DISCLAIMER: I don't own anything to do with Bad Girls.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Tiny droplets of snow drifted slowly down from the clouds, taking their time cascading onto the white, crisp London streets below.
Church bells rang out in the background as thousands of late night shoppers ran around, carrying handfuls of bags, making last minute preparations for Christmas. Men dressed as Santa stood in doorways collecting money for charity, ringing bells and singing carols.
There was a festive feeling in the air, mixed with joy, excitement and anxiety. Everyone looked so happy. Couples sauntered past holding hands, mothers dragging their children kicking and screaming away from toy shop windows, families watching the carol singers belt out well known Christmas songs, all huddling closely together to retain the heat that the weather was so quick to take away.
But just a few feet away a teenage girl sat curled underneath a torn and tattered blanket, not fit for an animal. She shivered and wrapped the grey blanket tighter around her body as she watched the crowds amble happily by the alleyway that she called home. No one took notice that she was there, but she liked it that way. No one to take pity on her. She hated people feeling sorry for her, especially at times like this, when everyone was so joyous.
She turned her head away from the street on her right, and rested it on the cold, damp wall behind her. She looked up into the sky and watched the flakes of snowfall onto her face, melting as they touched her skin and running down the sides of her face as they turned to water.
Winter was always hard to cope with. Freezing temperatures, torrents of rain, sleet and snow and no warm place to seek shelter. All she had for comfort was her trusty bed sheet and the clothes she had left home with that day she ran away. Neither had been washed in years, but she didn't notice the dirt and grime after a while. It had become part of her, who she was. Her "friends" didn't care either. They were just as filthy. But the fact they were lovely people made up for their personal hygiene, to her at least.
Other people weren't so forgiving of the unfortunates that lived in the boxes in her alley. She had been spit on, called names, laughed at, ignored and beaten. But worst of all were the people who just starred. She never knew what they were thinking, but she knew it wasn't good. The expressions on their faces said it all. Pity. Shame. Sorrow. If only once in a while someone had smiled. But no one ever did. It was always the same gaunt look of disgrace and embarrassment.
She looked down at her hands, which were now a shade of bluish white, tinged with purple, sadness in her eyes. Every Christmas she prayed to heaven that someone would invite her to join their family for the holidays. She longed to get a present. Not for the gift itself, but for the excitement of unwrapping it and finding out what was underneath all the bright coloured paper, bows and ribbons. But in her 4 years on the streets it had never happened, and wasn't likely to either.
She sighed and slid her body down the wall. Curling herself into a ball, she positioned her body so it was lying on an opened out cardboard box. Her head rested on a little mound of snow that had built up on her usual resting place, over night.
She closed her eyes and thought back to last Christmas Eve. Things had gone down hill from then. If only I hadn't said yes, she sobbed as she played the last 12 months over in her head.
She was disgusted with herself, and only one person made it all better. But she was gone. Or was she?
Christmas Eve 1993
"We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year."
Helen stood amongst the crowd outside of Selfridges, watching the carol singers' chant the familiar songs that she loved listening to every Christmas Eve.
It had become her routine over the last 3 years. She would stand outside of the department store for hours on end, freezing cold, but happy. Then she would take the short walk through the city, back to her alley, doing a little begging along the way. If she was lucky she would make enough money to get herself a bite to eat and a takeaway coffee, that she would make last for days. Cold coffee had become her saviour. And tonight was no different.
As the singing came to an end and the crowds dispersed from the shop doorway Helen stood for a moment longer, watching the families inside buying last minute gifts. The sadness yanked at her heart, like tiny hands squeezing every last bit of happiness out of her. If only I had money, she thought to herself. The hurt was grasping tighter at her with every pessimistic thought.
She decided to drag herself away, before the pain made her lose the last bit of rational thought she clung onto desperately.
The bright lights of the huge billboards in Piccadilly Circus always brought a smile to her face. It reminded her of simpler times, when she had family and friends around her. It made her feel safe and protected, but those days were long gone and were never coming back.
She walked slowly across the road, daydreaming as she swung her arms backwards and forwards in a childlike manner. She felt her feet crunch into the crisp snow underneath her as she came closer to her "home".
Suddenly a huge weight knocked into her front, sending her flying a few feet on the sidewalk. She lay on her back, the wet snow soaking her body as she tried unsuccessfully to pull herself back up onto her feet.
"Are you ok?" A man in his late 30's reached down and picked her up from the pool of slush she was still lying in.
Helen was still in too much shock to answer. It had all happened to quickly.
"You look like you need a good feed! Maybe you wouldn't have flewn so far when I bumped into you if you had a little weight on you to hold you down." The man laughed hysterically at his own sad attempt at a joke.
Helen stood inches from his face awkwardly playing with her dark blonde, matted hair. She hated being made fun of because of her situation.
"I'm Jim," The man looked down at her, waiting on a response, but Helen just continued to stare, taking in his every feature.
He was at least 7 inches taller than she was and extremely well built with it. She noted how he wouldn't have looked out of place as a bodyguard, with his huge frame, smart clothes and thick London accent.
Her feelings of intimidation remained as she stood next to him, shadowed. Next to him she looked even more emaciated than she already was.
Regaining the power of speech she knew would be the perfect time to beg.
"I would be grateful if you could spare some change, sir." Helen looked up at him, sweet and innocent, grateful that he had been kind enough to notice her neediness, even although he had laughed at her.
She continued to watch him as he dug deep into his trousers pocket and pulled out a £10 note. Her eyes widened and bulged at the sight of it. In her three years on the streets no one had offered her anything more than 10 pence, let alone 10 quid.
Seeing her gawping induced another fit of annoying out of place laughter. "You can pay me back later," his speech muffled as he continued to chuckle, leaning in closer to her.
She extended her hand to take the note, ignoring his earlier comment, she really wanted that money and wasn't about to go analysing his statement. Just as she felt the tips of her fingers brush the paper he abruptly withdrew his hand, and the note, making her jump in fright as he did so.
"Tell me," he said sharply. "How do I know you're not going to go and spend this money on alcohol, or drugs even?"
Helen removed her gaze from his hand and looked into his eyes, her own watering slightly.
"I'm 17. No shopkeeper in this city, in their right mind would sell me anything other than orange juice. And as for drugs, I've never touched them and I never intend to. I've seen what they do to people." Her eyes flashed with hurt at his brash judgment of her. Just because she lived on the streets didn't mean she was some Meth swilling, coke snorting freak.
Jim moved his face down, millimetres from hers, sneering strangely. "I don't know if I should believe you?" He placed his large hands heavily on her shoulders making her feel jittery.
"How about instead of giving you this, I take you to a little place I know. That way I know how my money is being spent."
Helen shifted uncomfortably, trying to ease the weight of his hands, which were now digging painfully into her. Feeling her squirming he removed them and regained a vertical posture. The menacing look vanished from his face with his new stance.
Helen rubbed herself in a vain attempt to rid the throbbing pain. "I don't know. I mean, I don't know you from Adam. I probably shouldn't." She looked at him ,embarrassed at having to reject him, and a little scared at the same time. She didn't know what he was capable of. No one was close by the secluded street and the last thing she wanted to do was anger him when no one would hear her screams.
"Awww, darlin', I'm not gonna hurt you. I just want to make sure you have a nice meal on Christmas Eve." He looked at her with puppy dog eyes and extended his hands out towards her arms, rubbing them as though he was trying to heat her up.
Helen was still wary of him, but the idea of a nice meal was too tempting. The last real meal she ever had was the day before she was forced to leave home, when her Mum had made Sunday lunch for her and her sister.
Her mouth salivated at the thought of a huge roast dinner in front of her, all the trimmings, and money being no object.
"Ok," she said, somewhat unsurely.
"Great, you've made the right decision," Jim smirked and led her off to the café where he took all his "girls". Cheap and cheerful. "Nothing but the best for my girls," He laughed inwardly. He had managed to coax another one. This one was easier than usual. Street girls were always easier to talk around, and Helen Stewart had been no different. She was his now, and she would do what he said. There was no turning back now.
