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
The days Helen had spent in rehabilitation had been difficult as Nikki had expected. She hated to see Helen suffering and it had nearly torn her heart out to see the small Scot as she had been over the past five days.
On day one Helen had been at the stage she had been in court, she had started to sweat and was shaking, at the end of the day she had started to complain of a blinding headache but when Nikki had sought out a nurse she had been told that it was normal. On the second day Nikki had started to get very worried, she had walked into the room to find Helen curled up on her bed when she's had asked what was wrong Helen had grabbed the front of her t-shirt in a death grip and told her that she thought she was dying. She had begged Nikki to get her some drugs and had complained that her whole body was hurting, when Nikki had refused to smuggle anything in Helen had started crying and curled herself back up refusing to say anything to her friend.
None of this could have prepared Nikki for day three though, when Nikki had entered Helen had been curled up in a foetal position in the corner of the room, rocking. As soon as she saw Nikki she had jumped to her feet and lunged for her, Nikki had dodged the attack only for Helen to start shouting at her. She had listened as Helen said she hated her, she accused Nikki of screwing up her life in the past and said that she was doing it again before swinging at Nikki again. This time Nikki had been to stunned to dodge and took the punch on the jaw, knocking her to the ground. Not seeming happy with the punch Helen then burst into tears and fell to the floor hugging her knees to her chest. Nikki, still seeing stars from the punch, had started crawling towards Helen intending to give the other woman a hug, she was prevented from doing so by two nurses who had seen the altercation on the surveillance camera. They insisted that Helen seeing her would cause further distress and told Nikki to come back the day after when she would be able to see Helen if her condition had improved.
That had been two days ago and when Nikki had gone back late yesterday she had been astounded by the change in Helen. She was still shaking and pale and she still complained about her body aching but she had been a lot calmer. If it hadn't been for the shaking Nikki would have been convinced that her friend was back on drugs. She had apologised for punching Nikki as soon as she saw the dark bruise on her jaw and they had talked.
Helen's sharp improvement was the reason that Nikki was so worried when this morning she had been asked to call into the Doctors office. She was now sat outside the office of the Doctor that had been put in charge of Helen's case - Doctor Julia Allen.
"Nikki, sorry for your wait, please come in." Doctor Allen said stepping out of her office.
Nikki entered the office and took a seat, shifting nervously as the Doctor went back behind her desk.
"I'm sure you've noticed the change in Helen, she seems to be a lot calmer and more in control of herself now."
"Yes, I've noticed. Is there a problem doctor?" Nikki asked not wanting to prolong her worry anymore.
"No, no problem at all. I called you into my office to inform you that the day after tomorrow Helen will be starting the second part of the treatment, she will start the Art therapy." The doctor said causing Nikki to sigh in relief.
They talked for a couple more minutes, discussing Helen's progress before Nikki left to see Helen.
The next day Nikki walked into the clinic with a smile. She knocked before entering Helen's room to see Helen sat up on her bed brushing her hair. Nikki had noticed that Helen had started to take a lot more care in her appearance since she had overcome the worst of the addiction. As a result her hair was back to the soft, shiny bob that Nikki had loved to run her hands through when they had been lovers. Now Nikki had to consciously keep her hands by her side whenever she was near the other woman.
"Hey." Nikki said getting Helen's attention. "I've got something for you."
"Really!" Helen replied grinning like an excited child.
"Yep." Nikki passed over the plastic bag she had been holding.
She watched smiling as Helen peered into the bag before reaching in and pulling out the red t-shirt and blue jeans that Nikki had bought for her to wear, along with a hat and sunglasses.
"I didn't think we were allowed our own clothes." Helen stated pulling at the Clouds green track-suit she had been forced to wear since checking in.
"You aren't in the first stage of your rehabilitation, but as you are moving onto the second stage as of tomorrow you are allowed your own clothes and personal items." Nikki's smile widened as Helen squealed in delight and hugged her. "I bought you those for our little trip."
"Trip?" Helen asked frowning.
"I've been given special permission by your doctor to take you out shopping - with a nurse of course. I thought since you don't have any clothes or personal belongings we could go and buy some."
"Really?" Helen asked still frowning much to Nikki's surprise who had expected her friend to be excited.
"What's up? If you're worried about the press that's what the hat and glasses are for."
"No it's not that..."
"If you don't want to go then just tell me and I can buy you some stuff, I just thought that you'd like to do it..."
"I do, I'd love to go, it's just...I'm really pale...and with the red top..."
Nikki smiled with relief. "Here." She said pulling her own make-up from her bag and passing it to Helen. "I guess we have the first item on your shopping list."
Nearly an hour later they had the nurse and were on their way, Nikki smiled when she saw Helen fidgeting like a child. They had decided it was the best not to take Nikki's car as it was instantly recognised by the paparazzi so the nurse had offered hers on the condition that Nikki paid for petrol.
As soon as they arrived in the city centre Nikki headed for a clothes shop, she didn't really know Helen's tastes so she picked one that specialised in all types - from jeans to suits. She was surprised when Helen picked out a number of trousers and matching shirts that were smart but casual. Nikki had imagined that Helen would be more comfortable in jeans but she had to admit that Helen looked stunning in the clothes she had picked. It had not helped Nikki's blood pressure as Helen came out of the dressing rooms to model the clothes and get her friends opinion.
The morning passed quickly with Nikki leading Helen into most of the clothes shops they passed, by dinnertime Helen had a completely new wardrobe, cosmetics, make-up, some books and a hi-fi so she could listen to music.
"Helen, if you don't stop doing that I'm going to bring you back tomorrow and make you go through it all again." Nikki had said when she caught Helen frowning at the price tag on some of the clothes for the fourth time.
"All this is costing you a bomb..."
"It's a shopping spree, it's meant to. Just relax and enjoy it, who am I going to spend my money on if not you?"
"I'm still worried about how I'm going to pay you back for all this."
"This shopping trip is my treat, but I've been thinking about everything and I have a proposition for you." An idea had been forming in Nikki's head for a while, as she realised her attraction to Helen growing she had questioned her motives for the idea but now she had to admit that she didn't see any other options if she really wanted to help Helen.
Nikki took Helen and the nurse to a restaurant for their dinner and it was during this time that Nikki mentioned her plans.
"When I left the clinic yesterday after seeing you I talked to your solicitor and he says if you carry on improving like this he's sure you'll receive a non-custodial sentence. After your case, if everything goes well then I'd like you to move to America with me." Seeing the shocked look on Helen's face Nikki rushed on. "Just hear me out Helen, I have a huge house that is to big for me alone, it would be great to have you there as well. What I was thinking was that you could work for me in the club as repayment, I'd easily be able to get you a visa and if there are any conditions set by the courts at your trial then we can ask them to be reviewed by an American court. What do you think?"
"I'm not sure, it's a bit of a shock." Helen replied.
"You said you didn't have anything here and you wanted a clean break. This would be ideal, I'd still be there to help you if you needed any help, they'd be no strings attached I promise." Nikki was obviously excited about the prospect of Helen moving to America with her which only made Helen more doubtful.
"Nikki...I'm not to sure it would be a good idea..." She grimaced as she saw Nikki's face drop.
