you know it's the truth, I seduced you that night at my house. You would never have done anything if I hadn't started it."
"I guess that's true." Nikki replied shaking herself out of her brief paralysis.
"Right, so what's the next question?" Helen asked turning back to their helpers.
That is how had approached the entire interview and Nikki had to envy her for the approach, she herself was suffering from stress headaches and had snapped at two of their helpers for no reason.
It was now their last night before the interviews and Nikki was sat in her study trying to concentrate on reading her E-mails, the house had emptied only twenty minutes before and since that time Nikki had been hiding away. After reading a paragraph of an E-mail for the third time and still having no idea what it said Nikki gave up and leaned back in her chair. She tried to massage the tension from her shoulders to no avail and finally settled for pinching the bridge of her nose.
She suddenly felt someone's hands on her shoulders and swivelled around in her chair ready to fight. Luckily Helen had managed to step back quickly avoiding getting her legs knocked from under her as Nikki had spun around.
"Relax Nikki." Helen said as she spun the chair back around. "Your muscles feel like cable car wires."
Nikki was powerless to do anything but moan as she felt Helen's hand work on her tired shoulders. She groaned again, this time in protest as Helen stopped working and stepped away, Nikki nearly laughed as she left the chair lowered to it's lowest setting so the smaller woman could reach her shoulders better.
"Don't say a word or I'll leave you in pain." Helen muttered seeing the amused look on the other woman's face.
"I wasn't going to say anything." Nikki replied holding her arms up in defence.
After 5 minutes of the best massage of her life Nikki found she was completely relaxed, sometime during the massage her head had fallen back to rest on Helen's stomach. Her mouth was slightly open and she was breathing quickly, she was feeling aroused and sedate and it was a strange mix.
"They're coming back tomorrow for the final run through of the questions and then we'll be on our own. One more day Nikki, by this time tomorrow it'll all be over." Helen whispered in her ear sending a shiver down her back.
"I'll cope don't worry about me." Nikki said, she was surprised to find her voice sounded husky. With a start she pulled back, if she didn't get some distance from Helen she wouldn't be responsible for her actions. "Well...we'll be up late tomorrow so I'm going to get an early night. Sleep well."
Helen watched Nikki leave with mixed feelings. She had tried everything to get closer to the taller woman but just when she thought she was getting somewhere she could almost see Nikki's barriers going back up. On occasions Helen had been sure she also saw a flicker of attraction but when this happened Nikki didn't seem to be able get out of Helen's presence quick enough. It was starting to hurt the small Scot, she had come to realise recently that her heart belonged to Nikki, every rejection was taking it's toll.
The sun rose early the next day but Nikki was already up, after going to bed aroused and frustrated she had spent a restless night dreaming about the woman down the hall and after the third erotic dream she had decided she wasn't going to get anymore sleep. She had proceeded to make breakfast for everyone and then went about waking the house up. By the time the PR agents and their hired hands arrived for their scheduled meetings and appointments Helen and Nikki were waiting.
By dinner they had packed up and left satisfied that there was nothing else they could do and that Helen and Nikki were prepared and no answers they give would do any damage to either of their reputations. They had also discussed further appearances they should make as 'a family unit' but nothing further had been agreed.
It was now 3pm and Nikki and Helen were getting ready to head of to the studio where they were being interviewed 'live on air'. Of course the beauticians who had put their look together were applying make-up styling hair and generally annoying Nikki. Nikki was wearing a tailor made black suit with a three quarter jacket and a dark purple shirt, it enhanced her dark colourings and Helen thought she looked breathtaking. Helen herself was wearing a slinky light blue dress which hugged her body, accentuating all her curves. The front, cut dangerously low in a V shape, showed an expanse of cleavage without making her look cheap or tawdry. Her hair which was usually worn loose was now stacked stylishly in a bun with wisps loosely dangling by her ear framing her face. She smiled to herself when she remembered Nikki's open mouthed stare when she'd had her first look at Helen in the dress.
Eventually, twenty minutes later than arranged they were shepherded into a car that had been sent by the network and were on their way.
It was the first time Nikki and Helen had been into a television studio and it was different than they had imagined. They were given a dressing room and shown around the studio, after one rehearsal they were told they had 30 minutes till the show went on air and they would be interviewed.
Nikki spent the thirty minutes worrying and pacing while Helen spent the time trying to relax. When they were eventually called Nikki was almost hyperventilating. They entered to a huge round of applause which seemed to make Nikki even more nervous. As the first question was asked Helen could see by the look on her face that Nikki didn't know the answers they had spent the last two days memorising, luckily they had practised together and Helen gave an almost word for word recount of Nikki's answer.
After the first few questions both women started to relax, Nikki started to act like herself and Helen even started to enjoy herself and smile. As the interview went on they both got more animated and even agreed to take questions from the audience, luckily they wasn't anything controversial apart from one person's - 'Is Nikki a good lover?"
As Nikki and Vince looked at the audience with open mouths Helen took it in her stride and answered with a diplomatic if not flirtatious, "From what I remember she was very good." to whoops and catcalls from the audience. Nikki flushed bright red while Vince decided to end the interview.
Everyone was elated with how well the interview had gone and Helen and Nikki felt energised. Nikki was beaming when they left the stage to head back to their dressing room, as soon as she was out of eyesight from the stage Nikki shrugged of her jacket and undid the top button of her shirt.
"I am so pleased that is over. Now I can finally relax."
"Yeah, I think it went well, at least now they know our side of the story." Helen replied.
They eventually arrived back at their house at around 2am, they'd been kept behind by various people from the programme. Including a very excited producer who told them the preliminary viewing figures showed them to be placed first for the weekly and monthly charts. Everything seemed to have gone well, only morning would tell what the press would make of the interview.