Disclaimer: This is the second part to my original story Snap Shots part 1.
Language warning: Not often but yes.
Love and sex warning: This story definitely portrays a loving relationship between two women.
Violence Warning: Yes definitely more than a projectile camera this time and from about chapter 8 onwards.
Thanks: First of all I would like to thank Garnet for Beta reading this story. Tammy for once again provided me with all the relevant horsey information, and her patience in explaining to me the purpose of a girth!
And to everyone for the overwhelming feedback I receivedJ
Let me know what you think: email@example.com
She was surrounded by darkness, but that was nothing new. It was the same overwhelming kind of darkness that had accompanied her throughout her life. She felt caged, restricted; wedged in between two solid objects and although she thought she could move - she was wrong.
Ahead the frantic sounds of a violent struggling ensued. Grunts of pain and cries of agony filled the otherwise silent air with horrifying clarity. It was as if there was nothing else, her whole being focused on this mix of terrifying sounds and there wasn't a thing she could do to get out of or ease the situation. The sounds increased amplifying in volume as they slowly approached her from ahead. She struggled, frantically trying to free herself from the confines that she herself had entered, but it was in vain as she still couldn't move.
Suddenly a recognisable voice cried out in her darkness and she froze, calling out in desperation, but there was no reply as a heavy thud hit the ground. Then there was silence. The most overwhelming kind of silence that you could reach out and almost touch, great in density and presence. Not even the sound of her harsh breathing filtered through to unexplainable deaf ears.
Seeing and hearing nothing she tried to move; relieved when she was able to pull her body away from the confines of her enclosure. Her relief was short lived however as an unseen pair of hands grabbed her from behind and the hauntingly familiar feeing of cold steel pressed up tight against her throat.
Nikki awoke with a start, sweating profusely and her body trembling with the remains of conscious fear. Lifting to her elbows in the large bed the blonde took a deep breath before allowing her body to fall back down to the soft sheets below. Right arm falling over her eyes she sighed, shaking her head at the same dream that had plagued her for the past two nights in a row. Do dreams actually mean something; have an underlying message? she thought, and hoped beyond all measure that was not the case. Taking another deep breath she let the arm fall back to her side, her mind drifting to the day before.
They had awoken together Sunday morning and for those first few moments before the somnolent mind drifted back to subconsciousness, everything seemed normal. Tess had awoken in Nikki's arms; the uninjured side of her face pressed in between the blondes' neck and shoulder. With a content sigh she angled her head upwards, looking towards the blonde who was herself just entering the realm of the conscious mind. She smiled, always moved by the endearing countenance upon the blonde's face, on those odd occasions that she actually woke up before her. Pushing up onto her forearm, Tess looked down upon Nikki's sleepy face. "Morning Beautiful." She said, not even giving the smaller woman a chance to reply as she leaned down, claiming soft lips in gentle kiss. As Tess pulled away Nikki lifted her hand up to caress the brunettes face thus feeling the secured gauze on the photographers lower cheek. Then the events of the night before began to surface both women's minds and an uneasy silence passed over the room. Tess stared down at Nikki, her jade eyes moving rapidly over the smaller woman's features as she tried to gage her thoughts; a myriad of emotions flickering over Nikki's face. Moving to the side, Tess settled to the blonde's left and watched her lover.
"I thought it was just a bad dream." Nikki said finally.
Tess fiddled with the honey golden strands of Nikki's hair, fussing them tidily around her head. "I wish it were. Sweetheart, are you okay?" she asked with a frown, as sea blue eyes glazed over.
Nikki nodded, then shook her head. "I don't think...so," she managed then covered her face with both hands; managing to maintain the fragile hold upon her emotions. She sighed. "I'll be alright" though the comment was more to herself. Of-course she would be all right...she had to be.
Thoughts of her mothers' statement the day she had forbid her from seeing Tess surfaced in her mind once again. With misguided clarity she realised that maybe Rosalind was right, what could Tess see in her, always having to look out and protect her, eventually it had to become a burden...right?
The photographer frowned not quite believing that. "You don't seem wholly convinced of that yourself," she said, referring to Nikki's last comment.
Pulling away irritably, Nikki swung her legs around to the side of the bed and rose to her feet. "I'm fine." She stated and walked off towards their bathroom.
With a saddened expression, Tess watched the angry, retreating form of the blonde as she disappeared into the bathroom. She sighed forcefully and swallowed hard against her own rise of emotions, telling herself this was no time to lose it now not when there was so much at stake. Rising to a sitting position Tess stared at the closed door to the bathroom; her first instinct was to go to the blonde, but she decided to give Nikki a few moments of thinking time...unaware just how wrong she was.
Throughout the day the blondes' mood had worsened, swinging from bouts of quietness to emotional outbursts, even at the police who had come to ask yet more questions. Still, Nikki thought, on a positive note they were informed that Bradley White had been arrested for his crimes and Rosalind Morris was too being held for questioning after Bradley had spoken against the woman who had originally hired him. Nikki hadn't known how she was to respond to that. Saddened that her mother was being held by the police, or thankful that she was finally being held accountable for her actions; her emotions were unpredictable and confused.
