Love in Photographs

by Alex Tryst

copyright June 2002

Disclaimer: This book contains original characters of my own creation. In fact this whole idea came to life from a photograph I have of a woman that came from a magazine. There was just something about it that struck me, and I found myself wondering who she was and who might have taken the picture. Suddenly there was a story unfolding in my mind that I had to put on paper. I have borrowed some names of famous people as well as locations, but infringement is not intended. Also there are three languages in this book, English, French, and Italian. You multi-linguists must excuse me if you find some of my grammar is incorrect. I speak and write English better than French, and French better than Italian. For convenience I have put translations in parentheses. As always, comments and feedback is welcome at Enjoy!

Dedication: I have to dedicate it to the mystery woman that spurred this story in the first place. Whoever and wherever you are, thanks for sparking my imagination.

Now on with the show...................................................................................................................

Part 2

Once breakfast was complete, Helen made her way back upstairs to finish getting ready for their outing while Torrance went outside to talk to the driver about her family's arrival. When she saw Helen emerge from the house a few minutes later, she couldn't help but smile. "Ready to go?" she inquired extending her hand.

Helen nodded as she took Torrance's hand. "Ready as I'll ever be." she replied with a smile, knowing that her words meant more to her than Torrance knew, because as she drifted to sleep the night before she made herself a promise that she would kiss the woman that had captured her heart before the day was over.

As they began their walk down the hill toward the village, Torrance gazed over at Helen. She was dressed the most casually since she had been there except when they were at the beach, opting for a green top that matched her eyes perfectly with a pair of short khaki shorts and her running shoes. Her skin had taken on a golden hue from their time in the sun and her hair had lightened as well. Her sunglasses were keeping her short hair out of her face, and she wore a bright smile.

When their eyes met, Torrance asked, "You really have no idea how stunningly beautiful you are, do you?"

Helen blushed at the unexpected comment, but she admitted, "You make me feel that way, Torrance."

Growing more serious the brunette stated, "You are a real blessing to my life, Helen. I hope you know that."

"I do now." she answered with an assuring grin.

The whole afternoon was spent down in the small village as Helen and Torrance leisurely browsed all the quaint shops and talked with many people that knew Torrance and her family. When it was time to head home though, they began to long ascent up the steep hill leading to the house. Even though it posed no challenge for Torrance, who had spent her entire life walking the path, the photographer could tell it was taking its toll on Helen. "You all right?" she inquired coming to a stop.

"I'm fine. This hill is just a real bear. I don't see how you do it." Helen stated.

"I'm used to it. You want me to carry you the rest of the way?"

"No. I weigh too much. I just need to rest for a few minutes."

"Don't be silly. I have equipment that weighs more than you. Just hop on my back, and we'll be there before you know it."

"Are you sure?" skeptically the model asked. She figured Torrance would probably be able to carry her, but she didn't want to impose that way.

"I'm sure. Come on. Jump on." Torrance insisted dropping down to one knee, so Helen could climb onto her back.

Helen did as she was told. As the brunette stood, Helen slipped her legs around Torrance's waist. Putting her head on Torrance's shoulder, she mentioned, "Maybe this wasn't such a bad idea. Why didn't I do this before?"

Torrance laughed lightly, clutching tighter to the teacher's legs. "Glad to be of service to you, Helen." They were quiet the rest of the way back to the house. Even though having Helen on her back was slowing her down, Torrance didn't want to let the petite woman go, enjoying the way Helen's body rubbed invitingly into her back.

As Helen rode piggy back style the rest of the way up the hill, her thoughts began to turn sexual. Having Torrance's frame between her thighs was beginning to make her amorous as her mind began to play out a scenario of having the photographer take her right there on the side of the dirt road. She was so far off in her fantasy that she barely heard Torrance when she announced their arrival. "Oh, that was fast." she softly stated.

Torrance let her go and gently guided her to her feet, her hands skimming along Helen's hips as she steadied the blonde's landing. "I wonder if my mother is back yet." Torrance pondered aloud. Instinctively taking Helen by the hand, she led the way inside.

They found Torrance's family in the living room simply talking, so both of them greeted Torrance's grandparents and mother with hugs before finding out that dinner wasn't for an half an hour. Knowing that time was running out on her to make her move, Helen turned to Torrance and asked, "Would you like to go out to the vineyard and watch the sunset with me? This will probably be my last time to go out there."

"Sure. That sounds nice."

As they strolled down the path leading to the grove, Helen said, "This has been the best vacation I've ever had, Torrance. Thank you so much for letting me come here."

"You're very welcome, Helen. You've made my whole trip just by coming. I'll be sad to see you go tomorrow."

"But you'll come see me when you get back, won't you?" hesitantly Helen asked.

"If you want me to, I will."

Going to Torrance's favorite place, they sat down together embraced as they quietly watched the sun dip behind the hills. Helen began to gather her courage for she knew the moment had come for her to express her feelings to Torrance. She was determined to do it before they went back to the house, but all to soon Torrance was mentioning they should be getting back. However Helen stalled. "I don't want to go back just yet." she said as they moved to their feet.

"Would you like for me to leave you alone?" Torrance inquired thinking maybe the blonde wanted a few minutes to herself in this special place.

"No. I just wanted to tell you something." she said tentatively. Torrance looked down at her expectantly as she moved in to put her arms around the teacher.

Staring deeply up at the photographer's green eyes, Helen wondered how she would let her know what she was feeling. As much as she wanted to kiss the brunette, she wanted the older woman to make the first move, but she sensed that Torrance wouldn't without motivation. "Torrance, I just want you to know that I think you're the most caring person I've ever met. You've given me so much in the few months that I've known you, and I just wanted you to know that I'm so glad we met that day. Even though we haven't known each other that long, I couldn't imagine what my life would be like if I hadn't met you." she admitted shyly breaking their gaze.

Torrance felt her heart jump start at the comment. "Helen, I feel the same way about you. I feel so blessed to know you. You've brought something to my life hasn't been there in a long time." Torrance confessed kissing Helen on the cheek lightly.

Looking back at the woman who held her heart, Helen saw the sincerity in the older woman's eyes. Instinctually her hand went to Torrance jaw, caressing it gently as she tried to get herself to lean up to kiss the photographer, but she was frozen by the gaze. "Torrance." she whimpered finally looking away. "Please."

The quiet request spurred Torrance to action. Lifting the model's chin with her hand gently, she leaned down toward her lips. Their mouths met timidly at first before they both became active, pressing harder into each other. Both of them moaned as they pulled each other closer and melded together in a sensuous lock. Several minutes passed as they allowed their desires to pour forth into that one kiss. Finally succumbing to the need for air, they broke away slightly. Torrance placed her forehead against the blonde's as she tried to catch her breath. "Whoa. That was nothing what I thought it would be like." she mumbled. "I'm actually weak in the knees."

"Torrance, I know you said that our relationship would only go as far as we were both comfortable, but I want to be more than just your friend." Helen admitted.

"I want that too, so badly." the brunette confessed.

Helen smiled before taking the initiative to kiss Torrance again, cherishing the feel of having the older woman that close. "We should get back before they send out a search party." she mumbled when they broke a second time.

Holding hands they made their way back to the house. The rest of the evening they spent in the company of Torrance's family, but even as they sat in the living room, they snuggled together on the sofa, casting glances at each other every few minutes. Several times Torrance saw her mother giving her a knowing smile to which she just rolled her eyes playfully. When it was finally time to go to bed that evening, Helen and Torrance walked upstairs together. Torrance lingered in Helen's open doorway for a moment not wanting to intrude on the blonde's private space.

"You can come in you know." Helen mentioned. "Keep me company while I pack."

Torrance moved into the room. As she eyed the bed, she thought of what had taken place there the previous night. Deciding on a chair across the room, Torrance sat and began to watch Helen pack her belongings. "I wish you didn't have to go." she said.

"Me too but I have to get back to work. I already have shoots set up for next week. This had been so much fun though."

"I really am glad you came. I haven't had this much fun here since I was a kid. I hope that we'll be able to do this again soon." Torrance proposed.

"I would like that." Helen replied.

Once Helen was finished packing, she moved into her bathroom to get ready for bed. Torrance was just sitting there when she saw the small blonde come back wearing another pair of skimpy pajamas. "Well, I should let you get to sleep." Torrance stated nervously as she shot to her feet.

"Tuck me in first." coyly the model demanded as she went to her bed.

Moving to the bed, Torrance pulled the covers up around Helen before leaning down to give her a soft kiss that lasted several moments. "Sweet dreams, angel." she mumbled, regretting that she couldn't stay as she pulled away.

"You too."

Going into her own room, Torrance got herself prepared for bed. Even though she was elated at the turn of events, the fact that she wanted so much more from her now girlfriend left her with an unfulfilled need. Sliding into bed Torrance quickly began to drift off, tired from all the exercise they had done that day.

Long after Torrance had left her room, Helen lied there thinking about the photographer. Torrance had brought her to the edge with her sweetness and obvious desire. The blonde knew that she wanted to experience everything before going back to the States, but she wondered if she went to Torrance, the brunette would satisfy her. Knowing how the older woman felt about intimacy, Helen had her doubts that Torrance would be receptive to the idea, but her own longing made her rise from her bed and head out the her open balcony doors toward Torrance's room. Standing in the doorway, Helen momentarily gazed at the sleeping woman. The blonde felt her pulse pounding as she realized what she was about to do, but wanting to fall into oblivion with the woman who had won her, she left her modesty and reservations at the door, swiftly moving into the room. Going to the bed, Helen didn't give herself a chance to hesitate as she leaned down to give Torrance a powerful kiss on her slightly open lips.

Torrance jumped at the feeling as her eyes shot open. She groaned deeply as the blonde slid onto the bed on top of her, diving deeper into her mouth. Torrance responded by wrapping her arms around the petite woman and actively participating in the kiss. Finally managing to break away from the assault for air, Torrance panted, "Helen."

"Please. Don't talk, Torrance. Just make love to me." the younger woman pleaded.

The simple entreaty crumbled Torrance's willpower. It was what she had always dreamed of and having the woman she adored requesting her love was more than she could withstand. Taking the lead between them, Torrance sat up to kiss the teacher with passion as her hands made quick work of the model's top. Helen followed suit, slipping Torrance's t-shirt over her head. Bringing her hands up to the blonde's breasts, Torrance began to kiss down her neck. Helen's moaned as the photographer's hands caressed her with exquisite tenderness and fervor. Instinctively trying to increase the contact, her hips pressed into Torrance's stomach. Torrance moaned feeling the blonde's wetness against her. Moving her mouth further down the model's body, she circled one breast with her tongue teasingly before closing over it. Helen cried out lightly, her back arching toward the contact as her hands cradled Torrance's head tightly against her chest. She could feel herself beginning to peak already, but wanting the moment to happen with the brunette inside of her, she pleaded, "Oh, God, Torrance. Please. I need you inside of me."

