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Joined: May 27th, 2006, 11:48 am

November 8th, 2008, 3:51 pm #1


Chapter 1

“I don't know why you feel the need to spend an evening with a group of complete strangers when you could be spending it here with me.”

Nikki Wade had heard the argument many times before. In fact ever since she joined the local book group her partner Trisha Harris had complained about her not spending their spare time together. However after nine years together Nikki was longing for some freedom, the book club gave her this and more. When she stood and read passages from her favourite books it made her soul feel good.

“I don't know what you get out of it. Books are boring.” Trisha continued from the comfort of their sofa as she held a glass of wine in one hand and the TV guide in the other.

Nikki was looking for the missing car keys again and she could have sworn that every time her weekly book group came along the keys would go missing, and she was beginning to think Trisha was hiding them.

“Have you seen my car keys?” She frowned as she absentmindedly searched the spare chair, digging deep beneath the cushions.
The cat decided it didn't like this anymore and shuffled its bum, got up, looked at Nikki with narrow eyes and stomped off, then jumped from the chair to the sofa, landing right on Trisha's lap.

“Bloody hell Wizard!” Trisha held on tight to her glass and just stopped it spilling to her grey Armani trousers. The cat looked at her as if to say, “What me?” and curled up on her lap. Trisha sighed and tried to get her heart rate back to normal.

“Bloody stupid name for cat.” Nikki mumbled as she now searched the shelf above the fireplace.

“What was that?” Trisha hadn't quite heard her.

“Oh nothing.” Nikki glanced at her and smiled as she found her keys hidden behind a framed photo of her and Trisha. The photograph had been taken on their most recent vacation together in Spain, Nikki had finally managed to convince her lover that there was more to Spain than the beach and the bar… they had travelled to Barcelona and took in some fantastic exhibitions. Nikki was stood outside a café with a smile and her arm around Trisha's shoulder. Trisha was looking less invigorated but at least she was well tanned and that's all that mattered to Trish.

Nikki dangled her keys in the air, “Phew found them, I thought I was going to be late again.”

Trisha mumbled under her breath, “Damn it.” And then gave her lover a false smile and told her, “Have fun.”

Nikki picked up her rucksack from the floor and threw it over her shoulder, then she walked over to Trish, lent down and gave her a quick kiss. Trisha took this as an invitation to more and placed her hand around Nikki's head and pulled her in for another, Nikki struggled to free herself and eventually did, “Trisha”
“What?” she smiled in all innocence.
“Nothing, look I'll see you later.” Nikki frowned and headed towards the door.
“I'll be waiting up for you.” Trisha smiled.

Trisha heard the front door close and the smile vanished from her face and was replaced by a frown. She sat up and poured herself more wine and then took to her TV guide once more to find a good reality TV programme to watch.

“I don't know why you're so obsessed with books.” Sean Parr commented as he came home from yet another long day at work. His hours were forever running over and his partner was getting sick of it.
“Books are the key to your soul…” Helen Stewart smiled as she brushed her hair before the mirror in the hall one last time.
Sean seemed to laugh under his breath, his arms were full of plans for garden design and his shoulder bag hung from his shoulder, his floppy fringe fell forward when he lent closer to Helen and begged her for a kiss.
Helen frowned at him, “I heard that.”
“Heard what?” he asked and feigned all innocence.
“You laughing at me.” Helen gathered her bag and checked she had her keys.
He looked down at her, “I wasn't… I just find it odd that you'd rather spend an evening with a group of geeks instead of having a night of loving with me.”
Helen gritted her teeth as she stood up straight and faced him, “Your calling me a geek?”
“No….er…” Sean struggled to get out of the hole he had just dug.
“I'll see you later.” Helen frowned and walked straight past him and to the door.
Just as the door slammed he called out, “What about my kiss!”

“Tonight we have a new member to welcome to the group.” Charlie smiled.

Charlie was a woman in her mid 40's with wild grey hair… married with two grown up children. She wore long flowing multi coloured robes over brown trousers and a baggy patterned jumper. Her smile was wide and her brown eyes bright. You could tell she just glowed around books, you could tell that it was her world.

“Helen would you like to introduce yourself to the group?” she smiled in Helen Stewart's direction.

Helen stood from the circle of chairs and smiled a little nervously. God I should be used to things like this after all that time at Uni and especially after working in the prison service… she silently thought to herself. This felt different, a little overwhelming, it was something that meant a lot to her, she didn't want to give the wrong impression to the group, her new friends, at least she hoped they would become new friends, because she definitely needed some relief from endless boring dinners with Sean and his friends. As nice as they were she had little in common with them.

“Hi.” She smiled.

All 8 members of the group smiled back at her, she glanced around quickly at the faces not really taking them in until she came to the last one… she stayed there and caught herself captured in the other woman's amber brown eyes… then the other woman gave her a half smile and diverted her eyes downwards. Helen had to catch her breath before continuing…”Er…I…” Helen noticed the woman chuckle silently and look up at her once more. Well done Helen… she thought to herself… Just go and make a complete fool of yourself from the onset.

She diverted her eyes away from the dark haired stranger and looked to the rest of the group, “My name is Helen Stewart, I work for a prison and I love books.”

Helen glanced at the stranger and noticed her smile had vanished and had been replaced by a look of disappointment.


Joined: May 27th, 2006, 11:48 am

November 8th, 2008, 3:51 pm #2

Chapter 2

Helen slumped down on the sofa and kicked off her shoes. Sean was sitting watching something intently on television and hadn't even moved since she came in. She raised her legs onto his lap to show she was home. She was rewarded as his hand reached for her foot and started to give it a leisurely massage. Helen closed her eyes and lay her head back with a sigh. Her feet ached after a long day and if this was all the attention she received from Sean tonight then it would be enough.

Then out of the blue he asked her, “How did the book group go?”

She opened her eyes to see Sean looking at her as he rubbed her foot. “It was okay yeah.”

“Okay is that all?” he smiled a little. Helen could sense he was about to start teasing her once more about her love of books but she was determined not to get drawn into it.

“Yes it was okay.” Helen smiled a little, “And yes I will be going again.”

“I didn't doubt it.” Sean smiled and let go of the foot he had been massaging and moved between Helen's legs. “So,” his nose was almost touching her, his hands on either side of her, “Now you're home how about a shag?”
Helen laughed, “I don't think so.”
“You mean you can resist me?” he grinned at her playfully.

Helen shook her head and pushed Sean out of the way, “I need a drink.”

Sean watched as Helen got up off the sofa and walked over to the bottles of alcohol that ranged from wine, to vodka, the finest whiskey to beer that were stored in a cupboard at the end of the room. Helen appeared once more with a smile and bottle of Vodka and a glass, “You want to join me?”
Sean frowned, “I have a early start tomorrow Hels I cant.”
“Pity.” She replied sitting back down beside him and pouring herself a glass of straight vodka.

He sat back and returned to watching the television programme that so enthralled him. But deep down he was getting very concerned about Helen's drinking. It wasn't that she drank all the time… it's just that when she did he felt she was doing it because she was unhappy. The problem was he couldn't figure out what she was so unhappy about.

“Nikki is that you?” the call came from the living room. Nikki had just entered the house and took off her denim jacket. Her bag lay on the floor alongside her boots.

