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

Sins of the Past
By Ladyhawke


Chapter Ten

Jackhammer? Who in their right mind would be operating a sodding jackhammer at this unholy hour?

"Nikki, get up. Breakfast starts in twenty minutes," Barbara said as she knocked on the door.

She wanted to throw her pillow at the infernal racket, but that would require more energy then she had at the moment; so she opted for covering her face. That way the pillow buffered out the pounding at the door from the pounding in her head. Now she remembered why she didn't drink.

After another ten minutes, Nikki pushed the comforter off and lifted herself into a seated position. The room spun but only for a moment. She looked towards the bathroom door and calculated the likelihood of falling flat on her ass before reaching said door. Beating the odds, Nikki made it to the bathroom without incident and splashed cold water onto her face. The water jolted her awake and she was thankful as the fog was beginning to clear and the pounding subsided.

A soft mumble jarred her attention. It wasn't coming from her room, so she looked at the locked door that connected to the guest bedroom. She didn't remember Barbara putting anyone in that room. After making sure that Helen was placed as far away as possible she didn't really care who was residing where, but there still shouldn't have been anyone in there. She unlocked the latch and opened the door slowly.

Sunlight filtered through the window highlighting a figure resting on the bed. Nikki couldn't help but smile as she watched Helen turn in her sleep. There wasn't a sight more beautiful to the actress then watching the other woman, unmarred by the stress and problems that always seemed to plague her old friend during waking hours. Her feet moved on their on accord as she found herself standing next to the bed.

Helen turned once more so that she was now facing Nikki. Before she could stop her hand, it brushed a lock of hair off Helen's face and behind her ear. The action caused Helen to stir.

"Sean," she mumbled slowly opening her eyes.

Nikki's stomach dropped and she pulled her hand back as if it had been burned by the simple word. Helen shook off the haze of sleep in time to see Nikki backing away from the bed. She smiled until she noticed the pained look on the taller woman's face.

"Nikki?" she asked as she pulled her covers off and sat up.

Her hand froze on the doorknob. "Breakfast is in ten minutes, so you better get up," Nikki said looking back at her. She was out of the room before Helen could say anything else.

With one last confused look at the door, Helen got herself together and made her way back to her designated room. There was still some chance that Sean was asleep and she wouldn't have to make up a story about why she wasn't there when he awoke. Helen made her way quickly through the halls smiling at some of the maid staff and to her great relief no one else. When she opened the door to her room Sean was still passed out in bed.

"Time to wake up, Sean." All she received was a grunt from the bed as he turned further into the covers. The beginning of another glorious day.

Nikki devoured her breakfast; not because she was hungry but the quicker she cleared her plate the sooner she could leave. Helen and Sean causally walked into the dining room without a care in the world and Nikki could barely stomach the sight of them. Why did she invite them up in the first place? She should have gone to some secluded island for a month and ignore the press till everything blew over. Why hadn't she? Then concerned hazel eyes locked with her dark ones and she remembered the reason.

A swift kick halted her from hovering her food. Nikki looked at Kris who glared at her before returning to her conversation with Selena.

"So how's your family?" Nikki asked uncomfortably.

Helen looked up surprised at the small talk; it wasn't Nikki's style. "They're good. Little Ashley is turning nine in a couple of days so Sarah is a bit stressed."

"If she's anything like Sarah then stressed us an understatement," Nikki laughed enjoying the safe topic. She had her problems with Sarah growing up but at least the older Stewart sister treated her like a human being unlike other members of the Stewart clan.

"Well, now that your mum's out of the hospital everything should run smoothly," Sean added with a smile.

"Hospital?" Nikki asked. Mrs. Stewart treated her like family and it was something the brunette would never forget.

Helen glared at Sean who continued eating, "It's nothing really…"

"Nothing, come now Helen. I know she received a clear bill of health but cancer isn't nothing," Sean interrupted.

Now it was Nikki's turn to look between Barbara and Helen. How could Barbara keep something so important from her?

Helen wanted to slap Sean for opening his gob.

"When?" Everyone else disappeared from the table as she focus on Helen's pained expression.

"She was diagnosed while I was at University, but it went into remission. The cancer returned last year; we're hoping this time it's gone for good." This wasn't her favorite topic especially in front of strangers, but something wouldn't let her conceal her past from Nikki. That would make her just as bad.

Nikki nodded in agreement. "I'm sorry. I didn't know. Have you been tested?"

She smiled at her concern. "Sarah and I have a clean bill of health." Her expression soured as she quickly looked around the room. "And for you not knowing; my family is still very private. I didn't tell any of my colleagues so there was no way any of the prisoners would have known." Helen couldn't help attacking Nikki. Her mother's illness were the worst years of her life and Nikki hadn't been there; excepting her concern now only reminded Helen of that fact.

Eyes remained locked as Nikki absorbed her words. Part of her screamed; that Helen was in pain, but the rest of her needed to run away as fast as she could. In the end running won out. The dinning room seemed to shrink as everyone watched them. She had to get out of there. "If you'll excuse me, I have business to take care of." It was a blatant lie, but she didn't care.

