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 3

Going back into her room, Helen saw that Torrance was already sleeping. Sliding into bed she extinguished the light before tenderly putting her head onto the brunette's shoulder and closing her eyes. Torrance, who had only pretending to be asleep to avoid any awkwardness after the incident, smiled into the dark when she felt Helen curl up into her. Slowly she brought her arms around the blonde to hold her closely before dozing off.

The following morning when Torrance had to leave the two of them just stood at Helen's door for a few minutes. "I just want to thank you again for all that you did for me, Helen. I'll never forget your kindness. I don't know what I would've done without you." she said touching the younger woman affectionately on the arm.

Helen blushed at the praise. "I'm just glad that I could be there for you. You are by far the most giving person in the world, Torrance, so it was nice to be able to return what you had given to me. You'll let me know how Melissa is doing, won't you?"

"If you'd like."

"I would. I'm leaving for home today for a little vacation, but when I get back, I want a full report. Okay?"

Torrance nodded. "Sure."

"And if something comes up in the mean time and you need something, I want you to call me at my parents' house."

"I don't want to impose."

"You won't be. Please. It will make me feel better if I know you would call. Promise me?"

"All right. I promise to call if I need anything."

"Good. Maybe when I get back we can find a time to have that dinner you promised me at the coffee shop?" she suggested hoping that Torrance would accept her attempt to be close to her again.

The brunette smiled. "I think that could be arranged. I should go now. You have to get going."

Giving a smile Helen leaned in and hugged Torrance tightly for a few moments before saying, "I'll see you when I get back."


When Helen arrived at her parents's house, the weather was dark and ominous with the rain moving hitting the earth in stinging drops. Helen's mood matched the sky, because the entire ride she thought about Torrance and whether or not she should tell her family about their growing relationship. She knew instinctually that her mother would disapprove, but she wondered what her father might think. The blonde knew without a doubt that whatever the future might hold for she and Torrance, the photographer was going to remain a major part of her life if she had anything to do with it, and she wanted her family to share in her happiness of finding someone so wonderful. However she wasn't sure telling her parents was the right thing even though she felt blessed to have the older woman in her life. Being that they weren't officially together again, the teacher decided just to play it by ear.

Grabbing her bags she made a dash for the front door and knocked loudly. When the door opened her mother was standing there smiling brightly. "Helen, I'm so glad you made it here safely. I've been worried about you since this storm came up." she said hugging her daughter and ushering her inside.

"It's good to be here, Mom."

"Here. Let me take one of your bags. You know we were all disappointed when you called and said you had to postpone your trip for a few days." her mother mentioned as they went upstairs to one of the guestrooms.

"I know, and I'm sorry about that. I ran into an old friend in New York that really needed some help."

"Must be some friend to postpone a trip to see your family." she stated putting the bag on the bed and taking a seat at the end of it.

Helen deposited the bags she had carried as well and opened it to unpack as she replied, "Torrance is one of my closest friends, Mom. I was glad to be of help to her."

"Torrance? Do I know her?"

"No. You've never met. She's the one I went to Italy with a few summers ago though." Helen explained as she began to hang her clothes in the closet.

"Oh yes. I remember now." There was a pause in conversation as Helen dug out the rest of her belongings, one of which was of Torrance's book. She had felt the need to have at least a picture of the photographer close while they were apart. As she dropped it onto the bed, her inquisitive mother picked it up. "What's this? Were you in a book?" she inquired looking at the cover.

"Yeah. It's Torrance's book."

"This is a beautiful picture of you. Are there others in here?"

"A few." Helen answered wondering what her mother would think when she got to the one of the blonde asleep. She watched her mother flip through the book out of the corner of her eye as she put her pajamas into her drawer. It was only moments before her mother gave her a scowl.

"Helen, what's the meaning of this? Why is there a picture of you naked in your bed?"

"I'm not naked, Mother."

"You're in your underwear. You let her shoot you like this?"

Helen rolled her eyes. "Mom, Torrance is my friend. She took some pictures of me asleep. I'm fully covered. I think it looks good. It's artistic."

"It's in poor taste." she mumbled continuing to flip the pages. "Now here is a classy picture of you. This is more like it." Helen busied herself with her toiletries in the bathroom before returning to her room to see her mother looking at the back cover that was graced with Torrance's picture. "I take it this is her."

The model gave a smile in spite of herself. "Yeah, that's her. She's a real beauty. She could've modeled had she wanted to."

"You think she's attractive?" her mother questioned with a raised brow that Helen missed.

"She is amazing. She has the longest legs, and she's so tall, at least six one or two. Oh, she has the greenest eyes. I could look into them forever." she mentioned so far off in the thought of doing just that she didn't even realize how it might've sounded to her mother.

"I see. Well, I better get started on dinner. I'm glad you're home." she mentioned making a quick retreat.

That evening when Helen sat down to dinner with her parents her mother was being strangely silent making the blonde suspect that her mother had figured things out already. Her father was being more quiet than usual as well, so she wondered if he had found out as well. After a subdue meal, Helen helped her mother with the dishes before her father stated, "Helen, your mother tells me you were in a book recently."

"Well, not recently but yeah. I brought it with me. Do you want to see it?"

"Of course. You know I always want to see your stuff."

"All right." she stated hurrying off to her room to retrieve the book. Meeting her father in the library, she closed the door behind her and moved to where he was sitting. Handing him the book, she took a seat on the arm of his leather chair.

"Wow. Look at my baby girl." he stated in pride at her face on the cover. "You look so sophisticated." He opened the book and slowly turned the pages until he came to the one of her in bed.

"Mother doesn't like this one." hesitantly Helen said.

"I can see why. She's a conservative woman, Helen. You look nothing like our little girl and everything like a woman in this picture. It's funny though, because I can still see aspects of you as a child. This was your favorite position to sleep." he mentioned lightly.

"Then you're not upset?" she asked.

He shrugged. "Well, this isn't one I'd put up on my desk or anything, but I know this is art. You are a big girl and have a right to do as you choose. It's not like you're naked. It can just be hard, because you're our youngest, but you're not a little girl anymore. For goodness sake's you're twenty nine. We have to let you go sometime." he said with a smile. Together they looked at the rest of the book. Turning to the back cover, he inquired, "Is this the photographer?"

"Yeah. That's my friend Torrance. Isn't she beautiful?" she said with a smile.

"Well, she is a little masculine, but I guess I can see the intrinsic beauty there." he conceded seeing the look on his daughter's face. Helen smiled as she looked off at the far wall and thought of the brunette. However her father speaking brought her out of her musings again. "She's a lesbian?"

Helen gave him a confused look. "How did you know that?"

"It's right here in her bio." he explained pointing it out to her.

"Oh. Well, yeah she is. Does that bother you?"

"Why should it?" he inquired in interest.

"I don't know, because she took pictures of me in bed."

"Helen, you're an adult, and if you want lesbians in your bedroom taking your picture or doing other things, that's your business." he stuttered quickly breaking their eye contact.

"Other things?" Helen inquired staring at him questioningly.

Her father sighed. "Look, Helen, your mother told me what you said about this woman, how beautiful you thought she was, even going as far as to say you could stare into her eyes forever. That's a strong statement. It's more than a friend would say about another, right?" It was Helen's turn to look away, but a comforting hand to her knee made her look back. "Helen, you're my daughter, and I love you. All I've ever wanted was for you to be happy. If you've found that with Torrance then I'm glad."

"You wouldn't be upset?"

"No. Helen, life is too long to go through alone. I've always hoped you would find the right companion. If it's Torrance then she's lucky to have your love. I couldn't part with you to just anyone. I've always wanted you to have everything, Helen, marriage, family, career. You can still achieve that with Torrance. It just wouldn't be in the traditional sense."

Helen shook her head. "Wow. I thought you would be supportive, but I never imagined you'd be okay with us getting married and having kids. How did you get to be so worldly?" she teased.

"Over the years I've seen a lot in my industry, and I've had the opportunity to work with some gay people. I even have some on the staff, and they bring their partners to work functions. Granted I wasn't always this way. It took some getting used to, but I've come to realize gay people are as normal as anyone else. What goes on in a person's bedroom is of little consequence as to who they are." Helen gave a nod in agreement. Giving a smile her father inquired, "So, when do we get to meet this charming woman?"

"I don't know. We aren't really together, Dad. It's a complicated story."

"But you want to be with her. Are you in love with her, Helen?"

The blonde nodded with a smile. "Yeah. I am, Dad."

"Do you think she feels the same?"

"I hope so. Two years ago she told me she was, but I wasn't ready then. Even though the feelings were there, I wasn't prepared to accept all that was involved in that kind of relationship with her, but now I am. Over the last two years I've realized that whatever challenges may arise, they'll be much easier to deal with than being without her. I'd rather live with those problems and have her than try to be something I'm not. Torrance means everything to me, Dad."

"I can see that. I hope things work out for you then. You have my unconditional support."

"Thanks. That means a lot to me. Now if I can just get Mom to understand."

"I'll work on her, Helen. Your mother is a conservative woman, and it won't be easy, but if this is meant to be with Torrance, she's going to have to get used to the idea. Have you said anything to your brother or sister?"

"Not yet. I was thinking about it though. We'll see how it goes."

"Well, they are coming up tomorrow night for dinner, and the girls are staying for a few days while you're here. Maybe you could talk to them then." he mentioned. "I don't foresee a problem with them. We all want your happiness, Helen, even your mother. Just remember that."

The next evening as the whole family sat down to dinner Helen was quiet as she contemplated telling her siblings about Torrance. She figured that since her parents already knew it wouldn't hurt anything to let them know as well. When conversation turned toward her life and what she had been doing, Helen saw her mother shift uneasily in her chair.

"Not much is going on with me. I'm just modeling right now until school starts up again." she replied.

"Dad said something about you being in a book." her brother John mentioned.

"Oh that. Yeah, I was in a book about a year ago, but I didn't tell anyone, because I didn't think Mom would approve." she stated glaring at her mother.

"You're right about that, Helen, so let's not talk about the book or it's photographer at this table." her mother snipped.

"Why?" John asked. "It's not pornographic, is it?"

"Yes." her mother quickly said.

"No, it's not! You're just being homophobic, Mother! You're just mad that I let a lesbian into my bedroom to shoot me!"

"How dare you say that word in front of my granddaughters! I will not tolerate such language at my table!"

"Mom, she didn't say anything wrong. The girls are fine." defended John.