Trisha walked through just as Nikki was bending down to pick up her boots to put them in the show rack… “I missed you.” She smiled and licked her lips at the sight of Nikki's bottom in blue Armani jeans.

Just as Nikki was standing up straight she felt a familiar hand on her buttock. She turned around and faced her lover of nine years, “Trisha I'm not in the mood.”
“Who said I was after anything, I was just being friendly.” Trisha sulked a little and made a huffing sound before taking off towards the kitchen. Nikki followed her but only because she had too, she needed a cold beer.

“I gather your meeting wasn't much fun tonight?” Trisha commented as she pulled out a child bottle of white wine from the fridge.
“Can you pass me a beer?” Nikki frowned across the room at her.
Trisha placed her wine onto the counter and then reached for a beer. She opened it up for Nikki and passed it over to her.
“Thanks.” Nikki said gratefully. The cold glass against her fingers made her shiver.
Trisha opened the wine and poured herself a glass before walking through to the living room glass in one hand, bottle in the other. Nikki followed her.
They both sat down. Trisha had music softly playing in the background and various magazines strewn on the coffee table.
“You didn't find a film to watch then?” Nikki commented as she relaxed back with her beer.
“I tried to get into one but nothing was sinking in.” Trisha told her. Then she looked to Nikki, “Nik, are you okay?”
“Yeah fine.” She replied wishing Trisha would give it a rest.
“So why the long face then?”
Nikki looked at Trisha and sighed, “There was a woman at the group tonight.”
Trisha laughed, “And that's a problem because?”
“She works for a prison.” Nikki replied.
“I still don't see what the problem is.” Trisha looked puzzled.
Nikki frowned at her, “I nearly ended up in prison remember?”
“Ah… “ Trisha looked away feeling somewhat guilty, after all she still blamed herself for all that.
“I just see people like that and it brings it all home to me, how close I came to being incarcerated just because I was defending you from some maniac.” Nikki held the beer in her hands and sat forward, even now after 6 months it still shocked her how close she came to life imprisonment.
Trisha rested her hand on Nikki's shoulder and looked to her, “Hey, you didn't though did you. You shouldn't let this get to you babe.”
“I know,” Nikki conceded, “I just can't help it. Every time I see a police man in the street I think how close I came to losing everything and that the damn system they work for would have happily locked me up and thrown away the key.”
“Yes but they aren't all like that.” Trisha paused and tried to change the subject, “You want me to help you relax?” she said with a wink.

Nikki smiled and looked to Trisha with one eyebrow raised. Trisha stood and held out her hand, no words passed between them, just looks. Nikki stood, took the welcoming hand and was led to the bedroom.

Helen held her head but it didn't stop it thumping, she reached for the tablets in the bathroom cabinet and swallowed them back with a glass of water. The towel wrapped around her head stopped most of the water dripping down her neck but the droplets that escaped chilled her to the bone. Her body screamed for a warm duvet and sleep, but her mind told her that wasn't an option. She was due at work in an hour. And that was another reason she screamed for her bed.

“Do you know how much you drank last night.”

Sean's voice made her jump. She turned around and faced him, “I can do without the lecture this morning…” she groaned as she turned around and placed the tablets back into the cabinet.
Sean was already dressed and ready for work, “I'll see you later then.” He told her and waited hoping for that kiss.
Helen turned around and gave him a peck on the cheek, “Yeah see you later.”

Sean shook his head in disapproval, the Helen he knew and fell in love with wasn't like this, yeah she liked a drink but it was mostly a social occasion, it was becoming too frequent for him to comprehend, maybe Helen needed more from him… he kept thinking about it as he left quietly.


Joined: May 27th, 2006, 11:48 am

November 8th, 2008, 3:52 pm #3

Chapter 3

One week later

“Okay,” Charlie stood before her group and smiled rubbing her palms together, “Today we will be reciting passages from our favourite books, so I hope you are all ready?”
Most of the group smiled, nodded or replied with a quiet yes.
“Good!” Charlie took a seat within the half circle of book lovers, “Who would like to go first?” she looked around at the group.
“I will.” A man in his mid 30's stood with book in hand. He was casually dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, his short hair something similar to a cut worn by one of the crew on the Starship Enterprise, very neat with not a hair out of place.
“Thank you Jeremy…” Charlie smiled.

He stood before the group and held the hardback book in his hands, “From the book Full Moon by Michael Light.” He told them as he opened it up. It was a book of photographs taken of the moon over many years of Apollo flights. Non-fiction was Jeremys love although he often indulged in fantasy and science fiction from time to time. He was the kind of guy who joined the club to find like minded people, a loner not through choice but because he couldn't find anyone with a deep interest in the things that he loved. This gave him the freedom to talk about the things that interested him even if it was by way of a quote or passage from a book. The book club saved him from a life of loneliness.

“I will never forget my astonishment the first time I was able to examine the master dupe film roll of Apollo 11, re-enacting the exact steps and photographic decision-making of Armstrong and Aldrin frame by frame as they walked for the first time on the surface of another celestial body.”

He sat down as the group clapped his choice. Charlie looked to Jeremy, “So why did you choose this particular title and this particular quote?”

Jeremy spoke from his seated position with passion for the subject, “This book,” he tapped the cover, “It spoke volumes to me, but not through words but through pictures. The photographs need no words and they provoke the imagination just as strongly as words can. I find that completely amazing that a photograph can do such a thing. It is also history, history of the future if you like… this part of our journey into space is only the beginning, there is so much more to discover.” He rested back in his chair to show that he had finished talking.

“Thank you Jeremy, very interesting choice and I must admit I would love to take a look at your book at some point.” Then Charlie looked to the group once more, leaning forward in her chair, “Helen, would you like to go next?”

Helen let out a breath she had been holding, she was so nervous. She smiled, uncrossed her legs and stood. Taking a deep breath she walked across and stood before the half circle of people. Taking in their faces one by one. She stopped when she reached half way, their she was again, with a frown not a smile. Helen wondered what she had said wrong, something obviously wiped the smile off her face. This just added to how nervous she was already feeling but she looked deep within herself and concentrated on her book, the book she loved, a book that was having a profound effect on her life.

She held it to her chest…

“I have chosen to read for you a passage from a book called Sophies World by Jostein Gaarder.” She looked in Charlie's direction and caught the knowing smile, it was obvious she had read it too and very much agreed with her choice. Helen felt more confident, she relaxed a little more and opened up the book.

“What is philosophy?” Helen paused for effect and looked to the dark haired stranger. Her attention fully now on what Helen was about to read. Whatever Helen had said to upset her was overridden by her love for books.
“Dear Sophie,” Helen continued to read, her eyes flitting from the book page to the group, “Lots of people have hobbies. Some people collect old coins or foreign stamps, some do needlework, others spend most of their spare time on a particular sport.”

Nikki Wade listened with continued interest to see where this passage was going. And as Helen continued to recite from the book every word of it began to make complete sense to her.

“A lot of people enjoy reading. But reading tastes differ widely. Some people only read newspapers or comics, some like reading novels, while others prefer books on Astronomy,” She smiled in Jeremy's direction and he gave her a little smile back, “Wildlife, or technological discoveries. If I happen to be interested in horses or precious stones, I cannot expect everyone else to share my enthusiasm. If I watch all the sports programs on TV with great pleasure, I must put up with the fact that other people find sports boring.”