Helen stood to chase after her, but Sean's look stopped her. Not surprisingly, he missed the underlining tension of their conversation. She forced a smile and returned to her seat. She remained silent for the rest of the meal as everyone else pretended nothing had happened.

Nikki spent the next few hours in her father's study. After all these years, it still had an imposing presence that she now welcomed. She knew no one would disturb her in her, so she could reread Bad Girls without distraction. Alright she was hiding but at the moment she didn't care. All she could see was Helen's pained expression and her disappointment. Once again someone she loved was hurting and it was her fault. She should have been by Helen's side whispering words of encouragement and love, but she wasn't and there was no way to amend that wrong.

"What is her problem?" Lauren exclaimed walking into the study.

So much for privacy, but Lauren was never one for the rules of propriety.

Nikki put her script down. "Who?"

"Your ex-girlfriend. She's given Zandra a hard time," Lauren said flopping onto an overstuff leather couch.

"What are you talking about?" Nikki asked as her brow creased.

"In the dinning room. She keeps snapping at Zandra for no reason," the younger woman explained.

As much as Nikki wanted to ignore the problem at hand and hide in her room, she knew she couldn't leave her assistant at the hands of a pissed off Helen. No one stood a chance against the Scot's temper even Nikki, but there was no reason for the young blonde to receive her negative backlash. Lauren remained in her reclined position as Nikki left the study.

She didn't hear anyone screaming which was a good sign, so she hesitantly opened the door. Helen was standing in front of Zandra with her hands on her hips, not a good sign; while the blonde shoulders were slumped.

"I'm not angry. I just don't understand why this is so hard," Helen said in an exasperated voice.

"Sorry, it's just force of habit miss," Zandra said then winced.

Hands on hips turned to flaying as she moved her hands in time with her words. "My name is Helen. You're no longer a prisoner so you can call me by my first name. You call Selena by her name not Miss Geeson, so why am I any different?"

"I always called her Selena. It was a rule in group," she tried to explained.

Nikki had to stifle a laugh. Only Kris noticed that she was in the room and rolled her eyes at the argument. As fun as this was to watch, Nikki took pity on her assistant. Without attracting the attention of either party, she moved behind Helen.

"Well, there's only one way to put an angry Scot in her place," she said before Helen went into her next tirade.

Helen spun around her eyes widened at Nikki sudden appearance so close behind her. "What?" Nikki's words were slowly filtering through her argument with Zandra.

Nikki took another step forward removing what little personal space there was between them. She grinned as Helen swallowed nervously. "Two little words will solve everything." She couldn't keep a predatory smile off her face.

Eyes widened even farther. "You wouldn't dare," she challenged.

The rest of the room watched on in confusion.

"Ice cream." The words were whispered but they still held a challenging tone.

Everyone stood frozen. First by the ridiculous words Nikki chose then they watched as Nikki and Helen rushed towards the kitchen door.

"Ice cream? Did they just lose their minds?" Kris asked.

"Either they went crazy or we did," Selena answered.

The group rushed towards the kitchen as screams erupted from within.  When the opened the door, Kris' question had been answered.  Nikki and Helen were definitely crazy.  Both women carried five gallon cartons of ice cream in their hands and were scooping out the content as ammunition against the other.  The entire room was covered with an unusual combination of rocky road and french vanilla.  Nikki kept herself behind one of the numerous chairs while Helen ducked under a counter.  Kris was about to walk in the room when a handful of rocky road collided with the doorframe.  The blonde glared at the poorly aimed throw that missed her by mere inches.

"Surrender, you'll never win," Nikki called another handful of ice cream accompanying her demand.

Helen dodged the throw and returned with one of her own.  "Like I keep telling you, things have changed."

Nikki set down her carton and grabbed two handfuls of ammunition.  She threw the first one and rushed towards the counter while Helen ducked down to avoid getting hit.  Before she had a chance to stand up, Nikki was around the counter and nailed Helen with a scoop of rocky road to the face.  She was about to gloat when she felt something cold and sticky running down her shirt and someone pulling her down to the ground.  Helen used her momentum to turn Nikki on her back and sit on her as she pilled more ice cream on the already soaked brunette.

"Do you yield?" Helen asked another handful of ice cream waiting.

Brown eyes locked with hazel.  "Never."

"Then you brought this upon yourself."  Helen wasn't allowed to finish.

"What in the name of god is going on here?" Barbara's voice bellowed throughout the room.

The two women froze on the ground adding to the comic scene.  Barbara walked around the counter and glared down at them.

"I can't believe you two are still acting like this.  When you were teenagers I expected this but you are both respectable business women.  Get up right this minute and clean up this mess.  I want this kitchen spotless before dinner." Barbara ordered with her hands placed firmly on her hips.

