DISCLAIMER: Bad Girls is the property of Shed productions, this story depicts a loving/sexual relationship between women...okay, disclaimer done.
Helen got into work a little before eight-thirty. Walking through the corridors of Larkhall Helen made her way slowly to her office. Every step closer was a step closer to deciding whether or not there was a future for her and Nikki. `It used to be’ Helen thought to herself `that I thought getting her out of here would solve all our problems. Now I’m not so sure’. Striding into the ante room of her office she vaguely noticed that the Angie, her secretary, must be in as the kettle had recently been boiled by the looks of the steam raising from it’s spout. Carrying on into her office she stopped short when she saw Max Hart sat at her desk.
“Good morning Helen” Max said standing up to face her. “Thought I was going to have to wait longer for you to arrive”
Noticing the mug of steaming tea in Max’s hand, Helen retorted “Making yourself at home I see” Putting her files down on a side table and her handbag in the bottom desk drawer Helen sat down in her chair and faced a still standing Max.
“Did you want something?”
Carefully placing her mug on the desk, Max slowly lowered herself back into her chair. “About yesterday, I don’t know what it is you think you saw but there was nothing ... inappropriate ... about my meeting with Nikki Wade.”
“I’ll tell you what I saw Ms Hart. I saw you sat very close to an inmate in my care. I saw you with your arms around said inmate and I saw you caress said inmates face. That is what I saw Ms Hart, not what I think I saw ... but what I saw. And as soon as nine o’clock arrives and I am sure someone will be there I will be ringing area to report your conduct.” Helen had got increasingly irate while she addressed Max, now visibly making herself calmer she looked her straight in the eyes. “Now is there anything else I can do for you before I make that very important telephone call in ... “ looking at her watch “... twenty-three minutes”
“No I guess there is nothing else” Max said totally relaxed, still sat in her chair, unwaveringly staring at Helen in her calm way. “Except of course that area already know because I told them last night when I made my daily report to them.” Reaching down into her file case Max threw a thin file onto Helen’s desk. “That is a copy of the report, just for your peace of mind” Max watched as Helen picked up the file and quickly scanned it.
After reading the file Helen put it back down on her desk. Max had outfoxed her. The excuse in the report for her being sat on the bed was that Nikki had become emotional and in need of support and in a naive moment Max had sat on the bed to comfort her when Helen had come in and read the situation wrong. It was all entirely plausible.
“So, what on the cards for today then Helen?” Max asked changing the subject.
Just as Helen was talking to Max, Nikki was being let off the block. As she made her way onto the wing she looked around for the women who had become her friends over the past couple of months. They weren’t bad women, they just did what they had to, to survive. Smiling she looked at the two Julies, stood close to each other in their cleaners uniform chatting in their disjointed way to Yvonne, patiently listening to them. Shaz was sat on the table watching a couple of girls playing pool and Barbara was sat at the table writing in her journal, getting everything down, not missing anything. Turning and leaving her friends to it she walked into her cell, she knew that this time tomorrow they were going to think ill of her and there was nothing she could do about it.
Relaxing back against her bunk Nikki closed her eyes and thought about what had happened yesterday. Seeing Max had been such a relief, Nikki had really missed her sister. Thinking back to what Max had said about coming to get her and the car accident that had resulted in the death of Alex, Nikki rolled over to face the walls as tears once again sprang to her eyes. Thinking about her sister and the times they had spent together Nikki was unaware of the cell door opening and someone else being in the cell till she felt the hand on her shoulder. Turning over she saw the scraggly hair and made up face of Shell Dockley, but it was Michelle her colleague who spoke to her.
“Nikki I’m so sorry about your sister” she said rubbing her hand along Nikki’s shoulder.
“Thanks” Nikki hiccupped. “What are you doing here? Do you want to blow everything?” Nikki got up off the bunk and made her way to the cell door, peaking out to make sure no one was near enough to hear them talking and closed the door as much as she could.
“Nikki relax, I’ve been doing this just as long as you, I know I have to be careful and I was. I just came to thank you. If you hadn’t found me and alerted the PO I could have died in that cell, before anyone came to check.” Shell stopped when Nikki held up her hand.
“We’re partners aren’t we. We’re supposed to look out for each other. Now will you go before someone comes in here and we blow everything at the last minute.”
“Yeah yeah I’m going. Thanks again Nikki” Smiling Shell turned to leave the cell pulling the door after she had gone.