Nikki smiled to herself when she thought about Trisha, Yeah that's about right, trouble is we don't like anything the same anymore…

Helen continued, “Is there nothing that interests us all? Is there nothing that concerns everyone-no matter who they are or where they live in the world? Yes, dear Sophie, there are questions that certainly should interest everyone. They are precisely the questions this course is about.”

Helen stopped and gave a small smile as she closed her book. The group soon applauded her choice. Charlie stood as Helen sat, “Now that was a good choice!” she told the group brightly. “Thank you Helen.” The she looked to her watch, “Right, time to stop for a tea break and meet back here in ten minutes.” She told the group.

Everyone scuttled about and out of the building to the coffee shop across the road, well most of them. Nikki decided to take in some air. The enormity of what Helen had just read hit her, her and Trisha were going in so many different directions that she didn't know where they stopped. It was beginning to feel like the only thing keeping them together was the great sex and the club they both owned, and of course that old thing of getting used to each other. But was it love? Nikki stood there in the cold evening air trying to figure out what she felt for Trish, and she wasn't sure it was love after all.

Books quoted in this chapter: Full Moon by Michael Light, Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder


Joined: May 27th, 2006, 11:48 am

November 8th, 2008, 3:52 pm #4

Chapter 4

“I have chosen a passage from Charlotte Bronte. The Book, Jane Eyre” Nikki stood before the group.

“I am glad you are no relation of mine. I will never call you aunt again as long as I live. I will never come to visit you when I am grown up; and if any one asks me how I liked you, and how you treated me, I will say the very thought of you makes me sick, and that you treated me with miserable cruelty . . . You think I have no feelings, and that I can do without one bit of love or kindness; but I cannot live so: and you have no pity. I shall remember how you thrust me back . . . into the red-room . . . And that punishment you made me suffer because your wicked boy struck me—knocked me down for nothing. I will tell anybody who asks me questions this exact tale. 'Ere I had finished this reply, my soul began to expand, to exult, with the strangest sense of freedom, of triumph, I ever felt. It seemed as if an invisible bond had burst, and that I had struggled out into unhoped-for liberty. . . .”

Nikki had read with so much passion in her brooding brown eyes, Helen sensed there was much more to her choice than just sheer enjoyment of the book. Nikki had chosen this for a reason, some deeper darker reason that Helen was now curious about. What had unsettled Nikki as Helen had introduced herself to the group. Helen had seen it in her expression, an obvious change from a kind smile to a look of complete disgust. Did she mistrust people in authority? Had something happened to her in the past that made her feel that way? And as Helen questioned Nikki's reasons for reading that particular passage she caught the stranger's eyes as she sat down with her book on her lap. No smile was exchanged but an underlying tension stood between them.

When the session ended Helen approached Nikki on their way out, “Nikki Wade isn't it?” she said stopping Nikki in her tracks.
“Yes.” Nikki replied politely turning to face Helen. After all Helen hadn't done anything wrong, she was just in the wrong job. “And your Helen Stewart?”
Helen nodded, “Yeah…Look…” she began a little anxiously, how on earth did she break the ice? “Are you in a hurry to get anywhere?”
Nikki thought for a moment about that question, Trisha would be out all night at the club, having given up hope of Nikki spending her Wednesday evenings off at home with her, “No not really.” She replied.
“Your chosen book, very interesting… it's one of my favorites too.” Helen smiled lightly.
Nikki remembered what Helen had read, “What was the name of the book again, the one you read from?”
“Sophie's World,” Helen replied with a deeper smile and a little relief, the tension seemed to be breaking down, “I gather you haven't read it?”
“No I haven't.” Nikki smiled softly, loosening up as she began to enjoy talking to the stranger. Her voice was soothing somehow, she was a sucker for an accent like Helen's but there was more to it than that, the Scots voice was one that she could have gladly listened to all day without any problems.
“I can lend you mine if you like?” Helen replied digging into her bag.
“Are you sure?” Nikki raised her eyebrow in surprise. “I mean it's your favorite book.”
“I have a spare.” Helen said and handed it to Nikki, Nikki took it and smiled, “Thanks.” She placed it into her rucksack and then realized how thirsty she was, “If your not in a hurry, would you like to join me for a coffee at Starbucks, I know I need one before I carry on home.”

Nikki ordered the coffees and carried them over to the table they had chosen by the window and sat down. She still wasn't quite sure how she got here, if there was one person in the group she had been trying to avoid it was the one sitting at the table with her now.

“Was the quote from Jane Eyre meant for me?”

Helen's question came out of nowhere and completely shocked Nikki. She hadn't chosen it for Helen, at least not consciously but she could now see why Helen was asking her such a question, “No of course not.” Nikki replied eyes diverted downwards as her hands circled her hot cappuccino
“I just… I thought.” Helen stumbled… God what am I doing here! the voice in her head cried out. “It doesn't matter.” She sighed.
Nikki looked up at her, “I had a close call with the law.”
“Oh…” Helen said a little surprised but pleased that Nikki was willing to open up to her. “In what way?”
Nikki sighed, “A man died because I defending my girlfriend.”
Helen heard the word girlfriend before she heard the words a man died. “So your…”
“Gay?” Nikki smiled a little as she saw the surprise on Helen's face.
“I didn't mean to be so rude, sorry.” Helen felt awful for pointing out something that really didn't need to be pointed out, it was no big deal.
“How about you Helen?” Nikki asked casually with the smile still edging her mouth.
Helen laughed, “No, I'm straight.”

Nikki looked at Helen's eyes, gorgeous green eyes that sparkled when she got excited or happy about something, as she was now. She felt envious already of any man who got to share her bed. Shame… Nikki thought to herself.

“Anyway,” Helen changed the subject not wishing to linger on a subject that strangely made her feel just a little uncomfortable, “you were saying…”

“I killed a man in self defense.”

Helen looked stunned… she placed her coffee cup down, speechless.

“I can see I have shocked you.” Nikki said calmly. After all she had been through so much and been judged to high heaven, nothing really got to her anymore, well apart from people like Helen. “After all you spend your life locking up women just like me.”

Helen frowned, “Were just doing our job Nikki… and not all women are innocent like you obviously were.”
“And not all women are lucky enough to afford the best legal team.” Nikki replied quickly looking right into Helen's eyes.

Helen wasn't quite sure where this was all leading but she didn't like their current conversation, what was she supposed to say? “It's not my job to judge, that's up to others. I don't make the rules Nikki.”
“So it doesn't matter to you if those women in your care are innocent or not? Don't you care?” Nikki frowned back at her.
“Of course I care!” Helen replied a little angrier than intended.
Nikki looked apologetic, she had no right to judge Helen, she hardly knew her, “Look I'm sorry, may be we should just stick to talking about books.”
“Good idea.” Helen replied and breathed out. The tension had mounted once more between them.

