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 5 (Conclusion)

Early the next day Torrance was out the door before eight and waiting anxiously for John at the coffee shop. As he came in, Torrance gave him a friendly wave and waited while he got himself something to drink before joining here. "Morning, Torrance."

"Good morning, John. Happy birthday."

"Thanks. Now what did you want to talk to me about? I've been wondering all night."

Torrance gave a little chuckle. "Now I know where Helen gets her voracious curiosity."

"Well, tell me. Don't leave me in suspense."

The photographer gestured in mock surrender before taking a sip of her coffee. "Well, since you're so anxious, I'll get straight to the point. Helen and I have known each other for quite a while. I love your daughter with all that I am and ever hope to be, John, and I want her to be my wife. As her father I would like to ask you for your daughter's hand."

Giving a large grin, John replied, "You don't have to ask me, Torrance. You already have my blessing. This is the best birthday present I could've ever gotten. Have you gotten her a ring yet?"

"Yeah. I figured you might like to see it." she stated digging the box out of her pocket. Opening it she placed it in front of him.

"Wow. This is a beautiful ring, Torrance. She's going to love it."

"Do you think there is any way she's going to say no?" hesitantly the brunette asked.

"Not a chance. Helen has spoken to me many times about how she wishes to be your wife. She is going to say yes. When are you planning on asking?"

"Well, I was thinking about today before the party if I can find a romantic spot."

"I know of the perfect place. I'll show you after this. It's rather mild out today too, so you shouldn't have a problem being outside."

"Yeah. I was hoping it could be outside since the weather is unseasonably warm all of a sudden. I don't want to ask her today though if it's going to cause a problem."

"No, I think you should do it today if you're ready. I'd love to be able to introduce you at the party tonight as Helen's fiancee."

"I just don't want your wife to take her disapproval out on us in such a public forum. I would hate to ruin your birthday with that."

"Nonsense. You can't ruin it. This is the best gift you could've given me. The only thing that would be better is if Helen arrived tonight with this ring upon her hand."

"I guess that settles it. Assuming that we can find a spot, I'll do it today."

"Actually there is a place on the property of the B&B that I think would be perfect. It overlooks the water, and it still looks somewhat spontaneous. She's a smart one and would figure out if you tried to do something planned."

"Very true. Come on. Show me these places you have in mind. I have to get back before she wakes up and discovers I'm gone. I'd have some explaining to do."

An hour later Torrance returned to the room to find Helen getting dressed. "Hey. There you are. I woke up, and you were gone. I was wondering where you went." the blonde mentioned.

"I was just went for a walk. It's a nice day."

"Oh. Well, we have so much to do before the party. I still have to go buy my dad a gift. I just have no idea what to get him. It's his sixtieth, so I feel like it should be special."

"It will be, because you gave it to him, Helen. Come on now. Let's have our breakfast and go shopping. We have to be back here early to get ready."

That afternoon they returned to their room around four to get ready for the evening. As usual Torrance was ready first deciding upon a nice suit since it was a formal event. As she took one last look at herself in the mirror, she took a deep breath. The moment she had dreamed about was fast approaching, and her stomach was fluttering nervously, but she was determined to make her marriage proposal to her beloved before they left for the dinner. Turning to Helen she gave the woman she loved a smile. "I'm glad you've decided to wear this dress tonight. It really does look great on you. My mother has excellent taste."

"She sure does. Besides I want to wear it, because you bought it for me."

"Well, I'm going to go downstairs to wait. I like getting the full effect when you come out fully dressed."

"All right. See you in a bit. Give me about fifteen minutes."

Torrance left the room and headed off to find the owner for the bed and breakfast to ask that he send Helen out to the garden when she came down looking for her before going outside herself. Taking a seat on the wooden bench, she looked out over the Chesapeake Bay to watch the last bit of sun. She hoped Helen would make it down before the sun completely set, but she figured even if she missed it, it was still romantic enough.

Ten minutes later the photographer heard footfall behind her. Looking over her shoulder, she saw the blonde coming toward her. Torrance felt her chest tighten at the sight of the teacher in her elegant black dress with a black wrap covering her shoulders. "You look beautiful." she stated standing and extending her hand to the model.

"Thank you. You look sexy yourself. You should wear suits more often. I love they way they look on you." Helen said. They both looked out over the water to watch the last bit of sunset. "It's a beautiful night." the blonde mentioned.

"It certainly is." Torrance replied looking down at the younger woman and giving a smile. "You want to sit?"

"We really should get going." lightly Helen protested.

"Just for a minute." Torrance said knowing by the blonde's answer that she could be swayed easily.

Nodding in consent the younger woman took a seat on the bench and looked up at her tall companion. "Well, aren't you going to join me?"

Nonchalantly Torrance slid her hand into her pocket and slipped the ring partially onto her large ring finger before taking a seat on the bench next to Helen. "Helen, I love you."

"I love you too, Torrance."