The café smelled of greasy bacon and day old chip fat. This wasn't what she had imagined at all. When he said a nice meal to celebrate Christmas Eve she had pictured a classy French restaurant, waiters kitted out in the best suits money would buy, genuine Parisian accents and a man at a grand piano in the corner, playing Frank Sinatra songs until dawn. But this was more like a truck drivers pit stop. Sweaty, unkempt "chefs" stood at the counter, carelessly flipping burgers, occasionally dropping one onto the floor and tossing in back onto the grill, wiping their hands down their stained, once white aprons.
"So, what would my little thin friend like to eat?"
Jim pulled out a chair for her and watched in amusement as she grimaced at his harsh words. He knew from earlier this annoyed her, but he was revelling in the joy of watching her squirm.
She pulled the chair in closer to the table by herself and eyed Jim warily as he took the seat opposite her, his elbows resting on the table top as he settled.
"So?" He questioned her again. She scornfully picked up the tattered menu from its clear plastic holder. She studied it intently, while at the same time fully aware of his eyes boring into her, watching her every move. She could hardly concentrate for thinking about it.
"I'll have a cheeseburger with chips, please." She tried to sound as polite as she would allow herself to be. She placed the menu back in the holder and watched for his response.
"Cheeseburger and fries it is. Be right back love." The chair made a spine chilling screech as he pushed it back on its four legs to allow himself room to stand up. It caused Helen to wince at its uninviting noise.
She observed Jim fixedly as he placed and waited on the order at the unhygienic steel counter. She noted he was a handsome man, but his sleazy manner made him come across as unattractive and very unappealing. She also couldn't help but feel terrified of him. Deep down she knew there was something not right, just something she couldn't put her finger on, but the uneasy feeling was there none the less.
She wanted so badly to run, escape from his clutches, but as her eyes broke the gaze from Jim and scanned the room full of diners tucking into their late-night meals she knew she would be staying where she was. She wanted food more than anything in the world right now. So she vowed she would put up with him until she was full, make her excuses and leave.
If only it were that easy.
The sound of bone china hitting the glass-topped table woke Helen from her daydreaming. In front of her was her very rare, bloody burger and fries; swimming in the lard they had been cooked in. Her stomach rumbled and a feeling of sickness arose in her. She didn't know if it was caused by hunger, or the repulsive thoughts of eating the raw looking piece of meat sandwiched between buns.
"Something wrong?" Jim questioned sternly after seeing her reaction of disappointment and disgust.
"Eh? Oh no, this is perfect, just wonderful," She lied unpersuasively.
"Good! I wouldn't like to think you were being ungrateful to your uncle Jim now." He sneered perversely at her as she slowly took her first bite of burger, desperately trying not to focus on it, knowing fine well she would vomit if she did.
Time passed slowly. Very little conversation passing between the two, and when it did it was usually Jim doing the talking, with Helen replying in monosyllabic answers. She didn't want this man knowing a single thing about her. As far as she was concerned he was a stranger, and one thing she had learnt while living on the streets was never trust anyone, especially peculiar men.
Helen placed down her half eaten burger. Vowing she would never let another slice of meat pass her lips again, ever. The last 20 minutes had been sheer torture for her, and she didn't want to relive it.
"You didn't eat much," Jim's harsh look made Helen uneasy. "Yeah, well it doesn't take much to fill me up these days," she lied. She could have easily eaten a 10oz steak and still had room for more, but she wasn't going to admit that to him. She just wanted to get home, back to her box. If she didn't go soon someone was likely to steal it from her, the last thing she needed on Christmas Eve.
"I had better get going now. It's late." Helen stood up from the table as quickly and as steadily as she could, never making eye contact with Jim, terrified to see what the expression on his face would say.
"Why leave now, we are having so much fun. How about you spend the night at my house, and in the morning I'll introduce you to some "friends" of mine." Jim jumped from his seat, startling Helen as he grabbed her arm tightly.
"I, I better not, the people in my alley will wonder where I am and come looking for me, they're very protective of me you see," Helen stuttered uncontrollably as she lied. No one cared where she was, or even if she was alive.
Jim let his grip loosen slightly and Helen took full advantage of it, running speedily to the café's door, throwing herself through it as quickly as she could. The cold air slapped at her face as she ran through the empty, darkened streets, the snow under her feet making her lose her balance as her worn away trainers lost there grip on the iced up sidewalk.
Suddenly a hand grabbed at her arm and pulled her down onto the ground as her feet slipped on the wet pavement. She let out a scream of alarm, which was abruptly muffled by another hand. She struggled for breath as the cold palm covered her mouth and nose, her heart beating out of her chest as the oxygen was sucked from her.
"You're coming with me, if you like it or not." Jim's voice now had a sinister tone that petrified Helen to her core. He dragged her to her feet, and forcefully yanked her across the street. What was he going to do with her? Only time would tell.
Helen allowed herself to be dragged across the street, scared of the consequences of screaming or trying to run again. He was almost double her weight and height, and could most certainly do her damage if she tried anything, of that she was sure.
"Just stay calm!" She chanted into herself like a Mantra. Anything to block out the fear of what lay ahead for her.
She could feel his gloved hands tightening around her wrists, which he had pulled around her back, pushing her forward to a destination she was unsure of. Although he was behind her, but she could tell the look on his face was menacing, a look that she was glad was hidden from her.
"We're here, don't try anything silly," Jim gave her one last brash push through a huge red door that was concealed half way up an alley. The hallway reeked of a pungent stench of stale urine, lit by a singular light bulb, that hung bare in the centre of the cracked ceiling, swinging slightly from the wind coming through the broken window.
"Get in there," He pushed her again, this time less forceful.
As she fell through the door he let go of her hands, allowing him to lock it securely behind him, to make sure there was no escaping for her.
"I'm sorry I had to do that love, but you were being bad, and I don't like it when my girls are bad!" Jim sneered at her as he placed the keys back into his jeans pocket.
Helen stood in silence. "One of his girls?" She wondered what he meant by that. Had he kidnapped people before her? If so where were they? The apartment was silent. "Oh my God, he kills them!" She felt the panic rise in her stomach; tears of fear threatening to erupt from her eyes as the realisation hit her, his intentions for her were no good. No one knew she was here, no one could save her. She was going to die, all alone. She had to get out of there. She had to fight him. He was going to kill her anyway, so she may as well try and help herself.
She lunged herself on top of him with all her might, knocking him onto the floor and banged her fists as powerfully as she could into his torso, desperately attempting to disable him in some way. She could feel him make a grab for her wrists, but her movements were so swift he was unable to get a proper hold of her. She was winning! She had overpowered him! Or at least so she thought. His leg rose from the floor and kicked her in the back, sending her flying off his chest and onto the floor next to him. Winded she gasped for breath, clutching her chest praying for her lungs to move.
She watched terrified as he got up from his position on the carpet and walked towards her. She closed her eyes, screwing them up tightly, terrified to see what he was about to do to her. Her hair, it was moving, getting sorer at the scalp as he lifted her head in one swift pull.
"Don't ever try anything like that again, or you will be sorry," he let go of her hair and her head slumped back onto the ground with a thud to rejoin the rest of her body.
The pain was excruciating, like a tiny drum inside her head, banging away at an uninviting rhythm. She could feel her brain pulsating, like it was trying to break free from her skull.
Her eyes remained shut, but she could sense he was standing over her, watching her lie there in agony. He was smiling, she was sure of it.
He was walking away. Where was he going?
She opened her eyes, slowly at first. The hallway was empty apart from herself and a small brown table that held a telephone and from what she could see a notepad with names, numbers and times written on it.
Slowly she pulled herself up to a sitting position, her left hand supporting her lower back that had been so brutally kicked.
She limped over to the front door and tried in vain to open it, knowing fine well it was locked, but she just had to try. Maybe if she pulled hard enough it would unlock? She yanked at the handle with all the strength she had left in her body but it wouldn't budge.
"Argh!" She cried in frustration as she let go, defeated.
"Jim?" A female voice from outside the door called, then a very distinct tap, which was rhythmic, almost like a code rung out causing her to jump back in fright.
"Get out of the way!" Jim, who ran from where ever he had been, pulled at Helen's top in desperation and yanked her forcefully into a bedroom next to where she was now standing.