Tess had maintained a short distance from the small woman; upset and bewildered by Nikki's disposition. She had tried to speak with her on several occasions but was met with either silence or an emotional outburst that was more out of frustration than actual anger. So she stayed away; keeping herself occupied by putting the house back together, while Nikki disappeared out to the stables to take care of Thunder and Jenna. In the afternoon she had called her mother, informing her on what had happened and after convincing the obviously shaken woman that they were all okay physically, she had asked James for advice on Nikki. The butler had explained to Tess that whenever the blonde was profoundly upset she would withdraw until she worked out her own feelings (a trait that Tess was already aware of) and that she just had to wait until Nikki was ready to talk.
Richard had arrived Sunday afternoon to see his daughter but had found her silent and uncooperative. So after his attempts to speak with her had failed, he spoke instead with Tess, informing her that Lisa was fine, CJ had been questioned by the police and was resting comfortably in hospital. He asked the photographer how she was and Tess had simply stated that she would be fine as soon as Nikki was.
So the rest of the day had been relatively quiet and uncommunicative. Nikki lost in her own thoughts as she battled between self-worth and utter despondence. Inside she knew what she was doing to Tess, but feared opening up until she was ready to do so. She didn't want to alienate the woman permanently and with her present mood of hopelessness she feared that would indeed happen.
Coming out of her thoughts Nikki shook her head as if to clear the last vestiges of remembrance from her mind. She reached over, pressing the audio time feature on her clock and realising that it was still reasonably early in the morning, almost seven o'clock. Tess had opened the window the night before and the delicate smell of sun warmed shrubbery floated through the air. She could tell the sun was already shining high in the morning sky and that it was the beginning of a lovely day.
Rolling onto her side Nikki faced Tess, still in a deep exhausted slumber; unbeknownst to Nikki the tall woman hadn't fallen asleep until the early hours of the morning. She reached out, her left hand trailing over the relaxed countenance of her lovers snoozing features, tracing the smooth plains of her skin. The fingertips stopped as Nikki came into contact with the seven stitches on the side of Tess's face. Tess had obviously removed the strip of bandage the night before to allow the sutured gash time to breathe. She leaned forward, kissing the wound gently.
It was the tickling sensation upon her face that finally brought Tess around to consciousness. Opening tired eyes, she looked up to see Nikki; her own blue eyes glazed over with unshed tears. She wanted to speak, to pull Nikki into her arms and hold her, but kept still, not wanting to rush the blonde and instead waited for Nikki to acknowledge her first.
Nikki was indeed aware of when Tess had woken up; she too wanted to speak, to apologize for her reticent behaviour the day before. She had spent too long dwelling on comments her mother had said and the possibility that they may be true, and in doing so she had neglected the one person that meant everything to her. Licking trembling lips, Nikki tried to speak but it came out more as a choked sob, forcing the brunette to pull the woman into her arms and hold her tight as she released days if not months of pent up tension and hurt through harsh tears.
Feeling completely drained herself, Tess held onto Nikki tight, trying to convey her understanding and love but also immensely glad to have her Nikki back. She hated seeing the blonde so despondent, and knew that whenever Nikki got like this it was in some way due to of her mothers' callous influence.
Minutes later a fatigued Nikki pulled away from the comforting crook of Tess's shoulder. She sniffed, using the back of her hand to wipe away the remains of fallen tears from her cheeks. Clearing her throat the blonde tried to find her voice, desperate to make amends for the way she had acted. Why did I have to be like that when Tess tried so hard to communicate what she is feeling and for her it has always been harder. It was then that she realised two things, first why she had acted the way she had, and secondly how hard it must have been for Tess to open up when she herself was now experiencing the same fears of losing the one she loved.
Tess looked upon the heart shaped face, watching Nikki's expressions carefully. Green eyes traced over the complex expression on the smaller woman's countenance as she tried to decipher her thoughts. "Penny for them?" she asked timidly.
Nikki let her head fall back to the slender shoulder. "I hate myself for the way I behaved yesterday Tess."
"Me too." She felt the blonde stiffen, so she elaborated quickly. "I mean I hate the way things were yesterday when all I wanted to do was hold you and reassure you that everything would be alright, you know." She paused, hoping Nikki was now ready to communicate. "Will you tell me what was wrong, what you were thinking that upset you so?"
The golden head nodded against her shoulder, but remained quiet.
Tess stroked Nikki's back. "Now?"
There was another nod, before Nikki lifted her head until she was once again face to face with the brunette. "Ages ago, well the day after the Christmas charity function in Birmingham, my mum told me that nobody would ever want somebody that they had to look out for, that wasn't able to take care of themselves."
The photographer frowned. "But you can!"
"Yeah, she meant more in general though. I mean, I still prefer to rely on another person's presence when I am out in crowded places...it makes things easier you know. And I do need everything to always stay tidy so I don't bump or trip up on anything. She said that eventually you would tire of me because nobody wants put up with somebody that they have to look out for all the while."
