“Vera! It’s so nice to see you. Come in, come in,” Bridget said as she gave her a hug.
“I hope you’re in the mood for some wine.”
“Oh, that’s always a yes,” Bridget said and smiled.
The smell of lasagna was in the air, and she smiled. Bridget’s house was warm and inviting, a stark contrast to the loneliness she felt at home. Walking into her kitchen, she smiled awkwardly when she saw Franky.
“Hello, Doyle. I’m sorry, I mean Franky.”
“It’s okay. You’ll still always be Ms. Bennett to me,” Franky said and smiled gently.
Vera nodded as she sat down, sitting across from the two women. While she didn’t approve of Franky visiting Bridget while on parole, she knew they were in love, and she couldn’t deny her friend happiness. Franky also deserved to be happy.
“How are you doing, Franky?”
“Not too bad. Sometimes it feels a little weird to be on the outside, but it sure as hell beats being back at that place.”
“Vera is doing very well as the new governor,” Bridget said.
“I’m sure anyone would be better than the Freak. How is it with her there, anyway?”
Vera wondered if Bridget told Franky what was going on with Joan. Glancing over at Bridget, she hesitated before she answered Franky.
“What is it?” Franky asked.
“She’s adjusting to the prison,” Vera said carefully.
“You know she’s plotting something. She always does. You need to be careful with her, and tell Red not to do anything stupid.”
“Smith gave me her word that she wouldn’t do anything to Ferguson.”
“But this is Red we’re talking about. She has life in prison, so there’s no reason for her not to kill Ferguson. I don’t want her to get into more trouble, but we know we’d all be better off without the Freak.”
Vera bit her lip, thinking of the strong and vulnerable woman she had come to know. Bridget sipped her wine, carefully setting it down.
“Let’s hope that Bea is rational enough to leave her alone. I also don’t think she’ll do anything to Ferguson. She’s been going through a lot,” she murmured.
“Yeah, ever since Debbie died it’s been very hard on Red. I’ll try to visit her when I can.”
“I wasn’t talking about Bea,” Bridget said quietly.
Franky stared at her, motioning her fork towards her. “Gidge, what’s going on? Since when are you sympathizing with Ferguson? It wasn’t too long ago that you called her a cunt during the psych evaluation.”
“Franky!” Bridget snapped.
“Sorry for my language, Ms. Bennett.”
“No, it’s quite all right. I remember watching on the CCTV when it happened. I would have said the same myself at the time.”
“Why are you both acting so weird?”
“Franky, what I’m about to tell you must be kept secret.”
“Vera… are you sure?” Bridget asked cautiously.
Franky’s eyes darted back and forth between them. “What’s going on?”
“You cannot tell anyone about this, but because you and Bridget are… together, I think it would be less of a burden on her if I told you.”
“Would you just spit it out already?!”
“Ferguson is pregnant.” Vera held her breath as Franky stared with wide eyes, then started to laugh.
“You’re a riot, Ms. Bennett. That’s a good joke, really.”
“It’s not a joke. She found out she was pregnant almost 6 months ago. Proctor and Smith also know, but it won’t be too much longer before everyone else does. She can’t hide under larger clothes forever. Some just think she’s gained weight, but it won’t be too long before the rest of the prisoners see that she’s pregnant.”
“Gidge, is this true?”
“Yes, and it complicates many things.”
“Such as what?”
“What we thought we knew about Ferguson, as well as our professional judgment. I’ve come to know her in a different way in the past couple of months. I can’t speak about what we’ve talked about in our sessions, but it’s very important that she is kept safe,” Bridget replied.
“I can’t believe you didn’t tell me this!”
“I never knew how to bring it up. After everything you went through with her, and what she put us through, it made it even harder.”
“She’s what? 50-years-old? How the hell could she become pregnant?”
“It can happen even at later ages in life. It’s a higher risk pregnancy but it can be done safely,” Bridget answered.
“She’s only doing this to get to you. The both of you. You know how she works. There is a reason she didn’t just have an abortion, and it’s definitely not because she wants to keep the child. What does Red say about this?”