Complying with the request, Torrance gently rolled Helen over onto her back as her body found its way between the petite thighs. Kissing her way down the teacher's body, the brunette worked Helen's shorts off. Breathing in deeply the brunette took in the scent of the woman she loved before giving into her desires to taste her fantasy. The unexpected move took Helen completely by surprise, for a moment breaking the mood as she realized for the first time exactly what she had gotten herself into. Having never considered this particular type of affection, she briefly panicked as she realized she hadn't been ready to accept all that this experience would entail. However before she could even consider a protest, her body overrode her mind, as the feeling of Torrance being so intimate with her carried her over the edge. Crying out loudly her hand pushed Torrance's face in deeper as her other hand clung tightly to the sheet. Overwhelmed with the intensity of her climax, she was totally unprepared when she felt Torrance inside of her for the first time. Calling out the photographer's name, she could only hold tighter to the hard body on top of her as Torrance kissed back up her to meet her mouth in a light kiss.

"I've got you, baby." Torrance whispered as she began to gently thrust in time with Helen's hips. Being unable to even think, the model simply rode the feelings of bliss, allowing them to take her to a place she had never been in her life as she surprisingly reached the pinnacle a second time under the ministrations of Torrance's masterful hands. As she fell from the edge that again, she could feel Torrance still her movement. "I've got you, honey. Just hold onto me. I love you so much, Helen." the brunette confessed lovingly into her ear as the model began to descend. Managing to meet Torrance's green eyes, she saw them sparkling with a love she had never seen anywhere in her life. Torrance leaned down to kiss her mouth again. "I've got to taste you again. It was too fast the first time." she whispered.

Unable to even think coherently, Helen quickly found herself floating along the tide of orgasmic delight for a third time at the combination of the photographer's fingers and mouth feasting upon her. As it claimed her, her body shook uncontrollably and she temporarily blacked out. When she came to, she found herself on her side curled up on Torrance's bare chest. As the reality of where she was and what she had done took hold of her, Helen became terrified. There she was lying on top of another naked woman, the same woman that moments ago had touched her in ways she never had imagined. Thinking about Torrance's words from a few nights pervious about love between women being reciprocal, she began to panic at the idea of trying to perform the same for the photographer. In all her fantasies, she had never once dreamed about returning the actions, instead always focusing on how it would feel when Torrance touched her, but now as the time to act loomed before her, she froze in fear. She knew she wasn't ready to bestow the touch onto Torrance, and she suddenly regretted that she had initiated the whole event. Not knowing how to explain her reservations to the woman who held her, Helen laid perfectly still, not daring to move as she pondered how she would be able to leave the situation without paining the woman who had loved her so well. After several minutes Helen knew she had to face whatever Torrance's reaction might be to her selfishness, so she slowly lifted her head from Torrance's chest. Surprised to find the older woman asleep, Helen breathed a sigh of temporary relief and took her chance to leave, easing out of bed as quietly as possible to return to her own room.

The next morning when Torrance awoke and realized she was alone, she first thought making love to Helen had only been a dream. Reliving some of the details in her mind, she smiled as she made her way out of bed, but as soon as she realized that she was naked, she knew for certain it had been real. Immediately she became concerned, because Helen had walked out on her. Rushing out the balcony to Helen's room, she tried to pull open Helen's doors, but they were locked. Peering in through the window, it appeared that Helen had already gone downstairs and taken her belongings with her. Heading back to her own room, Torrance quickly dressed for the day. Dashing downstairs she barreled through the swinging door that separated the living room for the dining area, practically tripping on her own feet and stumbling over to the table where her family and Helen were already eating breakfast. Torrance and Helen's eyes locked in a long stare.

"Where's the fire, Torrance? And what's with your manners? Can't you at least say good morning?" Maria inquired.

With eyes only for the blonde, Torrance stated, "Good morning, Mother, Nonna, Nonno. Morning, Helen." Helen couldn't even reply as she dropped her gaze down to her plate. The confusion in Torrance's eyes was too much for her to bear. Seeing Helen turn away from her, Torrance felt her heart tearing.

"Torrance, well don't just stand there. Sit down and have something to eat." her mother instructed.

"I'm not hungry. I'm going on a walk. I'll be back in a bit." she mumbled.

"You have to take Helen to the airport in an hour." her mother informed her.

"I know. I'll be back by then." Torrance reported before racing from the room.

"That girl can be so moody." Maria mentioned casting a glance at Helen. "She gets it from her father." Helen just nodded as she tried to hold back the tears that had formed in her eyes at Torrance's sudden departure. She knew she had hurt the photographer by not staying the night, but seeing her for the first time since the incident was difficult for her, especially since she had caused Torrance pain. "Oh, what's wrong, my dear? Did Torrance hurt your feelings?" Maria asked in concern.

"No. I'm afraid I'm the one who hurt her." she said as she began to cry. "I'm sorry. Please excuse me." Rising from the table, she left the room as well. Not knowing where else to go for privacy, she headed back upstairs to the room she had been using. Going over to the balcony doors, she looked out to see Torrance sprinting down the path toward her special place, and it made her sob all the more.

That day Torrance's family accompanied them to the airport, leaving them no time for a serious conversation, but Torrance was relieved that she didn't have to be alone with Helen after what had happened. She could clearly see that the model was discontent, and she felt sure that she had ruined what was a blossoming relationship for carnal desires. The awkwardness during the ride continued while they waited for Helen's plane. Neither of them spoke to each other. Instead Torrance was completely quiet as Helen tried to make small talk with Torrance's family. Finally when it was time to leave, Helen hugged Torrance's grandparents and mother before coming to stand in front of the photographer. Seeing the pain in the brunette's green eyes was too much for her, and she began to cry.

Instinctively Torrance reached out to wipe her tears. Helen leaned into the touch as her eyes remained locked with Torrance's. "Well, good bye, Torrance." she whispered.

The formal finality in the teacher's voice stung the older woman as she tried to keep her own tears from falling. Thinking that it might be the last time she ever saw the woman that held her heart, Torrance gave in to her need to express her love one last time. Leaning down she brushed the blonde's lips lightly with her own. "Je t'aime (I love you), mon cherie. Adieu (Good bye), Helen." Helen took one last look into the eyes that she loved before turning to walk away. As Torrance watched her walk down the narrow corridor leading to the plane, she began to weep. "I've lost her, Mama." she whispered when she felt arms encircle her waist consolingly.

"It'll be all right, Torrance. You'll see. Whatever you two were fighting about can be made right."

Torrance shook her head adamantly. "No. She'll never take me back. It's over. I'll never love anyone else again the way I love her." she sobbed.

"Don't despair, honey. I promise you that you can work it out. She loves you as much as you do her."

When Helen arrived back in the States, Kelly was waiting on her at the gate. They hugged lightly as Kelly inquired, "How was your trip?"

"Fine." Helen mumbled. "Best vacation I've ever been on."

"That sounds really convincing."

"I'm just tired. It was a long flight. I just want to get my bags and go home."

As they began to walk toward the baggage claim, Kelly inquired, "How's Torrance?"

Helen shrugged. "I don't want to talk about her."

"Why not? Did something happen?"

Helen glared at Kelly. "I said I don't want to talk about her."

"Okay, we won't." Kelly answered. Even as much as Kelly tried to get her to talk, Helen refused, sulking on the ride home instead and then going straight to her room.


A week later Torrance and her mother were on the same flight back to New York. As they sat in first class just talking, her mother mentioned, "Now that a few days have passed, why don't you try to talk to Helen? I'm sure whatever the disagreement was can be overcome."

"I don't think so, Mama. She seemed pretty set on never seeing or hearing from me again."

"Come on, Torrance. You told me you loved this woman, that you could never love another. Isn't she worth fighting for? Don't let go of the best thing that's happened to you because of your pride."

Glaring at her Torrance inquired, "Well, what do you think I should do?"

She shrugged. "I don't know. Send her flowers or a note or something to let her know that she's on your mind. Ask for forgiveness for your part of this disaster. Do something. Don't just sit there and let her slip further and further away. I mean don't you want her in your life?"

"Of course I do."

"Then go to her and tell her as much. I could see that she loves you in her eyes, Torrance. Don't give up on that."

Torrance looked out the window. "Maybe you're right. I guess it couldn't hurt to try." she admitted.

"Good. I'm glad you've come to your senses. You two will be back together in no time. You'll see."

The following Saturday Helen and Kelly had just come back from their morning run together when there was a knock on the door. Wondering who it might be at such an hour, Kelly went to open it as Helen sat on the couch and slipped off her running shoes. As soon as her roommate opened the door, Helen saw the largest arrangement of white roses she had ever seen, and her heart fell into her stomach when the driver announced that they were for her.

"Well, looks like Torrance hasn't given up on you." Kelly mentioned as she closed the door and moved to put the flowers on the table. Helen just stared at them. "Aren't you going to read the card?" Kelly inquired. Helen shook her head. "Why not? What happened between you two?"

"I don't want to talk about it. Could you put those somewhere where I don't have to look at them?"

Kelly sighed. "Man, she must have really screwed up for you to be acting so mean. Aren't you at least a little curious as to what she said?" Kelly asked holding the card up. "Why don't you let me read it?"

"Fine. Suit yourself." Helen relented.

Kelly immediately ripped open the note and read it. When she had finished, she said, "Well, you certainly have some explaining to do. I'm totally confused."

Curiosity getting the better of her as well, Helen inquired, "What did it say? Give it to me."

Reaching for the note in her roommate's hand, she looked down at Torrance's strong script. "Helen, I am so sorry for what has happened between us. This is not the way I intended things to go. I need to talk to you. Please. I'm begging you to at least let me see you. Please give me a second chance. Much love, Torrance."

Closing the card Helen dropped her head as her tears began. "She's apologizing to me." she mumbled. "She has no idea what's wrong."

"What is wrong? Obviously you're extremely upset and have been since you came back. What did she do?"

"She didn't do anything, Kelly. It was all me, and she's the one trying to say she's sorry. God, is she trying to be a saint? She makes it impossible for me not to love her."

"Do you love her?" hesitantly Kelly asked. Helen paused but then gave a nod. "Then what's wrong?"

"If I tell you, you have to promise not to tell anyone else, not even Mark." Helen demanded.

"All right. It'll stay between us. What happened?"

"While I was in Italy things happened between Torrance and me."

"I gathered that. What things are you talking about?"

Covering her face with her hands, Helen admitted, "We had sex."

"Oh, my." Kelly fumbled. "Well, was it terrible? Was she that bad? Is that the problem?"

"No. God, she was anything but." the blonde sobbed. Instantly Kelly put her arms around her roommate. "Kelly, it was like nothing I've ever experienced. She knew exactly how to please me physically. I've never responded like that with anyone else. It was actually a bit overwhelming because of the intense rush of emotions at her touch."

"Was it only physical though?"

"No. She said and did just the right things. I mean she even told me she loved me in the middle of it. I couldn't have asked for more. It truly was the first time in my life I knew with certainty that the person I was with really loved me and wanted to be with me that way in order to express that love. I didn't feel like she was using me at all. She was giving to me the entire time."

"Well, that sounds perfect. Why are you so upset with her?"

"I'm not upset with her. I'm mad at myself, because I realized too late that I had selfish motivations for going to her bed. I was the one who used her, and I regret the whole event, because I wasn't able to be as open and giving as she had been."

"What do you mean?"

Helen fidgeted for a moment. "I just realized during the middle of things that I wasn't able to return the favors she had given to me."

"You mean you didn't touch her? Did she want you to? Was there a fight about it?"

