DISCLAIMER: I own nothing. Characters belong to Shed Productions. I would like to thank my Beta Reader Rebelgirl. She has been a great help.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Sins of the Past
By Ladyhawke


Chapter Four

'the phone must die," was the mantra running through Helen's head as another call was patched into her office. She had been attempting to work for the past two hours and had accomplished absolutely nothing. That seemed to be the trend of her life since Nicola Wade or Nicole Warren returned into her life.

Sean hadn't been as supportive as Helen had hoped. After driving home he bombarded her with questions even after she tried to close the subject. When she asked to skip dinner with his parents, he sulked like a prat for half an hour before leaving without her. By the time he came home, she had finished the bottle of whiskey in the cupboard and passed out on the sofa. She woke up in the same position the next morning with a pounding headache; which didn't help her driving through hordes of press stationed out in front of the prison.

The phone continued to ring until she finally answered. Another reporter rattled of questions regarding her association with the world famous actress. Helen responded with the same no comment and that there was no relationship between Larkhall Prison and the actress Nicole Warren. She prayed that Susan would soon return so this tedious task would once again fall to her.

"Here you go ma'am," Susan said as she walked into the office. An avalanche of paperwork descended from her assistant's arms engulfing her once neat desk.

"Thank you." Helen hated the relief in her voice at the sight of the other woman.

Susan left with a sympathetic nod wishing her well. The mountain of paperwork in front of her was the financial records for all donations from the past seven years. If Nikki donated fifty million pounds without her noticing then Helen would start to question her mental competence. She glared at the seven thick folders of printer paper full of names and donation amounts with dates and bank records. It was enough to make her headache return with little remorse. The first sweep through the information confirmed that there were no donations from Nicole Warren or Nicola Wade which made her feel a little better. The second time she started noticing names that repeated with every new program prospective. Some of them she knew, they were socialites that had provided monetary support as well as time and effort recruiting others. After another hour she noticed a series of names that looked familiar yet she couldn't remember from where. Then a single name jumped out at her, Thomas Thatcher. He was Helen's science teacher in third year. Helen checked and his name appeared for five thousand pounds on each project she had purposed since becoming wing governor, but that wasn't be possible. Thomas Thatcher died five years ago from prostate cancer. She went to his funeral. By the time she put the folders away Helen understood how Nikki donated so much money. She used the names of their school teachers and class mates instead of her own. Each one was five thousand pounds and came from the same off shore bank. At the time no one thought anything of it since the money deposited without raising any red flags.

"Clever cow," Helen muttered to herself appeased that she now knew what was going on.

"Ma'am, there is someone at the front desk that wishes to speak to you," Susan said through the speaker phone.

"I'm not speaking with any reporters," Helen groaned.

There was a pause before she replied, "It's a Zandra Plackett. She says that she works for Nicole Warren."

Zandra Plackett? Why did that name sound familiar? It took a moment for the pixie blonde's image to come to her mind. Helen couldn't believe that the ex-drug addict would work for Nikki but Zandra wasn't the type to make up such a story.

"I'll go down to speak with her," Helen said and walked out of her office. She gave Susan a nod as the other woman relayed that she saw on her way down.

Helen could tell that the ex-con was nervous. Zandra sat in a chair looking around uncomfortably, in the place she swore she would never to return, but a young man held her hand and whispered words of comfort in her ear. The year had been kind to the young woman. She had gained a small amount of weight; a good sign that she was keeping off the drugs. Blue eyes locked on Helen and a nervous frown morphed into a bright smile.

"Miss Stewart," Zandra said as she stood.

"Zandra, it's wonderful to see you." She gave a warm smile.

"This is Dominic McAllistar, my boyfriend." There was no hiding the pride in her voice as she introduced him.

Dominic smiled and shook her hand. "Nice to meet you Dominic, now you told my assistant that you were here for another matter." Helen couldn't bring herself to say Nikki's name out loud.

"Yah, Nikki asked us to come and speak with ya," Zandra said. When Helen was about to question her, Zandra put up her hand. "She said for me to give you proof I'm who I say I am so… The British United front requests aid from the Scottish Underground to battle the Stuck Up Parental Powers That Be. I got no idea what it means but she thought you might."

