DISCLAIMER: Bad Girls is the property of Shed productions, this story depicts a loving/sexual relationship between women...okay, disclaimer done.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
“God I’m bored” Nikki thought to herself staring across the wing towards where Shaz and Jen were having a game of pool. It was raining outside, so she had been unable to go out and weed the beds as she had planned. However that wasn’t really true. Nikki wasn’t really bored she was fed up. It was 4 months since the night of her escape and re-entry into Larkhall and six weeks since Dockley had gone on her little trip. Funnily enough things hadn’t been the same since Shell had gone. Nikki actually missed her, Shell was always good for a laugh ... or rather good to laugh at, especially on a rainy day, but Nikki wanted Shell back for a whole different reason.
“Ere Shell should we really be out in public” Denny whined looking around her at all the faces that seemed to be looking at her.
“Don’t worry about it Den. Whose gonna recognise us here” Shell answered her mate "We wouldn’t be so lucky" she added to herself. Shit the plan wasn’t working, she should have dumped Den along the way but Den had stuck to her faster than chewing gum to a school desk. There was nothing for it she was just going to have to tell her the truth or as close to it as was possible. “Listen Den I gotta tell you somein. I’m gonna go back to England I can’t stay here any longer”
“Shell?” Denny asked confused “But why?”
“I got somethings to sort” Shell said looking out over the beach where they were sunbathing.
“Oh right you mean about the kids” Denny said seeing that sad look Shell always got when she was thinking about her children.
“What? ... Oh yeah ... the kids ... right” Shell said distractedly
“Alright then we’ll go pack and I’ll come with you” Denny was already getting up off her beach towel and reaching for her sandals.
“No!!” Shell shouted. Seeing the surprised look on Denny’s face she stuttered. “You uh you should stay here Den ... coz ... coz it’ll be easier to spot the two of us. We need to split up ... yeah split up”
“But Shell .....”
“No buts Den that’s the way it’s gonna be. Now sit back down. Let’s enjoy the rest of the day, and I’ll make my way back to Blighty tonight after it’s dark.”
Seeing that the discussion was closed Denny sat down. She was a little upset that Shell was deserting her but understood why, besides she knew that once Shell had her kids she’d come back for her .... wouldn’t she.
Three day’s later and Nikki had just got back from a shower when Yvonne came into her cell.
“Ere Nik you heard the news?”
“News?” Nikki said looking over at Yvonne who wore an expression as close to excitement that Nikki had ever seen on the older lady.
“Yeah Dockley’s down the block, the filth picked her up yesterday, although some are saying she walked into the cop shop at Paddington.”
“So it’s nearly over” Nikki said to herself, seeing Yvonne looking at her funnily Nikki said “Should’ve known Dockley would botch up her escape. She’s botched everything else in her life.”
Yvonne stayed a few minutes longer but seeing that Nikki didn’t really want to chat she left her to go to the Two Julies and have a laugh with them over Dockley’s thwarted attempt.
Nikki stayed in her cell and mulled over everything Yvonne had just said. So Shell was back, that could mean only one thing. Reaching into her cabinet she opened the false bottom took out the Dictaphone she found there, popped a new tape in and began to talk into it. Twenty minutes later she returned it to it’s hiding place and walked out of her cell, she needed to see Helen, the next couple of weeks ... hell probably months were going to be tough, and although she knew she shouldn’t she needed to tell Helen that if she was patient everything would be alright.
Shell paced up and down the cell. Well she was back, hopefully not for long she thought to herself but knew that it could be quite a while. The wheels of government were slow to turn after all. Things had moved pretty faced in the last three days, she had flown in from Spain Monday morning, Spoken to Max and been in the cop shop all within the space of four hours and now she was back here at Larkhall. Thank God though that it was nearly over.
Two days later and Karen Betts came down to see Shell on the block.
“Hello Shell, fancy seeing you here?”
“Hello Miss.” Looking behind Karen and seeing no other officers “What no welcome back party” she said mockingly.
“I think you’ve had enough attention don’t you. Right, this afternoon you’ll be back on the wing, on basic of course...”
“Shell why’d you do it?”
“Do what Miss?”
“Why’d you walk into the Police Station? Why didn’t you just stay away?” Karen asked confusedly of the women in front of her.
“Maybe I missed you ma’am or maybe I missed Mr Fenner. You still shagging ‘im Miss?” Shell sneered.