He had locked her in.
"Shell, darlin'! Come on in!" Helen listened to what was happening in the hall through the thin plywood door she was trapped behind.
Jim ruffled up his shirtsleeve and looked at his watch.
"You're an hour early, what happened!" He asked in a demanding tone.
"My 11:30 didn't turn up." She looked down at her feet, afraid to look him in the eye. The next 5 seconds of non eye contact were crucial to see what way his mood would swing. He would either take it out on her, or the client.
"Didn't show up huh? Well the next time he calls for an appointment I'll be sure to tell him to watch his back, because I'm gonna kill the bastard" Jim slammed his fist into the door Helen had her ear to making her head jerk back in surprise.
"Appointment? Client?" What was going on here, Helen wondered. All those men's names and telephone numbers on the pad outside, his "girls", clients. It all fit into place and Helen's heart sunk as she realised that his true intentions for her were not murder after all, but something much worse.
He was going to make her sleep with men for money.
He was going to prostitute her, and there was nothing she could do about it.
Helen massaged the nape of her neck, trying to ease the muscular pain that had built up over night from the position she had laid on the hard, dirty floor. Between that and the bruising to her body enforced by Jim, she felt like she had been hit and dragged by an intercity speed train.
"Why did I have to sleep on the floor!" she scolded herself looking at the bed as she did so. Then she remembered why. The sheets were filthy, almost like they would crack if you sat on them. She turned away, repulsed at the thought of what had made them like that.
Sitting back down with her back to the door and her knees curled into her chest she scanned the room and noted how bare it looked. For someone who was probably making hundreds of pounds per night from "his girls", as he so affectionately called them, he was living in squalor. He certainly wasn't spending his money on decorating that was for sure. The room looked like a bad 70's porn film. Brown and orange seemed to be the colours of choice, as it adorned the walls, carpets, bed sheets and furniture. Even the curtains where tinged in a chocolate colour.
"I need to get out of here," She sighed wearily, knowing fine well there was very little hope of that happening. Especially when she didn't have the energy to fight any more.
The eerie silence in the apartment was broken with a sound that was unfamiliar to her, but yet she knew fine well what it was.
"Argh!" She pressed the palms of her hands into her ears as hard as she could, and hummed an unknown tune aloud to try and drone out the moans of pleasure coming from the next room. She rocked herself back and forward, her singing getting louder as the rhythmic banging on the wall grew louder with every beat.
Then as quickly as it started it stopped, dead in its tracks.
Still with her hands sandwiched at the sides of her head she stopped moving and listened to the silence once again engulfed her. Before removing her hands she made sure Jim's little "party" next door wasn't about to resume. After a minute or two she deemed it safe enough for her to place her hands back down by her side.
Her auditory senses were all she had as she listened to the footsteps approach and stop in the hallway outside her room. She heard the front door open and close just as quickly, no talking from either person who was there. Then a sound that made her blood rush through her body. The lock in the door was turning behind her; someone was trying to get in.
She jumped to her feet, removing her back from the door that someone was trying desperately to push open.
"Jim!" She shouted a little too loudly and enthusiastically, her hands trembling in fright. The last time she had seen him he had been less than friendly towards her, and there was no telling what he was going to do to her now.
"Good Morning Blondie!" he flashed a huge smarmy grin and moved towards her, not once breaking eye contact.
She walked backwards, trying to pry herself as far away from him as possible, hoping he would stop following her, but he traced her footsteps to the bed. She felt the base hit the back of her legs and attempt to knock her over. That was as far as she could go without turning and running, and she wasn't about to do that, as scared as she was. She had no choice but to stay where she was, at the edge of the double bed.
"Why so scared?" He questioned, seeing the fear that was plastered all over her face.
"I'm not scared," Helen tried her best to lie, but the trembling in her voice gave the game away.
Jim eyed her suspiciously and let the matter drop. There was plenty more time to have fun with her.
"You must be hungry. It's been hours since I last fed you!" Helen felt like an animal, a pet that Jim felt very little responsibility for. Nothing more than a plaything, for amusement purposes only. Locked up in a room and fed periodically like some Mongrel.
"Come," Jim walked from the room and motioned for her to follow him. At first she was scared to, what if it was some ploy to hurt her? "No," She shook her head. If he were going to do anything he would have done it last night when he had the chance, surely?
With a bit of apprehension she followed her captors' trail into the kitchen and hoisted herself up onto a high backed stool at the breakfast bar.
"Ahh here she is," He lent over her shoulder and kissed her cheek like he was greeting his girlfriend or wife, and swiftly went back to the cooker where he was preparing breakfast. Helen was taken aback at his forwardness, but let it slide for fear of confrontation.
"So, did you get a good sleep last night?" Jim didn't bother to turn around from the stove as he tried to instigate conversation.
"Not really no," Helen answered dryly, not in the mood to chat, especially not with him.
"Why not?" He almost let himself snap, but kept it under control.
"I just didn't."
"There must have been a reason?" He continued to probe her, trying to restrain himself from shouting. He had been in such a good mood and she was slowly irritating him into losing his temper.
"I guess I just don't like sleeping in strange places," She lied again, unprepared to get into a long conversation about the bed and its grubbiness.
"Oh, well I'm sure after a few days you will settle in," Jim's temper was dying down and his fists unclenched, now that he had gotten what he deemed a proper answer; satisfied he got back to making the food.
He dished the eggs and bacon onto a plate and placed it down in front of her.
"Bon appetite," He smirked and took the seat next to her, his own plate in his hand.
Helen politely tucked into her food, noting how it tasted much better than her dinner last night, but it still wasn't as appetizing as she would have liked.
Jim was unrelenting in his pursuit to get Helen to open up and talk. He had gotten very little out of her so far, and he was determined to crack her icy attitude. "I was going to make a turkey, but since it's just the two of us I've decided against it. It's probably for the best anyway, I have a lot to do today, including getting you trained, so," Jim kept chatting but Helen had too much to think about to listen anymore. His brief talk had induced so many thoughts in her mind, reminding her it was Christmas day, a day she hadn't celebrated in 2 years, but somehow she suddenly cared about the fact she was spending it here, with a man she had just met, and who was clearly not a nice person. And then there was his talk of "training". What had he meant by that? If what she had imagined last night he had planned for her then she was terrified. What kind of training was he about to give her for streetwalking? She didn't dare think about it any further. She needed answers, and now was the right time to be asking them, no matter what reaction she got from him.
"What exactly is it you want with me!" She quickly blurted out before she lost her bottle, interrupting Jim in mid conversation. He paused for a moment, shocked at her questioning. No other girl had ever been as forthright as Helen was being. She had guts that was for sure.
"I want to help you make money sweetie, so you don't have to live in that dingy alley any longer," Jim inwardly grinned at his side stepping, that was until he heard her next words.
"How do you know I live in an alley?" Helen's eyes blazed with shock and horror, she hadn't mentioned anything about living on the streets to him, let alone an alley.
Jim pulled his chair in closer to her and whispered seductively in her ear.
"You know, I like to think of myself as a talent scout of sorts. I have an eye for seeing potential in people, girls in particular. But I don't look for acting ability, singing skills or musical genius. I see much deeper than that. You see Blondie; you have just the potential I'm looking for. I've watched you begging for money, and you have quite a knack at persuasion, I must say!" He stood up from his stool and walked around the back of her, running his finger from one of her shoulders, around her back to the other, never breaking skin contact.
Before he could say anything else Helen blurted out what was on her mind.
"You can't make me sleep with men for money, I won't be a hooker for you!" She had no idea if this was really what he had planned, but she had to make her feelings clear if this really was his intention.
"Helen, Helen, Helen. Sweetheart. You're so silly for someone who acts so clever. You're not going to be a "hooker"."
"I'm not?" Helen sounded amazed, she had been wrong?
"No. You are going to be a, how can I put this. You will be a crime prevention officer of sorts." She screwed up her face in confusion. 'What the hell is he going on about' she wondered to herself.