“Hels your home.” Sean walked to meet Helen in the hallway.
Helen took off her coat and hung it up. She looked to Sean, “Why are you still up?”
“I was worried, I was beginning to wonder if you were coming home tonight.” He replied with a frown.
Helen brushed past him and walked through to the living room where she kicked off her shoes and slumped down in a chair.
“Well…” Sean followed her and stood before the chair.
“Well what?” she looked up at his confused and annoyed looking face.
“Where have you been?”
“I stopped off for coffee with a…” Helen paused and then continued after some thought, “a friend from the book club.”
“Oh I see.” He sat down on the sofa.
Helen looked to him, “Sean what's wrong with you tonight?”
He sighed and looked to Helen as he lent forward, “I didn't expect you home so late, I wanted to surprise you.”
“Surprise me?” Helen questioned, her stomach doing knots, terrified at what he was going to spring on her now.
He stood and walked back to where she sat, then he knelt down before her, “Isn't it about time we settled a little?”
“What do you mean? I am settled.” Helen lied. She knew deep down it was far from how she felt.
“I mean, you would make a great mother hels.” He smiled.
“You are joking right?” Helen looked startled.
“Why? We've been together a year now, why don't we make it more permanent, have kids, do the whole normal thing.” He said brightly.
“Normal?” Helen sighed, “Sean is this a proposal?”
“Yes I guess it is.” He replied. “So what do you say?”

Helen didn't know what to say, she needed time to think, and right now her mind was a whirl of things, not just relating to Sean. She wasn't even sure how she felt about him anymore, sometimes he really annoyed the hell out of her. Sometimes he made her laugh, sometimes he made her cry but most of all he was beginning to take over her life, take away bit by bit the control she had over it. And that scared her.

“Well Helen say something please!”

He was getting nervous. He didn't want to lose her, push her away even further. He was sure this was what Helen needed, wanted. He was sure that was the reason she didn't seem so happy anymore.

Helen stood, he stood and they faced each other.

“I need time to think.” She told him before making her way off to bed alone.

Quote from the book Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte


Joined: May 27th, 2006, 11:48 am

November 8th, 2008, 3:52 pm #5

Chapter 5

After spending an exhausting Friday and Saturday night working at Chix nightclub, the club she owned with her partner Trisha Harris, Nikki spent her Sunday working in the garden. Trisha had suggested they have a later dinner out somewhere, after all if they were working hard for the money then they may as well enjoy it from time to time. Nikki had agreed gratefully, as much as she loved cooking, she needed time out and time out meant time spent on her garden. Nikki was planting some new seeds when Trisha appeared from the kitchen with a glass of cold beer poured ready for her. Nikki heard the door shut behind Trisha and looked up to see her heading in her direction, she smiled and stood, dusting the dirt from her gloves.

“Here, I thought you could do with this, it's rather hot today.” Trisha smiled. She was feeling good today, finally she had the day alone with Nikki, with no work and no damn book club getting in the way.
Nikki took the drink gratefully and took a long gulp from the tall beer glass. Trisha watched her as she drank down the cool liquid and caught sight of the beads of sweat trickling down her neck, she had the urge to lick her lips but managed to hold back.
“You've been busy.” Trish tried to sound enthusiastic, the truth was she hated gardening and couldn't see what on earth Nikki got out of it. She looked around and then looked to Nikki. The dirt stained the side of her face, the white t-shirt clung to her chest.
Nikki looked at her handy work and frowned, “Yeah but there's still loads to do.” And as she looked at what she had to accomplish today to feel pleased at herself she heard Trisha sigh. She looked to her and frowned, “What?”
“Why don't you come inside?” Trisha smiled lightly. Her heart was steady, hoping for the right reply. She touched Nikki's shoulder.
Nikki looked to the hand resting on her shoulder and then to Trisha's big blue eyes, “I need to get this done today Trish, I'll never have time in the week.”
Trisha didn't give up that easy, she moved closer until her breath was touching Nikki's cheek and then she whispered into her lovers ear, “I have some much more relaxing inside.” She pulled away and looked to Nikki's eyes. She couldn't read them.
Then Nikki sighed, “Trish, as tempting as that offer is…”
Trisha frowned and stepped away, “Fine Nikki… don't mind me, I don't care if you love your bloody plants more than me.”

Helen was reading the Sunday papers whilst Sean worked on the plan for his new customers patio. He was up in the spare room, the room he had converted into his office. Helen was sitting outside in the sunshine with a glass of orange juice, her legs were getting tanned by the sun as she sat in her cream coloured shorts and a loose blue shirt, the arms tucked under at her elbows. One arm was rested on the wooden table, her legs were crossed and she was holding up the paper in front of her. Hoping her neighbours would notice she was preoccupied and not to be disturbed. It worked as the man of the house went about mowing the lawn with a whistle only looking in Helen's direction once and sending a smile her way. Now if Sean had been out there, there would have been no lawn mowed and the beers that were cooling in the fridge would be all gone by now.

Nikki showered and changed having found a note from Trisha saying she had gone out for the afternoon, but she would be back as planned for dinner that evening. The garden was to her liking, for now at least and she was determined to just chill out with a book and a glass of wine while Trisha was out. She finally relaxed back in her casual attire, t-shirt and jeans, opened a bottle of red Australian wine and relaxed back with Sophies World. And as she touched the book cover and prepared to open it up she had a vision of the Scots face, Why was I so preoccupied with my hate for career choice? It was so bloody irrational of me. After all, she's really quite nice. And this is one hell of a book.

Helen got to the local events page of the newspaper and smiled with sheer excitement when she read what was on at the local arts centre. “A performance of Romeo and Juliet!” she said out loud. Then her excitement turned to disappointment when she read that the last performance was tonight. First of all would there be tickets left? And second of all who could she take? Sean would rather bite his toenails than sit and watch Shakespeare and her friend Claire was away on her holidays. Then she began to smile again as a thought entered her head… she first of all picked her mobile up off the table and phoned the arts centre to see if there were any tickets left and then she looked up Nikki Wades number on her mobile… and was very glad they had exchanged numbers over coffee… a little anxiously she dialled Nikki's number and it started to ring…

Nikki's phone vibrated in the pocket of her jeans and made her jump, she placed her glass down and the book to one side of her on the sofa and then she pulled out the phone and looked at the caller, “Helen…” she said in quiet surprise.

“Hello Helen?” she spoke into her phone.
“Nikki… hi, I hope you don't mind me calling you at home.” Helen began a little nervously, she wasn't quite sure what kind of reception she would get.
“Of course not, that's why I gave you my number after all, so you could call me.” Nikki smiled, her heart beginning to do giant leaps with every word Helen spoke.
“So what can I do for you?”
Helen began to fiddle with her newspaper and look for the details of the play, “I was wondering if you would like to join me at the Larkhall Arts Centre tonight?”
“Er…” Nikki was stumped that was the last thing she was expecting.
“Unless your busy of course.” Helen asked, feeling less unsure about what she was doing. After all Nikki was a virtual stranger!
“No.” Nikki answered quickly, “What's on?”
“Romeo and Juliet.” Helen replied, “It's only a small production but sometimes they can be really good.”
“Yeah I know,” Nikki replied, “I've been to a few.”
“So what do you think?” Helen asked with bated breath.
“I'd love to,” Nikki replied happily, forgetting all about her dinner date with Trish, “How about going for a drink at the bar before we go in?”
Helen smiled, her heart doing leaps and bounds, although she wasn't sure why she was so excited, after all it was only a play. “That would be nice. So I'll meet you in the bar at say 6pm?”
“Sounds good to me.” Nikki smiled, “See you later.”