Having been reminded that she had yet to tell Jim of Shell’s impending return to the wing, Karen left the cell and went to her office. She would tell Jim tonight when she got home, why spoil what was left of his days off with some unwanted news.
Nikki had put her request in to see Helen that morning and she was being granted an audience with her this afternoon at three o’clock. She knew it was going to be a tough meeting. She had hardly spoken to Helen since their argument after Helen had returned her to Larkhall all those months ago. Nikki was still smarting over Helen’s attitude towards her since that night and the fact that she was letting it get to her, but she needed to talk to Helen. Walking out of her cell she strolled over to where the Julies were stood chatting to Barbara.
“Hello Nikki ....”
“... you alright?” they asked
“Yeah Julies, fine.” seeing that they were unconvinced she continued, “Just a bit bored that’s all, weathers terrible” Hoping that that would placate them she turned to Shaz. “Want a game of pool Shaz?” Poor Shaz she thought, everyone now knew that Dockley was back but that Denny wasn’t with her, looked like Shaz was going to have wait to be reunited with her friend.
“Yeah sure” The little pixie said jumping down from the table where she was perched and walking over to the pool table to rack ‘em up. She walked over to the other end of the pool table with the cue ball and looked up as the gates were opened. Nikki turned towards the pool table when she heard the ball crash down onto the baize. Looking from Shaz’s outraged face she turned to the gates. There stood Shell Dockley wearing her yellow top and blue mini skirt. Grabbing Shaz as she tried to pass her Nikki held her close to her side.
“Leave it Shaz, you’ll only end up down the block, she’s not worth it”
“She’s right Sharon” Barbara piped up not wanting her little friend to get into any trouble.
“I only want to know how Denny is?” Shaz tried to cover.
“You’ll find out soon enough” Nikki said, “Now how about our game of pool, you break”
Three games later after Shaz had beaten Nikki two games to one, Nikki was following Gina Rossi up to Helen’s office.
“Come in” Helen responded to the knock on her door.
“Nikki Wade for you ma’am”
“Oh yes Gina. Sit down Nikki. Could you come back in five minutes Gina?.” Helen said and both women watched the dark haired prison officer nod and leave them to it.
“Five minutes? Being rationed your time now am I Helen?”
“Oh leave it out Nikki I’m very busy”
“Yeah must be tough having so much to do in so little time” Nikki sneered
“That’s enough” Helen just managed to control herself and stop from shouting. Taking a few deep breaths she said, “You wanted to see me”
“Yes I um I have something to tell you”
“I’m listening” Helen said sitting back in her chair, Nikki looked nervous but she couldn’t for the life of her think why, then again over the last couple of weeks she had been avoiding her so she didn’t really know what was happening in Nikki ‘life’ at the moment.
“Something’s going to happen soon ... I can’t tell you what but I need you to trust me again Helen, please I know I stuffed up but your going to have to trust me” Seeing Helen was confused she carried on “I can’t tell you anymore than that but it will all become clear soon I promise”
“Nikki ... Nikki it’s not something dangerous is it, your not going to get hurt are you?”
Smiling because Helen’s first concern was for her safety Nikki replied “No I’m not going to get hurt, you don’t have to worry about that”
It was good to see Nikki smiling at her for once Helen thought smiling back at her, then she began to frown. “It’s not going to jeopardise your appeal is it?
“Helen I told you I can’t tell you what it is you’ll just have to trust me”
“I do Nikki it’s just you’ve worked so hard towards your appeal that I don’t want it ruined at the last minute.”
Hearing a knock at the door Nikki stood up. “With any luck Helen, there won’t be an appeal” she said before leaving a confused Helen behind her.
Helen stared at Nikki’s retreating back. What was that all about and what did she mean there wasn’t going to be any appeal, there bloody well was going to be even if she had to drag Nikki to court kicking and screaming, she’d waited too long for this time ... their time to come to let go of it now. But she trusted Nikki to do the right thing, so she would give her the time she needed for whatever it was she was up to but then she would step in if needs be.
“You’ve got to be kidding” Jim bellowed at a quiet Karen. Quieter he added “please tell me this is some kind of sick joke Karen?. Shell Dockley gave herself up and they have sent her back to Larkhall ... a ...a prison she has successfully escaped from once? What are they? Stupid?”
Watching Jim pace up and down their living room Karen tried to placate him. “Please Jim, I know it’s got to be upsetting for you, she did after all hold you hostage, but you got out unhurt ... well physically unhurt anyway. Look I’ll see about getting her transferred as soon as I get in tomorrow OK? Please try to calm down, we’ll sort it out, I promise.”