Tess rolled the blonde over until she was looking down into weary blue eyes. "Nik you amaze me, you are the most remarkable person I have ever met. The way you go about normal day-to-day activities is remarkable, I mean, you can prepare food better than me, and I can see what I am doing for gods' sake!" She smiled; "So what if you stay by me when we are out, if you hold my arm, I love these things because I love being close to you." She stared intently into hazy blue. "I am only going to say this once and I could care less what anybody thinks but...I don't give a god damn fuck about your mother or a damned thing she says. Sod her, she is a bitter twisted bitch who is well overdue a trip to the psycho ward, and if she was here right now I would..." Tess paused, confused as she saw the sudden beaming smile on Nikki lips; followed by a burst of laughter. She smirked, "What?"
Nikki pulled Tess down, kissing her hard on the corner of her mouth. "God I love you."
Tess smiled indulgently. "Yeah?"
"Yeah!" Nikki grinned; "Thank you."
"For what, bad mouthing your mother?"
The blonde laughed. "No, for always knowing what to say to make me feel better." She sighed. "I don't know why I still let her affect me like that, when all I kept thinking was that I would lose you if I didn't pull myself out of this. Then I would think of more things she had said to me, and get even more disheartened. Yesterday I felt like I was trapped in a vicious circle, I wanted to talk to you but couldn't get the words out, and that in-turn just kept making me angry." She moved her fingers over Tess's injured face. "I kept remembering the feel of this and thought you would hate me for it."
"But you are going to be scarred Tess... for life."
The photographer shrugged. "I don't care, as long as we are both alright then I am happy, that is all that matters." Tess grinned; "Though I must admit, this will turn into a pretty cool scar. Do you think it will make me appear all tough and mean looking?"
Nikki chuckled. "Even more than people already think you are...probably. Then again for those that actually know you...no!"
"I can live with that."
"It doesn't bother you?"
Shaking her head. "Nope, I mean it is long but more near my jaw, I can live with that."
Nodding the blonde released a sigh of relief. "I'm sorry Tess...for yesterday."
She smiled. "Hey although I will admit that I was upset by it, I did sort of understand what you were going through; I knew if I waited we would eventually reach this point. Just remember in future, talk to me Nik... all I ever want to do help you get though things in any way I can, I will always be here for you."
Nikki nodded. "Okay." She smiled suddenly the expression lighting up her face. "Are we bringing Leto home today?"
"I hope so."
"Good, I miss her."
Tess nodded. "Oh me too, believe me. I've found it hard to concentrate without her constant yapping for attention in the background. I used to think it would one day drive me insane."
A smirk. "You can't go somewhere if you are already there Tess honey!"
Narrowing her eyes Tess glared tongue in cheek. "And what exactly does that mean blondie?"
Nikki pursed her lips trying hard not to smile. "Oh nothing."
"Spill it now, don't make me have to use my forceful acts of persuasion!"
A blonde eyebrow arched over a blue and gold flecked eye. "Oh really, well I would like to see you try Miss Tess, remember your tough exterior only works with those who don't know you, to the rest of us you are nothing more than a big old..." Nikki gasped as knowledgeable lips found a particularly sensitive part on her body.
Tess looked up through hooded green eyes. "What was that?"
She cleared her throat. "Oh ahem...nothing...please don't let me stop...you."
Jade eyes twinkled. "That's what I thought!" Tess moved towards Nikki's lips and captured them in a deep kiss, happy that once again they had overcome the domineering thoughts of Nikki mother that always seemed to cast a shadow over the blondes' happiness. Not any more...I hope thought Tess.
It was a little before nine o'clock. Tess sat in the living room, TV remote in one hand, cordless phone in the other. She flicked through the multitude of channels, idly watching the early morning offerings as she hit the speed dial button, connecting her to Snap Shots. As the line was answered she pulled a large slice of toast covered with butter and lime jam from her lips. "Jase... good morning"
"Hey girl, how are you, I've been hearing all kinds of strange things on the news this morning what's going on?"
"What?" She asked confused.
"On the radio this morning, there was a news item about how the Mayoress had been taken in by the police for questioning about a man that had attacked her daughter Saturday night...what was all that about?"
Tess sighed. "Great...I should have know it wouldn't take them long to get wind of this. Listen Jason... everything is fine and we are all okay, but I will not be able to come in today so do you think you could get one of the others to take over my bookings?"
"I'll tell you all soon, but I'm sure I don't need to tell you not to listen to the press Jase, I will give you the full story when I get back. Sorry I can't talk longer but I have to go, we have quite a few things to get through today."
"Alright Tess, talk to you soon, and don't worry about anything here, I'll take care of things for you...though you are a tease making me wait until tomorrow."
Smiling. "Thanks Jason, bye." Tess hung up the phone and chucked it down onto the chair behind her. Closing her eyes she cracked her knuckles; great it's on the buggering news now...I better tell Nikki if she ever emerges from the shower!
Taking another bite of her toast, the photographer realised that she had already lost her appetite and chucked the remains of her breakfast onto the plate by her side. Turning back to the TV she tuned to a satellite station and waited for the local new bulletins to air.
Nikki walked into the front room wearing khaki shorts and a navy tank top, a white towel draped over her wet hair. "You're watching the news? Anything interesting, it's not like you to bother though; I thought you found all that too depressing?"