Nikki smiled and shook her head as she heard Shell Dockley the con shout across the wing “Oi blondie” and imagined her walking over to Shaz and provoking her little friend as everyone expected her too.
“Jim ... wait up” Karen said as she trotted to catch up with Jim as they both entered G wing and on into the officers lounge. “Where were you last night I thought you were coming round?”
“What ... oh yeah sorry about that love, got held up ... uh ... at Marilyn's. We were talking about the kids” Jim muttered.
Karen looked at him askance, something was up, and had been since Shell Dockley’s return . There was nothing though that Karen could do about it. She had been onto admissions about relocating her but they had refused without reason. “Well are you going to be coming round tonight? I could cook you favourite.”
Pulling himself together Jim looked over at his fiance. “Yes darling I’ll come round tonight. How about I bring a bottle of wine and we can have a nice .... relaxing evening in.”
“That would be great” moving in close Karen wrapped her arms around Jims waist. “I better go to the shops after work then and get all the ingredients for Shepherds Pie.” both smiling they moved in to kiss. When they parted Karen turned and walked away from Jim and off the wing.
After watching Karen leave, Jim walked over to the glass partition and looked out over the wing. The girls (as he liked to think of them) were all milling around on the other side of the gate. Running a watchful eye over them all, Jim was pulled up short when he heard cackling laughter from somewhere. Looking for the owner of the laughter Jim saw Shell stood over near the pool table area with some of the other women. Curling a his right hand into a fist, Jim smacked it into his other palm. “You wait Shell Dockley ... just you wait. Your going to get yours and I'm going to be the one to give it to you.” Suddenly Shell turned towards the office and looked right at him. Stepping back a little Jim became even more annoyed that she had this effect on him. As if Shell had seen this she seemed to laugh harder. “You wait b*tch ... you just wait”
Looking over towards the officers room Shell looked straight into the eyes of Jim Fenner. She saw him take a step back and the look on his face was dangerous.
“Shit if looks could kill Dockley” Nikki said as she came up behind her and joined the group of women she considered her friends. “he really doesn’t like you anymore does he?”
“Feelings mutual I can assure you” Shell replied well aware that they were in “public” so keeping up their act. Truth was the look on Fenner’s face scared her and she wasn’t looking forward to the rest of her time here in Larkhall. Turning around Shell looked Nikki in the eyes “’ere Wade you get any closer to me and people will begin to talk” Shell said laughingly before walking away. Only Nikki saw the fear in her eyes.
Shaking off the thought of Michelle Dockley being scared as there was nothing she could do about it at the moment, Nikki turned to the others. “So what you lot been up to then this past couple of days? Keeping out of trouble I hope”
“Well you know us Nikki love” Yvonne answered her.
“Yeah your right Yvonne, I do know you ... so what mischief have you been up to?” Everyone around the table started laughing as they told Nikki what had happened while she had been away on the block.
Nikki was sat at one of the tables when PO Gina Rossi came up behind her. “Your presence is requested in Miss Stewart’s office Nikki”
Keeping her facial expression neutral Nikki stood up and followed the officer. Inside though Nikki was in turmoil. Her first thought was joy and elation but then she remembered the last time she had seen Helen, or rather seen Helen’s back. She and Max had discussed how they would deal with that situation and by now Helen would know that Max had reported it herself to area, or rather written a false report, reporting it to area. Max had left soon after so they hadn’t had a chance to discuss her situation with Helen and she was hoping that Max hadn’t spoken to their superiors yet about it.
When they reached Helens office, Angie told Nikki to go straight through and Gina that she would ring down when Nikki was to be returned to the wing.
Pausing just before going in Nikki calmed herself, turned the knob and pushed the door open. Looking up straight at Max, she started to smile at he sight of her sister, but then began to frown when she noticed that Helen wasn’t anywhere to be seen.
“Ma....” Shushing her sister Max walked forward and closed the door. Leading Nikki to the desk they both sat down as close as they could so that they could hear each other and be sure no one in the ante room would be able to eavesdrop.
“What’s going on Max?”
“I needed to talk to you and this was the only place I could think of without us really attracting suspicion.”