Jim sat down next to his fiance. “Yeah, yeah I know we will” standing up Jim walked towards the door and got his coat of the peg. “Look darling I promised the lads I’d meet them tonight for a curry and a beer, I’m going to have to go if I’m to get there in time.”
Seeing the excuse for what it was, a chance for Jim to have some thinking space Karen quickly agreed, said good night and saw Jim out the door with a fumbled kiss.
“Shit.” Jim thought as he took another swig from the bottle of Jim Bean he had brought from the local Threshers. Shell Dockley was going to be the ruin of him unless ... unless he could find a way to shut her up ... once and for all.
Next morning a determined Jim Fenner and Karen Betts drove into Larkhall. Looking up at the imposing brick work Jim didn’t hear Karen walk up behind him. Laying a hand on his back Karen said.
“Look Jim you don’t have to come back yet. Take another couple of weeks, I’ll find cover and it’ll give me time to have Shell Dockley relocated.”
“No, best to just get it over and done with.”
“Ok. Want to meet for lunch?”
“Yeah sure. Look I have to get going now Karen, Don’t want to be late first day back now do I” Fenner said chuckling as he walked off. `Right then’ he thought `first stop Dockley’.
Watching him walk off Karen knew that he was planning something for Dockley but didn’t blame him. That woman had played with his mind that night four months ago when she had held him hostage. `Better see what I can do about getting her out of here before he does something to ruin his career’ Karen reflected to herself walking towards her office.
Walking in and seeing that Cheryl, her secretary, wasn’t at her desk she walked over to the kettle and filled it ready for some much needed coffee. A couple of minutes later she walked into her office with a mug of steaming coffee. Looking up when she heard movement she just about saved her carpet from the mug of coffee spilling onto the carpet.
“Karen Betts I presume” announced her visitor.
Staring at the woman in front her, Karen took in everything about her from her black fitted trouser suit to her shoulder length blonde hair and green eyes. Warily she said “Yes, who are you?”
Holding her hand out towards Helen she introduced herself “Max Hart, Home Office”.
After leaving the locker room Jim made his way along to the wing and to the officers room for morning hand over. As soon as the night staff had left, Jim assigned his team to their respective jobs, making sure him and Sylvia were unlocking the inmates on basic and Di and Gina were kept out of the way unlocking the two’s and three’s. “Listen Sylvia” he said watching Di and Gina ascend the stairs to enhanced. “Let me open Shell’s cell and don’t say a word to anyone OK?”
“Ok Jim, It’s a damn cheek putting her back in here” she said acerbically walking off to open the cells quickly so that the others weren’t to surprised when there weren’t too many prisoners out on the wing.
Jim double timed over to Shell’s cell. Entering quietly he walked over to where Shell was lying still asleep, her cellmate was down the block which was extremely lucky. “Wakey Wakey Shelly” he snarled before viciously pulling Shell from the top bunk.
“Waaaaaaaa” Shell said just as Fenner grabbed her again and hauled her up to the wall with strong arms. “Ji ... Jim oooff what a pleasure” Being thrust against the wall so early in the morning wasn’t doing much for her concentration but Shell soon began struggling against Jim’s vice like hold.
“Now now Shell, we had a deal I get you out and you stay the f*ck away from me for the rest of your miserable life” Pushing her harder against the wall, Jim anchored her there with his body and put his hands under her throat to hold her head still so that he could look her in the eye. “What the hell are you doing back here?”
“Maybe I missed you Jim?” She sneered, fast and unexpectedly Jim punched Shell in the stomach.
Bent over Shell started coughing “Now listen to me you little tart, stay out of my way, don’t f*ck with me anymore or God help me I’ll kill you. You can’t get to me anymore you b*tch” and with that Jim started kicking her in the stomach muttering “b*tch” over and over. A few minutes later Jim calmly walked out of Shell’s cell, wiping the blood from his shoes as he went.
Having been one of the first let out of her cell Nikki made her way down the stairs towards the gate so that she could get an early shower. Walking past Shells cell she heard some coughing and spluttering. Entering without caution she saw Shell lying on the floor after a recent battering. Rushing over to her she felt for a pulse. “Shell? Shell can you hear me?”
“Nik?” She asked feebly.
Quickly checking for any damage Nikki answered “Yeah listen your going be ok but I gotta get out of here alright?”
“Yeah don’t worry about me” Shell groaned before finally passing out.