"What word, Mother? Lesbian? Torrance just happens to be an internationally famous photographer, and it was an honor to be apart of her project! The fact that she is gay shouldn't be an issue! You're just being a homophobe, because you're afraid that you're little girl might be one too!" she yelled getting up from the table and rushing from the room. Going up to her room, Helen fell onto her bed and began to cry. Reaching over to the night stand to retrieve Torrance's book, she stared at the woman who held her heart.

It was only a few minutes before there was a knock on her door before John entered. Taking a seat on the end of the bed, he just looked at her sympathetically. "I'm sorry I brought the subject up. I didn't realize this was a sensitive issue between you and Mom." he apologized.

"It's all right. You didn't know."

Pointing to the book in her hands, he inquired, "Is that the book?" She nodded. "Could I see it?" Giving a nod she handed it over to him. He smiled at her picture on the cover before starting to flip through it. Coming to the one of her asleep, he looked at her. "I take it this is the photo that has her all bent out of shape."

"Yeah. I don't see what a big deal it is. All my major parts are covered."

He studied it a moment. "Well, even though that's true, I can see what might have gotten her upset. This is not just a picture of you sleeping. This is a picture of a seductress. You're alluring almost as if you're inviting the photographer into your bed. The way you're stretched out is undeniably sexual, Helen."

"But I didn't even pose. Torrance just took it of me while I was sleeping. I wasn't even aware that she had taken it until afterwards. It's just the way I look asleep."

"Well, she must be some photographer to be able to inflect any emotions into a picture she so chooses." He looked through the rest of the book in silence until her got to the back cover. "And this is her?"

"Yeah, that's her."

He nodded for a moment before slowly asking, "Is it true what you said downstairs? You know about you possibly being a lesbian?"

"I don't know, John. I guess if me having sexual interest in one woman makes me one, then I am, but somehow that label doesn't seem right to me."

"Are you in love with Torrance, or is this just some bizarre thing? I mean have you ever felt this way before toward any women?"

"No, I've never felt this way for anyone, John. There is no one in this world that makes me feel the way Torrance does. I am in love with her. What that truly means as far as defining myself, I don't know. What I do know is that I never want to stop feeling this way."

He cracked a smile. "Sounds like love to me."

"Mom is having a hard time accepting that though."

"What about Dad?"

"He's fine with it. I think he's thrilled actually that I've found someone. I mean yesterday when I told him he was talking about marriage and children. He kind of shocked me."

"Is that where this is going?"

"I have no idea, John. We're technically not even together. I mean we haven't discussed our feelings for each other in two years. Back then I was too scared to make a commitment to her, but now I would in a heartbeat. However I don't know where she stands. I hope she still cares for me, but she may not. I think she does, but I haven't asked her directly."

"I see, but you still felt compelled to say something to Mom and Dad?"

"It just kind of slipped out. Mom asked me some questions about Torrance, and I guess she just realized my feelings. I never said anything to her, but I did tell Dad, because Mom had relayed her concern to him over the matter. I don't want this it be a big deal, John."

"It's not to me. I think if you're happy that's all that should matter."

"So, you're okay with this?"

"Of course."

"I thought you might have a problem because of the girls. I would never want to hurt my nieces."

"Please, Helen, don't even worry about that. They need to know at some point what it's all about, and frankly I'm going to have a talk with Mom about her prejudices and let her know that's not acceptable in front of the girls. I won't tolerate such small minded opinions around them."

"Thank you. Now I just have to talk to Amy. Do you think she'll have a problem with it?"

"Amy have a problem with it? No way. She went to a women's college, and she has a ton of gay friends, some of whom we've met. There's no way you're going to have problems with her. She's probably the most liberal of us all."

Helen gave a chuckle. "I don't know. You should've heard Dad. He practically was giving me away to Torrance for marriage already."

John laughed. "Don't worry, Helen. Things will work out. You'll see. If Torrance is the person you're meant to be with, you're going to have your family's support."

"Thanks, John." she said moving to give him a hug.

A few days later Helen was out on the deck watching her young nieces play in the back yard when he mother came out the back door holding the cordless phone. Thrusting it in Helen's direction, she mumbled, "It's Torrance."

Instantly Helen took it and answered with concern. "Torrance, hi. Is everything all right?"

"Hi, Helen. Sorry to disturb your vacation. I hope I'm not calling at a bad time. I hate imposing on your parents."

"You never impose, Torrance. What's going on?"

"Well, as you know I was planning on having my grandparents come over here this summer instead of going go Italy. However a few days ago I got a call from my mother. Nonno fell out in the vineyard and is having hip surgery, so they can't come over here as planned."

"Oh no. Is he going to be okay?"

"Yeah, he should be fine. However I'm going to go over there with my mother to help out, but there is a problem I hoped you would help me with."

"Anything for you, Torrance. Just tell me what you need. Did you want me to come with you?"

"I would love for you to, but that's not what I need actually. I feel really bad about leaving Melissa alone since she's just started rehab, so I'm trying to get some people together to visit her. I was wondering if you would be one of those people. She seemed to really take a shine to you, and she needs all the positive influences she can get right now."

"Oh, you don't need to worry about her. I will more than happy to check in on her and visit. I'll take care of her for you."

"Thank you so much. You don't even know what a relief that is. She doesn't have a lot of people she can count on."

"Well, I'm one she can. When are you going to be leaving?"

"Not until Tuesday. I've got some things to tie up here."

"Well, why don't I come up to see you before you leave? I have a shoot on Monday in the city anyway."

"Sure. I'd like that. You could even stay at my place while I'm gone if it would help you out. I'm sure you have shoots lined up while I'm gone, and it would be easier to get out to see Melissa that way."

"That's true. Staying at your loft would be a great help. How long do you think you'll be gone?"

"Probably two weeks."

"All right. I'll meet you at your place on Monday after work then."

"That sounds great. You can even use my second parking space here at the building if you want to drive. I guess I'll see you in a few days then?"


"Okay. I'll even take you to that dinner I promised you that we never went to." Torrance said lightly.

"Sounds good. I'll see you then. Take care of yourself, Torrance, and don't worry about a thing."

On Monday evening Torrance was just finishing her packing as she waited on Helen to arrive at her loft. When she heard the door, she made a move downstairs and opened the door with a large smile. However it was not the blonde she was expecting standing there. Instead it was Claire who was grinning at her.

"Claire, hello. To what do I owe this pleasure?" politely Torrance inquired opening the door wide enough to allow her inside.

"I just was in the neighborhood, so I thought I would see if you were in. Did I come at a bad time? You seemed like you were expecting someone else."

"Actually I was." Torrance admitted. "Would you like a drink?"

"Wine would be nice if you have it."

"Sure." the photographer replied. Pouring her guest a glass, she inquired, "So, what have you been up to? I haven't see you in awhile."

"I've been busy with the gallery, and of course the divorce is now final. I never could forgive my husband for what he did to you, Torrance. It was uncalled for."

Torrance gave a shrug. "Well, I'm not sure I could've handled seeing my wife in bed with someone else either. I might've been that upset too."

"Still he didn't have to throw you out the window. He could've killed you. I just couldn't live with that."

Nodding Torrance changed the subject. "How's the gallery? Business doing well?"

"Business is great. I can't seem to keep any of your photos around long. You are by far the best investment I've ever made. I get requests all the time for your work."

"That's always good to hear." Just then there was another knock on the door. "Excuse a moment, Claire." Going to the door again, she saw Helen standing there with a smile and bags thrown over both her shoulders.

"Hi, Torrance." the blonde greeted moving in automatically for a hug.

"Helen, it's so good to see you. Come in. Let me take your bags. You look great."

Helen blushed at the compliment. "Actually I had Morgan redo my hair and makeup after the shoot, because I was coming over to see you." she admitted.

"Well, you look fabulous." Torrance stated with a bright smile now that she knew Helen had taken special consideration with looks for her. As Torrance led them into the kitchen, Claire looked up toward them. "Um, Helen, this is Claire St. John. Claire, this is Helen Melbourne." Torrance introduced somewhat awkwardly.

"Hi. It's always a pleasure to meet friends of Torrance's." Claire stated standing to shake Helen's hand.

"I'm just going to put your bags upstairs, Helen. I'll be right back."

As soon as Torrance was out of the room, Helen turned to Claire. "So, how do you know Torrance?" she asked conversationally.

"I'm just a friend of hers. We met a couple of years ago at a party. You?"

"We met at a shoot actually."

Claire nodded. "I should've known a pretty young thing like you were a model. Torrance likes models, always has."

"What do you mean?" questioned Helen curiously wondering just how well this woman before her knew Torrance.

"She just always has been attracted to models. It seems like that's the only kind of women she'll go to bed with, me being a rare exception of course. Heaven knows how many of them she's bedded. All of our mutual friends at least." Claire stated taking a sip of her wine. "She's a regular Casanova."

Without thinking Helen replied, "My Torrance? I don't think so. That's not the woman I know."

Claire chuckled. "Oh, you are young if you believe for a moment that she's monogamous. Not to hurt your feelings, but Torrance is unable to be with just one woman. She needs variety."

As Torrance came back into the room, both women became silent. "What are you two talking about?" the brunette asked.

"Nothing important." Helen answered quietly.

Torrance just gave Claire a quizzical look but not getting a response out of her, she turned her attention back to Helen. "Could I get you something to drink? We need to leave for that dinner soon."

"Maybe I should go freshen up a bit then. I'll be back." Helen stated taking her leave from the kitchen.

"What were you to talking about?" Torrance questioned again once it was just she and Claire.

"Nothing of consequence. Is she your latest conquest?"

"No. She's a friend."

Claire grinned behind her glass. "Tell that to her. She seems awfully possessive of you."

"Really?" the brunette asked in interest.

"So you return those feelings." the older woman stated. "Then I guess I'm too late."

"Too late for what?"

"Another chance. I thought maybe you and I could try to make something real from what we had, but if you already have a girlfriend, that might not be possible."

Torrance gave a charming smile. "Well, I'm flattered, but you wouldn't be able to give up your side flings. Contrary to what you might think, I am a one woman kind of girl, and if you and I were together, I would expect the same from you."

Claire nodded before finishing her wine. "Well, perhaps I should just leave while I have some dignity left. I knew it was going to be a long shot, but I thought it was worth it. You're too good to be left on your own. If Helen is it for you, I wish you the best. You deserve that much."

"Thanks, Claire. I appreciate that."

"I hope this won't affect our business relationship."

"It never has, and I have no reason to think it ever will." Taking the older woman by the hand, Torrance led her to the door. "Thanks for dropping by."

