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Pamela123
18:56:07 Fri
May 7 2004

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Starting afresh -Part 1, a new fic a new character

Okays not anotherJamie and Rachel fic,I'm afraid but a new character for Jamie and a bit darker too....

Starting Afresh part 1
The lift doors tried to close for the second time and Nicky cursed as she struggled to free the buggy wheel from the gap between the lift floor and the passageway. Four bags of shopping hung off the handles of the pram and helped to make it even harder to negotiate with the buggy.

Then a moment later and with no warning, it was lifted clear by the hands of a stranger and she turned to stare into the eyes of a young man who had manoeuvred the cumbersome buggy onto the landing. Without words he walked past her and into the lift. She turned again but before she could say thank-you the lift doors had closed and he was gone. She was conscious of a fleeting glance from him as the doors met, and was struck by his incredibly clear blue eyes.

She rang the bell at the first door on the left and a few seconds later it was opened by an old woman, who smiled broadly when she saw who it was and quickly leaned forward to release the little girl who was now squirming to climb out of the buggy, her arms outstretched towards the grey haired woman.

“Princess!! come to nanny” and she scooped up the little girl and carried her inside.

Nicky frowned “ hey how about me Gran I thought I was your Princess?”
“ You still are love” replied the old woman from somewhere inside the flat “don’t worry, but little Clare is summat special you know that “
Nicky smiled and pushed the buggy into the flat, this was already beginning to feel like home, perhaps moving in with Nan wasn’t going to be too bad after all……..

The man in the lift leaned back against the metal walls and closed his eyes momentarily, and then he reached into his denim jacket pocket and pulled out a packet of cigarettes and lit one. As the lift reached the ground floor he was still drawing on it as the doors opened. An older man stepped back to allow the younger to leave but muttered under his breath as they passed “People shouldn’t smoke in the lifts, says so in the Tenancy regulations”
The younger man was already out of the double doors but smiled to himself and then turning his collar up against the rain that was now pelting down, headed off across the barren landscape of pitted tarmac and broken glass that surrounded the tower block.

Nicky was standing at the large picture window that stretched almost the whole width of the flat, and noticed the young man walk into her view. She turned to her Gran, “I got stuck in the lift doors again today but a man helped me out, does he live on this floor? “
“Depends, what does he look like? “ replied her Nan distracted by Clare’s attempt to unravel her clip from her hair
“That guy down there” Nicky nodded in the direction of the young man, just about recognisable from eight floors up. Madge casually glanced down through the window at the man, he was now almost out of view as he headed towards the underground car park. Then turning she said
“Yeah he lives across the corridor, not that you’d notice. He’s as quiet as a mouse, never has any visitors, well apart from the same guy fairly regularly, but don’t think he’s family, doesn’t play his music loud, not that I’d hear it over the noise of those kids upstairs, but I think he has a job, seems to come and go regular like.”
Nicky laughed, “Do you know everything about everyone in this building?”
“I like to know who I’m sharing a roof with, that’s all” added Madge smiling, then pursing her lips she stared once more at the man, “In fact …thinking about it, not even sure we’ve exchanged hellos” she turned and went into the kitchen,” wanna drink luv? I’ll help with Clare’s tea in a minute.”
“Has he lived here long?” asked Nicky, still following the now tiny figure below, “and don’t worry I’ll get it, I haven’t moved in here for you to look after us both, I’m here to help you remember”
“Moved in a couple of months after me last year, but like I said he’s really quiet, guess he likes keeping himself to himself.” Madge continued.
“So he has the whole flat to himself? No girlfriend or kids? “Continued Nicky
“If he has he smuggles them in inside the asda shopping bags love, never seen anyone else with him, except like I said -just this one guy who visits about once every couple of months, figured it was some kind of collector perhaps the catalogue guy,
“Gran I thought you’d have interrogated him by now!” added Nicky mischievously
Madge smiled,” anyways why the interest; thought you were off all men; fish fingers or sausages?”
Nicky reluctantly watched him disappear from sight then turned away from the window, “ pasta and I’ll cook it, now sit down and let me help!”

A couple of days later Nicky was queuing in the chip shop trying to work out how much cod and chips with onion rings would cost for three when she realised the man in front of her in the queue was the mysterious neighbour. He was wearing the denim jacket again and a pair of chinos, and she found herself studying him in the smallest detail, well his back anyway. He had shortish hair cut into spikes at the top, which tapered onto his neck. His shoulders were broad and he was taller than her, probably by about 4 or 5 inches. He had a small sports bag slung over his shoulder and he was half leaning on the counter. Once he paid for his pie, he turned and headed for the door. Nicky reached out and raised her hand slightly, trying to get his attention; he looked up, and then immediately looked away. Nicky faltered slightly, was he ignoring her? She smiled nervously and in what seemed a surprisingly small voice said, “Hello again”, she caught his eye but for a moment it seemed as if he was going to carry on and walk straight past her, but then at the last moment he stopped and turned, Nicky persevered “Hello, just wanted to say thanks for the other day, that lifts got me three times now, probably still be there if you hadn’t helped.” She added smiling. He looked down at the floor, he seemed even more nervous then her, but then in a low soft voice and still not making eye contact he replied, ” its ok, no big thing“ then he was gone and the shop door banged close behind him.

Nicky sighed, wow the guy really was a loner, then turning back she said “How much? Err can you make that 2 fish and three lots of chips, ….”
Jamie sighed a he waited for the lift, the pie now making the thin paper bag soggy in his hands. He looked back over his shoulder when the main doors swung open noisily behind him but it wasn’t her, just a couple of kids their skateboards tucked under their arms. He turned back and at that moment the lift arrived and he walked in. He wasn’t sure why but he felt disappointed. But why? He’d spent the last few years purposely not talking to people, avoiding small talk at all costs…so why was he now slightly disappointed that she wasn’t sharing the lift with him to the 8th floor?