"Hmm..." Tess rose to her feet, and approached the blonde. She pulled the towel away from her head and started rearranging the mass of wet, honey blond locks. "I spoke to Jason just now and he said there was something about Saturday night on the news, I was just seeing whether it was just local radio, or TV as well."
Nikki's face fell to one of concern. "And?"
"And so far nothing, it looks like just the radio at the moment, but we can count on a phone call from your father soon letting us know what is happening."
"You can count on it," replied the blonde knowing that with her fathers' position in the city there was now way this would stay private. "So is it your turn to get dressed now, or are you going to walk around in that devastatingly tight tee shirt of mine all day?"
"I'm wearing shorts!" Tess replied indignantly.
Nikki reached down feeling the garments, "Shorts indeed, are they mine too?"
Grinning. "Possibly, it was dark last night and I couldn't rightly see what I was grabbing; I actually thought I was pulling on a tank top!"
Both women jumped at the sudden sound of knocking on the front door. Nervously Tess looked down into Nikki's anxious expression. "Should we sneak a peep first?"
Nodding the blonde moved towards the front door. "Yes...please, I do hope that's a friendly face out there though."
"Yeah." Tess followed Nikki to the door. She leaned forward and looked through the spy hole. A sigh of relief escaped her lips. "It's Sam, thank god...why didn't she use her key?"
Nikki shrugged. "She said a while ago that she would always knock if we were both in, as she didn't want to just barge in...just in-case!"
"Just in-case what?"
"I didn't ask; but the inflection in her voice didn't leave much to the imagination!" Nikki chuckled.
Rolling her eyes the photographer stepped back and opened the door.
The friendly smile on the housekeepers face disappeared the moment her eyes fell upon the two women. She took in the sight; Nikki with her scraped knees, odd bruising and cut arm, Tess with her bruised fists and limbs, slightly shaded eye and row of seven stitches upon her face. "Goodness, what on earth happened?"
The women stepped back and allowed the housekeeper to enter. "You mean you didn't see all the commotion at the house Saturday night?"
Sam shook her head. "No, Kate and I were visiting my sister and her family over the weekend, we didn't get back until last night."
"Ah!" Tess arched her brows. "Well in that case you better sit down and let Nikki fill you in on what has been happening; it is only right that you should know...just in-case we get any unwelcome visitors." She took a step backwards. "I'm going to have a shower...Nik, is that okay?"
Nodding. "Sure, you go and get dressed, I'll talk with Sam,"
"Okay." Tess turned and head up the stairs while Nikki and Sam moved towards the kitchen.
"We better stick the kettle on Sam, this may take some time."
With a concerned expression, Samantha followed Nikki into the kitchen.
She needed to break some of the tension still heavy in the air. After Nikki had explained the events to Sam, and then a briefer version to Janie when she arrived the two employees had seemed a little subdued. Sam was now busy preparing a vegetable soup in the kitchen while Janie had gone to work, clearing out the stables. They were all a little on edge and Tess felt the need to lighten the mood...after all a downcast feeling in the house wasn't going to be very productive, and she needed to smile.
Tess crouched down to a shelf hidden by the side of the sofa and perused a row of compact disks. She looked up as Nikki entered the room. "Any requests, I'm putting on some tunes...but it has to be light-hearted."
Nikki approached Tess and stood behind her, placing dainty hands upon denim covered shoulders. "You choose, as long as it isn't by either Bach or Beethoven...they give me a headache."
"Oh no, no, no...I was thinking more in the way of pop music."
Nikki smirked. "Do you actually own any pop music?"
One long sinewy finger moved along the list of titles. "Nope but you do, there was a whole pile of them belonging to you. So any suggestions?"
The smirk got wider, "Oh yeah I know, put on 'Texas'...I just love the lyrics to that song...how does it go..." She bent close to Tess, singing quietly in her right ear, "I'm so in love with you, I'm so in love with you, whether it is right or it's wrong, I'm too weak to be strong, I'm so in love with you."
Tess smiled and turned her head to the side, pulling Nikki into a loving kiss. She moved back a few moments later, staring adoringly into blue eyes. "Thank you sweetheart, but next time...don't sing."
Nikki scoffed. "Oh you cheeky ratbag" she replied slapping the brunette on her shoulder.
Laughing. "Hey I was only kidding...I like the words a lot."
"And the voice?" Eyebrows arched in waiting.
Tess bit her lip. "Well um, I love it when you sing 'Far Away'..."
"Yeah?" Nikki frowned, hands on hips. "Hold on what's 'Far Away'?"
"...Or 'Silent Night'" Tess grinned. "and even 'It's oh so Quiet' and 'Silence is Golden' oh and of-course not forgetting 'The Sound of Silence'."
"If you don't quit it now you will be experiencing the sound of silence first hand." Nikki warned with a smile.
Tess chucked, pulling out Nikki's choice of band and slid it into the player. She hit the button and lifted up from her crouched position near the stereo. Turning around she pulled the half-smirking/half-pouting woman into her arms and started moving her slowly around the room, as music filtered through the speakers. "You know we've never danced together before!"
