Authors: Nicola Haken
Take My Hand
by Nicola Haken
Take My Hand
2013 Nicola Wall
This book is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places and events
are created from the author’s imagination, or used fictitiously. Any
resemblance to any actual events or people, living or dead, is entirely
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without
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Dedicated to my
wonderful mum and dad – for everything they do for me and my children.
We’d be lost without them.
fumbling for the alarm clock on my nightstand and then not being able to shut
the damn thing up, I threw the annoying piece of shit against the wall.
the hell was that?” squealed a voice behind me.
heavily, I rubbed at my closed eyes… as if that would make her disappear. But
guess what – it didn’t. I flickered them open slowly, grunting at the
too-bright daylight piercing my pupils. Then I took a hesitant glance to my
left and grudgingly made eye contact with the nameless and naked blonde.
need to leave now. I’ve gotta get to work,” I said, stealing one last glance at
her too-perfect, obviously plastic tits.
She was a clinger. I could tell by the way her eyes grew a little wider as they
stared at me all hurt and dolefully.
she answered hesitantly. “You’ll call me though right?”
I lied confidently. Yep, I was a complete jackass, but I had no idea how to
handle a crying chick and I was pretty sure I never wanted to. Blondie chomped
on her bottom lip as she smiled so wide the veins in her neck popped out. I
couldn’t help feel a little sorry for her. I’m not a
monster, and it was obvious this girl was gonna be experiencing some serious
disappointment in the not too distant future.
miss you,” she said after shimmying around wearing nothing but her perfume for
ten minutes while she gathered her clothes and girly shit and then teasingly
covered herself back up.
a stunner no question. It’s a shame sometimes that I can’t break my one night
only rule, despite how lonely my existence is at times. But it’s just too
risky. I can’t chance it going any further than sex. Women are interfering
creatures – they can’t help it, it’s in their nature. If I ever took it
further than one night they’d want to start getting to know me. They’d prod and
probe and ask a shit load of questions I’m not prepared to answer. And they
fall too easily. I mean take Blondie, she didn’t know I existed until twelve
hours ago and now she was gonna
me. That shit just doesn’t make
experience there are three different types of women (
of which come
with an insufferable need to pry), and I knew Blondie was the Marshmallow type
before I even spoke to her. Marshmallows are cute and fluffy on the outside but
essentially offer no sustenance. And they’re frivolous – easy to please.
It usually only takes a half-hearted smile and a compliment about their hair to
get them in the sack. They typically don’t have room in their heads for more
than one thought or emotion at a time therefore I don’t feel bad about using
them. Firstly, if they’re prepared to offer it, why the hell shouldn’t I take
it? And second, they may be able to flip the tears switch the minute I say I’m
not going to call, but chances are they’ll have forgotten all about me the
minute they pass a cute puppy on the street.
there’s the M & M’s – they’re pretty tough – hard to crack
without a good firm bite. They’re usually intelligent and need to be treated as
such. There’s no point in trying to sweet talk them, they can smell your game
four miles away. Therefore your intentions must be clear from the start. M
& M’s are probably my favorite kind, because more often than not you
actually get a pretty decent conversation before the actual fucking, and both
parties are in agreement that it’s just a bit of fun that’s going no further. Everyone’s
a winner. And I’m telling you, I’ve had my fair share of those babies melt in
my mouth and not in my hands.
have the Tootsie Pops. Tootsie’s are the most dangerous kind of woman there is
and I steer well clear at all costs. Tootsie’s are typically M & M’s but
with an added dash of compassion – it takes a hell of a lotta licks to
get their center but once you make it, they melt in the middle. They’re smart
but they also care too easily – foolishly. Once you’ve cracked that hard
shell, they want to love, and heal, and take care of you. They’re kind and
gentle and truly are capable of hurt and rejection, rather than the remarkable
ability to fake it like the Marshmallows. I won’t ever risk losing myself with
a Tootsie. I don’t want to be loved and healed and cared for.
wouldn’t deserve to have to try.
purposely didn’t respond to Blondie’s quite frankly ridiculous statement. I
didn’t want to lead her on
much. Instead I opened my mouth when she
bent down to kiss me goodbye and let her have one final taste. See? I’m not
bad. Then she jotted her number down on a piece of paper from her purse,
stood it in prime place in front of the strip lamp on my nightstand and left
with a smile I just knew wasn’t gonna last long.
crumpling the piece of paper I had no intentions of reading and tossing it in
the trash, I grudgingly hopped in the shower. Trying to shave in a hurry
resulted in three nicks with the blade and a whole host of cuss words. I think
I might’ve even invented a few new ones. I was tired and irritable and couldn’t
be assed going to work one bit. Stacking shelves was exhausting when you’d had
no more than an hour’s sleep the night before. Still, I’ve only got a few days
left seeing as lectures start next week. I applied the day after I arrived in
this country and it was only ever supposed to be a summer job. I’ll have to try
and find something else to slot in between studying and tending bar at The Blue
Apple soon though. One set of money coming in just isn’t enough and I’ll be
damned if I let my Aunt Sarah down.
home after my first shift of the day (which was just as boring and shitty as
expected) I threw a TV dinner in the microwave and planned to chill out for a
couple of hours before heading to The Blue Apple. Maybe I’d even have a decent
Or a nap.
