DISCLAIMER: This story is a work of fiction inspired by the characters created by Shed Productions. Please do not read if you are under 18, or if you are offended by graphic sexual shenanigans between two gorgeous women… Comments always welcome.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written in 2001, mid season 3 when it was first shown in the UK. I offered this one up as an alternative take on what may or may not happen in the final two episodes of series 3, before it had aired. (Shortly after I wrote this I had the privilege to meet the divine Ms Lahbib – wasn't brave enough to give her a copy though! **blush**)
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Three Hours
By Smudge


There was a damp chill in the air as Nikki made her way outside for her morning's work shift in the grounds. She was glad of her prison issue donkey jacket, and stuffed her hands deep in her pockets as she made her way to the potting shed.

She wasn't in the best of moods, it had to be said. As much as she was trying to put it out of her mind, she couldn't help thinking about the conversation she had overhead the previous evening. Dominic McAllister bragging about his hot date to Di Barker. A date with her girlfriend. Well, he had denied it would be a hot date, but all the same, had sounded hopeful… Shit! She'd always had a lot of time for McAllister - he was one of the better screws - but now, she wanted to punch his gormless lights out. And just what the hell was Helen playing at? How was everything going wrong so quickly?

Nikki realised that maybe she was reading too much into things - the way she'd seen Helen touch Dominic's arm that day, or the little episode with Helen's gal pal the lawyer. That woman had instantly pinged her gaydar, and seeing Helen so at ease with her, kissing her right in front of Nikki, just rubbed in the fact that they had so few opportunities to do that themselves - well, it had really got to her. But Helen had said to trust her… and Nikki wanted to, she really did. But, the hard truth was, she was stuck here, and Helen was out there in the real world, to all appearances a carefree single woman, and a damn attractive one at that. It was hardly surprising that someone like Dominic would want to make a move on her, and there was bugger all she could do about it. Except trust her. Trust was a funny thing though. She had trusted Trisha, and look what happened there - nine years of trust out of the window because Nikki was banged up. And maybe it would be easier if she really knew how Helen felt about her, but they'd had so little time to really talk about their feelings.

That's why she had written that letter, to really try and express the way she felt about Helen. She'd written that she felt they were soulmates, destined to be together despite all the odds stacked against them. She'd written that she loved her, heart and soul. And Helen's response? Nikki gave a bitter laugh to herself. Helen's response - a rather weak I-feel-exactly-the-same-way… No, 'I love you'. No, that was too much to expect. Christ, those three little words would have made all the difference perhaps to the way Nikki was feeling now - jealous, resentful and distrusting, yet guilty for feeling that way.

She reached the shed and set about sorting out some seedlings for potting on, trying to concentrate on the task at hand rather than let herself endlessly dwell on the question of Helen's fidelity.

Dominic McAllister made his way along the side of the wing on his way to the gatehouse to deliver that day's admissions paperwork. He groaned inwardly when he heard a voice call his name and eager footsteps hurrying to catch him up. This was the last thing he wanted to deal with this morning - the hangover and dented pride were already quite enough to be getting on with.

"Morning Dom!" came a cheerful voice.

"Di, how are you?" he responded as pleasantly as he could, although truth be told he was finding all this attention he'd been getting lately from the woman just a little tiresome. She caught him up and they walked side by side, Di chattering away about some incident in the servery at breakfast. They'd just rounded the corner and started along the path through the grounds, when Di tugged his sleeve and stopped walking.

"Ooh - I nearly forgot! So, tell me, how did your hot date go last night?" she asked, excitedly.

Dominic looked awkward. Confessing that Helen had completely blown him out would only serve to encourage Di 's devotion even more, and he didn't think he could stand much more of this following around.

"Yeah," he said brightly, "Let's just say it was a very pleasant evening."

Di looked at him, mouth open and eyes wide, "Oooh, Dominic, don't tell me we're going to have an office romance, eh?" She gave him a nudge, "Go on, you can tell me!" she said conspiratorially.

"Well, let's just say I'm feeling rather hopeful, yeah." Dominic wasn't lying at this point. He was sincerely hopeful that his comments would throw Barker off the scent and she'd leave him alone.

From the door of the potting shed, a tall figure watched as the pair of officers resumed their walk again, Barker prattling on about something else inconsequential while Dom gave an occasional response.