The situation was more then either could handle.  With one last look at Barbara, both burst into laughter.  Helen was shaking so hard that she could no longer hold herself up and collapse against Nikki.  Barbara wanted to retain her anger but the sight before her warmed her heart.  After last night she never thought she would see them at such ease with each other.  It was almost like no time had passed and they were still carefree teenagers.

"You think that I am joking?" Barbara continued.

A series of muffled giggles and a snort were her answer.  She looked towards the door and smiled at Kris.  The blonde was smiling but the shock was evident.  Barbara wondered if she had ever seen her friend in such a state.  The older woman turned towards the a door opening on the other side of the kitchen and her expression froze.  Sean walked in with Selena.

"Helen?" he exclaimed.

The Scot's body went rigid.  She pushed herself off of Nikki and looked back at her fiancé.  Helen looked down at Nikki and the brunette saw panic radiating from her eyes, but there was something else that she couldn't quiet place.  Helen pushed herself all the way off Nikki realizing the longer she stayed on the other woman the more she wanted to remain there.

"I think I'll take a shower," she said as she walked away from everyone.  Sean left after her confused as what just happened.

Nikki remained on the cold tile waiting for her heart to slow.  The rollercoaster seemed to continue.  She didn't know if she could take this for very much longer.  Barbara looked down at her adoptive daughter with a sympathetic look as she moved to sit up.  The gooey remains of ice cream ran down her shirt.  It was quiet a sight to behold. 

"Why don't you go get cleaned up?  I will take care of the kitchen," the older woman said.

"Just like last time," Nikki mutter as she walked towards the door Helen had left through.  "Well almost."  She mumbled that last part to herself.

Selena moved to grab the roll of paper towels to help Barbara clean up the kitchen while Kris chased after her best friend.

"Are you okay?" Kris asked once she caught up with Nikki.

The taller woman kept going ignoring what her friend said.  Kris never one to coddle grabbed Nikki's arm and turned her so that that they were facing one another.

"Talk to me, Nikki." Kris demanded.

"There's nothing to say," Nikki countered.

"Bullshit," was Kris' response. 

Nikki pulled her arm out of Kris' grasp.  "Leave it."

"No, you need to talk to me right now.  If you don't talk to someone then this situation is going to go from a shit situation to something worse." Kris pleaded.

"I'm going to take the next flight from England to someplace warm and as far away from all this mess as possible.  That way Helen can stay here far from the paparazzi and I can stop this slow torturous cycle that I have placed us both in.  She is happy and me coming back into her life will only cause more pain." Nikki rambled never making eye contact.

Kris wanted to slap her but realized that would only make the situation more complicated.  "Once again, bullshit.  The two of you need to be locked in a room and kept there until one of you realized that this stubborness his killing the both of you."

"Stay out of this.  You don't know what happened.  None of you know what really happened and I'm tired of all of the you thinking that you can tell me what is the best thing to do.  This is my life and I will live if the way I see fit.  Now I am going to take shower and if you know whats best you will stay out of my way for the next couple of hours.  I need to think." Nikki yelled. 

She knew that her friend was just trying to help but she just wanted people to leave her be.  They both knew that she wasn't going anywhere so Kris moved out of the way and watched Nikki walk to her room.  The taller woman's slumped shoulders broke the blonde's heart, but Kris knew not to push.  There were alike in that way.  She just hoped that Helen would wise up and have a real conversation with Nikki or things were going to get ugly.


Chapter Eleven

Helen's day was going from bad to worse. She woke up without an unpleasant headache and in her sleep filled daze called out to Sean when it was Nikki at her bedside. The look of pain radiating from her ex-lover's eyes was not the best way to start the day. Breakfast had been awkward. Then Sean had to open his fat gob and told everyone about her mum. He had no right to divulge her personal business. Nikki didn't need to know about her life especially since she didn't care to be a part of it for the last fifteen years. Their impromptu food fight only resulted in Sean walking in on her straddling Nikki in a less than platonic embrace. After taking a cold shower and side stepping another series of frustrating questions all she wanted was a few hours to herself. A horseback ride was the wrong choice.

She now found herself surrounded by people as Lauren Atkins gave a personal tour of the grounds. The only small blessing was that Sean decided to go on a tour of the gardens. It was one less thing she had to worry about, one less mask she had to make sure was in place. It was almost funny listening to the young woman telling everyone about the estate. She knew the facts that would have been told to any guest but the true history was intertwined with the stories of those that have lived there. Lauren knew nothing about the Spring Festivals Nikki's parents used to host, or how they would go skinny dipping under the full moon. Maybe if she slowed down no one would notice her slip away from the rest of the group.

"You don't seem interested in the tour," Selena said as she pulled her horse next to Helen's.

Jostled from her silent musing she looked up at her friend. With a hollow smile she looked back up at Lauren. "Let's just say that Lauren doesn't know half of the stories that I could tell everyone."

Selena gave her an understanding smile.

Up in the distance was a small lake, but more importantly a small boat house that rested on the edge of said lake. This was a sanctuary that remains untainted by the outside world. A place where only the very best of her and Nikki's relationship resided. One that Lauren seemed to take no notice and part of Helen was grateful for that.