“Not much, other than she promised me that she wouldn’t hurt her or the baby, and that no one else would. Proctor has even stronger feelings about it since she and the Red Right Hand have kind of taken Joan under their wing,” Vera said.
“She’s playing all of you. This is the perfect situation for her to seek the trust and protection of the other women. And the baby? Do you really think it’s going to have a normal life? Definitely not while in the prison, and not with that Freak as the mother. She destroys everyone she touches, so if I were you, I’d get that baby away from her once it’s born,” Franky said vehemently.
Franky forcefully pushed back her chair. Vera didn’t know what to say to her, completely taken aback by what she said.
“Where are you going?” Bridget called, going after Franky in the living room.
“Thank you for dinner Gidge, but I think I’ve lost my appetite. I’ll see you later. Goodnight Ms. Bennett.”
“Night,” Vera called out softly, frowning at her plate as she wondered if some of what Franky said was true.
Bridget sighed when she sat down. “I’m sorry about that. I didn’t think she’d react that strongly.”
“It’s okay. I guess I don’t blame her. Do you think what she said was true? Are we being used by Ferguson?”
Bridget’s eyes were sad. “I guess we can never really know, but I don’t believe so. At least, I don’t think she is right now. She’s in a very vulnerable state, and needs to feel supported no matter what.”
“I agree,” Vera said softly. She wondered though, if Joan really would be a healthy parent for her child. Would she do more harm than good?
She remembered the look in her eyes when she held up the picture of Jianna.
“I will annihilate you.” The look of rage and hate reminded her of just how vengeful Joan could be, and it worried her.
Walking down the corridors of Wentworth, she wasn’t sure why she was here instead of at home. It was late, and she should be in bed. Quietly she opened the door to Joan’s cell.
The older woman was lying on her side, gently touching her pregnant stomach which was even more noticeable with just the white long sleeve top. She slowly walked forward before she gently sat down on the bed.
She was yanked forward, falling onto the floor. The breath was knocked out of her, and she tried to breathe as she stared up at Joan. The sharp blade of a shiv scraped against her throat.
“It’s me!” She gasped. Joan was shaking slightly and breathing hard as she stared down at Vera.
“You really need to stop doing that!” She hissed.
“I’m sorry! I just… I wanted to see you,” she said, rubbing her neck. Joan moved off of her and sat on the bed, sighing deeply. She was still trembling and Vera touched her hand. She was happy when Joan curled her fingers around hers.
“You’re trembling. Do I need to put you into Protection?”
“No! You don’t need to do that. I have Kaz and the others here to help me. I just don’t trust many of the other women.”
“Are you sure? You’re starting to show more, Joan. You can’t hide this pregnancy anymore.”
“I know,” she said quietly. “Just please don’t put me into Protection… at least not yet. I don’t think I could stand the isolation.”
“I would come and see you, and Bridget too.”
“I appreciate that Vera, but it’s not enough. And you and I wouldn’t be able to have the same privacy.”
Vera understood she didn’t want to be isolated, but knew that being in Protection would be best for her and the baby. Could there be another reason why she was refusing to be put into Protection? No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t shake the nagging feeling she had.
Joan gasped, clutching her stomach.
“What’s wrong?” Vera asked, alarmed.
“I think the baby just kicked,” Joan said.
Vera moved her hand closer to her stomach. “May I?”
Joan stared into her eyes. “Of course,” she said as she took her hand and guided it to her stomach.
“This is the first time she’s kicked,” Joan said.
“She?” Vera asked, smiling when she felt a kick.
“Yes, I’m having a girl.”
“Are you happy it’s a girl?”
“I don’t know how to feel. The idea of even having a child is still a foreign concept to me.”
“I can only imagine,” Vera said softly.
Joan smiled gently, still holding Vera’s hand. She reached into her pillow case and pulled out a piece of paper.
“This is what she looks like now,” she said, handing Vera the picture of the sonogram.
Vera stared at the image of the baby in black and white, still strange to her that Joan was having a baby. But it made her feel warm and protective in a way that she didn’t think she would. She was ashamed for ever questioning her real intentions.
“Everything is going to be okay, Joan,” Vera said, squeezing her hand.
Joan stared at the sonogram, caressing the image gently with her thumb. “I hope so.”