Jamie spotted the girl several times over the next few weeks, sometimes by herself, sometimes with a little girl in a pushchair, once he saw all three of them, hurrying across the playground as a couple of the pack dogs that now roamed the estate fought in a corner by the broken swings. She must have moved in with the old lady, and the little girl was obviously hers, she looked about 4 maybe 5, then his mind raced back across the years, to another kid, and another bleak estate and he shivered.

  
looloo2
20:21:51 Fri
May 7 2004

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Re: Starting afresh -Part 1, a new fic a new character

Can't wait for the next instalment - another winner Pamela.

  
RachelA
20:29:26 Fri
May 7 2004

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Re: Starting afresh -Part 1, a new fic a new character

sounding good so far.. it's been ages since we had some fics to read... :smile:



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honeybee_oz
12:01:05 Sat
May 8 2004

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Re: Starting afresh -Part 1, a new fic a new character

this is a good story pam
keep it up
can't wait for the next part



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Trollop
07:55:51 Mon
May 10 2004

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Re: Starting afresh -Part 1, a new fic a new character

Yay Pamela - excellent start. I see you've been putting your sick leave to good use :biggrin:

  
stella_28
11:33:00 Mon
May 10 2004

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Re: Starting afresh -Part 1, a new fic a new character

Come on, Pam! Next bit!

But: why do you always give him blue eyes? I think they're more greyish....

Wish I could write like that....

  
Pamela123
13:23:38 Mon
May 10 2004

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Re: Starting afresh -Part 1, a new fic a new character

you might be right! I'm probably colour blind

  
KateM
13:32:43 Mon
May 10 2004

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Re: Starting afresh -Part 1, a new fic a new character

This is excellent Pamela, another award winner. Cant wait for the next instalment.

  
Pamela123
17:13:45 Mon
May 10 2004

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Re: Starting afresh -Part 1, a new fic a new character


Part 2

That Friday Nicky spent rather too much of the day queuing in the Housing office trying to sort out her formal move to share the flat with her Gran, there were papers to sign, housing benefit to sort, and the continual problem with extra keys being issued. She’d been there 5 weeks now and they still only had one set of keys, which they shared between them, always making sure one was home when the other was due. Finally after what seemed an endless wait she was issued with the revised tenancy book and a new set of keys. She called her Nan on the phone to tell her the good news.
Madge replied “That’s good love, I promised I’d meet Joan down the social club this afternoon if you got it sorted, you sure you don’t want me to wait?
“Nah its okay Nan I’ve got the keys now, you go off and have a good time, I hear those whist drives are hunk heavens….”
Madge ‘s laughter could be heard down the phone and Nicky smiled.

She stopped off in town to pick a few more things up for the fridge and treated Clare to a small milkshake from Maccy D’s before returning back to Mandela Towers
Then after successfully negotiating the lift doors she finally unhooked all the bags and unclipped Clare’s restrainer as she struggled with the keys to the flat. She tried both, neither worked, she cursed and tried them again, then checking her watch phoned the housing office, Clare was now pushing the buggy up and down the landing giggling with joy as she crashed it against the walls.
“These cant be the right keys, I don’t care what they say on the tag they don’t fit the locks” she practically shouted down the phone to some nameless official
“What do you mean you’re closing now how am I supposed to get in?
“Well yes she does have a set but she’s not…no ….wait…bugger”
She flipped the phone closed and leaned against the door of the flat.
She didn’t have time to get back to the housing office before they closed, she would just have to wait for Madge to get back.
Twenty minutes later Clare was getting fidgety, she’d got bored with crashing the buggy, and playing with the lift buttons. Now she tottered over to her Mum “Need toilet mummy”
Nicky who was now sitting on the floor against the door to the flat turned and nodded her head
“I know princess but we can’t get in till grandma gets back”
“Need wee wee now” replied Clare and for dramatic effect clutched at the crotch of her dungarees.
Nicky frowned as she nodded,” I know, but Mummy can’t sort it yet”
Clare now started jumping up and down ”wee wee wee wee”
Nicky sighed but just then the lift squealed into action and a few seconds later the doors opened and out stepped their mysterious neighbour.

Nicky didn’t really have time to think, he was already at his door, key in hand, again trying his best to ignore the human debris on the landing despite Clares shouts of “wee wee wee wee”
Nicky jumped up and almost ran to his door
“Excuse me”…., the door was closing
“Excuse me could you help”
The door opened a little then he stepped out and stared at her
“I’m sorry, my Nan’s gone out and these stupid keys don’t work and Clare is desperate for the loo…I wouldn’t normally ask but she doesn’t understand why we cant get into the flat…and she’s really desperate for the toilet, kids, they just cant wait..”
He blinked then dropping his shoulder slightly he shrugged;” sure,” he held the door open as they squeezed into his hall. Nicky then ran back to collect the rest of her shopping and the buggy.
“Thanks “ replied Nicky smiling
“ Its through there” he said nodding towards one of the doors down the hall,
A few minutes later Nicky reappeared in the hall now holding the hand of Clare who had in fact failed to ‘wee wee’ at all…flipping typical.
The front door was still open but there was no sign of the man, Nicky looked down the corridor and nervously called out “Errr thanks again”
He came out from the kitchen,
“That’s ok, will you be alright now?” he asked
“Yeah I’m sure my Nan wont be long, we’ll just go back and wait for her” Nicky replied
He paused for a few seconds, “I guess you could wait here,?”
“Really? That would be great, but are you sure you don’t mind?”
He nodded, “no, its ok,” and he led them through to his lounge.
Nicky gasped silently, almost every inch of the walls was covered in pictures, landscapes, portraits, still life’s. One wall was completely filled with small incredibly intricate line drawings of cityscapes, each tiny detail drawn with delicate lines. By the large window was a table groaning underneath a selection of paint pots and tubs of brushes, and pots of pens and pencils; a half finished work propped up against a home-made support.
She was conscious of staring so recovered herself and turned to face him, “
I’m Nicky by the way,” for the first time he smiled directly at her,
“ Hi I’m, …”-a slight hesitation, “-……. I’m Paul. “ said Jamie
“Well thanks again for helping us out Paul “replied Nicky
Clare had spotted the paints and assuming it was just a rather small nursery class had run over to the table and was already reaching up for one of the long brushes poking out of a pot.
“Clare no !” shouted Nicky reaching out to hold back her little hands.
Jamie smiled again and Nicky felt a flutter in her heart….
“Don’t worry I have lots” and he reached down under the table and after sorting through a few sheets of paper stood back up holding a large clean sheet
Then he quickly moved his half-finished work and replaced it with the clean paper.
“Come and sit up here” he beckoned to Clare who giggled and quickly did as she was told, He carefully sorted her several small pots of watered down paint and then disappeared into another room returned clutching a largish shirt, “here. …Better protect her clothes.”
Nicky watched him intrigued, his voice was soft, but his accent didn’t seem local, it was…well there was a trace of an accent there, and most definitely northern but much softer than hers, more diluted. He sounded like someone who had been away for a long long time, Nicky’s curiosity was growing but something about his manner made her hold back.
“Would you like a drink?” He asked her, breaking her inot her thoughts
“That would be great, if you don’t mind”, he shrugged again but this time it was accompanied by a smile and she followed him into the kitchen.
It was very bare, hardly anything on show, just another small collection of paint pots sitting on the draining board and unlike the main room, nothing on the walls except one small calendar but there were no entries on it, it was completely bare. He opened the cupboard; there were just two mugs and a small jar of coffee.