Mick wants u in early. He said B here in 20.
Fuck. Fuckety fuck. An hour’s peace, is that too much to ask? Mick is a douche
of the highest order and if I didn’t need this job so bad I’d have told him
where to stick it the day after I started working for him. But I
need it, so I tossed a few forkfuls
of lasagna in my mouth (almost searing away any traces of taste buds in the
process), changed into my work gear and put on my game face for the night.
Then, after reluctantly straddling my Yamaha with an almighty huff as I
prepared to face the barbarous London traffic, I pulled out my cell.
Tell the dickwad I’m on my way
our gruelling nine hour drive I flopped backwards
onto the comfier than expected bed and closed my weary eyes.
“Emily Barton!” My best friend Rachel yelled
whilst throwing a pillow at my head. She only calls me by my birth name when
she means business. The rest of the time it’s ‘Em’ or more often than not ‘Ho’.
I jumped upright and let out a thoroughly peed off groan. “No time for that
shit. We need to explore!” she beamed. I forced a smile and then rolled my eyes
when she wheeled away.
Rachel is a paraplegic. She was involved in a
horrific car accident when her mum’s car veered off the road when she was just
two years old, resulting in severe spinal damage. She’s been in a wheelchair
ever since and never
complained about it - it’s never held her
back. In fact if it wasn’t for the two big wheels sticking out from either side
of her bum, you’d never know there was anything wrong with her. She’s fun,
loving, tattooed up to the eyeballs and has a mouth dirtier than a backstreet
“I need to call Chris and take a shower
before I do
,” I said through a jaw-splitting yawn. We had just
arrived at our new ground floor studio flat (aka tiniest maisonette you’ve ever
seen in your life) in Camden after completing what should’ve been a four hour
drive in just over nine – thanks to Rachel’s half-hourly smoke and
make-up touch-up breaks at every other motorway service station. Chris is my
brother. He worries about me like only an older brother can and so I promised
I’d call him the minute we got here. I missed him already. It wasn’t like we’d
never been a while without seeing each other before – but we’d never been
this far apart.
Rachel and I had finally flown our parents’
nests in Cheshire and were about to start our new lives as university
undergraduates here in the centre of London. I’ll be studying Psychology, while
Rachel’s opted for Fine Art – which I’m pretty sure would bore the crap
out of me. I still can’t believe I’m actually here. What’s more, I still can’t
believe I’m going to university. I detested school. I didn’t have any friends
other than Rachel and to be honest the thought of having to endure that
environment for another four years scares the crap out of me. But social status
is important to my mum and I want to finally do something,
something to make her proud of me. I want her to be able to
boast about me to her posh friends and tell me how well I’ve done for once in
my life. So for her, I can do this. I
To say my parents are strict is a severe
understatement and before this move I had never even been allowed to go into
the local town centre unaccompanied – hence the lack of friends at
school. I’ve often wondered if they were overprotective, or if it was just my
mum’s way of punishing me.
My dad wasn’t happy about me leaving and he
never would be (I’m pretty sure my mum couldn’t care less). He’s not a man of
many words – doesn’t really
easily, but I’ve always known he loves me. It’s there in the looks he gives me,
the simple rubs on the head when I walk by… So anyway, thanks to some not so
subtle bulldozing by Rachel I found the courage to stand my ground, and here I
I’m nineteen years old and I want to start
living. I want to see things and do things that I’ve only ever been able to
dream about. That’s why Rachel devised my ‘New Life’ list. She drew it up on a
computer and even went to the trouble of laminating it! There are fifty steps
which I have to tick off during our first year here and then depending on how
‘normal’ (her word) I am after that, she’ll decide if it needs adding to. Some
of them are just ridiculous. Take Number 34 for example:
Midnight skinny dipping on
I mean, seriously? Or how about Number 18:
Have sex at least four times
in one night. Same partner optional.
That one is just… disturbing. Yet also describes Rachel down to a tee. I
have only one experience with the S word that I’m in no particular hurry to
repeat. I’d been secretly seeing this guy called Rhys (or studying with Rachel
if my parents ever ask) for six months last year and to be honest I got tired
of him practically begging on his hands and knees so I gave in. It was messy,
clumsy and hurt like hell, and the real stinger was Rhys dumped me a week
According to Rachel I just need to ‘break myself in’ and apparently the
only way I can do that is by forcing myself to do it more often. But in all
honesty, I’d rather sit in front of the telly with a giant bag of Minstrels
watching True Blood repeats until I fall asleep on the couch.
