Bridget had gotten a few more hours of sleep, showered, and was now waiting in her office for Franky to arrive for her afternoon appointment. She was grateful for what Vera had done for them, but in some ways it had only made her feel worse about being away from her girlfriend. When she had laid down in her bed at home that morning, the memory of how Franky’s arms felt around her was so fresh in her mind that it was almost like she could still feel her there. Up until now, she’d been able to push that feeling out of her thoughts. It wasn’t that she wanted to forget how it felt, but more that it was a coping mechanism so she wouldn’t miss it as much. It was too painful to go back to that feeling every night.
There was a light knock on the door and Bridget didn’t even have time to answer before it swung open.
“Doyle here to see you.” Linda barely poked her head in the door before she was gone down the hall again.
Franky stepped inside, glanced down the hall after the officer, and closed the door behind her. “She’s been off all day,” she said, motioning in the direction Linda had taken off in.
“Hey baby.” Bridget stepped around her desk and met Franky in the middle of the room. She took the brunette’s face in both of her hands and gave her a long, deep kiss.
When they finally broke apart, Bridget reached behind her and grabbed the thermal mug from her desk. “I brought you something,” she said, handing it to the brunette.
Franky took a sip, “Mmm god, I haven’t had real coffee in weeks.”
“I thought you might like that.” Bridget gave her a wink. “Everything been alright today?”
“Yeah. I got Linda. She’s alright, but I prefer Will.” The brunette took another sip of her coffee as she leaned against the arm of one of the large green chairs.
Just then, Bridget’s mobile began ringing in her bag behind the desk. She gave Franky a confused look, she never got calls during the day. The brunette shrugged and Bridget fished it out of her bag. She didn’t recognize the number.
“Bridget Westfall?” The voice on the other end asked.
“Yes, that’s me.” She glanced over at Franky.
“This is Lisa Johns. I’m the principal at Newport Gardens Primary School. I’m phoning because I have your niece Emily here, and she’s not feeling well, it’s her stomach.”
“Oh, I, um…her Dad is back from his business trip, have you tried calling him?” Bridget was sure that Tim had switched over the contact information on Emily’s file.
“We did. We called both of the numbers he provided twice and got no answer. Our policy after that is to call the secondary contact. Are you able to come pick her up?” The woman on the other end of the line waited for Bridget’s response.
“Yeah. Yes, of course. I’m on my way.” She hung up and looked at Franky. “I’m sorry, baby, but I have to go. Em is sick and needs to be picked up from school. They can’t get ahold of Tim.”
Franky stood up. “Is she alright?”
“They said she has a stomach ache.” Bridget began gathering her things into her bag. “I have to stop by Vera’s office and tell her I’m leaving. You’ll have to come with me and she can call Linda to come pick you up from there. I can’t leave you here alone.” She went to give Franky a quick kiss before they left, but stopped when she saw the look of concern on the brunette’s face. “Baby, she’ll be okay.”
Franky nodded. “I love you.” She gave Bridget a kiss. “And tell Em I love her too.”
“I will. I love you too.”
Franky followed her to Vera’s office. The governor was more than understanding about the situation, and told Bridget to let her know if she needed anything more picked up for her later. The brunette took a seat in one of the chairs in the office while she waited for Linda, and Bridget left to pick up Emily.
Bridget made her way to the main office of the school and spoke to the receptionist.
“Ms. Westfall?” A tall, middle-aged, blonde woman came out of an office and greeted her, holding out her hand. “I’m Lisa. I spoke to you earlier.”
Bridget shook her hand. “Yes, how is she feeling?”
“About the same, I think. She’s laying down in my office.” Bridget expected the other woman to take her to her niece then, but it seemed like she had more to say. “Her teacher has noticed a change in her mood during the past couple weeks.”
“Oh? How so?” Bridget thought back over her recent interactions with Emily. She had seemed okay the last few times she’d seen her, other than the incident with the wine.