A few minutes later and she was back in his lounge cradling a warm cup of coffee.
“These pictures are fantastic, you’ve done them all?”
He shrugged again “Yeah”
“You an artist?”
He laughed, “well I like drawing and painting, but made the mistake of telling the careers people that so I ended up working in a Car body shop, spraying cars…figured that was the closest they could get me to being an artist!”
Nicky smiled too, “you work locally? “
“Yeah just across the park, I work for the local bus company now, respraying all the buses when they scrape half their paint off on other traffic and trees..
Its not too bad, sometimes I get to spray paint those large adverts on the back and sides of the busses., shame I have to follow their patterns tho….”
“Are you from round here Paul?”
She knew as soon as she had said it that it had been a mistake,Jamie clammed up, his body stiffened
“No , I’m not from round here” he replied, but it was said in such a tone that Nicky knew he would not welcome anymore questioning.

Then she heard the lift doors opening noisily and the voice of her Nan chatting away to another neighbour.
She put the coffee mug down and thanking Paul again she took the reluctant hand of Clare, picked up her bags and left his flat. As he closed the door she caught an expression on his face, it was a strange mixture of sadness and relief…..




  
Pamela123
20:52:36 Mon
May 10 2004

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Part 3

Jamie went back into the lounge and started to clear away the picture Clare had been painting, it was obviously supposed to be her Mum. The same long dark hair, and a huge smile painted onto a head four times the size it should be, but she’d used blue paint to show her jeans and had made a good effort to match her bright red top. Jamie smiled and put it carefully on the windowsill to dry, he would slip it under Nicky’s door later if no one was watching.

He walked back into the kitchen to pour out the water Clare had used and then started to wash up the two coffee mugs; he started to dry them and then placed them carefully back on the worktop and then leaned back against the unit and stared at the two mugs. When was the last time he’d had two mugs to wash? , one…maybe 2 years ago?… The girl in Chester…. He shook his head, that seemed a long time ago now, had it really been that long since he had entertained another person in his home? It had been a different home then as well of course, a different flat, a different town and a different job. He spread the tea towel out to dry and ran his fingers through his hair as he turned to stare out of the kitchen window. He opened the glass door onto the small balcony and leaning on the rail looked down onto the playground below. He realised he knew not one person on this estate, well unless you counted Nicky, he’d been here nearly 6 months and he hadn’t spoken to anyone except to buy a newspaper, or order pie and chips. His hand went to his face and he closed his eyes momentarily….and as ever when he closed his eyes the face was there, staring back at him , the eyes greyish green, the hair lighter, almost blonde and curly, a small nose , tiny just like any child’s, not fully grown yet, with the freckles sprinkled across his face...…the lips pursed, was he about to cry? A shock of bright green, the sweatshirt …mud on the shoulders…..

Then he heard the dogs below him barking feverishly, he opened his eyes and stared down over the balcony at a group of young lads who were taunting the 4 or 5 dogs that had started fighting amongst themselves. The light was fading but it seemed the kids had thrown something at the dogs which they were now tearing apart…whatever it was, it was small bloody and now obviously dead, . Jamie guessed it would be a rat …or a pigeon, something the kids no doubt had found playing about in the underground garages. He sighed, he wondered if it had been dead before the dogs got it, kids could be so cruel ….couldn’t they….

He came back into the kitchen and his mobile rang.
“Hello”
“Tomorrow? Yes its ok, usual time? “
“Yeah I’m ok, no nothings happened”
“Right see you then
“Bye”

He walked over to the calendar and after finding a pencil in one of the drawers scribbled 6pm –Dave onto the entry for the next day.

Then he went back into the lounge, set up the half finished picture again, turned a radio on and set to work to finish the picture he’d been working on.

Nicky was excited and hadn’t stopped bending her Nan’s ear about Paul’s’ flat and his art and how kind he had been.
Madge had sat and listened, casually stroking Clare’s hair as she sat on her knee watching the Fimbles on the telly.