Checking she was still breathing Nikki quickly picked up her towel and departed undetected by anyone else. Seeing Bodybag further along the wing and Di Barker just coming down the stairs of the three’s to the two’s she rushed up the flight of stairs and told Miss Barker that she had heard something coming from Shell’s cell. Since Nikki and Shell weren’t exactly the best of friends Di was sceptical but still made her way down to the cell. What she saw turned her stomach, but she raised the alarm and soon Shell was taken down to the infirmary.
Seeing Shell Dockley being wheeled out of the wing on a stretcher Sylvia moaned “Oh no Jim, what have you done?”
“Ms Hart. What can I do for you?” Karen asked shaking the proffered hand.
“Please call me Max. There’s nothing to worry about Miss Betts, I’m just here on a courtesy call. I’ve just moved onto the lifers project and I’m going around meeting all the Governors on the lifers unit.”
“it’s Karen please. So your going to be working with Helen Stewart then?”
“Yes, as you know at present there are lifers units in most of the prisons in this country, we’re ... contemplating ... moving them all to one prison. The study Helen Stewart is doing is helping in a long way to achieving that objective. I understand Helen has a lifers meeting today?”
“Yes she does, this morning at 10.00”
“Good I think I’ll join it”
“I’ll take you along to meet Helen then” and standing they both left the office.
“Jim” an agitated Sylvia said as she caught up with Jim in the officers room. “What have you done?”
Thinking fast Jim did what he did best - wrapped Sylvia around his little finger - “I’m sorry Sylv I just couldn’t handle it, I opened the cell and saw her lying there and I had to get out ... I just ran. I’m sorry Sylvia I know it was unprofessional ... I just couldn’t help it.”
“Jim, Di Barker has just found Shell Dockley unconscious on the floor of her cell” Sylvia enunciated.
“What?” Jim asked incredulously
“Nikki Wade said she heard something coming from Dockley’s cell and when Di went in Dockley was on the floor unconscious and beaten to a pulp.”
Jim’s face did a good impression of going a whiter shade of pale at the mention of what had happened to Shell. “Nikki Wade?” He repeated in amazement `How lucky could he get - first no one had noticed him leave with the blood on his shoes and now Nikki Wade, that cop killing dyke who had made his life a misery on many occasions had conveniently been the one to notice Shell first. “Well come on Sylvia it’s obvious isn’t it?”
“Well Nikki Wade must have done it. She and Dockley are hardly bosom buddies now are they. Shell was all right and asleep when I opened her door then a couple of minutes later she’s beaten to bloody mass!! Wade did it, the hearing a noise was just an excuse in case Di had seen her come out of the cell.” A sly look came into Jim’s eyes but he schooled his expression when Sylvia looked at him.
“Your right Jim, that little madam must have done it. Well come on lets get her down the block” and with that Sylvia turned and walked towards the door.
“Uh take Di and Gina with you Sylvia I’m going to go to the infirmary and check on Dockley.”
“Ok Jim, you do that” `What a nice man’ Sylvia thought as she watched him leave the wing. God knew Dockley didn’t deserve his compassion after all she had put him through, but it was still there for her and all the other girls on the wing. “Here Di, Gina” She said when she spotted Di walking towards her with Gina “Come on we’re taking Ms Wade down the block”
“Helen this is Max Hart” Karen said introducing the two women. “I have to go back to my office now Max, but if you need anything I’m sure Helen here can help you” and with a smile to both women Karen left them.
“So your going to be working on the lifers programme then?” Helen asked a bit perturbed that no one at area had told her about Max’s involvement in her project and that she was going to be coming into Larkhall today.
“Yes.” Max answered without elaboration. Walking over to the window she stared down into the courtyard. The gardens were looking lovely.
Getting a bit annoyed now with the woman standing at her window, Helen asked “So what do you want to know? Why are you here today?”
“Today” turning to face Helen, “I’m here to sit in on your lifers meeting, see what it is you do. There’s no need to worry Helen this is still your project. I’m just here to observe. Now why don’t you bring me up to date with what you are doing.”
Feeling like something was missing or not being said Helen none the less complied and they spent the next hour before the lifers meeting going over her notes.
The door to her cell crashing back against the wall alerted Nikki to her guests. Standing she was quickly flanked by Di Barker and Gina Rossi. Looking at the thunderous expression on Sylvia Hollamby’s face in front of her made her hackles rise and she got all defensive. “Wow ... are you all for me?”