“She had to go to a meeting on H wing, one of their lifers had a spot of trouble last night. I don’t know how long we are going to have before she gets back so I suggest we stop the small talk and cut straight to the chase.” seeing Nikki nod Max continued. “About you and Helen. I haven’t told anyone, mainly because I’m hoping you will in your report ... now here me out Nikki." Max held up one hand when Nikki started to interrupt. “It’s going to have to come out. It’s been decided to go after Fenner, we believe we have enough on him not only to get him out of the prison service but to prosecute and get him imprisoned himself. The guys as bent as a three bob bit”
“I could have told you that within an hour of being here” Nikki added scornfully.
Smiling a little ruefully at her sisters dig, Max continued. “Yeah well ... the thing is Nikki if he has even the slightest suspicion about you and Helen and we don’t do anything about it, he will and it could compromise our case. Do you understand what I am saying Nikki?”
“Yeah ... your saying the only way to get Fenner is to go for Helen as well”
“Hear me out Nikki. I don’t think there will be any need for Helen to be prosecuted, but we need to be seen to be doing the right thing. However it will probably be entirely possible that she will be let go by Larkhall but there are plenty of jobs in the home office that an experienced officer like herself could do.”
“She’s still going to hate me though isn’t she” Nikki said sullenly.
“For a while maybe but I’m sure you can bring her round. Now I’m going to be getting you two out of here tomorrow afternoon so you’ve got the rest of today and tomorrow morning to “warn” Helen ... in an appropriate way of course.”
Nikki sat up straighter suddenly more alert. “Yes ... yes if I could somehow give her a little forewarning, maybe when it happens she won’t be too cut up and won’t be as angry ... ah who am I kidding she‘s going to hate me either way” she said more to herself than to Max. “Lets face it I’ve been lying to her for the last eight months.”
Patting Nikki’s knee Max consoled her. “It’ll be alright ... you’ll see. I know you Nikki Wade. You’ve never given up anything in your life ... you only have to look at Gracie to see that. She’s missing you by the way. Asked me again last night when you were coming home.”
“I’ve been missing her too. I hope you told her I’ll be home tomorrow night because I swear Max if you don’t come and get me I’ll break out, and trust me when I say it’s been done” Nikki said looking her sister in the eye and deciding that now wasn’t the time to let on about her little visit to Helen all those weeks ago and how Helen had helped her get back in. If Max knew about that then there would be no hope for Helen’s career in the Home Office.
“I’ll be here. Just remember what we talked about. Deal with Helen how you see fit, but remember that it is up to the powers that be whether or not she gets prosecuted on the matter. It’s up to you whether you warn her or not. Now you had better get back to the wing, so come here and give me a hug” Throwing their arms around each other they held on tight remembering the barren months apart. “Now let Mich know about tomorrow afternoon, the only surprises we want are the ones we are going to give. Now off you go”
Nikki walked to the door and exited the office and was escorted back to the wing. A couple of minutes later the office door opened again and Helen walked in. Max breathed a sigh of relief. The last thing she would of needed was for Helen to have arrived five minutes before, and caught her and Nikki again.
Nikki was in turmoil all the way back to her cell after stopping to let Shell know that tomorrow was the end. What should she do?. If she warned Helen then Helen would hate her. If she didn’t warn Helen then Helen would hate her. She was in a no win situation. Either way Helen would hate her. Upon entering her cell she noticed that Barbara was sat at the desk writing in her journal. Slumping on the bunk Nikki looked over to Barbara, she had always helped her through her anguish over Helen in the past, but if she was to confide in Barbara this time she wouldn’t just be telling her about her affair with Helen she would have to tell her the truth about everything ... could she really trust her?
“Oh for Christ’s sake Nikki just spit it out. I know when you have something on your chest that you want to talk about ... just get on with it”
Yes, she could trust her.
“I’ve been lying to Helen ... and you and the others. I’m not who you all think I am.” Nikki said to her cellmate and confidante.
“Whatever do you mean Nikki? You’re not who you say you are? who are you then?” Barbara said confusedly while taking her glasses off.
“I’m ... I’m not a inmate of this prison ... I’m a ....”
“Ah there you are Nikki” Di Barker said as she pushed the door to the cell open and stepped inside.
“Miss” Nikki said standing up
“Miss Stewart is looking for you, something about your appeal I think. Well come on, let’s be having you” Di was a bit exasperated, she could of sworn she had seen Gina Rossi escort Nikki up and back from Miss Stewart’s office earlier, but she must have been mistaken otherwise why would she now be doing it.
“Yes Miss” Nikki said quietly following Di out of the door, leaving a very confused and bewildered Barbara behind.