“Her teacher noted that she seemed quieter and more withdrawn than she was during the time she stayed with you.”
“Her Mom passed away about six months ago. I expect that maybe being at my place gave her a break from the things in her own home that reminded her that her mother is gone. I suspect that maybe now that they’ve moved here permanently, it has hit her that things aren’t ever going back to how they used to be.” Bridget didn’t like to analyze the people close to her, but she wasn’t blind to their situations either. “She’s spent the past two weekends with me. I’ll keep an eye out for anything unusual from now on.”
“Yes, her weekends with you are the one thing that she does seem to like to talk about.” Lisa gave her a warm smile. “Also, someone named Franky.”
Bridget smiled thinking of all the time she had watched the two of them spend together. “My girlfriend.”
“Well, the two of you have certainly made an impression on her. Here, I’ll take you in to get her, you’re probably ready to be going home.”
Bridget followed her into her office, where Emily was laying on the couch.
“Auntie Bridge,” Emily gave a small smile. “They said you were coming to get me.”
“Yeah, love, I’m going to take you to my place for a bit. Hold my hand while we walk out?” Bridget reached down, and Emily sat up and took her hand, allowing her aunt to lead her out of the office and towards the parking lot.
Emily was quiet on the drive to Bridget’s house. The blonde kept an eye on her in the rear-view mirror. When they arrived, Bridget gave her one of her bigger t-shirts to change into, which ended up looking like a dress on her. She couldn’t help but smile at the sight of the little girl looking almost swallowed up by the garment.
“Would you like to go lie down in your bed?” Bridget asked her when she returned to the living room.
Emily shook her head. “I want to stay with you.”
“Okay. Why don’t we stay in the living room? You can lay on the couch, and I’ll sit with you?”
Bridget placed a pillow at the end of the couch and Emily laid down. The blonde gathered a bottle of water from the kitchen and a bucket from the utility closet, and headed back to the living room.
She sat the bottle of water on the coffee table. “When you feel like it, I want you to drink a bit of this, okay? Slowly.” Emily nodded. She placed the bucket beside the couch. “And this is for in case you feel like you’re going to be sick.” Bridget reached behind the girl and took the blanket from the back of the couch. She placed it over her, making sure she’d stay warm. “I’m going to go change then I’ll be back.” She gave her niece a kiss on her temple, and went to her bedroom.
While she was in her room, out of earshot of Emily, she decided to try to call Tim. She called his mobile number and it went straight to voicemail…’You’ve reached Tim Westfall, leave a message and I’ll get back to you ....’. ”Hey, Tim, it’s me. Listen, I’ve got Em here at my place. The school called and said she wasn’t feeling well. They couldn’t get ahold of you so they called me. Give me a call as soon as you can. Bye.” She hung up and tried his home phone as well on the off chance that he was working from there today, but got the same result.
She changed out of her work clothes and went back to join Emily on the couch. She handed her niece the TV remote, and told her she got to pick their afternoon entertainment. Bridget watched the movie, thinking how it was complex considering it was made for kids. When it ended, she noticed that Emily had drank about half of the water she’d given her earlier.
“How’s your stomach feeling?” Bridget hoped the fact that she was drinking meant she was starting to feel better.
“A little better. I’m kind of hungry.”
“How about some toast? We’ll start with something small.” The young girl nodded and Bridget got up to make it for her. “Pick out another movie for us.” She called from the kitchen. Bridget glanced over and saw that she was about to choose ‘Despicable Me 3’. “Hey, love, not that one, okay?”
“Why not?” Emily asked.
“Because the last time you watched one of those, the minions gave you nightmares, remember?” ‘And you walked in on us.’ She added in her mind. Bridget raised her eyebrows, waiting for the young girl’s answer.
“Yeah, okay.” She continued scrolling, and picked something else.
