Authors: Isabella Brooke
By Isabella Brooke
Text Copyright 2013 Isabella Brooke
All Rights Reserved
Cover credits: stock photography from eroticstockphotos.com
and 123rf.com. Cover design by the author.
The tall grey walls were topped off with razor wire, and the
spring wind shredded itself through it into chilly shrieks. Emily stared up at
the outer prison wall, as it rose windowless and impersonal and very, very
To pass the time as she waited for Turner to be released,
she tried to plot how she'd undertake a prison break.
As an intellectual
exercise, nothing more, of course.
She leaned her lower back against a wall
and folded her arms, pulling her jacket tight against her body. She'd been
waiting for twenty minutes now, and she'd seen quite a few trucks and cars
enter and leave through the huge double gates.
The prison staff seemed to immediately surround any vehicle
entering, though, and as the gates swung shut she was sure they'd be conducting
a thorough search.
Well, I was warned that there was no
particular schedule except "be there early". But I wish I'd brought
something to do.
Oh, she had things to do, all right. She could whip out her
smartphone and attend to some emails. She could pull out her notebook and start
to plan some pitches to send to magazines, putting out feelers for possible
And she really ought to.
Emily shifted her weight from foot to foot, as the cold
crept up from the pavement. The breeze still carried the bite of late winter
and it blew her hair into her eyes. She shook her head in annoyance.
When Turner had been sent down, seven months ago, she'd just
splurged on a very expensive and stylish hair-do. It had marked the start of
her new life. Her journalism career was taking a new turn, as she moved from
social justice to writing about entertainment and gossip, and she was full of sparkling
But her life had been on hold since the day the judge had
sentenced Turner. He'd been taken away by those dark-dressed guards and even
though they'd all knew it was coming - he'd pleaded guilty, after all - it was
as if everything stopped, and had stayed stopped, until today.
He had written to her, of course. His letters had urged her
to think of their future, and to concentrate on their feelings for each other.
He'd become excited about the courses he was doing and how he was going to
start his own business once he was out. His letters had bubbled with positive
plans for his new life.
He had willingly put himself up for arrest, and pleaded
guilty, aiming to wipe the slate clean. He wanted to do his time, and emerge a
rehabilitated man. He'd tipped the police off himself, and confessed
Emily could have burst with pride at his strength and his
Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.
It was a
trite Facebook-ism, but of all the maudlin and faux-inspiration shit that
social media could throw at her, it was one that stuck in her head. He had
declared himself a changed man; a man going straight.
Going straight - for her.
God, I hope I can live up to that,
A battered grey car with thumping music pulled up on the
kerb not far from where she was waiting. She resolutely didn't look towards the
occupants. The prison wasn't in the best part of town, and she wasn't familiar
with the area. She was familiar with the
of area, though, and she
knew for sure that she didn't want to get drawn into a conversation with anyone
Turner had spent most of his sentence at a Category B prison
some way out of Manchester. She'd visited him once, early on, and the
experience had been awful. The room full of tense families, and the prisoners
all dressed in grey clothes and suppressed anger had pressed around her head
like a migraine. From then on, she'd urged him to give all his Visiting Orders
to his mother, Pearl and his sister Elaine.
The car door opened and she peeked out of the corner of her
eye, dreading who it might be. Her worst nightmare, Riggers, had been released
a month before Turner. Riggers was Turner's co-defendant.
Riggers was also the reason Turner had gone to jail, and
Turner had made sure to take Riggers down with him. There was unfinished
business between them, and Emily had been on edge all the past four weeks,
certain that Riggers was going to come after her.
Nothing. And it wasn't the skinny, weaselly young white man
that emerged from the car into her peripheral vision, either. It was, instead,
a smartly-dressed black man who was staring at the prison gates with the same
expectancy that she knew was on her own face.
She tipped her head back and sighed, staring at the pale
grey clouds in the darker grey sky. How long had she known Turner before he'd
started his sentence? A few weeks, maybe?
How ridiculous this all was. She was only one step removed
from those women who fell in love with men on death row in America by letter
and somehow got married to them. She almost smiled to herself as she imagined
how her solicitor brother would react to that. He was opposed to her relationship
with Turner - he'd flip tables if she married a man on death row.
It would almost be worth it just for his reaction.
The gate opened again and she looked towards it
half-heartedly, conditioned by now to expect a total stranger or a goods van or
something equally mundane.
Her vision narrowed, shading to darkness at the edges of her
sight as her heart expanded in her chest and her mouth went from normal to dry
in a split second.
One part of her mind was trying to analyse her physical
what use in fight or flight is a dry mouth? How does that help
primitive man or woman outrun a tiger?
But the rest of her mind wasn't
thinking at all. And her body certainly wasn't working properly, either.
Turner emerged from the prison and the gates shut behind
him, and all she could do was stare across the road, directly at him.
He saw her immediately but he had to wait, frustratingly, as
the passing traffic left no gap for him to walk across the road. Emily was
grateful for the pause. She needed time to watch him and study him.
More importantly, was he the person she remembered? Was her
memory accurate? Because of all the terrors that she had felt over the long
months, the fear that she had misremembered him was the strongest.
