DISCLAIMER: Bad Girls and all its characters are the property of Shed Productions. The author implies no ownership of these characters. They are used in the stories without permission, solely for entertainment and not for profit.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story is a sequel to Two Women, which was originally inspired partly by a picture challenge made by Entilzha e at Bad Girls Enhanced (Ezboard) with regard to the settings and partly by the play "Two Women" by David Hare. I recommend that you read "Two Women" before starting on this one. However it is not mandatory and I suppose it is possible to understand what is going on, but there are several references to the other story.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Two Women Revisited

Chapter 1

Part 1

Once again a little red Peugeot drove smoothly along the main road from London to Weymouth in the very early lights of dawn just before the sunrise. The petit woman behind the wheel looked drained and exhausted with a ghastly shade of grey on her face. Her dark blonde hair had a few beginning grey strands and the previous lustre was no longer evident. Her normally clear grey-green eyes had lost their sparkle and were starring dully out of the windscreen barely noticing the sparse traffic. Her mind was lost in deep thoughts related both to recent events in her life and to events which had happened 11 years previously.

The driver, Helen Stewart 47 years old, was one of the most successful lawyers in London. In fact she had obtained all she could ever possibly dream of as a professional career woman and lawyer. She had never lost a case of importance and was on the absolute peak of her working career. It was really a bit odd for such a successful lawyer like Helen Stewart to drive around in a small and absolutely non-impressive car, but Helen loved this type of car, partly because it held a lot of fond memories and partly because it was very practical. It was easy to drive and park in the dense traffic in London, and besides Helen absolutely adored her car and she was far too Scottish to spend money on something utterly useless as a fancy car.

Helen co-owned the only all-female law firm Stewart & Walker with her long-term friend and business partner Clair Walker. It had expanded almost exponential over the last 10 years and they had almost 70 employees and departments in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Leeds, York and Manchester, still expanding and with additional 8 partners in the firm. Claire and Helen, being the senior partners, had met at the university and had been almost inseparable friends ever after. They would be able to celebrate a 20-year anniversary of business companionship next year and a 30-year anniversary as friends. There was very little they did not know about each other, since they had shared their ups and downs and helped each other coping with life by being there whenever needed. However, Helen did have one big secret that she had not yet told Claire. But the outcome of her journey would determine what she was going to tell her.

Helen was married to Dr. Thomas Waugh. No, she had been married to Thomas for almost 22 years, but she was divorcing him. In fact it was Thomas who was divorcing her. He had left her about six months earlier. Though in hindsight Helen should have seen it coming, it had still been a great shock to her when he had confronted her and told her that he wanted a divorce. Her perfect, safe, comfortable world had come crashing down around her like a pile of rocks, leaving her personal life in total ruins and herself feeling ripped up and shredded to pieces. She had been totally unprepared for the impact, when realising the full extend of his request and of the consequences. With her world turned upside down from one moment to the next she had been forced to contemplate her way of living and to face some of her darker demons. Not something she had been very appreciative of considering the fact that she had kept all her dangerous emotions under tight control and stashed them away in the darkest corner of her consciousness.

Their two children, the twins, had grown up and happily departed for university the previous year, leaving their parents to themselves. At first it had seemed like a blessing, but being robbed of the daily routine with caring for the children and their needs had soon left Helen with very little purpose or even reason for being more at home. She had almost doubled her workload and thrown herself into an almost frenzied work schedule, leaving no time for Thomas or for mulling over things that could have been. Thomas on his part had also buried himself in work, not that it was so much different than usual, but his withdrawal had been even more obvious; that is, if Helen had cared to notice.

She thought back on one of the final conversations she had had with Thomas. She had been working late again, but finally managed to meet up with him in their favourite restaurant. He had already been seated at their usual table, when she had rushed in making some feeble excuse. At first she had not noticed anything, but she suddenly became aware of the awkward silence between them and the intense stare that Thomas had granted her. She had begun to feel a bit uneasy, but had fast stuffed it aside imagining that it was her more than vivid imagination that played a trick on her. However, when Thomas had started to speak, she knew that something was wrong.

A restaurant in London, six month earlier

"Helen, I don't know where to start… But something is wrong… We are wrong…" Thomas had a frown on his forehead.

"What do you mean?" Helen was bemused.

"You and me… it is not working anymore… And the truth is… it never has…" Thomas looked pained and sad.

"What are you talking about, Thomas?" Helen could feel her voice tremble slightly, not with anxiety but with a completely irrational anger.

"I want a divorce…" He looked directly into her eyes.

"A divorce?" Helen had raised her voice several levels making the other patrons in the restaurant cast curious glances in their direction.

"A divorce?" she said again, but this time in a much lower voice sounding almost like a growl.

"Yes…a divorce…There is no other way…" Thomas lowered his head in a gesture of defeat.

"Why?" her voice was sharp and cold.

"Helen…" Thomas took a deep breath before continuing "I have been hurt before, because someone wasn't honest with me… and I don't want that to happen again… So now for once I am being honest to my self and honest with you…"

"And what is that supposed to mean?" Helen had narrowed her eyes in cold fury.

"Look, I know you love me in your own way, but you have never and will never love me the way I used to love you…" Thomas sighed and pulled a hand through his dark hair, which was beginning to show silver grey stripes on the sides. He shook his head and continued. "I have always felt that I was running into an invisible brick wall when trying to get emotionally close to you… In fact you were always so distant... We never really connected on an emotional level… "Helen kept quiet and seemed calm, but inside her anger was building and she used all her will power to prevent it from erupting unchecked as Thomas carried on in a quiet voice shaded with sadness. "I'm not what you want or need, Helen…I never was… We were good together for a while… and we were good together as parents and friends, but we were never emotionally in the same place… and not even physically… You were never there, when we were together…" He briefly closed his eyes as if he was in deep pain. When he opened his eyes saw their deep brown colour and Helen involuntarily shivered as she remembered another set of brown eyes that had looked at her exactly at that same way.

"Helen, why don't you just go to her?"

"What are you saying?" Helen forced herself to stay calm, as a sudden panic rushed through her body.

"You are in love with Nikki…" it pained him to say it, but he knew it was necessary.

"I am with you Thomas…" Helen did not even bother to deny what he was saying. Maybe the shock of he knowing her inner feelings made her cast away any kind of caution.

"Perhaps physically… but your mind is not… And it hasn't been for the last 11 years…"

"You knew?" Helen clasped her hands tightly together to prevent them for shaking.

"I'm not all that unaware of your feelings and mood swings…I know you too well… besides I'm psychiatrist…" Thomas could not help a tiny smile to creep over his face. "Anyway I found your ticket to the ferry... I then added two and two and got five…" He even chuckled a bit before turning serious again.

"I had been away for a week and when I returned you had changed significantly… You were even more closed than before and very evasive." He then smiled wistfully as he continued. "When we made love you were always whispering something. At first I didn't pay much attention…" he hesitated slightly. "Then one night when you were particularly passionate, I heard you whisper her name…" Thomas swallowed to keep his composure. He did not want to let on how much it had hurt him and he did not want to start crying in the middle of a restaurant.

Helen sat wide-eyed and stared at Thomas in disbelief, feeling utterly sorry for hurting him and extremely angry with herself for letting her guard down and thereby to have revealed her darkest desire. That was not supposed to have happened. She had meant to keep it hidden for all times. But she remembered the times when she had pretended to be with Nikki as Thomas had made love to her. It had been so easy to imagine, after all the where siblings, both with short dark hair and deep brown eyes. But there had been some very noticeable differences. The softness of Nikki was not found at Thomas and Helen's feelings were not deceived either. Helen was pulled from her musings, when Thomas continued to speak.

"And suddenly my dear sister could hardly stand talking to me anymore…She was always polite, but not at all like her usually warm self. She was shutting me out and started to act more and more irrational. After some years I finally had a chance to visit her. She was in a terrible state, but was not admitting to anything other than you had been to see her." He looked pensively for a moment. "I didn't pressure her and she wouldn't tell me why or what had happened; though I had a pretty good idea myself. Not so long after I had left, she tried to harm herself, but was found in time." Helen flinched involuntary at his words, as she instinctively knew she had been the sole course for Nikki's actions.

"I visited her again, but still she wouldn't tell me what was going on. But after that incident she sort of started to come around slowly and started to live a little again. She even came to London a few times to supervise her Nightclub and to see me. But she had changed dramatically. Her eyes no longer held any warmth or joy, she was pale and thinner than usual, her shoulders were slumping and she looked like a defeated woman. Definitely not like the proud, passionate and rebellious woman I had come to love and admire." He shook his head and somehow felt relieved about finally being able to speak about it to someone.

"Perhaps I wasn't ready to admit what my mind was telling me, and perhaps I was too selfish or too cowardice to do what I'm doing now. I loved you and wasn't ready to give you up… to give up us…But… Helen, it is time for you to face the truth… You can't go on hiding it from yourself… You can't go on denying your own true nature… Nor can I…And I can't find it in my heart to stop you from doing so anymore… please don't waste anymore time…"

He had then left her sitting at the restaurant with her inside in chaos. Her world as she knew it had been shattered with a devastating force. She felt paralysed and unable to focus her mind on even the simplest task, like leaving the restaurant. For days after she had wandered around in a dazed state of mind, not really functioning like a human being. Her emotions were in turmoil and she had difficult determining what actions to take. She was feeling hurt and rejected, all her sacrifices had been for nothing and now she was faced with the harsh reality of the consequences of her actions 11 years ago. They had destroyed the life and happiness of three people. She wondered if she would ever be able to redeem herself. She also felt the same irrational anger as she had in the restaurant, an anger originating from the past and from her own fear.

Thomas had only been in their house for a brief moment to gather some of his personal belongings before leaving, without having spoken any further with her. The divorce papers had arrived shortly after and she had signed them in an automated gesture and returned them without any further comments. She had allowed Claire to handle it while taking some time off to gather her thoughts.

Part 2

The road to Weymouth was long. Helen felt like she had been driving for an eternity, but she did not really mind. The sparse traffic and the long drive allowed her mind to wander without having to care too much about where she was going. She knew she had to face some of her darkest fears, if she was ever going to be able to reconcile with her past and her reckless actions. It was necessary if she would hold any hope of ever having Nikki's love again. At the moment the thought of Nikki was all that kept Helen from falling totally apart. She knew she was grasping for a fragile hope, but it was the only stable fixture she could find in that emotional storm she was facing.

Helen's mind drifted further back in time, in fact all the way back to her childhood. She had lost her mother when she was only 9 years old, and her father had brought her up. It was not easy for her being left with her father and no one else seemed to care. Her father was a minister and head of the local church. She guessed that he must have loved her, but he had a strange way of showing it, being all severe and never satisfied with her achievements. Helen had always struggled to make him notice her, to make him love her for what she was and not for something she could never be. She wanted him to be proud of her and to show her affection, when she needed it. But he never did. All he did was blame her whenever she made a mistake or punish her for doing something he thought was wrong. He never once commended her for her brightness, her ability to work hard or her compassion for other human beings. He just took it as granted that she would succeed and became disappointed when she failed. And he naturally expected her to marry a local squire and start a family, so when she in a rebellious streak instead had left for the university in Oxford, he had not spoken to her for years.

However, as the years went by and she became a successful lawyer, had married a dashing doctor and managed to get children, he had started to communicate with her again. It was all very well, and though their relationship would never be warm and loving they had reach a truce where both could agree to be polite towards each other and be able to stay in the same room without arguing. It was not what she had really hoped for, but it was the best she could achieve. She was disappointed, since she had actually managed to get all that he had expected from her. Success, marriage, children, money and a perfect life, what else could he possible want?