“Right come on, Ho. Time to hit the town and cross off number one!”
Shoving my makeup bag in my face, Rachel grinned devilishly at me the second I
stepped out of the shower.
“Tonight? Oh come on, Rach I’m knackered. We’ve been travelling
I groaned. Even if I hadn’t been more than a little apprehensive about getting
drunk for the first time, I just didn’t think I had the energy. All I wanted
was to be wrapped up in bed, Kindle in one hand and chocolate in the other.
“Yes tonight. We’ve only got a few days to fit the good stuff in before
classes start. So stop being a miserable bitch and make yourself look
” How the hell would I know what ‘fuckable’ looked
“Like, wear something that shows a bit of flesh, stuff some tissue in
your bra to bulk out those bee stings of yours, straighten your hair… that kind
of thing,” she clarified.
Not much then.
She might as well have just
called me a munter to my face. My boobs aren’t
small. I like to
think I’m packing a decent sized handful. Just because the weight of hers would
make her topple over if she wasn’t in a chair… “Come on, I’ll help you.”
Fixing my most contrived smile in place, I followed Rachel into her bedroom.
We didn’t even bother to look through my clothes seeing as the only flesh I’d
ever braved baring was my forearms. So instead we raided Rachel’s stuff, which
unsurprisingly was still stuffed in crumpled balls inside her suitcases.
I spent an hour parading around the apartment, giving Rachel her own
personal fashion show. We are the same dress size, although Rachel tends to buy
from the petite section given the fact being in a wheelchair makes her
essentially shorter, so the dresses she made me try on rode so high up my
thighs I might as well have just worn a belt.
“Right that’s it. I’m not wearing a dress. I look ridiculous,” I
muttered sulkily – pouting my lips, crossing my arms and everything else
that a stroppy twelve year old should do.
“If by ridiculous you mean hot, then yes you look totally fucking
ridiculous.” I rolled my eyes at her and began the fiddly task of unzipping the
back of my dress.
“I’m wearing pants. End of.”
“You’ll never get laid wearing pants, Ho.”
“Maybe I don’t want to get laid!”
“So what you’re saying is, you want to grow old and wrinkly all alone,
stepping in pools of cat piss round every corner and scaring away any kids that
pass by your house?”
Oh my God… I was so on the road to becoming a cat lady. I might as well
roll over and die right now.
“Fine. But I’ll only wear one that reaches my knees,” I caved, sighing
heavily. What on God’s green earth was I thinking letting her conjure up my New
Life List? I guess I assumed she was either joking, or would forget all about
it by the time we got here. How dumb was I?
“There’s my girl.” Rachel winked at me and wheeled herself back into her
bedroom to gather some more selections.
After another hour I’d reluctantly settled on a strapless black dress
that showed too much of my non-existent cleavage and rested just a
above my knees. Then I sat on the floor Buddha-style while Rachel teased my red
hair into bouncy curls with her tongues – even though my hair was
naturally curly anyway - before applying a smattering of natural makeup the
best I knew how.
“Damn, Ho. I think even
want to fuck you a little bit,” Rachel
teased as she eyed my finished look up and down. I smiled appreciatively, even
though I knew she was probably exaggerating. But seeing as though neither of us
thought to bring a mirror bigger than a compact with us, I had to take her word
for it. “So I’m thinking we grab a taxi into the town centre and take it from
“Sure,” I replied passively, suddenly nervous that she was
to make me get wasted. Maybe I could tip my drinks in a flowerpot and just
pretend. It can’t be
difficult. I’ve seen a thousand drunk people
on TV, not to mention the countless times Rachel had rolled into my bedroom
(excuse the pun) inebriated to the point she couldn’t remember her own name
while my parents were away.
After Googling local taxi companies on my phone I rang one up and asked
for a wheelchair accessible car to pick us up. Too soon we were inside it and
travelling into the unknown. I kept telling myself I was nineteen years old and
this was what normal nineteen year olds did. And that’s what I wanted wasn’t
it? To be ‘normal’. So why was I crapping myself?
The nicest taxi driver I had ever met helped Rachel out of the car after
spending our five minute long journey filling us in on Camden’s nightlife
hotspots. Rachel’s eyes were wide and mischievous as she made a mental note of
all the places she planned to drag me to. I swear I had never wanted to slap
her so badly.
Grateful for his friendliness and assistance with Rachel’s chair I
rounded the taxi fare up a few pounds and closed the car door behind me. It
seemed even taxis down here were three times the price. What gives with that?
“We’ll start with a pub… ease you in gently,” Rachel suggested, rubbing
her hands together. “How about that one?” she asked, pointing towards a fairly
small white building that was more window than brick.
“Might as well,” I agreed seeing as it was right in front of us. Then I
swallowed the nervous bile clawing its way up my throat and grudgingly followed
Rachel’s lead into The Blue Apple.