“Shut it Wade” Bodybag answered. “we don’t want any trouble from you”
“Really then why the mob?” Nikki said looking at Di and Gina pointedly.
It was Di who answered. “Shell Dockley’s in a bad way Nikki. She’s still unconscious. Mr Fenner had just opened her cell and she was fine then, next thing your coming from the direction of her cell saying you heard a noise. We’re taking you down the block” and grabbing Nikki by the tops of her arms Di and Gina frogmarched a struggling and protesting Nikki from the wing.
Helen and Max sat in a tense silence in the library waiting for the inmates arrival to the lifers meeting. Helen was still smarting at not being told about Max’s involvement and Max was just anxious waiting for the lifers to arrive. Suddenly there was a knock on the door and then the lifers were all taking their seats. Helen watched them all come in, not seeing Nikki she was about to ask Di where she was, but Max spoke first.
“There are two missing” Looking around the room Helen couldn’t see who the other one was and looking towards Max she rose her eyebrow’s in question. Thinking fast Max pointed to the two empty chairs. “Uh there are two chairs empty” Still puzzled as to how Max was able to know so quickly that two of her lifers were missing when she herself hadn’t noticed the second one (there was no way she could not have missed the first person not here) Helen turned towards the retreating back of the PO.
“Yes Miss Stewart?” Di turned around just as she got to the door to leave.
“There are two missing”
“Oh has no one told you miss. Shell Dockley was rushed to the infirmary this morning after being beaten up and it looks like Nikki Wade was the one who did it” Di responded before leaving.
`Oh Nikki what have you done?’ Helen thought to herself. `Well I can’t do anything about it right now, it’ll have to wait till the meeting is over‘. Turning to face the group of lifers in front of her she failed to notice the look of worry on Max’s face. “Right well lets get started shall we? Everyone this is Max Hart” Helen introduced to the women in front of her. “She works for the home office and is helping with the lifers programme”
“Hello everyone, like Helen said I’m going to be working with her on this project but today I’m just going to be sat here listening to what you all do in this meeting and just getting to know you. OK?” and taking a seat by the door Max kept an interested look on her face while wondering how long she would have to stay before she could get out of here.
Twenty minutes later she left the room with the excuse that her beeper had gone off. No one in the room mentioned not hearing it.
Jim had gone straight to the officers bar when he had left Sylvia, only to discover that it was locked as it was only 9.30 in the morning. `Damn’ he thought then remembered his emergency stash in his jacket so made his way to the locker room. Taking a big gulp he sat down hard on the bench by his locker. “What have I done?” he muttered to himself. If Shell opened her gob then that was it, even if he could talk himself out of it there would be too many accusations for the others to not think there was no truth in them. He had to shut Shell up once and for all. Finishing the liqueur he put the bottle back into the inside pocket of his coat, shut his locker and made his way to the infirmary. When he got there he had to wait for the medical staff to finish what they were doing around Shells bed, which took a lot longer than Jim would have liked. He almost lost his nerve and walked out twice, but each time he thought about losing the only power he really had in his life now ... the power over the women on the wing. When he finally got to Shell’s bed he looked down at the women who he had almost killed that morning. Well he was going to rectify that mistake now he thought to himself and picked up the pillow from the bed next to Shell’s. Looking down at Shell who was still unconscious he thought to himself all the times he had spent with her, they had been good most of them, at least they were for him. Shell really knew her stuff when it came to pleasing him. When had that all changed? Plumping the pillow he was just about to place it over Shell’s face when the door was pushed open and a young women in a black suit rushed in and straight over to Shells bed. Quickly dropping the pillow onto the floor and kicking it under the bed Jim looked at Shell once more then walked over the doctor and said loud enough for the women to hear. “Let me know when she wakes up, we need to know who did this to her?”
“Certainly Mr Fenner” the doctor replied.
“Fenner? ... Jim Fenner?”
Jim turned to the enquiring voice he heard from behind him. “Yes”
“Hello I’m Max Hart” Max introduced herself and Jim shook her proffered hand. “I’m working with Helen Stewart on the lifers programme. I just came to see how Shell Dockley was?”
“Yeah .... me too. She’s still in a bad way, looks like Wade has done a good job this time, she may not recover” Well here’s hoping Jim thought to himself.
“I heard Nikki Wade was denying it”
“Yeah well she would wouldn’t she. It’s not going to look to good at her appeal is it” and with that Fenner turned on his heal and strode out of the infirmary.
