Vera returned back to her office, not looking forward to the amount of paperwork she had to do. It never ended. New prisoners for each block, requests for parole hearings, endless reports, and all of this while being watched under a microscope by the board. They were happy with the changes she suggested, but at the same time she still lived in Joan’s shadow. Her presence as Governor lingered in this office, no matter how much she tried to fix it up to make it more her own. There was so much riding on her shoulders at the moment, and she wanted nothing more than to just be good at her job.
She knew Joan wanted to be reinstated, but she was having a hard time accepting that. Vera believed the new programs she implemented worked for the good of the women. Joan would never understand that or appreciate her ideas.
Perhaps she was getting too ahead of herself. Joan hadn’t yet been released from prison, and while that would be happening soon, she still hasn’t had her baby yet. Vera sighed, thinking about how Joan was a few days ago. Kneeling on the floor and nauseous from anxiety. When she’d looked at her, she saw nothing but betrayal in her eyes, followed by fear and pain. Vera knew she had failed her.
Why am I so worried about the future of my position, when I didn’t protect her?
She rubbed her forehead, hearing a knock at her door.
“Smith is here to see you, Governor.”
“Thank you. Please come in, Smith.”
Bea’s eyes had a fire in them that Vera had seen before. She knew she was gearing up for a fight, and she had a feeling she knew what it was about. Vera was so tired from it all. Some days she really didn’t want to keep doing this.
“So that’s it, eh? She just walks free. After everything she’s done and gotten away with. After everything she did to me, Franky, Jodie, Fletcher, and you too. She set this whole prison on fire because she’s a psycho, and you’re just going to let her out?”
Vera sighed. “It’s not my decision. The court didn’t have enough evidence or witnesses to prove that she was involved in any foul play. All they see is she saved someone’s child and had a bit of a mental breakdown after the fire.”
“I could have been a witness!” Bea exclaimed. Vera knew this to be true, but she decided that the only way Joan could get out of prison, was to make sure that she was in the clear with very little witnesses. She knew Joan had something to do with Jesper not showing up at the trial, even if she never admitted it to her. Vera knew it was wrong, but she had feelings for her. Those feelings grew deeper every day, and she couldn’t allow Joan and her child to suffer.
“Smith, I know you’re frustrated, but just let it go. Her trial is over, and she’s going to be very busy for a few months. I’m still Governor, and it’s going to stay that way unless they demote me.”
Bea bit her lip. “All right… if you say so, but why do I have a bad feeling about this?”
Vera shrugged. “Maybe because we’re not used to things being normal around here.”
Joan breathed deeply as she walked through the exit door. She was finally free, and it felt strange to her to get what she wanted. It was beautiful weather today, and very quiet. Almost too quiet. She wasn’t sure why that bothered her, and she felt an odd sense of déjà vu. She didn’t get those feelings often but this one made her hands tremble. She couldn’t explain why, and she immediately tensed when the door opened behind her.
She relaxed as Vera walked out, shielding her eyes from the sun. “Do you need a ride home?”
She sounded shy and unsure of herself. Joan smiled a little. “If you don’t mind, I would appreciate it. You know I don’t have… many friends,” she said quietly.
“I know,” Vera said, opening the door for her and slowly helping her inside. Joan felt so awkward trying to put her seat belt over her huge belly, and Vera quickly took the seat belt from her. “Let me do it.”
Joan breathed softly as she felt Vera gently pull the seat belt over her stomach, brushing the side of her hip as she buckled her in. “Okay, you’re all set.”
“Thank you,” Joan murmured.
She hadn’t been to her house in such a long time, that she felt both excited and anxious about it. “I don’t have anything for the baby at home.”
“I brought some stuff with me. We can get more.”
“I’ll have to get a bigger place for her, and make sure that everything is--”
“Joan, let’s just get you home first okay? We don’t need to worry about everything right now. We can get a crib for your bedroom so she can sleep in there with you.”
Joan nodded, realizing that this would be the norm for her soon. She rolled her eyes when she couldn’t get out of the car. “I need help,” she said flatly.