"You see, London has the highest crime rate in Britain and I think I have came up with the perfect solution to remedy this. Let me explain. Men can get very agitated and frustrated at times, and often that frustration leads to violence. All that pent up energy isn't good. Now if these men had something to make them relax, then there wouldn't be all this murder and corruption in the city. Do you get where I'm going with this?" Helen sat in stunned silence. She knew exactly what he meant. He did want her to sell her body, he was just trying to brainwash her into believing it was all for a good cause and she wasn't falling for it in the slightest.
"You are going to be providing a service to this city, and a very good service at that. So are you coming on board by your own free will, or do I have to force you? It's your call." he gave a little chuckle of smugness. He loved playing mind games with her and the others. The satisfaction he felt with seeing her cry was better than the sex he had earlier.
Little tears slashed onto her plate under her, causing rivers to run around her breakfast.
This was it. Her fate was all mapped out and she had no choice but to go along with it. She was about to become the person she had so long strived not to be. Prostitution was every girl on the streets first option, but she had never once caved in and considered it, even when things got so bad she was at breaking point. She had got by for the last 2 years through her own free will and determination, and now that had been taken away from her. She no longer had options; she had ultimatums that she would have to listen to, even if it meant losing all her dignity, the dignity that she had been so proud of until now. This man was about to corrupt her in the cruellest possible way, and if she didn't abide by his rules he would hurt her, he had reminded her of this on several occasions, to make sure this little fact had hit home, and it had.
Helen gave a small nod of agreement to his question, terrified of what she was agreeing to.
"Very wise choice! You're not as dumb as you look. Now lets get your training under way," Jim grabbed her hand, leading a tear stained and trembling Helen from the kitchen table to the bedroom.
As she lay there motionless, her body still beneath his she realised the feeling in her heart was not that of sorrow, but pity. Not for Jim, but for herself.
In Helen's eyes virginity was something precious that you gave to a person you loved and who loved you back, a person who respected you. But hers had just been brutally ripped from her in a way she never dreamed was possible.
There was no love, no feelings, no tender kissing or cuddling, no excitement or electricity. Just meaningless sex that she had no intention of partaking in, but once faced with it, realised she had no other option.
But she could hardly call it rape, could she? After all she hadn't once screamed out no, or tried to stop it. She never tried to fight him off, but she did cry, sobs Jim was too busy to notice or care about. She cried tears of anguish, tears of pain, both physical and emotional and tears for everything she had lost and was about to lose.
With every thrust of his hips she lost one bit of dignity after another, until it was all gone. His body collapsed, exhausted onto of hers, his full weight crushing her slight frame. She remained under him, in the motionless position she had spent the last 10 minutes in, listening to him breathing heavily, with a look on her face like a rabbit caught in the headlights.
Her future was again flashing in front of her. This was what it was going to be like for her from now on. Sex starved men falling on top of her, spent, sweaty, sickening, having had their few moments of satisfaction. She would be tossed aside, paid her dues and ushered onto her next perverted client like some unemotional machine.
As Jim regained his composure and rolled off of her onto his side of the bed she felt the last bit of hope in her heart diminish and disappear into her past. It was no longer filled with love, kindness and trust; it was now just an empty shell, quickly filling with stone.
The once naïve, starry eyed Helen that had entered that house was no longer. Her virginity was gone, as was her heart, and now so was her optimism. The Helen that lay in the bed was not the adolescent girl she once was, full of dreams and ambitions. She was retreating into herself, terrified of everything and everyone. If this man could do this to her what else could people do if she let them close?
There would be no more believing everything she heard, no longer gullible, compassionate or affectionate. A wall of protection grew around her with every pessimistic thought she was having, and it would remain with her until someone tough enough had the courage and the force to break it down. But was it possible? Only time would tell.
"Fag?" Jim shoved the 20 pack under Helen's nose, urging her to take one, but she shook her head.
"I wasn't asking, I was telling. Take one!"
"I don't smoke," She whispered, making her response barely audible to Jim's ears.
"Well, from now on you do. Now take one from the packet, put it in between your lips and inhale!" Jim's mood was changing rapidly back to the one Helen feared, so she snapped her hand out and pulled out the one cigarette that protruded from the pack, her hand shaking so much she had to seize onto it with all her might for fear it would drop and anger him.
She positioned it cautiously into her mouth and waited on Jim flicking the lighter to ignite it. The nicotine and tar filled smoke curdled in her lungs as she inhaled, causing her to cough erratically, choking on the carbon monoxide fumes that swirled around her like a cloud.
"That's a good girl. See you already look as if you are enjoying it! Another couple and you will forget what you did with your hands before cigarettes." His horrible fake laugh filled the room, echoing around its 4 corners.
Helen felt her blood pressure rising as she hallucinated the images of jumping on top of his body, lashing out, pounding and hitting him as hard as she could, kicking and screaming until he was bloody and dead beneath her, but as she snapped out of it he was still very much alive next to her, stubbing his white cancer stick out in the ashtray.
"Ok, so lets get you kitted out and then we can discuss your 'terms and conditions'," He uncovered his naked form from under the bed sheet and slid on the clothes he had been wearing previous to his encounter with his new "girl".
"Terms and Conditions?" Helen muttered timidly, averting her eyes to avoid Jim's bare skin.
"Yeah, every girl needs to know the rules. I can't send you out to work if you don't know the regulations now can I? Can't have my little law enforcer not knowing the law! But don't worry, there won't be much for your little brain to take in and memorise, it's all pretty much common sense stuff."
He pulled his drawstring tracksuit bottoms up over his waist and straightened out his t-shirt meticulously. When he was content with his tidiness he lifted the clothes belonging to Helen that were strewn at the bottom of the bed and dumped into the waste bin beside him.
"Won't be needing these anymore," He watched Helen's shocked expression at his expulsion of her belongings in bemusement, while he walked to the wardrobe to choose her "work" clothes.
"Ah, I think you would suit this, you have the body for it!" He held up a short black skirt with a huge split up to the waistband and a red backless and strapless top that tied with two strings at the back.
Tears stung at her eyes as she was made to get out of bed and try them on, Jim's lecherous eyes surveying her body as she slid them over her bare flesh.
One look in the mirror opposite her confirmed what she had been thinking, she looked the part as a hooker.
Her dark blonde hair flowed down neatly over her exposed shoulders, as she watched herself in the outfit that she was ready at any moment to burst free from it was so tight.
"Ok, now that's done it's times to get you educated." Jim grabbed a hold of her hand and pulled her towards the door.
"Where are we going?" Helen asked, surprised as he opened the front door to the basement apartment.
"First lesson: Find out where your "patch" is."
"My patch?" She asked, somewhat confused.
"I thought you had clients that came to the house? I didn't think I would have to stand on the streets?" She could feel the fear building as she waited to learn her fate.
"Those are regulars that the girls have brought in. You need to get out there and drum up business. I can't just supply you with people. God, if I could do that I wouldn't need you."
Helen tried to speak but he ignored her and kept talking.
"Lesson two: Payments and prices. You're a beginner, and trust me, people will know, so I can't expect you to charge full prices, but hopefully as time goes on, and you gain experience we can rectify that. Some men just want a little bit of company, you know, a few hugs, kisses and a bit of chatter, although they are rare, I must say, but they are out there, so you need to know. Anyway, we usually charge them £25 for that pleasure. That entitles them to an hour of your company. Now, for extras, that's £25 no matter what they ask for, no holds barred. Full sex is £40 per hour, £150 for the whole night. I think that about covers it, have you got that all down?"
He started talking again without waiting on her answer.
"Next we have to discuss what happens if the pigs get a hold of you. You know nothing. You don't know me and you don't know where I live. You're doing this for yourself, no one else. Got it? Now, last but not least." He stopped walking and bent down to whisper in her ear.
"I will be watching your every move, 24 hours a day. Wherever you go, I will be ten paces behind you, at all times, so no funny business. No trying to run and hide, because I will find you, and I will in no uncertain terms kill you if you do." He straightened himself up and carried on moving, with a terrified looking Helen behind him.
"Ok, so this is where you will be working from now on."
Helen looked around her at the dark dingy alleyway that connected one street to another. It was a lot larger than the alley she called home, more than double its size. At one end was the back door to what looked and smelt like a fast food joint, and on the other was the backdoor to a bar of some sort. Beer kegs and day old vegetables surrounded her feet, along with crates and boxes filled with garbage.