“Yeah, bye Nikki.”


Joined: May 27th, 2006, 11:48 am

November 8th, 2008, 3:53 pm #6

Chapter 6

Lawyer Charlotte Walker lay in bed in a strange hotel room in west London. The sun shone through a crack in the curtains. Sleeping beside lay the woman she had fallen in love with, she smiled and lay closer, stroking the blonde strands of hair from her lovers face.

Blue eyes gazed back at her, “Your awake!”
Charlotte rested back against the pillows, “I've been awake for sometime, I thought you promised me another session before I have to go back to the pig.”
The blonde shifted from her rested position and rested on one elbow, then looked down at Charlotte with a frown, “I don't know why you stay with him.”
“He's my husband, I cant leave, what about the children?” Charlotte was now frowning and feeling uncomfortable.
“So what am I to you? A quick release when you need one, when you need to let out the dyke inside of you.”
“I thought that was you.” Charlotte grinned, hands behind her head.
The blonde got out of bed and searched for her clothes, “I don't know how much longer I can go on like this. I need more from you.” She muttered as she grabbed clothing from the floor where it had been scattered.
Charlotte raised herself up to a sitting position, “Where are you going?”
“Back to Nikki, I shouldn't even be here!”
Charlotte quickly got out of bed and put on a t-shirt then she walked over to where Trisha Harris was putting on her shoes, she stopped her and placed her hands to Trisha's shoulders, “Please don't go not like this…” then she added softly, “I love you.”
Trisha was all ready to leave until she heard those words… she turned to Charlotte, all her anger had dissipated to be replaced by tears, Charlotte reached out and pulled Trisha into her arms, “We'll work things out… I promise.” She told Trisha. She had meant the words, she just wasn't quite sure how she was going to work things out.
“How?” Trisha looked to her lover's eyes.
“I'm not sure, but I do love you and I want us to be together.” Charlotte replied.

Trisha hugged Charlotte tighter, she could feel her warmth against her and it felt so comforting. But half of her was feeling so guilty for betraying Nikki, her lover of nine years. Then she bravely looked at Charlotte and promised her, “I'll tell Nikki about us if you leave your husband. I'd leave tomorrow for you…”
Charlotte looked surprised or was it horrified, “Er… yeah sure…” she replied giving nothing away about the way she really felt.
“Shall I leave Nikki, is that what your waiting for?” Trisha then asked.
“Lets not be hasty babe, one step at a time eh?” Charlotte replied.

Nikki was picking out something to wear when she remembered her dinner date with Trish, “Damn it, I'm going to have to call it off.” Nikki cursed herself for forgetting. And deep down inside a part of her was saying forget dinner and spend the evening in the company of a intelligent woman, a few glasses of wine and a good play. She knew it was what her heart was telling her to do but her doubting other half was telling her not to be silly and that Trisha was already pissed off enough without making matters worse. Nikki sat on the edge of the bed beside her black suit. Her white shirt was open where her hands had left it… the white vest beneath clung to her breasts. Her legs were bare. Nikki smiled to herself when she thought of Trisha, she knew had she been there right now there would be no escaping her advances.
Nikki looked at the clothes she had chosen to wear for her night out with Helen and sighed, she really wanted to go.

Nikki's phone beeped twice beside her on the bed, she picked up and read the text message… it was from Trisha.

“I wont be back for dinner, spending the eve with Charlotte. You know the lawyer who took on your case. Anyway, she's cooking for us, so treat urself 2 a takeaway.”

Nikki at first felt annoyed at Trisha and then relieved when she thought about Helen… she began to get dressed as planned and left Trisha a note not to wait up for her and that she would be enjoying Shakespeare tonight in the company of a friend from the book group. Dressed in a black suit and a grey shirt, with her dark hair combed back Nikki put on some CK One and checked herself in the mirror one last time. It had been a while since she made this much effort for another woman. She smiled satisfied, picked up her door keys and awaited her taxi.

“Where did you say you were going again?” Sean asked. He was standing next to Helen in the kitchen making himself a cup of coffee to take into his office.
“The Arts centre.” Helen replied digging in the fridge for something cold to drink.
Sean lent on the side and looked down at his lover as she was half hidden in the fridge, “And who is this Nikki your going with again?”
Helen stood up straight and almost met Sean's nose on the way, she moved out of his way and poured herself some juice, “a book group member.”
“And?” Sean was obviously a little rattled and wanted more information than that.
“And what?” Helen asked as she sipped her juice.
“How old is he?”
Helen laughed, “It's not a he it's a she.”
“Oh.” He looked relieved. “That's alright then.”
“Don't tell me you were jealous?” Helen couldn't keep the grin off her face.
“Well…” Sean replied steadily, “You haven't given me an answer to my proposal yet.”
“And what's that got to do with anything?” Helen frowned and put down her glass.
“It's got everything to do with it. If a guy sees a ring on your finger he's less likely to get the wrong idea, believe me Helen, I know what men are like!”
“Sean stop patronising me.” Helen swung around and headed for the door.
“What?” he called after her and then chased after her into the hallway as she made her escape.
“Nothing,” she put on her coat and turned to him, “Look,” she kissed his cheek, “Don't wait up, I'm not sure what time the play ends.” She turned towards the door and before he could open his mouth and protest any further she was gone.


Joined: May 27th, 2006, 11:48 am

November 8th, 2008, 3:53 pm #7

Chapter 7

Nikki waited at the bar in the Arts centre with a soft drink in her hand. The plan was to not get drunk, after all Shakespeare was hard enough to follow sometimes without making matters even more difficult.

Every time the doors opened she looked over to that space, her heart beating hard in her chest, waiting for Helen Stewart to appear. Nikki didn't have to wait long, and typically the one time she didn't look over in the direction of the doors because she was looking at her watch, was the time Helen walked through the doors.

“Hiya Nikki.”
Nikki looked up in surprise, “Helen.”
“You look lovely.” Helen smiled.
“Thank you.” Nikki smiled back, “So do you.”

Helen confidently pulled up a chair beside Nikki, looked to the barman and ordered her drink, “A pint please.”

The barman smiled and poured Helen a pint of Stella, he noticed the Scots companion staring at what he was pouring in disbelief almost.

Helen noticed Nikki's stunned look too, “What?” she laughed lightly.

The laugh sent wonderful shivers down Nikki's back. Nikki looked to Helen and laughed a little back at her, “Nothing.”
“Good.” Helen said as she grabbed her pint from the barman and handed over a fiver.
“Hey, that was supposed to be on me.” Nikki said watching the money disappear into the till.
“Don't worry bout it, you can get the next one.” Helen replied as she supped at her pint and wiped the white creamy froth from her upper lip.
Nikki laughed again and stood with her glass of coke, “You want to get a table?”
“Yeah sure.” Helen stood with her glass and followed Nikki over to a quiet corner of the bar. Her eyes browsed Nikki as she walked behind her, the way her trousers fitted her so perfectly, they were obviously expensive, in fact the whole suit looked gorgeous and she hated to admit it to herself, but it looked sexy, or was that because it was on Nikki? Helen smiled to herself and shook her head.

They sat opposite each other, Helen leaning forward on the table cradling her pint, Nikki in a relaxed position lent back in her chair, her glass of iced coke on the table.