Vera snickered and gently pulled her up, and Joan accidentally bumped into her, causing Vera to hold onto her. “You really are a little thing, aren’t you?” She smirked.
Vera blushed, and stepped back. “I’ll help bring everything inside. I should go to the store later, don’t you think? So you can have something to eat.”
“You don’t have to do that. I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself.”
Joan knew her tone sounded snippy and she could see some of the hurt in Vera’s eyes. She nodded. “You’re right, I shouldn’t have assumed. I just wanted to help because you were just released, and I’m just trying to make things an easier transition for you.”
Joan’s eyes softened. “I understand what you’re trying to do. I’m sorry, I was too harsh. I’m a little tired actually, and maybe it would be best if you go to the store. All of this is a little overwhelming to me right now, and I could definitely use the solitude here.”
“Do you want me to just pick up a few things for you and then leave you alone?”
“I don’t know. I want to be alone, but I also don’t want to be. Does that make sense?”
“Yes, it does,” Vera said quietly.
Joan watched as Vera made a list of things to buy, and then she was finally alone in her home for the first time in months. She looked at her music collection, and sighed in relief. She played a soft melody. One that was calming and relaxing for her, and also for the baby. She touched the books in her living room, and turned to find the picture of her and her father together. She was just a young girl then, and who knew that she’d be where she is now. She tried to imagine what kind of grandfather he would have been. If he would have even wanted grandchildren. Would he be as disappointed in her about this like he was about everything else? She could almost hear his voice again.
“Emotion leads to mistakes.”
She couldn’t do the same to her child. Her life would not be perfect, but she’d do everything in her power to make sure she didn’t become her father.
She laid down on her couch, noticing that it didn’t exactly feel as comfortable as it once did. She looked up towards her bedroom and began a slow trek upstairs. She already knew where she could place a crib, but she was too tired to keep focusing on anything else. She laid on her side, stroking her belly and wincing at the kick she felt.
“You don’t want to take a nap, huh?” She gently kept stroking her stomach, listening to the classical music that played softly through the house. Her eyelids were growing heavy, and she allowed herself to finally relax.
Opening her eyes, she blinked softly in the darkness. Joan didn’t know how long she’d slept for, and she turned her head to look at the time. As she did so, she almost gasped when she saw Vera sound asleep next to her. She was close to Joan with her knees bent, her hand close to Joan’s on the pillow.
She smiled tenderly as Vera slept, watching her in ways she wasn’t able to at the prison. In her home, Vera didn’t have all the stress and strain of the day on her face, and she could sleep through the night if she wanted, without the fear of others finding out. Joan lifted her hand to gently run her fingers through Vera’s hair, and rested her hand on her hip, gently stroking the skin under her shirt. She loved the softness of her skin, the intimacy they enjoyed in prison as she explored her body. And now, she was here all to herself. Joan reached up to cup her breast, gently tweaking the nipple. Vera sighed softly, and moved closer to Joan. She caressed her breast again and moved her hand to wrap around her waist. She tried as best she could to hold her with her large belly, and this time Vera blinked slowly and looked up at her.
“Hi,” she said groggily.
“Hello, Vera,” Joan whispered, looking into her eyes.
It was hard to see in the darkness, but Joan’s eyes had already adjusted to the dark outlines of Vera’s face. They didn’t say anything for a few seconds, and Joan slowly rubbed her hip. “Is this too real for you now?” She asked quietly.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, now that I’m out of Wentworth. You’re in my house, in my bed with me. It’s just us, and no one to interrupt us, and no one to hide our relationship from.”
“It is a little surreal but I meant what I said not too long ago. I’ll always be here for you, no matter what happens.”
Joan was half expecting Vera to say she was done, that she no longer wanted to be involved with her. Vera walked away from her once before, and she was happy that she wasn’t doing that again.
“I do care. I always have, and I always will,” Joan said, her voice shaky with emotion as she squeezed Vera’s hand. It was the closest she could get to saying she loved her, and she relaxed when Vera gently kissed her lips.
“I know. Me too.”