Claire nodded. "Thank you for opening your home to me after what's happened between us and for remaining my friend. You could've held me responsible for what happened between you and my husband."

Torrance shook her head. "I'm the one responsible for my own actions."

"Well, could I ask you for a kiss good bye at least?" the older blonde requested.

With a smile Torrance embraced her around the waist as Claire's arms came around the photographer's neck.

After a quick trip to the bathroom, Helen made her way downstairs, but she didn't see Torrance or Claire in the kitchen. Wondering where they were, she moved toward the entry way where she froze at what she saw before her. The woman she loved was holding someone else and kissing her with a passion she had only known that night they had made love. Suddenly she felt her world slipping away from her and she wanted to run, but she was just frozen to the spot.

When Torrance finally pulled back, Claire carefully wiped her lipstick from brunette's lips. "You still are the best kisser I've ever known. Are you sure I can't change your mind?"

Torrance touched her cheek affectionately. "Thank you, Claire, but no thank you. I am completely satisfied with what I have already. Helen means everything to me, and I'm going to try to make something of this if she'll let me."

Helen's heart thudded loudly in her chest when she heard Torrance's gentle words. Suddenly she realized what she was witnessing was Torrance bidding farewell to her past in order to be with her. Feeling more assured with her own emotions, she silently slipped away before she was noticed so that they could say good bye in private.

"Well, you know where to find me if you change your mind. I should go." Claire whispered.

Torrance nodded. "See you later, Claire." When Torrance returned to the kitchen, she saw Helen sitting at the bar patiently waiting on her. "Well, sorry about Claire. She just dropped in without calling."

"It's fine. How do you know her?"

"She's just a friend of my mother's and owns a gallery. We better get going to dinner. We have reservations." Sensing that Torrance was not going to divulge any more information, Helen just nodded.

They took a cab to the restaurant, and as Torrance paid the driver, Helen looked at where they had stopped. It was one of the most famous restaurants in the city. "We aren't going here, are we?" she asked as Torrance turned to her.

"Yeah. Why? Do you not like this place?"

"I've never been here, but I'm not dressed for a place like this, Torrance. You could've told me." she mentioned looking over her black pants and blue blouse.

"Oh, please. You look beautiful. I've been in here in jeans before. Trust me. The owner is a friend of the family. We're both dressed fine." she stated. "Come on now. We have a reservation, and they get onto people about being late."

Going up to the door, Torrance held it open for her. As soon as they walked inside, they were greeted warmly and shown to an elegant table toward the back of the restaurant. The host tried to pull out Helen's chair for her, but Torrance brushed him aside to do it herself before taking her own seat. After being handed their menus, they were left in peace for a few moments.

"What's good here?" Helen inquired conversationally.

"Everything but I usually have to get two servings of it to fill me up. This really isn't my favorite place in New York, but everyone else seems to like it."

"Well, why did we come here then? We don't have to stay."

"No. I want you to enjoy it. Please. I promised you dinner, and I want you to have a good time."

Helen looked down at the priceless menu and wondered how much this meal was going to cost. She had never imagined she would ever come into this place even though she had often fantasized what it might be like. To even come through the door, you had to be somebody in New York, and for Torrance to be accepted there in a pair of khakis and cotton shirt made her realize once again the influence Torrance and her family had in the city. Looking around subtly she noted the famous celebrities from movies, fashion, and politics all around them, but Torrance seemed unfazed by it all. When their waiter came to the table, Torrance asked for a bottle of wine for them before they both placed their orders.

The meal passed between them in casual conversation. Helen tried to feel as easy as Torrance did, but she couldn't help but wonder what people around them were thinking seeing her with the photographer. Once they had finished their dinner, Torrance excused herself saying she needed to use the restroom, leaving Helen alone at the table. While she was away, the waiter came by and slipped the bill onto the table while checking on Helen to see that she had all that she needed. Helen stared at the bill from across the table, but curiosity was getting the better of her. Wanting to know that the meal was going to cost, she looked around to see that Torrance wasn't coming before reaching for it. As her eyes found the total, she felt her heart stop momentarily. Quickly she tucked the piece of paper back into its jacket and put it back by Torrance's plate. The blonde took a sip of her water as she tried to regain her composure, but the cost of the meal was making it impossible to remain calm. The wine alone cost more than one month of her rent. Shaken by the reality, Helen began to ponder what she might be getting herself into by being with the woman she loved. She would be thrown into a lifestyle she had never experienced. By no means was her family destitute, but she knew for a fact her parents would never be able to afford such a luxury Torrance was giving her.

Torrance came back a few minutes later and quickly paid before leading the way from the restaurant. Hailing a cab for them, Torrance opened the door for Helen. Both of them were quiet on the way back to Torrance's loft. Once back inside the older woman suggested they just watch a movie since she had to be up early to go to the airport. Helen agreed to the idea, so they both sat down on the couch.

During the first part of the film, Torrance pondered how she could tell Helen her feelings. She wanted the blonde to know that she still loved her even after all the time that had passed, but she was unsure of how model might react. Torrance knew with certainty that the younger woman was everything she ever wanted and hoped that the blonde felt the same for her. However having been rejected by her before, Torrance lacked the confidence to just say what was in her heart.

Helen pretended to be interested in the movie, but she was really concentrating on the photographer. She wanted so much for Torrance to take her into her arms, but she could sense that the older woman wouldn't without motivation. Helen knew that Torrance was being reserved and that she would have to be the aggressor between them if she wanted things to be the way they were. Neither said a word through the whole movie.

When it was over, Torrance picked up her glass as she asked, "Would you like some more to drink while I'm in the kitchen?"

"No thanks. I'm fine." the blonde replied. She watched Torrance head off into the kitchen as she contemplated making a move. Deciding to just go for it, Helen picked up her glass and followed the brunette into the kitchen. Coming up behind her, she slid her arms around Torrance's waist, as she whispered, "I changed my mind."

Torrance felt her pulse quicken at the admission. Even though she knew the teacher was only speaking about a beverage, her heart still longed for the model to say those words about their relationship. "What would you like?" she inquired.

"Another glass of wine." Helen replied. Once Torrance had taken her glass, she went back to the living room to wait on the older woman.

Torrance came back a few minutes later carrying two glasses of wine. Seeing the blonde stretched out on the couch, Torrance put Helen's wine on the coffee table before moving to sit in a nearby chair. "Would you like to watch something else?"

"Sure. You pick it." Helen answered. Torrance did as she was asked, but as she moved to sit back down in the chair, Helen held a hand out to her. "Come lay next to me, Torrance. You look tired." Torrance just looked at the model for a moment, knowing it might be potentially dangerous to be that close to Helen, but her body overrode her judgement as she came to the sofa. Easing herself down she settled herself onto her back. Helen propped herself up on her side and just gazed down at the green-eyed photographer. "That's better. You'll be more comfortable here."

Seeing a desire in the blonde she had only seen when they were in Italy, Torrance wondered what was about to happen. She desperately wanted to kiss the woman next to her, but she held back. Helen held the gaze for a few more moments before turning her attention to the tv. Her plan was working so far, but she wanted to move slowly so not to scare Torrance. When she saw Torrance turn her attention back to the tv, she knew it was time to implement the second part of her idea. Trying to seem nonchalant, she began to lightly run her fingers along the brunette's neck down her shoulder and over her arm. Torrance instantly felt her body respond to the touch. Looking up at the blonde, Torrance made eye contact. The mutual fire that passed between them was undeniable. Being drawn into the green eyes she adored, Helen leaned down to kiss Torrance's mouth softly. The older woman groaned despite herself as her arms came around the teacher. Feeling Torrance's response Helen shifted her weight onto the strong body as the kiss became deeper.

"Oh God. Helen." Torrance whispered gently prying the blonde's lips from her own to look into the teacher's eyes.

"Please, Torrance." the younger woman begged as her hand moved down the photographer's chest over one of the brunette's small breasts. Torrance moaned and her back ached instinctively into the light touch. Seeing the reaction Helen experimentally let her hand close over the soft flesh.

Torrance groaned loudly. "Helen, I can't think straight when you do that." the older woman admitted cupping the model's face in both hands and staring deeply into her eyes.

"Good because that's the last thing I want you to do." the teacher whispered leaning down to capture Torrance's mouth again.

"God, wait. Can we talk about this?" Torrance pleaded as Helen began on the buttons of her white shirt.

Nipping the photographer's neck, Helen whispered, "Do we really have to?"

Torrance put her hand on top of Helen's to stop the blonde's progress. "Helen, as much as I want you right now, I need to talk about this. Please. If I mean anything to you at all, you'll agree." Knowing they were going to have to do things Torrance's way, Helen flatted her hand out against the brunette's chest, signaling her consent. "I just need to know what's going on in your head, Helen. Why are you doing this now?"

"I just want to be with you, Torrance."

"Well, if that's the case, why did you ask me to leave your life two years ago?"

"I was just scared, but I'm not anymore. I want it all now. I want you to touch me, and I want to touch you too."

"What stopped you then? Did I not give you all that you needed? Are you just settling for me, because you haven't found anyone else?" hesitantly the photographer inquired.

"God no, Torrance. I love you, always have."

"Then why did you run from me? I loved you, and you hurt me. Why?"

Looking away for a moment, the blonde whispered, "I was scared, but I'm not anymore."

Cupping the model's face to bring the gaze back to each other, the brunette asked, "What scared you so much?"

Helen shifted uncomfortably. "Do you really have to talk about this? Besides it no longer matters."

"It matters to me. I need to know, because if we're going to try to do this, I want to know where I went wrong the first time."

"You didn't do anything wrong, Torrance. It was all me. I was overwhelmed that night in Italy. I thought I was ready to accept all that was involved in a relationship with you, but I realized that I wasn't. However I am now."

"You were overwhelmed? How did I overwhelm you? What did I do that made feel that way?" Helen looked away again, feeling more uncomfortable by the second, because she didn't foresee how she could get around telling the photographer the truth. "Helen, please talk to me. You're starting to act like you did the day you broke up with me. Just tell me. I can take it. Obviously I did something."

Deciding to just get it over with, Helen gave a resigned nod. She put her head down onto the older woman's shoulder as she quietly said, "The night I came to your room things were nothing like I expected them to be."

Knowing that they were coming to the real issue at hand, Torrance put supportive arms around her beloved. "What do you mean?"

"I guess I just expected it to be more like my other experiences, and it was completely different. I mean I know you explained it to me the night before, but I just didn't realize what you truly meant until I was there in the moment with you."

