Franky met Amy at a pub in Richmond. She ordered a vodka shot and drank it quickly. Her mind was still reeling from Erica’s confession. “Are you all right?” Amy asked as Franky ordered another drink. They were sitting at the bar.
“Fine,” Franky said quickly. “So what did you find out?”
“I traced the phone while I was on night duty to see if I could find out where your friend was. It will be easier to track her down that way,” she explained, “if we know where she’s sleeping.”
“She’s in Geelong,” Amy told her. She slipped a piece of paper across the bar. “This is the address.” Franky looked at it in disbelief. Of all the places she imagined Boomer had gone, an hour or so up the road wasn’t one of them.
“I’ll kill her,” she muttered.
“Do you want me to come with you?” Amy offered.
Franky looked at her. She looked cute in her jeans and loose fitting black t-shirt which said Girl Zone in sparkly pink. Her dimples appeared as she smiled at Franky.
“Do you have a spare pair of handcuffs?” Franky asked.
“You know it’s illegal to restrain someone,” Amy pointed out. “Without their consent,” she added with a smile.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” muttered Franky as she drained her shot glass. She ordered another round.
“Don’t you want to see your friend?” Amy asked curiously as Franky passed her a drink.
“She’s not going anywhere I’m guessing,” Franky answered. “And I feel like getting smashed, any complaints?”
“None at all,” Amy confirmed and touched her glass to Franky’s with a smile.
Franky was woken by the persistent ringing of her mobile phone. It sounded like someone had hardwired it straight into her head. She groped for it and rejected the call. She threw the phone onto the bed. Even that action was a harsh reminder of the previous night’s activities. There had been tequila, a lot of tequila. She groaned. She lay perfectly still. Everything settled. She was okay. She would live as long as she didn’t have to move.
Her memory was patchy. She remembered playing pool. She and Amy had challenged some guys at the pub. She remembered winning some games and celebrating with shots. There might have been dancing. She hadn’t been that tanked in a long time. She didn’t even remember getting home. Then she remembered Erica was getting married. That was where it had all started.
She sat up slowly and stared at the mirror. Sexy tatts! A xx was written in lipstick across her image. That explained how she had got home and undressed presumably. No mention of the bruising, which Amy must have seen, but then sexy bruises didn’t have quite the same ring to it. She looked at her phone. It was almost ten. The missed call had been from Stephanie who was probably wondering where she was.
She got up gingerly and moved slowly. Her mouth felt like it had been cultivating its own disturbing culture for days. She took her toothbrush into the shower with her and let the hot water cascade over her body and restore some well-being.
Even though it hurt to think she couldn’t stop her mind latching onto Erica, or rather Erica’s bombshell. Two months, in two months it would be November, in November Erica would be Mrs Pearson. Franky almost choked on her toothpaste. Could it get any more suburban, any more boring than that she asked herself?
She tried to remember all their conversations looking for the clues she’d missed. She only found one. “It’s complicated,” Erica had said. Maybe she would have told Franky then if Franky hadn’t finished her sentence for her and told her confidently it wasn’t all that complicated. Franky had thought she had meant it was complicated because she was with Mark or because they were working together. It never even crossed her mind Erica was on a countdown to domestic bliss.
Then she had a sudden thought. What if she was Erica’s last fling before she settled down to being a good girl? That left a taste in her mouth even worse than tequila. She chewed her toothbrush unhappily.
She had known she was falling for Erica. She had never felt like this with anyone else. In all her other relationships she’d held something back and she was the one to walk away. Last night she realised just how far she had fallen. It was so sudden and yet she knew it had started years ago in prison when Erica had taken an interest in her. All those sessions together, all the games, the flirting had all helped to tattoo Erica’s name on her heart.
What she didn’t know was how Erica felt except she didn’t want safe. So how could she be marrying Mark Pearson who seemed about as dangerous as a Kiddie Castle?
When Franky arrived at work Stephanie didn’t mince words. “You look like shit,” she said. “What’s going on?”
Franky knew the tone and she didn’t have the strength or stamina to dance around Steph’s skilled questioning techniques, which had seen many witnesses trip over their own stories. So she told Stephanie about Boomer’s little walkabout. Then she said she’d found her so it was all good.
“Where is she?” Franky told her. “Do you want to take my car to pick her up?” Franky nodded with relief. “Why did she take off?”
Franky shrugged. “Worried about going back to prison I guess.”
“Well she’d lose her bail money if she didn’t attend court,” Stephanie pointed out. “So she probably intended to come back,” then added, “unless it wasn’t her money of course.” Franky was silent. She wondered just how much Stephanie had figured out on her own. “Are you okay to drive?” Franky looked confused. “Will your blood alcohol level put you over the limit?” she clarified.
Franky felt sick. Stephanie’s face was devoid of emotion but in those words Franky realised how much ground she had lost that day. “I’ll get someone to drive me,” she said. She stood up to go.