Helen had been deeply hurt by his repeated rejections of her wishes and her amends during the years. She had never been able to understand his reluctance to her need for learning and exploring things. She had never really admitted openly how much she had needed his approval, but it was evident to her. Though it might have been perceived as a reaction to his stern upbringing, her wish to study at the university was really a way to prove her worth to his, so he would accept her as another human being and not only as some little girl without any will or opinion of her own. She truly loved her father, but at the same time she feared him with an irrational force. She was not too keen to admit why she was so frightened by him, but when she explored her inner fears she knew exactly what had scared her the most.

It was his actions in a specific incident. He was the head of the local church and it was a small closed Scottish community they lived in. A community totally resigned to the will of God and with no room for any deviations from that norm. None what so ever and the firmest believer and leader of that path had been her father. An impressing 6 feet, 6 inches tall broad man with steel grey hair and emerald green eyes that could sparkle with anger and shake grown men into tears with fear. He was definitely not one to be crossed or questioned. He was a fierce leader for the community and no one would dare to contradict his ways, least of all his daughter.

A new vision entered her mind. A tall 16 year old girl with long raven black hair and piercing blue eyes that would stun you, and not to mention a body to die for. She had been the obvious desire for all the boys and their wet dreams. But she was different she did not care for their attention and though she knew exactly how to wrap them around her fingers in order for them to do anything for her, she had no desire to give in to their wishes of intimacy. She was not deliberate calculating in her actions, but she had an aura of aloofness and perhaps even arrogance when dealing with other people. However, her eyes held warmth that could melt anyone including Helen who always found herself drawn to this enigma of a girl.

Little Helen Stewart had been 14 years old, small for her age but extremely bright and confident in her intellectual abilities. However, when it came to her personal feelings and interactions with other, she was not as confident as she pretended. In fact she was secretly scared of being close to anyone, ever since her mother had died. It seemed to her that all the people she had loved died from her. Her grandmother, her aunt, her mother; she felt alone and rejected, like no one had ever loved her enough to stay with her. Though her mind told her that was not true, she harboured the fear in her heart. For a little emotional insecure girl it was hard to think or act rationally to all that had happened in her short life.

But she wanted to be close to this specific girl, to spend time in her presence and suck up the energy that radiated from her, even though Helen knew it was very unlikely to ever happen since the girl was two classes ahead of her. Helen slowly realised that what she was feeling for this girl was something far more dangerous than just the need for a friendship. It was stirring something almost carnal in her young body, it caught her by surprise, but she relished in the feelings and the fire that had ignited inside her very being. She often found herself in bed at night thinking of the black haired girl, imagining what it would be to kiss her and to have her touch her in the most secret places of her body. Sometimes her small hands found their way to her small breasts or that heated place between her legs that ached so desperately for attention. Helen knew it was wrong and felt immensely guilty whenever she had released herself of the tantalising ache with the images of the girl dancing in front of her closed eyes. It was thoughts and images she would never acknowledge in the bright light of day nor admit to ever have in the first place. She was marred by the guilt, but at the same time she could not stop or turn away from the path she had begun to explore. It became an all-consuming desire, almost an obsession to obtain the girls attention.

She finally achieved her goal, and the girl noticed her brightness and started to show interest in Helen, who thought all her prayers had been heard. They slowly developed a tentative friendship and Helen became more and more aware that what she felt for the girl was not just a crush, but pure naked love. However, she did not reveal this as she knew it was not feelings that were likely to be accepted, nor did she dare to alienate her new friend with such dangerous emotions. They grew closer with each passing day with a caution not unnoticed by either of them, but not openly admitted. Helen often caught the girl staring pensively at her and sometimes the girl had reach out carefully stroking Helen's arm or back in comforting gestures. She had always felt the fire in the pit of her stomach at the light touches, but she had never consciously revealed the effect they had on her. Though they spent a lot of time together, Helen also knew that the girl spent time with some of the girls of her own age, especially one other pretty blonde girl with a beautiful smile and bright grey eyes. Helen had a nagging feeling about what kind of relationship they shared. It made her feel… angry and… jealous, though she had no right to feel that way. She tossed the feelings aside and stored them in the dark back corners of her mind, relishing in what ever time and attention the dark haired girl gave her.

Helen was walking around on a cloud of happiness and she did not notice the odd looks she received, nor did she realise what was happening right in front of her. Only one day the girl asked her to meet her after school behind the sheds. She looked at Helen with sadness in her blue eyes. Her gaze was so intense that Helen was unable to look away. Her mouth was dry and she did not know what to say. Before she could react, the girl had closed the space between them and planted a firm, but loving kiss on her lips; a kiss that was sending all of Helen's senses into overdrive. As they broke apart the girl once more looked into her eyes and said:

"I have to leave… You are very special, Helen Stewart… Don't ever let anyone tell you any differently…. I hope you will one day find the strength to be true to yourself…"

Without saying anything else she swiftly turned and left Helen gaping in astonishment. She did not know how long she just stood there trying to comprehend what had happened. She was paralysed both by the kiss and by the parting words spoken with such solemnity and sadness that it cut her heart to pieces.

When she returned home, her father was waiting for her. She could tell by the look on his face that he was not pleased with her being so late.

"Where have you been?" her father asked while looking sternly at Helen's petit form.

"Out… walking…" Helen stammered trying to sound as confident as possible, but she failed miserably.

"Not been with anyone?" her father had narrowed his eyes and seemed to look right through her very soul.

"No… no not at all…" Helen was grateful for the darkness in the hallway as it concealed her blushing cheeks.

Without any further comments her father suddenly left her standing in the hallway. It was clear to Helen that he had not believed her, but she felt relieved that he had not pursued it. Little did she realise that he had already taken action to prevent her from actually being with the person she craved the most.

The next day the girl did not show up at school, nor did she for the rest of the week. Helen was worried, but did not know why. Not until the following Sunday in church, where her father held thunderous sermon about deviation from the true ways of God and about how devils in the disguise of pretty girls could seduce innocent and naïve young girls into abnormal behaviour of sexual degradation. Everything suddenly became clear to Helen, as she struggled not to faint. She felt the heavy blackness fill her heart as her father almost beamingly and proud explained how he himself had managed to exorcise such a devil and send it back to where it belonged. She knew she had lost the one person she had ever loved as much as her mother and she knew there was nothing she could do about it, except for hiding the hurt and anguish deep inside her and suppressing any kind of feeling she might ever have towards other girls.

The silence in the house when they got home was unpleasant and Helen could feel the cold creeping in everywhere around her, both physically and mentally. Her father suddenly stood hovering over her.

"You will never engage in that kind of activity ever again. Or I will be forced to denounce you forever as my daughter. That kind has no rights and you will not become ensnared in their world for as long as I live."

He turned and left her standing alone in the large empty hallway. Helen felt a sharp pain in her chest and reckoned the built up of tears. Though he was not a warm and caring father, he was all she had left since her mother's death, and she could not afford to loose him as well. She then knew that all she was feeling would have to be buried and never be allowed to surface again. And it had stayed that way for the most of her life, well hidden and forgotten, until that fatal day 11 years ago. The vision of the tall black haired girl with the blue eyes morphed itself into a new vision of a tall dark haired woman with deep brown eyes; a vision that had haunted Helen day and night for all those years.

That woman held her heart and she had abandoned her because of her old fears. She had thrown away the best thing that had ever happened to her, but she wanted to mend it. She was probably too late, but she knew she had to try, at least for her own sake and peace of mind. If she did not, she knew she would regret it to the day she died. Though she had not totally explored all her reasons for choosing a trip to the Island of Jersey, she instinctively knew it was where all her answers lay. Helen was finally ready to set out on her journey towards the truth, even though it was not going to be a very unpleasant experience.

Chapter 2

Helen looked out over the rail on the ferry. She spotted the island, the destination of her journey, looking just like it had 11 years ago. A heavy fog covered the island allowing only a few sunrays to break through and warm the chilled air. The ferry landed at the pier and the passengers left in a hurry. Helen lingered for a moment uncertain about how to proceed. She knew where she was supposed to be heading, but still she hesitated uncertain whether it was the right thing to do. Though so many years had pasted she clearly remembered the road to the old lighthouse and could almost see her younger self climbing the road and later returning with a devastated look on her pale face. She shuttered in order to rid herself of the image. It was not helping keeping her resolve. Helen tightened her coat around her in a defensive gesture and to shot out the chills. She took a firm grip on the handle of her bag, like it projected the only secure point in her chaotic world, as she took the first insecure steps up the dusty road.

The old lighthouse looked just as sturdy as it had done before. Still with a shade of ghostly white and towering up over its surroundings. Helen felt the wind blowing coldly in her face bringing an air of hostility along with it, but she was not inclined to turn away this time. She still had a lot of unanswered questions and she knew that the only person who could answer them lived in the old lighthouse. Her Scottish stubbornness did not deny itself; it drove her forward, even when her steps faltered. As she drew nearer to the low front building Helen suddenly stopped in her tracks. All her determination and resolve had evaporated into thin air. She looked with apprehension at the buildings and felt herself shiver. Now that she was at the doorstep of her future, she was suddenly frightened beyond reason.

Is it really the right thing I am doing? She thought and frowned. She had to mentally shake herself in order to keep her focus on her object of her visit.

She had instinctively thought it was the only right thing to do, but now she was not so sure. Would it really be such a good idea to ask Nikki for help? It was quite possible that Nikki would reject her, considering how badly Helen had hurt her all those years ago. But it was a risk she had to take since there was no one else she could possible think of, who would be more apt to help her sort out the mess in her mind. But could she take another plain rejection? She had always been so damned scared of being rejected by the ones she loved, so she had never really allowed herself to get carried away with the feelings of love for anyone. Only twice in her life, and both times had she denied herself the possibility of happiness. And now? What would happen if she lost the last chance of happiness in her life? She knew it was quite possible that she had already lost the battle, but she was not ready to retreat, and the war was not over yet. She had grown older and hopefully wiser, and now was the time for demonstrating that strength she had obtained over the years. However, she did not feel particularly strong or confident. She was suddenly back being that scared little girl from her childhood on the edge of loosing everything. Could she hold it together, if her attempts to redeem herself would fail? She was not sure of the answer to that question. She doubted she would keep her sanity, if it all turned into dust.

This time she had not called in advance. Helen had just decided to take a chance and come uninvited. However, that might have been a little rash, though she had spent almost six month of thinking about nothing else and rethinking all the possible scenario and outcomes of her sudden visit. She had felt almost insane at times, when her mind was stuck in feedback loops about what she hoped would happen.

Helen had the urge to run away, but she had not come this far just to give up. She took a deep breath and composed herself before pressing the doorbell. It rang loudly and shrilly, cutting roughly through the stillness around the buildings. Helen felt her resolve falter, but she was a stubborn woman and refused to give up so close to her goal. She waited for what seemed like an eternity, when the door finally opened and revealed the tall, dark and beautiful woman of her haunted dreams.

The shock was evident on Nikki's face as her mouth opened and closed without any sounds passing her lips and her eyes staring widely in disbelief at the other woman. She looked remarkable like fish out of the water. Nikki blinked and tried to comprehend that the vision of her dreams was not just that, a dream. She closed her eyes and drew a shattering breath in order to compose her self. Helen was still there when she opened her eyes, so she was not a vision. Nikki's voice croaked when she spoke.


"Nikki…" Helen breathed out slowly as she felt tears rising in her eyes. She blinked quickly to disperse them.

They stood paralysed looking at each other, not moving a muscle, only trying to comprehend what was actually happening. The world came to a full stop, for a brief moment they were back 11 years before, standing at the exact same spot staring at each other. Their thought of the other woman's beauty rushed through their memories, confusing and alluring with a tinge of sadness, then abruptly they were back in the present, choked at the sudden waves of emotions that threatened to overwhelm them. However tempting it would be to just rush into the arms of the other woman in a fierce embrace, some invisible force held them back and prevented them from doing what they had both wanted for so long. Maybe it was the fear of rejection, maybe it was the shock of suddenly seeing each other as living, breathing persons or maybe it was shyness?

Helen was the first to break the silence.

