DISCLAIMER: The majority of the characters belong to the series Bad Girls. I don't own them but I sure do like them, especially Helen Stewart and Nikki Wade. Bad Girls was created by Maureen Chadwick, Eileen Gallagher and Ann McManus. All characters from the series are the property of Shed Productions.
CHALLENGE: Written for Passion & Perfection's Big 5000.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Love at First Sight
For most of her adult life Nikki Wade scoffed at the idea of 'love at first sight.' She had not experienced it in dozens of flings or in either of her two longtime relationships. At 23, sexual sparks with Trisha flamed into a passionate affair that over time turned to love. That love had lasted nearly ten years until their forced separation ended things between them. Sparks flew with Helen too but of a different kind. Initial mutual animosity turned to unrequited love on Nikki's part before Helen admitted her own feelings.
So, based on personal experience, Nikki believed such a concept was nonsense; something found only in pieces of fiction. That notion was firmly dispelled the minute Becca came into her life.
Nikki's love for Becca was unlike anything she had ever known. It was instantaneous, unconditional and profound. She was completely unprepared for the overwhelming emotions unleashed the first time brown eyes, the exact shade as her own, looked up at her. Her breathing become erratic; her chest constricted and her heart somersaulted. The first time Becca smiled at her Nikki's knees nearly buckled.
Nikki had a soft spot for a woman's smile. She was a sucker for Helen's smiles. Her former jailer had a smile that could lighten even her darkest mood. Directed her way, just one look would keep Nikki going for days during her time at Larkhall. But Becca's smile was special. It sent the message 'you are the only woman in my universe'. Even though Nikki knew this wasn't true Becca had a large contingent of devoted women who would drop anything to spend time with her Becca's smile was like a drug and Nikki was a willing addict.
The object of her affection was lying beside her on Nikki and Helen's queen size bed, fast asleep. She was stretched out on her back in complete repose, her brown hair curling around her face, and her arms outstretched. Nikki watched her chest rise and fall; marveled at impossibly long lashes, at rosy full lips, and cheeks that dimpled when Becca was awake and smiling.
Even after six months Nikki was fascinated by a sleeping Becca. Although letting her sleep on their bed was a bit risky. The last time Helen had caught them there had been a terrible row. Nikki promised it would never happen again and yet here they were, barely a fortnight later, side by side, wearing nothing but t-shirts.
Becca frowned at something in her dreams, her brow furrowing. Nikki fought the urge to reach out and smooth the wrinkles. Becca had not been sleeping well recently and the last thing she wanted to do was wake her.
Reflecting on her life, Nikki wondered how she could have thought it was complete before Becca. After her release from Larkhall, she and Helen reconnected, both promising to take things slow. For the first time in their tempestuous relationship, they had done just that, dating for almost a year before moving in together. Nikki and Trisha resumed their business partnership but Nikki soon discovered that her 'celebrity' status brought with it much unwanted attention from amorous lesbians on the pull. Disgusted, she sold her share of the club and invested the proceeds. To her surprise and delight, she discovered a flare for investments. Within three years, the money from the club had grown to a sizeable fortune.
Helen had expressed a desire for a house and they bought a run-down Victorian home in St. John's Wood. They spent months renovating, with Nikki devoting herself to restoring the terrace and garden to its former splendor. When that project was finished Nikki needed a new distraction.
Financially secure for the first time in her life, Nikki turned to her love of literature and began writing. Her first novel had recently been published and she and Helen were currently working on a non-fiction piece about women in prison. Her publisher was enthralled with the idea of two such distinct points of view the former warden and the former inmate.
Yet despite all of the success in Nikki's professional and personal life, something was lacking and she wasn't even aware of what it was until she held Becca for the first time. Recently she found herself cutting back on work so she could be with Becca. As weeks became months, the time Nikki spent with Becca increased as the productivity on the book decreased.
Nikki tenderly brushed aside a tendril of hair that had fallen over Becca's eye.
"My darling," Nikki whispered softly.
Startled, Nikki looked up to meet Helen's accusatory green eyes. What was she doing home so early?
"You promised," Helen said, crossing to the bed and looking down at them both.
"I know, darling." Nikki kept her voice low. Becca was still asleep and she didn't want to wake her. "But I couldn't help myself. You know what she does to me."
"You're impossible." Helen bent down and gently lifted the sleeping baby from her place beside Nikki. "You're spoiling her rotten. I bet you haven't written a single word today, have you?"
Nikki could hardly deny it. Despite her best intentions she had not touched her computer.