Thirty minutes later, Emily had eaten her toast, drank most of the rest of her water, and fallen asleep. Bridget walked quietly into her office and brought her laptop out to the living room. She thought she could at least get some of her paperwork done, even if she wasn’t at the prison.
Bridget was just finishing her supper when she saw the screen of her mobile light up. She had put it on silent so as not to wake Emily. It was Tim. She walked out onto the patio as she answered it.
“Bridge, I’m so sorry.” Tim began.
“Where were you today?” Bridget knew she sounded like she was mad. She wasn’t. She was concerned.
“I just, I… had some things I needed to do.”
She took a deep breath. “Okay.” Now wasn’t the time to get into anything.
“Is she alright? I’ll come get her now.”
“She’s had something to eat and drink.” Bridget looked in at her sleeping niece through the large windows. “She’s already asleep. Why don’t you just let her stay for the night? I have her emergency change of clothes here, and I’ll take her to school in the morning if she’s feeling up to it.”
“Are you sure, Bridge?” Bridget thought he sounded almost relieved.
“Yeah, I’m sure. I’ll let you know how she’s doing in the morning.”
“Okay, thanks again.” He hung up the phone before she had a chance to say goodbye.
Vera looked at the clock. Only an hour left until her shift was over. She no longer did her final nightly rounds after what had happened the previous week. She’d been at the prison for nearly 24 hours now, having come in to facilitate her favour for Franky. She had managed to get a couple hour’s sleep in her office though between the time she took Franky back to Medical and when her actual shift started.
The phone on her desk rang. “Hello?”
“Hello Governor. This is Detective Anders. I’m calling in regards to the case involving Francesca Doyle.”
Vera’s heart rate doubled. This was the call she had been both eagerly awaiting and dreading for the past two weeks. She cleared her throat. “Go ahead.”
“Ms. Chang has woken up, and she remembers what happened the night of the incident….” The Detective went on to explain the details of the interview they had conducted when Kim woke up.
Vera listened without saying a word.
“…so this call is basically a professional courtesy. We’ll be seeing you by the end of the week.” The Detective finished.
“Uh, yes, thank you. I appreciate the update.” Vera hung up the phone. She got up and paced back and forth across her office. She had to tell Bridget. She knew it broke all the protocols, but she had to do it.
Not long after her conversation with Tim had ended, the screen on her phone lit up again. She wasn’t surprised to see that it was her friend calling. It wasn’t long until she would be heading home, and she was probably checking to see if Bridget needed anything dropped off for Emily.
“Bridget,” Vera was struggling to remain calm so that she could explain to Bridget exactly what she had just found out. “I just had a call from one of the Detectives handling Franky’s case. Kim has woken up.” She paused. “It’s not good.”
The blonde was trying to process what Vera could mean. “Not good, like, she doesn’t remember what happened?” Bridget knew that if Kim couldn’t remember who attacked her, then the evidence pointed to Franky, and she would be charged.
“No, she remembers.” Vera took a deep breath. “She’s saying it was Franky who beat her.”
Bridget couldn’t hear anything besides the sound of her own heart beating in her ears. She felt nauseous. This was worse than Kim not remembering. When she was finally able to gather her thoughts, she spoke, “What? Vera, you know-“
“I know. I know she’s lying, but there’s no evidence to support that.” Vera sighed. “Look, the detective called me as a courtesy because she knew the news would affect a staff member. I shouldn’t even be telling you.”
“When will Franky find out? I want to be with her.” The blonde couldn’t bear the thought of her girlfriend sitting there alone when she was charged.
“They said it would be most likely Thursday before the paperwork was processed. Friday at the latest.”
“This is such a fucking mess.” Bridget could feel the tears in her eyes threatening to spill down her cheeks.
“I know. I’m so sorry. I will do anything I can on my end to help. In the meantime, do you need anything tonight?”
“No, I think I’m okay. Thank you though. Em is staying here for the night, and I think she’s feeling a bit better. She’s already asleep.” Bridget was thankful her niece was there, even though she was sleeping. She loved having her there anyway, but tonight it gave her something to divert her attention to, even if it was only for a few minutes.