"No," Nikki sniggered. "Though we should wait for my choice, it is kind of hard to dance like this when an upbeat tune is pumping through the speakers."
"True." Tess conceded; "But I'm dancing to a different rhythm... and the music of Lurve" She lowered her voice "...moving to the rhythm of my heart baby."
Nikki laughed at Tess's antics. "You, are a goof ball."
"Really!" Tess bent slightly, lifting the blonde up into her arms, Nikki's legs wrapping instinctively around her waist. "But you still love me right?"
"When you are not insulting my singing voice...yes."
"Oh well in that case...I love your voice, I adore your voice, the sound of it alone liquefies me to the very core," she embellished.
Kissing the tall woman lightly on the nose the blonde shook her head, "Yeah, yeah...it's too late honey, but don't worry I do still love ya..." Nikki paused as the sound of a ringing phone filtered through to her sensitive ears. "That's the 'dog and bone' I can here."
"Really?" Tess asked, not releasing her lover.
Nikki listened, still moving around the room in Tess's arms until Sam appeared in the doorway; she smiled bemused at the two women.
"Nikki your father is on the telephone."
"Okay thanks Sam." The small woman slid to the ground and Tess helped her regain her bearings before she moved off into the hallway to answer the phone, while the brunette turned down the music.
Richard Morris stood in the station waiting room, his left side leaning against the wall; phone in hand as she waited for his daughter to answer his call. In the background of the station he could hear the sound of many voices, both police officers and possible criminals.
He had been at the station for the last hour, half of that time just waiting in the corridors and trying hard not to make eye-to-eye contact with the many dubious characters that were escorted past him. He would admit to himself that this certainly wasn't a nice place to be, thought the last time he had been here he never got to see this part of the station. He had spent his time talking with the Chief Constable in the finer part of the building, fulfilling his Mayoral duties of-course.
He looked around, his eyes taking in the array of posters. Pictures of missing persons, posters on the evils of drugs, even the odd mug shot of wanted criminals, all lined up nicely along the magnolia walls.
Richard blinked, jumping out of his haze of thoughts as his daughter answered the phone.
He smiled. "Hi Nicole honey, how are you today?" Richard had spent the last day feeling concerned by his daughters' lack of communication.
"I'm feeling okay now...sorry about yesterday."
"Hey that's okay I do understand, at least you seem better now. Anyway the reason I am calling is because I think you need to know this before anybody else tells you, somehow it has already leaked to the press and I wanted you to hear this from me and not some badgering vulture."
"Nicole your mother has been arrested." There was silence as Richard waited for his daughter to reply. "Nicole?"
"Yes after her questioning, in which she still denied everything by the way, she was arrested for her involvement with Bradley White. Turns out he is in no way willing to take the wrap for this alone!"
"Where is she now?"
"She has been put on remand."
"Yes honey, she has been sent to prison until her hearing. DS Fairbrass has already told me that he doesn't expect her to be released then, so I think she will stay there until the trial, if they have one that is." Richard looked up as the officer in question approached him.
"Um... okay... I can't believe it... she is being sent to prison!"
Fairbrass waved a stack of papers in front of the Mayor and he nodded his head. "Listen honey I hate to have to just tell you like this then run, but I have to read over some things with Detective Fairbrass...I will call round later okay."
"Okay dad, thank you... see you later... bye."
"Take care Nicole, bye." Richard placed down the receiver on the pay phone and followed Fairbrass into a secluded room.
Nikki held the dead receiver in her hand a few seconds longer before placing it back down onto the base of the phone. She was silent, slightly in shock, and as Tess entered the hallway she stared at the quiet blonde with questioning look.
"Nik, what is it?"
Nikki turned towards the photographer. "My mother has been arrested and put on remand."
Tess's folded arms fell to her sides. "Oh!" She moved from one foot to another. "Is your dad down at the police station now?"
Nikki nodded. "It's already been leaked to the press that the Mayoress has been arrested so he thought I should be told as soon as possible, just in- case."
Moving forward Tess started at the unreadable expression on the blondes face. "What are you feeling Nik...?"
"Nothing." Nikki stated quietly. "Truthfully, I feel nothing Tess. No happiness that she has been arrested, but then again no sadness either...I just don't feel anything,"
Frowning. "You think that you should feel something, but you don't."
Nodding, Nikki directed her face towards the taller woman. "She is my mother Tess... but the only thing I feel is relief that this is all over."
"And you think that is wrong?"
Combing her fingers through honey blonde strands Tess smiled sadly. "Only those who don't know the truth Nik, for those of us that do she gets everything she deserves for what she had put you through, and I want her to pay for all of it." She pulled Nikki in close to her chest once again and laid her head upon the smaller woman's. Tess just wished Nikki would realise that her feelings towards her negative mother were not necessarily anything to feel guilty about.
She looked up as Sam entered the hallway. "Just thought you might like to know lunch will be ready in about ten minutes."
"Great, I'm starved." Nikki stated pulling away. "Tess, will you go and inform Janie, she is having lunch with the three of us."
"I'm right on it," the photographer stated and disappeared off into the kitchen.
