Joan was very good at eavesdropping. She had a lot of time on her hands in the prison, and listening to Jake tell her how interesting she was elevated her ego a little bit. It wasn’t very often that people didn’t look at her with mistrust and disdain. While Kaz and her crew were different, it was still not exactly the same with them. They were lower in the hierarchy compared to the rest of the prisoners. But she did admit that Kaz seemed to be the most ideal to challenge Smith for Top Dog. She wondered just how long the Queen Bea could go in here before she fell down from the top.
She shook her head back to the present and observed Jake’s agitation. She smiled smugly. It didn’t take long for Jake to show her more of his true self, especially in a desperate situation. She didn’t feel sorry for him, especially not since he was a drug dealer. He was no different than the other criminals in the prison, and while she didn’t like his new fascination with Vera, she knew she could use what was happening to her advantage. His frustration and veiled hints about needing money were not lost on her.
“They’re gonna kill me,” he said, quite pathetically actually. “Fuck!”
“Well, if it’s just about money, then that’s something I’ve got plenty of. I could get a lawyer to transfer it in a matter of minutes. How much do you need?” He would take the bribe because he had no other choice. This would be what cleared her, and what would ensure the safety of her child.
He stared at her with a bit of a dumbfounded look on his face. “Ninety grand.”
“Hmm,” she said, nodding her head in approval.
“What do I have to do for it?”
Joan smiled, and gently caressed her pregnant belly. Jake taking care of Jesper was exactly what she needed for her trial. She’d be getting out in just a few days. It was nice to be out of the standard teal, and in suitable maternity clothing. But even that was strange to her. She couldn’t just wear any of her old clothes, she had to find suitable ones that would fit her.
She stepped outside the van as she stood before the prison. Things were all finally coming into place. Vera stood by the gate, observing her with a confused and concerned expression. Joan wondered why she had that look on her face.
“How did you do it?” Vera asked quietly.
Joan lifted her brow. “You needn’t worry about that, Governor.”
Vera sighed and rolled her eyes. “You have a visitor.”
“I’m not in the mood for any visitors. I have more important things to do.”
“I think you’ll want to see this one,” Vera said seriously.
Something about Vera’s tone made her curious, but she could also detect worry in her voice and in her eyes. Joan spoke to her quietly. “Who is it?”
Joan walked into a room, and sat quietly. She never wanted to be in the visitors room with the rest of the inmates. As the door opened, her heart stopped beating for a few seconds, and she could have sworn all the blood drained from her face.
“Hello, Joan. It’s nice to see you again.”
“Dr. Foster,” she said cautiously.
She hadn’t seen him since she left the psychiatric hospital, and thought she’d never see him again. Her heart beat faster with anxiety, and her hands felt cool and clammy. A strange reaction that she hadn’t expected to have.
Why did Vera let him in here?! Didn’t she remember who he was?
“Why are you here?”
“I don’t mean any harm, Joan.”
“Is that so? I find that very hard to believe,” she said icily.
“I know you didn’t leave my care in the best of terms, but--”
“Your care was nothing more than an easy way to prey on others. You’re lucky that you got away with my silence. There are so many like you that deserve to be punished. Why. Are. You. Here?”
He stared at her with that same gentle and empathetic look, the one that she fell for in the beginning. That she trusted…
“I saw you on the television, and couldn’t help but notice that you’re pregnant.”
Her heart beat faster, and she swallowed back the bile that was building. “I don’t have a very long time for visitation, so I suggest you get to the point and stop wasting my time.” She wanted to intimidate him, just like she did before with blackmail. She wanted to get into his face again and tell him that he fucked the wrong lunatic, and he shouldn’t ever forget it.
“I just wanted to know, is it mine?”
The possessive phrase referring to her child, as if he had any right to be part of her life made her blood boil. She bit her tongue and tried to control her temper.
“No, this child, my child has nothing to do with you. Especially if you want to keep your career,” she whispered.
He nodded, licking his lips and looked at her with mild sympathy. “Joan, I’m still unsure why you think what happened was taking advantage of you. I was pretty sure that you didn’t have a problem with it at the time.”
It took everything she had not to strangle him, and she looked down for a few seconds. She was angry, so angry that she didn’t know how much longer she could take this. But there was also a strange feeling of sadness and guilt, and she didn’t know why. Her eyes stung, and she bit her tongue harder to stop the tears. She tasted blood, and dug her nails into her thighs.
I won’t cry. I won’t ever cry in front of him again.
“You and I both know that what you did was abuse. I was vulnerable, and drugged. You took advantage of me and raped me. The only thing I regret is that the selfish part of me kept your secret in order to save myself.” She stood up, and slowly leaned down and whispered in his ear. “You can’t harm me anymore, and if you ever come near me or my child again, I’ll make you wish you were dead. Do I make myself clear?”
“Crystal,” he muttered.
“Officer!” She yelled, quickly stepping out the door. “Take me back to my unit.”
When she walked into her cell, she paused and stared at everything that she accumulated here. Books, magazines, news articles. Her eyes lingered on the new baby clothes and toys that Vera gave to her.
She slowly turned towards the mirror. Her face pale, she felt sick and gagged, quickly moving down to the toilet.
Joan vomited, breathing heavily as she knelt on the floor. It wasn’t comfortable at this stage, but she didn’t know what else to do. She vomited again, and shivered. A hand gently brushed through her hair, and she sighed. “Please Kaz, just leave me in peace.”
“Joan, it’s me,” Vera said gently.
Joan took a few deep breaths. “I don’t want you here,” she said angrily.
“Please, you’re sick. Let me take care of you.”
Joan lifted her head to meet her gaze. “Like you took care of me earlier? What possessed you to let him visit me? You had no right!” She moved to sit on the bed, needing to keep some distance from Vera.
“I didn’t know what to do, and I was afraid if you didn’t know he tried to visit you, that he might try again at a later time.”
“That’s a lame excuse,” she said bitterly. “If I had known it was him, I would have refused.”
“Everyone knew you were pregnant on TV. He knew that, you know he did.”
“Of course he did!” She snapped.
“I was just--I was afraid that if I refused, he would want to come and see you and the baby. And then I was afraid, if that happened, he’d want visitation or custody.”
“He won’t ever get custody. He won’t ever be able to see her. You should have told me, but then again you were always a disappointment, weren’t you?”
Vera pursed her lips. “Joan, I just panicked, I’m sorry.”
“How do you think I felt when I walked through those doors? I had no idea who it was. I had no way to stop the memories of that time. It was as if I was back there in that hospital. How could you do that?”
“I-I’m sorry, I was just trying to figure out what to do!”
“Leave,” she said quietly.
“Vera, I want you to leave.”
She wouldn’t make eye contact with her, and sighed when Vera knelt down in front of her. She was on her knees, pressing her lips against her hands. “Please don’t make me leave. I’m so sorry, I should have known better.” Joan’s breath was shaky as she gazed down at her.
“Yes, you should have,” she said tightly, trying to swallow the lump in her throat.
Vera tenderly kissed her knuckles. “Can you forgive me?”
Joan pulled her closer, lifted her hand to cup her cheek, and lowered her hand over her throat. She slowly unbuttoned Vera’s shirt and dragged her fingernail across the collarbone, feeling Vera shiver when she slowly brought her nail down to her cleavage.
She was so angry and hurt, but couldn’t bear to lose Vera. The younger woman was stupid and naive, but…
I think I love her.
Joan looked into her pleading eyes and hugged her close, pressing her cheek to her breast. She sighed when Vera wrapped her arms around her, and kissed her forehead.
“I forgive you,” Joan cried as she finally let the tears come.