It had been nearly three months since Bridget had disappeared from Franky’s life for good closing the door to her office along with any relationship the two had previously shared. She allowed herself to grieve the loss for one week before picking herself up and moving on. Because no one in prison cared if your heart had just been broken. And Franky knew better than to let them see her at her absolute weakest. Instead she buried the feelings of abandonment and loss deep down inside her and focused on trying to prove her innocence. Time softened the blow, but if she allowed herself too much time to dwell on the past, the feelings would bubble up again with a vengeance unlike anything she had ever known.
And so she moved on, just like Bridget had asked her to do. She didn’t attempt to call or write, knowing her efforts would not be returned. The psychologist was determined to leave her behind with every other teal-clad inmate and close that chapter of her life for good. It didn’t stop her from wondering where she was, how she was, even who she was with. Franky had always known that Bridget was too good for her.
She found that even after nearly a year on the outside, she fell back into prison rhythm like it had never left her. Routines were hard to break, and so she just let them happen. The only thing keeping her going most days was her H2 family. They hadn’t made her feel guilty for returning to them, instead they welcomed her back with open arms. Not a one of them murmured a single word of disappointment. She felt important again behind bars, like she actually was someone important, and not just another statistic. Her girls needed her.
So after three months of captivity, she’d finally resigned to her fate. No one was left to believe her innocence, and even Imogen recommended she change her plea. Without a leg to stand on, she began working with her on a plea bargain. Because even twenty-five years was better than the rest of her life.
Franky had been waiting in the phone queue to speak to her father for close to fifteen minutes. She longed for the days when she could just grab her mobile and reach him in a matter of seconds or shove her way into the front of the line with her top dog status. Now she had to make every word between them count. There was no time for comfortable silences anymore. She’d finally reached the phones and dialed his number that she’d now memorized by heart and waited for him to pick up after the standard ‘An inmate from Wentworth prison is attempting to reach you, to accept this call-’
“Hey, bub. How are you doing?” His deep voice finally broke through the phone line.
“Hey, dad I-” She froze when she saw the new influx of inmates being escorted down the corridor their wrists cuffed together in front of them. The veterans began to cat call the poor women who continued to walk with their eyes on the concrete. And there she was, in the middle of the row, shorter than all the rest of them. “Bridget?” She whispered in shock. Bloodshot blue eyes flashed up at the mention of her name and they locked on Franky’s face. She quickly ended the call with her father and followed the line down the hallway. “Bridget, what the fuck happened?” She walked in sync with the woman beside her. Bridget’s eyes had returned to the ground where they stayed firmly planted. She made no attempt to speak. “What’s going on?” Franky tried once more, reaching out to touch her shoulder.
“Get back, Doyle! These women are due in processing,” Linda Miles barked towards her. Franky took a few steps back, heeding the warning.
“Miles, please. Just give me-” She begged.
“Go before I slot you,” she warned. Franky stopped and held up her hands, admitting defeat.
What the fuck was happening?
Bridget wasn’t sure how she’d gotten gotten to the prison, let alone what day it was. They had all started to blur together after she’d quit and left Wentworth for good. It appeared fate had other ideas for her. Her headache was starting to make itself known as she gave the officer her information. She’d been stripped and searched and sent away to wait in a holding cell. She struggled to keep her head from nodding off to another dreamless sleep. When had she last slept? Looking down at the disheveled state of her clothes indicated it had been some time. The expensive silk had been stained down the front in deep purple color. When had that happened? She searched her limited memory to try to remember when the cell door was being opened and Vera Bennett had slipped inside.
“Bridget…” she whispered taking in the unkempt state of her. “I thought Will had been joking when he said you were being processed.”
“Surprise,” she slurred unceremoniously with a wave of her hand. “I guess I missed this place afterall.”
“They said you were booked for drunk driving… Bridget, what happened?” She stepped further into the room and took a seat beside Bridget on the bench. “Why didn’t you tell me you were struggling?”
“Because that worked so well the last time.” The alcohol in her veins was making it easy for her true thoughts to pour out of her mouth smoothly just like the wine.
“Your blood alcohol level was incredibly high. You’re lucky you weren’t hurt.” Vera changed the subject, not able to visit the painful memories of Jake’s treachery so soon after the knife had pierced her chest.
“Yes, I’m so lucky.” She mocked the Governor openly as she shook her head.
“Let’s get you something to eat and drink. We’ll keep you in protection.” Vera brought her hand to touch Bridget’s knee delivering a soft pat.
“I don’t need your special treatment.” Bridget pulled away from her touch. “Just give me a clean shirt and somewhere to sleep. And then leave me the fuck alone, Vera.” Silence fell upon the once friends. It appeared Vera had burned one of the only bridges she had ever managed to build. And all for a snake in a uniform. She stood and exited the cell.
“Is she alright?” Will asked from the other side.
“She’s incredibly drunk. She blew twice the legal limit when she was pulled over. It’s a wonder she didn’t hurt herself or anyone else for that matter.” Vera shook her head in disbelief.
“So what are we going to do? Hold her in protection until she sobers up?” Will had seen what positive changes Bridget had instilled in the women, but he had also seen them tear people to shreds for nothing more than stolen cigarettes.
“What do you mean?" Will did not understand. With Bridget’s calculated intelligence, he knew she’d understand the risks that she was facing.
“She refused to go into protection.” Vera rubbed her weary eyes. First Ferguson, now this. What more could she possibly endure?
“Vera they will eat her alive if they find out she’s here,” Will murmured quietly so the woman on the other side of the door could not hear them.
“I know that. We just need to think of something to do in the meantime.” Time, Vera thought, I just need some time to make this right.
“What about H2? They can keep an eye out for her,” Will offered.
“If I put her in a block with Doyle I might as well sign my resignation.” Will knew she was right. Although he’d never seen the two together on the outside, the connection between Franky and Bridget was an undeniable force. The women would see it to. If they put the two together it would be like putting the lion in the same cage with the lamb and praying things work out.
“So what are we going to do then?”
“Let’s keep her in a wet cell until we can figure something out. Can you deal with that while I try to find her a uniform?”
“They gave her one when they booked her.”
“It will still be too big, she’ll look like a child. She’d be even more at risk. I’ll find something.” Vera’s heels clicked down the hallway as she left.