A large, robust white van with high obscured windows steered through wide iron gates, framed by a high stone wall. The building it's self dated back to the fourteenth century; serving as its current purpose since Edwardian times. The noise of the diesel engine echoed around the high walls of the closed in courtyard, ricocheting off the aged stone structure.
The vehicle moved in a semi-circle around the yard coming to a halt by the far wall and a set of eleven steps leading up to a heavy metal door. With a loud cranking sound the side door of the vehicle opened and a tall thin man dressed in black and white, stepped into the fresh air. In one hand held a black clipboard as he turned back to the remaining occupants. "Right ladies, come on let's be having you, we have a lot to get through so the quicker you get moving the quicker you can settle into you new dwellings." He smiled smugly to himself.
The three occupants of the vehicle came into view. First a young woman with long blonde hair stepped out; in her hand she held what was left of her meagre possessions. She glared at the haughty officer as she stepped off the van. Second was a younger brunette no older than nineteen years, her eyes heavy and glazed, and her demeanour that of somebody who had absolutely no idea of where she was. She stepped wearily from the van, following the blonde in front. Last of all came Rosalind Morris, desperately clutching her purse in one hand and a large plastic bag in the other. She looked nervously around the yard before the officer verbally forced her to get moving. With a jump she fell into step behind the other two offenders.
Leading the women up the small set of steps the officer opened the strong door, allowing the followers to enter. It closed with a heavy slam behind them.
The waiting room was stark, a row of chairs up against the far wall with a long desk ahead of them. Rosalind looked over to the two female officers behind the partition, who were not so quietly talking about the latest batch of prisoners.
"What are you in for?"
Rosalind jumped and turned to the blonde woman by her side. "I beg your pardon?"
Rolling her eyes the blonde looked at her as if she was brainless. "I... said... what... are... you... in... for?"
"My being here is a big mistake." The ex-mayoress replied.
"Aint it for us all darling," was her nonchalant reply.
"MORRIS...Rosalind, come up to the desk please!"
Rosalind walked nervously over to the two female officers. The taller of the two, Miss Martin, had short red hair, and a dower expression. The other officer a Miss Stevens, had shoulder length black hair and olive skin.
"Right, empty your bag onto the table." Said the taller officer.
Taking note of the abrupt tone of the woman's voice Rosalind did as ordered, turning her bag upside down and allowing the contents to fall onto the table. Miss Martin started sorting through the objects. "Okay you can keep that, and that." She picked up a compact. "You cannot keep this, or that or that, that, that or this."
After her belongings were separated into things she could and couldn't keep, Miss Stevens pulled out a yellow form. "Right just sign for these Rosalind, and we will keep them for you until you leave here."
"What, can't I keep my money?" The small woman asked, looking towards her purse.
"Nope sorry, you will have a small allowance each week while you are here."
"Allowance!" She asked shocked.
Miss Martin looked impatiently at Rosalind. "Right take this," she handed the woman a large robe; "and go into that room over there. Strip down to your underwear... a nurse will be along in a while for your medical, then you will be strip searched...then you can go for a shower."
Eyes wide Rosalind started at the female officers in horror. "Strip searched?"
"Don't know what you might have smuggled in here now do we love."
"Do I look like the kind of person who would carry drugs or weapons into a prison?" she asked desperately.
Miss Stevens smiled acidly. "We'll soon find out wont we Rosalind!"
Tess sat on a single plastic chair leaning forward with elbows on knees. Lifting her right hand, a lone finger prodded full lips and bounced over the soft flesh before moving to her nose, where she scratched the smooth skin. Her hand wandered and before long she was fingering the stitches on the side of her face. A sudden elbow jabbing her softly in the right side halted all movement and she looked over to Nikki with accusing eyes. "Hey!"
"Well stop picking your stitches."
"I was not."
"Were to, I could here you Tess. Do you want that to heal or get the sadistic doctor to start prodding you again with that god awful needle of his?"
Tess grinned. "Point taken." She lowered her hand, clasping the appendage into a tight fist, no way am I having that guy sew me up again. Next time I am asked whether I want an anaesthetic I shall ask for a two-by-four and knock myself out! She chuckled wryly to herself causing Nikki to frown at her antics; still the blonde said nothing.
Resting her head back against the wall Nikki sighed. "How long until Mr Fletcher comes out see us, Leto can come home today right?"
"Uh huh...relax Nik, I bet he is with a patient at the moment."
"Hmm I guess." She fidgeted in her seat, and tapped the end of her cane upon the cold tiled floor. "I wonder if Leto knows she is coming home today."
"I bet the only thing she is aware of are the feeding times in this place."
Nikki laughed. "Yeah but I bet she has missed you."
Tess looked up suddenly as Dominic Fletcher entered the waiting room. The man looked around briefly before his eyes came to rest upon the two waiting women, he smiled and waved them over.
"That's our cue." Tess stated as she and Nikki stood and walked over to the vet. "So Doc how's Leto doing?"
Dominic smiled. "She is coming on well, and will be fine to take home just as long as you stick to a few rules, do's and don'ts etcetera." He frowned as he spotted the injuries on each woman. "Can I ask what happened to you both?"