"There was no fight. I don't know if she wanted me too or not. She fell asleep before there was any sort of conversation about it. Kelly, it was so wrong of me to trifle with her feelings. I knew going in there that night what it would mean to her to be intimate, but I was just too curious to let it go, and now I've hurt her. I feel awful about this whole thing. The last thing I ever wanted to do was hurt Torrance, but I did, and it's going to hurt even worse when I have to tell her the truth."

"But you just said you loved her. If she loves you and vice versa, this should be easy enough to work out."

Helen shook her head as she wiped the tears from her cheeks. "I don't feel the same way she feels for me. It's true that I love her, but she is in love with me. There's a big difference. I'm not in love with her." she lied.

Kelly looked at her for a moment before quietly inquiring, "Are you sure?"

Helen sighed as she looked at her roommate and best friend. Ignoring the question she mentioned, "What's even worse though is that now I'm going to have to call her and try to break this off before things get even more out of hand. It pains me to think that I'm going to hurt her even more when I tell her we can't see each other any longer."

"Not even as friends? Helen, are you sure you really want to do that?"

"What choice do I have? It wouldn't be fair to make her have to watch me with other people. It don't want this to be any more painful than it has to be. This is for the best. Now I have to go call her." she mumbled getting off the couch.

Torrance was sitting on her balcony that morning drinking her coffee and studying the pictures she had taken for her book. As she came to the photos of the blonde, her heart ached in sadness at the problems she had caused by not being stronger. If she had only turned the teacher down gently instead of giving in to her own desires, they wouldn't be in their current position. Torrance softly traced the contours of Helen's face in the photograph as she wondered if the model had received her gift yet. She wanted to call Helen so badly but opted to wait until she heard from the younger woman. Just then her thoughts were broken by the sound of the phone. Picking it up from her bistro table, she mumbled a greeting.

"Torrance, hi. It's Helen." the model hesitantly announced.

"Hi. I was just thinking about you."

"You were?"

"Yeah. I was working on my book."

"Oh." Helen mumbled. After an awkward pause between them, she said, "I got the flowers this morning. They're beautiful. Thank you."

"I'm glad you like them."

"Listen. Your note said you wanted to talk. I think that's a good idea. I have something I need to tell you, but I don't want to do it over the phone. Is there anyway I can see you tomorrow?"

"Sure. I'll drive over. You want to go to lunch?" excitedly Torrance proposed, pleased that Helen wanted to see her.

"All right. About what time?" the blonde asked neutrally.

"Around noon. That way I don't have to get up too early."

"Fine. See you then. I'll let you get back to work."

The next day Torrance was anxious as she arrived at Helen's door. The conversation they had the previous day left no indication of what the teacher wanted to discuss, but Torrance tried to keep a positive outlook. Knocking on the door, she hoped for the best but prepared for what she thought could be the worst. When Helen came to the door, she put on her most charming smile.

As soon as Helen saw Torrance, she exclaimed, "You're soaking wet. Is it raining that badly outside?"

"Yeah. It started on the way down, and I forgot an umbrella."

"Well, get in here. We need to get you dried off, at least a little."

"Don't worry about it. I thought we would just go to lunch first anyway." the photographer offered in hopes of delaying what looked like was going to be a serious conversation by the look on Helen's features.

"If it's all the same to you, I'd rather not go out. Come sit down. Are you sure I can't get you a change of clothes or a towel?"

"No, I'll be fine." Torrance answered making her way over to the couch. Helen took a seat next to her, and for a moment they just looked at each other. Seeing the teacher's obvious distress, Torrance softly said, "You know, Helen, I hope you know me well enough by now to know that you can say anything to me. I can see that you're upset. Whatever is bothering you, don't be afraid to tell me."

Shaking her head Helen mumbled, "You are always thinking of others. Even now when I'm only thinking about myself, you still are trying to put my needs above your own."

Torrance sensed impending trouble by Helen's comment, but she decided to take the initiative, and by working through it hoped they could come out the other side together. "Listen, Helen. We're both here to talk, and there's something I would like to say. Would you mind if I went first?" The blonde shook her head. Tentatively Torrance enveloped the teacher's hand in her own. "Helen, that night we were together I told you that I loved you. As much as I do mean that, I'm sorry if that made you uncomfortable. I thought that was a perfectly wonderful moment to tell you, but if I made a mistake in letting you know that at the wrong time, I'm really sorry." she apologized, going with her instinct that her confession was the issue.

Helen gave her a tearful smile. "Oh, Torrance, I am not angry or uncomfortable with that. It was the perfect moment. I could never be upset that someone said that to me."

Torrance nodded. Going with her second inclination, she continued, "Well, I'm also sorry that I fell asleep. I'm sure that wasn't exactly what you had in mind. It's just that I was concentrating so hard on giving you pleasure that I never considered you might want to do the same for me. I just wanted you to feel how much I love you, but I promise I'll make it up to you. You can take the lead next time, and I'll just let you do whatever you want."

Getting closer to the real problem, Helen shifted uncomfortably and pulled her hand away from the brunette's. "Torrance, that night was like nothing I ever experienced, but I have to admit that I was completely overwhelmed. I wasn't expecting things to be the way they were. I wasn't as ready as I thought I was."

"Do you regret what happened?" Torrance softly inquired.

The blonde looked into Torrance's green eyes and saw the concern there. Even though she knew what she was about to do was going to hurt the older woman, she felt it was for the best. "I'm sorry, Torrance, but I do. It was too fast for me."

Torrance took in the confession calmly, showing little of her feelings on her face. Taking a deep breath, she said, "Well, I am sorry you feel that way, because I feel the opposite. However we can still work around this. I'm willing to start again from the beginning if that's what you want. We'll take things slower. I just want to be with you, Helen, even if that means we have to start all over."

Helen shook her head. "I can't start again, Torrance. What happened can't be erased. I know I said I wanted more from our friendship, but I've changed my mind. I'm sorry. I'm just not ready for this kind of relationship nor do I think I ever will be."

Torrance dropped her head forward as she tried to stop the tears from coming. Getting herself under enough control, she gave a small smile she didn't feel as she stated, "Well, I guess it's friends then."

It was Helen's turn to look away as she began to cry. Knowing she had to go all the way through with things, she said, "Torrance, I don't think that's a good idea, especially since I know how you feel about me. It wouldn't be fair to either of us. I don't want to hurt you more than I already have, but I think if we were to remain friends, there is a possibility of that. You deserve more than I can give you. It's for the best that we not see each other any longer."

Torrance felt her heart rip at the blonde's request. Looking into the green eyes that she loved so dearly and seeing them wet with tears, Torrance wanted nothing more than to embrace the blonde, but she withheld. For once she had no words, so she simply sat mute for several minutes. She refused to cry in front of Helen, because she could tell the teacher was already hurting, and she didn't want to make her feel worse. Finally she rose from the couch saying, "I guess that's all that needs to be said then."

"Torrance, I'm so sorry." Helen sobbed.

The photographer turned to take one last look at the best thing that had ever happened to her life. Knowing this was the last time she would ever see the woman who held her now broken heart, she opted to speak words of comfort instead of bitterness. "Don't be sorry, Helen. Sometimes love just doesn't work out the way we want it to. You gave all that you could to this relationship, and it would be wrong for me to ask for more. I will always remember what we shared in Italy fondly, and I'll be glad that for ten days my dream of being with the most perfect woman in the world was a reality. You had stolen my heart from almost the first moment I knew you, and I'm thankful that you graced me with your presence even for a short while. Thank you for allowing me to love you as I truly do. I hope that someday you find what you're looking for." She paused to take in the beauty of the woman before her one last time. Giving in to her need to express her deepest affection, she whispered, "I love you, Helen Melbourne. Good bye."

Going back out to her SUV, Torrance just sat in the driver's seat for several minutes staring at the building where her beloved lived, knowing that she would never again make the journey from New York to Philadelphia. Feeling completely destroyed she decided to seek out the comfort of the only woman who truly loved her unconditionally, heading off to her parents' house in the Poconos. As she drove it became hard to distinguish if it was tears or rain that perpetually blurred her vision. Arriving to the area a couple of hours later, she made a brief stop in the small town at her favorite restaurant for lunch before heading next door the liquor store to get her old security blanket of Scotch. Driving up to her parents' home, Torrance sat in her car at the end of the driveway drinking straight from the bottle as she contemplated how she would tell her mother that Helen had asked never to see her again instead of trying to work things out as she had hoped. Torrance didn't realize how long she sat there watching the ran wash over her car as she sobbed. Finally when her bottle ran dry, she went up to the house. She hardly even noticed the cold pelting rain as her only thought was of being in the consoling arms of her mother. Since she knew that at least her mother was there, she decided that she should knock instead of using her key. It seemed to take forever until the door opened, and she saw her mother standing there.

"Torrance, my God, what happened to you?" she immediately asked in concern reaching for her daughter. Torrance collapsed into her mother's arms as she wept uncontrollably. "Darling, are you hurt?" Maria inquired taking Torrance's face in her hands and staring at her seriously. Torrance couldn't even reply. Her mother took the opportunity to look over the photographer. Taking the empty bottle from Torrance's hand, she set it on the side table before taking the taller woman into her arms again. "Come on, Torrance. Let's get you out of these wet clothes and into bed. Then you can tell me why you've been binge drinking today." Torrance let her mother lead her upstairs into her old room and help her into drier clothes before crumpling into bed. Maria joined her curving her arms around Torrance and bringing her head into her shoulder. "I haven't seen you this upset over something since you lost Alena. Should I assume Helen is responsible for this?"

"She said she never wanted to see me again, Mama. It's over."

"Oh, darling, I'm so sorry. Did she give you a reason?"

"She didn't want to be in a relationship with me, and she thought us being friends wouldn't be fair to either of us since she knew how I felt. I don't understand it. I feel like she lied to me."

"She did, Torrance. That woman loves you the way you love her. I've seen it in her eyes and her touch. She adores you. I don't know what has her so scared, but it's not a lack of interest that keeps her away. What happened in Italy? Why did you fight that day?"

Torrance shrugged. "She got freaked out, because we had sex, but she came to me, Mama. I didn't try to seduce her. She's the one who came to my bed. I gave her everything. Why would she do this?"

Running her hands through her daughter's wet dark hair, Maria replied, "I don't know. She's scared of something. Not all people are like you, honey. Some are not as confident with who they are. This might be traumatic for her to realize she has deep feelings for you."

"But why wouldn't she just tell me that? I would understand! Instead she told me to get out of her life! I'm never going to see her again, Mama! I can't go on without seeing her!" Torrance wailed.

They lied quietly together on the bed as Torrance cried, and her mother held her. A few minutes later there was a knock on the open door. Looking over and seeing her father, Torrance immediately tried to look composed as she frantically wiped her wet face and sat up. "What's wrong, Torrance?" he asked coming into the room. Noticing her empty scotch bottle in his hand, she knew where the conversation was going to go.

"Nothing. I'm just having a bad day. I'm not feeling well."

"I can't imagine why. Drinking a whole bottle of this will make anyone sick." he mentioned putting the bottle on the bed. "You should eat something."

"Yes, why don't I go make you some soup? I'll be right back." her mother suggested taking leave of them.

Once she was gone, Torrance's father took a seat on the bed and stared at his daughter. "Is there something I can do to help you?" he inquired tenderly, his voice revealing his obvious fondness for her even through their differences.

"No. There's nothing anyone can do. I have to go this one alone."