"Was there something that I did that you didn't enjoy? Did I touch you in a way that you didn't want me to?"

"You did something that I hadn't considered, and it really threw me."

"What was that?"

There was a second of silence before the teacher whispered, "When you used your mouth on me. I didn't expect that to be apart of the experience."

"Oh." Torrance said, unsure of how to respond the statement.

"I just never imagined things to be like that. I mean the whole thing kind of blew me out of the water. I've never responded to anyone else quite the way I did to you. I've never been very responsive with others. I've always had a hard time reaching peak, and it was only with Richard that I could on a semi-consistent basis. That night with you was like nothing else, because you hardly even had to touch me, and I was there, not once but three times. I've never even gotten there twice in one night, so three was overload for me. I couldn't even comprehend it, and the idea of trying to match that for you was more pressure than I could handle." she admitted.

"What are you talking about? Did you think I was pressuring you?"

"No. I just thought that since you had done all that for me you would want the same, and I couldn't do it."

"Couldn't? Why? Because you were scared or because you didn't want to?" softly Torrance asked.

Helen hesitated. "Torrance, I'm not used to having to be so active in bed, and I never thought I would have to be with us either. When confronted with that possibility, I realized I didn't want to." There was silence for several moments. Helen knew her confession had hurt the photographer, so she quickly added, "But I want to now."

Torrance sighed as she took in the admission. She had never considered that the blonde hadn't wanted to touch her. As much as it hurt her feelings to know that the model hadn't wanted to be physical with her, Torrance knew it was difficult for Helen to make such a statement. The teacher had opted to back out of the relationship rather than hurt the older woman with such a confession. "Well, thank you for finally being honest with me." she whispered.

"Torrance, I'm sorry. I didn't want to tell you, because I didn't want to hurt you. I was upset with myself for being so selfish, and I knew you deserved more. However in the last two years I haven't been able to get you out of my mind or heart. I'm more in love with you than I was then, and I want another chance. Is it too late for that?"

"No, it's never too late, Helen. I've been lost without you."

"And because of what I did, you turned to Claire." the blonde stated, finally putting all the pieces into place.

"Yeah, Claire and others but mostly her. I made some stupid mistakes in my grief, and I'm going to live with them the rest of my life, but if I have you, it'll be worth it."

"Not that I have a right to ask but what kind of mistakes?"

"I went back to my old ways. I didn't use drugs again, but I was the emotionally void philanderer I had been when I was younger. I knew I was sleeping with women who were off limits, but somewhere deep inside I think I wanted to be caught, and I was, which is why I now have a scar on the side of my face and a permanent limp."

"You told me you were thrown out of a window." Helen mentioned.

"I was. Claire's husband found us together and did put me out a second story window. I was somewhat disappointed when I came to in the hospital. God, how much I wanted you to be there to tell me everything would be all right." the photographer stated quietly.

Hugging Torrance's strong frame more tightly, Helen whispered, "I'm here now, and everything will be all right."

The rest of the night passed quietly between them, and when it was time for bed, Helen joined Torrance in the photographer's bedroom instead of staying in the guestroom. The following morning when the brunette awoke, she found herself alone in bed. Wondering where Helen was, she wandered downstairs to find the younger woman in the kitchen making breakfast.

Coming up behind her, Torrance slide her arms around Helen's waist. "Morning." she yawned nuzzling the nape of the blonde's neck and making her giggle. "I could get used to waking up this way."

"So could I." Helen replied turning her head for a kiss. "I'm almost finished with this. I thought we could have breakfast on the balcony before you leave."

"That sounds wonderful. I'll go set the table." Torrance poured juice for both of them and took it outside with place settings before coming back to help with the food. Following the model out to the balcony, Torrance pulled out Helen's chair for her and then took her own. Taking a bite of her eggs, she said, "This is so good. Thanks for cooking."

"You're welcome. I figured you could use a little fuel for your flight. Even though you can get whatever you want in first class, it still doesn't beat something home cooked." the teacher mentioned. There was a pause before she inquired, "So when are you leaving exactly?"

"In a couple of hours. Just enough time to enjoy this meal with you and get dressed."

"Do you want me to go to the airport with you?"

"No. There's no point really. I'm just going to take a cab, but thanks for offering anyway." When Torrance had finished eating, she just looked across the table at her breakfast companion. Helen was sitting in her white pajamas and light green silk robe. She had her right leg crossed over her left at the knee next to the table instead of under it with her left hand daintily resting on her thigh as she ate with her right. Her gaze was looking off to the right at the city skyline, and even though it was obvious she had run a brush through her hair, she still had the fresh from bed look as the morning sun cast angelic rays of light around her.

Glancing over at Torrance, Helen saw the photographer studying her intently. "What are you thinking about?" she asked.

"I was just wishing that I had my camera right now to capture how beautiful you look at this moment. There is just something about you, Helen, and for as long as I've known you, I haven't been able to figure out exactly what it is, but there is just something in your essence that makes you one of the most stunning women I've ever known."

Blushing at the compliment the blonde mumbled, "I think your opinion is biased."

"I don't know about that. I knew it from the first moment I met you, and I know others see it too."

After breakfast they worked together in cleaning up the kitchen before Torrance went to take a shower. While the brunette was gone, Helen made the bed and started unpacking her own things for her stay. She was just emptying her last bag into one of the older woman's dresser drawers, when she heard Torrance say teasingly, "Making yourself at home already I see."

Helen turned to smile at her girlfriend who was standing there only in her navy robe. "I figured you wouldn't mind."

"Not at all." Torrance answered moving to embrace the teacher. "As a matter of fact, I hope your clothes stay in my drawers often from now on." she whispered leaning down to kiss her softly. Helen moaned bringing her arms around the photographer's neck. Pulling the brunette's body closer, she let her hands wander down Torrance's back taking in the feel of the older woman under her robe. After several minutes Torrance lightened the intensity of her kisses sensing that things could get out of hand quickly if she continued. Breaking away from the blonde's arms, she smiled at the younger woman's erratic breathing and dazed eyes. Smiling smugly she softly stated, "You probably should make that shower of yours a cold one."

Helen gave a loud teasing sigh. "You did that on purpose." Torrance gave a nod. "Well, two can play that game. Just when you least expect it I'll get you back." she stated heading off toward the bathroom.

Time that morning passed quickly for them, and all too soon they were saying good bye as the building's doorman hailed a cab for Torrance. After getting all the bags in the trunk, Torrance turned toward her girlfriend. "I'm going to miss you, Helen." she admitted putting her arms around the smaller woman.

"I'll miss you two, but don't worry about a thing. I'll take care of everything while you're gone. Your loft will be just as you left it, and I'll visit Melissa as much as I can."

"Thanks. Well, I should go."

Helen gave a nod but then leaned up to catch Torrance's mouth in a torrid kiss. The photographer groaned as she merely held on during the oral assault. When Helen was satisfied that she had made the older woman as weak as she had been earlier that day, she pulled away. Torrance automatically leaned back against the cab to keep her legs from buckling under her as she tried to catch her breath. "Told you I'd get you back." Helen joked making the brunette laugh.

"Ah, je t'aime, mon petite chou (I love you, sweetheart)." the photographer whispered touching the blonde's face affectionately.

The model gave a shy grin. "I love you too, Torrance." she replied making it known that she had understood exactly what the older woman had said. "You better go now before this cab drives off with your stuff."

Giving a nod Torrance said, "I'll call you."

"Okay. Travel safely."


Torrance came back to New York two weeks later expecting to find Helen at her loft. However when she got there, the blonde was nowhere to be seen and had left a note that she had to return home to help Kelly with wedding plans. Being tired from the flight, the photographer opted just to go to bed for the night and call her girlfriend the next morning.

The following day though when she called no one was home, so Torrance figured she would catch up with the petite blonde later and decided to go see her cousin for a long overdue visit after catching up on some business. Taking the hour and a half drive to the rehab center, Torrance got there a little after three that afternoon. When she requested to see Melissa though, she was told that she had gone off the premises with Helen, but they were scheduled to return shortly.

Please that the blonde was spending time with Melissa as she had promised, Torrance was glad she would be able to see them both that day. Going out to the porch of the building, she took a seat on the front steps and waited. It was only half an hour before she saw the two women coming up the walk toward her, and in her excitement, she raced to them. Torrance hugged them both tightly. However as she held her younger cousin in her arms, the brunette thought she smelled the distinctive scent of marijuana on the girl, but she dismissed it for the moment as she asked, "How are my two favorite women? Did you two miss me?"

"Not at all." Melissa joked with a laugh as she pulled her cousin in for another hug.

Looking over at the blonde, the photographer inquired, "Well, what about you? Did you miss me at all?"

"Of course I did."

Torrance grinned at them both as she put her arms around them to guide them back to the building. "Well, I certainly missed the two of you."

"How's your grandfather doing?"

"He's fine. He asked about you, Helen, both Nonna and he did. They are thrilled that we worked things out."

When the three of them got inside, Melissa mentioned, "I need to get going to group therapy, but thanks for coming by, Torrance." She moved to hug her again.

Confident in what she smelled on the teenager, she said, "Sure. Why don't I walk you down there? I need to talk to you about something."

Melissa nodded before hugging Helen. "Thanks for taking me out today, Helen. I had a good time."

"I'm glad. I'll see you later."

Torrance looked at the blonde and asked, "Will you wait for me?"

"Yeah. I'll be right here."

"Great. Come on, Melissa." As soon as they were out of earshot of the model, Torrance asked, "So, you and Helen are getting along well?"

"Yeah. She's cool, and I can tell she really loves you."

"Well, I love her. There's something I need to ask you though. Does she know that you're smoking pot while you were with her?" pointedly Torrance asked taking her cousin by the arms and staring at her.

"I wasn't smoking." Melissa stated.

"Don't give me that. I can smell it on you. Where did you get it?"

"Torrance, it's not that big of a deal. It was just one joint."

"Not that big of a deal? Look around you, Melissa! You're in rehab for drug addiction! One joint is a big deal! Now tell me where you got it!"

"This friend of one of the people here."

"I want a name!" Torrance demanded. Melissa told her. "You listen to me, Melissa. You're here to get help, but you can only get that if you honestly want to quit. If you don't quit doing drugs, you're going to end up getting hurt. I don't want that for you, but I can't make you do this either. You've hit a bottom here, but it's not too late. Do you want help with this or not?"

"Yes, I do. I don't want to disappoint you, Torrance. You're the only one who cares about me."