"I hate to do this, Selena but I think I'll turn in. When I planned the ride I didn't think anyone else would be around," Helen explained as she looked back towards the stables.

"Helen," Selena called so that the other woman would look back at her. "This might not be my place, but the sooner you talk to Nikki the better it will be for the both of you. She may try to pull a runner."

Helen opened her mouth to respond but changed her mind. There was nothing to say. Selena was observant and witnessing everything from last night so it wasn't necessary. She nodded and turned her horse around.

After handing over her mare to the stable hand, Helen retreated back inside the house. She was welcomed with silence for which she was grateful. The last thirty-six house had been overwhelming and showed no signs of easing. She walked up the stairs and headed towards the room. It wasn't until she walked inside that she realized none of her stuff was inside. Cursing that she'd gone to the wrong room, Helen slumped onto the bed with a frustrated groan.

Nikki, this was all Nikki's fault. A few days ago, the world made sense. It had a particular order that the younger woman came to rely on. She had a job that she loved, friends and family that cared and a man that wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. Anyone would envy her.

Looking around the room her confusion rose to anger. Helen wanted answers and by god she was done waiting for them. Nikki had side stepped the issue long enough. No one was in the house so they could speak plainly, and if the brunette wanted to dance around the issue, Helen had little concern for the volume level their conversation ended at.

Helen stalked the halls. Nikki had declined spending time with anyone citing work, so she had to be somewhere in the house. She started in Nik's bedroom and with no luck she moved downstairs. With each passing room, her anger rose. She stopped in front of Mr. Wade's study. This was the one room Helen never went into; the forbidden room of their childhood. Taking a slow breathe she opened the door. Nothing. The room was empty leaving Helen's resentment to rise. Memories of crying herself to sleep and begging Barbara for answers attacked her senses fueling her search. Part of her knew she needed to calm down. It was unfair to start in on Nikki is such a state, but she had plenty of time to come to her.

Her search was halted as her mobile broke her concentration. She looked down at the number and her brow creased. "Mother, what wrong?"

"Nothing dear, I just wanted to know how things were going with you," her mother answered.

Helen released a breath she didn't know she had been holding. "Everything's fine."

"Are you and Nikki getting on?" she asked.

"Well, enough." Helen hated how tight her voice sound. Her mother wouldn't be fooled.

There was a pause. Helen was about to asked her mother why she called. "Things must be progressing well?"

"Why would you say that?" Helen asked. Another pause caused her patient to wane.

"You told her about my cancer." It was a statement but is sounded more like a question.

"Sean mentioned it, but how did you know?" Her mother knew that Helen was seeing Nikki; the fight she had with her father about taking this little holiday had not been a pleasant one.

"She sent me a beautiful bouquet of flowers with a lovely card hoping for my continuing good health. I just thought that you must have talk to her about it. So things aren't going well?" Mrs. Stewart knew her daughter. That fact that she spoke in short decisive statements was not a good sign.

Once again Helen didn't know how to feel. She was still mad at Nikki but then she does something sweet and reminds Helen of the sweet teenager that still claimed a piece of her heart.

"Helen?" Her mother called when she didn't answer.

"Everything is going fine. We just haven't had a chance to talk. Mom I need to let you go." She needed to find Nikki. Her mother understood.

After hunting through every room Helen realized she had forgotten the most logical place. She climbed up three flights of stairs then opened the hidden door nestled in the back of senior maid's linen closet. A small set of stairs led to a final door. With as much effort as she could muster, Helen inched the door open so that it wouldn't squeak. She smiled at the sight before her.

Nikki had explained that her great-grandfather walled off part of the estate attic so that the staff had a place to keep there stuff; so that they would have a sense of home even through they resided within someone else's house. It was a load of bullocks and they both knew it. The separate portion of the attic made sure that none of the staff possession intermingled with that of the Wade's. It prevented theft in the early twenties, but for a pair of teenagers needing a little solitude it was a haven, a place where no prying eyes could ruin their day or an impromptu snog.

Little had been changed over the past decade and a half. Two oversize beanbags both a ghastly bright green color that they thought clashed nicely with the sophisticated but pompous atmosphere of Wade estate. The only light came from a small lamp that rested on an oak chest that held private keepsakes and worked quite functionally as a table. Three bookshelves still lined every open wall stuffed with well-worn books. The only item that Helen had contributed to the room was the soft blue Persian rug that covered most of the floor. She had saved up for five months to buy the rug for Nikki's sixteenth birthday.

The woman in question was sitting in her beanbag it almost looked that she was being eaten by a green monster as it bulged up and around her. Helen guessed she was reading a script since it wasn't bound like a normal book. Whatever she was reading must have been interesting. The brunette hadn't looked up once since Helen began watching her. The Scot drank her in. For the first time since she had arrived she watched Nikki alone with her thoughts without the need to entertain or perform. There was no fake smile on her face. One the contrary, she had a pensive look that used to drive her crazy.