Helen froze. It had been years since she thought about their inside joke but the words hit her hard. All doubt disappeared as she took Zandra and Dominic back up to her office. "Let's speak in my office." She waited until the door was closed and all were seated before signaling the blonde to continue.

"Nik wants me to tell you how sorry she is for all the trouble you've had with the press. She didn't mean for any of this to happen, and she's got a way to help you stay out of the public eye," she conveyed her employer's sentiment.

"And what exactly does she have in mind?" Helen asked.

Zandra looked over at Dom before answering. "She would like to invite you to her family estate which is bloody marvelous."

"I've been there before," she said before the younger girl could continue to describe Nikki's childhood home.

"Really, well you know that I'm not lyin' then. Nikki wanted to invite you and your fella for a week or so. She was planning on coming for vacation and just changed things around so that a few friends can get together. The Julies will be there as well as Denny and she said that you might know some of the others." Zandra rambled not sure what else she was supposed to say. Nikki told her to get Helen to agree no matter what.

"It might help with the press. The longer you are out of sight the less interest they will have," Dominic added when his girlfriend gave him a lost look.

There was nothing to think about. Even if she had to go alone to a haunted abandoned building she would have gone if it meant she could see Nikki. Whether she was going to give her the biggest bollocking in the world or to reunite with the most important person of her teenage years she didn't know. Now she was being given an opportunity to confront Nikki with Barbara and the rest of the manor staff who knew how hard Nikki's disappearance had been on her. Sean was going to be difficult. He would demand to come so Nikki's inclusion prevented another argument but having him there would keep her from talking more openly.

"When and where?" she finally conceded.

Zandra placed a small envelop in front of her. "The information is in there. Nikki hired a helicopter so that the press will be left for a loop."

"Thank you. Is there anything else Nikki wanted you to tell me?" she asked.

There was a long pause that caused Helen to look up from the packet on her desk. "Not from Nikki. Yvonne asked me to put something else in there. The first disc is an interview Nikki did today. She decided to talk about you and the press and Yvonne said it would be best for you to hear what she said instead of hearing about if from other people. The other one…explains Nik's reluctance with being open and maybe why she didn't tell about your friendship in the past."

That got her attention but she only nodded. Zandra said that they still had some things to do before heading up to the house and said her goodbyes. Helen walked her to the door and hoped her the best.

Right before she left she turned back, "Please don't tell Nikki that I gave you the last video. I wasn't there when it happened but if she knew I gave you that she might be mad." Before anything else could be said she was out the door.

Helen walked back to her desk. She looked at the envelope and then turned her gaze to the stacks of paperwork that still needed to be done. Stuff it. She opened the packet and let the contents fall onto the desk. There were two discs and a short note stating to be ready in two days time. It was a little sooner then Helen had been expecting but she still had a few days annual leave and with all the press things were getting a little difficult at work. The first disc had the words USA Morning in bold black letters written onto it. She guessed that was the interview from this morning, which meant that the other was whatever caused Zandra discomfort in revealing. She placed the first one in her computer and hit play.

A man and woman sat in overstuffed leather couches smiling towards the camera and introduced themselves as Robert Billings and Lucy Burns and droned on about daily events. She was about to press the fast forward button when the man in his late fifties introduced Nikki. She walked out with the same strut she perfected when they were teens. She was wearing black slacks with a deep red blouse accented by her red lipstick. She looked absolutely gorgeous.

"Welcome Nicole and thank you for being on the show," Mr. Billings said as he stood.

Nikki shook his hand then nodded towards the woman. "Thank you for having me on such short notice."

"It's our pleasure." He then turned towards the camera. "As most of you know Nicole Warren has been in the tabloids lately when some of her financial records were leaked to the press."

"This whole thing has been blown out of proportion. Someone got a hold of my financial records and tried to create tabloid fodder," Nikki explained. Her tone stayed light but Helen could easily hear the angry undercurrent.

Lucy Burns leaned forward as she asked, "So you're saying that there is nothing going on with you and Helen Stewart?"