Shell walked along the three’s, dragging her fingertips along the white washed wall, contemplating all that would happen tomorrow. This was it. It would finally be over. No more of these white walls with stains all down them. No more slop for breakfast, lunch and dinner. No more plastic skirts and greasy blonde hair, she thought pulling at each respectively. Leaning against the railing Shell looked down to the ground floor of the wing and watched the tall, dark statue of Prison Officer Fenner stroll along scouting all the young girls. No more Fenner, she thought standing up and walking into her cell.
Helen didn’t know why she wanted to see Nikki but as soon as Max had left her office she had found herself reaching for the phone and ringing down for Nikki to be brought up. They needed to sort this mess out. Nikki’s appeal was fast approaching and the way things were at the moment instead of two very happy people they were going to be two very miserable people when that day finally arrived. A knock on her door brought her out of her musings.
“Nikki Wade for you ma’am” DI said before Nikki came into view.
Her heart beating suddenly faster Helen asked Di to go back to the wing and wait for a call to get Nikki then asked Nikki to sit down. It was a couple of minutes before either spoke.
“Helen about yesterday ... there’s nothing going on between Max and I. I was just upset”
“It’s alright Nikki, Max already told me what happened and I guess I was just over reacting and still smarting from our earlier argument. I’m sorry”
Reaching over the desk Nikki laid her hand gently on top of Helen’s and smiled her forgiveness. Laying her other hand atop of Nikki’s Helen squeezed it gently and smiled also. The next moment though her smile turned to a frown as she noticed the tears in Nikki’s eye’s. “What is it sweetheart” she said as she moved round the desk to crouch at Nikki’s side.
“I have to tell you something Helen and your going to hate me for it I know you are.” Helen was really confused now. What could Nikki possibly say that would lead her to hating her, before she could ask Nikki continued. “I’m not who you think I am.” This just left Helen even more confused.
“Nikki your not making sense.” Shaking her head negatively. “Never mind about all that now. I don’t like to see you like this, all upset. Whatever it is we’ll sort it out ... together” and before Nikki could say anything else Helen reached up and placed a gentle kiss over each of her eyes, kissing the tears before moving down and covering her lips. Sighing Nikki leant into the kiss, responding by pulling Helen into her lap, while parting her lips. Getting the response she had been looking for, aching for Helen continued kissing her, taking them both into heights of ecstasy only bought about by being with each other.
Gliding her palm down the front of Nikki’s shirt Helen slid her fingers through the opening of two buttons, slowly moving her fingers towards Nikki’s breast. Nikki’s breathing virtually stopped while she achingly waiting for Helen to reach her goal. Helen’s breathing slowed just as she slowed her fingers to draw out their anticipation of the moment.
Helen’s fingers had just reached the cotton of Nikki’s bra when there was a quick rap on the glass of the office door before it opened and the rapper walked in.
Helen sprang up from Nikki’s lap and stood awkwardly facing the person who had entered. Standing up slowly Nikki turned also to face the person who had caught her and Helen. This was going to be bad. Helen would almost certainly fired and Max would kill her if she blew it all at this late stage. Max was not going to be amused, eight months of undercover work nearly ruined at the last minute. Max was ... standing there in front of her. A very angry and stern looking Max. Nikki could tell from the look on her face that she had seen what had been going on between Helen and herself. `Oh God ... Helen!!!’ Nikki thought as she turned towards her. The look on her face said it all. Helen knew that Max had caught them and was wandering what was going to happen now. A whole gamut of emotions coursed through Helen. However overriding them all was a total sense of calm. It was over and she felt free. No more hiding. No more sneaking around. It felt great.
Helen was busy becoming overwhelmed with her sense of calm that she nearly missed what Max was saying.
“Shit Nikki. What if I had been someone else? Betts? or Fenner? Jesus Christ!!” she swore, shaking her head. “Well at least you told her”
Nikki’s face dropped, Helen looked from one to the other and Max stopped shaking her head. “You ...uh ... you did tell her didn’t you?”
“Tell me what?” Helen asked of Max, then more forcefully of Nikki. “Tell me what?”
“Helen ... I ... “
“I think I should leave you two to it. I’ll send Angie home and be waiting outside. Alright Nikki?”
“Thanks” Nikki mumbled but she was looking at Helen and not concentrating on what Max was really saying.
Max had been gone for a couple of minutes when Helen once again asked her question. “Tell me what Nikki?”
“Helen please sit down. I have something’s I need to talk to you about.” Nikki indicated the chair she had just vacated but Helen shook it away.