She scrambled to her feet and followed them into the large corner room they had set aside as a nursery. Helen settled their daughter in a cocoon of blankets, turning on the baby monitor and blowing her a kiss before turning round to face Nikki. "Nikki, she has to learn to sleep in her cot. Otherwise, we'll never have our bed to ourselves."
"Would that be so terrible?"
Helen shot her a 'you've got to be kidding look'. "Do you know what time it is? You're not even dressed."
Nikki shrugged, unconcerned. She continued to gaze at the baby, her expression decidedly soppy.
"I don't believe you!" Helen said in exasperation. Furious, she stormed from the room.
She headed straight to the kitchen and poured herself a large glass of wine. Taking a long pull from the glass she stared out the window. The garden was a riot of color. The perennials and annuals were at their peak but its beauty was lost on Helen in her current mood. Nikki had obviously forgotten what day it was and how important it was to Helen. She was so wrapped up in Becca that everything else came in a distant second.
'I'm jealous of my own child,' she thought.
It was the supreme irony. When Helen had first broached the subject of a baby Nikki voiced at least a dozen reasons why they should wait. Nikki had never considered having children before her involvement with Helen. Privately, she doubted that she was parent material.
The child issue put a strain on their relationship. Nikki's reluctance to even discuss the subject infuriated Helen and anyone familiar with Helen Stewart's temper knew how uncomfortable a steady diet of it could be. Nikki struggled with the tension and stress of the unresolved situation for a year before capitulating. If privately she hoped that their IVF might not work, she was smart enough to keep her mouth shut.
Helen became pregnant almost immediately. During the pregnancy, Nikki said and did all the right things but Helen wasn't fooled. She knew that Nikki was not all that keen on impending motherhood. She just hoped that once the baby was born, her wife would feel differently.
Rebecca Nicole Stewart came into the world after 16 hours of labor, protesting vigorously at her new environment as soon as she took her first breath. "She's every inch your daughter," Helen had beamed, cringing a bit at Becca's lung power. Nikki grinned back at her like an idiot. From the minute she cut the umbilical cord, she was besotted, all of her reservations forgotten.
For the first three months everything revolved around the baby. Helen, who had gone to work for Her Majesty's Prison Inspectorate after leaving Larkhall, was on maternity leave. Nikki was promoting her book but spent every spare minute at the house at St. John's Wood. They happily neglected their friends, domestic matters, and outside interests, content to be together with the baby.
Helen was amused at Nikki's fascination with each ordinary thing Becca did, at how Nikki checked the cot multiple times a day to make sure she was breathing, at the thousands of pixels Becca's image appeared on. On holiday in a world of three, Helen had never been happier in her life. But then she had to go back to work.
They agreed that since Nikki worked from home she would take over primary care of the baby but they would have someone come in half-days to give Nikki time to write. Despite such a sensible plan, Nikki's writing productivity decreased as her time with Becca increased. But spending all day with Becca wasn't enough. Nikki turned down invitations from friends and rebuffed most of Helen's suggestions for time alone. It was much more fun to be with the baby, she reasoned.
Helen missed the milestones in Becca's life once she returned to work. Nikki was the one who was there the first time the baby laughed out loud; the first time she rolled over; the day Becca pulled herself into a sitting position and stayed upright. When Helen came home from work she couldn't help but feel cheated at having to experience these developments through Nikki's animated descriptions.
As Nikki and Becca grew closer Helen began to feel left out and even slightly resentful. Helen adored her child but she missed her partner's attention. For five years she had been the center of Nikki's world. Now, firmly displaced by Becca, she wondered if they would ever recapture the adult closeness they once shared.
Today was absolutely the last straw. Nikki was once again oblivious to anything but baby Becca. Hurt and anger warred within her. Anger won.
"Sod you, Nikki," Helen said, draining her glass. "I'll go without you." With that pronouncement she hurried upstairs.
Nikki heard the bathroom door slam and the shower start. Seconds later the front doorbell chimed. "Shit." She raced down the stairs, hurrying to get the door before the noise woke the baby.
Forgetting she was wearing nothing but an oversize t-shirt and pair of knickers, Nikki yanked open the front door to reveal Monica Lindsey on the other side.
Monica was momentarily startled but recovered quickly. "I hope you are going to wear something more formal to Buckingham Palace," she teased.
Bloody hell! Helen's MBE award ceremony.
Monica noticed Nikki's stricken look. "Nikki, surely you didn't forget about it?"
Nikki nodded miserably.