"Helen cares about you too. How could you smoke while you were out with her? Did she know you did it?"

"No. I smoked in the bathroom at the mall. I told her I had to go, and she just waited on me. She doesn't know."

"You've broken our trust, Melissa. If we can't trust you, you can't go out with her anymore. Is that understood?"

"I won't do it again. I swear." Melissa stated.

"You better not, but there has to be a repercussion for this. I can't just let you get away with it. You have to learn that there are consequences for your actions. Helen will not be coming here for a month, and during that time I want you to think about you did to her."

"Torrance, don't do that. That's one of the best times of the week."

"I'm sorry, but you broke the rules. You have to pay the consequences. Now you better get to therapy, and I suggest you tell them what you did." Torrance waited until Melissa was where she was supposed to be before heading back to the reception area. She was angry that her cousin had managed to get drugs while in rehab, and she was going to unleash her frustration on the staff.

As she brushed past Helen, the blonde sensed her anger and inquired, "What's wrong?"

"I'll deal with you in a minute." she growled more harshly than she meant as she went to the front desk. Slamming her fist against it, she demanded to see the staff director.

Helen silently stood by as Torrance went off on the staff. Realizing that Melissa had used while in her company made her feel terrible, like she had failed the older woman who had put so much faith in her. Once the photographer finished her ranting, Helen moved up next to her. "Torrance, I'm so sorry I let you down. I didn't know." she apologized.

"I know. Melissa told me as much. It's not your fault. You can't be responsible for her actions every second that you're with her." the brunette conceded. "I'm sorry I was severe when I came by. I was just upset that this had happened under supposedly watchful eyes. I told Melissa because of what happened you weren't allowed here for a month."

"Oh, Torrance, don't do that. I won't let it happen again. I promise I'll be more careful." the younger woman whined. "Give me another chance."

Taking the teacher into her arms, Torrance softly said, "I'm not punishing you. I'm punishing Melissa. She enjoys her time with you, and she deserves some sort of consequence for what she did. This isn't about you. Please don't think that it is."

"It still feels like it is."

"Please try to understand. If this is going to work, you have to support me on this. I'm very thankful that you like coming to see her. It just proves what a wonderful woman you really are, and I would never deny you anything that gave you pleasure, Helen, but she has to learn that there are repercussions for her behaviors."

The model nodded. "Okay. I support you. It's just that I really was enjoying the time here with her too, but if you think this is best, I'll stand by you."

"Thank you."

As they walked outside, Helen looped her arm through her girlfriend's. "So, what are your plans for the rest of the day?"

"I don't know. Go back to New York I guess. You want to come with me?"

"I can't. I promised some friends I go out to dinner with them, but why don't you come with me? I really want to spend some time with you, so we can catch up. I've missed you." she whispered.

"I missed you a lot too. I guess I can take a little side trip to Philadelphia, but I can't stay long. I have to be back in New York by tomorrow afternoon."

"Great. I guess you can follow me in your car. See you back at my place then." she said as she unlocked her car.

"You're forgetting something." Torrance mentioned as Helen started to get in. The blonde gave her a questioning look. Torrance smiled at her as she leaned down to give her a soft kiss on the lips.

"Oh, I didn't forget about that. I was just waiting until we could be alone to do it properly." the teacher answered going back for seconds. "Now let's get home, so I can give you the rest."

"I'm right behind you." Torrance replied slipping on her dark sunglasses and turning to go. However just as she took a step toward her own vehicle she felt the model slap her on the posterior. Turning her head over her shoulder and looking over the top of sunglasses, Torrance gave her a raised brow. "You are being naughty today." she joked.

Helen just gave an innocent smile. "I just happen to like you in those pants. They're my favorite. You look so sexy in them."

"Now I know you're being bad. Since when is my girlfriend an aggressor?"

Helen laughed. "Do you have me confused with someone else, honey? If memory serves me correctly, I've always been the aggressor."

"Well, maybe that will have to change." playfully the photographer threatened.

"Promise?" the blonde teased.

Shaking her head Torrance mumbled, "I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I signed on for this. You can be incorrigible."

"You better believe it." the younger woman whispered sexily stepping in closer and running her hands up the older woman's torso. "And I can't wait to show you just how bad I can be."

Torrance moaned at the inference and the blonde's hands. "We better get going." she stated fumbling on her words as she tried to take even breaths.

Taking pity on her, Helen stepped back. "Meet you at home." she said.

Once back at the apartment there was a note from Mark and Kelly that they would meet Helen at the restaurant. "Well, looks like we're all alone." Torrance observed coming up behind the blonde and slipping her arms around her as she read the note over her shoulder.

"Looks that way." Helen replied faintly feeling Torrance's hands gliding up to cup her breasts as the photographer kissed along her neck. Her head dropped back against the older woman's chest as she whimpered lightly at the sensations. Vaguely she was aware of the brunette's large hands unbuttoning her blouse before they slid inside to get more intimate contact with her skin. Instinctually her body arched into the caress even though she whispered, "I have to change clothes before we go."

"Let me help you." Torrance suggested seductively moving her right hand down to the button of the teacher's shorts. Working it open the brunette turned her attention to the zipper. When her girlfriend's shorts were open, she snuck her hand into them.

"Oh my God." Helen cried softly. "Torrance."

"What, baby?"

Helen took a deep breath as she tried to clear her head. "I promised I would be there. My friends are going to be mad if I don't show up." she explained.

"Well, we can't let that happen. Maybe I should stop."

"Maybe but this feels so good." the younger woman expressed.

Torrance nodded in agreement. "I know, from this side too, but there's plenty of time for this later. We should get going, so we're not late." Relinquishing her hold on the petite woman, Torrance stepped back. However as Helen turned toward her, she took in the vision of the blonde standing there with her blouse half open revealing her white lace bra that contrasted with the dark golden hue of her skin. With a tortured sigh, she said, "You better go before I change my mind."

As soon as Helen and Torrance arrived at the restaurant, they were spotted instantly by Kelly. Helen gave a wave as she led the way over to the bar, but as they approached, Kelly moved to give Torrance a hug. "What a surprise, Torrance. When did you get back from Italy?"


"How's your grandfather doing?"

"Much better. Thanks for asking."

Mark then came over to give the photographer a friendly pat on the shoulder. "Torrance, always good to see you."

"You too, Mark." she replied.

"Well, let me make introductions." Helen interrupted taking Torrance by the hand and moving her over to where some of her other friends were sitting. As soon as those were complete, Torrance got them both drinks at the bar before coming back to the group to wait on their table. Torrance just stood next Helen who was on a stool as she actively listened to the conversation, but Helen kept leaning into her. At first the photographer thought she was in the way, which is why the blonde keep brushing her, so she kept stepping back to give her space, but after several minutes, Helen turned to her. "Would you stop fidgeting? I'm trying to lean against you." she teased.

"Oh, sorry." Torrance apologized moving back to her original position. Helen leaned in to her, resting her head against the brunette's body and affectionately putting an arm around her waist. Torrance subtly eyed the group for any sort of reaction, but no one even flinched at the intimate display. Figuring Helen knew her friends pretty well, Torrance just decided to follow the younger woman's lead. Through the whole meal that night, Helen kept touching her and showing her affection without so much as a comment from the rest of their company.

After the meal had come to a close, there was a discussion about going to a club close by, so Helen and Torrance agreed to attend as well since Kelly and Mark were going. Torrance followed Mark in the car over to the club and paid for she and Helen to get in. However once inside she realized that they were in a typical straight club. Instantly men began to stare at Helen and Kelly as they all made their way over to the bar. At first the four of them just stood around drinking while their other friends took to the floor, but after awhile Helen and Torrance were left alone.

"So, are you going to ask me to dance?" the younger woman inquired when it appeared Torrance was content sitting on her stool.

Shaking her head Torrance answered, "I hadn't planned on it."

"Why not? I want to dance. If you won't dance with me, I'll have to go find someone else."

"Suit yourself, but I'm not dancing with you in a straight club. That's cause for trouble."

"I never thought a woman like you would be scared of a little controversy." the blonde mentioned.

Sighing Torrance stated, "I'm not scared, Helen. I'm just not going to do something stupid either. Two women dancing together at a straight club will gain unwanted attention, and I'm really not up for it tonight. I've been around dykedom a little longer than you have, so just trust me on this one."

"Fine. If you won't dance with me, I'll just dance with Kelly and Mark." she stated irritably walking away.

Torrance watched from afar as her girlfriend danced with her roommates. However after several moments she noticed Helen lean over to Kelly and whisper something to her. Kelly looked over at her, making Torrance suspicious that something was about to happen, and a few minutes later she saw Helen and Kelly start dancing closer to each other. She watched them closely for several minutes before glancing around the bar. It seemed like the attention of many men were on them even though they were oblivious.

Just then Mark came up to the bar and ordered another beer and taking a seat next to Torrance. Both of them kept their attention on their girlfriends. "What's up with Helen tonight? She trying to recruit my woman?" Mark teased.

"I don't know what she's doing, but I don't like it." Torrance mumbled. Helen and Kelly seemed to get more into each other as the minutes passed, and it wasn't long before they were body to body grinding seductively to the music. Occasionally they would look across the bar and met the eyes of their respective partners, but it was evident that Torrance was not pleased with the fact that the attention in the club had been adverted to the two beauties. Men were obviously leering at them, making Torrance uncomfortable. Looking to Mark to comment, she noticed that he too was even mesmerized. "I'm going to put an end to this." gruffly she stated getting off her stool.

Mark shot his arm out to stop her. "No, not yet. Let's see what happens." he said his eyes focused firmly on them.

Torrance acquiesced for another moment, thinking that maybe Helen needed to learn this lesson the hard way. Just then she saw Kelly lean into her girlfriend, kissing her deeply on the lips. "Who's doing the seducing now?" she quipped at Mark.

"I saw tongue in that." he uttered getting off his stool.

"I'm stopping this now before there's trouble." Torrance firmly stated.

Mark nodded in agreement. As the two of them approached their girlfriends, they saw a drunk guy making his way over to them as well. Mark shoved him out of the way without so much as a word and put his arms protectively around Kelly. "We're leaving, Kelly, right now." She giggled at him but agreed quickly, leaving Torrance and Helen standing on the dance floor.

Torrance stared down at the petite blonde who had put her arms around her and stared moving against her. "Change your mind?" Helen asked.