"It's nice to see that some things never change," Helen said unwilling to hold the silence any longer.

Wide surprised eyes bolted up from her page towards the voice at the door. Helen had to cover her mouth to keep from laughing.

"W..what are you doing here?" Nikki asked as she struggled to get out of the beanbag.

The sight was just too much to take. It must have been years since the taller woman had been in the overstuffed seat and had forgotten how to maneuver out of it. Helen laughed and had to admit that it felt good.

"Oh, shut it," Nikki grumbled until she too broke out into fits of laughter.

Finally she gave up trying to get up and smiled gratefully when Helen claimed her own seat with a soft harrumph.

"So why have you locked yourself up here?" Helen asked.

"It seems to be the only place I can think," she replied with a deep sigh. "Babs seems to patrol my room every half hour to make sure that I'm not holing myself away. And Lauren thinks that my father's parlor is her own personal lounging room. This is the only place I knew of not to be bothered."

"Sorry, would you like me to go," Helen said moving to get out of the beanbag.

"No, please stay," Nikki said placing her hand on Helen's knee physically keeping her in place.

Helen settled back down grateful that she didn't have to get up. Nikki's hand stayed on her leg a little longer then necessary which caused both women to blush when she finally removed it.

"I was hoping that Yvonne would keep everyone off my back after I agreed to this new project but she hasn't been around," she grumbled.

"You've signed up for something new?" Everyone had been going on about Nikki needing this break and here she was already signing up for another project.

Nik grinned. This was a safe topic. She could talk about work until she was blue in the face and it didn't really matter much to her. "Yvonne is definitely a rainmaker. She would be the only one that could pick a project that would utilize all this bloody publicity." She received an inquisitive glance so she continued. "ITV 1 had a new miniseries that they wanted me to read. The character is a prison lifer that killed a copper who was trying rape to her girlfriend. It's set after she is already in prison and has to deal with everything inside from domineering screws to alpha prisoners that view her disinterest as a threat. So I guess the papers getting hold of my financial records ended up a good thing after all."

Helen frowned. It was a good project, especially for Nikki. The role was something she'd never done before and it seemed to have a decent amount of meat to work with, but the topic didn't bode well for her. Most prison dramas tended to vilify the guards and if they even show the governors they are even worse. With all the publicity, she could see the number one venting his displeasure in her direction.

"It sounds like a good project." Even she didn't believe the lie.

"Actually, I was hoping you'd give it a read through. The character is marvelous but I want to make sure that the guards and governor are properly depicted," Nikki offered.

"Sure, I'd be honored." There was that smile the brunette loved.

"I can't promise they'll make the changes, but I'd like to try." Nikki handed over the script.

Both felt the rush of electricity when their hands brushed against one another. Neither knew what to say or do next. There were so many things to say yet it was a minefield. The wrong question and one if not both would be out of the room. Nikki brushed her fingers through her short hair and gave an anxious smile. Helen decided that if she wanted answers she would have to steer the boat.

"My mum rang," she started giving a knowing grin.

Pink colored Nik's cheeks. "Yah, about that."

"She said that they were beautiful and she loved them. Thanks," the Scot interrupted.

"She was always good to me," was the other woman's reply.

Her knowing grin turned mischievous. "Yes it seemed you were always good at charming the female members of my family. My god even Sarah ended up loving you."

"Now I know that you're lying. She hated me and threatened me on a constant basis. I was more afraid of her then you neanderthal brothers." Nikki refuted.

"Nikki! There is no reason to be so mean. Those poor neanderthals, how dare you compare them to my brothers," Helen scoffed.

Laughter filled the room removing the remaining tension.

"I guess your right. No woman could withstand my overabundance of charm. I was blessed," Nikki said laughing as Helen rolled her eyes.

"My sister loved you, but she would have been a rubbish older sister if she let you in on it. Plus the only time she snapped at you was when my dad was around." Helen froze the moment the words were out of her mouth.

Nikki's smile turned cold. "Yeah, my charms never seemed to work on the male side of your family. How is your father?"

"The same." Sadly no other description was necessary.

Silence returned and this time Helen didn't know how to breach it. Nikki was staring off into space almost forgetting that she was in the room. Hazel eyes left the brooding actress and looked around the room. It was easy to see which bookshelf had been hers as she reread the titles of the classic romantic literature. The Brontes and Jane Austin sat in their perfect collections along with some more embarrassing titles as she looked at the teen romances that remained on the shelves. Nikki was never much into the epic romances she preferred the dark and brooding. Many had happy endings but there were a few too many Russian writers for a teenage Helen to appreciate.

"I bet he was thrilled when I vanished. Mock concern but inside dancing for joy," Nikki said after a few minutes.

There was something in her voice that Helen had never heard before. She couldn't tell if it was self loathing or resentment at Helen's father. They had never seen eye to eye and Helen hated to admit that was part of the reason she had loved being with Nikki. When they were together she didn't give a damn about what her father thought. It wasn't his life it was theirs and they were going to dominate every minute of it.