“I don’t want to sit down. I want you to tell me what it is that Max thought you had already told me. And ... and anyhow how do you know Max Hart?” Helen was confused now. They had seemed to know one another.
“Max is my sister ...” Now Helen did sit down. Nikki had never spoke of family other than to say her parents weren’t around anymore. Never had she mentioned a sister let alone one that worked for the Home Office. Nikki watched as Helen digested that bit of information then continued “... and my boss at the Home Office”
"You're boss?" Helen repeated. "I don't understand"
"I know you don't" Nikki paced up and down the office trying to think of the right words to explain all that had gone on these past eight months. In the end she decided to start at the beginning and so perched herself on the edge of the desk closest to Helen and began.
"Five years ago I was working for the Chicago Sun Times as an investigative reporter when my parents died leaving my three sisters alone so I came back over here to look after them. At 32 I'm the oldest followed by Terry two years younger, Max three years younger and Alex ..." Nikki sniffed back the tears that always threatened to fall at Alex's name. "... Alex was twelve years younger than me. A baby at just fourteen when the folks died, so I dropped everything and came back home. I had quite a reputation for being a great journalist who always seemed to ferret out the truth no matter how deep it was hidden so I managed to secure a job with a top rated newspaper in the city and we all moved to London. Alex was at a difficult age, everything got on top of her ... mum and dad's death, the move to London ... she ... ah she started to hang around the wrong crowd, was getting into trouble at school, started doing drugs. Six months after moving to London, she came and told me she was in trouble. She told me everything including that she was pregnant. She was fifteen then." Nikki stopped when Helen interrupted.
"Nikki that's harsh I know but what has this got to do with anything?" "I'm getting to that." Nikki said brusquely "Sorry" taking a calming breath Nikki continued. "It was decided that she would keep the baby but I would raise it. She was young and had her whole life ahead of her. Terry ... she's a youth counsellor ... well she got Alex into a youth drug rehab program, Max helped her with her school work and I continued to work for the paper so we would have enough money for when the baby arrived. When the baby was born I quit the paper and started working freelance so I could spend more time at home with Gracie..."
"Gracie?" Helen interrupted once more.
"Yeah Gracie. That's what we named the baby. Alex went back to school after she gave birth and then onto college. I stayed at home freelancing until Gracie was old enough to go to Kindergarten. Two years ago the Home Office approached me. They knew about me through my work with the papers and Max who had worked for them since leaving uni. They were starting a new unit that Max would be heading up and were wondering if I would be interested in putting my investigative skills to another use. I jumped at the chance. It was new and different to journalism, Gracie was old enough now that she was going to school and it was a chance to work with Max ... we had always been close so it looked good from all angles." Nikki was beginning to get cramp in her legs so she stood up and walked to the window to gaze down at the gardens. Helen hadn't moved since her last interruption, she sat with her head bowed and Nikki was unsure as to whether or not she was actually listening to her.
"What was the job?" Helen said from behind her. Turning Nikki walked back to the desk and sat back down.
"It was with the Prison Professionals Audit department. Complaints about Prison Officials were starting to be heard outside the walls of the gaols and government was getting worried that they were being seen as doing nothing to protect the prisoners in their care. So a group of us was brought in. We were to investigate whether or not allegations were correct and then prosecute if needs be. In the two years I have been with the unit we have investigated hundreds of complaints and the numbers keep growing. The unit is split into groups of five, two who go undercover for the investigations if it is called for and three on the outside for assistance. Our group has been very successful. Nine months ago we received a complaint from someone here at Larkhall, we were sent in to investigate it. It was only supposed to last two months but circumstances changed and ... well and here we are." She finished in a rush, it unnerved because Helen was so quiet.
"Helen?" she asked cautiously after a few minutes.
"Sorry" Nikki asked confusedly.
"You said there were two who went undercover"
"Yeah it's a safety thing"
"So there's someone else with you here ... in Larkhall?"
"Yeah but I can't tell you who Hel..."
"YES you damn well can" Nikki was taken aback by the forcefulness of Helen's response. They both sat close to one another looking into each other's eyes. Nodding to herself Nikki decided to continue and to tell Helen everything. Never would she lie to Helen again.
"Shell Dockley!! Bloody hell she was the last one I would of thought of"
Nikki Nodded "She's very good at her job"
"Don't put yourself down sweetheart you've done a fine job yourself" Angrily Helen stood up and paced to the window. "All this time you've lied to me. Was anything you've done true? You turned my world upside down but all it's been to you is a job."