"Nothing at all," Nikki said but left corner of her mouth rose higher as she gave a tight smile. One of her only tells when it came to lying.

Helen wasn't sure whether to be happy or upset with that reaction. The fact that Nikki still had a reaction when it came to her made her happy. When she thought that Nikki had forgotten her all those years ago, Helen sank into a deep depression. Now that she would see Nikki still cared Helen started to panic. As children she could never deny the lanky brunette anything and she wasn't sure how much that had changed.

"But you must admit that a hundred million dollars is a lot of money to donate to one establishment," Robert interrupted.

Nikki's jaw clenched. She was starting to lose what little calm that she had. "True, that is a lot of money but what the article didn't state was the large sums of money I gave to other organizations such as Monica Lindsay halfway house in central London or any of the other charities that help with medical relief and aid. I have learned in the past that it is best to keep my private life just that. This is more difficult with my chosen profession and I have come to accept the steps needed to keep my life out of the public forum."

"But don't you think that keeping yourself so far off the radar makes people desire to know even more about you?" Lucy prodded.

"That is plausible," she conceded. "It just hurts that the people I trust would go through my private documents and release them to the press. It only validates my desire to separate my private and public life."

"So are you saying that you don't know Helen Stewart?" Robert refocused the conversation back to the subject at hand.

She paused, thinking about the best way to answer. Without realizing it Helen held her breath. "Our paths crossed when we both were very young. She was someone that changed the way I looked at life and for that I will be eternally grateful. But are we friends, no." Once more Nikki's lip turned upward. "I haven's seen her in more then ten years and only know about the amazing work she is doing to help the women in the prison system. I have more money then I need so why not help out in a cause that I think is worthy?"

The hosts nodded their heads in understanding. "I still don't understand your secrecy in the matter. Why not just come out and say this? Maybe adding your voice to a cause you believe in would give the matter more publicity."

Wow they just weren't going to let the subject up. Helen waited for Nikki to lose her cool. This would be just about the moment that voices would raise and anything breakable my not want to be anywhere near the hot headed brunette, but nothing happened. Helen didn't know whether to be happy that she got her temper under control of sad that there was something else to add to the list of how she had changed.

Nikki took a calming breath and continued, "For just the reason that I'm on your show today. I have been giving money to Larkhall Prison for almost seven years. In that time they have had the money they need to improve the lives of the inmates and hopefully do a little good. If I had come out and told everyone about my donations the press would be all over my involvement. They would hound the staff and most importantly Helen Stewart. Because I'm an open lesbian they would question her lifestyle which I'm sure her fiancé Sean wouldn't appreciate. I was hoping to do a little good and not have people look at me like a saint or question my motives. I lived on the street for a few years as a teen and I know how easily things could have gone another way, but people don't think like that. I'm giving money to an attractive female wing governor so of course I am, have or want to shag her. This is why I wish to keep my private life private."

She had said her piece and Helen could see the tension resting on her shoulders ease a little. If she hadn't been a part of their past Helen just might have believed her. No wonder she makes such a good actress, but then again lying had been a part of her upbringing. How did she know about Sean though?

Lucy looked over at her co-host before asking the next question. "Do you feel that you have kept this private because of your very public breakup with restaurant entrepreneur Trisha Prichard?"

Robert Billings turned to look at his coworker in shock while Nikki looked like she was about to either leave of hit the small woman.

"As you well know I don't speak about my private relationships," Nikki said through gritted teeth. There was the fire that she had expected earlier.

"Thank you for coming today, Miss Warren we appreciate your time. When we come back will discuss how the new political reforms will be affecting the use of our natural resources." Robert quickly teased out to commercial and then the screen went black.

Helen removed the disc from her computer and looked at the other one on her desk. She wasn't sure if she wanted to look at it just now. Seeing Nikki during the interview had caused her to remember things that she had forgotten long ago. She wasn't sure she was ready for another dose so soon. Quelling her fear she placed the second disc in the player and hit the start key.

The National Insider logo came on the screen as a well dressed black man looked out into the camera. In the corner was a photo of Nikki and the words secret romance off written underneath the image.