"This is always a popular spot when it comes to picking up regulars. There's lots of bars and restaurants in the area, and there is a nightclub across the road. Lots of drunk guys for you to seduce." He cackled.
"Now before I go and let you get on with it here are some cards I had printed up for you. When the guy gives you the money give him one, that way when he wants seconds he can call and get an appointment." He handed her a few white bits of card with writing on and kissed her passionately.
"Good luck!" He sneered when he removed his wet lips from hers, and walked off in the direction he had come from.
Helen stood in silence for a moment and watched the smoke billow from the chimney above the eatery in front of her.
She could hear cheers and screams come from behind her, and the occasional breaking of glass.
She hoisted herself up onto one of the ice covered beer kegs and waited patiently on her first client of the night.
The sun had set just a little over 3 hours ago, and a very tired and sore Helen remained seated on a barrel, watching people leave the nightclub opposite, drunkenly stumbling and staggering along the sidewalk, holding on to anything within reach for support.
She still hadn't had anyone approach her, and terror was beginning to build in her. She had no idea what would happen if she went home with no money. Would he believe she had no clients? Or would he want to know why? Would he think she hadn't tried hard enough? Either way it wasn't looking good for her. A beating was imminent, of that she was sure. And there was no way she could run, he would know and he would kill her. She would just have to go home and face the music.
She rested her feet on the icy ground below her and stood up, yanking her already short skirt down as she did so. As she sorted herself she heard voices approach from behind her, male voices. Her stomach flipped as she listened to their footsteps rapidly getting closer.
"Well, well, well, look what we have here. If it isn't Santa's little helper. Shouldn't you be out delivering presents? Or is that what you're doing just now? Any chance of a freebie?" Sean burst into fits of laughter and his 4 friends quickly joined in.
"So do you have a name?" Thomas butted in; clearly intoxicated as he was usually the shy one of the group.
"It's Helen," she mumbled shyly, avoiding eye contact with the 5 guys who looked to be around the same age as she was, maybe a year or two older.
"Oh, pretty name! Pity about the outfit!" They all doubled over in laughter again.
"What do you guys charge these days? A pound? 20 pence?" The loud roaring of guffawing stung at her heart.
"It depends on what you want," She whispered unconfidently.
"We don't want anything sweetheart," Sean circled her intimidatingly.
"But I know someone who will!" He rejoined his friends and pulled them into a huddle
"A certain college roommate of mine has a birthday coming up, and this would be the perfect gift! You know who I'm talking about right?"
"Yeah, virgin Mary!" Dominic answered knowingly, trying not to laugh.
"Exactly! So what do you think? Bring the sex starved one down tomorrow for a night of hot passion?"
There were roars of "yeah!" "Cool!" "Definitely!"
"That's just what we will do then! Ok now that's sorted whose up for a dorm party? Grab some beer, some girls and get back to mine."
"You bet! Lets go now though, cuz Nikki and Trisha go to bed early if there's no parties happening. I don't want Trish to miss out on a hot night with her boyfriend now, do I?" Sean cackled as his friends rolled their eyes.
The 5 guys kept walking, ignoring a very still standing Helen as they brushed past her.
She watched them stagger off, laughing and playfully punching each other. When they were out of sight she let out a sigh of relief. She knew they were just kidding around with her, but she had felt so scared, they could have been capable of anything after all. No one was worth trusting these days.
She waited a moment and followed their path, retracing her steps back to Jim's. Maybe he wouldn't beat her now? Now that she could say she had a client for tomorrow night? He might even be a regular?
Her mind went into overdrive as she imagined what college was like. To be invited to parties every night, to drink and get drunk and have fun with friends. She had never experienced any of that, and she so badly wanted to, to have a life.
She wondered who Nikki and Trisha were, and if they were nice? They sounded like they were really good friends. She wished she had a best friend, someone to confide in, to hug her when she needed consoling. But she had no one, apart from Jim, and he was hardly what you would call a friend.
Her thoughts faded as the familiar red door to Jim's apartment came into sight. She knocked on the door and waited patiently on him to answer.
"Ah, you're back! So? How much did you make me?" Jim held the door open, but kept her outside until he heard what she had to say.
Helen looked down at her feet.
"Nothing, no one approached me. But I have a client for tomorrow night!" She said quietly but excitedly. She looked up from her feet to see his reaction, but all she could see was a fist flying towards her. Then everything went black.
Even in sleep Helen could feel the pain of her battered body washing over into her dreams and it was enough to jolt her back to consciousness.
She gently opened her eyes and let them adjust to the light of the sun that was beaming through the opened curtains into the room.
She winced out loud as she felt the throbbing pain on her right cheekbone as she flexed her facial muscles, the agony causing tears to descend from her puffy black eyes.
She had absolutely no recollection of getting to the room, or for how long she had been unconscious. All she had was the memory of Jim's contorted face as he raised his hand towards her face, and the force at which she was thrown before her world had gone black. It was all a blank in her memory, several lost hours that she would never regain.
Silence enveloped her; the sound of her breath, inhaling and exhaling was all she could hear around her, that and the occasional sound of a floorboard creaking in the distance.
She lay flat on her back just listening for a moment, scared to move and induce more gut wrenching pain within.
The bed was soft beneath her swollen body and for the first time since she had arrived at the house she felt grateful for it for its presence.
She could take it no longer. She had to see what kind of state she was in. She just prayed it didn't look as bad as it felt.
Every slight movement seemed to be a chore as she removed herself quietly from the bed and positioned herself in front of the wall length mirror to check out the damage that had been done to her.
Her body was naked, and the once perfect pale skin was now tainted with black and blue swellings, in all shapes and sizes. She could count at least 12 markings on her front, and she knew her back was just as bad.
Her hand ran carefully over her stomach, its risen skin painful to the touch, so painful she let out a yelp before she could stop herself.
The minute the sound was out of her mouth she froze like a statue, once again listening intently, but this time to see if she had woken Jim.
After a moment she let out the breath she had been holding and let her hand drop away from her skin.
He must have beaten her and not stopped, despite the fact she had blacked out on his first punch, he had kept hitting, like some kind of unstoppable monster. She couldn't bear to think of what else he had inflicted upon her while she was out.
Still located before the mirror she shut over her eyes and began to let herself drift into a dream world, far, far away from where she was just now. Into a make believe situation of blissful times, where she could escape all reality.
When Nikki finally awoke at 1pm the first thought that sprang into her mind was the drunken words of her friend Jason, who was lying on a bed situated just a few feet from her own, along with a few other bodies of people she didn't recognise, snoring so loudly she was sure the people in the next room would have been able to hear him.
Tiredness was taking its toll on her body as she felt her eyes close back over and her mind wander back to a few hours previously.
She had remained awake for a good few hours after she had gone to bed, mulling the words of her friend over and over again, trying to understand just what he had meant by them. But still there was no sense to be made of it. All she could think was Sean had met a woman at the nightclub, and he had deemed her perfect enough for herself, if that was even at all possible.
Sean knew just how picky his friend was when it came to girls, so this one had to be special. Either that or she was butt ugly and Sean's idea of a practical joke.
Nikki agreed with herself that the latter was more likely.
After she had come to that conclusion she spent the remainder of her time picturing what this Helen would look like, in an ideal world.
She imagined a goddess like woman, with long golden locks of hair, drifting slowly towards him, her eyes as green as Emeralds, sparkling like glitter as the sun shone behind her creating a halo like appearance over her head.
Sleep had finally taken over her body just as there lips gently brushed together, and for the first time in her life she gave in and drifted off with ease, a smile of contentment on her peaceful face.
Nikki remained in bed a little longer, tossing and turning until she could finally no longer take the noise of her friends audacious snoring.
She grabbed her clothes from the bottom of the bed and threw them on, huffing and puffing loudly to make her point. But no one even stirred, making her even madder as she stormed off down the hallway into the kitchen.
"Hey! Whoa, you look like shit mate!" Thomas made his observation and turned his attention back to his cereal and most importantly the science section of the Times.