“Artist eh? Probably a first for Mandela Towers “she added laughing.
“He sounds a bit creepy though hun, you sure he’s ok? Normal folk round here don’t do that kinda stuff..”
“No Nan, he’s ok really., he was ever so kind with Clare, let her use his proper brushes and everything”
“Mmmm” Said Madge, a distant look in her eyes,
“ funny thing is, he seems kind of familiar like I’ve seen him somewhere before.”
“Nan you’ve lived next door to him for 6 months, of course he seems familiar!”
“No Nicky its not that, its like I knew him when he was younger or summat…is he from around here?”
“Don’t think so he’s a northerner but don’t think he’s a local. I’ll ask him next time we talk!”
Madge smiled, “if you ever do, he must think your a walking disaster area, that’s the only time you ever get to meet him!”
“ Oh Nan!” they both laughed out loud until Clare turned around and shushed them , her little finger to her mouth

The next day Nicky was still in a good mood, she stepped out of the lift and was surprised to see a man standing at Paul’s door. Paul was letting the guy in , he knew him , that was obvious, Nicky walked past and shouted around the man to Paul,
“Thanks for Clare’s picture, she’s really chuffed, made me put it on the wall.”
Jamie who had been about to close the door as the man had now stepped into the flat, looked surprised.
“Oh no problem,” then smiling,” it couldn’t stay in my flat, made my stuff look second rate”
Nicky laughed and Jamie smiled, flashing a set of perfect white teeth then almost apologetically
“Sorry got to go” and closed the door behind his visitor.

The next few weeks were a busy time for Nicky, she sorted out a nursery place for Clare a few mornings a week and had started scouring the local newspaper for a part time job. She was determined to make the most of this new life with her Nan, the bad times with Steve were now becoming distant memories, so distant that even Clare had stopped asking where “Stevie” had gone

She saw Paul several more times, once in the newsagents where he had said hello first. Then in the lift a couple of times. The second time Clare had reached up out of her buggy and taken his hand. He had been startled by this, but reacted well, holding the little girls hand and smiling down at her, whilst managing to look embarrassed about it to Nicky. Clare had only agreed to let go when the buggy was outside the flat door and Nicky had apologised several times. Paul had smiled, and had said it was kinda sweet…

It was Saturday night, Nicky had been persuaded by some friends to go clubbing, something she rarely did now. After all how could she spend £30 on that when Clare needed so much? But her Nan had insisted and passed on a tenner she said she had been saving just to make sure Nicky had at least one night out this year….

Nicky had squeezed herself into her favourite top, and her trousers, straightened her hair, and did her best to glam herself up. She was pleasantly surprised by the results, she actually looked young again!. She was only 21, but the last three years had made her feel and look more than ten years older!
Clare helped by spraying rather liberal amounts of perfume all over her and insisting she wore some of her makeup! Some rather garish glitter body gel Madge had mischievously bought for her at Xmas. Nicky agreed to a small circle of it on the back her hand. Clare smiled
“You look pretty Mummy”

Six hours later Clare stumbled out of the lift, her hair dishevelled, her top ripped at the shoulder and several grazes on her cheek, one of which was still bleeding.. Her right eye was puffed up and almost closed and it stung like mad.

She hobbled to the flat door, tears mingling with the blood, and hesitated. She didn’t want her Nan to see her like this, and worse still, Clare, she often woke during the night and she was the last person she wanted to see her in this state. Her key hovered near the lock. Then she put it back in her pocket and walked across to Paul’s door, biting her lip nervously she grimaced, her top lip was split…. Then she rang the bell. Nothing happened, she rang the bell again…then faint noises inside. Nicky’s courage suddenly abandoned her what on earth was she doing? She didn’t really know Paul? Why should he want to help her?

But before she could turn and run the door opened, Paul was standing there, rubbing sleep from his eyes, he’d either been sleeping in, or thrown on hurriedly a pair of tracky bottoms. But his chest was still bare.

“Nicky? What’s happened?”

Nicky smiled painfully,
“I went clubbing, guess I’m out of practice in spotting the morons…he seemed so nice but then he got really drunk and just wouldn’t accept no…”her voice trailed off.
Jamie was standing there…silent,
“Can’t you get in to your flat” he asked?
“Yes, but I need to clean myself up a bit, Nan will freak and Clare would be scared if they saw me like this… I’m really sorry. I just didn’t know where else to go…”
She left the question hanging in the air…
“Yeah course. sorry…” Jamie backed into the flat and Nicky followed him.
He watched as she went into the bathroom, then disappearing back into his bedroom he reappeared several seconds later his head just emerging from a large blue sweatshirt. He padded into the kitchen barefoot and put the kettle on, reaching the two mugs down from the cupboard.

Ten minutes later Nicky emerged, she’d managed to clean the cuts and stem the bleeding on her cheek, although her eye was still puffy and half closed.
“Paul I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have bothered you, I just couldn’t go home…”
“Its ok, I sometimes stay awake half the night if I’m working on a picture, so its not a problem really.” Added Jamie handing her the mug

“No no you don’t understand “Nicky continued,
“Clare’s Dad, well- he used to be the same, lovely sober but as soon as he touched a drop, absolute evil, always knocking ten bells out of me…well that’s why we’re here I guess. We had to leave him, and that kinda stuff behind, and I promised myself, Clare would never ever see me messed up like this …now look at me, one night out on the town and I’m a Crash Test dummy again….
Jamie looked away as Nicky tried to meet his gaze, then from one of the draws pulled out a roll of plasters.
“Here I think you might need one of these on that big cut” He tore open the plaster wrapper and moving closer to Nicky carefully peeled the backing off, then smiling encouragingly to Nicky he gentle pressed it onto the large cut on her left cheekbone. Smoothing it even more gently with his finger he then stepped back.
“You’ll still look bad tomorrow, what will you tell Clare?”
“I think I’ll tell her the taxi had an accident and the hospital patched me up, “ Nicky said thoughtfully.” I had to take her to the A&E once when she cut her arm badly on some glass n the playground, she liked the hospital, thought the nurses were all pretty…. they gave her a huge ‘I am brave badge ‘which her teddy wears now….”
Nicky looked away, tears had started rolling down her cheeks again, and Jamie left the room and came back with a box of tissues. Nicky sobbed and gratefully took the box.
“I was trying too hard tonight, I just wanted to feel like I did a few years ago, just normal, and attractive enough for someone to want to spend the evening with me…god I must have been so desperate…” Her tears increased, Jamie stood there unsure of what to do….then he moved by her side and placed his arms hesitantly around her shoulder
“Hey Hey Hey, come on it cant be that bad….I should think he doesn’t look too good at this very moment…”
Nicky looked up into his eyes and smiled…”I don’t think he does, last I saw was his mates dragging him into a taxi, he could hardly walk because of where I’d kneed him…..”
Jamie smiled. And shepherded her into the lounge.
They talked for nearly an hour, well actually Nicky talked, she told him about her childhood and meeting Steve when she was still at school, about how her parents had emigrated to Spain and how she had refused to go with them as she was by then pregnant with Clare and practically living with Steve. How they’d rented a flat nearer town and how his true nature had shown through fairly quickly- finally how a couple of months earlier she had packed up Clare’s and hers things and left the flat and moved in with Madge, never to go back…
Jamie had said very little, just that he’d moved there from Chester last year and that was it…
Nicky was now yawning so Jamie told her she should get some sleep, he guided her through to his bedroom,
“I’ll sleep on the couch, I’ll wake you early to give you chance to get back to your flat before Clare notices you’re missing….”
“That’s ok, I told them I’d probably be staying at a mates anyway, Madge isn’t expecting me back til lunchtime”
“Well I need to leave at 8.30am…is that too soon? “
“No…I can be ready for then..And Paul. Thanks again”
Jamie shrugged and disappeared into the lounge.

