Over the next few weeks, Joan had learned to keep a low profile. While that was part of her plan originally, she felt even more of an urgency so the other prisoners wouldn't use it against her. Or worse. Her experience with Warner crept into her mind, ever reminding her of exactly where she was. While some of these women wouldn't harm a child, there were many others who would, and some just for the sake of her being “The Freak.” She was never afraid to put herself in harm's way, but what would she do now?
And would her child be taken away? The very thought of suffering the same fate as her beloved Jianna crossed her mind, and she closed her eyes at the painful memory.
Stepping into Vera's office, she hesitated at the door. “You wanted to see me?”
“Yes, Joan. How are you doing?”
Joan didn't know how to answer that question. She still didn't quite trust Vera, despite their recent closeness. Just because she was pregnant, didn't change a thing between them. The memory of Vera leaving during their dinner still hurt, as did knowing that Vera put up those photos of Jianna in her office.
“I'm okay. As well as to be expected, I suppose. Why did you want to see me?”
Vera leaned a little forward in her chair. “I think it would be a good idea if you saw Ms. Westfall.”
Joan chuckled. “I didn't know you were a comedian on the side, Vera. How amusing to think that I would get any help from Ms. Westfall.”
Vera narrowed her eyes. “You don't think I'm serious? I think it would be good for you to talk to a professional... especially considering--”
“Professional? You want me to see the same woman who had inappropriate relations with an inmate?”
“Ms. Westfall is one of the best people I know, and she knows you. This is no longer a request, Joan. Your mental health is a priority.”
Joan's body tensed, and her lips twitched ever so slightly. Her father would be telling her that she needed to control her anger and emotions, but this was going too far. What Vera was now demanding of her was almost punishing.
“And what if I refuse?”
“Joan, I know you don't like Bridget, but please... please do this for me. It would put me at ease knowing that--”
“Oh, it would put you at ease? So this is about how you feel? How unfortunate you only keep thinking of yourself.”
Vera stared at her, and slowly moved around her desk, resting her hip against it. Joan would have smirked since she often did the same thing while Governor. It was almost... flattering in the way that Vera emulated her. Joan doubted that she even noticed what she was doing.
“I wasn't thinking of myself when I slept in your cell. I also wasn't thinking of myself when I returned a few nights later. I didn't have to do all of that Joan, to put my career at risk. Especially for you. But yet I am anyway. Maybe I shouldn't.”
Joan remembered those nights all too well. Despite what she'd said to Vera, she hadn't returned home until early morning. Joan had felt safe and calm, a feeling she hadn't had since Jianna. It was always broken by the reality of where they were.
“Do you have to go?”
“Yes, I have to before anyone sees.”
“Thank you for staying with me.”
“Sure... I would have done it for anyone.”
But would she have done it for anyone? Was Joan just some charity case? Someone for Vera to pity and make herself look even taller.
Joan stood up, so close to Vera now that she backed up against her desk. “You think that just because you're the current Governor that I'm going to allow you to make my decisions for me? I will not see that woman. You can go ahead and slot me for it.”
Vera bit her lip and slowly shook her head. “I do make all the decisions for you now. You are the property of Wentworth, and this is my prison.”
Joan's eyes flashed in anger, then she leaned forward and whispered in her ear. “Is this a little kink of yours? Thinking of being in control of me? I must admit, power is quite seductive. It's why I've always loved to be on top.” She smiled slowly, feeling the vibration of Vera's body as she trembled slightly.
“You never change, even though you're pregnant.”
Joan lifted her hand, brushing a piece of lint off of Vera's shoulder. Her hand lingered on the little gold crown, before she slowly pressed her fingertips to Vera's neck.
“What are you doing?”
“Feeling your pulse. It's racing. Something has definitely changed, Vera. And it's not just because I'm pregnant.”
Vera swallowed, and Joan gently caressed her jaw. “I'll see Westfall on one condition.”
“What is it?”
“You be there for our first session, and...”
“You want more? Jesus Christ, Joan.”
“Do you want me to see Westfall or not?” She snapped.
“Yes,” she replied.
“Good. Now my next proposition is rather simple.”
“What is it?”
Joan stroked her neck and jaw again, enjoying the flutter of her pulse under her fingertips. “I miss you at night,” she whispered, and despite her defiance, she didn't want to lose the feelings she had with her. “It doesn't have to be every night but... I, uh... I want you there.”
“You have a very odd way of showing it,” Vera said softly.
Joan smiled a little sadly. “I told you I don't make friends easily.”
“The way you keep touching me... I'd say it's a little more than that,” she said quietly.
“That's not always easy for me either, but you're correcT. It is a little 'more than that.'”
Vera blushed. “This is so inappropriate.”
“Come on, Vera. Don't be so vanilla,” she whispered.
“I am not vanilla!” She hissed.
“Then prove it. And if you think me being pregnant means you can't have any sexual attraction for me, then you're extremely naive.”
“Joan, you being pregnant is not the only reason I shouldn't feel that way.”
“Oh, so you admit it? You're sexually attracted to me.”
“Why are we doing this? This isn't the time for your games.”
Except this wasn't a game. Maybe it was a few weeks ago before she found out she was pregnant. Joan felt a need to hold onto her former self. This verbal exchange with Vera was the only part of her life that hadn't changed, and it scared her to know the risks she was taking in having this baby.
“Vera,” she said softly. “I don't always know how to act around you. I'm still very angry, and this makes me confused because some of that seems not so important now. And this baby...” She touched her stomach, suddenly feeling a little sick. “Those women already tried to rape me, so the very thought of how I'm going to protect this child... well, you remember Warner. No one cared that I saved a child's life.”
“What are you saying, Joan?”
“I don't know who I can trust.”
Vera sighed. “I hope you can trust me, even just a little bit.”
“It's all I have right now,” Joan said quietly, suddenly reminded of how alone she was in the world.