"No, Helen, I didn't. I think we should get going as well. You've got this whole damn bar in a frenzy. Look around you." Helen glanced around the edge of the dance floor and saw all the wolfish eyes on her. "You're not eye candy for these boys. You're mine, but since I can't take on everyone here, I think it would be best if we left. I promise you that once we're at home you'll get the reaction out of me that you want." enticingly Torrance offered.

Helen agreed, so they quickly made their way toward the exit. However as soon as they got out to the street and were waiting to cross, they heard a drunk male voice call out, "Hey, pretty girl, you can't leave yet." They both turned toward the sound to see the same guy Mark had thrown off Kelly earlier. He moved over to Helen and gave her a lustful grin.

"No, it's time for me to go." Helen answered looking at Torrance for help, but the older woman just stared on as if she wasn't going to offer any assistance.

"But the fun was just getting started. You and your little girlfriend were the highlight of the evening. Why don't you stay a little longer and dance with me? And then maybe later the three of us could go somewhere and get better acquainted." he proposed.

Torrance snickered under her breath at his idea. Helen looked at her again for help, but she was determined to let the blonde get out of the situation she had created alone unless things got really out of hand. Helen stared at him a little less friendly as she said, "I don't think that will be possible. Now excuse me."

"No. Wait." he stated putting a hand on her arm.

As soon as he did that, Torrance took a step toward him. "The lady said no." gruffly she said pushing him slightly in order to get him away from the younger woman.

He pushed back and grabbed Helen by the arm again as he asked, "What's it to you, dyke?"

Sneering at him Torrance pushed him off more firmly and growled, "You touch her again, and I'm going to break your face against the sidewalk."

"Yeah, whatever." he muttered starting for Helen again, but Torrance applied resistance to his chest to stop him.

"Do I look like I'm joking to you?" she yelled. "She said no twice!"

"Third time's the charm." he jested looking back at Helen.

"You take one more step, and I'm going to pound you! I mean it!" Torrance screamed poking him in the chest with a finger. A crowd of people came out of the bar and stopped to see the drama unfolding on the street. The guy slapped Torrance's hand away and took a step toward the blonde. Before he even knew what hit him, Torrance popped him in the nose. It cracked under the pressure and began to bleed profusely.

"You fucking, bitch! You broke my nose!" he yelled.

"I warned you! Now I suggest you just leave us alone!"

"Fuck you! Just for that I'm going to have to teach you a lesson!" he shouted taking a swing at Torrance, but being that he was so drunk, he threw himself off balance as Torrance side stepped the punch. Pushing him in the back as he went by, she sent him crashing to the pavement. The crowed stirred anxiously murmuring about what was taking place.

"Stay down!" she bellowed putting her foot on his back to hold him in place. He remained still for a few moments giving Torrance confidence that the incident was over, so she let him go. Taking Helen by the arm, she said, "Let's go."

However just as they were about to step off the curb into the street someone from the audience screamed that he was charging her again. Torrance turned just as he threw his whole body at her, sending them both to the ground. Torrance landed on her back on the asphalt with a thud and him on top of her.

"You fucking, dyke! You're going pay for that!" he hollered slamming his fist into her jaw. Torrance groaned in pain but struggled to free herself. Just as he cocked back to hit her a second time, she managed to get one of her legs between his and raised it to knee him in the groin. Instantly he gasped and rolled off of her. Torrance got to her feet and took a few deep breaths.

When it appeared that he was definitely staying down that time, she looked over at her girlfriend on the sidewalk. Helen gasped in horror at Torrance's appearance. The photographer's lower lip was already swollen with blood trickling out of the corner. "Torrance!" she exclaimed coming to her and trying to reach for her face, but the brunette turned away in anger. Without another word between them, they went to the car. Silence prevailed for the first part of the drive.

Finally though Torrance asked, "Why did you do that with Kelly at the bar? I told you there would be trouble."

"I wanted to make a point." feebly the model answered.

"What point was that? That I was right?"

"Torrance, I just wanted to prove to you that I'm not afraid anymore of anyone or anything. I'm not going to hide my feelings for you."

"So, you just decided to come roaring out of the closet, and tell the world to fuck off? Helen, had I not been there, you would have been on the receiving end of some potentially unpleasant actions. He was not going to take no from you period regardless of what you said. Do you realize that?"

Helen looked out her window knowing that Torrance was right. She had been frightened when he wouldn't leave her alone, and if Torrance hadn't been there to defend her, things could've gotten bad. In fact it was the first time in her life that she felt as if her own personal safety was in danger. "I'm sorry." she whispered.

"Helen, I appreciate the fact that you are trying to show this strong side, and I admire you for it, but this is a whole new ball game. Being in a relationship with me is going to create situations that you've never dealt with before. You just have to think and be more aware of your surroundings. That's not to say that you should hide, because I don't, but you just need to be careful. Some people don't like gays, and that's just the way is it. I wish things were different, but until we live in a time when they are, I feel compelled to try to protect you from any unnecessary pain that bigots may cause. I've lived through a lot of prejudice even as privileged a life as I've had, so I know of the things that can happen. If I can spare you that, I want to. I would appreciate if you would take my advisement into consideration next time before doing some like this."

"Okay. Again I'm sorry for the trouble I caused. I never thought things would get that out of hand."

"Neither did I actually." she conceded. "I thought there would be stares and verbal slurs, but I didn't think anyone would actually try to physically challenge me. It's been awhile since that's happened. Most people are intimated enough by my size that they don't cross me. He was mean son of bitch though and packed quite a punch."

"I'm sorry about your lip." the model stated digging in her purse for a kleenex. Gently she raised it to the photographer's mouth to stop the flow of blood.

When they got back to the apartment, they heard music coming from Kelly and Mark's room. "I can guess what they're doing." the older woman teased. "You and Kelly had quite an effect on Mark tonight. He about died from pleasure when you made his erotic lesbian fantasy come true with his fiancee."

"I didn't even know she was going to do that. I'll admit it was weird for me to have my best friend's tongue in my mouth. I didn't particularly enjoy that."

"We did." Torrance teased.

"Did you now?"

"Yeah. I mean Kelly is pretty hot, and you are just beyond words. Had it just been the four of us, I wouldn't have minded so much." she admitted.

"You're bad." Helen stated lightly. "Well, now that we're home, I think you promised me a dance."

"I think I did." Torrance answered.

The teacher went to the stereo and chose some music for them before coming back to the woman she loved. Quietly they began to move to the sensuous music, but it wasn't long until their mouths got into the action as well. Grinding together sexually their passion sprang to life as their hands became more possessive over each other's bodies. Breaking away from the blonde's lips, Torrance worked her mouth down her neck as her hands started to unbutton Helen's top. Helen encouragingly cradled the brunette's head as it traveled down into her cleavage. She whimpered as the older woman's tongue licked over her satin bra wetting the material as her mouth covered the crest of one of her breasts. Torrance nipped her lightly making the petite woman cry out softly and cling tighter. "Oh, Torrance."

"Talk to me, Helen. Tell me what you want."

"I want you." she panted.

Torrance gave a laugh under her breath. "You'll have to do better than that." she teased sexily lifting the smaller woman. Instantly Helen's legs came around her waist. Torrance leaned Helen back into the wall suspending her mid air. Beginning to attack the blonde's neck with more fervor, her hands slid under the long skirt her girlfriend was wearing.

Needing to even things a bit, Helen focused on Torrance's shirt and soon had it hanging open. She pushed it off the broad shoulders, and it fell down to the brunette's forearms. Then she reached between her own legs to get to the belt holding the photographer's pants on. Torrance ground her hips harder into the blonde's as her pants unceremoniously dropped to her ankles, leaving her essentially naked except for a pair of boxers. Clawing at the strong back, Helen whispered, "Please, baby."

"Please what?" Torrance egged on as her fingers tantalizingly rubbed the model's soft inner thighs.

"Take me." she urged.

As much as Torrance wanted to do just that, she was enjoying tormenting the model too much to give in right away. "No. You've been a very bad girl all day. I don't think you deserve it. I think you'll just have to settle for this." she stated trying to sound serious as let her thumbs caress the younger woman's wet heat from the outside of her clothing. She kissed over the slopes of Helen's breasts in a torturously slow tease before working up her neck to her mouth. Torrance ravaged the blonde's lips as her hands continued to reek havoc on the younger woman's senses. "You have to beg me, angel, if you want it." she whispered diving into her girlfriend's mouth.

Helen moaned deeply as their tongues battled fiercely. Her body was almost on overload, and Torrance wasn't even inside her yet. Even though she had never been treated the way Torrance was handling her, she was more excited than she had ever been, especially since she knew Torrance was only playing with her. When Torrance withdrew from her mouth and latched on roughly to her neck, Helen screamed out in her mounting need. "Torrance, please." Torrance didn't respond as she bit at the pulsing vein of the younger woman's neck. Before Helen even consciously made an effort to submit to the older woman's will, she begged, "Torrance, please fuck me."

The photographer groaned loudly at the indecent plea. Staring deeply into Helen's green eyes, Torrance heaved for air. "Say it again." she demanded.

Helen cradled the brunette's head in both her hands and yanked her into a powerful kiss. "Fuck me now, Torrance." she growled.

Just as Torrance was about to grant the request, they heard Mark's voice behind them scream in surprise, "Holy shit!" Torrance looked over her shoulder to see him standing there staring in wide-eyed astonishment. "I'm so sorry." he fumbled racing back to his room.

Torrance couldn't help but laugh at his sudden departure, but his appearance broke the mood. Looking back at Helen, she smiled. "Well, that's one way to ruin the moment." she mentioned.

Helen banged her head back against the wall in amused exasperation. "Damn him. Now they're going to know we're having sex when we go to bed. I don't think I can handle such performance pressure."

Torrance smiled as she mentioned, "Well, I don't think we should have sex anyway even as much as I want to right now. My jaw really hurts, and that's not good when I fully intend to give you the special treatment."

"Oh, poor baby. It looks swollen. Why don't I get you some ice for it?" Helen suggested.

Torrance nodded as she set Helen on her feet. "Thanks, honey." She took a seat on the couch as she waited for the teacher to return from the kitchen with an ice pack. When she came back, Torrance took the ice and held it up to her jaw.

"Well, I don't know about you, but I think I'm going to need a cold shower before bed or else I'll never make it through the night with you so close."

"Probably a wise idea. It's starting to get a little late to go back to New York, and being that it's the only other option, I think cold showers are definitely in order."

"All right. Will you be all right while I'm in there?"

"Of course. I'm just going to sit here half naked on your couch and wait for my turn." she joked.