"Well, there are a number of reasons. This all sounds too much like our plan to run away when we were 16, are you sure you are not caught up in some impossible attempt to finally achieve what we planned?" When Helen paused for breath Nikki tried to reply but she stopped her by putting her hand up. "There is also the fact that you don't know me anymore, you know the fifteen year old who was your lover for a year I'm not the same person. How do you know you're even going to like me?"
"Helen, this is nothing like our plan to run away. If you remember we were going to run away because I wanted to get away from my parents and you didn't think our relationship would be accepted by your parents. We wouldn't be running, for one thing I don't need to, America's my home now, for another we aren't in a relationship and you'd just be trying to make a clean break. As for your second point I can only say that I like what I've seen so far and even if we find we despise one another I have a big house I'm sure it'd be possible to avoid the other." Helen laughed at this but Nikki could still see that she was unsure. "Just think about it, if you say no we can still sort something out."
"Sure, I'll think about it, thanks Nikki."
During the meal the staff came over to notify Nikki that some people at the bar had asked about her and her 'two meal companions'. One look told Nikki that they were members of the press, they quickly finished their meals and eventually decided it was best for them to head back to the clinic.
As Helen started hanging up her clothes in the wardrobe Nikki set up the hi-fi and plugged it in, she turned around to find Helen staring at her with a little smile.
"This is the best day I've had in ages, thank you." Helen said giving Nikki a hug.
"No problem." Nikki replied trying to stop her heart pounding as she held Helen.
The next day Nikki and Helen were quietly talking when a nurse told them it was time for the art therapy. They followed the directions to the room designated for art, to see 6 easels waiting. Nikki looked at the other participants in the therapy and was surprised to recognise them all, there was a male singer, two soap stars a footballer and news reader.
Nikki sat at the side of the room while Helen took her position behind the only empty easels, she listened while the therapist explained that they were using art to combat the cravings they still had for drugs. Art would be used to calm them and let their mind have something different to concentrate on. After giving the participants the task of 'painting the place you have been to that brought you most joy', he went to Helen and they had a short conversation before he headed for Nikki.
"Hi, I'm Richard North, I'm going to be Helen's therapist. I've just organised a session with her for this afternoon, I just wanted a word about a couple of things."
They talked for about 10 minutes while he asked questions about Helen's background, any sensitive issues and how they knew each other before telling Nikki that the art session would last about two hours and she could leave and come back if she wanted.
Nikki decided to let Helen know of her plans but she didn't get three steps before Helen intercepted her.
"What's up?" Nikki asked noticing that Helen was blocking her view of the canvass.
"Nothing I just don't want you to see what I'm painting, not yet anyway."
"OK. I just wanted to let you know that I'm going for a bit, the therapist says you'll be about 2 hours so I'm going to check on the London franchise. I'll be back though so wait for me." Nikki said, she was pleasantly surprised when Helen kissed her cheek before letting her go.
When Nikki returned she found Helen speaking to the footballer, she had to swallow her jealousy. Noticing her Helen turned and waved at her with a big smile on her face.
"Nikki this is Mike, Mike this is Nikki." Helen introduced.
"Hi, Nikki. Helen's told me a lot about you." Mike said shaking Nikki's hand.
"It's nice to meet you, you play for my favourite team." Nikki told him doing her best to smile sincerely, she was glad when he excused himself. "So did everything go OK?" She asked Helen.
"Yeah it did, I won a prize for the best painting." Helen told her waving a chocolate bar in the air. "And I talked to a lot of people that are doing the therapy. They all think it's great that I have someone to support me through it, most of them don't."
"Well, you know I'll always be here if you need anything, don't you?"
"I know, but it got me thinking how our roles have reversed. Twelve years ago you were thanking me for supporting you at a football match because no-one had ever done it before. Now here I am thanking you for supporting me because I have no-one else." Helen seemed to ponder this for awhile.
"So can I see your painting now?" Nikki asked hoping to cheer her friend up.
"I guess so." Helen replied looking embarrassed. All the paintings had been lined up against a wall to dry so Helen had to point out which was hers.
"It's our waterfall!" Nikki exclaimed on seeing the painting. "Helen this is brilliant."
"I hoped you'd like it." Helen said looking even more embarrassed. "I wanted you to have it."
"Like it, I love it but don't you want it?"
"I can paint myself something anytime. I want you to have that." Helen said smiling as Nikki thanked her and then went back to studying the picture.
That night Helen lay in her bed, she had been tossing and turning for hours but sleep still eluded her. She had been to see Richard as arranged that afternoon and, whereas the art therapy sessions were intended to take her mind of the dependency, the therapy sessions were trying to get to the reason why she had come to depend on the drugs in the first place.
Helen had told him about the difficulty she had getting over her parents death, she left out her relationship with Nikki though. After talking about it he went on to ask her why she wouldn't go back to drugs after Clouds released her.
"Because I have something to loose now, I didn't before so it didn't matter to me." She had replied without thinking.
"What is it that you have to loose now?" He had asked.
"Nikki...my friendship with Nikki." She had stammered surprised at her own confession.
"So your friendship with Nikki is the thing that is going to keep you free from drugs?"
"It must be a special friendship." Richard said patronisingly
"I guess so."
"And it was what was missing the years you were on drugs?"
"Yes, why is that so hard to believe?" Helen said touchily.
"I'm not saying it is hard to believe, I just want to find out what is so special in your friendship with Nikki. You had friendships after Nikki left did you not?"
"Yes, I did. Only with other drug addicts though and only because they wanted something from me."
"Ah, so it's your trust of Nikki that you value?"
"I guess so."
"Surely that is not the only thing that makes your friendship special though."
"Look, I don't know what you are trying to get at. You wanted to know why I'm going to stay drugs free, I've told you why do you have to go into all this crap?" Helen shouted getting up to leave. She knew she had overreacted when she saw the stunned look on Richard's face.
"I'm sorry, this is obviously a touchy subject for you. Why don't we discuss something else."
Now she analysed her behaviour she knew why it was such a touchy subject. She had been surprised by her immediate response as to why she was going to stay away from drugs. The admission had just been spoken without any thought but deep down she knew it was true. She also knew that her feelings for Nikki went beyond friendship, for years she had manage to convince herself that she no longer loved the other woman but as soon as she had spotted Nikki in the courtroom she had known that wasn't true. She had done a good job of hiding it from herself, but that couldn't go on anymore.
Helen now knew with certainty that she was in love with Nikki Wade and always had been, the only problem was that it seemed Nikki didn't feel the same. Her head was telling her she shouldn't move with Nikki to America because of her feelings while her heart was telling her she should move because of the way she felt, it was a no win situation.
When Nikki arrived the next day Helen wasn't in her room, asking the nurse she discovered that she had gone to the day room. The day room was a place for the patients to go and socialise and another benefit for reaching the second stage of rehabilitation. Nikki entered to find Helen sat in a big chair in the corner reading, she had her feet on the chair with her knees hugged to her chest and to Nikki she looked absolutely adorable.
"Hi Helen." Nikki said as she reached her side. Helen obviously hadn't seen or sensed Nikki approaching as she nearly jumped out of her seat at the greeting.