“Oh and Erica Davidson has been trying to get hold of you.” Franky looked expectantly at her boss. “Something about a meeting with Ruby, I left the details on your desk.”
“Thanks,” Franky muttered. She wondered why Erica hadn’t tried to call her. Then realised it was probably because Erica had decided it was all too hard and it was easier to walk away than explain. She gave Stephanie a copy of Ruby’s journal and asked her to look through it.
There was a meeting with Ruby arranged for that afternoon according to the note. Maybe she would get to see Erica anyway and force the issue.
It was Nick who met her at reception. “Hi,” he greeted her. “Ruby’s not here yet but I’ve arranged a room for you.” He indicated she should follow him. “The conference room is taken with the partners’ meeting I’m afraid.”
“Is Erica in that?” He nodded and Franky sighed under her breath. No closure today then, she thought as they walked.
The room was small with only a round table and a couple of chairs. No glass panelling or window made it dark and Nick switched on the light. “Can I get you something? Coffee?”
Franky shook her head then regretted it. “A water maybe,” she asked. He disappeared. She remembered she wanted to have Ruby’s journal with her and Erica had it. She dumped her legal pad and her copy of the journal and wandered off to Erica’s office. She asked her secretary for the journal but her phone rang so she just waved her through. The office was unoccupied. Franky looked curiously at the papers on Erica’s desk. Amongst the legal briefs and files Franky noticed quotes for flowers, photographers and cars. It confirmed in Franky’s mind that this was real and happening. She grabbed the journal and left quickly.
Nick was waiting for her. “What happened to you last night?” He asked with a smile as he handed her a glass of water. “We missed you.”
Franky wasn’t in the mood. “Something came up,” she said briefly. She drank the water quickly.
“Maybe we can do it again,” he suggested, watching her.
“Look,” Franky said abruptly. “I’m not interested okay. I’m never going to be interested. I like women.” I don’t like you I like your boss, was what she wanted to say but she stopped herself. She watched Nick process her words.
“Oh,” he said at last. “You’re a lesbian?” he clarified.
“Top of the class,” Franky said drily.
“Shit,” he gave an embarrassed laugh. “You don’t look like a lesbian.”
“Fuck off, Nick,” Franky picked up her phone and sent a text to Amy. Thanks for last night, it read, I guess I owe you. When she looked up Nick was gone. Amy must have been right by her phone because a message came back immediately. No worries, how’s the head?
Franky arranged with her to go out to Geelong when Amy finished work. Ruby arrived as she was still texting.
Ruby sat watching Franky. “You seem different today,” she said at last.
“Really,” Franky looked up and watched Ruby adjust her glasses self-consciously.
Franky’s leg was tapping under the table. It was the only part of her that seemed to have any energy. She took the journal out from under her notepad and placed it deliberately in front of Ruby. Ruby just stared at it. “Anything you want to tell me?” Franky asked. Ruby shook her head.
“Like who L-A is?” No answer. “Is that who took Henry?” Nothing. “We’ll find out you know,” Franky told her. She felt flat. What was the point when this kid didn’t seem interested in helping herself? “You should plead guilty,” she said suddenly. “There’s a chance they won’t throw the book at you.” She stood up and collected her papers. “We’re done here,” she left without a backward glance.
Two hours later she had her feet perched on the dashboard of Amy’s Volkswagen Golf swigging bottled water. They had pulled up in front of the house in Geelong only to find no one was home. So now she and Amy were waiting for Boomer to show up.
“What happened last night?” Franky asked out of the blue.
“You don’t remember?” Amy asked with a teasing smile in her voice.
“Not really,” Franky admitted. “I read your message,” she paused, “so did we –“
Amy cut her off. “Please!” she sounded offended. “Trust me Tatts,” she winked. “If we are going to have sex, I want both of us to remember it afterwards.” Franky was relieved. “You were totally trashed. I’ve never seen anyone put away that much tequila and still be walking. In fact at one point you were even dancing.”
“Great,” Franky muttered. She sat up when Boomer came into view then got out of the car and leant against it watching Boomer approach. She was eating hot chips. As Franky watched she stopped eating to dig around in her shoulder bag.
“That stuff will kill you,” Franky said with a smile. Boomer looked up and stopped short.
“Fucking hell,” she exclaimed. “What the fuck are you doing here?”
“Looking for you,” Franky said with exasperation. “What do you reckon?”
“Why?” Boomer was frowning.
“Why?” repeated Franky with raised eyebrows. “Because you’ve broken your bail conditions, that’s why, what the fuck are you doing Booms?” she asked. “I thought you trusted me.”
“I do,” Boomer said simply.
“Then come home with me,” she pleaded. “I’ve sorted Ron, you’re not going to prison, all you have to do is turn up to court and this will all go away.”