“Shouldn't you have some whiskey in that coke?” Helen had lifted it to her lips and sipped a little, she had frowned and put it straight back down.

“I'm saving myself for after the show, I don't want to get too distracted and believe me it doesn't take much to make me merry.” Nikki admitted with a small smile.

Helen laughed and caught Nikki's brown eyes staring back at her, for a moment she felt dizzy, like an unknown force had stunned her, the fact was, those brown eyes looking back at her and that soft smile had been the cause.

“After the show?” Helen eventually asked having regained her composure.
“You will join me for a drink I hope?” Nikki explained.
“How could I refuse, anything is better than going home to Sean”
Nikki felt the disappointment rushing through her veins, “Sean?”
“My partner.” Helen told her simply.
“Oh.” Nikki tried not to sound so disappointed. She surprised herself at how jealous she felt. After all it wasn't so long ago that she didn't even want to be in the same room as her.
“So what about you Nikki, do you have a girlfriend?” Helen asked with teasing eyes.

Nikki thought about her response and then told Helen with a smile, “No.”

“What a good looking woman like you?” Helen replied as she picked up her pint and finished it off.
Nikki looked at Helen, “So you think I'm good looking?”
“I might be straight Nikki, but I do know when I see a good looking woman.” Helen replied.

Nikki picked up her drink and was now wishing she had something stronger in there.

Helen then asked, “Have you never been interested in men?”

Nikki hadn't been too surprised by the question, after all she had heard it many times before, “Not my flavour no.”

Helen smiled. Nikki smiled back at her and answered the question that entered Helen's head, “What you thought I just hadn't met the right one? It doesn't work like that Helen. They do nothing for me.”

Helen found herself drifting into Nikki's stunning brown eyes, and watching her kissable lips as she spoke, then she stopped herself from thinking such things and looked away, “It's getting pretty busy.”

Nikki noticed Helen was changing the subject but decided not to let her off that easy, “So what about you Helen, have you never been interested in women?”

Helen looked to Nikki and giggled nervously, “Not in that way no.”

“Shame,” Nikki told her quietly, “You don't know what you're missing.”

Helen felt herself shaking, God knows why, and she had fear in her welling up, thinking she may blush and give too much away about herself. She also felt a little hot

When Helen didn't respond Nikki decided to make it a little easier for the stunning Scot, “Right well, shall we make our way inside and find our seats?”
Helen let out a breath in sheer relief, “Yeah good idea.” She replied standing quickly.
They both made their way into the theatre and took their seats after buying a programme each.

After the show they were like two different people, totally in awe of the performance they had seen, they couldn't stop talking about as they made their way out together. They automatically reached the busy bar and Nikki made her way through to the front to get them some drinks. She returned soon with a pint for Helen and a bottle of Budweiser for herself. “Lets find somewhere to sit,” Nikki suggested as she handed Helen her pint amongst the crowd.

Helen led the way and found them a place to sit, not as private as before but it would do.

They both sat, rather squashed together with their drinks. They looked to each other and smiled.
“I've had a wonderful evening Nikki, thank you for joining me”
“It was a pleasure. And it was a great production.” Nikki replied gazing at Helen's low cut green top.
Helen's green eyes caught her looking and she smiled, strangely satisfied that she had such an effect. “Talking with you… it makes me realise how little I have in common with Sean.” She said in all honesty.
“I know what you mean.” Nikki admitted.
“You do?” Helen asked with curiosity.
“Yeah… been there…” Nikki replied, careful not to bring Trish into the conversation, she didn't want to ruin things between them now by admitting she had lied earlier about being single.
“I just miss having someone around to talk too you know?” Helen sipped her pint.
Nikki nodded, “I know exactly what you're saying.” Then she smiled and lent closer to Helen, “But at least we have each other to talk to now.”
Helen smiled and put down her glass, “That we do.”
Nikki noticed Helen was getting a little merry and felt the electric shoot through her body as Helen's hand slipped casually behind her back. Nikki was speechless when she felt Helen's hand slip under her jacket. And the heat rising between them had nothing to do with the room temperature.


Joined: May 27th, 2006, 11:48 am

November 8th, 2008, 3:53 pm #8

Chapter 8

“Helen!” Nikki said startled by Helen's hand making its way up her back.
Helen smiled at her through half closed eyes, “What?”
“Your drunk” Nikki told her honestly.
“A bit merry maybe but I will ave you know, I'm not drunk.” Helen smiled.

Nikki reached for Helen's hand and removed it from herself.

Helen's attraction to Nikki was overwhelming her. The alcohol flowing through her blood stream gave her the courage to be brave and face it.

Nikki's attraction to Helen was scaring her. She so wanted to give into this woman. God she was totally gorgeous, sex on legs, but for one the woman was a bit merry and straight, or so she claimed and would certainly do so in the morning… and secondly she had to think about Trisha, no matter how worrying their relationship was at the moment.

“I think its time we called a taxi and got you home.” Nikki told her.
Helen smiled at Nikki through glazed eyes, “The nights only just begun.”

Nikki stood and took Helen's hand. Helen continued to smile, her lower regions screaming out to be touched as Nikki's hand captured her own. What a simple touch could do to her was absolutely shocking but at this moment in time Helen didn't care. Her heart was beating faster as Nikki led her outside into the cool night air.

Helen without warning pulled Nikki to herself and pushed her lips to Nikki's.

Nikki at first fought the urge to respond but as Helen's hands circled her shoulders and touched her hair she fell right into her spell. Gently lips touched, explored, caressed, and gentle probing tongues met and delighted in the feelings they were sending to places all over their bodies. Helen pulled Nikki to her closer, tighter; she needed to feel more of Nikki and Nikki needed to feel more of Helen.

Then suddenly Nikki pulled away and stuck her arm out and ailed a cab, “Taxi!” she called out, she was flustered, very flustered.

A taxi screeched to a halt and Nikki dragged Helen by the hand into it.

Helen woke the next morning with the most horrendous headache, she groaned as she opened her eyes and reached for the tablets on the bedside table. Then she took two and looked at the digital clock beside them, it read 6.30am. She had been to sleep for about 5 of those hours. She felt rough. Someone stirred beside her and her heart leapt in her chest as she turned over, relief washed over her when she saw Sean lying there. She closed her eyes and tried hard to get all images of the previous night out of her head, the embarrassment of the way she had acted was too much to take, especially in her current state.

Nikki woke much later that morning to find Trisha wrapped around her and naked. Then she frowned as she remembered why, she had come home completely frustrated after Helen's attempt to seduce her and taken her hormones out on Trish. Trisha hadn't complained of course. In fact she was glowing from the experience afterwards. Nikki however was feeling guilty… Why the hell should I feel guilty? she suddenly asked herself. The answer came to her quickly, because your besotted with Helen Stewart, and what your feeling for her already out numbers what you feel for Trisha. And the way she kissed you last night made you feel like no one had ever made you feel before. And because they already shared a connection that neither of them could explain.

And because I'm falling in love with her…

Nikki managed to remove herself from Trisha's warm loved up body, got out of bed quietly in the hope that she hadn't disturbed her and headed for the bathroom. Just as she was opening the bathroom door she heard Trisha call out in a cheery but sleepy voice, “Are you putting the kettle on?”