"God Nikki. You shouldn't sneak up on people like that." Helen snapped.
"Sorry, I didn't think I was sneaking."
"Yeah, well, don't do it in future."
"Are you OK Helen? Nothing's wrong is it?" Nikki asked.
"I'm sorry I didn't mean to be crabby. I just didn't have a good nights sleep. I'm tired." Helen replied, she couldn't stay angry when she saw the concern in Nikki's eyes.
"Oh, is there anything I can do?"
"Well, I do need to talk to you. It's about me moving to America with you." Helen felt her heart strings pull when Nikki's face lit up.
They walked quickly back to Helen's room so they could have some privacy. Helen sat on her bed while Nikki sat on the chair at Helen's desk.
"So what have you decided?" Nikki asked.
"I haven't decided yet, it's more complicated than that. I need to ask you a few questions." Helen said regretting it when Nikki's face immediately dropped.
"Oh, OK then. Shoot."
"Well, firstly. What about your partner? Won't she object to me moving in?" Nikki was beautiful, rich and famous she had to have a partner in Helen's reasoning, one that would probably already hate her for taking Nikki away from her for this long.
"I don't have a partner Helen."
"What? With all your money and fame?"
"That is part of the problem, I get loads of offers but most of them are wannabe actresses who just want to be seen or gold-diggers who want my money. I want someone who will love me for being me not just my money and status."
"What about Trisha?"
At the mention of her ex-lovers name Nikki's jaw dropped. No-one was meant to know about their relationship, the reaction of the public could end Trisha's career. They had both been sure that they had kept it a secret and the fact that none of the press had run the story had made them both confident that they had succeeded.
"How did you know about that?"
"Just over two years ago I went to America. I was really depressed, I wanted to get off drugs and I was planning to ask you for help. I found out where you worked from the papers and I waited outside the office blocks. I saw Trisha go in, I was looking in through the windows at the foyer when the door to the lift you were in opened. You were...in a pretty passionate embrace until you noticed people could see you. I hid as you came out and decided not to approach you after that." Helen avoided eye contact as she told the story.
"Why? You must of known that I would've help."
"I didn't want to be a burden. You had a life and I didn't want to get in the way, I didn't see Trisha being very happy about you helping me."
"You probably caught us on one of the few occasions when we didn't argue. It would have been just after you saw us that we split up. I'm single Helen, so you have nothing to worry about."
"OK but what about everything else. I can't just rely on you, while I'm paying you back for all my rehabilitation I'll be running up a bill for my lodgings and food..."
"It's not going to cost much extra. I have a huge house which I bought outright so I'm not paying anything for it and it's not going to cost much for your food, if anything. Your company will more than make up for any costs, I promise. Plus you'll be doing me a great favour. I always have a hard time getting staff to work in the VIP part of my club even thought the wages are so good, celebrities come because they just want to relax and be themselves. The problem that I'm having is getting staff that don't harass them for their autographs or whatever. I saw how you handled yourself yesterday with all the celeb's in the art therapy, I think you'll be the answer to my prayers. So are you going to come?"
The battle between Helen's head and heart as to the answer she was going to give resumed, if she went and Nikki started seeing someone it would be hard but not seeing Nikki again would be even worse. Eventually one won.
"If you really want me to." She found herself replying.
"I really do, it's going to be great Helen, you'll see." Nikki said jumping up from the chair and enclosing her in a bear hug.
Three weeks after Helen had been standing in court expecting to be sent to jail she was stood there again.
After two weeks in Clouds they had released her, she had a lot of paintings and a lot of things to think about thanks to her therapist. She still sometimes craved drugs but so far she had been able to fight the urge, Nikki helped a lot whether it was just someone to talk to or for a hug when she needed comfort.
For the last week she had been living in Nikki's home and she was really enjoying the other woman's company. They had spent a lot of time together whether out for meals, to the theatre or just in her company in the privacy of Nikki's house but so far Nikki had not shown any interest in renewing their relationship and for Helen it was getting harder to hide what she felt.
Helen almost laughed when she had walked into court that morning, the magistrates had obviously expected her to fail in her rehabilitation. When she had walked in immaculately dressed and in a suit their jaws nearly hit the ground.
Refocusing her attention to the magistrates she only listened to the words 'conditional discharge' before sighing with relief and turning to Nikki. The other woman was grinning excitedly, she gave a quick thumbs up when she saw Helen looking before turning her attention back to the magistrates to take in what they were saying.
It was Four weeks to the day that Nikki had come back into her life that Helen set of for a completely new life in America. Nikki had told her what to expect but she couldn't help feel nervous. Helen frowned when she realised that for a while her life would circulate around the other woman. It would be Nikki's friends she got to know, Nikki's business she would be employed at and Nikki's house she lived in. For some reason this didn't bother her, she felt that as long as she had Nikki in her life everything would work out fine.
Helen's first week in America was everything she expected and more. Nikki's house was huge and she'd picked the room next to Nikki's to sleep in. Helen had been surprised to find her old portrait of Nikki, that had helped her achieve an A in art, hung just above the fire.
"How..." She had asked stunned.
"Just after the restaurants had opened I went back to England, the Headmaster of the school asked me to and talk to the pupils. They gave me a guided tour of the school, I can tell you it has changed, and I walked into the art room to see that hanging from the wall..."
"Yeah probably because it's of you."
"No, when I saw it I offered to buy it off him, he refused but when I told him how much I was offering as a 'donation' to the art department he couldn't say no. From the ring on the wall around the canvass I believed him when he said it'd been there since he hung it up when we were at school. He also asked after you but I told him I hadn't seen you since I left."
"I can't believe you've got it, you don't need the waterfall painting now do you?"
"Yes I do, I've got plenty of wall space to cover."
Their old friendship was resurrected, every minute they were not asleep they seemed to spend together. Nikki showed Helen around Hollywood and Helen was surprised at the special treatment Nikki seemed to get no matter where they went, Nikki was a celebrity in every sense of the word and everyone seemed to love her.
On the Monday Nikki decided it was time to show Helen the restaurant and club. The restaurant was first and although it wasn't even dinner when they walked in the place was nearly full. As soon as Nikki entered the chatter of the customers quietened and they turned to look at her, seeming undaunted by the attention she walked up to the counter to be greeted enthusiastically by the head waiter.
"Hey boss! What brings you here?" He asked.
"Hi Pete. I was just showing Helen around." Turning to Helen Nikki introduced them.
"So are you stopping for a meal?"
"I don't think so I still have to go to the club."
With this she took Helen's arm and guided her into the middle of the restaurant. It was huge, and with film memorabilia lining the walls, extremely impressive. Nikki told her that the restaurant was split into four themed sections - post-apocalyptic, gangsters, horror and space. At night when the customers were usually children rather than businessmen, the staff would dress according to their section and the customers would get their choice for where they wanted to be seated. Helen now noticed that the memorabilia on each wall was arranged according to the theme and Nikki mentioned that each item on the menu's was named in theme.
Helen was surprised when a child, probably only ten years old, approached them asking Nikki for an autograph. Smiling Nikki bent down and reeled off her name while talking quietly to the girl, the girl eventually ran back to her parents with a big smile on her face and they made a quick exit before any more autograph hunters approached.