“Okay. You know where to find me if you change your mind.”
Bridget thanked her again and they said their goodbyes.
“Hey, Linda.” Franky stuck her head out the door of her cell. “Can you take me to the showers now?”
“Seriously? It’s less than a half hour until shift change. Can’t it wait until the morning?” Linda’s commitment to her job only went so far, and didn’t include doing anything she didn’t absolutely have to.
“Come on. I’ll be quick.” Franky knew she should have asked earlier but she’d lost track of time, and now she really wanted to get clean before she went to bed.
Linda huffed, “Alright, but make it fast.”
Franky grabbed her towel and shower bag from her cell, and Linda escorted her to the showers.
She stepped under the stream of hot water, and let it relax her muscles. She rested her forearms against the tiles, and let it hit the back of her head and run down her back. She always lost track of time when she was in there.
“Doyle! Hurry up!” Linda’s shout from outside barely registered in Franky’s mind.
Outside, Linda looked at her watch. It was only five minutes until her shift was over. It would take her that long to walk to the lounge and gather her things. She had to leave on time tonight. Someone had given her a hot tip for the track, and she needed the money. She glanced down at her watch again. The hallway was deserted. Will was the one who would be taking over for her on the night shift. She figured he was probably already there, just still up in the lounge. Franky would only be alone for a few minutes, and she’d get to leave on time. She decided that leaving her post was a risk she was willing to take.
She hurried from the H-block showers toward the officer’s lounge. On the way, she passed by Radic who, once Linda had gone out of sight, quickly hurried to Juice’s cell door.
“I just saw Ms. Miles go by without Doyle. She must still be in the shower.”
Juice peered over the top of the magazine she was reading on her bed. “Get the boys.”
Franky heard the door open behind her, “Yeah I’m coming Linda!”
“So you call all the officers by their first names, eh? Not just the Governor’s pet then, are we?” Franky turned just in time to see the shower curtain ripped open behind her. Juice stood directly in front of her, with two of her boys waiting just behind. She let her eyes roam up and down over Franky’s naked body and licked her lips. “Get her out of there boys.” Juice stepped aside and allowed the other two to grab the brunette, one taking a hold of each arm.
Franky struggled, but she didn’t have a weapon this time, and she didn’t have the element of surprise on her side. She had nothing, not even clothing to offer any bit of protection from what she knew was coming. And with nothing, she was no match for the two holding her. They dragged her to the middle of the room. She kicked out her legs, but Juice stepped back just enough that she couldn’t reach her. As soon as she had her feet back on the ground, she felt the inmates on either side of her place a foot behind each of her knees and pushed forward, forcing her to kneel. She tried to get one of her arms free, but that only made them twist them further behind her. She was out of options.
“You know why I’m gonna enjoy this?” Juice asked. Franky held her stare and refused to give any sort of answer or reaction. “It’s almost like a two for one deal. We take care of you and we’re getting rid of a screw lover, and the psych’s girlfriend. You know, she’s rejected my advances more than once. Stuck up bitch, she is. Maybe she’ll reconsider after this. You won’t be so pretty when we’re done.
“Fuck you,” Franky spat out.
The fist came out of nowhere and landed square on her jaw, snapping her head to the side. The second one came from the opposite side, knuckles crashing into her cheekbone. Franky’s head flopped forward. She tasted blood. The next blow she felt was a fist to her stomach that knocked her breath out of her. The blows continued, and she knew she wouldn’t be awake for much longer.
“Hey, Will.” Linda entered the officer’s lounge.
Will peeked out around his locker door. “What are you doing up here? I thought you were watching Franky today?”
“Yeah I am.” She unlocked her locker and began putting her things into her bag.
“Yeah and I’m relieving you, so again, what are you doing up here?” This wasn’t the first time Linda had shown carelessness in her duties, but it was the first time he had known her to knowingly put a prisoner in danger.
