Nikki broke contact first, looking away....trying to hide her emotions. Helen stared at the glass in her hand then took a large sip.
Neither one of them seemed to know what to say or how to approach regular conversation. Like anything about their relationship was regular, far from it.
Idle chit-chat was something they never did. It was always bare-boned talk, emotions high and truths forced out. They could see the what the other was thinking....always. Nikki looked back at Helen, smiling.
"How have you been?" She asked quietly, the real questions still too shy to be asked.
Helen smiled back softly. "Good, real good..and I can guess how you feel these days?"
Nikki shrugged. "Life on the outside, never thought I would see it again. And that's..." Nikki stopped herself, not wanting to say too much. Helen watched the feelings play across Nikki's face. Always so expressive, so easy to read...if you are looking that is.
"Please finish what you were going to say." Helen said, noting the sound of her own voice. It sounded like a plea...but for what? Nikki cleared her throat.
"Did you see my release? It was on television." Nikki asked. Helen shook her head no. Though she wanted to watch it, wanted to see Nikki's face that day...but Thomas was there. And Helen couldn't do it.
"I made some boring little speech about a woman and how she stood by me, made me try to appeal my sentence...how I owed her my life." Nikki said, the deep mixture of joy and pain that she felt that day happening all over again. Helen felt her heart pound harder as if it might beat right out of her chest.
She felt tears well up and didn't know how to stop them from falling. They felt hot as they rolled down her face.
"I don't know why I'm crying..." Helen whispered, trying to wipe them away. Nikki stood there, feeling helpless somehow. All she wanted, in her heart or hearts, was to take Helen into her arms and erase the past, to be with her forever. She took the glass from Helen's hand and handed it to a waiter.
"Can we go somewhere quiet and talk Helen?" Nikki asked.
Helen looked at Nikki. She knew Thomas was here...she knew, dammit! But all she could see was Nikki.
Nikki's eyes, Nikki's voice, just...Nikki.
"Outside." Helen said, already walking. Nikki watched her navigate through the crowd, the nagging voices inside her...warning her as to what she was about to do.
But it didn't matter. All that mattered was Helen.
The air was starting to get chilly. Nikki even thought she felt a raindrop or two. Helen stood just outside of the entrance..she was nervous. What the hell am I doing? Helen repeatedly asked herself. But she couldn't handle the answers. They stood in silence, both of them looking out into the surrounding night. Nikki put her hands in her pant pockets. Helen had her arms crossed but not rigidly, more like she was holding herself.
"I've...." Nikki started but was almost afraid to finish her thought. What if that just set Helen off and I would never see her again? Not that I'll see her anyway, not after tonight Nikki lamented. She had hoped it wouldn't fill her with such sadness.
Helen looked over and studied Nikki's face, the once familiar contours. A part of her wanted to reach out and touch her cheek, to reclaim that brief connection they had. But Helen refrained, like her muscles were stone....instead, she continued to watch Nikki, willing the other woman to speak. Nikki felt the gaze on her and turned to meet it, seeing in Helen what Nikki knew already. These things had to be said, now.
"I've missed you." Nikki said, her eyes fixed on Helen. The shyness was gone from Nikki's body. It was slowly being replaced by futile longing, desperation for Helen to return the same feelings.
Helen heard the words and, without a second thought, moved toward Nikki. She gently wrapped her arms about Nikki's waist..it was like coming home somehow. Helen let out a content sigh when she felt Nikki's arms go around her.
"I've missed you too Nikki...." Helen said quietly, into Nikki's shirt. Nikki held her tightly, not wanting to let go. It was like the past months almost had not happened...they could be together, as they once planned. Nikki also knew this wasn't real, this was emotions going at full steam. But she didn't want to stop it. This could be the last time Nikki saw Helen...ever. She wasn't going to throw it all away. She kissed the top of Helen's head and sighed. This felt so right....
Helen pulled back, but not away, looking into Nikki's eyes...searching for what to do next.
End of part three