The next stop was the club and after the weekend it wasn't a nice sight. The cleaners and bar staff were present cleaning up and making sure the bar was ready for that night. Helen was again impressed, it was up to date with a dance floor and further back, up a small flight of stairs, an area with table and chairs where clubbers could talk and relax. The bar and DJ area was well lit, the dance floor had an array of fluorescent lights and up the stairs had tranquil, dim lighting it all added to the atmosphere of the club.
"Hi Nikki. I'm glad you're back." A good looking blonde said from behind the bar.
"Hi Cheryl, this is Helen. How's everything been while I've been away?" Nikki asked the her.
"It's been good, no major incidents. Trisha's been asking for you though, wanted to know when you were getting back."
"OK, thanks. Has the VIP area been cleaned yet?" Nikki asked picking up a key from behind the bar.
"Yeah, it was done first thing, I haven't sorted the bar in their yet though." Cheryl replied.
"Right, we'll be in there then."
With this Nikki indicated for Helen to follow her, they exited the main area through a door marked staff only and into a corridor. Once there they went through a door, which required Nikki to enter a code, past a door that Nikki said was her office and then through another door which needed the key from behind the bar to open it.
Helen stared in awe at the room before her. The VIP lounge was as modern and comfortable as possible, there was fluorescent lighting around the walls and lighting rigs hanging from the roof which illuminated the entire room. The seating and tables were brightly coloured and padded for added relaxation and the sound system was obviously state of the art. The whole atmosphere was of expense and luxury.
"Wow." Helen said when she got her voice back. "This looks brilliant...it must have cost you loads."
"The VIP's usually spend loads when they come so they want a good time, if I don't provide the best then they'll go elsewhere. That's why I want the best people working here. So what do you think? Think you could cope with me being your boss?" Nikki asked her eyes sparking with mischief.
"I don't know, I can imagine you being a bit of a slave driver..." Helen replied smiling.
"A bit of a slave driver? I'll let you know that I'm a complete slave driver and I've worked hard to get that tag."
"Well, I'll remember that and from now on call you by your earned tag boss." Helen said doing a mock salute.
"I can hardly refuse working in a place like this can I?"
"That's great Helen." Nikki said giving Helen a hug. "We can introduce you around tonight as it's our biggest night and then you can start learning the ropes tomorrow."
That night Helen stood at the side of the VIP lounge feeling very conspicuous in a pair of smart black trousers and a white shirt. Nikki had insisted that they were fine even though Helen had thought she should be in a dress, when she had seen that Nikki was in a pair of casual light brown trousers and a red shirt, she had felt better. Nikki had told her that they were working anyway but Helen had started to feel underdressed as soon as they had arrived outside the club and seen at lot of women all wearing small dresses or shirts that showed considerable cleavage and midriffs.
Nikki had not seemed to notice as they entered by the staff door briefly introducing Helen to the doormen. They entered the VIP area by the same way they had earlier and Helen almost felt her jaw drop as they entered. The room still oozed luxury and comfort but with the music booming from the stage area and bodies packed from wall to wall it had a completely different atmosphere. Nikki had pushed her way through the crowd and they ended up behind the bar, retrieving something from under the bar Nikki passed Helen a microphone that fastened to her ear. When Helen had it attached and switched it on she realised it was an intercom to keep her in contact to the rest of the club, she heard reports from each section of the club and some light hearted banter before a voice crackled through.
"Does anyone know if Nikki's in tonight?" A female voice asked.
"She's in, we saw her earlier." A male voice, which Helen deduced must be one of the bouncers as they were the only male staff she had seen, answered.
"Hey Nikki if you're there reply to me, I'm in your office with some police officers. They want to speak to you about the fight that happened just before you left." The female returned.
"Josie, it's Nikki." Hearing Nikki's voice over the intercom made Helen jump. "I'm on my way." She then turned to Helen. "I'll only be a couple of minutes, browse around a bit and I'll meet you back here."
That was ten minutes ago and Helen was starting to get annoyed. She was in a room surrounded by some of the worlds biggest stars and she looked like she was going for a job interview. The big breasted, tiny waisted women in dresses that barely covered their assets were giving her an inferiority complex. As soon as she'd realised how underdressed she was she'd hidden in a corner to wait for Nikki to return.
As a result she was surprised when she was approached by a man she vaguely remembered seeing on a movie poster a couple of years ago.
"Hi, I'm Troy Coleman." He said offering Helen his hand a flashing a perfect line of pearly white teeth.
"Helen Stewart." Shaking his hand politely while hoping he wouldn't stay.
"I haven't seen you here before so I decided to come over and find out why you were hiding in a corner, we don't bite you know."
"I'm a friend of Nikki's, I'll be working here soon, so am getting the official tour and I'm just waiting for her to return. I didn't think I should be partying when I'm meant to be working." Helen replied, it didn't seem to dissuade him any.
"Well, I know Nikki and sure she wouldn't mind if you had one dance with me." Troy said flashing his most charming smile.
"I really don't think it's a good idea..."
"Come on what can one dance hurt?"
"The lady said no Troy, leave her alone." Helen and Troy turned to see Nikki glaring at the young man.
"Hey sorry Nikki." He said before turning to Helen. "I'm sorry if I offended you, I was just being friendly." With this he walked away.
"Sorry about that, I promise you they aren't all as bad as him." Trying to settle her jealousy, seeing Helen getting chatted up by someone else had affected her more than she cared to admit.
"It was no problem. Is everything sorted out with the police?"
"Yeah, they just wanted a statement. Right, let's show you the ropes."
They ran through what was attached to each tap, how to change taps, how to mix cocktails, use the tills and everything else she might need. When they had finished Helen felt as though her brain was going to explode.
"Don't worry if it didn't all go in, I'm gong to put you in the care of one of my other staff. Her name is Denny. She isn't the sharpest knife on the rack and she looks a bit butch with tattoo's everywhere but she is great with the punters and is one of the few that I haven't had to sack from the VIP area." Seeing Helen's worried look Nikki laughed. "Don't worry you'll wrap her round your little finger."
They walked down yet another corridor and entered a locker room, various women and men were stood around and two women were openly kissing on a pair of benches in the middle of the room. Rolling her eyes Nikki walked over and tapped the long haired one on the shoulder, the young woman pulled back and quickly jumped to her feet when she realised who wanted her.
"Nik!" She said looking nervously from the spiky haired blonde she had been kissing to her boss.
"Den you know the staff areas are restricted to staff only what is she doing here?" Nikki asked in an exasperated voice that suggested it wasn't the first time this conversation had taken place.
"I'm sorry Nikki man, it's just that I haven't seen Shaz for a while and I've missed her, if I hadn't brought her in here it'd been another couple of days." Denny replied looking suitably chastised.
"I'll let it pass this time but in future if you want to get in here Shaz get a job here." Nikki said looking at the young blonde woman.
"A job here? Cool." She replied in an high pitched voice.
"Did you want something Nik?" Denny asked pulling the conversation back to herself.
"I just wanted to introduce you to Helen." Nikki said motioning Helen forward. "Helen Stewart this is Denny Blood."
"Hi!" Denny said blushing as she gazed at the older woman.