"Thomas and I split up…" she swallowed hard and continued. "I have been such a fool, Nikki… "

"I know what you are saying…" Nikki had found her voice again, but did not really want to hear what Helen was saying in spite of the fact that her curiosity was more than a little peaked.

"No, let me say it…" Helen said holding her hand up to interrupt Nikki and forestalling her response. She slowly continued in an even voice.

"Thomas is gorgeous… and everything what you could want in a man… But I want a woman…"

The silence was deafening and Helen felt her heart sink to her toes when Nikki did not say anything. She averted her eyes and dropped her head. This was not going at all like she had hoped. Not even a word, not a glance or recognition of her statement. With a cold glare Nikki just stood emotionless and unmoving like a statue. Helen could have dealt with an angry Nikki, but she was not sure she could handle this silent, pale figure that stared at her like she had never seen her before. It unnerved Helen beyond reason and she started blabbering:

"It was one big lie… My whole bloody life has been a lifelong lie… I was wrong to leave all those years ago… I don't know… what I had expected… Thomas wants a divorce…. I … " she hesitated realising how stupid she must sound. "I… I want us… to talk…"

Helen desperately wanted Nikki to say something, to recognise her pleas, but her hopes were slipping away when only silence was left between them. She once more lowered her head in defeat. If she had just looked up at the woman in front of her at that moment, she would have seen the emotional chaos cross her face and a short burst of passion in those dark eyes. But Helen did not have the courage to look up and see the rejection that she expected would be evident.

"If you want to talk…. I guess you better come in…." Nikki said with a raspy voice and stepped aside. She frowned, as Helen made no move to enter. "Unless… you wanna stay out there all day?" the question was delivered with a sardonic touch of aloofness and not very inviting at all.

Helen had heard the first sentence, but had to compose herself before lifting her head in recognition of the words, causing the delay in her reaction. She blinked as to focus her sight. She took a tentative step towards the open door and almost stumbled over the door step. She steadied herself and walked into the hallway, which looked exactly like it had the last time she was there. It was the same terracotta coloured floor and bare white walls. Nikki had turned and led the way to the living room, which had the same mixture of old and new furniture that Helen had found rather intriguing and very unique, like its occupant. A fire was lit at the fireplace and filled the living room with warmth, a harsh contrast to the decisively cold air between the two women.

"So… you wanted to talk?" Nikki's voice was cold and calm cutting through the tense atmosphere.

"Yes…" Helen said acknowledging the question, but hesitated as she tried to calm herself. Again she only saw the coldness in those brown eyes that previously had shown warmth and compassion, even anger the last time they had met in this house.

"Then by all means…. Talk…." came the mocking reply, delivered with a slightly lifted eyebrow. Still the rest of the face showed no emotions and the body was held rigid as the woman stood tall and thin in front of Helen, who did not dare to look up again. She took a deep breath of air before staring to speak in a voice shaking with emotions

"Nikki… this is difficult for me…"

She was cut short by an angry outburst from Nikki.

"And it is not difficult for me?"

Helen's head shot up at the sound of the raspy voice with the sardonic infliction and for a brief moment she thought she saw a flicker of the old passionate woman just before the emotionless mask of disdain returned. It made Helen change her line of strategy, as she guessed any mention of Thomas might trigger something in the other woman. She desperately wanted to get a reaction, any reaction other than this cold demeanour.

"Thomas and I are divorcing…" Helen stated in a quiet, but now steady voice. "He left me six month ago… I haven't seen him since… " she hesitated, frantically searching for something more to say. "He left… and I don't know where he is…"

Again she was crudely interrupted before she had a chance to continue.

"Oh… is that why you are here?" Nikki's voice dripped with sarcasm. "Needing information about your lost ex-husband? Like I would ever give that to you…" The last was almost a sneer.

Nikki's control was slowly, but surely slipping away from her. She could feel the cracks in her composure grow at each passing minute. She desperately wanted to keep that little bit of dignity and control, so she could think clearly and logically, but something about Helen Stewart made her fall apart, not just because of the emotional trauma she had caused, but because her very presence had always had that effect on Nikki. She fought hard to steady herself mentally in order to face anything Helen Stewart might throw at her and reverse it to her favour. She kept quiet and found herself calm down a bit.

"I recon you know more about his whereabouts than I do," Helen said dryly. "Since you have brought it up, you might want to enlighten me about his present location?"

"What makes you think, I would ever let you know anything?" Nikki said carefully avoiding any infliction in her voice. Only another raised eyebrow and eyes that grew darker showed the turmoil inside her.

"Since you are obviously dying to tell me…" Helen coaxed knowing she was skating on thin ice. If she was not careful, she might alienate Nikki even more than she already had. But on the other hand she needed to break through to her and find the answers she missed.

"You are bloody delusional!" Nikki shot back with a deathly glare, while she crossed her arms in front of her. She had turned to stand in front of the window with her back against it.

"Maybe… or maybe it is just years of experience with evasive people who try to trick their way out of an uncomfortable situation and make me uncomfortable instead." Helen narrowed her eyes, as she tried to gauge Nikki's expression.

"Now, why would I do that?" Nikki tightened the grip around her arms. She tried not to squirm under Helen's intense inspection.

"You tell me…" Helen paused. "Anyway… I need to know where he is in order to send some of his personal belongings that he didn't take when he left…"

"Thomas doesn't need you anymore… and he doesn't need anything from you…" Nikki said in a low menace voice.

"So you have spoken with him…" It was a statement, summarizing Helen's suspicions.

"No!" came the reply a little too quickly. Nikki tempered her response and spoke more carefully. "No… not for a very long time…" At least that was true, but she deliberately forgot about the two letters she had received. One letter about six months before and one only a couple of weeks ago.

"Do you know where he is?" Helen had to ask, though she knew that the chance for a straight answer was non-existent.


"You do know…" Helen stood with a pensive look on her face. "Why are you so possessive of him?"

"I'm not being possessive," came the reply from Nikki. "I'm being protective… He is my brother after all…"

What am I doing? What is wrong with me? she thought with confusion. I want this woman, yet I have to protect Thomas from being hurt again no matter the cost.

"And living with him for nearly 22 years counts for nothing?" Helen was getting angry. She could feel her blood start to boil. Nikki was an infuriating woman, and she had always managed to make Helen feel guilty and overwhelmed with an immensely fury, not to mention a physical need for intimacy in its outermost consequence.

"No… not when you don't love him…"

"And what the Hell is that supposed to mean?" For a brief moment Helen was almost stunned to silence. They were standing face to face glaring angrily at each other only inches apart. Helen was not about to back down now. Something had snapped in her head. She did not care any more what she had gotten herself into. If Nikki wanted a fight, then that was exactly what she would get. Helen's stubbornness asserted itself and Nikki was about to experience the full range of the Helen Stewart wrath that could intimidate even the most stoic judges.

Chapter 3

Part 1

Nikki could no longer hold back her anger. All the pent up emotions of loss, hurt, pain, frustration and most of all unrequited love flooded through her system and drowned her normally logical way of thinking. She could not hold it back any more, nor did she want to. She was also beyond caring about the consequences of her temper.

"It means exactly what I said!" Nikki spat back vehemently.

"How dare you judge me like that?" Helen was spitting feathers. Her eyes were sparkling grey-green steely anger at the tall dark woman in front of her. She was fuming and it showed as a hot red flush on her cheeks and neck.

"How dare you diminish what I have felt for Thomas?" Helen yelled forgetting all about her dignity. "You don't know anything about me or my feelings," she was firing on all cylinders. The woman simply brought the worst up in her. "And you most certainly don't know what I have been through!"

"What you have been through?" Nikki retorted incredulously. "Who the Hell do you think you are?" Nikki's dark eyes were burning with anger as she starred almost with disgust at Helen. "You really got some nerve… To think you can come waltzing back into my life and pretend nothing happened… You turned my world upside down 11 years ago and then you just left without a word… Do you have any idea what it did to me? What I had to suffer because you were married to my brother?" Nikki was yelling at Helen. "I could not have you, because you were his! Do you have any idea what it has cost me to let him have you? Or do you even care? I guess I was just another distraction for you, a mere toy to easily discard, when you were tired of it." She started to pace up and down while trying to control her breath and temper.

For a brief moment Helen was lost for words. But she quickly regained her composure as her own temper got the better of her. Her voices was low and calm, too calm really and dangerously polite when she finally spoke.

"I know what happened to you, and I am profoundly sorry for causing you that pain. It was never my intention to hurt you. But don't ever think that you were the only one who had to make some sacrifices. All those years of living a lie, trying to do what was right in order not to betray my husband any more than I had already done was not exactly a walk in the park. So don't you ever dare to accuse me for not caring about you and your feelings!"

They moved slowly around each other, like a dance or test where each sized up the opponent. The tension was thick and the room seemed to close in on them, making them feel almost claustrophobic. They were breathing hard as they circled around, like sharks in the water, waiting for the right moment to strike out. Their eyes were burning with unshed tears of anguish. But neither of them wanted to be the first to give in. The two women stopped on opposite site of the coffee table. The atmosphere remained thick and almost palpable like a suffocating layer of cotton around them.

"Nikki…" Helen tried to get through to the tall dark woman, who could make her so angry and at the same time feeling so protective. "Could we please discuss this in an adult manner?"

"Helen 'bloody' Stewart has it all cut out…. Eh? Sorry, babe, but that is just not how it is going to be…" Nikki was not ready to back down and did not have her temper under control. "I am really glad for you, Helen… You could still pull the boys…"

"Oh, Nikki, grow up!" Helen was getting impatient. "Why do you have to make it so difficult?"

"Because it IS difficult…. Or haven't you noticed?" Nikki said in a sarcastic tone.

"I don't know why I even bother…" Helen had the urge to roll her eyes in exasperation as she started to speak, but was interrupted by Nikki.

"Yeah, it must be really hard… to screw your sister-in-law!"

"Damn you, Nikki!" Helen shot back vehemently. "You are intolerable!"

Nikki stormed out of the terrace door slamming it violently in the process. Helen slumped down on the couch starring with empty eyes on the room not really seeing it. She looked weary and suddenly her age was evident. For the first time in Helen Stewart's adult life things were way out of her control and she had no means to change it. She felt helpless and vulnerable, almost exposed as she sat alone in the large living room. Though the fire was lit the room felt chilled and the coldness seeped into her bones. She rested her head in her hands and let the tears flow freely. All the tension and frustration, all the anger and the pain finally found an outlet. She had not cried for 11 years, but now there was nothing stopping her from doing just that in deep heart wrecking sobs.

Part 2

Nikki Wade was fuming, as she briskly walked down the path to the edge of the cliff. Her blood boiled and she felt the veins in her temple throb. She was literally seeing red, and she knew she had had to get out before saying or doing something that she would later regret. Nikki could not control her temper, though she wanted to.

Helen 'bloody' Stewart, she thought grinding her teeth. Why the Hell did she had to come here and turn my nice, quiet life into this stupid mess again? Nikki could not get her mind to work properly. I barely just managed to get my life back on track, and now it is ruined, she felt the tears burn in her eyes. I can't go through with this again. I can't cope if she leaves me one more time. It's not fair! She angrily wiped the tears from her face as they started to fall without resistance. I wonder if she even knows or cares about what she had done to me. What she is doing to me, Nikki thought miserably.

She did not know where she was going. She had just stormed out of her house leaving Helen behind and not really caring. She just wanted to get as far away as possible from that woman. Even though at the same time she felt herself drawn towards her like a moth to a flame. And Nikki knew she would get badly burned, if she allowed herself to be pulled into her embrace once more. Those grey-green eyes, that had captured her soul and haunted her dark nights for 11 years, were still torturing her and preventing her from thinking straight.