Nikki was fuming! It had been one thing to know that the officer was going to see Helen, but now, to find out like this, through a snippet of overheard chitchat, that there seemed to be something going on between him and Helen - the bitch! How could she, after the struggles they'd been through to be together? She spent the next hour taking her anger out on the hard earth, attacking it with her shovel as the bitterness spread through her like slow poison.

Helen glanced at her watch as she left Karen Betts' office where she'd spent the last hour discussing review board meetings for the lifers in her charge, Nikki included. She realised she had a spare half hour before her next appointment and made her way outside to see if she could steal a few minutes with her…girlfriend. She smiled to herself as she realised it was the first time she'd attached that label to her and Nikki's relationship - and she kind of liked the sound of it!

She felt a wave of happiness hit her as she caught sight of that familiar figure, dark head bent over as she worked on a flowerbed with what appeared to be a good amount of enthusiasm. Speeding up her pace slightly, she cut across the grounds expecting Nikki to turn and greet her when she called out a friendly 'Hello' from a few feet away. But Nikki had remained silent and carried on digging.

"Hey, how are you?" she asked, stopping at Nikki's side, the fond expression on her face instantly turning to dismay as Nikki turned to look at her for the first time.

"Like you really care." she said coldly, turning back to her digging.

Helen crouched down next to her, "What is it? What's wrong?"

Nikki turned back to her, and the look that Helen saw on her face then shook her - an expression of bitterness and blind hatred, followed by words that chilled her to the marrow.

"Helen, I'm really glad for you. It must be a great relief knowing you can still pull the boys. Now why don't you piss off, you two-faced tart." Nikki spat the words out.

Helen was shocked by this completely unexpected attack. She felt she'd been physically slapped or something, and stood shakily, not knowing quite what to say in response.

"Nikki, I… you've got it all wrong…" she protested, trying to control the tremor in her voice.

"I said, piss off." Nikki stood then, and turning her back on the confused woman, stomped back into the potting shed, slamming the door behind her. Helen remained standing on the spot for a moment, her mind racing to process this devastating exchange. She felt a mixture of shock and now rising anger of her own, as she saw that Nikki's jealous streak, which she'd been disappointed to see rear it's head the day before with her lawyer friend, wasn't an isolated incident. Was this going to be the pattern of their relationship? Realising the outburst had attracted the attention of a group of prisoners on the far side of the yard, she regained her composure. Better not to tackle Nikki about it right now - let her cool down a bit and give Helen time to think too. She turned and made her way back into the building.

Back in the shed, Nikki was leaning against the door, breathing hard as she felt a lump rise in her throat and hot tears start to prickle behind her eyes. Swallowing hard, she took some deep breaths, refusing to give into to the growing ache in her heart. Better to stay angry, put up those barriers again. You can't get hurt that way. Why had she let herself be so vulnerable? She should know better than that, she thought to herself, resisting the temptation to look out of the window to see where Helen was. She wasn't interested anymore. That was that. No-one messes with Nikki Wade, she decided resolutely.

She rubbed a tear from the corner of her eye.

The rest of the day passed, Helen hardly able to concentrate on her work as images of the hateful look on Nikki's face kept haunting her. Not normally a clock-watcher, she was relieved when 5.30 came around, and headed out to her car, grateful that she could escape from this prison every night. She needed a long bath and a stiff drink, badly.

Nikki stayed in her cell during association after supper, trying to concentrate on the latest book she was reading for her degree, but after re-reading the same page a dozen times, gave up and lay down, staring at the bottom of Babs' bunk above her.

She was still staring twenty minutes later when Dominic McAllister passed by. Seeing Nikki lying there, he popped his head around the door.

"Are you alright Nikki? You've been really quiet today." he asked, genuine concern in his voice.

Nikki resisted the temptation, strong as it was, to leap off her bed, grab the unwitting officer by his uniform black tie and pin him to the door. Instead she gave a cool reply.

"I've just got a headache, that's all."

Dominic gave a sympathetic look. "Know the feeling - I've had a raging one myself all day - my own fault though…" he confessed.

"Oh yeah? Heavy night was it?" Nikki enquired, as she propped herself up on one elbow, her curiosity getting the better of her - lets just see how much she could fish…

"Something like that. Never let the woman you're trying to impress drink you under the table." he advised with a smile

"I'll have to remember that." Nikki half-faked a wry grin. "So you pulled then?"

Dominic hesitated before answering, deciding that the conversation was safe enough if Nikki didn't know who he was talking about.