"Hiya." Helen responded flashing a dazzling smile that only made Denny more red.
"Right, so when do you want to start working?"
"As soon as you'll have me."
"How about tomorrow? Is that OK with you Den?"
"Sure." She was still staring at Helen but now she was displaying a goofy grin, she was broken out of it by Shaz's elbow connecting with her midriff. They made arrangements before Shaz dragged her away.
"Well if that's sorted how about we go home and eat?"
"Sounds good to me."
Half an hour later Helen, having laid the table, was sat waiting while Nikki served the food. She had initially been surprised when Nikki had told her she could cook, it didn't seem like an area Nikki would want to master. After Helen's first meal cooked by the dark haired woman she couldn't wait to taste more and now her mouth was watering.
"Here we go." Nikki said picking up two plates and placing them on the table.
"This smells and looks brilliant."
"Yeah but it's what it tastes like that counts."
She watched as Helen raised her fork to her mouth and tried the food, she smiled when the brunette gave her a thumbs up. They talked while they ate and were both enjoying the laid back conversation.
"Did I tell you that Janet came to see me?" Nikki said out of the blue studying Helen for a reaction.
"Janet as in..." Helen said feeling like she'd been punched in the gut, there was no denying it now, her jealousy felt like a vice around her chest making it difficult to breath.
"...my old PE mistress? Yeah."
"What did she want?"
"She said she'd missed me and now I was older she wanted to give it another try."
"More like now you were rich and famous." Helen spat, not realising the venom in her tone until Nikki raised her eyebrows. "Sorry. So what did you do?"
"I didn't do anything at the first meeting, I was too stunned. We arranged to meet again the next day and that's when I told her I didn't want to try again." Nikki by this time was pushing her food around her plate.
"That must have been hard for you." Helen said trying not to sound too happy. She reached across the table and held the other woman's hand for comfort, at the touch Nikki looked up.
"It was but when I saw her again I realised I didn't love her. She will always be special to me, she was my first lover, but I'm in love with someone else." Nikki finished, looking into Helen's eyes. Helen broke the eye contact almost immediately. Nikki didn't love Janet but she was in love with someone else which still made her unattainable. She was trying to figure out why she'd ever thought she had a chance with Nikki anymore when the door was thrown open and someone entered.
"Nik, babe. I heard you were back." The woman, who Helen suddenly recognised as Trisha, said as she walked towards the taller woman, placed herself in her lap and kissed her on the lips. After a couple of seconds Helen cleared her throat and Trish reluctantly pulled back. Helen noted with some satisfaction that Nikki's arms had not moved from her sides and she looked stunned at the blondes actions. When she averted her eyes from Nikki she noticed that Trisha was staring at her with distaste.
"Trisha...what the hell?" Nikki spluttered
"I missed you Nik, it's good to have you back." Trisha said turning her attention to woman who's lap she was using as a chair with a seductive smile. "Aren't you going to introduce us?"
"Erm...yeah. Trish this is Helen Stewart, Helen this is Trisha Harris."
"Pleased to meet you." Helen offered her hand.
"Helen, we meet at last. I've heard a lot about you." Trisha smiled falsely and shook the pre-offered hand.
"Ignore her Helen." Nikki advise while giving Trisha's back a push to dislodge her from her seat.
Trisha opted for a seat at the table and they settled for chit-chat, Helen noticed that she was on the receiving end of a couple of glares from Trisha and she seemed upset when Nikki revealed that she would be working at the club. After a while Helen told the others that she was going to call it a night.
"What the hell are you playing at?" Nikki asked when she knew Helen was out of hearing range.
"I don't know what you mean."
"Come off it, your innocent act doesn't wash with me. The whole touchy feely scene when you came in - what do you think you were doing?"
"I was protecting you against getting your heart broken again..."
"What gave you the idea that I need protecting? And what business is it of your anyway?" Nikki butted in.
"I know you better than most people Nik, I saw the way you were looking at her. I just don't want to see you hurt, I know I have no chance with you but there is only one thing that Helen will love and that will be your money. You are usually good at noticing the false friends and lovers but you're to attached to her. I only want to help."
"How can you say that about her? You don't even know her..." This time it was Trisha that interrupted.
"You really believe that she has made a dramatic U-turn? Two months ago she was living in a squat and sleeping with anyone that would give her a fix. four weeks ago she stole all your valuables to sell for drugs when you were trying to help her. And two week ago she was going through counselling, now suddenly she's a perfect citizen? She's playing you for all she can get, pretending to be the Helen Stewart that you're in love with and you're playing straight into her grasp - taking her into your home and giving her a job."
"And this couldn't possibly have anything to do with the fact that you are jealous?" Nikki spat.
"You know, for years after you told me about your childhood I was jealous. I saw in your eyes and in your tone how much you loved her but I saw her today. She is not the woman you talked about, you are in love with a ghost Nikki and the only person who can't see it is you. The Helen Stewart in your head, the one you remember, doesn't exist anymore." With this parting shot Trisha left slamming the door behind her.
Two months later Nikki promoted Helen to manager of the VIP area. She had been a hard worker and got on with everyone, in fact it was only Trisha that seemed opposed to the idea. A month later Helen was surprised when Nikki came home early in the afternoon.
"Nikki? What are you doing here?" Helen, who after a long night in the club had just got out of bed, asked surprised.
"Aren't I allowed to come home early?"
"Course you are it's just that you usually work till late."
"I just wanted to give you this." Nikki said handing Helen an envelope.
"What is it?" Helen asked peering down at the envelope suspiciously.
"Open it and see." Nikki challenged.
Still frowning Helen ripped the envelope open, she stared back up at Nikki when she saw it was filled with money.
"It's your pay." Nikki replied simply.
"Nikki, I don't get pay. I'm paying you back for the money you spent rehabilitating me." Helen said handing the envelope back to Nikki.
"I saw the accountant yesterday and he was deliriously happy. Apparently in the month you have been manager the profit for the VIP lounge has spiked. Acquiring the contract for the film premier parties alone has paid for the time you spent at Clouds, so I figured I better start paying you before you look for a better job."
"OK, well if you going to start paying me we'd better sort out my contribution for rent and bills..."
"Helen I've told you before you don't have to pay me anything I enjoy having you here." Nikki said exasperated.
"Nikki I want to contribute something, most people think I'm taking you for granted anyway if they knew you were paying me and I was staying here for free what would they say?"
"Who's been saying that?" Helen could see that Nikki was angry and that she'd probably said more than was wise.
"No-one it doesn't matter." She tried to cover.
"It was Trisha wasn't it? What has she been saying to you?" Nikki asked clenching her jaw.
"Look it doesn't matter Nikki, please, just leave it?" Helen said remembering Trisha warning her off Nikki and her parting shot that she'd be watching and if Nikki got hurt Helen would pay. "*I* feel that I'm taking advantage Nikki. I'm earning now so I should pay you something as long as I live here."
"OK, OK, we'll sort something out if it makes you happy." Nikki relented, Helen had put on her pleading face and she'd never been able to say no to that look.
"Thanks Nikki." Helen said jumping up from her chair and wrapping her friend in a hug. I'd better go and get dressed."
"Yeah, I'm going into the club tonight do you want a lift?"