Nicky lay on Jamie’s bed, she hadn’t wanted him to change the bedding so they had agreed she would sleep on top of the quilt and he’d found a blanket for her, she pulled this around her shoulders and turning over was almost closing her eyes when she noticed the photograph on the bedside table. She stared at this for a few seconds trying to work out what was so strange, then she realised. Despite the hundred of pictures in the flat this was the only photograph. It was old and showed a woman and a young boy, he was about nine maybe ten, she looked too old to be his mother, maybe his grandmother? She looked closer, was it? Could it be… She reached for the photograph, it was leaning against the lamp base, no frame… she couldn’t be absolutely sure but she thought the boy was Paul…there were still some vestiges of puppy fat but…well the eyes…yes it was Paul. She turned the picture over. In the corner was some writing, she screwed her remaining good eye up to try and read the faded biro..
‘For Jamie, my little Hero, Granny….’ Nicky looked puzzled, Jamie? Why was a photo of Paul as a kid inscribed with Jamie on the back?
She propped the picture back up and finally closed her eyes. Perhaps it wasn’t him , probably a brother, and within a few minutes she was fast asleep.


  
looloo2
21:48:05 Mon
May 10 2004

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Re: Starting afresh -Part 1, a new fic a new character

This is really excellent. I love the hint of a mysterious past.

  
KateM
09:24:33 Tue
May 11 2004

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Re: Starting afresh -Part 1, a new fic a new character

This is fantastic, I love it. I cant wait for the next part.

  
Trollop
09:43:46 Tue
May 11 2004

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Re: Starting afresh -Part 1, a new fic a new character

Ooh, it's just getting better and better :biggrin:

  
corvette
19:46:59 Tue
May 11 2004

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Re: Starting afresh -Part 1, a new fic a new character

hey guys how have you all been? pamela 123 i think this story so far is excellent keep up the good work (mygod i have been working too hard i'm starting to sound like a publisher) anyway i can't wait for the next installment :thumbsup:

  
Pamela123
22:43:07 Tue
May 11 2004

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Re: Starting afresh -Part 1, a new fic a new character

Part 4
Nicky watched Paul the next morning as he prepared for work, making breakfast, tidying up from the night before. He was so different from Steve, quiet, focused and almost apologetic when it was time to leave, he actually asked if it was ok! Nicky couldn’t stop herself smiling, it was his flat and he was asking her permission! She turned as she stood on the threshold of his flat, he was behind her, keys in hand ready to lock up, and before he could stop her or move out of the way she had leaned forward and kissed his cheek quickly “Thanks again Paul”
Jamie blushed and looked away again, Nicky knew very little about his past but it was becoming obvious that his discomfort around her was probably because he had very little experience of the fairer sex. Not for the first time she wondered where he had hidden himself during his teenage years. He was handsome now in a quiet kind of way and would probably have broken several girls’ hearts in the last 10 years. ….Assuming he was in his mid twenties…. Nicky realised that was something else she didn’t know about him, his age, she was still thinking about this when she opened the door to her flat and was nearly knocked over by Clare running the whole length of the corridor and shouting with joy Muuuuuuummmmmmyyyyyy!

That weekend was the first really sunny one of the summer and Nicky decided it was time for the first picnic of the year. She loved taking Clare to the park or the lake, a plastic bag of bread crumbs in one hand, a book in the other….and this time she was determined to take a friend.
She had already asked him the day before, he had looked surprised, if somewhat bemused but hadn’t hesitated long before saying yes. So now Nicky was buttering sandwiches for three, and carefully packing the cool bag.

Jamie stood in his bedroom, his wardrobe open, and several ironed shirts flung on the bed, his chest of drawers also showed signs of a frantic search. What would be best for a picnic?…. god knows, it was warm enough for shorts but his only pair from last year were a bit scruffy, he sighed, why was he worrying so much, it was just a picnic! Yes…but it was his first picnic, that thought had struck him as he shaved that morning, 24yrs old and never been on a picnic…. god how sad was that. He thought about all the other things he had never done, the first teenage kiss, the last day at school, there was a long list, he knew, he had actually spent one night writing them all down, but Dave had said it was a negative thing to do and wouldn’t really help….
He snapped out of these depressing thoughts, right the shorts and his new t-shirt, he’d go for the laid back look….

The picnic was a huge success; Jamie had helped Nicky pick a lovely spot by the lake and the afternoon raced by. He’d taken a small sketchbook and did several drawings, of the lake and the ducks amongst other things as Clare ran around feeding the ducks and making daisy chains with Nicky. They all played hide and seek and she surprised Jamie at one point by taking a couple of photos of him skimming pebbles across the lake and sitting quietly gazing into the distance, his sketch pad on his knees. He frowned for a brief moment at the sight of the camera but then relaxed and smiled for the third picture, a shot of the three of them, kindly taken by a passing park warden, Nicky with Clare on her knees smiling broadly, Jamie next to them, slightly more serious….as he stared at a small group of boys noisily teasing another smaller boy…..