"Not a chance. I was told in no uncertain terms that she's head over heels for somebody else. End of story…"

Nikki paused as this nugget of information sunk in. "Women, eh?" she mused.

Dominic nodded. "Yeah, women…" He glanced at his watch. "Better get on. 'Night Nikki," he left.

"Yeah, see you Mr McAllister."

Nikki flopped back down on her bed. "Shit." she said softly to herself. "Shit, shit, shit! You've really gone and cocked things up now Wade."

She realised that her anger towards Helen had all been for nothing, some stupid misunderstanding born out of her own jealousy and insecurities. She gave a low groan as she remembered the words she had spat so venomously at the woman she loved. It was going to take a miracle to get Helen to forgive her.

Swinging her legs off the bunk, she fished around in her cupboard drawer for a phonecard, and set off down the corridor to see if she could try and make amends.

Helen was sitting on the sofa in her bathrobe, trying to find an inane sitcom vaguely amusing, whilst steadily working her way down a bottle a vodka. Her moods had been shifting by the hour, and now, aided by alcohol, she was in a mood of deep resentment. How dare Nikki call her a tart, she was thinking to herself indignantly, just as the phone rang. Debating for a moment whether or not to just let the machine get it, she eventually reached over on the sixth ring and picked it up.


"It's me. Look, we need to talk," came Nikki's voice, low and urgent on the other end.

A flash of anger hit Helen then, as she replied. "I think you've said quite enough for one day Nikki, don't you?" she snapped, punching the hang up button and cutting off Nikki's protestations.

"Damn!" she swore at herself for no apparent reason, as she reached to refill her glass once more, angrily brushing away a tear with the back of her hand.

"Come on Wade... you using that or not?" came an impatient voice, as Nikki stood holding the dead receiver.

"Sorry," she mumbled, pushing past the queue of prisoners, to make her way back to her cell.

The next few days were torturous for both Nikki and Helen. Helen had gone out of her way to avoid Nikki, staying in her office and barely venturing out onto the wing. She'd cancelled a group meeting with the lifers, choosing instead to schedule individual appointments. As yet, she hadn't fixed one up for Nikki.

Meanwhile, Nikki went about the usual monotony of her existence, spending as much time outside as she could, hoping that eventually Helen would have to walk past. She'd tried to make an appointment to see her, only to be told that Helen had no free time that day. Or the next day. She'd tried calling her at home again, but every time she got the answer phone, and hearing Helen's voice on the other end was almost too much for her to bear. She was utterly miserable, and desperate to find some way to get through, to just make Helen listen to at her at the very least.

There was a bit of a buzz on the wing though - it was no secret that Bodybag Hollamby was holding her 30th wedding anniversary party at the officers club, a rather dismal venue that attached to rear part of the wing. All the officers were invited, and the several inmates had been roped in to help serve food and wait on the guests. Nikki had wondered whether Helen would be going - perhaps that would be an opportunity for her to see her - security was bound be a little more relaxed if everyone was distracted by the party. On further reflection though, she realised that Helen wouldn't be seen dead at any party of Hollamby's - the two had certainly never seen eye to eye, and given her current mood, Nikki was sure that Helen would stay away from Larkhall, given the option. But this got her thinking though. All that distraction - guests in and out… Just maybe… Christ, it was a hell of a long shot, but…

If anyone had been watching Nikki Wade that afternoon, they would have seen her deep in thought, carefully weeding in the grounds near the rear part of the wing. Coincidentally, right outside the officers club.

After supper that night, Nikki hung around in the servery, casually moving over to join Crystal when the kitchen staff sat down to eat at the end of the session.

"How's it going Crystal?" she asked warmly.

The other woman gave her a semi-suspicious look, "You sound like you want something, sister?"

Nikki grinned at her, looking around to make sure they couldn't be easily overheard.

"Nothing much, just…. well, you're working Bodybag's party aren't you?"

"Yeah, me and a few of the girls. You can bet your life they'll be getting better food than we do though."

"Yeah?" Nikki sounded interested. Any information might prove useful.

"Got some posh caterers coming in, innit. Delivering all the nosh at Saturday afternoon, and then we've got to serve it on little trays. I tell you man, if that Bodybag winds me up any between now and Saturday, I'm gonna spit in her vol-au-vents!"

Nikki laughed, but Crystal looked curious. "Anyway, wassit to you?".

Nikki hesitated for a moment before answering. "Tell me Crystal, do you believe in true love?"