Nikki did not know for how long she had been wandering around on the cliffs surrounding the old lighthouse, but it was slowly getting darker and it would soon be dusk. She had to return. She wondered if Helen would still be there, and what she should do if she were. She dreaded to have to deal with an angry Helen Stewart, but at the same time she somehow wished that she would still be there. They really did need to work things out, but what if Helen had had enough of her and left without another word? Nikki did not want to think that thought to and end. She just quickened her pace and walked down the narrow path towards her home.

There were no lights on in the living room. She carefully turned the door handle and opened the terrace door. She stepped inside, wary of her surroundings. There were no sounds and the fire had almost died out. She looked around, but did not see the figure on the couch. She turned around and headed for the kitchen, but stopped dead in her tracks, and almost jumped five feet in the air, when a low Scottish voice caught her off guard.

"So… you're back…"

"Gees, Helen! Don't ever do that again!" Nikki exclaimed as she almost tumbled over the coffee table.

"Sorry… didn't mean to startle you…" the voice was soft and heavy with that beautiful Scottish lilt that could make Nikki melt. "I… err… "

There was an awkward silence between them. Nikki tried to get her pulse under control and regulate her breathing back to normal. She needed to do something, so she walked over to the fireplace and raked up the smouldering embers in order to get the fire back.

"I… I must have dozed off…" Helen finally said. She took a deep breath before carefully continuing. "Listen… we have to talk… to talk properly… not argue and yell at each other…"

"I know…" Nikki did not turn around. She knew she would loose the battle if she looked into those enchanting eyes. She tried to compose herself.

"And I'm not leaving until we have resolved this 'thing' between us…" Helen said with more determination than she actually felt.

"Well… then you better stay for dinner… " the cold tone was back in Nikki's voice, and it made Helen involuntary shiver. But if she had known it was only a façade, she might have been less anxious. Though not really being hungry Helen silently accepted Nikki's half-hearted invitation with a nod.

Nikki were still bending by the fireplace, putting a few extra logs on the embers. She quickly stood as flames caught the logs and started to warm the chilled air in the living room. She went into the kitchen and started to prepare dinner. She moved swiftly around in the kitchen fetching the ingredients for their meal. Nikki was chopping up the vegetables with an efficient almost ferocious swing of the big knife. Carrots and squash were neatly sliced and ready for the stir-fry.

Helen felt a little lost. She wanted to help like she had done the last time she had been there, but the cloud of cold air that emanated form Nikki made her keep her distance. She was pushed around when Nikki quickly turned from the kitchen table to the sink and back again. For a brief moment they stopped right in front of each other only inches apart. Helen could feel her body react to the close proximity of the other woman, but she did not dare to look into her eyes and she silently admonished herself for letting her body react. Though Nikki on the outside appeared to be in a calm control, she could not help gulping a bit of air, when suddenly being so close to this enchanting woman. She quickly dismissed her reaction and said with a sardonic inflection:

"You could make yourself useful by laying the table and opening that bottle of wine… unless you plan to stand in my way all night…"

Helen took the bottle from the table and turned around. She walked into the living room to the dining table and began to set the plates after opening the wine bottle.

Nikki shortly emerged from the kitchen with their dinner. They ate in total silence; none of them were willing to start the conversation they both knew would have to take place, no matter how unpleasant it might get. But in the end someone had to break the ice and dive in, even if it was going to be a difficult journey of truths.

"What is it you want?" Nikki finally said and sipped some of her wine, while looking over the rim of her glass at Helen.

"I guess… I need closure…" Helen replied with a slight hesitation colouring her voice.

"And there is nothing else you want from me?" Nikki said with a raised eyebrow and a pensive look on her face.

"Err… what do you mean?" Helen felt slightly confused, not being able to follow Nikki's train of thoughts. She became a little unnerved when Nikki stood and walked around the table coming to a halt right in front of her, staring intensely into her eyes, like she was searching for some answers in them.

"I mean … this…" Nikki said in a low voice. She quickly leaned down and kissed Helen hard on the mouth, before she could escape. Helen was first stunned; then she briefly struggled, before finally giving in and relishing in the rough kiss.

Chapter 4

Part 1

They broke apart looking sheepishly at each other, suddenly both a little shy. The previous anger had evaporated due to the heat of the kiss. Nikki looked into those grey-green eyes that had been in her dreams for the past 11 years. What she saw there almost scared her. A naked hungry desire was evident in the dilated pupils. She gulped some air before putting a safe distance between them. Her voice was shaky and husky when she spoke.

"We really got some things to work through… and I have the feeling that is going to be a long evening… Why don't I get some coffee?"

"Sounds like a good idea," Helen answered, not really caring about coffee. But her mind told her to get back in control of her hormones. They had to talk properly, before anything else could or should happen between them. It would just be so easy to give in and indulge in those sweet touches that she desperately craved, but it would not resolve anything between them and only make things more complicated than they already were. That would not be the best starting point for a possible relationship, or at least at possible understanding.

Nikki went out into the kitchen and Helen heard her scramble around. For a brief moment she relished in the domestic sounds emanating from the house and smiled to herself. Helen walked over to the large bookcases. She let her fingers trace the covers in a caress as she read the titles. She was amazed that a lot of the books matched her own taste; at least what the classics were concerned. There were also a lot of titles that she had never heard about, like "Oranges are not the only fruits" by Jeanette Winterson and "The prize of salt" by Patricia Highsmith. Then her eyes fell on a number of books written by Wanda Nicolas, an author that Helen had a very special predilection for. She had read all her books, well all three of them, and always felt a strong connection with the main characters and the atmosphere permeating the stories.

It was about a prisoner and a wing governor, both women, falling in love in spite of all odds, which of course was a highly unlikely story, but the way their love was described and how much pain their break-ups had caused the main characters had caught Helen's heart and brought her own feelings to the surface. The emotions flowing between the two women in the story had been so much like her feelings for Nikki, and also the single night of passion described had stirred her own memories of their night together. She had felt the truth in every one of those words.

The description of the final break-up between the wing governor and the prisoner… a lonely prisoner convicted for manslaughter… a single night of passion… falling apart… doing harm to herself…

Helen suddenly stepped back from the bookcase and snapped her hand away as if the covers had burnt her. Her mouth opened and closed as she gasped for air. The revelation came abruptly and with the speed of lightning. She knew who Wanda Nicolas was and why her books had such a profound effect on her. She was so caught up in her turmoil as the knowledge sank into her consciousness that she did not hear that Nikki had entered the room carrying a tray with cups and coffee.

"So… you figured it out…." Nikki's voice was raspy and filled with emotions. She had stepped up behind Helen, who slowly turned around and stared at Nikki with wide eyes.

"It is you…you are Wanda Nicolas…" it was more a statement than a question. "I have always found that those books reached deep within my soul… now I know why… it is about us… it is our relationship you have portrayed… " Helen looked into Nikki's eyes trying to comprehend everything. Suddenly something else dawned on her. With that new awareness she stated:

"I'm the governor in those books!"

Wonder coloured her voice and she looked pensively out in the room somewhere beyond Nikki, who stayed silent looking with apprehension at the smaller woman. She pondered whether to elaborate or just to let the idea settle into Helen. She decided on something between the two things.

"Do you mind?" she finally asked, though it was a bit late to ask for permission.

"No…" Helen hesitated. "No, I don't mind…" she said with more certainty. "I'm just… well… surprised… about how well you captured all of my insecurities and fears… how you managed to transfer them into this wing governor character. It was like watching myself in the mirror… How could you possible have known about all those feelings?"

"I didn't…. It was a 'lucky' guess based on your behaviour when we met… And my own experiences as well…" Nikki shrugged her shoulders as to get rid of some unpleasant pressure.

"You want some coffee?" she said suddenly changing the subject and trying to lighten the mood. Helen just nodded and silently accepted the abruption of their conversation.

They settled on the big couch and Nikki poured the coffee and handed a cup to Helen. She took it and wrapped both her hands around the white, smooth porcelain. Nikki took her own cup and leaned back against the pillows. She looked tentatively at Helen, who did not seem to notice, as her eyes had a withdrawn look. The silence returned with the crackles form the fire as the only sound in the living room. After a while they both started to speak at the same time.

"You know…"

"Would you…"

They both stopped mid-sentence looking shyly at each other. Nikki gestured for Helen to continue.

"I … I want to tell you about myself… I want you to know and judge me for what and who I am… Not for what you think you might know about me… And I want you to listen to me, before interrupting me…" She took a deep breath before continuing. "My mother died when I was a child, and I lived alone with my father. He was a stern man, the minister and self-proclaimed head of our local community, guiding everybody through any temptations and being the voice of moral. Not a very loving father and not really fit for raising a little girl. But that was how it was. I can't change that now."

Nikki just nodded in understanding and sipped her coffee. Helen looked thoughtfully at her coffee cup as if the answers where inside it.

"I am going to tell you something I have never told anyone before… not even my best friend Claire… Something that I have not even dared to openly admit to myself… not until now…" she hesitated and looked over at Nikki, who just waited for her to continue.

"As you have figured out, I am attracted to women… I have always been… But I have never acted on it… well, only once… with you…" she said with a small smile. "I have never dared to act on those emotions; neither before nor after you, but you are not the only woman I have ever loved."

That statement made Nikki frown, not that she had any right to feel uncomfortable about whatever relationships Helen might have had in the past, she could not help but feel…well… jealous. She was pulled out of her musings when Helen continued.

"I have always been in control and always known where I was heading in my life… driven by a single-minded wish to please my father… Never really stopping and thinking about what I really wanted to do with my life," she smiled ruefully at the thought, sipped a little more of her coffee and continued.

"I always did the right things, always did what other expected me to do…" she paused briefly. "The only real choice I had ever made was going to university… and still it was in a pointless goal to make my father proud…partly… I didn't realise then that I was in fact running away from myself and my feelings and attractions towards other women. I was scared of what my father would do if he ever found out."

"Why were you scared?" Nikki asked with a certain amount of curiosity. Helen knew she had to be completely honest with Nikki and with herself if they were going to have any chance of ever being together, or at least to have a decent friendship. Though she had never told anyone about her first love, it would now be necessary both in order for her to get on with life and in order for them to get a mutual understanding.

"There was this girl in school… she was two years older than me… She was together with another girl… but I was very attracted to her…" Helen was talking slowly and with care, tasting every word in the process. She was silent for a moment and Nikki could see how her mind worked overtime by the display of emotions running over her face in the dim light.

"No, I loved her," Helen finally stated more firmly and continued with her story. "We started to befriend each other and go out together… until one day when she was suddenly gone…" she swallowed the lump in her throat as the memories and forgotten emotions suddenly threatened to overwhelm her. "It turned out that my father had banished her from our community… and indirectly he threatened to do the same to me… So I hid my feelings and kept to the boys…" she laughed without humour and with just a touch of bitterness.

"Not that it was much easier… with my father always looming around watching every step I took…"

Helen took another gulp of coffee and watched the fire that burned steadily and warmed her cold body. Her eyes were withdrawn and she seemed a bit absentminded. She was digging out some old memories, not all of them pleasant or very memorable.

"I lost my virginity at the age of 17 to a nice, but gutless boy… He was so rough and it was a rather painful experience… " she mused talking more to herself than to Nikki, who startled her, bringing her back to the present by saying:

"And yet you kept dating boys…"

"It was the only thing I knew of… besides I got used to having sex with men over the time and it was not all that bad…" Helen looked pensively at Nikki; then a frown spread on her forehead as she continued. "But that was what it was, just sex, not real lovemaking… well… perhaps expect with Thomas…" She really did not want to go into details about their love life, especially not to his sister, who happened to be the woman whom she herself had fallen in love with.

"In all my relationships… not that I have had that many…" she quickly added when she saw the disturbed look on Nikki's face. "I have never really allowed myself to let go and love my partners… I have always tried to push them away, in order not to get hurt and not to be left alone again… Stupid really, but that was the only thing I could do… I was caught in a pattern… After the first attraction had faded I promptly started to find faults in my boyfriends so I had an excuse to get out of the relationship. It was easy… none of them had the right things to offer…."