"Women problems?" he guessed. Torrance nodded. "Well, you're young still, and there are a lot of women out there. You shouldn't let one get you down. She's not worth it. Move on to the next one. I'm sure you've got plenty to choose from."

"Maybe but she's the one I wanted."

"You think that now, but just give it time. You'll be back in the field before you know it."

When her mother returned, her father excused himself, leaving the two women alone again. "Here. Eat this. It'll help you feel better." Maria instructed. Torrance did as she was told, slowly eating the chicken soup and crackers. When she had finished, her mother looked at her seriously. "Torrance, I know you're hurting right now, but I have to tell you I'm concerned that you showed up at the door with this bottle in your hand. You've worked so hard to get where you are. I don't want to see you lose yourself like you did when you were a kid in drugs and alcohol. You know through your time in rehab that this is not the answer to your problems. Please don't let Helen destroy everything you've made of yourself. You've been clean of drugs for almost ten years now. Promise me you won't go back to that, because you're in pain. I'm worried about you."

Torrance took her hand. "I promise you, Mama. I will not go back to drugs. I know I'm down right now, but not even Helen can put me back in that hell. You don't have to worry."

"I do worry, Torrance. I'm your mother. It's my job." Torrance gave a nod in understanding. "Why don't you try to rest now? Get some sleep if you can."

"I have to get back to New York."

"No you don't. You're staying here tonight. We're having a party tomorrow evening. Why don't you stay for it?"

"I don't know."

"Well, just think about it. You can decide tomorrow. If you need anything, you know where to find me." she stated picking up the dishes.

Looking up at her mother, Torrance gave a small smile. "Thank you for being here, Mama. I love you."

"I love you too, honey." she whispered kissing Torrance's forehead before turning to go.

Torrance spent the rest of the night tossing in bed. Between her tears and trying to sleep, she wondered how she would ever go on without the blonde model who had captured her heart. Torrance knew she didn't have a choice but to try to get over the loss, but at the moment she truly felt as her life would never be the same again. After sleeping in late, she finally rose from bed to dress. Since she always kept some clothes at her parents' house, she had a clean outfit to change into after her shower. Going downstairs she got caught up in the whirlwind of commotion in preparation for the party. Seeing her mother on the deck talking to what looked like the caterer, Torrance just hovered in the background until her mother was free. "Morning." she greeted with a hug when they were alone.

"Good afternoon more like it. Are you feeling any better?"

"A little, at least physically. It's busy around here. What time is the party?"

"Seven. I hope you're going to stay. Your father and I would love to have you here. We so rarely get to spend time with you."

"Well, I would never deny you that pleasure, Mother, but I'm not sure I have the appropriate clothes. I'll have to go shopping for something to wear."

"I thought you had a formal suit in your closet up there."

"Well, I'll have to try it on. I haven't worn it in forever, so I'm not sure it fits."

"Then go do that. If we need to go shopping, we'll have to go straight away. There isn't much time, and I have so much to do."

"Then don't worry about me. I can figure it out alone. You just do your thing. I'll make sure I have something appropriate to wear that won't embarrass you."

"You never could do that, darling. You always have impeccable taste, even in jeans. Run along now and leave me to my work."

That evening Torrance finished dressing just as she heard the doorbell the first time. Going downstairs she joined her parents in playing a gracious hostess. Most of the company that night she had met before through other parties that her parents had given, so she just hung around the open bar watching the festivities from afar. However about half way through the evening as Torrance was beginning to get tired of the bar, a woman in her early forties approached it alone. She gave Torrance a smile before placing her order.

Feeling like she needed to say something to be polite, Torrance said, "Hi. How are you tonight?"

"Great thanks. You?" the shorter blonde replied with a smile.

"Just fine. I don't believe we've ever had the pleasure of meeting. I'm Torrance Whitfield, Thomas and Maria's daughter." she introduced extending her hand.

"Claire St. John."

"Have you ever been to one of my parents' parties before? I'm sure I would've remembered a face like yours." Torrance said flirtingly, watching the other woman blush slightly.

"Actually this is only my second party, and I'm without my husband this time. Are you the Torrance Whtifield?"

"Depends on what you mean by that." Torrance mentioned handing over the champagne Claire had ordered to her.

"I mean New York's most famous lesbian photographer."

"I don't think I've ever heard myself be described that way. Photographer is true enough." she teased.

"I've seen your work. It's absolutely fantastic. I'm surprised we haven't met before. I've been to a few of your exhibitions."

"Thank you. My agent books that stuff, and I usually don't know half the people there, but I am surprised as well. Had I seen you I definitely would've come introduce myself, husband or not."

"He wouldn't be caught dead in a place like that. He's so conservative. Art isn't his thing."

"Well, that's too bad, but enough about him. I want to hear more about you. You like art?"

"I adore it. It's my life. I actually own a small art gallery in New York. What I wouldn't give to have you in there."

"That could be arranged. I'd love to come by and see it sometime."

"Anytime. I would love to give you a personal tour." Claire stated stepping in closer. "Tell me something. Do you parents have any of your work here?"

Torrance gave her a charming smile. Extending her hand experimentally she softly said, "I'll show it to you if you want."

Claire looked up at her with her blue eyes for a moment before putting her hand in Torrance's. "That would be wonderful. I'd love to see them."

Leading them along the periphery of the gathering, Torrance led them down the hall to the study and shut the door behind them for privacy. Now that they were alone Torrance pondered making more of a move. She had sensed a receptivity in the blonde, but the fact that the woman was married posed a small problem. Going over to the book shelf, Torrance pulled out a book and asked, "Have you ever seen this? This was my first book."

Claire took it from her, flipping through it slowly. "You capture the female body like I've never seen. You have a way of showing women at their finest regardless of what's going on around them. Like this picture for example." she mentioned.

Torrance moved behind her to look over her shoulder to she the photo Claire was referring to. "Oh, one of my exs." teased Torrance. "I do like this shot myself." she admitted.

"An ex, huh? Well, you've done such a good job with this one. I can feel the power she exudes, but you can also see a vulnerability there in her eyes."

"Seems like everyone always likes the pictures of the exs. I know it's going to happen again in my next book as well. The best I have is of the woman who just left me."

Claire turned to look over her shoulder. "How could anyone leave you? You're kind and successful, not to mention dashingly sexy. Who wouldn't want you?"

"She was just a little to straight I guess."

"Heck I'm straight, and I want you." she softly said.

For a moment Torrance actually thought Claire was serious, but she decided not to pursue the blonde unless she had more evidence that the older woman really desired her. Nevertheless she gave the gallery owner a sexy grin. "It would be easy to want you too." she mentioned taking the book from her and putting it back on the shelf. "Here's one you'll never see anywhere else." she stated pointing to the black and white on the wall of her mother.

"Wow. Your mother is so beautiful already, but you really seize her essence."

The rest of the evening once they returned to the party Torrance could sense Claire studying her from across the room. Every time she looked up she saw those blue eyes on her. Going with it Torrance always gave the older woman her most charming smiles. As people began to filter out for the night Torrance stood by the door with her parents telling people good bye. When Claire approached she gave Torrance's parents hugs. "I had a wonderful time this evening, Maria. You've out done yourself."

"Well, I'm glad you enjoyed yourself."

"And you have such an accomplished, enchanting daughter. You must be very proud."

"We are. Are you going back to New York tonight, or are you staying in town like some others?"

"I'm staying in town."

"Then you must join us for brunch tomorrow."

"That would be lovely. Thank you."

"How are you getting back to the hotel?" Torrance interjected, wondering if her night with this woman was going to abruptly end at her parents' door.

"Oh, I scheduled a driver to come pick me up. I'm not sure if he's here yet or not."

"Well, I could take you back if you'd like." she suggested nonchalantly, trying not to let her parents on to what was going on.

"That's gracious of you, Torrance. If you're sure it wouldn't be a problem, but I could always wait for my limo."

"It's no problem. Just let me get my keys."

A few minutes later Torrance and Claire were on their way back to the hotel. "Thanks for the ride, Torrance. This is an unexpected pleasure." Claire said slipping her hand onto Torrance's thigh. Torrance shot her a grin but said nothing. She knew that the older woman was flirting with her, but she wondered exactly what might happen once they reached the hotel. Quietly the two of them listened to the radio until Torrance pulled up in front of the hotel. As the valet started for the car, Claire turned to her. "Well, could I invite you upstairs for a drink? It's the least I could do for the ride."

Feeling Claire's hand massaging her inner thigh, Torrance knew drinks were the last thing on the blonde's mind. Under normal circumstances Torrance never went to bed with women she had just met, but after the way Helen had treated her, she desperately wanted to be desired. For a beautiful self-proclaimed straight woman to be propositioning her was more than she could handle. Giving in to her own cravings, she reached over to the blonde, slipping her hand under the hem of her black dress and leaning in closer to the older woman's lips as she questioned, "Just a drink, Claire?"

"Just anything you want." the blonde whispered.

Feeling Claire's breath caress her face, Torrance knew the ball was in her court. If she wanted to go to bed with this woman, she could have her. Pulling away she mentioned, "Then we better stop giving the valet a show and go upstairs." Claire led the way into the hotel where she was greeted by the concierge politely. Guiding them over to the elevator, Claire got in first and pressed her floor. As soon as the doors closed, Torrance looked over at her company. "Could I ask you something, Claire? How many times have done something like this?"

"Would you believe me if I said none?" Claire asked with a chuckle.

"No." Torrance replied shaking her head.

"Well, you'd be right. Does that matter to you?"

Giving her a predatory grin, Torrance backed the older woman into a corner. Leaning down toward her mouth, Torrance whispered, "The only thing that matters is that I'm about to fuck you like you've never had it before."

Claire groaned loudly as Torrance crushed their mouths together in a powerful lock. She clawed at Torrance's jacket with increasing fervor as Torrance forced her way into the blonde's mouth. It was only when the elevator chimed, signaling their floor that the photographer broke away. "Oh God, somehow I knew you'd be this way, all forceful and aggressive. It's what made me want you in the first place." Claire whispered pulling Torrance by the hand down the hall to her room. As Claire tried to unlock the door, Torrance leaned down and brushed her neck lightly with kisses as her arms came around the blonde. "Oh, of course, that's quite nice too." the older woman whispered at the tender display.

Seeing that the door had not been successfully opened, Torrance pulled away a bit as she said, "Here. Let me help you with that." She took the key from the blonde and opened the door for them. Pushing it open she whispered, "Heaven awaits."

Torrance followed the older blonde into the room and waited as she flipped on the lights. She hadn't played this type of game since she was younger, but feeling exhilarated by Claire's obvious desires, she went with it. The gallery owner moved toward the bathroom as she mentioned, "I'm just going to put on something more comfortable. Be right back. Help yourself to a drink."

Going to the bar, Torrance grabbed one of the mini bottles of scotch that was sitting there and poured it into a glass. Several minutes passed until she heard the bathroom door open. Looking up she saw Claire standing there in a black silk robe. Giving her a sexy grin, Torrance slowly made her way over to the shorter woman. "You know I just remembered why I enjoy older women so much. They always are so much more confident, and they know how to get what they want." she growled playfully encircling Claire's waist and leaning to kiss her.

"I've got a little something for you." Claire whispered pressing something small into Torrance's hand. Torrance looked at it instantly knowing what it was. Her heart stopped for a moment as she realized she was holding what used to be her drug of choice. "My younger companions usually enjoy having a little something extra during the night." the blonde explained.