"Nicole Warren as been a force to reckon with since she came on the movie scene almost five years ago but still she has been able to keep herself out of the public eye. Most times we see her out in public is with her assistant or manager. As an openly gay woman in Hollywood with numerous offers she seems to have kept out of the dating circle or so we thought. National Insider as received an amazing video tape showing that Nicole Warren has not only been dating in secret but been in a three year relationship that has now collapsed under the weight of the Hollywood scene or maybe it was something else? Judge for yourself," he said as the screen was taken over by a choppy camera.

Helen watched as the room morphed into what appeared to be a storage room of some sort. Nothing seem to be going on until the door burst open and Nikki stormed in with an attractive young blonde woman walking in behind her.

"Trisha don't do this…"


Chapter Five

Her palms were sweating. At thirty two years of age Nicola Wade was still nervous every time her childhood home came into view. The moment she passed the front gate her heart began to pound and increased in speed as the car traveled the three miles to the main house. Christmas was only a few months back so it wasn't like she hadn't been home, but fear was never rooted in reason. She could feel the weight of expectation that came with being the sole heir of the Wade Empire re-rooted itself on her slim shoulders.

The staff stood at attention at the front door waiting for the car to come to a complete stop. Barbara waited patiently at the front. Nikki felt her nerves calm as she took in the elderly woman. When her parents ignored her, Barbara had been there to give her love and encouragement. No matter her sins, the head maid always forgave her. It was Barbara that welcomed her back with open arms when she returned from her self-imposed exile.

"Welcome home," Barbara said as Nikki opened the car door.

"Thank you," she replied as she pulled the older woman into a strong hug. Nikki breathed in the other woman's calming presence and exhaled all the stress that she was bottling up.

"Now what has happened?" Babs asked as they walked inside.

Nikki ignored everyone else as she explained to Barbara was had happened over the last three days. She wasn't needed. Yvonne and Lauren got there stuff together and some of the men helped carry their luggage in. The staff had already been told that Zandra and Dominic would be up with two other staff member a little later in the day. Everyone knew where they were staying or had been given a room. She just hoped everything would run as smoothly when Helen arrived.

Barbara listened patiently as Nikki explained the press leak of her charity donations especially in regards to Helen's programs and how they now followed the Scottish wing governor without mercy. She described in minute detail the look on her face when she recognized the photo a reporter had thrust in her hand. The older woman nodded as she ranted about how people never let her be and why can't the past stay where it belonged?

"Helen is coming," Nikki almost whispered.

"Here?" Babs asked surprised at her surrogate daughter's last statement.

Nikki clenched her jaw. Standing from the couch, she moved towards the fireplace. Without turning around she answered, "I don't have much of a choice. She should be up here tomorrow with Kris, she and Sean."

"Sean is coming as well?" Barbara watched the younger woman shoulder's tense.

"It would be rude not to invite her fiancé," was her answer.

Even after all these years, Nikki still couldn't break the manners instilled from her childhood. Privacy and propriety had been her father's motto; one that whatever their differences Nikki believed in.

"Do you think it is best to invite Sean up here before you and Helen have a conversation?" Barbara pushed.

"There's nothing to talk about," Nikki lied. "I'm just giving them the use of the house until the press dies down. It's my fault that she's being hounded so I can at least offer my home as a temporary sanctuary."

With a raised eyebrow, Barbara left the couch closing the distance between them. "Lying may be part of her job, but it has no place here Nikki. Helen went through hell after you left and if you have invited her back here then she has a right to know what really happened."

The room went cold. Barbara hadn't meant to speak so harshly. Nikki turned around for the first time and glared at her. Hate and pain colored her dark eyes. She had to quell the desire to take a step back.

"Helen went through hell? You have no idea what I went through," Nikki yelled.

"Oh yes I do. I was there. It was your choice to turn your back on everyone that cared about you. We would have been there if you only let us. I was there that night and I'm sorry for what happened. If I could undo their words I would. They loved you," Barbara tried to reason but was interrupted.

"They loved me? How can you even pretend to believe that? The moment William Tucker walked through our front door and into our lives I was nothing more then an embarrassment and a failure. I was shit to them so don't pretend anything different." Nikki looked towards the door. With their raised voices it was only a matter of time before some would come in to check on them. She started towards the door. This argument was getting them no where.