At 4pm on Saturday afternoon, a white van drove up to the delivery entrance of Larkhall. After the gate guard had had a quick glance in the back and made the driver sign in, it proceeded to drive round the access road and reverse up to a door at the rear of the building.

Crystal and a couple of other girls were in the kitchen, dressed in their white overalls.

Di Barker, supervising them, was idly playing with a pile of serviettes, trying to remember how to do a particular napkin fold her mother had once taught her, whilst musing on the evening ahead and wondering if she'd be able to persuade Dominic to dance with her…

The caterer started bringing trays of food through the short corridor that led from the delivery entrance into the club kitchen, and Crystal and her cohorts started helping him. For a moment a chain of the four of them - caterer, Crystal, Mo and Carol - operated smoothly, bringing in tray after tray of delicate sandwiches, pastries and the like. Barker glanced up from time to time to check all was in order. Suddenly there was a clatter and shouts of "Careful!" and "Oh, look what you've gone and done, you silly cow!", and rising to see what had happened, Barker found Mo and Carol, bent over two trays of dips and crudities, the careful arrangements now spoiled as salsa and sour cream spilled out of the little pots on the trays. The caterer joined them, reassuring them that it was rescueable with a little re-arrangement.

In the outer corridor, Crystal quickly opened the door to a storage cupboard, and a tall figure, dressed in white overalls with a bandana tied over her dark hair - a bandana that exactly matched the one that Carol was wearing - slipped out of the door and swiftly made her way to the open door of the caterers van.

The guard sitting in a small office in the gatehouse sporadically looked up at the security camera screen from time to time in between scratching his head over that day's crossword. Everything seemed to be in order - three inmates in white overalls to-ing and fro-ing from the van - there was that one in the bandana again - yeah, yeah….

The delivery over with, the caterer climbed back in the cab of the van and drove off, stopping to sign out at the gate on the way.

In the back of the van a figure was crouched in a corner, obscured as much as possible behind a racking system holding boxes of crockery, and a stack of crates containing a rather nice Cabernet Sauvignon by the looks of it. She huddled herself in as small a space as she could, realising as well the need to stay warm. The van was well equipped - the walls well insulated and a steady buzz was coming from a cool air system mounted on one side, its temperate set at 5ºC. Nikki shivered and wondered what the hell she was going to do next.

An hour and a half later the van slowed and the engine stopped. A door slammed. Then nothing. Nikki, heart racing, decided that it was time to make a move. She made her way to the door, listening carefully - nothing. Reaching down, she squeezed the handle and carefully opened it a crack and peered out - they were just on a street, no-one much around. Quickly she opened the door enough to jump out, and shutting it quietly behind her, crossed quickly to the other side of the road.

Moments later, the caterer, opening the packet of fags he'd just bought from the newsagents, returned to his van and drove off.

Nikki had slipped down an alleyway between a couple of shops. Shivering, she reluctantly discarded the white overall and bandana, stuffing them into a rubbish bin. Smoothing her hair down and pulling the zipper of her hooded sweatshirt further up, she made her way back onto the street cautiously, heading for the end of the road where she could find a signpost and work out where the hell she was.

Ah, a bus stop with a useful map - so that's where she was. She fished out a piece of paper from her pocket - an old envelope Helen had passed onto her with some information about her appeal that her lawyer had first posted to Helen - at Helen's home address. Well, at least she was on the right side of town, but she had no cash. Stuffing her hands deep into her pockets she set off down the road, head low, trying to fade into the melee of Saturday early evening streetlife.

Helen was just taking her dirty supper plate through to the kitchen when the doorbell rang. Strange, she thought. She wasn't expecting anyone -had just been looking forward to a quiet night in front the telly, hopefully able to force thoughts of a certain prisoner from her head as she lost herself in a naff movie and a bottle of red.

The doorbell rang again. Well, whoever it was being pretty impatient, she thought to herself grumpily as she made her way to the door. As she approached she could see the shape of a tall figure though the frosted glass. And when she opened the door, her heart practically stopped.

"Hello Helen." came a familiar husky voice.

"Jesus Christ Nikki! What the hell are you doing here!" she exclaimed, incredulously.

"I had to see you." Nikki stated calmly.

Helen held the door open wider, looking around outside to check no-one could see. "Quick - get inside. Did anyone see you?"

Nikki shook her head, pushing her way past Helen into the welcoming warmth of her home - a stark contrast to the frosty anger of Helen herself.