Torrance gulped. Even though she had been off drugs for years having it right in front of her proved to be more of a temptation than she thought it would. Part of her desperately wanted to use them, because she knew it would help her forget Helen. However then she thought of her mother and the promise she had made not to go back. If she fell now, she would disappoint her mother, and she had sworn to herself long ago after going through rehab the first time never to do that. Giving Claire a smile, Torrance tossed the cocaine onto the night stand. "If it's all the same, I'd rather just stick to having you instead." she whispered.

"Fine by me." Claire moaned as Torrance attacked her neck.

Later that night as Torrance was dressing to go home, she looked over at the blonde in bed. "Well, Claire, it was a pleasure meeting you."

The blonde gave a dreamy smile. "Oh, I think the pleasure was all mine, Torrance. I would hate for this to be good bye though. Maybe we could get together sometime in New York?"

"Sure. Why not?"

"Wonderful. You might just become my new best friend." the older woman teased crawling to where Torrance was sitting on the edge of the bed to tie her shoes and wrapping her arms around Torrance's broad shoulders. "My friends are going to be so envious that I have gotten a toy like you."

"Well, if you were a real friend, you might share." Torrance joked.

"Oh? And would you like really like to fuck all your mother's friends?"

"If they want me, I'm available." she stated.

Claire laughed lightly. "You are such a hot commodity. I don't know if they could handle you, but I'll pass your message along. I know at least half the women in the room tonight would have loved to have been on the receiving end of your tongue."

Shooting her a devilish smile, Torrance whispered, "Well, my tongue is glad to be of service, but I have to go now."

"I wish you didn't." the blonde mentioned as Torrance put on her jacket.

"Well, it would be a little hard to explain to my mother. I don't think she would appreciate it if she knew I've been screwing one of her married friends. I mean she's liberal, but she would probably draw the line there I think."

"Will I see you at the brunch tomorrow?"

"Maybe. I haven't decided yet, but you have my card. Call me." she said making her way toward the door.

Over the next six months Torrance stayed busy between work and entertaining all her mother's female friends. Claire had taken her seriously that night and before she knew it, she had slipped back into the lifestyle that she had tried so hard to leave, but instead of being a teenager with girls her own age, she had suddenly turned into God's gift to married women over forty. Almost nightly she was with someone different, but it never failed that when she closed her eyes, images of the twenty seven year old teacher from Philadelphia flooded her mind. No matter how many women she had, Torrance still felt as empty as the day Helen had walked out of her life. Just when it seemed impossible for things to get worse, the game went a little too far one night with Torrance ending up in the emergency room when Claire's husband found them together and threw the photographer out the window of their second story loft. As she lay there alone in her room sedated to help the pain, she began to cry, wishing that for only a moment Helen was with her, which is how her mother found her.

"Oh, God, Torrance, how did this happen?" she exclaimed seeing her daughter's body injured almost from head to toe from cuts along her face and arms to a broken leg and ribs. "Who did this to you?" When Torrance told her, her mother gave her a skeptical glance. "How do you even know them? They're friends of your fathers and mine."

"Claire and I..." she mumbled. "I've been entertaining your friends."

"What? What are you talking about? What do you mean?"

"What do you think, Mother? I've been sleeping with them." Torrance slurred as she fought the drug induced sleep.

Glaring at her daughter, Maria inquired, "What? Who? They're all married! I want names, Torrance!"

"No. You don't need to know. It's not your business."

"Not my business? My friends have been sleeping with my daughter! It is my business! I don't have any single friends! You've been having ongoing affairs with how many of my friends and for how long?"

"It doesn't matter, Mama! It's what they wanted!"

"Maybe but it's not what you wanted! They've been using you!"

"I'm a grown up! I knew what I was doing! It doesn't matter who I've been with! All you need to know is that Claire's husband fucking threw me out of a second story window!"

Maria took a few deep breaths as she moved closer to the bed. "Okay. You need to calm down. I'm sorry that I'm getting you worked up. I just am concerned, Torrance. You promised me you wouldn't go back to this life."

"I'm not on drugs, Mama. I'm just sleeping around with women you happen to know. It's not that big of a deal."

"Not that big of a deal? You're in the hospital, Torrance, just for that reason." Torrance looked away toward the wall as tears came to her eyes again. Her mother gently took a seat on the bed and reached for her daughter's face. Cupping it softly she brought Torrance's gaze back to her own. "You're going to be all right, darling. I'm going to take care of you."

Torrance shook her head. "Why couldn't being thrown out of a window be a fatal accident?" she pondered.

With tears in her own eyes, Maria whispered, "I'm grateful it's not. Oh, Torrance, I know you're hurting and not just physically either, but this is not the answer. No matter how many women you're with you're heart will only get over Helen in its own time. You can't rid your heart of her by having sex with all these women, and in fact you're probably only hurting worse, because you refuse to let yourself mourn your loss. Suicidal actions such as letting husbands catch you in bed with their wives won't bring her back."

"I don't want to live then." Torrance mumbled closing her eyes.


Two summers later Helen was in New York on a photo shoot. Not a day went by that Helen didn't think about the photographer and being in the city where she lived made it more difficult. She often wondered what Torrance was doing and hoped that the older woman was all right. Ever since Torrance had left her life, things hadn't quite been the same. Helen had retreated away from most of her friends, preferring to stay in instead of going out with them, Kelly and Mark being the only two she spent a lot of time with. Most of her time was spent thinking about Torrance and what had happened between them. It hadn't taken very long for Helen to start desiring to see the brunette, but knowing their separation had been her idea, she felt it best that she leave the tall woman in peace. The only time she had tried to contact the photographer was after the book had been released. Quite unexpectedly Helen had received a signed copy in the mail. There was no note attached, only an inscription thanking Helen for all her contributions to the book and wishing her well. Torrance had signed it with love, and it now sat on the coffee table where Helen saw it daily. When her offers for work began to multiply, she thought about sending Torrance a thank you note, and after much discussion with Mark and Kelly did so, hoping that Torrance would take that as enough motivation to contact her, but she never heard anything. That had been over a year ago.

As she left her shoot that day to head back to Philadelphia, her thoughts as usual were with the brunette. Walking with her head down out to the busy street of New York, she checked her watch to see how long she had before her train left. However suddenly she heard the unmistakable voice of the photographer. Jerking her head up, she saw the woman that had dominated her thoughts for the past two years standing in there with a young pregnant woman trying to hail a cab.

Helen was frozen as she watched Torrance open the back door of the cab before hugging the woman and rubbing her stomach in obvious affection. The blonde knew she shouldn't have been eavesdropping, but her heart stopped when she heard Torrance telling the younger woman she would see her at home before bestowing a kiss on her cheek. Suddenly feeling the urge to run, Helen turned to go, but before she could even get two steps, she heard Torrance call her name questioningly.

Slowly Helen turned toward Torrance. "Hi, Torrance." softly she stated looking into the face she still loved and noticing a faint scar along Torrance's temple and specks of gray hair just above her ears but seeing that in almost every other way, the brunette was unchanged. It wasn't until Torrance took a tentative step toward her that Helen observed a small limp.

"Hi. Funny meeting you here. In a city this large I never imagined this would happen. You working?"

"Yeah. I just finished a shoot. You?"

"I was just dropping a package off. How are you?"

"Fine. How are you?" nervously the blonde asked.

Torrance shrugged. "I'm okay I guess."

There was an awkward pause before Helen mentioned, "I got the copy of the book you sent. That was nice of you. Thanks."

"You're welcome. I got your note. I'm glad things are working out well for you."

Helen gave a nod. Not knowing what else to say, she mentioned, "Well, I should probably go."

"Oh." Torrance replied in obvious disappointment. "Well, it was nice to see you."

"You too, Torrance." she stated before turning to walk away. However as she turned her back on the photographer, she wanted nothing more than to stay. She was trying desperately to think of a reason to visit longer when she heard Torrance call her name again. Looking back she saw Torrance walk toward her.

"Listen, Helen, do you have time for a cup of coffee with an old friend?"

"Um... I thought you had business."

"I'm just dropping something off, and then I was going to go across the street for some coffee. Would you like to join me?" As much as she wanted to, Helen had her reservations. Seeing Torrance with another woman had hurt her more than she had cared to admit. Noticing the blonde's hesitation, Torrance gave a smile. "I'll tell you what. I'm going to go upstairs, and then I'm going right over there for coffee." she said pointing to the café across the street. "I would love to see you there, but if I don't it was good to see you. You have about ten minutes to decide. Okay?" Helen gave a nod. Taking one long look at her, Torrance smiled softly saying, "Good bye, Helen."

Helen watched Torrance enter the building before contemplating the offer. She had missed the photographer more than she had admitted to anyone. However seeing that Torrance was now involved with someone else made it difficult for Helen to see her, but her curiosity of what the photographer had been up to in their two years apart made Helen go across the street to wait.

Fifteen minutes later Helen was sitting at a back table anxiously eying the door for the brunette. Her heart pounded nervously wondering what she would say to the woman who she had grown to love even more through their time apart. As soon as she spotted Torrance enter the café, her breathing stopped momentarily as the tall woman flashed her a beautiful smile. Helen sat watching Torrance as she went over to the counter for a beverage. When Torrance came to the table, Helen saw how the older woman was favoring one leg as she walked.

"Well, I didn't really expect you to be here, but I'm glad you are." Torrance stated as she took a seat across the small table.

Helen took a nervous look out the window as she put on a brave front even though she could feel her hands beginning to sweat. "Well, I guess congratulations are in order, huh?" she mentioned lightly, even though her heart ached at seeing Torrance with her pregnant girlfriend.

"You mean the book? You had a lot to do with that. For the first year after that thing came out, I would get daily calls asking me about you, who you were and if you were available for sittings. I always just directed them to your agent. I don't think I've ever had such a response to a piece of work as I have to your face being on the cover of my book."

"Thank you for your referrals. I've had more offers than I can even deal with. I never thought at twenty-nine my modeling career would be on the upswing. It's been a pleasant surprise. You didn't have to do that."

"Nonsense. You have something special about you, Helen, and they all see that. That's why they ask about you. I just took a picture. They know the real beauty is in you."

The blonde blushed at the compliment. "Thanks but I wasn't actually talking about the book."

Looking at her in confusion, Torrance asked, "Then what were you talking about?"

"You and your girlfriend... having a baby. It's what you've always wanted."

Torrance gave a light smile. "You mean Melissa? Oh, she's not my girlfriend. She's my cousin. She's staying with me for awhile, because she's been having some problems at home. I've agreed to help out with the baby. I wish I was that lucky though." she mumbled.

"We all want to be that lucky as to find the right one." Helen mentioned, but as soon as she said it, she knew it would hurt Torrance. Seeing the effect her words had on the older woman's face, she quickly said, "I didn't mean it like that, Torrance."

The brunette shook her head. "It's in the past, Helen. It should stay there." she said more calmly than she felt.

Helen gave a nod in agreement. An awkward pause occurred in the conversation, but not wanting one comment to ruin their time, she asked, "So, how long has Melissa been living with you?"

"A couple of months. It's been a real trial, but I'm sure you don't want to hear about that."