"No Helen please it not like that"
"It's precisely like that" Helen slammed her hand hard against the windowpane. "What about your appeal? I've worked really hard on trying to get you out but it's all been a sham hasn't it?"
"Hasn't it." Helen demanded turning to face Nikki. Nikki could see the tears that were streaming down Helens face. "Why Nikki? What did I do to deserve this?"
"Ahh Helen please it wasn't like that. I love you ... "
"Don't!" running a hand through her hair. "Don't lie to me anymore Nikki ... in fact don't talk to me at all anymore" Helen turned back to the window and stared at nothing.
"Helen please it wasn't like that ... Helen? ... Helen?" Nikki tried but it was no good Helen wasn't going to respond. Sitting back Nikki stared at Helen's back willing her to turn around.
Max sat outside Helen's office. Angie had departed an hour earlier not about to argue about getting an afternoon off with pay. Everything had gone quiet in the office about ten minutes ago, up until then there had been a continuous murmur and a few raised voices. Max couldn't hear anything now. Having sat around waiting long enough she decided to go in and see what was happening. She couldn't take the suspense any longer. Opening the office she took in the scene before her. Helen was stood at the window with her back to Nikki and Nikki was sat in the chair facing the desk wringing her hands while staring at Helen's back. Hearing the door close behind Max they both turned to look at the intruder. Max could see that they both had tear tracks on their faces. Max approached cautiously not knowing how either was going to react to her being there.
"Nikki?" she asked running her hand up and down her upper arm. "You alright?"
"No." Nikki replied giving a weak smile.
Max squeezed Nikki's shoulder and looked over to where Helen was standing. "Miss Stewart? Do you have any questions regarding all that Nikki has told you?"
Turning round Helen just looked at Max before turning back round and continuing to stare out of the window. "Right well I'll take that as a no then. Nikki are you ready to go back to the wing … big day tomorrow"
"Yeah" Nikki replied still looking at Helens back while sat at the desk.
"Big day?" Helen asked turning from the window.
Both Nikki and Max turned to face Helen, and then turning back to Nikki Max said, "I thought you said you had told her?"
"We didn't get to that part."
Ruffling a hand through her hair Max sat down in the other chair. Nikki had seen Max do this several times when she was frustrated and had always thought it endearing as it always left her hair standing on end. This time however she was more interesting in how Helen was feeling than on how Max was.
"What's happening tomorrow?" Helen asked once again.
Nikki was speechless; nothing she could think to say would make this right, looking to Max, Nikki's eyes begged Max to explain it all to Helen.
"Tomorrow Helen it all ends. I'm pulling Nikki and her partner …"
"Shell Dockley." Helen supplied startling Max.
Looking at Nikki a little angrily Max continued "… yeah Shell Dockley. Tomorrow Nikki and Shell's job is over. We have all we need to bring a case against one officer here … possibly two" Max ended looking at Helen meaningfully. "Jim Fenner being one."
"It's about time Jim got what he deserves." Finally Helen began to smile a little and Nikki thought it would all be all right but then Helen's eyes clouded over. "Wait, did you say two?"
"Yes Helen. Our job here was to root out corruption amongst the officer's and we have done that. We have found that at Larkhall there are two officers who are undertaking in corrupt activities."
"One being Fenner and the other … ?" Helen's question trailed off and she looked over at Nikki who was sitting with her head bowed and shoulders slumped. "The other one is me isn't it?" Helen asked of no one in particular, she already knew.
"Yes" Max answered her.
Nikki lifted her head and looked Helen straight in the eyes. "Helen I am so sorry … I didn't mean for this to happen."
Ignoring Nikki, Helen turned to Max. "Why did you tell me all this. Surely it's against your rules"
"It is. This is strictly a favour for Nikki. Forewarned is to be forearmed as they say. We're going after Fenner. That's a given. We're not necessarily going after you but we have to be seen to be doing something. If we didn't and Fenner was to find out about you to …"
Interrupting Helen finished Max's sentence for her "He could use it in his defence and get off the charge."
"Yes. The CPS may not charge you but we can't risk the chance. We have to get people like Fenner out of the service. And if you and Nikki are to have a chance of a normal life …"
"Oh there's no chance of that now." Helen once again interrupted, not even looking over at Nikki. Hearing this Nikki's shoulders started to shake as silent tears ran down her face "Right so I guess you want my resignation" Helen said matter of factly walking around the desk and reaching for a pen and paper.