Nikki sighed, if there was one morning when she needed peace, time alone to think, then that was this morning but it didn't look like she was going to get what she wanted.

Work was complete hell for Helen, not only did she have another run in with PO Jim Fenner but his sidekick, the Governing Governor Simon Stubberfield had called her to his office for a few words, a few words dismissing her actions and taking on Fenners. Yet again she had lost the battle of the sexes. A battle strong within Larkhall Prison, a battle that was making her Scottish blood boil with anger. She was beginning to wonder what she was doing there. Why take on a job that makes you unhappy Sean had commented that morning. Why indeed, Helen was starting to think. And so when it was time to go home she was very relieved about it. And for once she had Sean's full attention for the evening, as for once he hadn't bought his work home with him.

“Sean.” Helen was cuddled up in his arms as they watched TV.
“Mmm.” He mumbled, his focus on the snooker.
“About your proposal.”
All focus on the snooker was forgotten, he looked to Helen and grinned like a Cheshire cat, “You wont regret this hels!”
She hadn't even said anything and he had jumped to conclusion that she had said yes. She was too tired to get into now, too tired to argue and so she just smiled. Besides she was beginning to think it was the right thing to do after her night out with Nikki. She had made a complete fool of herself. I'm straight for Gods sake and I don't fancy Nikki… she thought to herself, trying to convince herself seemed harder than it should have been.

Then Sean pulled Helen into a kiss. His lips were rough… not soft like Nikki's. His breathe didn't make her tingle all over like Nikki's did and his hands reached for her breasts roughly… unlike Nikki's soft tender hands that circled her waist as they stood outside the arts centre and kissed. Her heart didn't pound hard in her chest like it did when Nikki kissed her. And her clit didn't throb with the excitement the kiss provoked when Nikki had kissed her.

Helen kissed Sean harder, deeper and tried to provoke a response, she eventually pulled away and looked at him with very confused eyes.


Joined: May 27th, 2006, 11:48 am

November 8th, 2008, 3:54 pm #9

Chapter 9

Helen took tentative steps towards the doors of the book group the following Wednesday evening. Nervously she stood before the door wondering if she should go in. Her courage failing she was about to turn right around and go back home when a man walked up and opened the door for her.
“Helen isn't it?” he smiled at her. His dark hair and slightly darker skin gave Helen the impression he had Italian blood running right through him but he spoke with an English accent.
“Yes,” she smiled back, “Thanks.” She told him before walking in as he closed the door behind her. She couldn't remember his name from the group meetings previously and so she asked for his name before they went through and joined the others.
“David.” He smiled and held his hand out for Helen to shake, “David Jones.”

David led Helen to sit beside him. Helen hadn't yet seen Nikki and so she decided to join him, maybe after last week Helen had put her off ever going to the group again? Helen wouldn't have blamed her. She was somewhat intrigued by her new friend, he looked Italian but his name and his voice far from resembled anything east of the north sea. He made her feel more at ease and she was glad of him for that.

It was noticeable to Nikki that Helen was avoiding her right from the start of the meeting when she sat away from her and became very chatty with a male member of the group. Or at least this was how it appeared to Nikki.
Nikki had glanced over at her from time to time throughout the first half an hour and each time Helen had diverted her eyes. Nikki couldn't work out if Helen was embarrassed because of her behaviour on Sunday or just giving her the cold shoulder. But one thing was for sure… Helen looked just as gorgeous as she did on that Sunday, wearing jeans and a red silk shirt, with black boots that went up to the ankles, her hair had been tucked behind one ear on Sunday as it was now. The dark blonde strands showed signs of light, had Helen had her hair lightened? Nikki was sure she had. And those green eyes just melted right into Nikki's soul as they eventually exchanged a knowing glance when Helen read a passage from a favourite book, it was spoken with such emotion and such conviction…and it tore at Nikki's heart.

“It is morass my life, a bog, a swamp, a deceitful country, with the one bright patch in the middle” That was when Helen had met Nikki's eyes finally… and with that she picked up her voice and carried on, diverting her eyes back to her book, “the patch that is unalterably his,” Helen glanced at Nikki, Nikki had glanced back, both hearts were beating faster, Helen took a breath before continuing, her emotion building, ”I know that wading through it all he would emerge holding his estimate of me steadfast.” Nikki silently agreed that nothing could change her opinion of Helen now, and that she had not known her long but just one evening alone with her meant more to her than a lifetime with Trisha. Helen then continued to read, “This would be the test of my confidence, from which I would not shrink, I would not give it to her, perilous touchstone!” The group watched and listened to Helen speak the words with awe, she was like an actress on a stage, “Who even in these first score of lines should teach me where truth lies. I do know where it lies, but have no strength to grasp it, here I am already in the middle of my infirmities.”

Helen smiled as the group clapped… the only person who wasn't clapping was Nikki, who more than anything look stunned. When Helen sat they fiddled about with their books and excitedly waited to find out who would read next, Helen had already done a fantastic job.

It was all becoming too much for Nikki, she finally stood and excused herself from the group, she never met Helen's concerned look once, she hadn't even read her favourite part from the book she had bought along, a book called Middlemarch by George Elliot. Like a sudden wind on a sunny day she was gone.

Helen watched Nikki has she made a sharp exit and felt overwhelming guilt. She stood and apologised to the group, said goodbye to David and headed off in the direction of those doors she so struggled into earlier.

Once out in the cold light of day, or evening air… Helen looked around for Nikki. She sighed in frustration and pulled her long coat around herself, it was chilly in more ways than one. There was no damn sign of the woman! How could she possibly move so fast? Helen took a slow walk down the street, going over how bloody ridiculous this had become between them and wishing she hadn't gone to see Romeo and Juliet that Sunday before. She was so lost in her own thoughts, in her own little world that she didn't notice the person walk out in front of her from a shop doorway.

“Looking for someone?”

It was Nikki, wrapped up in a long black coat, with her hands tucked into her pockets and a newspaper tucked under her arm.

Helen looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights of a whopping great huge truck!

“I… yes. I was looking for you.”

Nikki stepped towards her casually, she had a few minutes to calm down and take in the passage that Helen had read, and she couldn't help but feel terribly sorry for her. It couldn't have been easy trying to deal with feelings so new and so fresh, it couldn't have been easy living a lie with a person you thought was your future.

“Well, how about joining me for a coffee? It's freezing out here.”

“I know.” Helen blew on her hands, “Its may for Gods sake, one minute were in a heat wave, the next minute I'm freezing my toes off.” She smiled relieved to be asked. Knowing that everything was still okay between her and Nikki. The last thing she wanted to do was loose a friend, she didn't have many of them and Nikki was special, she was trying to figure out the feelings she had for her, but right now, as the quote in the book had read, it all felt like too much.

Nikki smiled and Helen followed her across the road to Starbucks.

Ouote from the book, Portrait of a marriage by Nigel Nicolson.


Joined: May 27th, 2006, 11:48 am

November 8th, 2008, 3:54 pm #10

Chapter 10

Helen ordered the coffees. She looked over at Nikki who seemed to be in a world of her own, hiding behind her newspaper. Helen made a note of the newspaper in her hands, The Independent.

Very much like Nikki… the independent took a look at the world news from a completely open point of view.