Helen shut the door and turned to stare at Nikki, her emotions in turmoil. Blind panic at the danger of the situation on one hand, coupled with her residual anger since their fight.

"This is bloody brilliant Nikki. How could you be so stupid?" she spat.

"I seem to be pretty good at that lately…. anyway, it was obvious I wasn't going to be able to see you any other way." Nikki replied, shivering still. Helen noticed how she looked then. Tired and pale, the strain of the situation showing on her face. Her tone softened slightly.

"How did you get out?"

"Caterers van for Bodybag's party. Unfortunately it was refrigerated… and then I had to walk for miles…"

"Christ… are you okay?" Helen, though still angry, couldn't help but let a little compassion out.

Nikki shrugged. "Bit cold…"

"Come though. I'll get you a drink." Helen motioned for Nikki to go through into the living room, and went over to the sideboard to pour a large glass of brandy - then another for herself. "You'll have to go back you know…"

"When we've talked." Nikki insisted.

Helen handed her a glass, drawing back slightly as Nikki's fingers touched her own.

Nikki noticed the movement and looked distraught.

"Please Helen, you have to let me explain…" she started. But Helen had a look of fierce stubbornness on her face.

"Nikki, I can't do this anymore - it's just too difficult. It was madness to even start this… affair. And now, I just can't cope. I can't cope with the deceit anymore, or your jealousy."

"Look, I overreacted - I made a mistake. I honestly thought that there was something going on with you and McAllister - I overheard something he said and jumped to the wrong conclusion. That's when I was such a bitch to you." Nikki paused to take a large sip of the warming liquid.

"But then Dominic told me you turned him down. I'm so sorry…" she finished, looking at Helen with such desperation that Helen felt her anger begin to subside.

"Nikki, I told you once before, if we're to have any sort of a future together, you have to trust me. And I have to be able to trust you not to... do anything like this!"

Nikki looked at her feet. "Helen, I want to trust you, I really do… But it's hard. I don't know how you feel about me. You never really tell me," she said softly, her voice breaking slightly.

Helen sighed. She knew Nikki had a valid point there, and she hated seeing that desolate look on her face. She walked back over to where Nikki was standing.

"Maybe it's because it's been hard for me to work it out for myself…" she began, reaching out then to lay a hand on Nikki's arm. "I didn't mean to hurt you…"

Nikki looked down at her intensely, "You know how I feel about you Helen. You're the most important thing in my life right now - you've given me hope. I don't want to lose you. I didn't think I could fall this hard again, not after Trish, but I'm so completely in love with you… Dominic said you'd told him you were head over heels in love with someone else… is that true?" she asked. Helen gave a small smile.

"What do you think?" she said softly.

Nikki looked momentarily exasperated again. "I don't know Helen, you don't tell me."

Helen looked at the hurt look in those dark eyes and all the doubts she'd had disappeared.

"Nikki…" she reached up to gently lay the palm of her hand on Nikki's cheek. "I am in love with you." she felt relieved to finally admit it out loud. "Honestly, I am … I'm so sorry…"

Stepping nearer she put her arms round the taller woman and drew her close. "I love you." she whispered again, rising on her toes slightly as the dark head bent to meet her. Their lips met gently at first, a tentative reunion of soft kisses. Then, the significance of this moment hit them, forgiveness mixed with passion, and the kiss deepened into a desperate hungry exploration, tongues dancing together as they both surrendered to the emotions flooding between them. Helen felt her whole body respond to the proximity of her lover… and realising then that putting aside the not insignificant matter of Nikki's escape and what the hell they were going to do about it, they were at last alone. And her bedroom was next door…

God, she wanted her so badly. Startled at the strength of her own desire, she broke away for a moment, breathing hard. Nikki's eyes bored deep into hers, seeming to read her mind. Taking a deep breath, Helen reached down to take Nikki's hand.

"Make love to me, Nikki…" she whispered.

Nikki felt her stomach and a couple of other places flip over when she heard those words. Then Helen was pulling her out of the lounge and along the hall, through another doorway into the bedroom. Their lips found each other again, the kiss deep and urgent, and Nikki gently pushed Helen back onto the bed, carefully covering the smaller woman's body with her own. Helen's hands were stroking her back and sides, pulling her close, needing her... she broke off slightly, and gave Helen a questioning look.

"You sure about this?" she asked softly. Helen gave her a smouldering look in reply.