As they walked back across the park towards Mandela Towers, Clare sleeping soundly in the buggy, Nicky talked about her family and how she remembered picnics every summer with her parents.
“Do you have a big family Paul?”
“No,” the answer came back quickly, no emotion
“Oh just your parents then? “
Jamie had been pushing the buggy and he continued to stare ahead of him as he answered.
“My Mum and Dad died when I was really young, a car accident.”
“Oh I’m so sorry” said Nicky,
Jamie shrugged,
“its ok I was too young I can’t really remember them very well”.
“So it was your Nan that brought you up?”
Jamie turned to look at her as he answered “Yes but how did you know?” his tone almost accusatory.
“In your bedroom, the photo I couldn’t help but notice..”
Jamie nodded, “oh right, yes my Gran brought me up.”
“She looked nice in the photo”, ….she hesitated a bit…Paul never seemed to invite questions…”but “ she persevered…”Paul, on the back of it, it says Jamie..Not Paul?”,
Paul licked his bottom lip nervously, then apparently concentrating on pushing Clare buggy over a bumpy bit of ground avoided Nicky’s stare.
“Yeah well I was christened James Paul, my Gran always called me James…well Jamie actually, but I prefer Paul now.”
“Ohhh” said Nicky nodding,” fair enough, you were a bit chubby then mind ya..And that cardigan…” she laughed and Jamie turned and playfully biffed her on the shoulder,
“Well we shall have to reserve judgement on your fashion sense at nine until I see the evidence” he said wickedly, his eyes sparkling and a real smile on his face.
She biffed him back and they continued teasing each other until they reached the flat door.

Now it was Jamie saying the goodbyes, as he thanked Nicky for a great day, he squatted down and unpacked his sketch pad from the buggy’s back, careful not to wake the still sleeping Clare, he stood back up and nervously moved closer to Nicky. He felt and looked awkward. Then half closing his eyes he placed a gentle kiss on her cheek. Nicky held her breath; she was tingling, his very closeness making her heart skip. How could he make her feel like this so quickly? He hadn’t moved away and she turned her face slightly towards him and kissed him back on the lips, those beautiful perfectly formed lips… He was still nervous, she could sense his anxiety, he was fumbling now, he didn’t know where to put his hands, scared to hold her. But Nicky didn’t mind, she was losing herself in his kiss, his smell, his touch. Then he broke away, he was blushing, but his smile showed he was as pleased as she was about what had just happened.

Clare stirred and the moment ended, he nodded, still holding her gaze and slipped across the corridor and was gone.

It was Nicky’s birthday the following week, her Nan had made a cake and they were enjoying a birthday tea in the kitchen when the doorbell rang. Clare had insisted on using the crackers left over from Xmas as well and Nicky was still wearing one of the flimsy paper hats when she went to answer the door. It was Jamie, looking slightly embarrassed and clutching a small package.
“Paul, come in , help us eat this cake! “
“No no I can’t -not if it’s a family thing, “ Jamie now looked reluctant
“Hey it’s just me Clare and Nan, please, come in and help us eat this mountain of food.” Nicky persisted
“Well I just wanted to bring you something for your birthday.”
“Oh how did you know?”
“Errr you told me?” he replied, Nicky giggled. “oh I probably did, I tell everyone …probably a sign of insecurity or summat…”
“But a present? You shouldn’t have,” she continued
“Well its not much.” Jamie now looked apologetic
Nicky took the parcel off him and guided him into the kitchen.
“Nan, Clare look whose here!”
Clare beamed, her face now covered in chocolate from the cake, Madge smiled nervously,” Hello its Paul isn’t it? “
Jamie held his hand out and they shared a non-committal handshake.
“Oh Paul its lovely!!, really wonderful, look Nan look Clare!”
She was holding a small pen drawing, set in a small silver frame, it was Clare, her profile unmistakable, holding a small daisy up to her face and smiling.
“ Its beautiful Paul, its so much better than a photograph.”
Paul was blushing,” its just a drawing, and I had the frame already, really its nothing special.”
Nicky kissed him on the cheek,” thank you, I think its wonderful.”

Paul stayed, tea ended, Clare was bathed and put to bed, and Madge Nicky and Paul sat in the living room staring at each other, whilst pretending to watch the TV. A wordless conversation was taking place between Madge and Nicky, conducted using just stares and facial expressions, finally Madge understood what Nicky had been trying to tell her and turning to them said, “such a nice night, why don’t you guys go for a drink, I’ll baby-sit.”
“ Really, are you sure Nan? ” Nicky’s feigned surprise not totally convincing and Jamie half smiled as he grabbed his denim jacket.
“You sure Mrs Scholes?”
“Call me Madge, Paul, and yes I’m sure, off you go kids, go enjoy yourselves.”

,”The pub had been crowded and a little bit too hot but two hours later they were now back in the coolness of Jamie’s flat. Nicky was fascinated with his pictures and asked Jamie to tell her about each of them, she listened with growing appreciation for this quiet gentle man as he described why he had painted the views or what had drawn him to the still-life’s or sketches of people.
“Youre a great people watcher aren’t you Paul…”
“Yeah well I had plenty of practice” he answered rather enigmatically…
“I wish I had your talent “Said Nicky
“I wish I had your family” replied Jamie then turned and rather obviously changing the subject
“ do you want a drink?”
“No,……….. but I want you” and Nicky moved forward and kissed him
That night Nicky learned more about Jamie, she found he was nervous, inexperienced, gentle, awkward, passionate, curious, tender,unselfish and practically inexhaustible…they finally fell asleep entwined under the cotton sheet, holding each other close.

The next few weeks were some of the happiest for them both as they fell in love…. Nicky attempting to discover more about Paul/Jamie’s life and Jamie being much more successful in his discoveries of Nicky’s body…..
Jamie became a constant visitor to Madge’s flat and was beginning to break down some of her reserve, she hadn’t completely decided if he was ok, and several times tried to question him abut his family and background. Jamie had dodged the questioning each time.