“Okay but what about Stu?” Boomer asked.
“Who?” Franky asked with a confused frown.
“Stu, I met him on Tinder, we really hit it off. It’s been a shag fest!” Boomer frowned. “I did try to call you but my battery died. Then I downloaded some new version of software and the fucking thing wiped all my contacts, ay.”
Franky listened in disbelief. “So let me get this straight,” she clarified. “All this time you have been shacked up with some guy?”
“Yeah, awesome huh,” Boomer grinned.
“Sure Booms,” Franky agreed then she laughed. It was a massive anti-climax. Why was she surprised though? In the last twenty-four hours nothing seemed to be going the way she expected.
When Franky climbed back in the car alone Amy looked surprised. “She’s not coming?”
“Nope,” Franky said. “She has to say good-bye to Stu,” Franky shook her head. “She said she’d take the train.”
“Okay,” Amy replied and started the car. “Your place or mine?” she said with a wink.
Franky closed her eyes. All the tension of the last twenty-four hours had caught up with her. She slept all the way back to Richmond.
“I met your girlfriend btw,” Amy said as she dropped Franky at her flat. Franky just looked at her. “Slim blonde? Yeah, she came round to your place last night as I was leaving.”
“Erica was at my flat?” Franky said slowly. Amy nodded. “Thanks for the lift,” was all she said but her heart felt lighter.
“Call me,” Amy yelled out the window as she drove off.
When Franky arrived at her flat she saw Erica was waiting on the top step. She stopped.
Erica stood up. “Hi,” she said. “Can we talk?” Franky looked worn out. Her dark hair was all mussed up and the expression on her face made her seem very vulnerable. She had asked Franky if she could help but all she had done was make things worse.
Franky just nodded and stepped past Erica to unlock the door leading Erica inside. She dropped her phone and her keys on to the kitchen bench and leant against it waiting for Erica to speak.
Erica knew she owed Franky an explanation. She should have told her straight up about the wedding but she hadn't and then the window of opportunity had closed. It got to the point where she didn't even know how to begin the conversation. She imagined the awkwardness of "Thanks for the great sex. Oh and by the way I'm getting married. Want to come to the wedding?" So she said nothing until Franky gave her the perfect opening and she'd just blurted it out. No prep work, no warning. It was no wonder Franky had looked shell shocked.
She tried to explain it now. The whole wedding thing had become a joke between her and Mark. He would ask Erica to set a date and Erica would delay, defer, or dodge. Deep down they both knew she would never agree to a date. Then she’d been made partner at her law firm. Life was good. She had been floating high on her success. They had been out celebrating and had drunk too much champagne and she had thought she could marry Mark. So when he asked again she had recklessly set a date.
As the date got closer though and the plans firmed up Erica could feel the pressure building inside her. On the outside she continued to operate as normal but on the inside she was a mess. It had been a mistake but she felt she no longer had any control over it.
“Then you turned up, out of the blue, and the attraction I had felt at Wentworth was even stronger and there were none of the obstacles. With you I could escape the prison I was building for myself.”
She knew what she was doing was unfair, to Mark, and to Franky. She knew it but she did it anyway.
“You came here last night,” was all Franky said. Erica nodded.
When Franky hadn’t returned to the table Erica had made her excuses. Something had come up she had explained and Franky had to go. Mark and Nick had settled in talking sport and then moved on to politics. Erica had left them there claiming she was tired and needed an early night. She hadn’t slept though. Mark had arrived home drunk and immediately fell asleep. Eventually she had got up in frustration. She had checked her phone but there was no message from Franky. Why would there be?
It had been after 1am when she had pulled up outside Franky’s flat. Part of her had wondered if this was a mistake. Perhaps giving Franky some time to process what she’d heard would be better. Perhaps she didn’t want to see Erica. But Franky had asked for an explanation and Erica had been banking on her still wanting to hear one.
As she had reached the top of the stairs the door to Franky’s flat had opened and a blonde haired woman had emerged. She had stopped when she saw Erica and had looked at her curiously.
“I was looking for Franky,” Erica had said at last when the silence had stretched uncomfortably.
“You’re the girlfriend,” the blonde said with an almost imperceptible sneer in her voice.
“I’m not her girlfriend,” Erica had corrected quickly. She wasn’t quite sure how to define their relationship. “I’m a colleague,” she settled on.
“Whatever,” she had said dismissively. “I don’t know what you did to her but she’s a mess. Lucky I was there to pick up the pieces.” Erica had felt as though the blonde was marking territory. She had pulled the door closed and stepped past Erica onto the stairs.
Erica had waited a minute then knocked on Franky’s door. There had been no answer, no sign of life coming from inside the flat. So Erica had gone home.
“So now what?” Franky asked with a frown.
“I don’t know,” Erica admitted rubbing her brow. “It’s a mess.”