"Don't be silly. I can see that it's a serious matter to you. Please feel free to talk to me about it. I'm here for you." Helen reached across the table instinctively to take Torrance's hand.

Torrance looked out the window for a moment before looking back at the green eyes she loved. "Well, Melissa is seventeen and the daughter of my father's youngest brother. Her whole life she's been spoiled, and she's gotten herself into some trouble with drugs. Now she's pregnant, and her parents want nothing to do with her. It irritates me to no end that parents can feel that way toward their children. Anyway, she didn't have anywhere to go, so I said she could stay with me. I'm helping her out for awhile, but today we got some bad news from the doctor. Melissa could lose the baby, because she's been reckless during her pregnancy with drugs and alcohol, but assuming she could carry to term, the baby is going to have severe disabilities. I honestly don't know what to do. She's too young to be a mother, not to mention a mother of a child with special needs. She can't even take care of herself."

Helen nodded. Hesitantly she inquired, "So what are your options?"

"There are no options. I don't believe in abortion, but even if I did, she's too far along already. That choice is out. I know what will happen if she does have this kid. She's going to continue down her destructive path, and I'm going to be the one trying to care for them both. I don't think I have it in me to do that, Helen, and I feel terrible about it. I mean privately I sometimes hope that she miscarries, so she can have another chance at life, and that's wrong of me."

"I don't think so. Torrance, you have a kind heart. You're doing more for her than anyone else ever has, but even you have your limits. It doesn't make you less of a person. It simply makes you human. I don't think I could ever do what you're doing."

"What's even worse is that I don't think she's even clean now. She was so messed up on drugs, and then she swore to me when she moved in that she would clean up, but in my heart I know she hasn't. I still think she's using. I'm worried about her."

"It'll be okay, Torrance." the blonde whispered.

They were quiet for a moment as Torrance just looked out the window, and Helen gazed at her. However after a moment Torrance looked down at the table to notice their hands still joined. Slowly pulling hers away, the photographer leaned back in her chair and stated, "Enough about me though. What's been going on with you?"

Helen pretended not to be affected by the loss of contact. "Well, not much actually, just work. Kelly and Mark have decided to get married though."

"Really? That's great. When?"

"Early next year. Kelly asked me to be her maid of honor."

"As you should be. Where are they holding it?"

"In Philly. It should be fun. They've been together for long enough."

"What's going to happen with your living situation then?"

Helen shrugged. "I'm going to get a new place I guess. Even if they moved out, I couldn't afford to live there alone." After another pause Helen asked, "May I ask what happened to you? How did you get this scar?" She reached across the small table to lightly finger the brunette's temple.

Instinctively Torrance leaned into the caress. "Um, I was in an accident. That just proves that people in their thirties can still be stupid."

"What kind of accident?"

"I was thrown out of a second story window face first. My arms took most of the glass, but I still had some cuts on my face."

"Oh my God. Is that how you got your limp too?"

Torrance nodded. "Yeah. I had several broken ribs and a broken leg. I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."

"When did this happen?"

"Uh, it was about six months after you and I stopped speaking."

"Oh. I wish I could've been there for you. I'm sure that was a difficult time."

"Well, it's in the past." Torrance mumbled. The two of them sat there the rest of the afternoon while the world passed outside the window. Finally Torrance looked down at her own watch and mentioned, "You know, it's getting late. If you still have time before your train, I would love it if you would join Melissa and me for dinner."

Helen consulted her own watch, noting that she had long missed her train, but not telling Torrance that, she just smiled and replied, "I'd love that too."

"Great. Shall we go then?"

Going out to the street, Torrance hailed a cab for them, but with commuter traffic, they didn't arrive back to Torrance's building for another hour. When they arrived on the photographer's floor, they both heard loud music coming from the direction of the brunette's apartment. Casting a quizzical look at the blonde, Torrance led them down to her door. It was ajar, so Torrance pushed it open and stepped inside. Fearing the worst, she made her way through the entry toward the kitchen where she heard voices. When she stepped into the room, she saw her kitchen littered with empty bottles of liquor as well as an assortment of drugs on her bar as a pack of adolescent hoodlums talked amongst themselves.

"Oh my God." Helen whispered under her breath taking Torrance's hand.

Not seeing her cousin among the kids, Torrance yelled, "Excuse me! What in the hell are you doing in my apartment?"

They all turned to look at her. One of the older looking boys stepped forward as he commented, "Well, Missy's dyke cousin is home, and look what she has with her."

Ignoring the slur Torrance asked, "Where is Melissa?"

"She's upstairs with Brad." he stated. "You want some?" he inquired holding the joint out to her.

Knowing Brad to be the father of Melissa's baby, the brunette felt her anger get the better of her. "This party if over people! Everybody out now!"

"Chill out now. There's no need for that."

"Maybe you didn't hear me clearly! I said get your drugs and your alcohol, and get the hell out of my loft now!" she screamed grabbing the guy by the shirt. "You have ten seconds before I'm calling the cops!" Torrance watched as Melissa's friends left her place before going after her cousin. Running up the spiral staircase with Helen right after her, Torrance barged into Melissa's room. Seeing Melissa and her boyfriend in bed together, Torrance charged over to them. "I'm going to fucking kill you!" she yelled yanking Brad out of bed and throwing him against the wall. "Haven't you done enough? She's already pregnant because of you!"

"Torrance, stop." Helen stated from the open door. "Something's wrong with Melissa."

Torrance turned to the bed to see her cousin lying there completely still. Forgetting Brad for the moment, she returned to the bed and dropped to her knees. "Melissa, wake up." she stated shaking her by the shoulders. Getting no response, she shook harder. "Melissa, wake up dammit!"

"I'm calling an ambulance." Helen said seeing that Torrance couldn't bring her around.

Torrance felt herself losing control as she turned her anger on Brad again. Shoving him roughly against the wall a second time and grabbing him by the throat, she screamed, "What did you give her?"

"I didn't think it would hurt her, honestly." he stated panting for air.

"You tell me what she took now!" she demanded grabbing him between the thighs. He groaned painfully. "You better tell me or else I'll make sure you're never with another woman as long as you live! Tell me!"

"I'll tell you. Please just don't hurt me." he begged.

"Well?" she yelled.

"Heroine. I didn't think she would OD."

Torrance released him enough to push him toward the door. "Get the fuck out! I never want to see you again!" she bellowed going back to her cousin. She checked her vital signs.

Moments later Helen reappeared. "Any change?" she softly inquired coming into the room.

"No. Her pulse is weak and breathing shallow. This is not good."

"The ambulance is on it's way. I'll go wait to let them in." she gently said.

Once she was alone, Torrance looked at her cousin just lying there. "Dammit, Melissa. I never should've left you alone." she stated.

It seemed like forever until the ambulance arrived. As they rushed to take Melissa to the hospital, Torrance grabbed Helen by the hand and dragged her out to the ambulance as well. Just as they were about to get in, the EMT stated, "Only family is allowed to ride with us."

"We're both family. Now get out of my way." Torrance growled. "Come on, Helen."

As they rode to the hospital, Helen embraced the older woman as Torrance just cried. However once they got there, they were forced to wait. Guiding the brunette over to the corner of the waiting room, Helen sat her down and pulled Torrance into her arms. Neither said anything for awhile as Torrance just quietly cried herself into an exhausted light sleep. As Helen sat there gently stroking Torrance's short dark hair, she prayed desperately that Melissa be all right for Torrance's sake. She knew the older woman felt responsible for what had happened.

After a few hours the doctor asked to speak with them. As Torrance and Helen followed him into a private room, Helen squeezed Torrance's hand tightly in support. "Well, I have to say that Melissa is an extremely lucky young lady this evening. She did overdose, but we were able to save her."

"Oh, thank God." Torrance sighed in relief.

"However I am sorry to report that she has lost her baby. It was hard enough to keep her with us, but we had to make a choice. There was just no way we could've saved them both. I'm sorry."

Torrance gave an absent nod. "But Melissa will be okay?" she clarified.

"Yes, she should be fine and able to go home tomorrow night or the following morning depending on when she comes around. Right now she is unconscious but stable. She's being taken to her room now. You can see her if you'd like." Torrance gave a nod. "Okay, I'll have the nurses get you when she's ready."

"Thank you, doctor." Torrance whispered. He nodded before turning to leave them. Looking at Helen Torrance reached for her instinctually, and Helen allowed Torrance to embrace her as the older woman cried in relief.

"Come on. Let's go to her room." softly Helen suggested leading Torrance by the hand out to the nurses' station to find out where Melissa was being moved.

When they arrived at the teenager's room, Torrance sunk down in a chair next to the bed as Helen stood next to her with a consoling arm on her shoulder. The photographer sparred a look up at Helen as she mentioned, "I'm sorry you got dragged into this."

"It's all right. I'm glad I could be here for you."

"I guess we made you miss your train. I'm sorry. You could probably still catch a late one."

"I'm not going anywhere. I want to be here for you."

"Well, I'm going to stay here with Melissa the rest of the night. Why don't you at least go back to my place and get some rest? The least I could do is put you up for the night."

Helen shook her head. "I want to stay here with you, Torrance. I don't want you to have to be alone right now." Torrance gave a nod in agreement, so Helen pulled up the other chair next to the photographer's, and they were silent the rest of the night.

The following morning when Torrance awoke she felt arms around her and a head on her shoulder. Opening her eyes she noticed that Helen had curled up into her sometime during the night, but the teacher was sleeping soundly. Looking over toward the bed, she saw Melissa's dark eyes just staring at them. "Melissa." Torrance softly called out, gently maneuvering Helen off of her. Leaning over to the bed, Torrance took her cousin's hand.

Melissa's eyes watered. "Please don't hate me, Torrance."

"I don't hate you, Melissa. I never should've left you alone after the news we got. I love you, but you scared me so badly."

The teenager nodded. "I'm sorry."

"I know. The doctors said you would be fine though." Pausing for a moment, the brunette continued, "I have to tell you though that due to what happened, you lost the baby, Melissa. I thought you should hear that from me instead of the doctors."

"Oh." Melissa mumbled. Looking over at the blonde, she curiously inquired, "Who's that?"

Torrance gave her first smile as she glanced at the sleeping woman. "That's Helen. She can sleep through anything. I better go tell the nurses you're awake. We have so much to talk about, but I first want to know when you can get out of here."

Later that day Melissa was cleared to go home, so Torrance left her cousin under Helen's watchful eye as she went home to get her car. As the three of them got back to the loft, Melissa saw the destruction that had been caused. "Oh, Torrance, my friends ruined your place." she whispered.

"I know, but that won't happen again, because they aren't coming back. They aren't your real friends anyway. Now come on. You need to rest. Let me help you upstairs." Torrance assisted her up the staircase and led her to the master bedroom since Melissa's room was still a wreak from the previous night. Helping her cousin into pajamas, Torrance settled her in the bed before kneeling beside her. "You try to get some sleep. I'm going to start cleaning up the mess downstairs and in your room."

Melissa nodded. "Torrance, I really am sorry. Please let me stay here with you."

"Do you truly mean that, Melissa?"


"All right. You can stay, but there are going to be some changes. You're going to get clean. No more drugs. Do you hear me?"

"Yes. I want to stop, Torrance. I really do."

"Okay and I'm going to help you. For now though, get rest. I'm going to clean up your room. If there are any drugs in there, I want you to tell me now. If I go in there and find them without you telling me where they are, I'm going to be upset."