"Thanks. Good morning to you too," Nikki pulled out a chair and threw herself forcefully into it, arms crossed tightly around her, her mood like a black cloud.
"So what you reading?" Nikki stretched her head over to take a look for herself, but when she saw "science" in huge letters she rolled her eyes and wished she'd never asked. Her day was slowly getting worse and she had only been awake a few minutes.
Thomas dropped his spoon back into his bowl and started to get a little too enthusiastic looking for Nikki's liking.
"It's fascinating! This guy has just led an expedition to the Gobi desert in Inner Mongolia, and they have found this huge dinosaur bone! It's the skeleton of a 70-foot plant eating reptile! Can you imagine! I mean something that size shouldn't be an herbivore, jeez! And in the desert of all places! I sometimes wonder if these guys don't get things wrong. I mean, at 70-foot long you would think " Thomas' eyes flashed with excitement as he recounted his story to Nikki, who by now had shut off and was singing to herself in her head, something she did often when Thomas rambled.
"Good afternoon guys," Trisha and Zandra appeared into the kitchen much to Nikki's relief and Thomas' disappointment, he hadn't had a chance to finish telling Nikki his theory on the size difference of herbivores and carnivores.
"Hey. What's up? How come you're all dressed up?" The girls sat down at the table looking rather pleased with themselves.
"I have a date!" Zandra screamed excitedly, throwing her hands in the air as though it was the first time she had been asked out.
"That's great. Who is he?"
"His name is em, Josh something English sounding, he's from Hackney and I met him on campus this morning when I went down to get milk from the shop! He spent the night here after Dylan's party over on Alpha Delta Laude." Zandra beamed proudly as she spoke about her new guy.
"That's nice. So he doesn't go to South Bank?" Thom chipped in, slightly concerned as to his sister's welfare. This guy could be anyone for all he knew.
"No, but his best friend Crystal does!"
"And he is SO sexy!" Trisha swooned at the memory of him.
Both girls sat with dazed expressions on their faces as they daydreamed, and Nikki gave a little chuckle at them. For being 21 they acted like bloody teenagers at times.
"Well I hope you have a great day with Josh something English. He sounds like a nice guy." Nikki stood up and patted Zan' on the shoulder as she walked around her.
Thomas shot her a glare due to her sudden supportiveness towards his sister. He clearly wasn't thrilled with her news, and he believed Nikki should be on his side at all times.
"And what about you Trish? What's your plans for today?" Nikki poured herself a glass of orange and sat back down.
"Sean promised he would take me out into the city this afternoon. The Harrods sale starts today!" She let out a squeak of excitement and clapped her hands together.
"Eh Trish', sorry to disappoint you, but the last time I saw Sean he was in no fit state to breathe, never mind go shopping. He's still out cold in the bedroom."
Trisha bowed her head in sadness, all 3 sets of her friend's eyes on her, all waiting on the waterworks that normally followed whenever she had been let down.
"I can always go tomorrow," She mumbled quietly, trying to restrain herself from crying, her chin trembling.
"I'll go with you Trisha." Thomas looked over at her with puppy dog eyes, his heart breaking for her, even though the matter was so trivial, it killed him to see her so upset.
Trisha raised her head and after a slight pause she burst into uncontrollable laughter.
"Oh my God Tom, you always know how to cheer me up. I can just imagine you at Harrods!" her laughter got louder, her body thrown into spasms as she pictured Thomas in his "Miami Vice" outlet store suit amongst the quality Armani's.
She wiped her eyes, ridding them of tears of her recent guffawing and exhaled a lung full of air. Never once noticing the look of sad rejection on Thomas' face. He had been serious in his suggestion and couldn't understand what was so funny about him accompanying her. He knew she was way out of his league, but did she always have to be so nasty and throw that fact in his face?
"Oh, that was hilarious!" She stood herself up and straightened out her skirt, still chuckling slightly as she started to leave.
"I think I'm just going to spend the day catching up on my correspondence. If anyone sees Sean when he gets up tell him I'm in my room and to come by," Her eyes sparkled mischievously and she waddled off, flicking her well-groomed hair with her perfectly manicured hand.
Nikki and Zandra looked at each other then back at Thomas to see how he was holding up.
"You ok buddy?"
"Yeah, I'm used to it. Rejection from Trisha is nothing new to me these days. Anyway, it's probably for the best, I have a load of studying to do. And yes, I know it's the holidays!" Thomas added the last part quickly before they both started to have a go at him.
They all sat in silence again, lost for words, before Nikki gave a cough and caught Zandra's attention, nodding her head to the doorway.
"Hi Zan. How you doing?" Josh stood before her, dressed in jeans, with a black leather biker jacket, a crooked toothy smile spread over his face.
"Oh, God, it's Joe cool," Nikki whispered just enough for Thomas to hear, causing him to choke on his last spoonful of cereal, unprepared for her witty comment.
Zandra got up from the table, blushing a bright red colour as her brother and Nikki grinned at her. Josh wrapped his arm around her waist, the smile still on his face as he winked at the two friends.
"See you two later," Zandra and Josh gave them a wave as they left.
"He's been around the block a few times I bet," Nikki commented as she watched him swagger off.
"Yeah, well he better not be taking my sister around any blocks, or I'll I'll kick his biker arse." Thomas straightened up his back and scrunched up his face in rage, much to Nikki's amusement. Thomas couldn't fight his way out of a coma.
"Ok, Jean-Claude, I'm going now. I have a few things to do." Thomas grunted in acknowledgement but didn't lift his eyes from the paper. If he had he would have seen a look on his friend's face that he had never seen before. Nervousness.
She had to speak to Sean to see what the deal was. She couldn't spend another waking moment worrying about what was in store for her. She was no good with girls and the situations that came with them. Surely Sean knew that? So what the hell was he playing at!
Sean was now up and looking semi-alive, sitting on his bed with his head in his hands, trying desperately to get rid of the thumping pain that was trying to break free from his skull.
"Sean, we need to talk. What did you mean last night about Helen? Who is she?"
Sean looked up at his friend with bloodshot eyes, just as confused as she was, until a flashback jolted his memory.
"Oh! Helen!" He gave a mischievous grin and nodded his head, but stopped when he remembered about his headache.
"You're meeting her tonight, at the alley behind the red eye grill on Caledonia Road. She's an early birthday present" he laughed heartily at his own private joke.
Nikki had no idea what he meant again, but how bad could it be? All she had to do was meet her. Maybe have a drink, some nice conversation?
"And she's definitely gay?" For some reason Nikki felt like this girl was going to be shocked when she showed up.
"I think she swings any old way " He went to laugh again, but a sudden compulsion to vomit sent him running for the bathroom, his hand clasped desperately to his mouth.
"It's not like this girl's going to want to sleep with me!" Nikki tried to talk herself around to believing this blind date would be good for her, but at the back of her mind, no matter how hard she tried to convince herself, she had a sinking feeling at the bottom of her stomach. There had to be more to this than met the eye.
Helen crept across the hall, now fully dressed in her work clothes and peeked her head around the kitchen door to see Jim propped up at the counter.
The minute she saw him she inhaled loudly and retracted her head, but not before he had seen her.
"Helen? Get in here." His voice had no emotion to it, so she had no idea what mood to expect when she went in.
She walked slowly in, and waited a good distance away from him; terrified he was going to get too handy with his fists again.
"You're all ready for work I see? Good. I hope you have learnt your lesson from last night, because I don't want it to be a repeat performance. I don't like having to hurt you Helen, but until you start behaving it's the way things are going to be. It's for your own good love! Now off you go and make Uncle Jim some rent." His eyes went back down to the newspaper on his knee.
Helen gave him a half-hearted nod and slunk back out the door into the hall, tears tracing her cheeks.
Last night she got away with not sleeping with anyone, but tonight she would have to, at any cost. There was no way she could live through another beating. She was trapped between a rock and a hard place as far as she could see.
But she was about to get a surprise, and a very pleasant one at that.
Time seemed to stand still in the red walled alley that was now her place of work.
No one passed by; there was no usual drunken jeering from inside the bar, and the smoke from the restaurant's furnace was no longer billowing out around her.