Tess arched her brows. "Well lets just say Leto's attacker has been brought to justice!"
"Really, so you found out who it was?" Dominic asked as he led the two women towards Leto's room. He opened a white door and entered, Tess and Nikki following behind.
"You could say that," replied Tess cryptically, her eyes lightening up as she spotted Leto lying snugly upon a large navy blanket. " 'tow tow'!"
The golden hound looked up at the sound of her masters' voice; amber eyes wide with enthused excitement. Still lying down, her tail started a rapid wag, banging against the table she was upon as excited barks reverberated through the room.
Grinning, Tess approached the dog. "How has my baby been hmm?" She leaned forward kissing the twitching muzzle as Leto bathed the side of her masters face in never-ending 'pooch smooches'. Tess turned the injured side of her face away from the exuberant dog and revelled in the unconditional loving attention she received. "Ready to come home with Nikki and me?"
Leto barked again and looked to the side of Tess where a smirking Nikki stood quietly. She barked louder, her tail slamming repeatedly against the metal table, eyes pleading with the blonde.
"I think she wants some fussing Nik!"
Nikki stepped forward and reached out, finding the horizontal dog upon the warm surface of the blanket. Sensitive fingers located the hounds' wide head where she began a customary scratch behind the ears. "Hey pooch how are you?" She bent forward and allowed Leto a few moments of indulgence, before pulling away with a laugh. "I think somebody is happy to see us!" Leto sat up carefully on the table, her tail wagging cheerfully.
"How's the wound Doc?"
Dominic turned his amused attention towards the photographer. "Healing beautifully I am happy to say... she is one very lucky beast. As long as you stick to a few do's and don'ts, she will be ready and more than willing to go home with you." He looked around for a sheet of paper. "There are a few post op guidelines you will have to follow, but apart from that all is well."
"Wonderful." Tess turned to Leto. "Well 'tow tow' looks like you are coming home with us."
Once again wearing the clothes she had arrived at the prison in, Rosalind Morris stood with the other two women in a small holding room. Around the walls were a row of posters and her eyes instantly fell upon a large notice detailing the dangers of drugs. Scrawled across the poster in thick etched writing were the words 'fuck you' obviously written by an inmate. Sighing as reality began to sink in Rosalind jumped as the door swung open and a small stout woman with greying mousy hair stomped into the room. The expression on her face was that of a woman who took nonsense from nobody.
"Okay ladies." She looked down at her clipboard. "Smith, Berry and Morris ...my name is Miss Ellis, and I am here to escort you to 'A' wing, that is where all who are on remand are held until your hearings and what have you." Her eyes scanned across the three faces, stopping when she spotted the elder woman. "Well well, if it isn't the lady mayoress herself! What are you doing here, forget to curtsy to the Queen or didn't you polish your husbands gold chain sufficiently?"
Rosalind remained silent, as the other two occupants of the room looked at her with shock and sudden interest.
"Right, well we can't stand around here all day, I am due a break." She opened the door again where another officer was waiting. "If you will follow us ladies we will take you to your cells."
She was escorted through the building, feeling more and more claustrophobic the deeper into the prison she went. It seemed that every corner she turned held another white steel gate, loud and heavy, as it slammed shut behind them. Rosalind looked around the dingy corridors wondering what she had done to warrant being in such a place.
Eventually they were led to a large area housing a row of heavy dark blue metal doors on either side. In the centre of the area was a set of small tables occupied by a few lounging girls. They stopped as Miss Ellis approached a tall male officer. He in turn approached the three new inmates. "Alright ladies my name is Mr Gardner, Smith and Berry, you go with Miss Ellis over there, Morris... you get to come with me."
Silently Rosalind followed Mr Gardner to one of the blue metal doors. She watched as he opened the barrier and stood back, allowing Rosalind to step inside. What she saw forced a look of horror upon her face.
The room was small, about fifteen by fifteen foot, with bunk beds on either side. There were two cabinets by each bunk, battered, faded with age, and covered with scrawled phrases and coarse words. In the far corner of the room was a single sink and toilet, only cordoned off by a small three-foot high barrier on one side. There was one occupant to the room; a tall woman with ripped jeans and a red tank top. A cigarette hung limply out of her mouth and her arms were covered in a wide variety of multicoloured tattoos. She stared at the new comer through a haze of grey smoke.
Rosalind turned back to Mr Gardner in disgust. "You cannot possibly think I am to stay in here, do you even know who I am? I demand a room of my own."
Gardner's eyes hardened, and he leaned down staring directly into cowering green. "You demand nothing in here Morris, you do what we say when we say it. Quite frankly nobody gives a rats ass who you might have been out there, in here you are no better than the rest of these girls, and if you want to get through your time here at Belgrave, it will be wise to remember that!" He straightened his posture. "Now be good and get into that cell, my tea is getting cold."
Stunned Rosalind stepped quietly into the room, and the door was pulled to behind her. She looked up at the woman who slid from the top bunk and landed on the cold ground with a thud.
A malicious smile spread across the woman's lips. "Welcome 'Morris'. You might like to know that this is my cell, and in here you do what I say, when I say it... got it?"