Max stared after him, then turned around to look at the side of Shell’s bed that he had been stood. There on the floor, just peeking out from under the bed was a pillow. Frowning she walked over and picked it up to stare at it.
“mmm” came a moan from the bed and looking over she saw Shell’s eyes flutter. “Doctor” she called “She waking up” As the doctor and nurse began to work on Shell Max replaced the pillow on the spare bed besides her and walked out with a thoughtful look on her face.
Nikki paced up and down the small cell, this place was beginning to feel like a home from home, she thought wryly. Knowing there was nothing she could do at the moment she sat on the concrete bench they called a bed and waited for something to happen.
She didn’t have to wait long. Jim Fenner was soon barging into the cell and towering over her.
“Well well Wadey what have you done now eh?” he sneered bending to look right into her eyes.
Calmly Nikki responded “I know it was you Fenner, I’m not stupid and neither are they. As soon as Shell recovers she’ll tell them what really happened”
“I wouldn’t be so sure about that if I was you Wade, Shell hates you more than she does me. Besides she may not recover, took quite a knock, bled a bit too much for the doctors liking”
Remembering the scene she had walked into Nikki shuddered. Fenner was right, what if Shell didn’t make it. Looking away from Fenner’s smug face, she bit her lip in consternation. She and Shell weren’t exactly best friends and she often got on her nerves that was true but she didn’t deserve this. Besides they were both in this together and they were both going to get out of it together.
Seeing Nikki’s turmoil Fenner scoffed “Doesn’t look good for your appeal does it ... just around the corner and you go and stuff it up.” standing up straight Fenner walked to the opposite wall and leant against it. Nikki followed him with her eyes. “I’m not too worried about that actually and if was you I’d be a bit more worried about the fact that your going to be staying at Her Majesty’s pleasure yourself soon. You won’t get away with it Fenner.” Standing up and walking towards the now straightening Fenner Nikki continued. “People like you always get what’s coming to them. I would pay good money to see that as I’m sure others will.” pushing her face up close to Jim’s Nikki asked “Prison issue orange will suit you sir, will go well with your pale complexion”
Having heard enough Jim pushed Nikki aside and stalked out of the cell listening to Nikki’s chuckle till he reached the gate and left the segregation block.
Max stepped out from around the door of the empty cell opposite, where she had stood listening to Nikki Wade and Jim Fenner, a puzzled look on her face. She had come down here after seeing Shell Dockley wake up and wanted to see how things were down here. Walking across the corridor to the occupied cell she pushed the peep hole cover aside and looked in. Seeing the figure slumped against the wall with her eyes closed she let the cover slide back into place and walked off out of the wing.
Hearing the swish of the cover over the hole Nikki closed her eyes, she didn’t want to see anyone and hopefully they would get the message if she didn’t look at them. Hearing it being replaced a couple of seconds later and footsteps striding down the concrete floor, she knew it wasn’t who she wanted it to be and was glad that they had left.
Having finished the lifers meeting Helen made her way down to the block. Just as she turned the corner she bumped into Max.
“Hi ... “ she said and looking behind her saw that the only place she could have come from was the block.
“Hi ... um ... I got lost. Could you point me back to Karen’s office please”
“Yeah sure” sounding unconvinced she told Max the way back to Karen’s office, watched her walk away and continued on to the cell where Nikki was being kept.
Unlocking the door she walked in to find Nikki slumped against the wall. “Hiya sweetheart” the endearment just slipping out.
Nikki smiled back at her “Hi”
“What did Max Hart want?” Helen asked with a look of confusion, pointing to wards the door she had just come through.
Pretending indifference to the name Nikki answered “Who?”
“Never mind” Helen shook her head, knowing that if she pushed on that point, Nikki would just dig her heels in and not answer the rest of her questions. “What happened Nikki? they’re saying you kicked three shades of sh*t out of Shell Dockley”
“Someone did but it wasn’t me ... I can’t tell you anything more Helen I need you to trust me ... I thought you did?”
“I do Nikki, but please ...” asking beseechingly Helen grabbed Nikki’s hand. “You have to tell me who it was ... otherwise they are going to hang you out to dry, your appeal will be refused before you even get to the court house” seeing that Nikki wasn’t going to tell her. “Nikki please” letting go of Nikki’s hand Helen stalked over to the other side of the cell, she was beginning to get frustrated.
Nikki sat on the bed, to all outwards appearances unaffected by what Helen was saying. She lost that veneer with Helen’s next words.