“You can’t have it both ways, Erica, it’s not fair on anyone,” Franky pointed out.
“I know that but I’m not like you. You’re so certain in who you are and what you want.”
Franky laughed unexpectedly. “I’m not asking you to choose today,” she said with a smile, her first smile since Erica had arrived. “Why would I? You have a lot more invested in Mark than me,” she said bluntly.
Erica remembered how well Franky could think tactically to maximise her advantage. Christ, she was so addictive. Sex with Franky was addictive. She wasn’t prepared to walk away just yet, not until she had explored it thoroughly. “Franky, I don’t know what this is,” she said honestly, “and I don’t how it will end.”
“Well I guess I have two months to help you to find out,” Franky said with a smile. On the inside she wondered whether her heart would survive if it all went pear shaped in two months’ time.
Erica relaxed. She had convinced herself Franky would walk away and find someone else, someone easier or ask for something she couldn’t give. Instead Franky gave her time and Erica was grateful.
“I like your hair,” she said suddenly. “Very sexy,” Franky’s hand went to her hair. “Is that how they’re doing it in the clubs now?”
Franky went into her bedroom to look in the mirror. Erica came up behind her and put her arms around Franky’s waist. She pushed Franky’s hair out of the way and kissed her neck. She felt Franky lean back against her. She caught Franky’s eye in the mirror and noticed the lipstick message. Franky saw her notice it.
“It’s not what you think,” she said hastily.
“You don’t know what I think,” Erica murmured into Franky’s ear. “Your tattoos are very sexy,” she agreed.
“I mean nothing happened,” the younger woman clarified.
“Franky,” Erica sighed, “even if it had I’m hardly in a position to complain, am I?” She turned Franky so she was facing Erica and not the mirror. “So let’s just –” She leant in and kissed her.
“What?” Franky asked when the kiss ended.
“Get naked, so I can admire your tattoos for myself,” she said.
Franky didn’t feel tired anymore. She pulled off Erica's top and released her bra then tore off her own. She kissed her, pulling her close so their breasts were pushed against each other. Erica pulled her down on to the bed so she could feel the weight of Franky on top of her. She felt Franky shift her thigh between her legs and press against her.
"I have something for you," Franky murmured against her ear all the while pressing with her thigh. She reached across the bed to the drawer of her bedside table and pulled out a pair of handcuffs. She saw Erica smile. "Now apparently," Franky said seriously as she took Erica's wrist and put a cuff around it, "I’m breaking some law if I restrain you,” she took her other wrist and moved it up to join the first. “Unless you consent," she finished with.
"Yes," Erica whispered immediately. Franky snapped the other cuff into place. Erica tried to move her hands but they were held fast against the bed head. Franky watched her fascinated. Then she took a silk scarf from the drawer and blindfolded Erica.
"I want you to focus only on what you feel," she said into her ear.
Erica could feel excitement building. Franky unzipped Erica’s pants, then took hold of her hips and took them off then peeled her lacy underwear off as well. For a minute she felt nothing. “What are you doing?” she asked curiously.
“I’m admiring you,” Franky said. “You’re beautiful.” She felt Franky caress her inner thighs, the sensation was doubly intense. She felt Franky’s mouth replace her fingers and her tongue began to stimulate her. She could feel something hard and cold replace Franky’s mouth. It was nudging her opening gently, teasing her with small circular movements. She was wet and it slid easily into her. Franky used long slow strokes and Erica's hips moved against it, matching the rhythm. Without eyes or hands Erica focused solely on the sensations. It was sliding in and out so easily now and with each thrust she felt its slightly rough surface. Franky pulled the dildo all the way out and rubbed its lubricated length slowly against Erica's inner lips. She gasped. It felt fantastic. She tried to move her hands. There was an urgency building in her now. Franky must have been watching because she slipped the dildo against her opening so Erica could feel it. "Franky," she begged and shifted her hips impatiently. Franky complied and slipped it inside her again increasing the rhythm while her fingers stimulated her until Erica's moans became louder and more frequent. Oh fuck! She could feel herself about to come and she pulled against the handcuffs so the hard metal dug into her wrists. It was the pain colliding with the pleasure which made her scream out when she came, it was deliciously intense. Franky cupped her using pressure to extend the orgasm for an eternity. Franky's hand rested on her breast and she lay next to her. "You are so fucking good," Erica said breathlessly.
Franky pulled off the blindfold and kissed her slowly, lazily, deeply, letting her tongue explore Erica completely. Her hand played with her nipple. "I like you like this," she murmured against her mouth. "In my power. I could do anything to you." Erica liked it too.
They woke up when the door to the flat slammed shut. Erica rolled over and hit Franky with her elbow. "What was that?" She asked. Franky grinned suddenly.
"I think you're about to be outed," she said. "It's Boomer."