"Verrrry…" she said huskily, pulling Nikki's tousled head down for another lingering kiss.

They both jumped at the sudden interruption of the harsh trill of the telephone.

Glancing at Nikki anxiously for a moment, Helen reached over and with a deep breath, lifted the receiver.


"Helen - oh good - I'm glad you're home."

"Karen! What can I do for you?" Helen tried to keep her voice steady as her heart began to pound.

"I just though you ought to know, we've had an escape."

"An escape?" Helen faked her surprise. "Who?"

"Nikki Wade…" At the other end of the line Karen Betts paused, listening for Helen's reaction.

"Nikki? Christ! How? When?"

"We're not sure yet - we noticed her missing at lock-up… Helen, I know you two... get on… I wondered if she might come to you for help…"


"You haven't seen her then?" Karen pushed for a response a little harder.

"No, she hasn't been here, Karen." Helen lied, looking Nikki frantically in the eye as she did so. "This is going to look bad for her appeal isn't it?"

"Well, it won't help matters, no…" Karen replied, and then, glancing at the door of her office, lowered her voice a little. "But then, just supposing she was to give herself up voluntarily… I mean, who knows, she might even give herself up to you in say, three hours time… well, that might help the situation…" Silence from the other end of the line then, as Helen realised the implication of what Karen was suggesting.

"Hmmm… Well, if she does come here, I'll call you." she promised.

"Good. I'll talk to you later then…" came the Wing Governor's brisk response.

"Thanks Karen."

"Goodnight - and sorry to disturb you."

As Karen put the phone down, she allowed herself a small smile. Then composing herself once more, she went into the outer office where Detective Inspector Matthews and another policeman were talking to a couple of the POs.

"No luck there. Helen Stewart hasn't heard from her." she stated.

The middle-aged detective looked disappointed. "Hmmm… so, you said she didn't keep in touch with her family," Karen shook her head.

"There's an ex-girlfriend though - she still runs their business," she suggested helpfully.

The detective nodded. "Good. We'll check her out then. We need to catch up with this one quick you know - can't have murderers wandering around…"

"I told you Detective Matthews. She isn't a danger to the public, really." the governor insisted, but the detective answered her with a frosty glare.

"No, just policeman I s'pose…"

"What did she say?" Nikki asked urgently. Helen had looked a little shocked as she'd ended the call, and now she looked at Nikki with vague surprise.

"She knows."

"She knows? That I'm here?"

"Yes, I'm sure of it. But it's okay. She's effectively bought us three hours - then I call, say you've just arrived on my doorstep, and turn you in…"

Nikki gave a grin. "You know, I never really warmed to Karen Betts before, but right now I could kiss her!"

Helen pushed her back down on the bed playfully. "Don't you go getting any ideas now…" Nikki laughed and rose up to meet Helen's lips once more, but then broke off with a serious expression on her face.

"Hang on… I need some sort of cover story… Can I use your phone?"

Helen passed her the cordless phone, settling back on the pillows to wait while Nikki dialled in a number.

"Trish? It's Nikki…Listen, I need to ask you a big favour…"

When she had finished, she passed the phone back to Helen, who placed it back on the bedside table, looking at the clock there as she did so.

"Eleven forty-five…" she stated.

"Hmmm, so what do we do with the next two hours fifty five minutes?" Nikki said softly, trailing her fingertips up Helen bare arm.

"This…" Helen whispered, rolling over to embrace the other woman, their mouths meeting again for a deep kiss.

Then, no more words were spoken, the silence broken only by soft moans and gasps as slowly they undressed one another, exploring each others bodies with hands and lips, finally able to surrender to the desire they'd had to repress for so long.

Thirty minutes later, an unmarked police car drew up outside a brightly lit building in a side street, the name of the establishment blazing in bright lights - Bar Nun, an affectionate reference to the building's former use as part of a convent. DI Matthew flashed his ID at the short-haired woman on the door, asking where he could find the proprietor, and then made his way though another door, crossing the busy dance floor to the bar.

"Trisha Harris?" he asked, the attractive blonde woman behind the bar looking surprised at hearing her name.


"Detective Inspector Matthews. I'm investigating an escaped prisoner from Larkhall. Have you seen Nikki Wade this evening?"

The woman looked extremely anxious, he noted. And then another woman, shorter with dark hair tied back in a ponytail, moved to her side almost protectively.