"Wrong gender?" Nikki said with a sardonic tone colouring her voice.

"Amongst other things…" Helen said dryly not raising to the bait and carried on like she had not been interrupted. "Sean, my first long term boyfriend…Well… he was a big mistake…" she sighed deeply. She really did not want to think about him, but this was just as much self-examination of her past as an explanation to Nikki, so she reluctantly accepted the need for doing it.

"At first he was able to charm the pants of me… He was handsome and nice, yet rather ordinary… He pursued me intently, showing me affection and attention beyond normal… Until, I said yes I would marry him… Then he became possessive and jealous, taking me for granted, demanding me to be the perfect wife… He didn't support me in my career and nothing I did was right or good enough for him… It was then that I realised I was about to make the mistake of my life by marrying the spitting image of my father… I broke the engagement, and he didn't take it too well… He actually humiliated me in public by burning his wedding suit in front of my office…" Helen said with a hint of disgust and a little spark of anger.

"Damned bastard!" Nikki blurted out before she could stop, but Helen just shrugged and said.

"You can say that again…"

"Then shortly after that I met Thomas," Helen's voice softened, as did her facial expression. Her eyes got a warm glow and Nikki could not help smiling. Though she had envied her brother for having Helen, she still loved him and wanted him to be happy. Helen spoke quietly, still with warmth permeating her every word.

"He had been working with my best friend Claire, your lawyer and we began a tentative relationship. We had both been hurt in our pasts and were not ready to make the same mistakes as before. He was very sweet and finally he convinced me that he really loved me. And yes, he was everything I could ever want in a man. I thought I had finally found the one. We married and had the twins. Everything was perfect and finally it seemed that my life was on the right track. I had a successful company, a perfect marriage, nice kids, everything…" She smiled wistfully and a shade of sorrow passed her face, but it disappeared before Nikki was sure about what she had seen.

"I had thought I had buried my attractions to women, never having to face them again…" Helen stopped speaking. She then looked intently at Nikki. "But I was wrong… You brought it all back… you let all my dark demons loose… When the can of worms was opened, I couldn't turn back to my life as it was before even though I tried with all my heart and willpower… But I couldn't forget you… or my feelings for you… I couldn't deny my attraction to you or my desire to be with you…" her voice had dropped to a low whisper, her Scottish accent growing thicker with every word. Nikki felt small shivers fleeting down her spine. If that was what Helen's voice could do, she did not dare to think what her touch could do to her. But she could not afford to linger at those thoughts; she needed to concentrate on what Helen was saying.

"And that was hurting Thomas… I was hurting him…" Helen trailed off, trying to compose herself as tears were burning in her eyes and threatening to spill all too easily. "For that I am profoundly sorry… I know you love him too… and don't want him to be unhappy…"

Nikki did not know what to say, so she stayed silent. She did not know why she felt so emotional, but Helen had that effect on her, no matter how angry she could make her at the same time. Nikki could also feel her own tears starting to well and she furiously blinked to prevent them to show, but she did not need to worry. Helen was too busy wiping her own eyes.

Part 2

The silence engulfed them, but not quite as awkwardly as before. They sat staring out into the empty space, each musing about their own lives and the choices they had made. The only sound audible was a deep rumble in the distance announcing the approach of a thunderstorm. Helen had managed to compose herself enough to trust her voice to speak.

"Thomas never really spoke of you… not until we split up…" Nikki did not answer since she did not know what to say, but she had heard Helen and frowned.

"He knew about us…" Helen said evenly.

"I have never told him anything… " Nikki said quietly without looking up.

"I know… " Helen said her voice thick with emotions as she continued. "He found my ticket to the ferry… And he guessed it, because I couldn't hide my feelings when he mentioned you… though I didn't say anything to confirm his assumptions…"

The silence was thick. The fire was crackling, mixing its small explosions with the thunder, which had moved to hang directly above their heads. They listened to the sounds of nature, each wondering about what was going to happen between them. They tried to gauge what the other woman was thinking, but were both failing in their attempts. Nikki frowned as something suddenly came to her mind.

"Why did you keep the ticket?" Nikki was honestly bemused at Helen's previous sentence.

"Sentimental value, I suppose… I needed…" Helen stopped and took a deep breath before continuing. "No, I craved … something to remind me about our encounter…"

Nikki did not speak. Her mind had suddenly stopped working as she tried to digest what Helen was actually saying. Was it possible that their moments together had meant as much to Helen as it had meant to her? She did not dare to let her mind wander in that direction, though she had a deep urge to let her heart drift ahead of her mind. So she tried to keep her cool, as she wanted to explain to Helen what had happened in her life. But it was extremely difficult to find the right words, and she did not know where to start or where to end.

"I never told Thomas anything about your visit… " she finally said, daring to steal a glance at the woman beside her. "He came to visit me once shortly after you had been here… and I treated him real badly… quite frankly I was awful towards him…" Nikki sighed and shook her head ruefully. "Afterwards I avoided him and didn't call him back, when he phoned me…. I was even rude to him on occasions… I wonder why he put up with me…" she could feel the tears burn in her eyes again.

"He loves you…" Helen stated plainly, as it was just another fact of life.

"I guess so, but only God knows why, since I was such a prat dealing with him… " Nikki laughed without humour and blinked her eyes furiously to get rid of the tears. "I couldn't help myself, speaking to him with such harshness and malice, and being so utterly mean to him… Thomas had always been so nice to me… and looked out for me when I was younger… He only wanted the best for his little sister, and tried to make me tell what was bothering me…" she took a deep shattering breath. "But how could I tell him, that I had fallen in love with his wife? I couldn't hurt him… His first wife was a real bitch, and she was so down right mean to him… she was unfaithful to him and left with his best friend… He was in such a mess after that…" Nikki looked totally abashed, even with a haunted, fearsome glint in her eyes. "So how could I tell him that his new wife, the woman he loved above everything was cheating on him with his own sister?"

"He had always been helping me when things got though, and suddenly I treat him like dirt, playing the jealous lover…" Nikki shook her head in dismay. "He's the one who should be jealous and angry with me… He had every right…" she could not look at Helen and averted her eyes. "And yet he kept checking up on me as I slipped deeper into my depression with each passing day. I finally tried to end my misery… but failed… Barbara came around looking for me and found me on the bathroom floor…"

Who the Hell is Barbara? a short angry burst of jealousy shot through Helen, almost frightening her with its intensity, but she quickly swallowed her initial response and forced herself to stay calm and focus on what Nikki was actually saying to her. Nikki had stopped speaking and was fumbling with the hem of her shirt.

"Why did you hurt yourself?" Helen forced her voice to be even, but emotions causing turmoil could be detected underneath the surface as a slight darker colouring of her voice along with her Scottish accent.

"I couldn't keep it together…" Nikki mumbled shamefully. "I couldn't see any reason to live anymore…"

"But why?" Helen repeated with more intensity.

"Helen…" Nikki sighed deeply before continuing while looking directly at Helen. "You didn't love me and you had left me… I couldn't have you, but Thomas could… Though I loved him dearly and would never hurt him deliberately, he had the only woman I have ever loved so completely… There was nothing left for me…" Helen blinked her eyes, opened and closed her mouth like a fish out of water, as she tried to comprehend what Nikki was telling her. Her lips were trembling slightly, when she finally managed to get her mind to work and with great intensity said:

"Nikki, listen to me… I'm not… and I was not worth dying for…"

"But I almost did…" Nikki stated without inflection.

"Yes… you did… and it pains me deeply to know I was the cause…" Helen said quietly trying to catch Nikki's eyes, but she stubbornly kept looking at the carpet or her coffee cup on the table. Helen was not about to give up on the truth, so she tried to make Nikki open a bit more while at the same time she was truly bemused about something. "Thomas never told me anything about it… not until he asked for a divorce… Why didn't he?"

"I asked him not to mention it to you… " Nikki's voice was husky and thick.

"Why on Earth did you do that?" Helen retorted vehemently without thinking.

"I couldn't make him hurt you… and I couldn't betray you by revealing why I had hurt myself…" Nikki had a pained expression on her face, like the conversation was actually causing her physical pain. "Even though you had abandoned me, I still loved you and didn't want anything bad to happen to you…"

"My God, Nikki… What were you thinking of?" Helen said with exasperation.

"You… I was thinking of you…" Nikki said trying to convey all her love to Helen.

"What?" Helen was taken aback by the response and looked baffled, but slowly comprehension downed on her face. Awe-stricken she bent her head and regarded her neatly folded hands in her lap. How could she ever make it up to Nikki for all those bad years that she had been the cause of? There was not much she could do. She had denied her feelings for so long, so would Nikki believe her if she told her she loved her? Or would she dismiss her admission and put it down to the undeniable physical attraction between them? Would she be brave enough to go all the way and apologise for her stupidity and lack of courage? Helen was pulled out of her musings as Nikki once again spoke.

"After my feeble suicide attempt I tried to get back to a normal life… If you could call my old life for normal…" a wry smile played on her lips. "Owning a night club, being a lesbian and convicted of murder and having served four years in prison… " she shook her head and with a light quaver in her voice she said, "I was a real mess, both physically and mentally… I needed something that could help me keeping it together… I had been in trouble many times… and I have faced bigoted people, including my parents… But I have never felt so alone, as I did when I returned home… I was lost without directions… For the first time in my life I had no hope…"

They sat silently, listening to the thunderstorm moving away, the rumble being more distant. Nikki stood abruptly and walked over to the fireplace in order to put some more logs on the fire. Helen followed her every movement with keen eyes, drinking in the sight of the tall woman, a bit lankier than she remembered her and with a few silver grey strands in the otherwise dark hair. Nikki had her back to Helen, so she missed the different emotions that flickered over Helen's face as she observed her.

"Barbara once told me that writing is good for the soul… It helps keeping a clear mind…" Nikki said turning around and walking back to the couch. "So I started to write… At first just for my own benefit… But then Barbara started to read it and told me to write for good… I started to do so… And well, you know the result of that… I became a hit as a writer… But I didn't want all the publicity, so I used a pseudonym, Wanda Nicolas… It gave me the freedom to write about myself and the advantage of privacy…"

"Who is Barbara?" Helen blurted out before she could stop her jealous heart to respond.

Nikki lifted an eyebrow, almost imperceptible but with a definite scornful look in her eyes.

"What does it matter?" she said mockingly, and Helen had to bit her tongue in order not to respond to the bait. "You are not jealous, are you?" Nikki continued taunting Helen by needling her all too obvious reaction to the name of another woman, who seemed to have a big influence on Nikki's life. Helen turned an interesting shade of red in the face as she blushed, all the way down her neck and chest. Nikki finally took pity on her and said:

"It is my neigh bough and a good friend… She served time with me. She was accused of killing her husband out of mercy… To be true we didn't exactly see eye to eye at first, but after the first couple of bumps and misunderstandings we became very good friends…" Nikki smiled at Helen's rather sceptical expression. She could not help being a bit amused over her reaction, though it seemed rather misplaced.

"After she had served her time she came here…." Nikki made a brief pause, just to see the effect of her words on Helen's face, but decided to stop the taunting. "…With her new husband to start a new life, like I had… And don't worry, Helen she is old enough to be my mother…" the last sentence was said with a faint humour colouring her voice that underlined the gentle teasing.

Helen blushed even deeper when she recognised that she had been caught acting like a love-struck, jealous lover. She felt embarrassed, but tried to keep a little bit of her dignity. However, it was a difficult task, and she finally swallowed her pride and asked the one question, that had been playing in her mind ever since entering the house again.