"Well, hurry up and get ready. You still have time." Monica shooed her back inside the house and toward the stairs which Nikki took two at a time.
Helen heard the bathroom door open and seconds later Nikki pulled back the shower curtain. "I thought I'd shower with you and save time," she said. Helen shot her a dirty look.
"Why bother? It's obvious you would rather stay home with Becca than go with me."
Nikki ignored the comment and maneuvered her way into the shower. Her worst fear when Helen got pregnant was that she would be so wrapped up in a baby that she wouldn't have time for Nikki. Now she realized that she had been guilty of this very behavior. She resolved to make things up to Helen, starting now.
Helen turned her back, still nursing her anger. "I'm nothing to either of you but a pair of tits."
Nikki choked back a laugh. Such a reaction she knew would only fan Helen's anger.
"I'm sorry, darling," Nikki said, turning Helen around to face her. "I'll try and do better." She looked so woebegone that Helen's anger vanished almost as quickly as it had come. Helen allowed herself to be pulled into Nikki's arms.
"No, I'm sorry." Helen nestled into Nikki's embrace. Her voice was muffled by Nikki's neck, but her words were clear. "I have everything I ever wanted, a loving partner, a beautiful baby, a great job and fabulous home. I'm even getting a bloody award from the Queen, for God's sakes. I don't know what the matter with me is. Just feeling a bit insecure, I guess."
Nikki looked at her incredulously. "Helen, you know I love you. You're the mother of my child."
"Is that all I am to you Nikki?" Nikki had not seen Helen look so uncertain since their first kiss.
"Of course not." She tucked a strand of Helen's hair behind her ear, a gesture so familiar over the years, that neither of them was even conscious of it.
"Do you remember what you said to me outside the club the day I was released?"
"Of course I do. I told you I wanted a woman."
"Yes, and I knew you wanted me. But I wasn't sure that you loved me until you said something else."
Helen smiled in recognition. "You mean when I told you how lost and empty I felt when we were apart? That I was only complete when we were together."
"Exactly. I feel that way too, Helen. You know I do."
Nikki's hands found and caressed Helen's breasts. Fingers closed about a hardening nipple. "The fact that you have awfully nice tits is just a bonus." Nikki's brown eyes danced with mischief.
Helen was instantly aroused. Nikki always did that to her. "We don't have time," she protested half-heartedly."
"You've never been on time for anything in your life," Nikki said, leaning in, kissing Helen. Her tongue danced along Helen's upper lip, demanding entrance. Helen moaned into her mouth opening her lips beneath Nikki's. When they finally parted, Nikki smiled at her. "Why start now?" she said, capturing Helen's lips again.
Despite the rocky start they made it to the Investiture Ceremony with time to spare. Afterwards Helen was guest of honor at a reception hosted by Clair and some other friends. Nikki was attentive, there was excellent food and drink, good conversation and Helen was the center of attention.
It was just about perfect. The only thing missing was the baby. They headed home as soon as they politely could do so, surprising Monica who had not expected them for several hours. After chatting a bit about the ceremony and the reception, Nikki saw Monica home.
When she returned, she heard singing coming from upstairs. She headed to the bedroom.
Helen was nursing Becca, rocking her gently and crooning an Italian lullaby to the baby. It was a song that Nikki's Italian grandmother had sung to her as a little girl and she sang it often to Becca. From her spot across the room Nikki was content to watch her two loves, smiling a little at the Italian words in Helen's Scottish brogue.
"Dormi, dormi, bel bambino,
Vago figlio del mio cor,
La tua madre sta vicino,
Tutta gioia tutt' amor."
As always the sight of the two of them so engaged was intoxicating to Nikki. For someone who had been virtually without family since sixteen, the feeling of completeness was almost overwhelming.
Helen noticed Nikki come into the room and she smiled at her, that special 'Helen smile' that curled her toes. Nikki crossed the room and sat down on the foot of the bed, close to the rocker.
"Do you know how incredibly proud I am of you?" Nikki said to Helen. "You are amazing."
"Thank you sweetheart." Becca had fallen asleep and Helen shifted slightly so she could refasten her top.
Nikki stroked the baby's head. "It's been quite a day hasn't it? Tell me, what was your favorite part?"
Images replayed in Helen's mind like a slideshow. The splendor of Buckingham Palace. Her combination of terror and thrill at meeting the Queen. Nikki beaming with pride, love shining in her eyes when she received her award. Dozens of friends crowding around to congratulate her.
Helen looked down at the sleeping baby and up at her wife. "This part," she said.
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