“Ah calm down. I have to leave on time today. I couldn’t wait for you to get down there.” She closed her locker door and lifted her bag onto her shoulder. “She’s in the shower. Head down there now and she won’t have been alone more than five, ten minutes max.”
“Christ, Linda!” Will turned and took off towards H-block. Moving as fast as he could through the hallways. The prison, by design, was not made to let people pass through it quickly.
When he turned down the hallway toward the showers, he could see the silhouettes of three inmates, gathered around something, or someone, on the floor. It looked like they were stomping on whatever it was.
Will knew immediately what was going on and he reached for his radio. “Officer needs immediate assistance in H-block showers! Medical required!”
Will slammed into the door, sending it crashing open just as the alarm began to sound. Radic raised her foot and brought it down hard on the back of Franky’s left shoulder with a sickening thud, and the brunette cried out in pain.
“Get the fuck out!” He pushed them out of his way, and out toward the edges of the room, away from Franky. “I said get the fuck out!” He yelled. Will would let the officers who were on their way worry about rounding up the other inmates, right now, he needed to get Franky medical attention.
He grabbed her towel off the hook, and knelt down beside her. “Hey! Franky! Look at me!” He draped the towel over her.
“Will…” she tried to turn over, and winced in pain.
“Easy, easy. Yeah, it’s me. We’ve got to get you to Medical. Are you able to stand?” He looked behind him. There was no sign of any other officers approaching yet. He knew in reality it had only been a few seconds, but it seemed like forever.
With Will’s help, Franky was able to get to her feet. He picked up the towel that had fallen to the floor, and wrapped it around the brunette’s body, tucking it into itself just behind her uninjured arm. Normally, she would have had a smart remark for him about seeing her naked, but right now everything hurt. She felt a stabbing pain when she tried to take a deep breath, and she couldn’t move her left arm.
He put an arm around her for support, and they started their slow journey to Medical. They had met officers on their way, and he sent them to round up Juice and her crew. They’d be spending at least the next week in the slot.
When they entered Medical, the nurse was still preparing her supplies in anticipation of Franky’s arrival. Will helped her over to the bed, and got her laying down. The nurse started at the top with her evaluation. She checked her for a concussion; all clear, but she’d need to be under observation for at least 24 hours. In the end, the nurse determined that she had a dislocated shoulder and probably a couple of broken ribs.
Vera arrived not long after the nurse had finished her assessment. She stood beside Will, who was just outside the door, observing through the large windows. The governor knew when she heard the call on her radio who it was, but until she had actually seen it for herself, she didn’t want to believe it. Now though, it was real. She lowered her head, staring at a point on the floor, and felt Will’s arm wrap around her shoulders.
“I failed her.” Vera swiped at a tear that was about to fall from the end of her nose.
“No, you didn’t. Linda did. She left her post early, before I got there.”
“I should have made her go into protection.” She wiped away another tear.
“You put her under 24-hour guard. She was attacked in the shower, not her unit. Even if she was in protection, she would have been alone in the shower room with a guard outside, which is exactly what should have been happening anyway. The problem was that Linda left, and that’s not your fault.”
Vera nodded. “I guess.” The nurse motioned for her to come inside. She was ready to give her report, but the Governor wasn’t sure she was ready to hear it. She stepped into the treatment room. “What are we looking at?”
“No concussion, but she will need to be observed for at least the next twenty four hours to watch for a delayed onset of symptoms. Bruising to the face but nothing seems broken there. She does however, most likely have a broken rib, but the doctor may want an x-ray to confirm that. There is bruising on most of her torso, but my initial exam revealed no evidence of internal injuries. She also has a dislocated shoulder. The doctor is on his way in and he will reset it. She’s been given some pain meds, a mild sedative and a muscle relaxer, as per the doctor’s orders, in preparation for the procedure when he arrives. In other words, she will be sore for awhile, but there doesn’t appear to be any permanent damage.” The nurse finished her report, and looked to Vera for any questions she may have.