"Did you ever… err…" she stammered, not really knowing how to proceed with her question. "…you know…"

"Get involved with another woman?" Nikki helpfully finished for her. "Well… only one woman… Her name was Caroline Lewis… I thought she might be the right woman… to get me out of my self-imposed loneliness… that was until I found out that she was married and were into some rather shady business with her husband… I found out when she was put behind bars… " she suddenly sounded bitter and disgusted, though whether it was with herself, the situation or with Caroline Lewis, Helen was unable to determine. "Though I knew it could be Hell inside, I didn't even feel sorry for her… She had deceived me and with what her husband was doing with her consent, she really deserved to be locked away for good." Nikki's eyes were darkened with anger and sparks.

Helen could not help but feeling the green monster of jealousy breathing hotly down her neck, but she refused to give in to the irrational anger that images of Nikki and this Caroline created in her mind. She was silent, her lips pursed and frowning slightly. For a very long time they just sat there on the couch, not quite sure where it was all leading.

"What is it really you want Helen?" Nikki was the first to find the courage to speak up, what they both were thinking. "Kiss and make up?" she said with disdain. "Do you really think that would change anything?" anger was slowly creeping into her words and her eyes sparked dangerously as she continued. "We can't erase the past, and we can't change the choices we made… You made your decision back then… and now you just want to change it, because it suits you?"

Helen flinched at the last sentence, partly because it was what she wanted and partly because Nikki had so eloquently stripped her mask and called her bluff. However, she tried to stay on top of things, and with her training as a lawyer she should not have any difficulties doing that, but Nikki was not a person who could be fooled or lulled into oblivion.

"Don't you understand? It was an impossible situation for me…" Helen tried to stall for time.

"Oh, and now it is not? You know, it really hasn't changed all that much… You'll still be a bloody dyke…"

Helen cringed at the harshness of the words, and once more she tried to make Nikki see sense. Not that would easy considering her last outburst.

"I need you to understand, why I left…" she tried again, exasperation creeping into her voice, though she tried to hide it and suppress the anger, which would not help her if she were to convince Nikki of her sincerity.

"I know why…" Nikki spat back. "You were too damn scared to face the truth…"

"I… I… yes… " Helen looked defeated, but her voice was calm when she spoke. "Yes, I was scared… I AM scared… But not only for the reasons you believe…" she looked over at Nikki to gauge her expression. She knew this would be a crucial moment in their relationship, so she tried to be as open and honest as possible. She owed that to Nikki and to herself.


"No… It's true… I was afraid of what loving a woman could do to my career, especially a woman who had been in prison convicted of manslaughter… I had and still have some high profile companies as customers and I am not sure they would have condoned my relationship with and ex-convict… Nor do I think they would have accepted me being involved with another woman… But…" her expression softened. "...what I was scared the most about the whole situation was to loose the one person I had ever loved completely… and I lost that person anyway… because of my thoughtless actions… And now, I am still scared to lose that person… because I might already be too late to save anything of what was between us…" she stopped and looked into Nikki's eyes. "I am scared of loosing you!"

"Then tell me you love me!"

Words eluded Helen as she looked into Nikki's dark brown eyes, drowning in the intense stare burning through her soul. She felt the warmth emanating from the lean body beside her. It made her tingle all over in both anticipation and nervousness. Her thoughts were rather improper, but she could not help herself from imagine what it would be like to just lean over and kiss those soft inviting lips.

Part 3

They were seated on the big couch only inches apart. They sat as they had done one lonely night in the past. The flickering light from the fire lit up their faces, leaving a warm golden glow that softened the roughed edges on their faces. They had stopped talking and sat for the first time during their reunion in a peaceful silence that was not awkward. They sipped their wine and relished in the sudden silent connection between them. Grey-green eyes suddenly met dark brown in an intense gaze that seemed to go on and on. The atmosphere changed and became charged with an overpowering erotic energy. None of them could deny what they wanted, what they needed from each other. They had waited so long for this special moment to arrive. There was no way they could stop their bodies to react to the close proximity of the other woman.

They needed to kiss and in silent agreement they both leaned forward closing the short distance between them. The kiss was soft, yet laden with need, and it continued for what seemed like an eternity; an eternity of bliss and joy, a sweet release of sexual tension. They deepened the kiss in a desperate attempt to convey everything in that one touch of love. Their hands began to roam over heated bodies.

"Oh, God… I want you so much…" Helen's voice was low and very husky as she breathed her need into Nikki's ear. She was shaking all over as her body reacted to the kiss with goose bumps and oversensitive nerve endings.

If this is what she makes me feel by just a kiss, then I'm not sure I'll survive when she touches me for real, Helen thought to herself half amused and half in despair over the loss of contact from Nikki's lips when she pulled back.

I want her so much too, but I can't let this get out of control… at least not yet, Nikki thought while desperately trying to get her mind to focus. I want this to be perfect. We both deserve that.

"We need to slow down," Nikki said with regret and a bit breathless. "If we don't I'll just end up ravishing you right here on the floor… and no matter how tempting it might sound that is not exactly what I had imagined for us…"

Helen could not help letting a small seductive smile play on her full lips before saying:

"Then please show me, what you intended…"

Nikki stood up and held a hand out for Helen, who took it while looking into her eyes. They both shivered lightly from the touch that sent electrical sparks flying between them. Helen slowly raised her body from the couch and faced Nikki with anticipation showing on her face. Nikki slowly guided Helen to the bedroom. She was still holding her hand tightly afraid she might vanish, if she did not hold on to her.

They stopped just inside the bedroom door for a kiss. At first a slow soft brush of lips serving as a sweet prelude, but inevitable the kiss deepened conveying the passion and love that now flowed so effortless between the two women. They finally had to pull back in order to gasp some air. They panted breathlessly and their eyes sought out their mirror images of desire and dark pupils dilated with raw naked lust. They found the same wanton look on the face of the other woman and shivered slightly as their bodies reacted to the sight. In a mutual agreement they edged towards the bed while gently rubbing probing hands all over their clothes. Nikki's fingers were shaking when she carefully traced the collar of Helen's shirt down to the buttons in front. She then traced her fingers outwards over a painfully stiffened nipple, which was clearly outlined under the flimsy material of the cream coloured silk shirt. She closed her eyes when she heard Helen's sharp intake of breath at the gentle touch and felt the increased throbbing between her own legs.

Helen had watched the movement of Nikki's hand with a stunned fascination. She could feel her knees go weak just by the thought of the path those delicate long fingers were tracing over her shirt collar and down to her erected nipples that ached to be touched. Her body was on fire, all the nerve endings flaring raw and unprotected against the sensory assaults. The warm knot in her stomach radiated electrical shock waves down to her womanhood causing the moisture to seep shamelessly out of her in a way she had only encountered once before; the last time she had been with Nikki. No one else had ever made her so wanton just by looking at her and kissing her. Her body seemed to react totally on its own notions, far beyond her conscious control. It was both a frightening and an alluring feeling to have the body act on its own. Even if she wanted to, she could not hide her bodily reactions to this gorgeous dark haired woman with the lanky yet rather womanly curved form.

Nikki started to open the buttons on Helen's silk shirt, carefully taking one at the time, even though she had the devilish urge to just rip it open so she could get to the treasures hidden beneath the soft material. But at the same time she also wanted to savour the moment by prolonging the anticipation, both for herself and for Helen, who almost whimpered with frustration over Nikki's slow approach to the task in front of her. Nikki secretly smiled at the impatience in the other woman, as she continued her alternation between opening the shirt and caressing the breasts. She bowed her head and kissed slowly along the jaw, then trailing a wet path down over the slick neck, over the collarbone to the upper chest and finally reaching the valley between two soft mounds of heated flesh covered in black laces. Her hand had managed to open the shirt and rested on the softly rounded abdomen relishing in the texture of the skin.

Helen could hear her pulse rush in her ears and felt the body heat form the other woman, whom she held on to with a vicelike grip in a feverish attempt to keep on her feet. She felt Nikki's mouth connect with her neck softly, yet passionately nibbling away, letting a wet tongue play with the highly sensitised skin. She had not thought it possible, but her nipples became even harder and a new rush of moisture drenched her underpants at the sensation. She clung almost desperately to the tall woman as she realised how much she needed to feel her bare skin against her own heated flesh. She began to frantically claw at the tall woman's shirt, not really getting anywhere. She felt an embrace stilling her motions and realised that Nikki was holding her hands, a subtle display of power, but none the less a clear indication that she was setting the pace of their encounter. Helen stopped struggling and surrendered to her desires, to Nikki, and to her love.

Nikki had stopped Helen's fierce display of passion and was clearly intent on slowing down their heated encounter, though she was not quite sure why nor was her own hormones in total agreement with her mind. She slowly released Helen's hands and started to kiss her gently, conveying her love to the smaller woman. She managed to loose the shirt and bra in two practised movements. Helen gasped as her naked breasts met the rougher material of Nikki's shirt. She lost herself in the intense sensations that crushed through her body. She did not even realise that Nikki had manoeuvred them towards the bed and lowered them both down on it. Somewhere along the line her trousers, underpants, shoes and socks were lost as well as Nikki's clothes. She could not remember how it had happened, but as their warm bodies slowly touched each other she could not help but to let out a deep moan of pleasure. She unconsciously wrapped her legs around Nikki's, entangling them in an attempt to increase the contact between them.

Helen could not remember a single time when she had ever wanted anyone as much as she wanted Nikki. No one had ever made her feel so desirable and loved, nor had she ever been so turned on by such a simple thing as kissing and undressing. Her body jerked involuntarily when long strong fingers fondled her most intimate depths so gently; fingers that brushed lightly through the triangle of light brown hair covering her moist and heated centre of passion on their way to caress the little bundle of nerves that ached so much to be touched that it was almost painful. She reached out to the woman hovering above her and stroked the lean back with languid movements imprinting every texture and shape in her memory. Her hands came to rest on the firm buttocks and she pulled them closer together relishing in the feeling of their groins sliding against each other in slick wetness. Helen was unable to hold it together much longer, and she felt herself starting to convulse involuntarily as the orgasm began to rip through her like a tidal wave with the force of nature.

I'm finally at home, she thought before loosing herself completely in the sensory heaven as a rush of moisture flooded from her pulsating opening.

Nikki could feel Helen's need and was more than apt to please her. It made her feel good and extremely aroused to be able to provoke these carnal responses in Helen. She carefully allowed her fingers to trace the outline of Helen's swollen and heated creases and felt the copious amount of moisture make the friction easy and silken. She had never been with a woman that got so wet and ready for her by mere kissing. It heated her own blood and she could feel the throbbing between her own legs as a dull ache. Helen's hands on her back and buttocks made it almost impossible for Nikki to think clearly and when she felt herself being pressed into that lovely wetness that was Helen, she almost climaxed at the sensation, but somehow she managed to hold back. She wanted to savour the moment that she had been waiting for so long, all those lonely years.

Their last conscious thought before diving into the bliss of pleasure was: I love her! And maybe, just maybe did they also whisper it to each other.

Chapter 5

Part 1

Though most of the night was spent making love, they finally managed to get some sleep, and for the first time in six months Helen slept without having bad dreams, enveloped in a deep emotionless sleep. When the next morning dawned the sharp daylight broke through the curtains and added a dim light to the bedroom. The occupants slowly regained consciousness from the night's magical encounter. The early rays of sunlight had woken Helen. At first she was a bit confused of her whereabouts, since she did not immediately recognise the room and then she discovered her nakedness. She suddenly felt the soft heaviness of a warm body pressing against her side, moulding its form into fitting her body curves. She jolted a bit, but quickly remembered who it was, which made her smile and stretch languidly. The familiar scent of her own passion mixed with a new, but very pleasant musky scent hit her nostrils and made her shiver in the cold morning air, her nipples hardening, but whether it was from the memories evoked by the smell or the cold air was not easily determined.