It was now the height of the summer and Nicky had managed to get a part time job in the local greengrocers. Madge had promised to collect Clare from nursery and as a treat had bought her an ice-lolly which was now melting over her hands. She walked across the playground towards the block. Madge pushing the buggy and pointing out the pigeons to Clare as they walked. Clare pointed towards the small climbing frame that despite vandals best efforts was still standing unbroken,
“climb nanny climb …”Madge unbuckled her and watched as Clare toddled across towards the frame. A neighbour walked past and they fell into a conversation about the new bus passes and …….she just didn’t see them come......

They crept up stealthily like the pack animals they were, following the trail of the dripping ice-lolly, then Madge heard the scream and looking round for a brief moment couldn’t see Clare, turning back to the playground she spotted a swirling mass of flesh and fur, snarling and growling and snapping,
“Clare?? Oh my god Clare!!!” she could barely make out the toddler in their midst but she felt unable to move, then as she started to run she was overtaken by a man, rushing towards the toddler and the pack of dogs. It was Paul he waded in amongst the snapping tearing teeth, kicking and heaving the wild dogs out of the way, then seconds later lifted Clare up high, above the pack and holding her at almost head height, half running made for the entrance to the tower. He nearly made it, but one large dog had jumped on his back, pushing him forward, he stumbled and almost fell but managed to throw Clare into the lobby as two other dogs took up the attack on him. A woman ran to Clare, comforting her and was shortly joined by Madge who gathered her up into her armsnd whocouldnt beleive she was unharmed apart from a couple of scratches on the hand that had been holding the lolly. Three men arrived and managed to beat the dogs off Jamie who was now lying on the floor covered in blood, his right leg almost ripped open and his left arm dripping in blood.
Jamie remembered the ambulance and the painful ride to the hospital but then the painkillers kicked in and the anaesthetic finally knocked him out as they prepared to operate on the worst of his wounds.





  
KateM
07:27:58 Wed
May 12 2004

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Re: Starting afresh -Part 1, a new fic a new character

awwwww poor Jamie - what a hero!!!

Pamela I love this story, I love his vulnerability. I cant wait for the next part.

Another belter!

  
honeybee_oz
08:21:31 Wed
May 12 2004

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Re: Starting afresh -Part 1, a new fic a new character

secrets and heros are a great combo.
i love it



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Pamela123
09:56:20 Wed
May 12 2004

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Re: Starting afresh -Part 1, a new fic a new character

do hope you guys arent gonna be mad at me for what happens next but i did tell you it got darker...............oh and apologies for the length of this thing so far!

Part5
Nicky had been called at her new job and rushed home to find Clare shaken her hand covered in several plasters. Madge was a wreck, sitting at the kitchen table shaking, as a local policeman interviewed her and liased with the RSPCA to try and find and round up the dogs that had caused all this…It was decided that Clare should visit the hospital as well just to make sure there were no hidden injuries and as they waited for the ambulance Nicky heard the full story from Madge.
“Is Paul ok?” Madge shook her head” he really got hurt. Don’t think I’ve ever seen so much blood…” Nicky’s hand went to her mouth,
“But that boy saved our little princess, he was a real hero! “ added Madge almost shouting….

And that was the story that made the local TV news that night, including shots of the bloodied playground and outside shots of Mandela towers and several eyewitness reports of people who had seen this ‘local hero’ rescue the toddler .By the next day there were several reporters at the hospital and others hanging around the estate trying to find out more about the ‘local hero’. Who was this mysterious stranger? They could find no one who really knew him, but finally after digging around and a couple of them waylaying the postman they gradually started to fill in the details.

Paul Bevington
Age 24
Location: Mandela Towers, Warrington
Occupation: Paint shop sprayer

Little by little they pulled the story together and by the time the local free newspaper ran the story three days later they also had a photo of the ‘local hero’, donated by Madge and Nicky. It showed Jamie standing next to Clare as she threw bread for the ducks. A perfect picture for their story of the local ‘have a go hero’ rescuing the very same little girl from a pack of viscious hounds….

Jamie was unaware of the media interest in him, he spent the next three days in the hospital whilst they finished patching him up, two of his fingers had been broken and he had over a sixty stitches in his leg from the thigh down to the ankle almost. Nicky had visited him several times, tears never far from the surface as she saw his wounds. His face was untouched but a frame had been placed over his leg to take the weight of the bedclothes off the heavily bandaged limb. She sat on the bed holding his undamaged hand or stroking his arm and told him for the first time how much she loved him. He responded by holding her hand and kissing her gently and replying how much he loved her but how he had never allowed himself to hope that she felt the same.. Clare was checked and discharged hours later on the first day and accompanied Nicky when she visited Jamie the second day. She jumped on the bed, Jamie grimacing slightly as she caught his leg but forgave her immediately when she presented him solemnly with a picture she had painted of him. After they left he propped the picture up against his water jug and smiled. His head was huge but it had to be to allow enough room for the enormous smile Clare had painted. He was standing by the lake painting a picture with a paintbrush the size of a broom. He loved it especially the small inscription in the corner that Nicky had added “to our hero”