"If you don't tell Helen what happened then I will. You've both been miserable for too long and I won't let this continue," Barbara said.

Nikki paused for a moment before walking out of the room. This weekend was going to be difficult; she prayed that Nikki would explain herself so that both of her surrogate daughters could find some peace. Barbara needed to make sure that Sean was kept busy. The only way Helen was going to break down any of Nikki's emotional walls was if they get some time alone.

Barbara kept busy for the next couple of hours. Out of the twenty-seven bedrooms more then half were to be in use and some of the rooms still needed to be made. Things became more difficult when Yvonne came to inform her that Helen and Sean needed to be moved into the south wing. She wanted to object but realized that now was not the time. It might be best to give Nikki as much space as possible.

"What the hell were you thinking?" Yvonne's voice echoed through the front hall.

Denny looked sheepish as her gaze alternated between Yvonne to Shell. Zandra pushed Dominic towards the stairwell trying to keep both of them out of the line of fire. When Yvonne was angry it was best to stay far away because being in the line of fire was just as dangerous as being the person set in her sights.

Shell just watched the show not really caring what the mobster doll said. Even if she was thrown out of the house at least there was a story to be made. Jim would do anything to find out where Nicole Warren's London home was. There was no paper trail that he could find.

"I don't see what the big deal is Yvonne. Shell works for Nikki and she signed that waiver thing so…" Denny tried to explain.

"You didn't ask if she could come. This is Nikki's private home and everyone needs to be approved before coming here. You should have known better," Yvonne barked still upset.

Yvonne liked Denny; the tattooed girl had a lot of potential if she kept away from the wrong influence. Shell Dockley was definitely the wrong influence. If she had anything to say about it Dockley would never come near any of her people, but Trisha had recommended the peroxide blonde and Nikki had been using her as an accountant ever sinse. So far Shell had been smart; she kept herself to herself when she wasn't flirting with Denny, but Yvonne had a sneaking suspicion that it was Shell that leaked Nikki's financial records.

"Don't be like that Yvonne," Denny pleaded.

Nikki reluctantly walked down the main stairwell. She wasn't happy to see the blonde but there was no reason to make a scene. There had been more then one argument about keeping Shell on after her breakup with Trisha. No matter how Nikki felt about the woman she was good at her job and until she was given a reason to fire her Shell would keep her business.

"What's going on?" Nikki asked reluctantly.

Denny looked up at her with desperation. "I invited Shell. Didn't think there'd be any hassle."

"No problem. We didn't know she was coming so it might take a moment to get her room ready," Nikki said hoping to keep another argument from erupting.

"No need. I'll be staying with my girl Den," Shell said wrapping her arm possessively around the younger girl.

Yvonne frowned as Denny beamed at Shell's attention. Nikki nodded up the stairs and watched the two women held off to their room.

"Play nice," Nikki said when they were out of ear shot.

"She shouldn't be here," Yvonne defended.

"I know you don't like each other but I need you to be the sane one this weekend. I already have enough on my plate without have to play head prefect as well." She waited until Yvonne nodded in agreement before going back to her room.

She may have to play nice but that didn't mean she would let Shell move around unsupervised. It didn't matter if she had to latch Lauren on her all weekend; she wasn't going to let Dockley have free rein.


Chapter Six

"Will you stop with the twenty questions?" Helen begged. They had been in the taxi for less then ten minutes and Sean had bombarded her with question after question. The more he went on the more she wished that she left him at home, but she knew the temper tantrum he would throw if she had tried to come without him.

"I can't believe you're so calm. We're going to Nicole Warren's estate and your acting like were spending a weekend with you're sister. Do you have any idea how amazing this is? I've seen all of her films," Sean prattled on oblivious to Helen's growing aggravation.

She quickly looked up at the driver in concern. They were trying to avoid the press; not lead them straight to Nikki's doorstep. When the driver didn't react she felt her pulse return to a normal speed. Nikki had organized the cab so they must have been told.

"Sean, we're going to Barbara's," she revealed. It was only a matter of time before he would recognize where they were going.