“Nikki ... I can’t take it anymore ... these past couple of months have been really tough, all I have had to hold onto was the fact that your appeal would be coming up and that there would be the possibility of you leaving this place and us being together finally. But ... but lately you just don’t seem to be bothered with this appeal and after the other day when you said that with any luck there wouldn’t be an appeal and now this.” gesturing around the cell Helen looked over at the women she loved with tears in her eyes.
Seeing the pain in Helens eye’s and not being able to stand it Nikki looked down at the blue mattress and began pulling at the stuffing that was leaking from a small hole, she had to hold her ground it was the only way.
“I can only assume that you don’t want to get out of this place ... and be with me” Helen’s voice caught on the last word and before she totally broke down in front of Nikki she ran out of the cell and down the corridor.
“Helen” Nikki started to get up to give chase but Officer Barnes came past the door and seeing that she was alone pulled the door all the way closed and locked it. “Oh Helen” Nikki sobbed leaning against the door and hearing Helen’s receding footsteps.
Nikki was lying on the bed in deep thought when a key was inserted in the lock and turned. Standing up expectantly she faced the door as her guest entered.
“What have you done now Nikki?”
“Max?” she responded in surprise taking in the tall figure of her sister stood in front of her.
A couple of seconds of silence passed between Nikki and Max. Then suddenly they were striding towards each other, both taking the other in a fierce hug.
“How have you been?” Max asked Nikki still holding her.
Nikki answered with a nod of her head, too emotional to answer in words. Taking a step back but still keeping Nikki in her arms Max looked her in the eyes. “Come on Nik, tell me the truth. I know it’s been hard but I wouldn’t have put you into this situation if I didn’t think you could of handled it.”
“I’m OK Max honest” and pulling Max toward her again Nikki held onto her sister as if her life depended on it.
“Go easy there sis, I only have two lungs and if you squeeze much harder they’re going to pop” Max joked
“Shut up Max” Nikki said and held on even tighter. Max didn’t mind really, it was good to be where she was after the past couple of months. They had been hard on everyone.
Helen got to her office and slammed the door shut as hard as she could. “Shit, shit, shit” she muttered over and over while reaching for a tissue to wipe her eyes. Why did she always let Nikki get to her like this, and why was it that she always resorted to storming out on her like that. `Because she can’t walk out on you’ a mocking voice in her head answered her. “Damn” Slamming her hand down on the table, she started towards the door. Not this time Nikki Wade this time we finish this argument and sort this out properly.
After a few minutes Max tried again. “I know it’s been a bit longer than anticipated but ...” The change in Nikki’s demeanour was acute.
“Longer than anticipated” Nikki pulled away from Max angrily. “Longer than anticipated” she said again scornfully. “ two months tops you said and it would be all over. It’s been eight months Max. Eight months of waking up every day looking at the same dingy walls. Eight months of lumpy porridge and mouldy sandwiches. Eight months of waking up each morning wondering if today is the day you’ll come to get me out of this sh*t hole ... of wondering if I was ever going to see Alex and Terry again ... if I was ever going to see you again ...” Nikki’s voice finally broke and the tears she had been holding back since hearing Helen mention Max’s name and then seeing her stood in the doorway to the cell started to fall. “... eight months of not seeing Gracie” and with that Nikki’s tears began to fall harder and she sat heavily on the concrete block. Max rushed over and gathered her into her arms again.
“I’m sorry Nikki, so sorry.” Max said in a soft whisper into Nikki’s hair.
“Why didn’t you come and get me?” Nikki said into Max’s jacket. “Why did you leave me here?”
“I’m sorry, so sorry” Max just repeated stroking a hand down Nikki’s back.
Leaning back and gathering her control, Nikki looked deep into Max’s eyes. “Why Max?”
Staring down at the mattress Max poked her finger in the hole that Nikki had been playing with earlier. After a few moments silence, she looked up and straight at Nikki. “I couldn’t come and get you Nikki. I was on my way to get you but I couldn’t get to you” Tears sprang to Max’s eyes and she looked down again.
Reaching forward Nikki tipped her chin up. Seeing Max like this was a little unnerving. They were both alike in their strong nature, but that only meant that when they did let go, they really let go. “What happened Max?”