Helen basked in the glorious feeling of another soft warm human being so close to her, especially when remembering who it was. She felt the love building and filling her chest with the most delicate sparks of joy. She indulged herself in the feeling of pure happiness and closed her eyes, savouring the moment of complete perfection and tranquillity. This was what she had missed or rather denied herself all her life. Nothing could compare with this, not even her best moments with Thomas. For a brief moment she felt guilty both for thinking of Thomas in the aftermath of the most exquisite lovemaking of her life and for having loved his sister for all those years, when being married to him. However, it was not going to shatter her glorious moment, she decided to stop feeling guilty and instead looking forward to what was to be her future, and hopefully in the company of the woman she loved and who was laying next to her.

The body next to her stirred and a sleepy Nikki reached out to embrace her gently and snuggle up even closer, placing her head delicately on Helen's shoulder. A low content sigh escaped her lips. Helen felt wetness on her neck and shoulder from the tears that Nikki silently shed. She gently embraced Nikki holding her close and whispered:

"Shhh… it's alright sweetheart, I'm here…"

"I'm so happy…" Nikki was not ashamed of the tears that ran freely down her cheeks. With trembling fingers she traces Helen's jaw, down the neck and reaching the collarbone enjoying texture of the smooth skin under her touch.

"You're amazing…" a soft smile played on Helen's lips as she gently stroked Nikki's cheek and looked into her eyes with a deep love.

"So are you…" a soft vulnerable expression shaded Nikki's face. She took a deep breath. "I've imagined this so many times… I can't believe I really got you… Everything is possible now… our whole future…And I love you so much…" Nikki choked her voice thick with emotion and tears ready to fall again.

They were silent for a while, relishing in the closeness of each other and the body heat enveloping them in a soothing embrace. Helen sighed wistfully as she remembered what she had to do. She carefully kissed Nikki's temple and sighed, this time not from contentment, but from being wary of what she was about to say.

"Nikki… sweetheart…" she hesitated briefly. "You know I have to get back to London…"

"What?" Nikki's head shot up from the comfortable place at Helen's soft shoulder.

"You know, I have to go back…" Helen looked seriously at Nikki, putting a hand under her chin.

"You can't go back… think about it…" Nikki pretended not to pay attention to Helen's grave expression. She tried to hold Helen back with an embrace, as she tried to get out of the bed. "Besides there is no ferry until around lunch time…" Nikki moved closer, attempting to deflect Helen another way.

"Come here…"

"Nikki… darling… We need to talk…" Helen sighed with frustration and managed to turn around so she could face Nikki. She had a hard time suppressing the growing arousal caused by the simple touch of Nikki's long fingers on her upper chest, moving dangerously close to her still sensitive nipples. With a superhuman effort she pulled herself away from the alluring warmth of Nikki's magical touch.

Helen slipped out of the bed, the tangled sheets falling to the floor and found a cream coloured silk robe on a chair. She quickly put it over her naked form self-conscious about her body and started to search for her clothes, which had been so unceremoniously strewn around the room the night before. She did it without noticing the appreciative glance that Nikki gave her. She had never considered herself especially beautiful and always been a bit embarrassed about her appearances. Though she had kept in shape, the years had begun to show and carrying and breastfeeding children had not improved the odds.

Her shoes were missing, so she went into the living room in order to find them. She had not heard Nikki getting out of bed as well and entering the living room, as she searched behind the couch. She was a bit startled when two strong arms embraced her and she felt warm lips kissing the nape of her neck, but soon relaxed into the comforting feeling. Nikki was clad in a similar robe to the one Helen was wearing, but it was light mauve and somewhat shorter, showing of a long pair of shapely legs. She shivered as the low, hoarse voice whispering in her ear:

"Come sit with me… We will talk…"

They sat on the couch, looking pensively at each other and not touching, but their oversensitive bodies felt the heat between them, sending tingles to their cores. Helen tried to gather her thoughts. She really needed to do this in the right way, and not mess things up like she used to do. But it was so difficult for her to think straight when she was this close to the gorgeous woman of her dreams. She gulped some air before trying to speak.

"Nikki… I … err…I…" Helen swallowed the lump in her throat. "It's not the end of the world, you know… I will be back within a month… I promise…" she tried to convince Nikki that she was sincere in her notion, but she had a sinking feeling, when Nikki kept silent. Helen knew then that she had to lay her soul bare, not withholding anything only being totally honest with herself and Nikki would be the only right thing to do.

"I love you, Nikki," she finally said, gently rubbing her hand behind Nikki's head.

Helen had difficulties looking into Nikki's eyes. If she had, she would have seen a softening in those dark pools of emotions, before the expression was hidden behind the cool demeanour that she tried hard to maintain. It had been the words that Nikki had longed to hear for 11 lonely years. The words spoken by a husky voice with a soft Scottish lilt that could melt her heart and turn her inside to mush. She sat back against the pillows on the couch and looked tentatively at Helen.

"Do you love me enough to give it all up?" Nikki's voice was trembling slightly and sounded hoarse in the quiet morning.

"Nikki… I…" Helen hesitated, but before she could continue she was cut off, but a curt:

"I thought so…" from Nikki.

"Why is it you always chicken out?" Nikki's voice was cold again and she narrowed her eyes, while starring intensely at Helen. She stood from the couch and frowned. A defiant posture was clearly showing and her stance in front of Helen was firm.

"Would you just shut up and listen to me for once?" Helen hissed, trying hard to contain her budding anger and glaring furiously at Nikki, who for a short moment seemed stymied from respond. She quickly regained her composure and spat:

"Yeah… right… so you can tell me to fuck off again… Haven't you caused me enough pain?"

She could not quite hide the look of hurt in her dark eyes. Helen noticed it and that made her do an effort to contain her aggravation. She also rose from the couch moving over to Nikki, invading her personal space on purpose and staring straight into her face with grey-green eyes, sparkling both with anger and agitation.

"Nikki… you are intolerable…" Helen said with exasperation and sighed. She poked Nikki in the chest while drawing out every word as she spoke, her Scottish lilt slightly slurring the words. "You just make assumptions and jumps to conclusions… The wrong conclusions, I might add…"

Nikki stubbornly pouted, but did not say another word. Something in Helen's eyes told her it would be best to keep quiet, at least for the moment being.

"Now you just stop wallowing in self-pity…" it came out a little harsher than Helen had intended it to, but she was angry and tired of being misunderstood. "Nikki, I love you!" she softened her voice and looked into Nikki's eyes. "And I'm going to prove that to you once and for all… Not in a physical display, though the gods know it would be so easy and definitively quite pleasurable if last night was anything to go by…" A small smile played in the corner of her mouth at the thought of their nocturnal activities. "I am going to show you that I care about you and your feelings in actions of love and truth..." The lines around Helen's mouth tightened a bit as she delivered her last sentence in clipped and precise tones. "If only you would give me the curtsey of time to prove it instead of jumping into the throws of that volatile temper of yours…"

Part 2

Helen had spun around and walked back into the bedroom. She entered the en suite and took a shower, washing the still lingering smell of their lovemaking from her body and hair. For a brief moment she relished in the hot water cascading over her body. She stepped out feeling refreshed and ready to face Nikki again. Though she was a bit wary, she was not feeling as apprehensive as she thought she would be. This mornings misunderstanding had clearly showed that they still had a very long and difficult way to go before everything would be okay. However, they had sorted out a lot of things between them, and they had started the difficult journey towards reconciliation.

She had left Nikki bedazzled to contemplate her words. Nikki had blinked her eyes and finally managed to shake the confusion out of her system. She frowned as she went into the kitchen and began rummaging around, scrambling with the plates and a frying pan. Making noise and moving around with a purpose was helping her calm her nerves and sort out the mess in her head. Nikki did not notice when Helen stopped in the doorway.

Helen's breath caught at the marvellous sight in front of her as she entered the kitchen. Nikki was still clad in the short silk robe showing of her lean, tall body leaving very little to the fantasy. It caused the heat to build immediately in Helen's stomach and she felt a fire being ignited between her legs by the memories of their passion filled night that flooded her mind triggered by the lack of cloths on Nikki. Helen was quickly pulled back from her lustful fantasies when Nikki spoke totally oblivious of Helen's state of mind.

"Could you make the coffee, while I get cleaned up?" she turned around and headed quickly out of the kitchen. "I'll be right back…"

Helen did not get time to answer so she just looked after Nikki with her mouth hanging open. After a moment she turned around and started to prepare the coffee machine, while trying to make her mind focus on her task ahead.

Nikki came back wearing faded blue jeans, a tight white t-shirt and an oversized, unbuttoned dark grey shirt. Her short hair was still damp from her shower, and even though it had the occasional strands of silver grey it looked just as unruly and ruffled as before and she did not look as old as her 48 years. Helen found her absolutely adorable and had a hard time fighting the urge to get up and ravish her there and then.

Why does she have to look so damned cute? she thought wistfully and mentally shaking her head in exasperation over her own lack of control, as her hormones raged through her body. I look like an old hag in comparison, she then thought dryly.

Nikki was moving swiftly around the kitchen in order to keep her own thoughts at bay and avoid looking at Helen. She could only take one look at Helen and her need for being with her again would take control. She would be tempted to drop what she had in her hands and make good use of them on that deliciously rounded body with full breasts and hips. She unconsciously licked her lips at the thought. She mentally shook herself out of the daydreams and collected the last parts for their breakfast and turned around to Helen.

"Do you want something to eat?" she asked, still oblivious to the turmoil in Helen, only focusing on her own.

"Err… yes… yes, please…" Helen stammered and ungracefully slumped on a chair next to the table. Nikki handed her a mug of coffee, a plate with bacon and eggs, turned around to get the same for herself and finally she sat on a chair opposite Helen. They both tugged into their meal with appetite, as they needed to recharge their energy, considering the amount of vigour they had utilised during the night.

The telephone suddenly rang, sounding alarmingly loud in the otherwise silent morning. Nikki quickly stood and headed for the entrance hall, where it was placed. Helen was left with her breakfast and her thoughts. She sat contemplating what had happened between them, and what was going to happen in the near future. Thought she had felt secure and loved in the morning, the reality has claimed her attention and made her consider her actions in a different light. She had been jerked her back from her dream world, and now she had to face the consequences and do what had to be done.

Before she could finish her musings Nikki returned to the kitchen with a frown on her forehead. She looked pensively at Helen, but did not say anything for a very long time. Helen shifted uncomfortably in the chair; she had a feeling of dread and to prove that her intuition was right the next couple of minutes revealed the uncertainty in life.

"It was Thomas…" Nikki finally said in a rather emotionless voice, not diverting her eyes from Helen, who was almost sliding off the chair in disbelief. "I don't know how, but he knew you were here…"

How could he possible know? Helen thought totally bewildered, desperately trying to remember if she had let on where she had been heading.

"He told me to say 'hello' to you and that he will be calling you soon… " Nikki spoke slowly and with care, tasting every word and pondering about their meaning. "He also said, you should be happy with you choices…" she hesitated, while absentminded sitting on the chair. What she did not reveal to Helen was his subtle, but very serious treat that if anything bad happened to any of them or if they were going to hurt each other again, then he would personally make sure that the wrongdoer would wish she had never been born. She had not liked the tone in his voice, but instinctively knew it was just out of protectiveness of both of them.

"How is he?" Helen asked pulling Nikki out of her musings.

"He is doing fine…" Nikki said, tilting her head and gazing pensively at Helen. She frowned and seemed to invert back into her own thoughts.

"Where is he now? The last time I heard from him, he was off to the US…" Helen continued, feeling the tension emanating from Nikki.

"Yes… he is in New York… for the time being…" Nikki spoke very slowly, like she was having a difficult time finding the right words. "He is studying some new psychiatric treatment methods… and he has a few contributions to several conferences…" she hesitated and took a sip of her coffee. She was not sure whether she should tell Helen that he had found someone to share his life with or not. She was uncertain about Helen's reaction.

"I don't suppose, I will be seeing him in the near future then…" Helen said and shrugged, trying to make it sound light in order to diffuse some of the tension in the room.