"What happened with your parents? I can't see them just up and disowning you because you came out." Nikki's parents weren't any better of a topic but at least this way she might get some of the answers she needed.

"I couldn't stand the lying anymore. Why did I have to sneak around just to be with you? Our relationship was ten times stronger then my parents and at least we still loved each other, so I told them. At first there was silence then there was screaming until they gave me an ultimatum. Either give you up or give them up. It wasn't a difficult choice. Barbara said that they would calm down and that peace would be made, but it wasn't in the cards." Nikki didn't look at her once during the entire story.

"Why didn't you come and stay with me?" she pushed.

Nikki closed her eyes pinching the bridge of her nose as she took a shaky breathe. "You weren't ready to come out to your father and he would have made your life a living hell until University. There was no reason for both of us to lose our families. After my parents died, I just didn't care anymore. I needed to go away and clear my head. By the time I was ready to come back you were at school and I didn't want to be an anchor around your neck. It was time for the past to stay were it belonged."

"That's shit Nikki and we both know it. You're making yourself a martyr where there's no need for it. Yeah my father would have thrown a fit when you came to stay with us but do you really think that my mother would let you live on the streets? Do you think I would let you live on the streets? You were my best friend as well as my girlfriend. I was devastated when you left." Helen couldn't stop the tears from falling.

Nikki jumped out of her beanbag. She couldn't be here anymore. Helen didn't know what she was talking about and if the brunette didn't leave she didn't know if she'd lose her temper or worse break down in front of the fiery Scot. She stormed towards the door without saying a word.

"Don't walk out on me!" Helen screamed getting up as well.

"I..I can't do this right now," Nikki whispered.

"You can't do this. Well you know what Nikki it isn't always about you," she countered. "Do you really want Barbara to tell me what happened? Because if it comes from her and not you there won't be a chance for us."

Anger won out against pain. "Chance for us? What the hell are you talking about? I haven't spoken to you in fifteen years. You are engaged to be married. Become daddy's little girl like we both knew you would. So don't talk to me about us. If some little shit hadn't gotten into my financial records this reunion wouldn't have even happened."

"Your choice! That's how it's been since you left. Everything is your choice. My feelings matter you know." Helen grabbed Nikki by the upper arm and spun her around so that she could look the taller woman in the eye. "When you turned eighteen you gave me an ultimatum. For your birthday you wanted me to make a choice; you or my father's love. But you didn't give me the week to decide. You left before I could even tell you my answer."

"Don't you get it? It doesn't matter." Nikki stormed forward causing Helen to back track into the center of the room.

Helen's eyes widened as fear flashed across her face. Nikki stopped. She looked at the fear rooted in hazel eyes and her rage froze. Talking three steps back, she turned desperate to escape the fear that she had caused. Only when she reached the door did she stop.

"I'm a shadow of someone that doesn't exist anymore, nothing more or less. Let me go. You're happy and no matter what else that's all that I care about. Being with me will only cause you more trouble. Let this be. Forget me." She glanced back only for a second but it was long enough for Helen to see the emptiness that radiated from her dark eyes.

"Nikki," she said softly. There was no reason to raise her voice in the deadly calm that claimed the room. Nikki stopped but didn't look back. "If you had stuck around; I chose you."

The actress' head dipped as she walked out of the attic. There was nothing left to say. Helen looked around the room and tried to remember all the happy times in this room, but all she felt was empty and drained. It wasn't until she sat back down in the god awful green beanbag that she realized she still hadn't gotten any answers.


Chapter Twelve

"We knew this was coming, why are you freaking out?" Lauren asked her mother while the older Atkins paced around the library.

Yvonne glared at her daughter, but at least she stopped her frantic circling of the small room. Once Charlie had emailed the web link and video feed, they thought it was best to keep things to themselves. The last twenty-four hours had been drama free and both wished to keep it that way until there was no other option. Nikki had spent time with Kris and Barbara while Helen spent most of her time out in the gardens. They both seemed relaxed and when in the other presence they where sociable and polite. It was a temporary truce but Yvonne was grateful for whatever she could get.

After a peaceful dinner Saturday night and a relaxing Sunday brunch Yvonne had been waiting for the other shoe to drop and oh had it. Not only had the tabloids discovered Nikki's real name, but it seemed they had discovered a few students from Hallview Preparatory School. There was no way the actress would shrug off their vindictive comments. It seemed too much to ask for the now lovable actress to be loved during her school years.

"What do you expect? Right now my only concern is keeping this a secret until Helen leaves and then try to break the news to Nik as painlessly as possible," she said already thinking of ways to spin the new press.

Her daughter wanted to laugh. Most of the time her mother was the rock during a crisis, but when her confidence disappears she frets more then a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. She agreed that it would be best to keep this under wraps at least for the time being, but the way her mother was acting would only clue Nikki in on the problem not mask it.