Wiping her nose on her sleeve in an act straight out of their childhood days Max spoke. “I was on my way over here to get you seven and a half months ago, it had been decided that enough was enough and that we should get you out of here. Alex was driving and Terry was in the back. We were all so happy you know?” Nikki smiled at the mention of her three sisters all coming to get her, each one of them so different from the other that many often thought they couldn’t even be related let alone sisters. “We were coming to get you, Alex had been promoted after her latest mission and Terry had just got engaged to Mark.” Nikki’s smile was wiped off her face as the tears once again began to fall as Max continued with her story. “The truck came out of no where, I don’t even know which direction it came from. All I can remember is the car flying through the roadside barrier and hurtling over the bridge towards the river.” Max leaned into Nikki’s arms, after five minutes of crying she started again. “The doctors said that Terry and I had been lucky, we had been wearing our seatbelts, but Alex had gone through the windscreen upon impact with the water and cracked her scull against the top of the car. If it was any consolation she probably died straight away they said” Max gave a little laugh, half scornful, half tearful. “Consolation ... she was dead, what consolation was that. Terry ended up with a few cuts and bruises, she and Mark left for the states three months ago.” Looking at Nikki sombrely she finished “While I was still in hospital.” Pulling away from Nikki and walking over to the wall Max got her emotions back under control. “I had hit my head on impact. Doctors said it was only slight amnesia, that it was only the last year I had lost ... Only” Max mockingly added. Then turning so that she was facing Nikki continued. “By the time I had regained my memory, you had escaped and got back in, and ... well things had gotten interesting so the powers that be decided to leave you in here to see what else would happen. Seems that after the accident they thought it best to see how I was going to be rather than to get you out of here. I’m sorry Nikki, as soon as I regained my memory I should have insisted that we get you out but ...”
“Shhhh... “ Nikki said getting up and gathering her sister into her arms, although Nikki was closer in age to Terry, she and Max had always been closer. “It’s OK, it’s not your fault, you weren’t to know.”
They stayed silent in each others arms for a few minutes. Max contemplating what she saw as her failure to Nikki. Nikki thinking about the accident and how in one second she had lost one of her sisters, and so nearly lost another.
After a while by mutual consent they both walked over to the bed and sat down still holding each other, neither wanted to let the other go but knew that they would have to soon.
“Alex ... um ... she never ....?” Nikki said with tears in her voice and eyes. Alex had been the youngest of the four sisters and as the eldest Nikki had always felt protective of her. To not be there when she needed protecting the most hurt Nikki a lot, not being there for teh rest of the family when they needed her was also hurting her deeply.
“She never felt anything ... or at least that’s what they said.”
“And you and Terry ... your both alright now?” Nikki asked running her hands over Max’s arms as if looking for broken bones.
“Yeah ... yeah we’re good” Stopping Nikki’s roaming hands, Max looked into eyes so like her own, trying to convey the truth in her words.
“And Gracie?” Nikki finally asked one of the most prominent questions on her mind.
“Gracie’s fine Nikki, she just misses you terribly, we all do. Oh God Nikki ...” Max said while reaching a hand up to touch Nikki’s cheek.
“Thanks Bob.” Helen muttered as she passed the PO holding the gate open for her onto the block. “I’ve come to see Nikki Wade” she explained as she walked on.
Coming round the corner she noticed that the door to the cell Nikki was in was open slightly and that she could hear muffled voices coming from inside. reaching out and pushing the door open fuller she heard Nikki say “And Gracie?” when she noticed that the women Nikki was talking to was Max Hart she stood froze to the spot, coming back to when she heard Max say “Oh God Nikki” and reach her hand forward to graze Nikki’s cheek.
“What the fff ... “ she started as two heads swivelled towards her standing in the doorway, reminiscent of that day Dominic had walked in on them in the library.
“Helen” they both said simultaneously as they stood up and let go of each other. “Helen please ...” but it was too late, Helen had already turned around and ran from them.
Nikki was shocked, what had happened. Thinking furiously over what she and Max had been talking about she thought about how it would have looked through Helen’s eye’s - Nikki in an embrace with another woman. Groaning she sat back on the bed and buried her face in her hands. Max continued standing staring between the door that Helen had just ran from and her sister sat on the bed.
“Nikki please tell me you didn’t?” she said as she finally put together what had happened. Nikki said nothing she just nodded her head up and down. “Oh God Nikki. What have you done now?” she said repeating her earlier question.
“I fell in love” Nikki aid simply looking her sister in the eye.
“I’m going to have to tell the powers that be ...” Max began
“What ... No Max you can’t. You tell them about Helen and I and they’ll fire her ... she’ll lose her job ... she’ll hate me ... Max you can’t” Nikki beseeched.
“I have to Nikki, you know I do, it’s my job ... and it’s yours too!”