“Can I speak with her?”
“You can try, but you probably won’t have much luck until the morning when those meds wear off.” The nurse placed Franky’s chart on the bedside table and left the governor to talk with her patient.
The tears started again. “Franky, I’m so sorry.” She reached down, and took hold of the brunette’s right hand, giving it a small squeeze. She felt Franky’s fingers twitch in response.
“S’okay.” Franky mumbled without opening her eyes.
“Franky,” she looked around to make sure there was no one else within earshot. “Did they do or try anything other than the beating?” She thought back to her own assault, thankful that they hadn’t gone that far with her. Franky however, had been in a much more vulnerable situation when Juice and her crew had found her.
“No.” The brunette shook her head slightly and winced at the movement. “Gidge?”
“She’s not here right now. I’ll let her know what happened though. As soon as I leave here.” She went to leave to allow Franky to get some rest.
“Vera…” Franky’s small voice made Vera stop and look back towards the bed. “Stop crying. I’ll be okay.”
Vera gave a small nod and continued on her way out.
“Will, you’re with her tonight, don’t leave for anything, don’t respond to any codes or alarms. Nothing. I’m going to Bridget’s.” She marched down the hallway.
Bridget had just moved Emily from the couch to the spare bedroom when there was a light knock on the door.
“Vera!” She was surprised to see her friend there considering they had already talked on the phone, and Bridget had told her they didn’t need anything. As soon as she laid eyes on her friend’s face, she knew something was wrong. “What’s happened?” Bridget stepped aside so that she could enter.
“Let’s go sit down, okay?” Vera led the way into Bridget’s living room and sat down on one section of the L-shaped couch. Bridget sat on the other section, and turned to face her. Vera took a deep breath. “There was an incident right before I left. Franky was involved. The officer assigned to her was negligent and left their post before Will came to relieve them. During that time, Franky was left in the showers, alone. Gambaro and her crew must have been waiting for their opportunity, because in the few minutes that Franky was unguarded, they attacked her. As soon as Will realized that she’d been left alone, he raced there and broke up the assault. It was three on one. Franky was on the floor, still awake. He says she was talking and recognized him. She was able to walk, with assistance, to Medical for treatment. The nurse said it’s mostly bruising, but she does have a dislocated shoulder and possibly a broken rib. The doctor was on his way in when I left to set her shoulder, and she’d been medicated. Something for pain, and a sedative to help her stay still and rest. I spoke to her for a moment, but as you can imagine she wasn’t in a state to say much. She did ask for you though, so I said I would make sure you knew what had happened.” Vera had been looking down at her hands the whole time she’d been talking. When she finally looked up, she saw silent tears streaming down her friend’s face. “I’m so sorry.”
“Can I see her?” Bridget knew Emily was there, but she thought maybe Vera would be willing to watch her for a couple hours while she checked on her girlfriend.
“Bridget. I can’t….I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to go in there right now. The doctor had to do the procedure on her shoulder, and the nurse said she’d be sedated until at least the morning. Stay here and be with Em. That’s what she’d want right now I think.”
Bridget nodded. “Yeah, you’re right. She was so concerned this morning when I got the call about Em.” Bridget thought back to the look on her girlfriend’s face when she told her Emily wasn’t feeling well.
Vera put her hand on Bridget’s knee. “I’m going to make us some tea.” Bridget nodded.
They sat and drank, and when they had both finished, Vera asked Bridget if she’d be okay there alone for the night. Bridget assured her that she was, but made it clear that she wanted to see Franky first thing in the morning. Vera gave her a hug and another apology on her way out the door.
Bridget peeked into Emily’s room to make sure she was still asleep, then went around the house, making sure the doors were locked and turning out the lights before she settled into her own bed for what would probably be a sleepless night.