"At the moment there's not much we can do. So let's just keep it together and do our best to make sure that the televisions stay off for the next couple of days," Lauren suggested.

Throwing a glare at her daughter, Yvonne nodded. ""Just as long as we can keep things quiet everything should be alright."

"WHAT THE FUCK!!!!" a scream echoed through the house.

Yvonne and Lauren turned towards the door and raced to Nikki's scream. It seemed that they weren't the only ones as most of the occupants raced into the room. Shell and Denny were sitting on the couch with a concerned look on their faces as a red faced Nikki glared at the television that displayed an annoying commercial.

Nikki turned to look at both Atkin women. "How long have you know?" she demanded.

They looked confused as Helen and Sean walked into the room mimicking their concerned looks.

"How long have I known what?" Yvonne asked.

The actress took an imposing step forward. "I'm the actress in this room not you so I recommend you stop lying to me."

"Nikki?!" Helen exclaimed but the brunette ignored her.

"Uh, we were watchin…" Shell tried to explain but no one was really listening to her.

She pointed towards the television just as a distinct theme song for Access Hollywood came back on the screen. Yvonne's face fall as she heard the music and faced the rage that radiated from Nikki's eye. Everyone else turned towards the program to see what was causing all the problems but Nikki didn't alter her gaze.

"I just found out a couple of hours ago. This wasn't the best time to tell you," she tried to explain.

"Not the best time," Nik repeated. She was going to continue until she heard the voice of a man she hated almost as much as Jim Fenner.

"Welcome back, I'm Lucas Reynolds. As we said earlier on the program, it appears that Nicole Warren's past is finally coming to the surface and I must say that it's closer to a movie script then real life. Over the past decade the actress has portrayed herself as the underdog from the streets that grasped the American Dream with both hands and didn't let go until she had it. Many have asked about her life and received subtle answers with no real substance and now we know why." Nikki finally looked back at Lucas. Her blood boiled as she watched the man that presented her painful breakup with Trisha reveal the truth about her private life that she clung to. She grimaced as she watched a present day photo morphed into her school photo. "I would like to introduce you to Nicola Wade. For a lot of us in the United States, this name means very little but for the people in Great Britain the Wades are Donald Trump, Ted Turner and John D Rockefeller combined with an estimated wealth in the billions. They are a family of wealth and status who have stayed in the shadows yet molded the industrial and economical development of the British Isles. Tragedy struck fifteen years ago when Randolph and Elizabeth Wade died in a plane crash coming home from a romantic holiday. Their deaths left the entire family estate on the shoulders of eighteen year old Nicola, who after her parent's deaths disappeared from the public completely. When we return and through the next hour we will be talking with family friends and school mates who will reveal Nicole Warren's relationship with Helen Stewart and give a new look at the actress that has captured our intrigue."

Silence filled the room as another commercial break appeared.

Nikki closed her eyes trying to shut out the images she just saw. It was only a matter of time before the story was going to come out but this was a little faster then even she imaged. It didn't take long for the break to be over and Lucas Reynolds to reappear this time with someone that Nikki wished never to see again.

"Oh, this should be bloody brilliant." Nikki grumbled.

Everyone was so wrapped up in the program that no one heard Helen mumbled curse.

A peroxide blonde sat opposite the black host smiling obnoxiously at the camera. "Welcome back, in our on going investigation of Nicole Warren we have a school mate of the reclusive actress. Rachel O'Connor went to Hallview Preparatory School at the same time and attended many of the same courses."

"Thank you, Lucas. It's just so weird to hear you call her Nicole. I always remember her as Nikki. Her disappearance right before University shocked everyone myself included. I have to admit that I feel a little stupid not putting it together after seeing all of her movies." The woman brushed her hair back behind her ear doing her best to look heartfelt.

"Not all that shocking, couldn't count past ten without taking off your shoes," Nikki muttered glaring even harder at the screen.

Helen smirked.

"So tell me, what Nikki was like as a teenager," Ryan prodded.

"The amazing thing about Nik, was that she never flaunted her money. Sure we all knew that she had it but a lot of us did. It was only when you went to her estate that you really saw her wealth. Then again you had to be one of the lucky few. It was easier to get a sitting with the queen then an invite to her home." Rachel explained.

"And was Helen Stewart one of the lucky few." He continued.

Her smile turned cold and Nikki felt the hairs on the back of her neck raise. "Oh was she ever. They were never out of each other's sights, those two. If they were out of class they would be together, ever since their second year."

Ryan nodded for her to continue no longer hiding how much of the interview was rehearsed.

"This is a little embarrassing to admit.." Rachel smiled demurely into the camera. "Nikki never promoted her preferences, but it wasn't hard to tell that she preferred the fairer gender. There were a ton of girls that would have loved catching her eye but no one stood a chance as long as Helen was around. Even though I'm happily married now, there were a few moments that could have lead to a relationship if Helen hadn't gotten in the way."

"You wish," Nikki continued to talk to the television as if it would change the direction of the conversation.