"No… he will stay in New York a few more months… and then he is heading for San Francisco…" Nikki said in an even voice, like she was reciting a grocery list.

"I see…" Helen faltered and fiddled with her napkin. "Well… I… err… I hope he will find happiness there…"

"Helen… I think he has found happiness already…" Nikki had made a quick decision. She would not keep this information from Helen. Not that she really deserved to know about Thomas, but because Nikki needed to be honest with Helen, no more secrets between them, not even if it was to protect her brother.

"Oh…" Helen stumbled over the words that eluded her. "Well… then…" she hesitated before continuing. "I guess… Then… maybe… Who is it?"

"It is…err... a Dr. Hogan…" Nikki furrowed her brows, trying to gauge what was going on in Helen's head. But no clear indication of her emotions was visible, only a slight tremor around the corner of her eyes revealed her emotions.

"Dr. Hogan? As in Dr. Sam Hogan?" Helen's eyes widened in surprise as Nikki silently nodded her confirmation. "But… but, he is man…" she blurted out before thinking.

"You didn't know…" Nikki stated and silently cursed Thomas for putting her in this situation. "He never told you?"

"No… no… I didn't know…" Helen's voice trailed off as she contemplated this turn of event. "Why didn't he tell me?"

Nikki shrugged not really prepared to betray her brother's confidence, but on the other hand her previous resolve to be honest made her decide to tell Helen the whole truth, as well as her annoyance with Thomas's lack of consideration.

"Thomas has always been bisexual… He has no problem admitting his sexual attraction to other men, but what he really wanted was a wife, a family, children and an easy life… When he first married he thought that he had found the one woman, who could give him just that. But she ran away with his best friend after just one year of marriage… He was deeply hurt, because he had truly loved her. After that disaster he met you… He became your friend, fell deeply in love and began a tentative relationship with you… You were everything he had ever dreamed of both as a wife and as a life partner. You are smart, beautiful and compassionate… You were his salvation, an angle in disguise… You gave him the family he craved… Children and stability… Then he finds out that you are having an affair with his own sister…" Nikki could not help sounding a bit sarcastic as she relived the irony of being in love with her brother's wife. "Yet he remained with you and kept silent because he loved you deeply and forgave you for not being perfect, since he himself was not perfect and since he could understand your attraction towards your own sex. For eleven years he tried to make it work between the two of you, but finally he gave up and let you go… "

Helen was silent as she contemplated everything Nikki had said. Though she had no right, she felt betrayed by Thomas. How could he have kept all that to himself? For the same reason you have kept denying your own feelings, her inner voice told her. She shook her head to get rid of all the confusing thoughts that kept invading her mind and making her loose focus on what really mattered for her.

"Where do we go from here?" Helen was the first to voice the inevitable question.

"I don't know… I really don't know…" Nikki looked tired and ran a hand through her already ruffled hair.

"Where do you want us to go?" Helen dared to ask the question that would determine whether she was going to Heaven or Hell.

"That depends…" Nikki hesitated, but looked directly into Helen's eyes "… on you… What do you want, Helen?"

"I want us to try working out our differences… I know it is not going to be easy… I mean, this is all new to me… There are no signposts anymore… I am scared and insecure of what it will mean to my life… But I do love you, and I want to share what is left of my life with you, Nikki…" Helen was talking quickly, as she was rambling, afraid to have her hopes dashed, but her anxiousness was unnecessary.

"I want that too…" Nikki said quietly, her voice almost breaking with the emotional stress. "More than you can possible imagine…"

"But… listen… Nikki… I have to go now…" Helen felt the tears burning in her eyes, but she managed to regain control with an effort, and she swallowed hard before she spoke again in a strangely detached and raspy voice:

"You know, I have to go, Nikki… But only for a month…"

For a very long moment Nikki just stared blankly back at Helen not really comprehending what she was saying. Suddenly her eyes focused back on her, large and dark burning into Helen's soul. Helen felt her resolve crumble under the intense stare, but forced herself to be strong, though the pain and sadness in Nikki's voice broke her heart.

"Yeah… I know… only for a month…"

"There are some loose ends I need to tie up…" Helen's voice was thick with emotion, making her Scottish accent grow stronger. "I… err… I need to sort something out… err… some practical things too… and…"

"Yeah… I suppose so…" Nikki cut her off not really wanting to know the details. She stood abruptly breaking the obvious discomfort. "Come on then… Let me walk you to the ferry…"

They quickly gathered their coats and Helen's bag. There was little time left before the ferry would leave, so they hurried down the road to the small harbour. The walk was made in silence, with both women deep in their own thoughts, musing about the past, present and future. Were they doing the right thing? Being together or being apart? Could they survive another separation? Even if was only for a month, but did they dare to believe that it would only be for a month? They did not say 'Goodbye' or even touch when they reached the ferry. Helen just quickly walked onboard, but stopped momentarily at the top of the stairs casting a quick glance back over her shoulder. Her eyes caught Nikki's and what she saw there was breaking her heart, but she could do nothing about it. She had to move on.

Nikki stood on the pier watching Helen hurry up the stairs to the entrance of the ferry. Her eyes bore into Helen's back willing her to turn around. She must have felt it, because at the top she stopped briefly and turned around to look down at Nikki, who could only stare back in mute agony while trying to convey all her feelings in that one look shared between them outside reality and time. Though only lasting for a short fragment of time the gaze held all her love and the pain of loosing the one she loved more than her own life, even if it would only be for a short time. But it felt like it was forever, in fact it felt so much like the last time, where her world was shattered to a million sharp pieces, that cut her heart and soul, leaving her all numb and aching. Her legs felt weak and she had to muster all her resources to keep herself from falling to her knees and weep.

Back on the main land in Weymouth Helen went from the ferry to the parking lot to find her car. She fumbled a bit with the keys, but finally managed to unlock the car door and seated herself behind the wheel. For a very long time she just sat there staring out of the windscreen, not really seeing anything at all. Her mind was blank, but slowly her thoughts converged and began to make sense as her mind processed all the information and all the feelings that had crushed through her in approximately 24 hours ranging from confusion over anger to exultation then further to annoyance and finally exhaustion and more confusion. As the chaos in her mind slowly began to subside she eventually started the car and drove back to London ready and determined to sort out her life out once and for all.

The End?


For the third time a little red Peugeot was heading for Weymouth on the main road from London. The driver, Helen Stewart, was driving faster than she was supposed to and much faster than she normally did. She was on a woman on a mission. She felt elated and more optimistic than she had for… well for most of her life as a matter of fact. This was truly a new stage in her life, one she was finally fully prepared to embrace and enjoy. She could not wait to get on the ferry, which would sail her over to the island where her future lay and to where her soul mate would be waiting for her, hopefully… Though she had found serenity in her new found knowledge and acknowledge of love for another woman, she felt the butterflies in her stomach. She had not spoken to Nikki since their last encounter a month ago, so she had no way of knowing whether Nikki would still take her back or if she would scorn her for making the assumption, since she had hurt her so deeply and there had been such a finality in her eyes, when she had left. But Helen knew she had to take the chance.

Helen was tapping her fingers impatiently at the rail, looking with anticipation at the Island of Jersey emerging from the dense mist like a white silvery pearl in the early sunlight. As soon as the ferry had berthed she almost ran down the road to the old lighthouse like a little tornado with an unusual cheerful spring in her steps.

Helen had returned to London, being strangely calm and clear in her mind about what she had to do. And she had not hesitated in carrying out her plans. She knew she had to make an important decision if not the rest of her life was going to slip out of her hands as well as her last chance of finally finding happiness. She had immediately called Claire; since she was in great need of her friends help. Claire came over to her house and stayed for a weekend. They talked, or rather it was mostly Helen doing the talking and Claire, who listened, drank a lot of red wine and finally Helen had made her decisions. Together they made the preparations for Helen's plan to be implemented.

As she entered their office building about a month later none of the normal pride of her achievements was present. In fact she was left with an emptiness that surprised her. She automatically nodded a greeting to the people she met on her way to the conference room, where Claire waited. Helen went inside and around the large table. Claire, who smiled warmly at her remembering Helen's first words to her during their weekend together, hugged her:

"I want to sell my share in the company… and I want to sell the house, most of the furniture and buy a small apartment, just large enough to having the children overnight, when they visit… I believe Thomas wouldn't mind, since the house is mine anyway…"

"You are going back to her?"

"Yes… it is the only thing I can do… Oh, my God… I love her so much, Claire, that it hurts even to think about it… And I already miss her…"

"Helen, you are my best friend and we have known each other for ages… I just want you to be happy, and if being with her makes you happy, so be it… "

Helen had hugged Claire back and acknowledged her silent accept of what was about to happen. The house was put on sale and Helen had already bought a small apartment and decorated it. All the senior partners had confirmed the legal transactions of the firm. Helen was to remain a silent partner, holding shares in the company, but with no active responses or being able to make any kind of decisions regarding the business. She no longer cared about it and already having handed most of her workload to Claire, it was no big change. Helen signed the papers and sighed with relief, when she put down the pen. That was it. She had closed a chapter of her life.

Helen had not yet told her father and the rest of her family that she was going to live with another woman, but she really did not care what they were going to think or say. She had made her decision, she was a grown woman, and was no longer prepared to live in her past fears. Helen supposed their reaction would be rather hostile, but she would cross that bridge when she came to it, and she would hopefully have the love of her life to support her.

However, Helen had been rather apprehensive when telling her children about her immediate plans to give up her current life and instead live with Nikki Wade, as well as being worried about how to breach the news of their father's choice to live in USA with another man. However, her fears had been unfounded. The twins had not really been all that surprised about their parents' choice of new partners. They were really pleased to see both their parents so happy and free as they had not been for a long time. The fact that their mother were to move and live on an island giving them free reign over her town apartment and their father settling into luxurious surroundings in San Francisco within months made it even better. Helen remembered a few of her children's comments which had been very comforting and reassuring.

"Mum, we are truly happy that you and daddy have found someone special to share the rest of your life with, since you obviously were not happy together."

"Yes, we just want the best for both of you… and we have never seen you this content as you are right now…"

"We spoke to daddy on the telephone the other day… He sounded so happy too… It seems like you have suddenly begun to live for real…"

"Besides we are going to visit Dad in New York about one and a half month from now…. "

"And we look forward to visit you and Nikki this summer…"

She had gotten rid of all the restraining ties to her previous life, and she was ready to embark on a new path leading to her destiny. Her steps faltered a bit as she neared the old lighthouse. A sudden fear gripped her heart. Maybe she had been a bit presumptuous in believing that Nikki would happily embrace her and make a living with her, especially considering the way Helen had behaved in the past.

Am I doing the right thing? She thought. What about Nikki's needs? Helen shivered in the cold morning air sending chills through her clothes. She stood in front of the old door pondering over her options, however it could be considered a bit late having second thoughts. She gathered herself with an effort using all her mental strength. Helen reached out and pushed the doorbell, which sounded shrill in the quietness of the island.

After what seemed like an eternity the door slowly opened revealing a pale and very surprised Nikki.

My God, she is so beautiful, Helen thought as her breath caught at the sight in front of her. But she looks so fragile. What have I done to her?

"Helen…" Nikki croaked. It was all she could manage to say.

"Hiya, Nikki…" Helen smiled brightly with a hint of shyness. "Can I come in?"

Too stunned to speak Nikki just stepped aside letting Helen inside. Helen once again took in the appearance of the hallway and relished in the feeling of tranquillity that washed in over her. This was truly where she belonged. She put down her bag and walked tentatively into the living room, sensing that Nikki was following her. She turned around slowly and stood face to face with the tall woman with soft brown eyes, begging her to stay for good. It made Helen's eyes moisten with tears. Nikki broke the silence when she spoke in a hoarse voice:

"You came back…?"

"I came home…"

Helen smiled through her tears as they embraced tenderly. No more words were needed as they leaned into the warm embrace and a sweet, passionate kiss.

The End… for sure!

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