Rosalind's face fell as the woman approached.
Their journey home had been slow and cautious; Tess being careful not to make any harsh moves or drive over any bumpy surfaces that she thought might upset the still tender dog. So it had taken twice as long for them to get home, all the while Nikki holding Leto securely in her arms, treating the happy mutt to endless amounts of loving attention.
They pulled into the courtyard to find Richard Morris's car already parked beside Tess's old Escort. "Hey looks like your dad's arrived Nik!" Tess said as she turned off the engine and exited the drivers' side. She walked around to the back seat and opened the door, reaching in to take Leto from the blondes' arms.
"Great, I was wondering when he would arrive." Nikki allowed Leto to be taken from her, before following them out of the car and towards the house. She snapped her cane into place and Tess waited until she was ready, before they approached the building together.
Just as Tess was about to knock, the door swung open and Richard appeared in the doorway. "How's Leto?" He asked.
"Going to be just fine." Nikki replied as they entered the house.
"As long as she gets plenty of rest." Tess chimed in, heading straight into the living room where she deposited the golden dog into the pre-made bed she had asked Sam to arrange while they were out. "I'm just going to get her things." The photographer said as she left the room.
Richard turned to his daughter, pulling her into a fierce hug. "How are you holding?" He asked her gently.
Nikki smiled. "Fine, I feel a lot better now. How is Lisa?"
"Oh she is okay; I was a little worried that all this may have affected her but she seems to be doing just fine. She was asking for the Bentley this morning so she could take it shopping, I think that's a pretty good sign that Lisa is her usual self. As for CJ he still resting in hospital, but so far no charges has been brought against him."
"Do you think they will?"
"I don't know; it is hard to say. He was supposed to be helping his brother, but his actual intentions were to help you girls. I think I will put a good word in for him. You can't be the cities Mayor without having some clout you know and I am very grateful to him for helping you girls." He smiled. "Lets just say I intend to make damn sure nothing befalls the young man, besides, he and Lisa already seem to have developed a serious attachment towards one another." He sighed dramatically. "I always dreaded the day my daughters would start bringing men home with them."
The blonde smiled. "Well at least you had nothing to worry about with me," she joked, and then her face fell serious again. "Dad, what about um... him."
"Ah!" The Mayor looked down at his daughter. "Well Mr White has been charged with a whole list of crimes including attempted murder, and after what the police found when they searched his room; possession of class A drugs with intent to sell! He is at this very moment unhappily residing at Her Majesties Prison in Leicester, so I don't think Mr White will be seeing the light of day any time within the next twenty years or so."
Relieved Nikki pulled back from her father as Tess entered the room carrying two bowls, one of water the other food. She placed them down by Leto's make shift bed and got down onto her knees. "There you go girl, a light dinner for you... so dig in."
Leto looked down at the bowl of food and nudged it with her nose.
Tess frowned. "What is it 'tow tow', this is your favourite." She bent down, picking a piece of chicken out the basin and held it out. Leto took the offering and happily chewed on the morsel of meat. "There see, you like chicken, now eat up."
Leto looked down at her bowl again and huffed, nudging the container lightly.
Tess's eyes narrowed. "I don't believe it." She picked up another piece of meat and held it out for Leto who took it cheerfully from her masters' fingers. "The cheeky little sod."
"What is it?" Nikki asked noting the amusement in Tess's voice.
The photographer shook her head. "The little bitch is playing on our sympathy and expecting to be hand fed!" She picked up another piece of chicken to prove her point, and watched astounded as Leto accepted her dinner. "Would you look at that!" Leto looked at the bowl then to her master with hopeful eyes. "No way 'tow tow' eat your own god dammed food."
Round amber eyes blinked beseechingly at the photographer as the golden hound whimpered quietly for added effect.
"Oh...okay, okay!" Tess sighed as she picked up another morsel of meat. "But this is a once in a life time occurrence dog, after this you are on you own."
Nikki stifled a laugh behind her raised hand. "And Lisa says you are whipped, it turns out Leto here has you wrapped around her little paw!"
Tess glared at the blonde in mock anger. "Watch it blondie, or the next time you request a finger feeding of whipped cream, we'll just see how far it gets you!"
Nikki's mouth dropped. "I do not... Tess you can't say that in front of my dad." A blushed coloured her cheeks.
Richard held up his hands. "Me? I heard nothing absolutely nothing." He grinned at the photographer and his blushing daughter before clearing his throat. "Well I think I will ask Sam whether she needs any help preparing the tea." And with those words the grinning patriarch left the room.
Tess smirked at the pouting blonde who was depositing herself down upon the nearest sofa.
"Tess, I have never asked for a 'finger feeding' of whipped cream... that was you!"
The brunette chuckled as another piece of meat disappeared into the dogs mouth. "Too late now."
"Uh huh... well let's just see where that request gets you next time."
Tess face dropped. "Oh well." Then a sudden glimmer entered jade eyes. "Will I still get to eat it off other body parts?" She asked hopefully, only just managing to dodge a projectile cushion that was propelled in her direction.
End of chapter 11...to be continued in chapter 12