"And she did that with every possible relationship?" By now it was apparent where they were anglings this interview.

Rachel had the decency to give a contemplating sigh before she continued her gossiping. "There were rumors, but nothing that I can confirm. Either they had been secret lovers for so long that they could mask any signs of detection without thought or Helen was Nikki's cover for a relationship that she wanted no one to know about, but I have to believe it was the former."

"And why would you say that?" he continued.

"Because that's what you want her to say you bollocking toad. This is ridiculous," Nikki yelled. Her temper was starting to spike.

Yvonne moved closer to her while the rest of the staff took a step back. Over the years they had learned to let street tough manager handle Nikki when her temper started to flare. Helen watched Nikki pace back and forth. She wanted to go over to her friend but with Sean in the room there was little she could say to calm the other woman down. She just hoped that Yvonne knew what she was doing and that Rachel O'Connor would quickly shut her gob.

"Helen didn't have any boyfriends at school either. The only people she surrounded herself with were her family and Nikki. It was also well known that Vicar Stewart was not Nikki's biggest fan. A religious man wouldn't care to mix company with the girl that corrupted his daughter," Rachel explained.

Ryan turned back towards the camera. "We'll be back after a short break. When we return will discuss the image Warren or should I say Wade has presented us of a street hustler now that her trust fund childhood has been brought to life."

No one had time to react as a glass sailed through the air and connected to the wall. The shards splintered and cascaded to the ground.

"Nikki!" Yvonne screamed moving towards the younger woman.

"Get the fuck away from me." She turned around rage seeping though every pore. She looked more like a charging bull then a person.

Yvonne had never seen her like this and she didn't know how to react. Temper was one thing but it looked like Nikki wanted to kill someone and didn't care who.

Helen jumped in between them. "Everyone out!" she demanded.

"Stay out of this Helen," Nikki ordered.

"Oh, you'd like that wouldn't you. Guess what, not gonna happen. Yvonne I can handle this." She turned to the manager to make sure that everyone was out of the room.

"Handle, you're going to handle me now. I'm not one of your dead brain cons that you can push around." Nikki stormed over to the television punching the off button so that the screen when black.

"Shut up," she said it with such force that it stilled the angered actress. "Rachel O'Connor is a slag. She's always been a slag so what were you expecting. She couldn't get in your pants as a teenager so now she's being a vindictive bitch and lashing out any way that she can. You knew they were going to find out about your past and things would get messy. If you don't get your bloody temper in check things are only going to get worse."

Nikki took two steps closer so that she was in Helen's face. "This is my life so excuse me if I lose my temper. This is no one's business but my own."

"And you don't think that Rachel's interview affects me? She just accused me of being a lesbian on national news. When I get back to work everyone will be looking at me like a side show freak but you don't see me causing a tantrum." She didn't mean to raise her voice but Nikki's selfishness and single mindedness were really starting to piss her off.

She could feel Helen's breath on her skin. Her rage started to morph into a very different emotion. Moving in so that she was whispering in the other woman's ear, "Then why are you yelling?"

It took Helen a moment to realize what had been said. All she could think about was how close Nikki was to her and the change in energy. Helen licked her lips which had gone painfully dry. She stared into chocolate colored eyes entranced by the mischievous gleam.

"Because you're a hard-headed cow that only listens to reason when it is projected higher then your self-righteous blather," she retorted before taking a step back.

Nikki smirked, "Just remember this is all your fault, sweetheart."

"And exactly how did you come to this brilliant deduction?" Now Helen took a step closer eliminating the space between them once more.

Slowly licking her lips, she leaned forward so that she was almost whispering. "If you hadn't been so damn sexy then maybe I'd have been able to look at another woman. I would have shagged Rachel O'Connor out of pity or boredom and she would have fucked off. Instead all I could think about was your naked body writhing up against mine and everyone else be damned."

Helen's pulse quickened as she licked her lips again. "It's not my fault that you were raised with such high standards and that Rachel didn't have any."

Both women smirked as they waited for the other to make the next move. Helen was just about to break when something flashed behind Nikki's eyes and her protective wall slammed back into place. The room turned cold as Nikki stepped back taking her body heat with her.

"You better go check on your fiancé. I don't want him thinking that I killed you in here." She said keeping her back towards the Scot.

Helen wanted to scream in frustration. "Fine, I never remembered you playing the tease Nik. It's definitely a change I'm not fond of."

She left the room leaving Nikki alone with her thoughts. "No, you were always the tease in our relationship," she mumbled to herself.

Nikki hated to admit that she felt calmer. Fighting with Helen always had that affect on her. Unfortunately, arguing with Helen always allowed for a physical release of her bottled up emotions, but that was when they were a couple. Helen was dating, no engaged to someone else now and Nikki would never come in between someone else's relationship even if Sean was a prat. Helen was right, as usual. She needed to be grown up about this, take the high ground. She just hoped that she could.

Part 13

Return to Bad Girls Fiction

Return to Main Page