"No … If you resign now then it will look like you were warned. We just want you to continue as if nothing has changed. Nikki just wanted you to know what will happen tomorrow without it being too much of a shock. Just to be fair."
"Fair … this isn't fair. She deliberately set out to set me up. I don't think this is fair at all." Helen was getting angry again.
"Helen please it wasn't like that …" Nikki tried raising her head and looking towards Helen, imploring her to believe her.
Looking at Nikki, Helen could feel herself starting to soften at the look of total despair and longing in Nikki's eyes but then she would remember what had happened in her office over the past couple of hours and her heart hardened. "Well if I'm to act as if nothing has happened then the first thing I'm going to do is call down to the wing and get someone up here to take you back down there Ms Wade." And reaching for the phone Helen spoke to someone on the other end. A couple of minutes later there was a light tap on the door and Gina opened the door.
"Miss Stewart please" Nikki tried once again, mindful that Gina was stood at the door.
"Please take Miss Wade back to her cell Gina" Helen said ignoring Nikki. Throughout all this Max had sat quietly watching them both from her chair. Looking at Nikki she gave a tiny nod and watched as her sister was led away.
"I think I should go now also. I'll see you tomorrow Miss Stewart."
Helen didn't answer she just swivelled her chair around and sat staring out of the window.
Shell was sat watching two of the younger kids playing pool when she noticed Gina Rossi opening the gate to the wing and allowing Nikki through. “God she looks like sh1t” she thought to herself.
Waiting a few minutes, she made her way to Nikki’s cell, taking care to stop at several different places first so as not to arise suspicion. Upon entering the cell it took her a while for her eyes to adjust to the semi darkness and then to find Nikki’s form lying on her bunk, as close to the wall as was humanly possible.
“Nikki? .... Nikki what is it?” Shell inquired reaching out a hand and laying it softly upon Nikki’s shoulder. Getting no reply Shell just stayed there, she knew that when Nikki was ready she would talk to her, she would just wait for that time to come.
“Oh Mich, I wish we had never come in here” Nikki finally shuddered, turning around and sitting up to face Mich. “This damn job has cost me more than I could ever have feared. First Alex and now Hel... “ fresh tears started to fall as Mich pulled Nikki into her arms and soothed her as best she could.
“Shhh Nikki .... shhh.” Mich didn’t have any words that would make this better for Nikki so just stayed silent, holding her friend in her arms and gently dabbing her tears away every now and then.
“Nikki I have to go now. It’s nearly lock up and Barbara could be back any minute. I think it best if you go to sleep. Tomorrows a big day after all.” Unconsciously repeating Max’s earlier words, Mich pulled back from Nikki and dabbed the tears from under her eyes one last time before getting up to stand besides the bunk. “Will you be ok if I go? I don’t really want to leave you , I don’t think you should be on your own but .... well you know”
“Go Mich I’ll be fine. Your right we don’t need any questions at this late stage. I’ll see you tomorrow” Smiling weakly Nikki stood up and made her way to the sink to splash water over her face.
“You bet. This time tomorrow and we’ll be sleeping in our own beds with proper pillows. Get a good night sleep Nikki.... promise me”
“I promise now go Mich” Nikki watched as Mich nodded to her then carefully left her cell. Picking up her copy of Sophie’s World, she open it to Helens Inscription then hugged the book to her breast. Going back to her bunk she lay down and faced the wall. Soon the tears started to fall again. “Oh Helen please forgive me” she sobbed before falling into a troubled sleep, not even stirring when Barbara entered the cell at lock up.
Noticing Nikki asleep on the bunk Barbara thanked God that she was here. After what she had said earlier about not really being an inmate of Larkhall she had become worried that things had got to Nikki so much that she was beginning to crack up. She hadn’t told anyone what Nikki had said. Hopefully tomorrow would be a better day for her and Barbara would get the answers she wanted regarding what Nikki had said.
Sat at a manky table with half a glass of Bells in front of him, Jim contemplated getting up and going home. He had been sat at this same table in the officers club ever since his shift had finished nearly an hour ago and, unusually for him, he was still on his first drink. He was trying to work out what was going on. Shell had been quiet since getting back from the infirmary and had even looked like she was scared of him earlier. Something was going on he knew it was. He just needed to find out what it was.