"What are you going into the club for? Is there a problem?" Helen asked.
Although Nikki was overall manager she only came to the club at night if their was a problem or if a new member of staff was starting, she left the running of the VIP lounge to Helen and the running of the normal club to a woman called Sally.
"No I just need to see Sally, nothing for you to worry about."
Nikki, in fact, did have a problem. After the weekend trade Sally had contacted Nikki to tell her that she was worried about the increasing drug rate in the club. There were always some customers who came in stoned - that was club life, but Nikki and the rest of the staff worked hard to make sure everyone knew that taking drugs inside the club was banned. Now Sally was worried that they had a dealer selling from the inside.
"So you think it's one of the staff?" Nikki asked incredulously.
"It has to be Nikki. I've had all the staff looking for suspicious activity from the customers all weekend and there has been nothing, I've also looked on all the surveillance videos and there's nothing, whoever is dealing knows the club pretty well as they know which corridors to stay out of." Sally answered.
"OK but who?"
"I don't know, I trust all the staff but it has to be one of them."
"Right, lets think about this rationally. There is only a couple of places that they could be dealing from, if they were dealing outside the bouncers would get them, so that leaves the corridors without camera's. I'll get some people out and put extra camera's up but this goes no further than us, I want this person caught."
"OK boss. I'd better get back out make sure everything's running smoothly."
"Thanks Sal, I'll get back to you in a couple of days to let you know when the camera's are going up."
A week later nothing new had come to light, the cameras had gone up three days ago with no result and Nikki had taken to being at the club every night. On the first night it had been obvious to her how many of the patrons were on drugs and it was a lot more than she had seen before. Nikki had now taken to watching the staff herself from an out of sight door in a less frequented staff corridor, every night she had taken to watching a different member of staff to see if she could see anything unusual with them but that had also proved fruitless.
"I heard you have a drug problem." Trisha's voice sounded from beside her.
"How do you know?" Nikki asked. They had made up after the argument over Helen but Trisha still liked to tell Nikki what she thought of the small Scot.
"Sally told me, she thought I might be able to help."
"Well I'm sorry but I don't think there is anything you can do."
"I can point out who the obvious candidate is and tell you that you're looking into the wrong bar."
"I'm getting sick of this anti Helen campaign, Trish." Nikki snapped turning to the blonde for the first time since she's first spoken.
"If I was you she'd be the first person I looked into but again you're ignoring her because of your feelings for her. This isn't about you anymore Nikki it's about your business and the law. You've worked bloody hard on this club and we both know that if the police get wind of the increase in drugs they'll be a raid and it'll be all over the papers. It'll ruin you, are you going to put it all at risk because of her?" Trisha shouted surprised at her own outburst.
"I haven't looked into Helen because I haven't looked into any of the VIP staff yet, the most obvious dealers would be in my normal staff because that is where the stuff is being sold. Now if you don't mind I'd like to get on with what I'm doing so I can stop the problem before the police get wind." Nikki replied through gritted teeth.
"Suit yourself but remember this conversation, you might want to apologise to me later." Trish said as she walked away.
The next day Nikki was in the club for midday, she was meeting Sally to go through the footage from the new video cameras. Helen had been woken by Nikki moving through the house and had asked Nikki what was happening as she knew it must have something to do with the club because of Nikki's frequent visits. Nikki had told her that it didn't concern her before leaving, it made Nikki feel guilty, there was absolutely no reason why Helen shouldn't be informed of the drug problem but she was still holding back. The only reason she could think of for not telling her was the possibility of Helen's involvement, as much as she tried to argue with her conscious that it wasn't the reason she knew deep down that it was. No matter how much she had argued with Trish that Helen was innocent there was still a part of her that wasn't discounting the possibility and it was nearly tearing Nikki apart. Her head was trying to be rational, she was an ex drug addict and therefore an obvious suspect but her heart was screaming that after everything they'd been through Helen wouldn't betray her this way.
"Hi boss, I've set everything up." Sally said as she entered the office.
"Good, which one should we watch first?"
Two video's later nothing suspicious had happened, after half an hour they had started watching the videos in fast forward. The reason Nikki hadn't thought cameras were needed in these corridors had become plainly obvious while watching the footage - on the first video they had actually been a gap of 20 minutes before someone had even walked past.
Nikki was nearly asleep and they were on the forth video when the footage they were looking for started. Nikki sat up straight as Sally slowed the video to normal speed. A man could plainly be seen pacing the corridor, ever few seconds he stopped and looked around nervously. It was a few minutes before someone else approached, it was a figure Nikki would notice anywhere and it made her entire being freeze.
As they watched in silence Helen approached the man, they exchanged a few words, Helen passed him something that looked like a thin wad of notes and he passed her something in return. It looked like every drug trade Nikki had seen in movies.
"I think we have our woman." Sally said grimly.
"Yeah, thanks Sally I'll sort it out." Nikki said staring at the image of the guy passing Helen whatever she had paid for.
Sally had paused the image on that scene and peered closer trying to work out what the item was. At Nikki's obvious dismissal she stood, passing the remote control to her boss and then left.
As soon as the other woman had closed the door Nikki stood and swiped her arm across her desk sending papers scattering across the floor. She then turned and punched the wall hoping to replace the pain that was slowly seeping out of her heart and threatening to consume her entire body, with some real pain. Why would Helen do this to her, after everything? Feeling utterly defeated Nikki sank into her chair.
Nikki sat in her office watching and re-watching the surveillance video, she had been there roughly 3 hours and was still no closer to identifying the object. Drugs were usually kept in transparent bags but what Helen received looked more like a small piece of paper, it was roughly the size of an envelope but didn't look like any envelope Nikki had seen.
Deciding it wasn't going to do any good watching the video again she locked up the club and headed for her car. When she arrived home 2 hours later, after going for a drive, Helen was heading out.
"Hiya, Nikki. I wondered where you were, are you going to be at the club tonight?" She asked happily.
"No, I don't need to go in tonight." Nikki answered shortly.
"Okay...well, I'll probably see you tomorrow then." Helen replied not sure what to make of Nikki's mood.
Nikki just nodded before walking past Helen and into the house. She felt Helen watch her for a couple of seconds before heading to her car.
Nikki walked into the living room and poured herself a large scotch before sitting down. She didn't know what to do, she should have stopped Helen going into work that night but Nikki knew if she'd confronted Helen then she wouldn't have been able to keep her emotions in check.
The truth was she was to emotionally involved, while driving Nikki had argued with herself saying she didn't want to confront Helen until she had some evidence, they had the video but all that proved was she had met with a man and exchanged something. Inside thought she knew that if it had been anybody but Helen she would already have sacked them.
It left her feeling like she had double standards, one part was telling her that Helen was the most obvious candidate and she obviously had something to hide because of the cloak and dagger tactics she had used to meet this man, while another voice was telling her that Helen wouldn't do this to her and that the package didn't look like anything used to pass drugs in.
One way or another this had to come to a head, Nikki knew that over the last few months she had been falling deeper for Helen. She was finding it harder to hide how she felt, everytime Helen was in the room she ached to reach out and touch her, a couple of times she had actually stretched her arm out to run her hand through the other woman's hair before she caught herself.