All there was were Helen and her trusty barrel, which she sat on like a porcelain doll, awaiting an approach from a stranger to come and take her away.
Little tears dripped down solemnly onto her tiny black skirt, making the material seem darker in patches.
"Why did no one love her?"
"Was she a bad person?"
First her real Dad had abandoned her when she was a kid growing up in Scotland, her Mum had taken her own life soon after, due to the pressures put on her family, and then when she thought things couldn't get any worse her step-dad had gone to prison for a crime he insisted he didn't commit, leaving her no option but to runaway, alone and onto the streets of London to fend for herself. Her life just kept crumbling away like an abandoned ruin, its walls falling down around her, entrapping her in its stone prison.
Her 21-year-old sister, Sarah had moved out to live with friends. But she had no friends to go to. No one had ever tried to get close to her. Everyone at school deemed her weird, due to the fact Helen kept herself to herself; very rarely speaking her insecurities were just to great to let anyone in. She was a hermit, living a life in solitary confinement and it was then the bullying had started. The odd push here and there, the occasional stealing of her schoolbooks when she wasn't looking. Then came the beatings from the girls that she longed to be like, but to be like them would mean denying her true self, something she strongly was apposed to.
"I didn't deserve it," She sobbed as her mind wandered back to years previous, and then back again to her current situation.
"Why can't I just stand up for myself!" She screamed out loud, not caring if anyone heard.
Anger and frustration rose inside her, as her curdled emotions strangled her like a noose.
She wanted to hit back, fight, have dignity, but something stopped her.
She wasn't too timid, of that she was sure. But deep down she didn't want to inflict the pain she felt on anyone else. It was too awful, too horrendous, too agonising. She could never make another human being feel like that.
"What's my meaning here on earth?"
"Maybe I'm here for people to take their problems out on me?"
"My stepfather did it, so did Sarah, the school kids, and now Jim."
Her crying had become so loud she didn't hear the footsteps approach her.
"Hey, we meet again! And here's the client I promised you!" Sean was face to face with Helen, so close she could feel his breath on her tender skin.
She prised herself down from her barrel and stood with her body touching Sean's.
"You got me a hooker!" Nikki screamed, hidden behind her friend so that Helen couldn't see her, only hear the voice. Nikki's words making her feel more ashamed than she already was.
"Listen, calm down, it's not as bad as it sounds. It's about time you got over this fear of women you seem to be holding on to and enjoy yourself! Life is too short to be a virgin this long, and look, you're practically being offered it on a plate! How often does that happen!" Sean had turned to his friend, and placed his hands on her shoulders trying to convince her, but Nikki just looked understandably mad.
"Sean, I " Sean ignored her and turned away, back to Helen and handed her an envelope filled with cash.
"I hope there's enough in there, I didn't get the opportunity to ask what you charged, but I'm sure Virgin Nikki here can give you extra if needs be. Oh, and I took the liberty of booking you into the Broadway motel around the corner. It's booked under the name Wade. Oh and sweetie, be gentle with her," He laughed and walked away leaving a very nervous Nikki and Helen standing in front of each other, both looking down at the ground searching for words, each hoping the other would make the first move.
"Do, em, do you want to leave now?" Helen plucked up the courage to speak and let her eyes drift from the floor and onto the eyes of a stunned looking Nikki.
Helen's words had jolted Nikki to look at her and she couldn't believe her eyes. She was just like the angelic woman in her dreams.
"She's so beautiful!" She exclaimed into herself, finding it hard to believe. All the hookers she had ever seen on TV had been trashy looking women, unkempt and sleazy, but she was so different. She had a certain look of innocence in her eyes that Nikki couldn't help but feel drawn to.
"Eh, yeah I suppose," She stuttered unintelligibly, clearly embarrassed, but very much in awe.
Nikki turned and walked off towards the motel that she had often passed on her way to the club she frequented with her friends at the weekends, and Helen followed her unsurely, all the while keeping her eyes fixed on the back of her head, the memory of Nikki's face clear in her head those big brown eyes, like deep pools of warm chocolate.
This wasn't like she imagined at all. First of all it was a woman. She had expected a guy like Sean, all cocky with a smart mouth just waiting to degrade her, but she hadn't, yet anyway.
"Here we are," Nikki said without looking at her, unsure if she could really go through with this, but thought it a little too late to back out now, morals or no morals.
"We have reservations for Wade," Nikki could feel the receptionists eyes check her over as they approached the front desk, and then move over to Helen, whose attire seemed to give the game away. The embarrassment she felt made her cheeks blush red, knowing that the man she had never met was standing there judging her.
She then surprised herself by worrying if Helen was feeling the same way. Why did she care about her feelings so much? She didn't know her after all.
"She's just a hooker." The second she let that thought enter her mind she scolded herself for being so cruel.
"No, she's a human being, and she deserves respect, despite what she is." She corrected herself and looked over at Helen before shyly turning away.
"Yes Miss Wade. Here are your keys. You're in room 214, on the left. Have a nice evening," He smirked at them both and gave Nikki a sly wink that made her nearly trip over her own feet.
Both wandered over to the door in silence and Nikki turned the key in the lock to let them into the room.
She switched on the light and surveyed its small surroundings.
There were two single beds, separated only by a bedside table with a lamp on top and telephone directories underneath, even though there was no phone.
The sheets were decorated in a floral pattern, which clashed with the room's other décor and two different paintings adorned the walls above each bed.
She heard Helen close the door over behind her and turned to finally look at her.
Helen stood with her back against the door and let her eyes fall swiftly back to her feet when she saw Nikki spin around to face her.
"Have you, eh, done this before? I mean, not that I think you are, eh, inexperienced, it's just, you look a little shy," Nikki had felt the need to say something, but the minute the words started to come out she regretted every last one of them. She hadn't even been thinking about how many times she had done thing kind of thing before or maybe she had subconsciously? All she knew was in her mind the only thing she could think about was how beautiful and captivating Helen's eyes were, and she wished she would look up so she could see them again.
Her wish was granted sooner than she expected. Helen's eyes met hers and she paused in her reply, for the first time noticing how stunning her "client" really was and it made her forget what she had just asked.
"Eh, oh yeah, I mean no. I have done this before, sort of." She felt her cheeks burning as Nikki's eyes continued to bore into hers; a look of awe on her face that she could not decipher and it was beginning to scare her.
Was she going to hurt her, like all the others?
Was this shy demeanour just a ruse?
She felt her legs begin to tremble, her knees almost knocking together, and a look of dread on her face that did not go unnoticed by Nikki.
"Are you ok?" Nikki watched on as Helen's legs began to buckle beneath her and her back slid as though in slow motion down the door.
She felt all the emotions of nervousness and fear that had been dominating her since they had arrived at the motel leave her immediately as she ran to her aid, terrified for her well being.
"I'm fine, I'm just a little scared and " She cut herself off quickly, trying to get back onto her feet.
Nikki tried to wrap her arm around her in comfort, but she pulled away sharply and moved towards one of the beds to sit down.
"Listen, if you don't want to do this I understand. I never wanted to go through with this in the first place, I just didn't want to seem like I was rejecting you, you looked so fragile." She felt her heart melting as she realised just how lost Helen had looked in that alley earlier, and her own feelings of anger towards her friends set up had overshadowed how sad this poor girl appeared to be.
The same look of sadness was reappearing as Nikki continued to justify why she shouldn't be doing this.
"I'll take you back to where you work and make sure you are ok if that's what you want?" She watched for a reaction, but when she didn't get one she continued.
"Helen? Just go home, it's ok. I really don't mind. I can stay a virgin a little longer, it won't harm me, I don't think." Nikki tried to joke, and paused to see if she laughed but instead she was crying.
"I'm just going to go. You don't need me here hassling you." Nikki turned to walk to the door and felt hands on her shoulders.
"No, please stay. If you go he will hit me again, and I can't deal with that. Please, I need the money." Helen's wet eyes pleaded with her, her words shocking her to his core.
"Who will hurt you?" Nikki demanded to know, anger swelling in her until she felt like she would burst. Who could possible hurt someone like Helen? So innocent and sweet.
"No one! I didn't mean to say that, just forget it," She turned her face to the right trying to get away, but Nikki now had a hold of her arms.