Helen smiled to herself as warmth spread through her, she couldn't take her eyes off Nikki Wade. She was doing this when Nikki lowered her newspaper and peered over at Helen. For a fleeting moment their eyes met… both of them very aware of the extreme way it was making them feel.

“Two coffees”

Helen shot around and looked to the counter, “Thanks.”

She took the coffees and walked over to where Nikki was sitting, placing them down on the table.

When Helen had sat down Nikki gave her a curious look.
Helen could sense something was puzzling her friend, she smiled at Nikki, “What?”
“Your hair…” Nikki replied, her eyes roaming across the soft dark blonde hair that now harboured a few streaks of red and blonde. “Did you have it highlighted?”
Helen touched her hair and smiled, “Yes, do you like it?”
“It's beautiful.” Nikki replied seriously and then added, “Your beautiful.”

Helen watched as Nikki's attention left her and went to the mug of hot steaming coffee. She took a deep breath and then told Nikki, “I must apologize for Sunday. I'm not usually like that I swear. I'm really sorry.” Helen felt her cheeks go red just remembering it. The way she had drunk just a little too much and let herself go… even if she had acted truthfully to the way she felt, it was still dead embarrassing under the circumstances, after all she was engaged to be married.

Nikki looked a little amused and then replied with almost a whisper as she lent closer to Helen across the table, “I'm not sorry.”

Helen sat up straight and nervously bit her lip then she dared to look at Nikki, “Nikki…I”

Nikki stopped her, “it's okay Helen, I was just joking.”

Helen smiled with relief and then took a sip of her coffee. But soon relief turned to disappointment as what Nikki had actually said started to sink in… I was joking…
Helen then took a deep shuddering breath and told Nikki, “Sean asked me to marry him.”

Helen could see the stunned expression on Nikki's face. Nikki just diverted her eyes to her coffee and put her hands around the warm mug, her only words, “oh…”

Helen was in turmoil, “I don't know what to do.”

Nikki slowly looked up, her question was simple, “Do you love him?”

“I don't know.” Helen had confusion written all over her face. Then confusion turned to shock when she realised what she had said.

Nikki looked just as surprised, “There's your answer.”

“We are engaged.” Helen replied. “Everything is a complete nightmare.”

Nikki was stunned yet again, “When did that happen?”

Helen shook her head, “It doesn't matter, what matters is that my life is out of my control, what the hell am I going to do?”

“Helen, I'm not an expert when it comes to relationships, but even I can see that your doing the wrong thing here.” She reached her hands across the table.

Helen took them into her own and looked to her eyes, “God Nikki I've made such a mess of my life.”

Nikki moved from her chair to one closer to Helen, then she put her arm around Helen's shoulder and comforted her, Helen was on the verge of tears.
“Hey, you have a good job, a home of your own, a nice car, and a friend who cares about you.”

Helen wiped her eyes and looked to Nikki, “My job is just as bad as my love life right now believe me, I'm not sure what's worse. In fact I don't know why I keep going back there… its too hard.”

“Why what happened?” Nikki asked.

“What hasn't happened…” Helen laughed bitterly.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Nikki asked gently. Her voice was sincere, her heart breaking for Helen's predicament.

Helen sighed, “I shouldn't be landing all this on you.”

Nikki hugged Helen a bit tighter, “Don't talk daft, you're not landing anything on me.”

They ended up booked into a premier lodge. Helen phoned Sean to let him know she would not be home that night and that she would be staying with a friend from the book club. When he asked what friend, Helen had told him it was Nikki, as in a female… the one she had told him about before. He relaxed at that point and looked forward to having the television to himself for the entire evening.

Nikki closed the hotel door behind them and locked it. The only room available had been a double on-suite. Nikki walked in just as Helen was taking off her shoes as she sat at the end of the double bed. Suddenly Nikki was a little nervous and wondering what the hell she was thinking off, bringing this attractive, beautiful woman to a hotel room with one double bed… a bed they were about to share. She did a silent prayer to her hormones, begging them to be quiet, before stepping forward and taking off her coat, she smiled at Helen gently, who smiled back at her.

Then Nikki closed her eyes in quiet desperation… If I had a brain I would be dangerous… and if I had any sense I wouldn't be here, but to hell with sense… Helen needs me tonight. Nikki opened her eyes to catch Helen watching her… she was lent against the head rest with a pillow behind her back. Nikki walked over to the side of the bed and took off her shoes, then she joined Helen on the bed and sat beside her.

“This reminds me of boarding school…” Helen smiled, “When a girl friend of mine would sneak into my room at night so we could spend the night talking.”
Nikki looked at Helen, “I went to boarding school too.”
“Really?” Helen studied Nikki's face, so perfect, and those eyes… well those eyes struck her from the moment they first met. Helen could have fallen into them and lost herself gladly.
“I hated it… I have a feeling your experience was a lot more fun than mine.” Nikki smiled.
Helen felt her heart skip a beat at Nikki's smile… “It was okay, I was happier at university I must admit.”
“I didn't get that far.” Nikki replied thinking back, “At the age of 16 I was well and truly on my own… it was a matter of survival for a while.”
“Why?” Helen asked shocked.
“My parents… they found out I was gay and didn't want anymore to do with me.” Nikki replied almost cold to the facts.
“That's terrible.” Helen was truly amazed that parents could treat a child so badly. “Where did you go?”
“My girlfriends… at the time I was dating someone a little older. Then when she decided she wanted a man, she made me move out and brought in some bloke she met.”
Helen was now astounded, “How could anyone do that?”
“I don't know Helen, but there are plenty of straight women out there who do.” Nikki said it in all innocence and hadnt been pointing at Helen, but when Helen went quiet she had to reassure her. “No offence.”
“None taken.” Helen replied with relief.

“Anyway, we came here to talk about you…” Nikki changed the subject.
“Not much to say, apart from I am questioning myself so much right now… my work, my relationships, my life.” Helen looked down and admitted, “I think I've chosen the wrong career… It just isn't working out.” Tears were in Helen's eyes, “I cant do a damn thing for these women… every step forward I take, something happens to bring me right back to the beginning.”
Nikki placed her arm around Helen's shoulder and looked to her, “Hey I'm sure your doing your best…”
“Well my best isn't good enough…” Helen mumbled as her tears started to fall.
“Hey,” Nikki placed her hand to Helen's face and made her look at her, “You mustn't talk like that.”
“I just don't know how much more I can take.” Helen began to cry openly.
“You don't give yourself enough credit.” Nikki told her passionately. Her hand was still stroking Helen's tears away.
Helen looked to Nikki as Nikki moved in closer, “You really think that?”
“Yes…” Nikki replied quietly.

Their lips were inches apart and slowly, but surely Nikki's arm circled Helen's shoulder more, their eyes closed and their lips joined in a gentle exploratory kiss. Nikki felt the softness of Helen's lips, her warm mouth, the gentle tongue and felt herself going weaker by the second. Helen was lost in how beautiful the kiss felt. It was slow, sexy, erotic, not rough and needy like Sean's kissing. Helen felt herself more turned on by this simple kiss than she had ever been, but in her head she wasn't ready for this… in her head she needed time.

Eyes opened as Helen pulled away and awareness stared right back into Nikki's eyes… but did Helen dare to let her control go even more and admit it?