Helen gave a nod before heading off to the bathroom. As soon as she stepped into the shower however, she was determined to finish what they had started. Even though she regretted that her fulfillment wouldn't come at the brunette's hands, she felt content to fantasize about it as she took herself the rest of the way.

While the blonde was in the shower, Torrance imagined what might have happened had Mark not entered the room. She envisioned taking Helen down to the floor and thrusting into the abyss of pleasure that she knew was between the younger woman's legs. Groaning at the thought, her hands began to work on her own body bringing it the fulfillment it needed before she could feel sated.


Toward the end of the summer that year just before Helen had to go back to school, her parents came up for a visit. Seeing this as a potential opportunity for them to meet Torrance's family, she began to work on her own parents as soon as they arrived about spending a few days in New York. Her father instantly agreed to the idea being so anxious to meet the woman who had won his daughter, but her mother wasn't as thrilled. It took several days of the two of them pestering for her to consent to meeting the photographer.

On Friday afternoon the three of them journeyed into the city by train and checked into a hotel before taking a cab over to Torrance's building. The older woman was excited about meeting the blonde's parents and had suggested that they all meet at her loft for drinks prior to going out that evening. As Torrance stood in her kitchen with her own parents and Melissa, she began to pace nervously.

"Now from what I've been told her father likes me, but her mother doesn't, so please just don't start any trouble if it looks like she's uncomfortable. I want this to go well." she stated.

"Everything will be fine, darling. We adore Helen." her mother assured her.

"I just can't afford to screw up. I want them to be impressed with me. That's very important."

"We understand, Torrance, but not to worry. Who wouldn't be impressed? I mean you live in an excellent place in the city. You have a picture perfect career. You're financially stable. What parent wouldn't want their daughter to be with you?" her father rhetorically inquired.

"Her mother for one because I'm a lesbian. She doesn't agree with that."

"Well, she's just going to have to get used to it." Maria quipped taking a sip of her wine.

Just then there was a knock on the door. Torrance gave one last look at her family before slowly making her way to the door. Checking herself in the mirror one final time, she opened the door with her best fake smile on her face pretending that she wasn't the least bit nervous. However as soon as she saw her love standing there her face lit up as her smile turned genuine. "Hi. Come on in." she said having eyes only for the young blonde at the moment.

Helen moved into her and gave Torrance a lingering hug and kiss on the cheek. "Hi. I missed you."

"I missed you too." the photographer admitted.

Breaking away slightly Helen said, "Let me introduce you to my parents. Mom, Dad, this Torrance Whitfield. Torrance, my parents, John and Diane Melbourne."

John stuck his hand out first. "Torrance, it's a real pleasure to finally meet you." he said with a grin as the exchanged a friendly solid handshake.

"Likewise Mr. Melbourne. Helen has so many nice things to say about you."

"Oh, please, let's not be formal. Call me John."

Turning to Helen's mother, Torrance extended her hand to the older woman but was met with a reluctant one in return. Nevertheless Torrance gave her a congenial smile as well. "Mrs. Melbourne, it's nice to meet you too. Helen's told me so much about you as well." When the older blonde said nothing, the brunette took it in stride knowing she had her work cut out for her. "Well, why don't we all go into the kitchen for some appetizers? My mother is anxious to see you again." she said to the teacher curving an arm around the petite woman's shoulders when she felt Helen do the same to her waist.

As they came into the kitchen, Maria approached Helen for a hug. "Oh, Helen, it's so good to see you again, my dear." she exclaimed as the two women exchanged kisses on the cheek.

"It's good to see you too, Maria. It's been far too long." Melissa moved in next for a hug from the blonde as well. "I'm glad to see you here, Melissa." Helen stated.

"I'm glad to be back."

Interrupting them Torrance made the formal introductions. "Helen, I'd like you to meet my father, Thomas Whitfield. Dad, this is Helen Melbourne." she stated proudly.

Her father beamed at the petite woman as he offered his hand. "My dear, I see that Torrance's description of you as one of the most beautiful woman that ever graced the earth is accurate. You might actually be the loveliest creature I've had the pleasure of meeting, second to my wife of course." he stated suavely with twinkling eyes as he held her hand a little longer.

Helen flushed lightly. "Well, thank you, Senator Whitfield. Being second to Maria in anything is an honor." she teased.

"Oh, please, don't make me feel old now. I insist that you call me Thomas. After all that is my name."

With a laugh Helen turned toward Torrance and said, "Well, now I know where you learned your tricks as a regular Casanova."

"Be lucky that I learned my fidelity from him too. We're both as faithful as dogs with the right owners." she jested.

Looking at her parents, Helen motioned them closer as she said, "Dad, Mom, I'd like you to meet Torrance's parents, Maria and Thomas Whitfield, as well one of her cousin's, Melissa Whitfield."

"Well, would you like something to drink?" the brunette offered after everyone had shaken hands. "We have lots of wine, or if you prefer I have plenty to offer from the bar."

"I'll get it, honey." Helen said moving toward the refrigerator. "Mom, you want some wine?"

Seeing that one of her guests was being attended to, Torrance turned toward Helen's father. "John, what's your fancy?"

"Um, I'll have whatever it seems you and your father are drinking." he said gamely eyeing the small glasses in each other their hands.

"All right. Scotch it is." the photographer replied heading off the her bar.

They all stood around the kitchen making small talk as they waited on their driver to take them to dinner. However as the lobby attendant buzzed them to inform them of their limousine's arrival, Helen inquired, "Where are we going for dinner anyway? You never did tell me."

Torrance shrugged. "Well, my father thought it was a good idea to go to Spago." she stated.

"Spago? Are you really taking us there? We're not dressed for that." the blonde stated.

"We've been through this, dear. It doesn't matter what you're wearing. Wolf (Wolfgang Puck) is like family, and he was so disappointed that he wasn't there the last time we were. He wants to meet you and your parents."

"Did you just say Wolf as in Wolfgang Puck?" Helen mother's cut in.

"Yes. You've heard of him?"

"Well, I've seen his show on tv." she replied.

"I assure you that you'll like Spago. Everyone does except for me, but obviously my opinion doesn't count." Torrance joked.

Heading downstairs they all piled into the limo that was waiting and took a quiet ride to the restaurant. The conversation flowed fairly easily between the families thanks largely in part to Helen's father. Even though his wife was uncivilly quiet, John Melbourne made up for her lack of sociability with his eagerness to learn as much as he could about Torrance.

Dinner lasted most of the evening, so once it was over, Thomas offered to have the driver drop them off at their hotel that way they wouldn't have to take a cab. When Helen accepted for family, they once again all got into the limousine for the quick ride over to the hotel. While in the car John invited them all to join them for brunch and an afternoon on the town the following day, but all of them had to politely decline due to their schedules except for Torrance. Arriving at the hotel, all seven of them stepped out onto the street to engage in a proper farewell.

However after Torrance's family had gotten back in the limo, John turned to the photographer and his daughter and asked, "Torrance, could I convince you to come up for another drink?"

The brunette looked at her girlfriend seeing the hopeful eyes but then noticed Diane Melbourne's scowl. "Thank you, but I think I better pass. There will be plenty of time for that tomorrow."

"Well, all right. We'll just let you two say good night. See you up in the room, sweetie." he said to his daughter giving her a supportive smile before taking his wife's arm and leading her away.

Helen looked back at her beloved and sighed. "I'm really sorry about my mother." she apologized. "Her behavior this evening was inexcusable. I can't believe she acted that way."

Torrance gave a soft smile as she pulled the blonde into a hug. "It's okay. I knew going in that she would be difficult and so did my parents. The fact that she even agreed to come amazes me. That means there might be hope. I at least choose to look at it that way."

"Thanks for trying to stay positive. I'm about ready to kill her though." There was a moment of silence as they just gazed deeply into each other's eyes adoringly before the model stated, "It seems strange that I have to stay here instead of at the loft with you. I don't like the idea of going to bed alone in New York anymore."

"Me neither but this is just for a night."

Helen gave her girlfriend a smile. "You know, it's been hard not kissing you all night. Do you think maybe you could give me one that will give me sweet dreams of you while we're apart?" she whispered bewitchingly.

"My pleasure." the older woman answered leaning down and catching the teacher's mouth in a soft lingering kiss.

"Wow." Helen sighed when she pulled away. "Now let's see if I can manage to walk after that." she teased.

Torrance caressed her cheek lightly. "I'll see you tomorrow."

The blonde nodded. "Good night, Torrance."

"Bon soir, mon cherie." Torrance stood on the sidewalk until Helen disappeared into the building. Getting into the limo again, she gave a content sigh.

"Well, you certainly have yourself quite a woman, Torrance." her father stated.

"Oh yeah." dreamily she replied taking one last look at the hotel.

As soon as Helen went up to the suite she was sharing with her parents, she banged on their bedroom door loudly. Her father opened it far enough that the blonde admitted herself in a fury. Going right up to her mother, she yelled, "How could you have done that to me, Mom? Your behavior embarrassed the hell out of me! How could you have been so rude?"

"How dare you address me in that tone, young lady! I am your mother!"

"You knew how important this was to me, and it was if you went out of your way to be as impolite as possible! Do you even know how much that dinner cost her father?"

"Helen, I don't even know why I agreed to this! I don't care how much it cost him! He's an arrogant asshole, concerned more with his image than anyone else I've ever met! All he wanted to do was show off! And Torrance was just as bad with the way she kept introducing us to everyone like you were some sort of prize! She treats you like a trophy, and she wouldn't keep her damn hands off you the entire night! How could you let that woman treat you like some sort of high-priced call girl?" the older woman vented.

Helen's lower lip began to quiver as the tears streamed down her face. To have her own mother think of her as no better than a prostitute left her with a shattered heart. There was silence for a few moments before she spoke again. "Well, I guess I'll be going to Torrance's now to be the harlot you think I am." she muttered before turning to go.

"Helen, wait." her father called out in concern as his daughter rushed passed him, obviously crushed by her mother's words. He hurried to catch up with her as she got to the door of their room. "Baby." he whispered pulling her into consoling arms.

In the comfort of her father's arms, Helen wept as her whole body shook uncontrollably. "Daddy, how could she say that to me?" she sobbed.

He didn't answer instead just rocked her back and forth until she calmed a little. Lifting her face from his chest, he wiped it and kissed her on the forehead. "Go to Torrance's. I know it's only her comfort you need. Your mother and I need to have a talk." He pulled away long enough to go into her room and get her bag for her. Putting it across her shoulder, he instructed, "Call me in the morning." Helen nodded. He dug into his pocket and pulled out his wallet. "Here." he stated trying to hand her a few bills.