His gaze left the road. "Barbara's?"

"Yes Barbara's." Helen sighed when there was no recognition. "Remember when we took my sister and little Ashley horseback riding last summer?" She waited for him to nod. "That's where we're going. We're going to Nikki's family estate."

"But you said you didn't know Nicola Warren?" Sean asked not understanding.

"Nicole Warren is her acting name," Helen explained then altered her gaze to look out the window.

When the car came to a stop, Helen jumped out of the back seat. The moment she revealed their destination Sean continued to question her, but now the words held a tinge of distrust and annoyance. Helen prayed to her father's god that Sean would be distracted by the helicopter ride and give her a moment of peace. Sean grabbed their bags as they walked through a security gate to get to the helipad.

Helen noticed a figure by the bird talking to who she guessed was the pilot. She was relieved that one of Nikki's staff would be flying up with them. Sean would be polite if they had company. He always seemed to be better when they were part of a crowd. When they closed the distance, Helen's eyes widened. She had expected Zandra or maybe Nikki's manager Yvonne Atkins.

"Selena?" Helen asked.

The redhead turned to her name and her eyes widen. Selena was one of Helen's coworkers and one of the few that she really got along with. Most of the people at work thought her ideas were too progressive and she knew they called her a 'Flaming Nora' behind her back, but Selena had backed her every step of the way. She was a drug therapist and worked with a lot of the women on G Wing. It also helped that Selena was one of the only woman at Larkhall Prison her age.

Selena was about to say something when she was interrupted. "Now Millie we've talked about this. Selena and I are going to be away for a week or so. This means that if you throw some rave at our place and the cops pick you up, I won't be there to get you out of trouble. Yah, I know. Luv ya," Kris said into her cell. She hung up the phone and turned back towards the new arrivals. "Helen? Sean? What are you doing here?"

"I was just about to ask the same thing," Helen said as she looked between the two women. Selena had the decency to look uncomfortable but Kris just looked back at them.

The pilot moved between the two couples. "Now that everyone is here why don't we head out?"

Everyone got into the helicopter and watched as the small airport disappeared. Sean was preoccupied with the flight having never been in a helicopter before while Helen watched the two women in front of her. Selena did her best to smile and act like nothing was going on while Kris watched her just as intently. The only sign that she was nervous was when she tucked one of her blonde locks behind her left ear.

"So how long have you known Nikki?" Helen could quell her curiosity no longer.

Kris smirked and Helen had to keep her temper in check. She hated being patronized. "I was wondering how long it would take. I guessed three minutes but you lasted a whole ten."

"Kris!" Selena exclaimed before Helen or Sean had a chance to react.

The blonde rolled her eyes but put her hands up in submission. "Sorry. I'm sorry Helen that was rude. I've know Nik for about fourteen years."

Sean grunted and looked out the window. Selena placed a hand on Kris' arm to keep her from reacting. There was little love between the two.

"So you met when Nikki was 19?" Helen asked as she started to do the math.

A smile spread across Kris' lips. "Yah and I have to tell you she was a wonder back then. We shared a place for a while before she met up with Yvonne."

"You shared a flat with Nicole Warren?" Sean asked unable to hide his disbelief.

That warranted a glare from all three women. "No we didn't share a flat," Kris confirmed. For the first time she looked uncomfortable.

"You bunked up in the same squalor," Helen deduced.

She nodded as she clenched her jaw. It was not part of her past she liked to think about or to have well off middle class pricks raise their noses at. Sean was smart enough to keep his mouth shut if only for a moment as Selena linked arms with the quiet blonde.

Helen noticed the look of concern in the redhead's eyes and her curiosity peaked. The only time Selena reacted so strongly was when she was dealing with someone's past in group. Had Kris been a drug user? Had Nikki?

"Ok, I buy Nicole Warren knowing a junkie back when she lived on the streets, but keeping that friendship after she's a famous movie star and you're a cabbie?" Sean rebuffed not even looking back from the window.