Perhaps he was thinking the same thing because his face
seemed set and blank. He was tall, and had he been that broad and muscular
before he went into prison? No doubt he'd spent long hours in the gym. He was
dressed in a white shirt and black suit trousers; the clothes that he'd worn to
go to court in, she realised. His hair was close-shaven, and his face seemed a
But she just couldn't be sure. She almost felt panicked and
she clenched and unclenched her fists, the movement you had to do before a blood
"Emily…" He spoke even before he was halfway
across the road, and his voice was the same Turner that had sung to her in her
mind as she read and re-read his letters to her. She didn't hear the traffic or
the car doors or the gates. She just heard him.
Then he was on the pavement, and striding up to her, coming
to a sudden halt about four feet away, as if he had hit an invisible wall.
There was a clear plastic bag in his right hand but he let it fall to the
"Oh god," Emily blurted out, flapping her hands.
"I'm so sorry, I don't even know what to say…"
What a fine fucking welcome this was,
herself in irritation.
Seven months he's been inside, and he comes out to be
greeted by Miss Dither UK.
Turner's face broke into the widest, most genuine grin she
had seen in a long time, and his orange-brown eyes sparkled in pure delight as
he closed the distance between them with one long step, and gathered her into
"You don't say anything, because I'm kissing you, Emily
Carrera," he said and promptly made it true.
Emily's head whirled around inconsequential topics.
mouth isn't dry anymore. He smells good. He's so tall. Maybe I'm just short.
Does he like my hair? Is that guy in the grey car still there, and is he
Gradually her awareness shifted from her own chaotic
internal monologue to the present moment, and she began to relax. She realised
that she was just trying to hold back the overwhelming feelings. As her inner
chatter receded, tears began to gather in the corners of her eyes and she
struggled to breathe though his lips were gentle on hers.
He pulled back, and when she saw that he, too, had tears in
his eyes, it set her off completely and she dissolved into an inelegant snotty
mess, helpless and hiccupping.
Turner laughed and pulled her tight against his chest, his
arms steady around her shoulders, and they stayed wrapped in each other's arms
for minutes, as crying became giggling and reverted once more to crying.
Somehow, the shared emotion made things easier, and Emily's muscles relaxed.
She pressed against him, nestling almost.
Turner ran his hands up her back and ruffled them through
her hair, making her tense momentarily. She should have found the money,
somehow, to have a new style cut.
"Hey, come on now," he murmured as he stroked her,
calming her. "Fantastic though it is to be out of there, and here with
you, I can think of nicer places to be. Did you drive?"
Emily unhooked her arms from around his waist and fished out
a tissue to tidy her face. She patted her eyes before looking up at him again. "Yeah.
Parked around the corner. So. Um, yeah. Ready…?" She suddenly felt
awkward; her face would be blotchy and pink. What a lovely sight for his
He raised one dark eyebrow at her, a wry smile on his lips.
"What do you think?"
"Huh, sorry," she said, trying not to feel
foolish. "Down here."
They were both silent as they walked along a row of parked
cars. Emily kept sliding sideways glances towards him, and discovered he was
doing the same.
"Am I different?" he asked as they came to her
little Smart car.
"I was wondering that myself."
"What, whether I was different or whether you
"A bit of both."
They got in, Turner folding himself awkwardly to fit into
the small space. Somehow, it felt easier to talk while she had her eyes on the
road and half her brain engaged with driving safely.
And then they were talking at the same time, all words and
excitement tumbling over each other in a glorious mess.
"Have you seen much of my mum? She didn't come to the
last visiting time because of an appointment but Elaine said she'd had the all
clear. How does she look? I can't wait to see her."
"They could have come to pick you up! She's fine, she's
doing really well."
"I wanted to see you. That's why I asked for you, not
them. I'm so glad you came. You stuck by me. Christ, Emily, you don't know what
that means to me. Too many men get their Dear Johns inside… anyway, is the
cancer definitely gone? From mum?" His sentences darted from topic to
topic like a small boy telling a favourite relative about a Christmas party.
"Yes, as far as anyone can tell," Emily reassured
him. She'd spent a lot of time supporting Pearl and the rest of Turner's family.
"It's proper, actual remission. And she looks great. So, do many men get
dumped while they are serving their time?"
"Hell yes. And the ones who don't usually spend all
their time worrying about their wives and girlfriends playing away."
"Did you worry?"
"That you'd be unfaithful?" Turner's quick-fire
chatter slowed and stopped. Emily accelerated as they negotiated their way out
of the town centre and along a dual carriageway, heading for the motorway that
would take them home to Manchester. She waited for him to go on.
Turner sighed and tried to stretch his long legs out in the
cramped passenger area. He failed. His knees were practically lodged in the
glove compartment of the dashboard. "I don't even want to think about the
past seven months, you know. Yes, in the long dark nights of bang-up, I
imagined every bad thing in the world. We all do. I am sure you had more than a
few bleak moments yourself. But that's all in the past. Bloody hell, Emily,
slow down a touch!"
"I'm not speeding," she replied, but she eased off
the pedal slightly. "Oh, does it all feel a bit strange?"
"Just a bit. Okay, a lot. It's funny, but you get
institutionalised within about two weeks. After that, it doesn't matter how
horrible prison is, you realise you are going to cope with it. It gets normal