"I…er… is she in a lot of trouble?" the blonde stuttered nervously.

"She'll be in less trouble if we find her quickly. Have you seen her, Miss Harris?"

Trisha looked at the woman next to her as if for support. Then, giving a sigh, confessed, "Yes. She was here about an hour ago."

"What happened?"

"She was upset - we've been in contact a lot recently because she needs my help for her appeal. But, I told her the other day that I wasn't sure if I could stand to be interrogated in court again… anyway, we had a row - I think she still has feelings for me and she got angry when Jessica was here with me… she left in a huff."

"Did she say where she was going?"

"She said she was going back to Larkhall - said there was nothing for her out here anymore and she might as well be locked up to rot…" Trisha finished, her voice shaking as Jessica put a comforting arm around her shoulders.

The detective looked reasonably satisfied at her speech.

"Hmmm. Well, I appreciate your time, Miss Harris. Here's my card - please call me if you hear from her again."

"Thank you detective - and when you find her, please, tell her I'm sorry…" Trisha broke off, starting to sob quietly into her girlfriend's shoulder.

Bloody dyke drama… thought the detective to himself as he pushed his way back through the gyrating women and made his way outside, relieved at the cool air and the relative silence there. He radiod in to the police station, instructing his team to just keep looking where they could… he'd leave it till morning and see if the fugitive had found her way back.

Back at Helen's flat, Nikki collapsed back in the soft pillows, panting as she came down from an earth-shattering climax, her arm pulling Helen close into her as they lay together still and spent.

"Are you sure you haven't done that before?" she murmured throatily.

Helen smiled up at her, with face flushed and a new light in her eyes - Nikki thought she had never looked more beautiful than at that moment.

"Uh-uh." she shook her head. "I take it that I didn't do too badly for a beginner then?"

"Mmmm… you did good... very good." Nikki grinned.

Their lovemaking had been intense, urgent, neither woman holding back once the initial moments of nervousness had disappeared. Nikki had been pleasantly surprised by Helen's passion, and also slightly regretful for a moment - she had wanted their first time to be soft and gentle and memorable… But desire had overtaken any need for romance, and instead the hunger and desperate need they had shown each other had made the experience more than memorable. She shivered as she recalled the incredible feeling of Helen's hand moving inside her for the first time, arousal rising in her once more as she let her fingertips trace small circles on Helen's bare shoulders. Sensing her lover's desire again, Helen inched up to kiss her way along the line of Nikki's jaw, then up across the corners of her mouth, letting the tip of her tongue flick across her lips and causing Nikki to give a low groan.

"We still have an hour and a half…" she whispered, her soft Scottish tones sounding sexier than ever to Nikki. The darker woman moved then, rolling Helen over onto her back and starting a trail of blazing kisses down her neck and chest, taking each nipple into her mouth in turn, sucking and rolling her tongue around the hard peaks there as Helen gasped and threaded her fingers through her lover's short hair. Pulling her up for a deep kiss, they lost themselves in each other's passion once again.

Nikki lay propped up on one elbow, her fingers idly playing with some strands of Helen's light brown hair as it lay fanned against the rumpled pillows. Helen's face was serene and relaxed as she dozed in a satisfied slumber. Nikki hadn't slept though. She was enjoying just watching Helen as she slept, thinking regretfully that it would be a long while before she'd have this opportunity again. She sighed.

Helen stirred slightly, her eyes flickering open to meet the loving gaze of the woman next to her.

"Hey…" she whispered with a smile, interrupting Nikki's deep thoughts

Nikki smiled back at her, leaning over to gently kiss her lips. "Hey yourself…" Her expression saddened. "It's time…" she stated.

Helen gave a slow nod. "I know…" she sighed.

Nikki met her lips once more for a moment and then started to rise, pausing momentarily as she looked down at Helen. "Thank you," she said softly.

Helen looked at her questioningly. "For what?"

"I'll never forget tonight… even if it's all we ever have…"

"Don't say that - we'll be together again."

"I hope so Helen."

"I love you," Helen said softly, her eyes reinforcing the words with a bright intensity.

"I know…" Nikki nodded, at last happy in the knowledge that Helen did feel the same way as she did. "I love you too…"

The two women washed and dressed quickly, Nikki finishing first as she sat on the bed, waiting for Helen. When both were ready, they looked at each other for a long moment, before Helen picked up the phone.

"Karen? It's Helen. Guess who's just turned up on my doorstep?"

The End

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