Sean was lucky that Selena had her arm linked around Kris' because she lunged forward. She made it half way across the cabin before being pulled back. Sean turned and was locked by two rage filled eyes. Helen placed a hand on Sean's arm hoping that he would keep his gob shut. Selena did her best to calm down her lover and Helen took it as a good sign when Kris didn't push her away.

"First off you know shit about me," Kris seethed. "Second you know nothing about Nik except what you've read in some bleeding interview. You don't even know her real name, so before you go voicing your stuck up free loading opinion of the world get your facts straight. The only reason you're even here is because Nik wants to see Helen, so don't act like this little flight has anything to do with you." Silence filled the cabin. Kris leaned back and released the rest of her anger with a haggard breath.

Selena made sure that Kris had calmed down before looking away. Sean still looked put off at being yelled at and she could no longer hold her tongue. "Just so this is no longer an issue. Kris owns Shed Taxi Service. She drives a couple hours a week to keep everything in perspective. A task that I wish more people would take up; to look at the world from all sides. A task that I wish more people would take up; to look at the world from a new perspective… Please do you really think that I would put up with this one if she didn't know how to treat me to a good time? I've always preferred my girls with a little posh." The last part was for Kris' benefit. A small smile was her reward and it was worth a million pounds. She gave Kris a quick kiss and smiled back at her.

With a break in the tension, Helen risked a question. "You stayed friends after living on the streets?"

Kris gave one last smile to Selena before turning to look at Helen. "Nik said true friends were worth the world. After she got her life straight, Yvonne got her some small gigs. She came looking for me; got me cleaned up and kept me that way. Next thing I know she's a movie star and offering to be a silent partner in any type of company I wanted to run. She was the first person to do me right."

That was the Nikki Helen remembered and it made her feel better to know that she hadn't lost her good nature after all these years.

Sean stayed surprisingly silent and everyone was grateful. The helicopter ride ended and the couples transferred to a town car. The ride was spent in relative silence as Helen watched the scenery pass by. Her mind raced as she thought about how the next hour would change her life. She just hoped it would be for the better.

They reached the front gate and she drowned out Sean as he said something. She knew someone was looking at her, but she really didn't care. The drive took less time than she remembered as the house came into view. Barbara and the rest of the staff were waiting and she smiled at the sight of the older woman. The car stopped and everyone got out.

"Helen, a word," Selena asked when Kris and Sean moved towards the house.

Helen nodded and took a step back towards the car.

"I didn't know about you and Nikki until the whole press ordeal happened. I promise I would have told you," Selena promised.

"I believe you," Helen reassured.

Selena gave a relieved smile. "I'm your friend Helen. I just wanted to let you know that if you needed to talk I'm here."

"Thank you," she said and meant it as they both headed into the house.

Barbara gave her a warm hug which she happily accepted. She was about to say something when a figure caught her eye. Nikki stood at the top of the stairs. Dark brown eyes locked with piercing hazel ones. Helen couldn't move. She'd seen Nikki in interviews and in the few movies she had rented, but it didn't compare to being in her presence. Even in a pair of blue jeans and a tee shirt, she was a sight to behold. Helen wished she taken some time in the car to get herself together. She must look a mess.

Nikki watched Helen walk into the house and felt her breath catch. Her heart stopped and she prayed that no one could see her almost lose her balance. She had to hold onto the railing to regain her footing. Helen had her hair cut shorter then when they were in school but it framed her face perfectly; and she had blonde highlights that seemed to lighten her face.. She was smiling and hugging Barbara, which caused her eyes to twinkle and her whole face lit up. Then their eyes met and she knew she couldn't breathe. She transformed back into a love stick teenager.

"Hey Nik, get your scrawny arse down here. God can't they feed you a good meal?" Kris mocked when she noticed her friend freeze.

"You're one to talk. I know Selena likes her women thin but a strong breeze could send you into the next room," Nikki joked back

"Don't you dare bring me into this fight," Selena defended herself but smiled at the old joke.

Nikki made it down the stairs without falling and for that she was grateful. She wouldn't be about to keep her Hollywood mystique if she tumbled head first and landed on her ass right in front of her dream girl. Once the stairs had been defeated she made her way to Helen. "Hi ya Helen."

"Hi ya Nikki," she whispered back.

Part 7

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