"Daddy, I don't need any money."

"Just let your old man pay for the cab. It's the least I could do. Please. Pacify me."

With a resigned nod, Helen took the money and stuck it in her purse before leaning to hug him. "I love you, Dad. Thanks for understanding."

"I love you too. Talk to you in the morning." Just as she turned to go, he said, "Helen, if it means anything to you, I think Torrance is wonderful. I can tell she adores you."

"Thanks, Dad."

Torrance had just settled down into bed that night when her phone rang. When she answered it, it was the lobby attendant stating that Helen was there and asked if she was allowed to come up. Instantly Torrance was panicked and quickly requested that the blonde be granted access. Hurrying out of bed, the photographer grabbed her robe and put it on as she raced down her stairs. She dashed out of the loft down to the elevators to wait on the teacher's arrival. As soon as the doors opened, she noted immediately that something was terribly wrong. Helen was completely silent, looking at her with such a pained expression. Without even a word, Torrance simply opened her arms to the younger woman, who collapsed into them and started weeping uncontrollably. The photographer took the model's bag off her shoulder and put it on her own before picking the smaller woman up in her arms and taking her back to the apartment. Slowly they made their way up to the master bedroom where they fell into bed. Sliding her arms around the blonde, Torrance held to her tightly as Helen wailed in emotional agony. The pain emanating from the younger woman was so overwhelming to the photographer that she too began to cry for her beloved until exhaustion put the teacher to sleep. Once she was passed out, Torrance took Helen's clothes off and put her into her pajamas, but she was too angry to fall asleep. She figured that Helen's mother was behind the blonde's anguish even though the young woman hadn't said a word, and she wondered how they were going to get through this.

The following morning Torrance was up first. She was just sitting in the kitchen drinking coffee and reading the paper in her pajamas when there was a knock on her door. Looking up at the clock and seeing that it was almost ten, she wondered who it could be but got up to answer. Opening the door she came face to face with Helen's father standing alone outside her door with a suitcase in his hand.

"Oh, I'm sorry I got you out of bed." he apologized awkwardly.

"No, I was up. Please come in." she said. "Could I take your bag?"

"I'll just leave it here if you don't mind." he answered setting it on the floor in the foyer by her entry table.

"Could I get you a cup of coffee?" Torrance offered pondering why her girlfriend's father had dawned her doorway alone.

"That would be nice. Thank you."

Torrance led the way into the kitchen and poured the beverage for him. "There's cream and sugar if you'd like any. I'm just going to run upstairs and let Helen know you're here. She's still asleep."

"No, don't wake her. I'm sure she had a long night, and she needs her rest."

"All right. Well, then I'll just quickly change clothes. Please help yourself to something to eat, bagel, fruit, whatever. I'll be right with you." she stated before heading up to her room. A few minutes later she came back dressed in jeans and a nice shirt. John was seated at the kitchen table looking at the paper, so Torrance joined him there. "So, to what do I owe this visit? I thought we were going to meet you."

"Well, I had to take Helen's mother to the train station this morning and then check out of the hotel. I figured you wouldn't mind if I dropped by." he stated hesitantly.

"I don't mind at all. You're always welcome here, John. May I inquire as to why Mrs. Melbourne left this morning?"

"Well, as you already know, she was terribly rude last night, and I must apologize for my wife's behavior. That was inappropriate, but after what happened with Helen, my wife and I both thought it best that she go home while I escort Helen back to Philadelphia alone to get our car."

"I see." the photographer stated taking a sip of her coffee.

After a moment John asked, "How is my daughter, Torrance? Things got pretty ugly last night."

"Well, I have to be honest with you, John. I've never seen such pain before. When she arrived her last night, she was like a wounded dying animal. The agony coming out of her was almost more than I could even bear to see. I wish I had been there to protect her from that."

"Diane was just upset. She's having such a difficult time with this, because you're a woman, but I don't honestly think she meant what she said to Helen."

"What did she say?" the brunette asked.

"Helen didn't tell you?" he inquired in surprise.

"She couldn't even hardly breath she was sobbing so badly. She didn't say anything."

John stared out the window for a moment before answering, "Diane sort of inferred that you were using Helen as a toy, and because you were wealthy, she was no better than a prostitute for accepting your attention."

Torrance's heart hurt for her girlfriend at John's confession. "I see. Let me guess that if I were a man however, your wife probably be more inclined to accept and encourage this relationship."

"I'm sorry, Torrance. I don't agree with my wife's assessment of the situation. I'll admit that I even had my own doubts, but I always wanted to be supportive of Helen's feelings for you. However now that you and I have met and spent some time together, I realize that I have nothing to fear as far as your intentions toward her. I'm thoroughly convinced that you love my daughter more than anything else in life."

Torrance gave a smile as a slight blush rose in her face. "Your assessment of the situation couldn't be more correct, John. Helen means everything to me. I'd give anything to have her be apart of the rest of my life."

"Not too sound patronizing, Torrance, but you haven't been dating that long. How do you know that with certainty?" he curiously asked.

"Because I've been in love with her from almost the moment we met two years ago, and even though we went through a period where we didn't see or talk to each other, those feelings were still there and as strong as ever. My heart has made a permanent commitment to her, and my greatest wish is that someday she might feel like making things permanent as well."

"If that's what Helen wants too, then I would stand by you two. I hope you know that now."

"I think I do. In the meantime though, we're going to have to figure out what to do about Mrs. Melbourne. She doesn't like me. That doesn't really bother me except for the fact that she's taking it out on Helen. I don't care what you're wife thinks about me as a person, but I'm seriously upset on Helen's behalf."

"You have a right to be, and I'm upset for her too. I honestly don't know what's going to happen, Torrance. I'm afraid that she may not ever come around, and I don't want to lose my daughter. You telling me that you're having thoughts of marriage confirms just how serious this relationship is and how permanent it can potentially become, so it's not like she can just out wait you and hope all will make itself right again."

Torrance gave a nod in understanding. "Well, I'm fortunate, John, in that I have two supportive parents, but it wasn't always that way. My father had a problem with me at first. Now it wasn't to the degree Helen is having, but we had to work through some things. There's always a chance that she'll come around given enough time."

"I'm not sure there is enough time, Torrance. What if you and Helen do want to get married in the near future, and Diane refuses to come to the ceremony? That is something that can cause permanent damage to a relationship. I don't want this rift in my family."

"I know, but there is nothing you can really do about it except talk to your wife. Helen is going to do what Helen wants to do. I know that much about her, and there is no one that can stop her once she sets her mind to something."

"That much is true." John stated with a small smile. "I know if a time comes between choosing her mother or you that you will be on the winning end. I just don't want her to turn her back on the rest of her family."

A few minutes passed before there was noise on the staircase. Looking up as the person entered the room, they were both surprised to see Melissa instead of Helen. "Hey, what are you doing up so early?" Torrance asked checking her watch.

"Oh, Aunt Maria is taking me shopping and out to lunch. I promised at be at the house by noon. Hi, Mr. Melbourne."

"All right. You be careful, though. Don't get lost going over there." the photographer stated, referring to Melissa's former sordid past problems.

The teenager came to her cousin and gave her a tight hug around the shoulders. "Don't worry, Torrance. I know the way, and I'm not going to stray any more. I promised you. Remember?"

"I remember, and I'm going to hold you to it. Now when are you going to be back?"

"I don't know."

"By ten?"

"Torrance, it summer and the weekend. I'm not a kid."

"But you are still on a very short leash. You know the rules. You live here, you play it my way."

"Yeah, I know. How ten unless I am still and Uncle Thomas and Aunt Maria's?"

"Fine but as long as they bring you back themselves. I don't want you taking the subway alone after that, and if you leave there, you have to call and tell me where you're going."

"All right. It's a deal. Tell Helen I said hi. I'll see you later."

Both adults watched the teenager bounce her way out of the room before looking back at each other. "Melissa lives with you?" John asked.

"Yeah. I'm sort of her guardian. She's been having difficulties with her parents, and we all thought it would be best if she stayed with me for awhile, until she goes to college anyway. Don't let her pretty looks deceive you. That girl can be a hellion."

"I know the kind. My middle child was that way. That certainly is kind of you to take her in though."

"She listens better to me than her parents." Torrance looked at the kitchen clock and noted it was almost eleven. "I think I better go check on Helen. She's been asleep for an awfully long time." Going up the stairs, the brunette went into the bedroom. Since the blonde's back was to the door, she couldn't tell if the teacher was awake or not, so she climbed onto the bed and put her arm on Helen's shoulder. "Hey, you awake?" she whispered.

"No." the model mumbled.

"Well, I think you need to get up. You have a visitor."

"Send them away. I'm not moving." she stated burying her head deeper into the covers.

"He'll be so disappointed. He's been waiting close to an hour already, because he didn't want me to wake you."

Helen turned over onto her back and frowned up at the older woman. "Who is it?"

"Your father."

"Daddy? Just him? Where's my mother?"

"On her way back to Maryland as we speak."

"What?" she asked sitting up quickly. Grabbing for her robe, she threw it on as she went racing out of the room. Torrance followed hastily. "Daddy?" Helen called out as she ran down the stairs.

Both women stopped in the kitchen to see John trying to act casual as he sat at the breakfast table. "Morning, baby girl. I would've thought you had outgrown this sleeping late business by now." he joked standing for a hug.

Torrance went to get Helen coffee as the blonde took a seat at the table with her father. "What are you doing here, Daddy?"

"Well, I was homeless for a couple of hours, but Torrance took me in." he teased lightly.

"Here, sweetie." Torrance said putting Helen's coffee in front of her and caressing her fair head affectionately for a moment.

"Thanks." she mumbled taking a sip. "Dad, what are you really doing here?"

"Well, I had to check out of the hotel earlier than I expected, but since I knew we had plans, I just came over. Torrance assured me that it was fine."

"It is, but why are you alone? Why did Mom go home?"

John took his daughter's hand and squeezed it. "She needs more time, honey. That big clash you had was more than either of you could deal with, so we decided she just needed to go."

"Oh, Dad, I'm sorry."

"You have nothing to apologize for, Helen. However being that it's just the three of us, I was wondering if you two were still up for going out and doing something?"

"That sounds good to me. What about it, angel?" the older woman inquired.

"If you're sure, Dad."

"Of course."

"All right. Well, I guess I need to get dressed then." she stated.

"Me too. We'll both be right back." Torrance said before both of them headed back up stairs to dress for the day.

Continued in Part 4.
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