"They're in the night stand." Melissa mumbled.

"All right. Go to sleep."

Torrance went into her guest room that was serving at Melissa's quarters and began rummaging through her belongings looking for drugs. Finding them in the bedside table as her cousin had said, Torrance flushed them in the bathroom before going back to straighten up her room and change the sheets. When she was finished, she took a peek in on the teenager to see that she was sleeping. Going downstairs she found Helen in the kitchen cleaning.

"Hey. Is she asleep?"

"Yeah. You don't have to do that. I'll get it."

"No. Don't worry about it. You've been through a lot too. It's the least I could do for you. Just sit down. I'll finish this and then make you something to eat. I know you haven't had anything in at least twenty four hours. You must be starving by now."

"I am a little hungry." Torrance conceded. "You don't have to cook though. I'll just order some Chinese. I could at least feed you for kidnaping you the last day and a half."

"I wanted to be here." Helen mentioned making Torrance give a small smile.

By the time their dinner arrived, Helen had finished with the kitchen. Torrance took the liberty of setting up her bistro table out on the balcony for them, so once the kitchen was clean, they both sat down to their meal. "This is nice." Torrance stated. "After all that's happened the last two days it's nice just to be here sitting still."

"I'm sure it is. It's been rough for you. You deserve a break."

"You've made it bearable, Helen. Thank you for being here."

"It was my pleasure. So, what are you going to do with Melissa now?"

"I was thinking that rehab is the best way to go. I think it's the only way she's going to have a chance at staying clean. It's going to be a long road. Staying off drugs is a tough battle."

"Sounds like you speak from experience." Helen said.

"I do. When I was her age, I was just as wild and dangerous. Hell if I had been into guys instead of girls, I probably would've been pregnant too. I've been in her shoes, and it took a near fatal accident and a caring person to make me see the light."

"What happened to you?"

"I was twenty two, just out of college. My girlfriend at the time and I had gotten high, and I wanted to go out joyriding. I stole my grandfather's Ferrari, and the two of us went cruising. I nearly killed us both by running it into a tree."

"Oh my God."

"Yeah. I was a real hellion. My grandfather could've been upset about the car, but he sat by my hospital bed everyday until I recovered. We had a lot of talks during that time. He told me one time that he wouldn't have been able to handle it if I had killed myself. He was genuinely concerned about my well-being, and he's the reason I went into rehab. I didn't want to hurt him any more than I already had. It is a long road, but now it's time I return the favor he gave me by being there for Melissa."

Helen just sat looking at her companion across the table as her admiration grew for the photographer. Knowing that Torrance had struggled for her success made Helen regard her even more highly for attaining her goals. "You really are something else, Torrance." she said. "Melissa is lucky to have you."

"Well, I hope I'm enough. Her family wants nothing to do with her, and it's hard enough at that age to think that no one cares, but when you need your family's support and don't have it, things can seem impossible." As their meal came to a close, Torrance inquired, "So, what's your plan? Are you going to try to go back tonight?"

"I wasn't planning on it if that's okay with you. It's getting late."

"I think you should stay here. That can be a long trip on the train, and it is late. You'd be better off staying the night."

"I don't want to impose though."

"Oh please. You could never impose. The least I could do is give you a bed to sleep in. In fact I probably could even do better by offering you my jacuzzi tub. You could have a soak, and I could wash your clothes, so you have something clean to wear in the morning. What do you think?"

"That's tempting. I could use a bath. I bet I look a mess."

"Never. You always look beautiful."

The blonde blushed. "Perhaps we should take these dishes inside." she suggested changing the subject.

Torrance nodded in agreement, so they took everything inside. "Well, just let me take care of these, and then I'll go upstairs and move Melissa, so you can have privacy up there."

"Why don't you go ahead with that? I'll get these."

"You sure?"

"Yes. Go on." Helen said lightly shooing Torrance from the kitchen.

The brunette made her way upstairs to her room. Gently waking Melissa she assisted the teenager to her own room before going into the master bath. Wanting everything to be perfect for Helen, she arranged candles around the tub along with an assortment of bath oils and bubbles. Getting a new towel out of the cabinet, she laid it out for the blonde as well as hanging her robe where Helen could reach it. By the time she returned downstairs, the model was finished with the dishes. "Your bath awaits." Torrance stated. She led the way up to the bathroom and opened the door for the teacher. "I hope you find this to your liking. If you just leave your clothes here, I'll get to them. Have a good soak."

Helen thanked her before she was left alone. Closing the door, Helen went over to the tub and started the water. She looked around the bathroom as she began to undress. The atmosphere that Torrance had set was romantic and thoughtful, making the blonde's heart ache all the more for the woman the she still loved. Taking a seat on the edge of the tub, Helen studied all the products Torrance had laid out for her use before adding some lavender oil to her bath. Shedding all her clothes into a pile, Helen slipped into the warm water and laid her head against the bath pillow Torrance had left for her. Her thoughts went to the brunette. She wondered might've happened had they become a real couple. Helen imagined that the photographer would be there in the tub with her wrapped in her arms. Helen longed for another chance to be what Torrance wanted in her and contemplated a way to get the older woman back in her life as she closed her eyes. The lack of quality sleep was making her tired as she relaxed, and it was only moments before her exhausted body gave into to its need for rest.

Torrance waited downstairs for over an hour flipping through the tv channels, but her mind was with the woman now in her tub. She longed to be up there with the blonde, but knowing a relationship was not meant to be, Torrance stayed where she was on the couch until she began to get concerned when Helen didn't reappear. Wondering if something was wrong, Torrance went up to the master bath and knocked, but there was no answer. Cracking the door slightly, the photographer called Helen's name, but when there was no reply, Torrance opened the door all the way to find Helen asleep in the tub. Torrance just stood in the doorway for a moment staring at Helen's nakedness. When they had been together in Italy, Torrance had never gotten a chance to see the blonde's body, because she had come to her under the cover of night, but now that the brunette saw the model in all her glory, she was mesmerized by her beauty.

Knowing Helen's tendency for heavy sleep, Torrance wondered what she should do. Resolving to take care of the blonde's clothes first, she picked them up and took them to her laundry room. When she returned Helen was still passed out, so the older woman decided to pull the drain plug to see if the would wake the younger woman. However as Torrance knelt next to the tub watching the water disappear, Helen still didn't stir. Figuring she couldn't let her stay there, Torrance decided she would try to get the blonde into bed. Going out into her room, Torrance pulled back the covers and laid her terry cloth robe out. Then she went back into the bathroom and gently lifted the teacher from the tub. Helen automatically curled in tighter, nuzzling Torrance's neck in her sleep. Torrance took her to the room and softly laid her out on the bed. Torrance let her eyes gaze over the model's bare frame for a few minutes more before regretfully closing the robe and pulling the covers over her. Brushing back a lock of short blonde hair, Torrance gave into her desire to kiss the younger woman, placing her lips delicately against her forehead. Helen mumbled Torrance's name in her sleep, making the photographer's heart skip a beat at the thought of the younger woman dreaming of her.

When Helen awoke later that night, she didn't know where she was at first. Reaching for the bedside table, she found a lamp and clicked it on, revealing that she was in Torrance's bed, but the brunette was no where to be seen. Curious as to where she was, Helen slipped out of bed and made her way toward Melissa's room. She saw that the teenager was sleeping soundly alone. Hearing the tv from downstairs, the model went to the upstairs landing and looked down over the railing into the living room. There Torrance was on the couch asleep with the tv still on. Going down the stairs, Helen went to turn the tv off before looking at the photographer. Torrance was in a white t-shirt and men's cotton pajama pants with one arm behind her head as Helen had seen her sleep before. Her blanket had fallen to the floor, so Helen went to retrieve it. However instead of covering Torrance with it, she put her hand on the brunette's shoulder. Instantly the older woman's green eyes opened.

"Helen? You need something?" she yawned.

"Come on. You're coming to sleep upstairs with me." Helen softly instructed taking Torrance by the hands to help her off the couch. Torrance offered no resistance as the blonde led her up the winding stairs and down the hall to the master bedroom. Taking Torrance to the bed, Helen guided her down into it, and Torrance was sound asleep again before she was even completely settled. Wrapping the brunette in the covers, Helen went to the dresser to find herself more appropriate sleeping attire before joining her friend in sleep.

In the morning Torrance awoke to someone whispering her name. As she opened her eyes, she realized her arms were around a sleeping blonde. Hearing her name again, she looked over toward the bedroom door to she Melissa standing there. "Torrance, I don't feel well." she whispered.

"All right. Come on." Torrance stated sliding out of bed and escorting her cousin from the room., knowing that teenager was starting drug withdrawal.

Helen awoke about an hour to horrible screaming. Instantly panicking she raced to Melissa's room to find Torrance holding it closed at Melissa frantically tried to get out. "What is going on?" she inquired skeptically.

"Oh good. You're up. I need you to go into my dresser and get the key for this room, so I can lock Melissa in here."

"Lock her in? Are you sure that's a good idea?"

"Yes. She's started withdrawals, and she's going to carry on until she gets out or wears herself out. I can't hold this door closed forever. Please get me the key." Torrance said much more calmly than she felt.

Helen did as she was asked. When Torrance finally got the door locked, she took a deep breath. "Torrance, are you sure you have to do this?"

"Trust me, Helen. This is for the best. She's really angry at me right now, because she needs a fix, and I won't let her have one."

"But she could hurt herself."

"Well, I tried to get everything out of her room yesterday that could be harmful to her, because I knew this was coming. It's going to get worse until I can get her into rehab somewhere. I'm only locking her in while I make some calls and get dressed. Watch this door for me while I'm in the shower. No matter what she says or does, don't unlock it, and if for some reason she does get out, come get me immediately. I have to take a quick shower, because I haven't bathed in days. It'll just take me a little bit."

"Okay. Sure. Whatever you say." the blonde answered staring at the door as Melissa began to throw things against it.

Torrance quickly showered and dressed and then kept watch as Helen did the same. By the time the model was finished, all was silent making Torrance hope that Melissa had worn herself out for the time being. Going downstairs Helen made them breakfast as Torrance started calling around to try to find a place to take her cousin. After several hours and calls by both of them, Torrance finally found a facility that would treat all of Melissa's needs. Calling Melissa's parents she got her mother to agree to meet them in order to check Melissa in. When everything was arranged, Torrance took a deep breath. "Well, now for the hard part. I've got to go upstairs and get Melissa ready to go."

"Is there anything I can do to help?" Helen asked.

"You just being here is a great help. I'm going to go up and get her things together. If you don't mind, I'm going to have you drive my car in case I have to restrain her during the trip."

"All right. Whatever you need."

"Great. Get yourself ready to go, because as soon as I bring her down those stairs, we're out of here."

Half an hour later Torrance came down the stairs pushing Melissa in front of her. Helen noticed that Torrance had gotten a black eye somehow from all the banging she had heard upstairs, but she didn't mention it as she helped get the teenager to the car. The ride to the center was incredibly long as Helen and Torrance had to endure all the vulgar nasty slurs that Melissa threw at the older woman. The fight continued all the way through the check-in process at the rehab facility, and Melissa's mother hardly helped at all, obviously irritated that she even had to be there.