But that could wait for tomorrow he thought to himself as he saw Helen Stewart walk up to the bar.
“Double vodka, straight” he heard her say to Mike at the bar.
Well well someone’s thirsty, especially if she’s drinking in here. Something must be up, maybe she’s had a falling out with Wade. Deciding that Helen was ripe for some baiting and that he suddenly didn’t want to rush home, Jim slugged his drink back and made his way to the bar.
“Another whisky when your ready Mike.” He said then looked at Helen and nodded. “Helen. How nice to see you in here”
“Jim” Helen responded a little sharply. She should have known he would be in here but at the time of leaving her office she had just wanted a drink and she didn’t care where she got it or whose company she would have to share to get it, besides she could almost feel sorry for him knowing that he was finally going to get his comeuppance and the way it was going to happen. That sympathy was blown away with his next snidey comment.
“So Wade’s driven you to the drink has she?”
“Ooh fuck you Jim” Helen retorted and then before the tears that threatened could fall she turned on her heel and left him at the bar, vowing to get a bottle on the way home from the offie.
Dumbfounded Jim stared after her. That had been so easy he thought. Swallowing the shot that Mike had just put in front of him, he signalled for another and sat at the bar to drink it. Suddenly he had got his craving for alcohol back.
“Gracie ..... I’m home sweetheart” Max shouted as she got home. She knew Gracie would still be awake, even though it was gone nine on a school night. Making her way up the stairs she was just turning onto the landing when the silhouette of Gracie in her bedroom door caught her eye. “Hello Darling sorry I’m late. I have great news your mom’s going to be home tomorrow.” Max stopped when she saw the tears coursing down her nieces face. “Hey what’s wrong?” she said as she pulled Gracie into a hug.
“She’s been crying for the past three hours. I can’t get anything out of her” a voice said from the bedroom doorway.
Glancing up at the women behind the voice Max smiled at her before returning her attention to the little girl in her arms. Picking her up she carried her to the bed and lay her under the covers. “It’s alright I’m here now, see? I’m sorry I was late”
“S’okay” Gracie hiccupped. “It’s just last time you were late you ...”
“I know. Last time I was late was when the car crashed, but I'm fine this time see. I’m sorry I should of rang, I didn’t mean to worry you. Now come on lets get you into bed, it’s school tomorrow” she said as she tucked Gracie in.
“Urgh I hate school”
“I know, but as soon as it’s over tomorrow you'll have a nice surprise waiting for you when you get back.” Max smiled when Gracies eyes lit up.
“Is she really coming home tomorrow?”
“Yes .... now go to sleep rat bag” And leaning down as if to kiss her niece goodnight she instead blew a raspberry against her cheek.
Giggling as she closed her eyes Gracie slurred “Your funny aunty Max. G’night.”
“Night Sweetheart” She said as she left the room leaving the door open a little.
Taking one final look at her niece Max made her way downstairs and into the kitchen where she could hear the sounds of tea being made.
“Hello darling” Max said as she wrapped her arms around the woman standing at her kitchen counter and leaned in to kiss her neck.
“Mmmm nice.” she murmured while turning in Max’s arms and indulging in a tender kiss. “So Nikki’s coming home tomorrow” She said matter of factly when they had finished.
“Yeah ... look I still haven’t told her yet about us. Time just hasn’t been right, but I will I promise. It’s just so sh1t at the moment. She’s had a crappy time lately and ....” Max stopped when a finger was placed against her lips.
“Shhh. It’s okay it can wait ..... but not forever” and leaning in they shared another kiss.
“Have I told you lately that I love you” Max said when she had her breath back.
“No, not lately you haven’t”
“I love you Trish Harris” Max said before capturing her lips again.
Opening the door to her flat Helen didn’t bother with the lights she just made her way straight to her living room and sat down on her sofa. Reaching into the bag she had with her she pulled out the bottle of vodka she had just bought. “Another night another bottle” she said to the room and then snapping the seal she twisted the lid off. Placing the bottle to her lips she was just about to take a drink when her eye was caught by a binder of a book on her shelf. Putting the bottle down she made her way over to the shelf and looked along the title of the books there, stopping when she reached the one that had caught her eye. Feeling the tears start to fall again Helen pulled her copy of Sophie's World of the shelf and made her way over to the sofa. Lying down she tucked her hands still holding the book under her chin and let the tears fall.
In the morning she was to wake with the book still in her hands and the opened, untouched bottle of vodka on the table in front of her.