She removed one hand from her arm and ran it through her blonde hair, brushing if away from her face, and tucking behind her ear, where she could see underneath well-plastered make-up, was a large black bruise that almost covered her swollen cheek.
Helen yanked her body away sharply leaving Nikki standing alone in shock.
"What the hell happened to you!"
"Who did that?" Nikki gawped at her.
"No one, it was an accident." She lied.
"That was not an accident, I've seen accidents, and they do not go that colour! Now who has done this to you?"
"Just a guy, please let it go," Helen's tears made Nikki shut up. She didn't want to pressure her anymore despite how angry and worried she was for her welfare.
Instead she moved slowly towards her and wrapped her arms around her, with Helen's back to her face.
She tried to struggle away from her, but she held tighter.
"Shh, it's ok I'm not going to hurt you, I just want to comfort you." Once she had spoken she felt Helen slowly stop squirming, then her shoulders began to heave, a huge wave of release washing over her.
She turned around in her arms and wrapped her own around Nikki's neck, her body fitting into hers perfectly as she soothed her tears.
After what seemed like an eternity she pulled away, rubbing her eyes and sniffing back more tears.
"Thank you," She gave her a half-smile and sat herself back on the bed and Nikki gave her a nod in reply. She was too busy staring at her to answer in words.
She looked so miserable, and Nikki just wanted to see her smile, to hear her laugh.
The room filled with awkward silence as they both mulled over what had just happened.
"Nikki? What's college like?" Helen blurted out her question, absent minded, like nothing had just happened.
"College? Well it's pretty boring for the most part, but the parties are pretty good!" Nikki couldn't help but beam when she saw her smile a wide toothy grin. It was just how she pictured it, and it made her feel good inside, much to her surprise.
"Do you have friends?" She continued down her line of questioning sending Nikki yet again into confusion. She couldn't help but find it a weird thing to ask. After all everyone had friends, didn't they?
"Yeah, and great ones at that. They can be a little annoying at times, but I still love them all."
"Tell me about them!" Helen exclaimed excitedly as she pulled herself further up the bed and made herself comfortable, her arms curled around her knees, which were pulled tightly into her chest.
Nikki paused for a minute and joined her further up the bed, her body stretched out next to hers. She could feel this was going to be a long night and wanted to be comfy before she resumed her story telling.
As she finally found the position she was happy in she looked up to see Helen smiling down at her.
This was the happiest she had ever felt and she never wanted it to end.
But like every good thing it was going to end, and not in the way she hoped.
Nikki lay on the bed in the same position she had been in for hours, recounting excitedly her tales of college to an eagerly listening Helen.
She had never felt this close to anyone before, not even with her parents had she felt this at ease. Just the way Helen listened intently to what she said, hanging on her every word, never interrupting with her own stories, but only to ask more questions.
Normally when she spoke to people she had an act, a front, which she put on. All a defence mechanism to help her cope with the awkwardness she felt at conversing. But this was different. She felt comfortable, relaxed even. And for the first time she enjoyed talking about herself, rather than being the person who listened to everyone else's woes.
With Helen there was no need to put on a show. She could be herself and she loved it.
"Thomas has been the only best friend I've ever had. I mean, I've had friends, but we are so close. He's like a brother to me more so than my real brother" Nikki paused for a moment to think about what she had just said. It wasn't the first time she had thought this, but when she said it aloud it made her contemplate the deeper meaning to it all.
"Yeah, just like a brother. We help each other, we fight, we laugh, we hang out and when Thomas gets the chance we talk about science. Well rather he does the talking, and I sleep." Nikki looked up just in time to see Helen give a huge smile and a little chuckle. She couldn't help but feel good inside every time she heard that laugh. It meant she was enjoying her company, and it made her tingle.
"So Thomas and Zandra are brother and sister? And Trisha is Zandra's best friend? Who is that guy that brought you to me earlier?" Helen was trying to build herself a mental picture of everything she was hearing and wanted to make sure it was prefect. She wanted to be able to dream about Nikki's life as her own when she was gone.
"Oh, Sean, you mean?" She watched as Helen gave a look of disgust that she tried to hide from her, but her face said a thousand words.
"Sean can be a good guy, but he rubs people up the wrong way. At times it seems like he doesn't have any feelings, but I'm pretty sure he does deep down. But the way he treats people at times leaves me wondering why I'm friends with him. He seems to make it his daily mission to hurt at least one-person emotionally. Maybe it's to make himself feel better? I don't suppose I'll ever know, but I sure hope he grows out of it. I'd hate to see him hurt Trisha the way he hurts others."
"Why Trisha?" Helen moved herself from a sitting position and lay down next to Nikki, her head directly at hers, her hand supporting it so she could look at Nikki's face more clearly.
"Those two have been dating since her first day in college. It's so bad everyone calls them Romeo and Juliet. But in Shakespeare's version I don't think Romeo had a bet with himself to see how many first years he could sleep with before the end of the term." Helen gave out a loud gasp.
"He's cheating on Trisha? Doesn't she know?"
"Oh she knows. She just won't let herself believe it. I don't know how many people have told her, but she won't admit to herself that her college sweetheart would do such a thing, and to her of all people. You see Trish has been spoiled from the minute she was born. Her dad has money, and whatever she wants she gets, men included. It doesn't make her a bad person, just a very naïve one. No ones ever said no to her, but they will one day, and it will come as a great shock. Real life is just going to hit her right in the face and hopefully knock some sense into her."
"You really care about your friends don't you?" Helen couldn't get her head around how sweet she was. She had never met anyone like her. Someone willing to put other people's feelings and lives before his own.
"They're all I have really, I can't not care. But yeah, they all mean the world to me." They both smiled at each other and no more words needed to be said.
"Wow, look, it's getting late," Nikki sat herself up straight as she noticed the sun starting to pour in through the closed shutters.
"Yeah, I had better get back home before " Helen shut herself up, ready to say too much again and knew this time if Nikki questioned her she doubted she would be able to hold back from blurting out what kind of situation she was stuck in.
"Me too. I promised Thomas I would go with him to some science exhibit at the National Museum this afternoon. Me and my big mouth" Nikki rolled her eyes and smiled when she saw Helen laugh.
She was laughing outside, but inside she felt like she was being torn apart. She hated goodbyes. Too many people had left her and not come back, and precious Nikki was about to be another one and she didn't think she could stand it.
"I'm just going to use the bathroom before I go." Nikki gently rubbed her arm as she slid past her to go to the toilet, giving her a wide smile as she closed over the door.
Helen quickly shut her eyes and tried hard to memorise that smile, because she knew it would be the last time she would see it.
She turned and lifted the money filled envelope from the nightstand and walked quietly to the door, shutting it silently as she left.
There was no way she was saying the words goodbye to her. As much as she would have liked to have hugged Nikki, smelt her, seen that smile or heard her voice for the last time she knew it would hurt too much.
She had felt a connection with her the minute Nikki had held her close and wanted nothing in exchange.
Leaving her was killing Helen, but it was the way it had to be. Nikki could never possibly see Helen the way she saw her, could she? This way was for the best she tried to reason with herself as she exited the building, tears lining her face.
Nikki stood washing her hands in the sink whilst looking into the mirror in front of her. A smile crept onto her face as she pictured Helen outside waiting for her and she never felt happier.
She couldn't understand the feeling in her stomach, but she didn't care, she was happy and that was all that mattered.
She dried off her hands on a grubby towel that hung on an even grubbier steel rail and stood back in front of the mirror.
"Just be cool. Don't scare her, just ask if you can see her again, as a friend." She sucked in a deep breath of air and opened the door.
Her eyes darted quickly around the room, which was now empty. She was gone.
Her smile and her heart sank at the same time.
She sat back on the bed they had shared as friends, and placed her head in her hands.
"Why the hell was I so stupid! She was never interested in me" She wanted to hate her but she knew she couldn't. What she didn't know was why. She had just met her; and she didn't know her all that well. But there had been that spark of electricity between them. The one she always dreamed of having when she met the person the person she wanted to spend the rest of her life with.
But she was gone, and she would never likely see her again. Or would she?
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