Finally once Melissa had been settled into her room, Torrance led Helen out to the car. "Are you all right? She said a lot of not so nice things to you." the blonde inquired seeing Torrance quiet demeanor as they drove away from the center.

"I'm all right, just tired. She didn't mean what she was saying. Those were the drugs talking. It can be really hard to physically need a fix and not be able to get it. Addicts will do just about anything to get their craving met. It's part of the process. I know she doesn't mean it."

"She must have really knocked the fire out of you to give you a black eye." Helen mentioned.

"Yeah, she got me good. I had forgotten about that ring she always wears. I had managed to take all the other potentially harmful things out of her room, but somehow that one got by me, and I paid for it. Melissa's a tough one, but I'm tougher. She never stood a chance against me." Coming to the end of the driveway of the scenic institution, Torrance turned to the teacher. "Well, could I convince you to have dinner with me before I take you home?"

"You don't have to take me home. I can take the train."

"We're almost half way there. I might as well drive you."

"As long as you promise to spend the night there. I don't want you driving all the way there just to turn around and go back to New York."

"Fine. You have a deal."

It was late when they arrived back at Helen's apartment. As they came in, they saw Mark and Kelly sitting on the couch watching tv. "Torrance, what a surprise. How are you?" Kelly inquired.

"I'm good. I hear congratulations are in order on your engagement. I think that's great." she said smiling at the two of them.

"Why don't you sit down?" Helen suggested gesturing to a chair. Torrance walked over and took the seat, but Helen noticed the older woman gingerly moving, indicating to her that even though Torrance didn't admit it, Melissa had hurt her during their skirmish.

"So, Torrance, you look like you've been in a fight. What happened?" Mark asked conversationally.

"Oh, I wouldn't take no for an answer." she joked lightly. Kelly and Mark both gave Helen a confused glance.

"Torrance, I know I can't offer you a jacuzzi or anything, but I noticed you were favoring your back. Are you hurting? Would you like to soak in my tub? It might help, and then I could give you a back rub."

"That might not be such a bad idea. Melissa gave me a run for my money when I had to wrestle her to the floor. A hot bath might help."

"All right then. Come on. Let me help you up." Helen offered taking the photographer's hands. Helping her from her seat, the blonde led Torrance off to the bathroom. "I'll get you something to wear to bed. Maybe after you soak I can give you a massage, so you'll sleep better."

Leaving Torrance alone Helen went back to where her roommates were. "Mark, do you have something Torrance could sleep in?" she asked.

"Sure. Feel free to grab whatever." he stated.

"Are you going to tell us what's going on, Helen? We get a call from you a few days ago that you ran into Torrance and were staying with her a few days. Now she shows up here like she's had the tar beaten out of her. What is going on?"

"I'll tell you. Just let me get her some pajamas first. I'll be right back."

Torrance was sitting on the edge of the tub trying in vain to get her shoes off, because her back had decided to stick on her when there was a knock at the door. "Yeah?"

"It's just me. I have something for you to wear."

"Oh, come on in." Torrance mumbled.

When Helen entered and saw the brunette sitting there obviously in pain. "You all right? Do you need help?"

Even though Torrance didn't want Helen's help, she knew she didn't have a choice in the matter. "My back is stuck. I can't move." she stated.

"Oh. Well, let me help you." Helen replied coming to the brunette and kneeling in front of her. Gently she removed Torrance's shoes and socks before helping her stand. "Do you need help with your shirt too?"

"No, thanks. I'll be fine." Torrance responded, even though she knew it would be difficult to do alone, but having the blonde so near was making her heart ache, so she rather go it alone.

"All right. If you need anything else, let me know."

Going back out into the living room, Helen dropped into a chair and gave a long sigh. "Well, so, what's up with you and Torrance?" Mark inquired softly.

"This has been the strangest three days. When I was in New York for my shoot, I accidentally ran into her on the street. At first I wasn't sure that I wanted to see her, because she was with her pregnant cousin Melissa, but I at first thought it was her girlfriend. I just thought it would be weird, but she caught me before I could get away, and I'm now glad she did. We went for coffee and had a long talk. It was really nice. She invited me to dinner with she and her cousin, but that's when all hell broke loose."

"What happened?" Kelly asked.

Helen paused for a moment before stating, "I don't really want to get into details, because Torrance trusts me with her family's problems, but I'll just say that Melissa has some serious issues. She ended up having to go to the hospital. We were there all night and most of the next day. Then today Torrance and Melissa got into a fight, which is how she got the black eye, because Torrance had to put Melissa into a facility that could care for her needs, and Melissa didn't want to go. Torrance really is a saint for putting up with that when the rest of the family turned their back on Melissa."

"What happens now? Are you two going to be friends?" asked Kelly.

"I hope so, but we haven't talked about it or anything."

Back in the bathroom, Torrance had managed to work open her pants and step out of them even though pains shot through her back with the slightest movement. Putting on the pajama bottoms Helen had brought her, she took a deep breath trying to control herself from whimpering in pain. Next she slowly opened the buttons of her shirt, but as she tried to slip it over her shoulders, she groaned loudly in frustration of the agony. Muttering to herself angrily she realized that she was going to have to get assistance, but before she could even more to the door to call for help, there was a knock.

"Torrance, you okay? Do you need help?" Helen softly asked.

"Yeah. I can't get my shirt off." she quietly admitted.

"Why don't I come in and help you?" the blonde suggested waiting at the door for Torrance's agreement before entering. When she came in, Torrance was standing with her back to the door. "Here." she stated reaching for the photographer's shoulders. Helen eased the cotton shirt down Torrance's back revealing the strong muscles underneath. "Did you still want to take that bath?" she inquired.

"No. I'm not sure I'll be able to get in the tub much else out of it in this condition, and I'm not really up to having Mark see me naked when he has to pull me out." the older woman teased.

Helen nodded barely resisting the urge to look in the mirror and catch a glimpse of the front of the brunette as focused strictly on helping Torrance put on her clean shirt. "Well, let me get you settled into bed, and I'll give you a massage. Hopefully that will help." Escorting Torrance into her bedroom, Helen eased the older woman down onto the bed. "Here. Let's get you turned over." she mentioned trying to get Torrance onto her stomach.

"This really isn't necessary, Helen. I'll be fine." Torrance stated.

"No. I want to do this for you. It's obvious you're in a great deal of pain, and if I can help you get rid of it, I'm going to. Now turn over." she demanded gently. Torrance complied with the request, easing herself onto her front. "Good girl." the blonde said giving the photographer's bottom a playful pat.

The model's hand against her posterior felt like fire to Torrance. She hadn't expected such a touch, but she did her best not to react to it as she tried to make herself comfortable. Just when she began to relax, the teacher started to lift the hem of her shirt making Torrance tense. "Is that really necessary?"

"Trust me, Torrance. It'll be better this way. I can get to your muscles easier. You don't mind if I use lotion on you, do you?" she inquired casually.

"I guess not." the brunette replied softly wondering what she had gotten herself into.

Helen went to her dresser and picked up a bottle of lotion before coming back to the bed. Casually she straddled Torrance's hips and began to lather the liquid in her hands to warm it. Torrance tried to focus on anything but the fact that she was now between the legs of the woman she loved as the blonde began to rub her back, but the photographer couldn't help notice that whenever Helen would press harder, her thighs would strain against Torrance's and her hips would undulate sexily into her. It wasn't long before the pain in her back was forgotten as she concentrated on the feel of the woman rhythmically riding her as the pressure of the massage increased. Instinctively Torrance's body responded matching the movement of the blonde's hips. Helen dedicated so much of her attention to easing Torrance's pain that she never realized what she had started to do until she heard Torrance take a ragged breath. Then suddenly it struck her that the woman she had fantasized about over the past two years was exactly where Helen had longed for her to be and whimpered slightly as the older woman's backside brushed against the apex of her thighs sensually. Helen didn't stop however as she kept kneading Torrance's strong back muscles pressing deeper with each quick breath. Torrance moaned at the feeling of Helen's body on top of hers, but she knew they shouldn't be moving so quickly if they were ever going to have any sort of relationship again. Regretfully Torrance slowly turned over and looked up into the green eyes of her beloved who still sat straddled across her. She saw Helen's flushed face and erratic panting and knew without a doubt that they were feeling the same. It would have been so easy to lean up and kiss the woman she loved, and her body screamed for her to do just that as Torrance's slid her hands onto the blonde's hips. Instantly the teacher froze, fearing what the older woman might say or do in reaction to her behavior. There was a quiet moment between them as they just stared at each other.

"My back feels better. Thanks." Torrance stated as evenly as possible.

Helen nodded and exhaled slowly relieved that at least for the moment it looked like the photographer would let the incident pass. Dismounting from Torrance's hips, Helen answered, "Good. I'm glad. Now let's just get you settled in for the night. I'm going to go get ready for bed myself. I'll be back in a few minutes."

Gathering up her night clothes, Helen made a quick retreat from the room. She took her time in the bathroom preparing for bed as she thought about the woman in her bed. Helen knew it had been a lie when she told Torrance she didn't feel the same when they had returned from Italy. She had been in love with the photographer, but she had been so ashamed for forcing their relationship too fast and hurting the brunette that she felt it best to not to continue. The blonde had been confused by her anxiety about touching Torrance sexually then, but as her body clearly displayed just moments ago she had moved beyond that. It had felt exhilarating to touch the older woman knowing she had elicited her responses, and she wanted nothing more to go in there and pick up where they had left off, but she knew it wouldn't be right. Wondering how she would make it through the night sleeping next to her, Helen made her way out of the bathroom. However she made a quick detour to the kitchen for a drink to stall for a few minutes. Getting a bottle of water from the refrigerator, she came to where her roommates still were sitting and stared at them contemplatively.

"What's wrong?" Kelly asked.

Helen shrugged. "Do you think I'm crazy for wanting to walk straight into my room and have that woman love me senseless?"

"What?" Mark inquired with surprise. "You want to have sex with her?"

Helen looked at Kelly questioningly to which her roommate just shrugged. "What? You told me not to tell anyone, not even Mark, so I didn't." she explained.

"Tell me what?" he asked.

Kelly looked at Helen, who nodded at her. Taking that as permission, Kelly stated, "Helen had sex with Torrance in Italy."

"What? Are you kidding me? You really had sex with her?" he inquired in astonishment.

"Yeah, I did."

"Well, how was it?" hesitantly he queried.

"There are no words to really describe it, Mark. It was like nothing I've ever experienced. It was beyond perfect."

"Well, hell, if it was that good, get yourself back in there and get you some action."

"Honey, it's not that simple." Kelly informed him patting him on the arm. "This is about much more than sex. We're talking about two women, and not only that, they're two women in love."

He rolled his eyes. "Oh Lord, one woman in love is bad enough. Now we've got two in love with each other."

"Are you in love with her again, Helen?"

"I still am. I never stopped, Kelly. I just said that because I was scared."

Kelly smiled at her. "I knew that. It was so obvious that you did."

"I want another chance, but I don't want to blow it. I've never felt like this in my life, but I don't know what to do."

"Well, if it makes you feel any better, she still feels the same for you. That should make it a little easier." Kelly told her.

Helen gave a uncertain nod before stating, "Well, I guess I'm going to go to bed. This will be a long night."

"Just keep the noise down if you two do decide to jump each other. I've got an early meeting." Mark joked.

Continued in Part 3.
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