Then on the third day she took the local paper in to show him, he had made the front page. What she didn’t know was that and in fact he had actually made the inside pages of several of the national papers as well, they loved these ‘local hero’ kind of stories and it happened to tie in quite nicely with a ministers campaign for amendments to the Dangerous Dogs Act so it was hot news.
She passed the paper over to Jamie, who was now propped up in bed,
“See! your Gran was right, you are a hero!”
Jamie stared at the paper, colour draining from his face.
“What’s up? It’s a good story”
Jamie folded the newspaper and licked his lips nervously, “where did they get the photo from?” Nicky looked surprised, “errr from me, they wanted a picture I didn’t think you’d mind? It’s a great one of you and Clare”
He handed her back the paper
“I’m tired I need to sleep” and he looked up at Nicky’s face, a look of apprehension and anger…
“What’s the problem Paul? I thought you’d be pleased!”
“Well I’m not!” He said raising his voice from the whisper it had sunk to, “it’s my life and I want to chose who knows about it ok?”
He sighed and then his voice softened “ Nicky sorry. I can’t explain, I just can’t but…. But bad things might come out of this”
“Bad things? Paul you’re not making much sense? I don’t understand”
“I can’t tell you, I can never tell anyone, its no use,” his frustration breaking through
Nicky sat on the bed,” Paul, you can tell me anything”
“No, no I can’t, even you wouldn’t understand, but Nicky, promise me…”
“Yeah of course what?”
“Just promise me that if anything happens, you’ll remember what we had these last few weeks?”
“Had? Paul what are you saying?”
But then suddenly there was another man by the bed, a man Nicky recognised, she’d seen him outside Paul’s flat once before…
Jamie looked up and with a resigned tinge to his voice said
“Dave thought you’d show up soon.”
“Hi Paul, can we talk?”
“ Yeah Nicky was just going”
Nicky looked from the mans face to Paul’s, and shaking her head she picked up her bag and left his room.

“How you feeling?”
“It hurts everywhere,” and Jamie groaned as he tried to sit up and lift his arm to show the strapped fingers.
“I think this is gonna blow Paul, the picture is very clear, unfortunately…”
“I know “Jamie said in a soft low voice and flopped back onto the pillow.” But this time it’s not my fault!”
“Doesn’t matter if it was accidental Paul if your identity gets out it will be like Chester all over again…but this time far worse, now the media are involved rather than just a few individuals, did you know some of the national newspapers are sniffing about?”
“No , no I didn’t “Jamie shook his head, his voice lowered again then looking up at Dave he said ” I guess we will know in the next few days?”
“Or weeks…or months…or we may never know and it may not happen, but do you want to hang around and risk it? I’m compiling a report now for the team but we think we should recommend relocation again” added Dave.
Jamie said nothing but his thoughts were flashing back to Chester
“I want to tell her, explain to Nicky, I cant just disappear like I did in Chester”
Dave was nodding now, “you know we wouldn’t recommend it, if it kicks off you need to find somewhere safe now.”

But unknown to them, it was already too late, as they spoke a scruffy looking reporter and photographer were approaching Nicky as she walked through the hospital lobby,
“Miss Adams? “
“Yes? “
“We’re reporters from the Mirror, just a few questions for our readers? do you know who Paul Bevington is?”
“Well yes he’s my neighbour and the guy who saved my little girl”
“Did you know that’s not his real name? “a smug look in his eyes, after all 2 days of research was about to pay off....
“No? well ….yes actually,.. I mean his real name is Jamie Bevington he told me that”
“Miss Adams…Nicky isn’t it? Did you know his real name is Jamie Dixon?”
Nicky stopped ” Dixon? No?” and since she was beginning to get annoyed by the tone of the reporter she said “so what?”
But the reporter wasn’t going to let this go
“Miss Adams do you remember...Jamie Dixon was sentenced to life for murdering a little boy fourteen years ago, little Matthew Rushton, remember him now? how do you now feel about this man being around your little girl?”
“ Miss Adams?? “ but Nicky had gone, rushing blindly out of the main hospital doors and heading off across the car park.

She hadn’t really recognised Jamie’s real name, but everyone knew the name of little Matthew Rushton a five year old, found drowned in a lake in one of the large Manchester parks. There had even been a couple of TV documentaries about him a couple of years back, which was how she knew, it had after all happened when she was only a kid… how he had wandered way from his parents in the park, and found in the lake the next day, everyone had presumed it was an horrid accident…but then cctv footage of the path next to the lake had shown three larger boys holding a little boy in a bright green sweatshirt then pushing in him and watching as he struggled to reach the steep bank of the lake, pushing him back into the water each time he tried to climb out and then he finally disappeared beneath the water. It was one of the most shocking pieces of film that had ever been seen by the public and had resulted in a huge manhunt for the three mystery boys. They had of course been found eventually, two fourteen year olds and a ten year old. And the nation was determined that they would be locked away for life. And to all extent and purposes they had been…..

She ran on for a few more streets and once she was sure the reporters had not followed her she sat down on a low brick wall, numb. So that was the thing Paul couldn’t tell her, he was a convicted murderer a ..what was the phrase they used in the documentary? a kidkiller…she hid her face in her hands , her mind racing. It didn’t make sense, Paul was the most gentle man she had met, but it answered so many questions about him , explained so much…
She couldnt stop the tears........












  
Trollop
10:41:14 Wed
May 12 2004

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Re: Starting afresh -Part 1, a new fic a new character

Ooh, I like it - a darker side...... Question is - was that the end, or is there an explanation to come?

  
stella_28
10:45:24 Wed
May 12 2004

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Re: Starting afresh -Part 1, a new fic a new character

Pleeeease, say he didn't really do it! :cry:
I'm sure everything's gonna be allright in the end, won't it?

  
Pamela123
10:54:12 Wed
May 12 2004

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Re: Starting afresh -Part 1, a new fic a new character

there is more to come...err just got to write it yet.....and doesnt everyone have things in their past?......

  
stella_28
11:08:07 Wed
May 12 2004

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Re: Starting afresh -Part 1, a new fic a new character

Well, I've had some weird relationships, but I've never killed anyone....

  
Pamela123
12:35:11 Wed
May 12 2004

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Re: Starting afresh -Part 1, a new fic a new character

lol thank god for that! and yeps i agree jamies secret was quite a big one....

  
KateM
13:41:45 Wed
May 12 2004

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Re: Starting afresh -Part 1, a new fic a new character

nooooooo there is no way that our Jamie could be a murderer - there has to be something more to this.
Im in suspense for the next part! It has to end happily.

  
Trollop
13:43:41 Wed
May 12 2004

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Re: Starting afresh -Part 1, a new fic a new character

I don't suppose nicking sweets from the local shop would really count as being in the same league as killing........ and even then I suffered for months on a Catholic guilt trip.

But.... have you got the courage to fly in the face of the forum and make him genuinely guilty and not that it was a miscarriage of justice????? I eagerly await........

  

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