She had been reluctant to make any move because she had not seen any indication of an interest from Helen, now it seemed that Trisha had been right and her ex-lover had been using her. She didn't know what hurt her most - the fact that Helen had used her, the fact that Trisha had been right or the fact that even with all the evidence her heart still wouldn't let her believe that Helen would do this.
Helen had spent her shift aware of Trisha sitting at the end of the bar staring at her angrily. She was used to Trisha ignoring her, or looking down at her but the other woman had never showed this level of hate towards her.
For that reason she was glad when the club closed and the customers were told to leave, she busied herself with closing down the tills and cleaning up the glasses. After giving orders for the bars to be restocked she added up the taking and set off to Nikki's office to lock them in the safe, in the corridor outside the office she bumped into Sally. Seeing the surprised look on Sally's face she started to feel that there was something going on that she didn't know about.
"Helen! What are you doing here?" Sally asked, her eyes wide.
"I work here, I'm just putting today's takings in the safe before I get off." Helen replied.
"Haven't you talked to Nikki?" During Helen's reply Sally's face had turned from surprise to loathing.
"I saw her for about a minute before I had to come to work, why?"
"I think I should leave that explanation to Nikki, though I know she wants to speak to you, I'd go as soon as you've deposited that if I were you." Sally replied her voice hard.
"Have I done something? Everybody seems to be off with me today and if there is a reason I'd like to know about it." Helen said her voice raised with exasperation.
"That's also something you'll have to ask Nikki, but you should know that she is extremely popular here, I'd avoid coming back if I were you." With this Sally walked away leaving Helen confused and dumbfounded.
She locked the money in the safe with all the appropriate paperwork, locked the office and then headed for home.
When she entered the house she realised that all the lights were on indicating that Nikki was still up. Helen hung her coat up and walked into the living room, she stopped at the site in front of her and smiled. Stretched out across the sofa, on her back, was Nikki. Her right arm was dangling off the settee almost touching the floor and a glass was still clutched in her hand.
Helen felt a pang of tenderness as she saw Nikki, when they had been lovers as teenagers she had adored Nikki's eyes. For the first time Helen had believe the expression 'the eyes are the window to the soul'. Nikki's eyes were so deep and expression filled that they had often held Helen captive when she looked into them. But even now, when Nikki had her eyes closed and her face was totally devoid of expression Helen still felt a heart warming attraction to her ex-lover.
Walking up to Nikki she knelt down and brushed a few stray bangs of hair off Nikki's forehead before tenderly running her fingertips down the other womans cheek. Helen smiled when Nikki muttered something incoherent in her sleep, with a contented sigh Helen stood up and pulled the throw rug off the back of the settee and used it to cover Nikki. Kissing her on the cheek Helen slowly made her way to bed completely forgetting the questions she had over Sally's behaviour.
When Helen rose at noon the next day and headed down stairs for her breakfast she wasn't surprised to see Nikki at the table frowning into a glass of alka-seltser. Her clothes were rumpled, her hair stood up in every conceivable direction and she had bags under her eyes but Helen thought she looked adorable.
"Good morning. How are you feeling?" Helen asked smiling.
"Ugh." Nikki replied rubbing her eyes.
"That's what I thought. I don't think you'll be going into work today, have you rung the restaurant?"
"Yeah, they'll ring if they need me." Nikki said in a rough voice.
"I'll tell the club tonight if you want?"
"What, you think your hangover will have passed by then?" Helen asked sceptically.
"No, you won't be going into the club tonight. I'm giving you some time off." Nikki said, she was feeling terrible and didn't want to start questioning Helen now.
"You're not needed there a the moment." Nikki said raising the glass to her lips hoping that Helen would take the hint and leave it at that, sadly she didn't.
"Not needed? Why who's taking care of everything?"
"I've left Denny in charge..."
"Denny? Then I'd say I am needed, do you really think she'll cope?"
"Helen, can we leave it? I'm not in a fit state to deal with this now."
"Well just tell me why. Are you sacking me?"
Luckily, at that moment the phone started ringing 'saved by the bell' Nikki thought as she dragged herself out of the chair. After a quick conversation she put the phone down and turned to Helen, she was obviously still not pleased.
"I have to go to the restaurant and sort some supply problems out. It won't take long." Nikki informed her.
"So that's it? No explanations?"
"I have to sort the restaurant out but after we need to talk. Just, please, don't go into the club."
Helen frowned as Nikki looked pleadingly at her but she eventually nodded as she remembered her conversation with Sally. Something was going on and she wanted to know what but she had a sneaking suspicion that she wasn't going to like what she found.
It was just over an hour later when Nikki returned, she threw her car keys on a small table in the front room and walked into the kitchen. She frowned when she saw two plates on the table with a salad on them.
"Hi, I hoped you'd be back soon." Helen said from behind her.
"Where did you come from?" Nikki asked grouchily, her mood obviously hadn't improved.
"I've just been upstairs, as I'm not going into work there wasn't anything for me to do so I prepared a meal for us both." Helen said gesturing to the table.
"Thanks." Nikki said walking up to the table and sitting down in front of one of the plates.
They ate in silence for a couple of minutes, Nikki didn't want to start the conversation but she knew that Helen would bring it up eventually.
"So, are you going to tell me what I'm meant to have done?" Helen asked.
"I don't know what you mean." Nikki replied deciding 'deny everything' was the defence to use. If her brain had been functioning properly she would know it wouldn't work.
"Come off it Nikki. I had Trisha staring at me angrily last night, then Sally treats me strange and tells me you will want to have a word with me and then you tell me I won't be working for the foreseeable futher. If I'm being accused of something I want to know about it." Helen said heatedly.
"OK, I'm gong to ask you this once Helen and I want a truthful reply. Are you taking drugs again?" Nikki asked evenly, she couldn't afford to let her emotions get into this.
"What?" Helen shouted outraged. "After everything we've been through, you think I'd go back to that?"
"Just answer the question." Nikki pleaded.
"I can't believe you'd even ask me that. I thought you trusted me."
"Helen I need to know..."
"Why? Why is it so important now? If you don't trust me you must have been thinking I was on drugs for weeks, even months, why have you asked me now?" Helen said through gritted teeth, angry tears were welling up in her eyes and threatening to slide down her cheeks. She had thought for once in her life everything was getting better, things were starting to look up and she was enjoying being with Nikki even though they weren't lovers, and now it was all coming crashing down.
"Someone has been dealing drugs in the club, we found out it's not one of the customers and so looked to the staff..."
"And of course I'm the obvious suspect? Well thanks a lot Nikki, I thought you were different to everyone else. I thought you were the one person who didn't judge me on my past, seems like I was wrong." The tears started running down Helen's cheeks, not wanting Nikki to see how much it was bothering her she stood up and turned her back. The sight tore Nikki's heart out but some part of her pushed on, she had to get to the truth.
"I did trust you, when Trisha told me it was bound to be you, that you'd be the first person I should look at. I told her that she was just jealous, that it was just her spite talking we even argued. She is my best friend and I trusted you over her. I have done everything I could for you Helen and the fact that you betrayed me this way...I don't have the words to express how hurt I am." Nikki replied sniffing back her own tears.
"I haven't done anything Nikki." Helen shouted turning round to confront her, she no longer cared what Nikki thought of her tears.
"Well then you'll be able to explain this then." Nikki said retrieving the video from the desk in the living room and putting it in the video recorder. "When we found that it must be one of the staff dealing we installed camera's in the unmontered corridors..." She stopped when she saw the small Scot pale. "I'm guessing you know what's coming up!"
Helen's gaze turned to the TV screen as the footage came up, she watched as she entered the picture and the trade was made.
"I know it looks bad, Nikki, but it's not what you think. I promise."
"Well, explain it to me then Helen."
"The man on the video...he's a private investigator...it's a photo he's passing me. I paid him to get it...that is the money I'm passing him." Helen said hesitantly.
"A photo?" Nikki replied sceptically. "Who of? Why all the cloak and dagger stuff?"
"I can't tell you that."
"Why? Why do you expect me to trust you when you won't trust me?"
"Please Nikki, you have to believe me. I'm hiding it because I don't want you to hate me..." Helen was sobbing again.
"Why would I hate you? We've been through hell together I don't believe anything you could tell me would make me hate you. We have a special bond Helen, we have since we were kids, I care for you." As Nikki said this the door bell rang. Helen looked from at the door like a scared rabbit while Nikki ran her hand through her hair agitated.
"I can't tell you." She replied before running to the door, she didn't even stop to see who it was before she pushed past them and out of sight.
"Dammit." Nikki yelled kicking the wall in frustration.
"Can I come in boss?" Sally asked looking into the house from the open door.
"Sure, sorry about that." She took a few calming breaths before turning to her employee.
"I take it that was you confronting Helen?" Sally asked only waiting for Nikki's head nod before going on. "You are not going to like what I have to say then." She flinched when Nikki's hard glare turned onto her.
"What do you meant?"
"I watched last nights surveillance videos this morning. I thought they might be more evidence on them for you to get Helen with. Instead I saw this." Sally said ejecting the video with Helen on and putting in another one. For the first time Nikki noticed that Sally had two videos with her.
They both watched as someone dressed in the the club uniform paced up and down a corridor, Nikki vaguely remembered the man being called John, he worked in the club on Fridays and Saturdays. After a couple of seconds a couple came into the corridor they had a hushed conversation before the couple passed him some money, looking both ways down the corridor John took a small bag out of his sock and passed it to them. They spoke again then set off in opposite directions.
"That's not all." Sally said putting the other tape in.
The scene was almost the same except two men were waiting in a corridor as John approached, they paid him, he passed them a small bag and they left.
"There is another three deals on this tape and that's not it. I rang some of the bouncers, when they came in I showed them the videos, together we opened and searched his locker. We found a load of the stuff in there Nik, there is no doubt for me, John is the dealer we were looking for." Sally finished.
"Shit!" Nikki exclaimed running her hand through her hair again. "So it wasn't Helen?"
"I don't think so, sorry. Don't be to hard on yourself though, we both thought it was her. The video was pretty condemning, she was definitely up to something. What did she say?"
"She said he was a private investigator, we saw her paying him for a photo of someone she asked him to watch but she wouldn't say who." Nikki replied in a defeated tone.
"Well, it is partly her fault then isn't it. If she was honest with you then you wouldn't have any video to make us think she was dealing." Sally replied unsympathetic.
"Thanks for the advice. By the way did you tell Trisha about the video? Apparently she spent last night making Helen feel uncomfortable."
"Erm, I might have mentioned something, I thought you might have needed a shoulder to cry on."
"Well in future can you keep it to yourself, it just gives her another reason to gloat." Nikki snapped, she really didn't need another 'I told you so' from Trisha.
"Sorry." Nikki flinched when Sally looked upset at the dressing down.
"No I should be the one that's sorry, I didn't mean to take it out on you." She apologised rubbing her eyes. "Shouldn't you be at the club? It'll be opening soon."
Noticing that she had been dismissed by her boss Sally stood up, she squeezed Nikki's shoulder as a gesture of support and then left.
It was around one am when Helen finally returned. Luckily she'd had her car keys on her when she fled the house so she had driven around. After driving 2 miles she had been forced to pull over and get her tears under control, after the tears had subsided a raging anger had taken over, followed shortly by an acute numbness. Why should Nikki trust her? She had returned to England to pay thousands to rehabilitate her, when it was suspected a drug dealer was operating in the club she was the obvious candidate and her cloak and dagger way of seeing the PI didn't do her any favours.
All the way through the fight Helen had just wanted Nikki to say she trusted her and pull her into her arms, she had prayed that it would happen. Of course it hadn't, just because it was a dream that Helen had every night it didn't mean that it would ever be reality. Nikki had famous Hollywood actresses throwing themselves at her why would she want an ex-drug addict? Just because they had been lovers as teenagers, all that it meant was that Nikki saw her as a friend that she was in some way responsible for.
Then again, her brain added, Nikki is right. Why should she trust you if you don't trust her? After all Helen had more reason to trust Nikki than Nikki had to trust her but yet she had still kept her secret hidden. She had reasoned that it was different because it could drive the woman she loved away from her, but still she knew it wasn't justified.
These thought chased each other around Helen's brain, she only realised how far she had driven when she saw the road sign for the state line. Deciding that as soon as she got home she would tell Nikki everything she turned around and retraced her journey.
Helen was not surprised to see Nikki sat in a chair in the living room reading when she returned.
"I was waiting for you." Nikki said as Helen entered.
"I thought you might be." Was Helen's even reply.
"I need to apologise." Nikki said surprising Helen. "We found evidence that you aren't the dealer. You have to understand though the evidence against you was pretty damning and you gave me no reason not to doubt you..."
"I know and I'm sorry." It was Nikki's turn to be shocked. "I have something I need to tell you, it's time you knew what I've been hiding, whether you hate me after or not."
"Helen, we've been through so much, I don't think there is anything you could say that would make me hate you."
"You'd be surprised." After taking a deep breath she went on. "Do you remember me saying that I came to America to find you so I could ask for your help?"
"Yeah, it was about 2 years ago and that's how you knew about Trisha and I."
"I really wanted to get clean...I met a man, he was a dealer and he was everything I wanted. Anyone that knew you and saw him would have said that he was the male Nikki Wade, he was tall with black hair and deep brown eyes, but I still hated you and tried to convince myself that it wasn't the reason I fell for him." Helen turned her back while admitting this so that she didn't see the look on Nikki's face, she didn't think she would cope if she expressed disgust. "Anyway, he was a complete bastard and he beat me. He ended up in prison and a week after I discovered I was pregnant. I really wanted the child Nikki so I decided to get clean so I could raise it, when Dan - the father got sent to prison he left his stash of money in the house we shared so I used the money to find you. When I saw you and Trisha I couldn't ask you to help me so I went back..." Helen stopped and from her breathing Nikki could tell she was crying.
"So what happened to the kid?" Nikki said fearing she knew the answer.
"I'm a mother, I have a little boy, the picture I paid for was a picture of him." Saying this she turned to face the other woman with tears streaking down her face. Not knowing what to do Nikki pulled her into a hug. "I want my baby back Nikki."