"From the moment you came into my life, I wanted to be close to you. You had a magnetism about you that I had never felt with anyone else, and I feel blessed that you have allowed me to love you. Lately I've been thinking about where I wanted this relationship to go, and I had decided that I was going to ask you to move in with me. However I know how much you dislike New York, and I wasn't so thrilled about the idea of moving to Philadelphia due to my career, so I felt as if I was stuck, but then something happened. We were at the loft, and I was holding you after we had made love when you said something that made me realize what a fool I was being. You said you wanted to have a baby with me, and it was at that moment that I realized nothing else mattered to me except you. If I never took another picture again, I'd still feel complete as long as I had you. Because I feel that way, I decided that it didn't matter where we lived as long as we were together. My need to be with you everyday outweighs everything else, Helen. The obvious choice would be to ask you if you wanted to move in together, but you deserve more than that. You deserve it all, and I want to give it to you." Torrance softly confessed as she slid off the bench and down to her knee. Taking her girlfriend's hands, she smiled nervously. "Helen, you mean the world to me, and I love you more than I've ever loved anyone in my entire life. It would be the greatest honor if you would allow me to be your wife and mother to our children. I will do anything within my power to make you happy. Helen, will you marry me?" she gently inquired pulling out the ring and slipping it on the younger woman's finger.

Helen stopped breathing momentarily as she stared first at the ring adorning her hand before looking into the green eyes of her beloved Torrance. "Oh, God, Torrance. You've caught me completely by surprise. I wasn't expecting this. I thought for sure I would know when this was coming."

Torrance waited another second before half jesting, "Helen, I'm having a minor heart attack here. Don't keep me in suspense."

"Oh, Torrance." she exclaimed throwing her arms around the brunette's neck. "Yes, I will marry you. I've always dreamed of this moment. You have no idea how much I want this."

"Probably as much as I do." the photographer teased leaning up to her fiancee's lips. After several minutes of kissing, she mumbled, "We need to get going to the party."

"I can't wait to tell my dad. He's going to be so thrilled. Come on. Let's go." Helen excitedly taking her fiancee by the hand and leading the way to the car.

When Torrance and Helen arrived, the young blonde took the photographer's hand and led her into the ball room of her parents' country club. Immediately people took note of their entrance and greeted them as they headed directly for the teacher's father. As John saw them, he came rushing over. "Helen, I'm so glad you're here." he stated embracing her in a tight hug.

"Happy birthday, Daddy." she said as he kissed her on the cheek.

Finally breaking away he turned to Torrance and brought her into a firm hug as well. "Thank you for bringing her, Torrance."

"You're welcome." Leaning down slightly towards his ear, Torrance whispered so only he could hear, "She said yes."

John's eyes lit in warmth as he turned back to his youngest and grabbed her left hand. "Oh my God! This is great!" he screamed in joy.

"You knew about this?" Helen asked of her father.

However Torrance answered for him. "Knew about it? He helped me plan."

"Oh, Daddy, thank you." the model said throwing her arms around him.

"Anything for you, Helen." he whispered, his eyes beginning to tear.

"Why are you crying, Dad?"

"I'm just so happy for the two of you. My little girl is getting married, and I couldn't have hoped for a better mate. Oh, Mrs. Whitfield, I'm overwhelmed with happiness."

Hearing her father call her by her soon to be married name made Helen start crying as well as she clung tighter to him. "I love you, Daddy."

"I love you too, sweetie. Now I guess we better introduce the newest member of our family to everyone, huh?" he suggested taking one of Torrance's hands in his own.

For the rest of the evening Torrance was introduced by John as Helen's fiancee. If anyone had a problem with it, no one said anything, but the brunette could tell that Diane Melbourne was extremely unpleased with the development. However the rest of the family seemed to welcome her with open arms, and she spent most of the night with Helen's siblings and nieces.

That night as John was presented with his cake, he stood to address the group. "Well, I have to say that this has been absolutely the best birthday I've ever had, and I thank all of you for being here to share it with me. However there is someone in particular tonight that I wish to thank for being here for she has brought me a special gift. For those of you who have yet to be introduced to this woman, I want to introduce her now. Over here with my family is Torrance Whitfield." he mentioned coming to put a hand on her shoulder. "I haven't known this woman very long, but in our short acquaintance, she has given my family something that no one else ever could, another daughter. Just this evening she and my own daughter Helen decided that they want to be married for which I am overjoyed. No words could ever truly express how I feel about this news. I've always dreamed of my children's spouses, and even though I never imagined that this well to do, internationally famous photographer would sweep my youngest right off her feet, I still feel blessed that she has. I know that the two of them will be happy together, so I have to thank Torrance for giving me the best gift anyone ever could. You have made Helen's dreams a reality and therefor her father's as well, so tonight as I celebrate my sixtieth birthday, I toast the two of you and wish you all the best."

Moved by the public display, both Helen and Torrance enfolded him into a hug as he finished speaking. As attention was turned back to everyone's own tables and conversations, John reached up and cupped the side of the photographer's face affectionately. "Welcome to my family, Torrance."

"Thank you, John. I promise that I'll make your little girl happy."

"I know you will. You already do."

A little bit later Torrance went to the bar to retrieve another drink for Helen and herself when she was approached by Helen's mother. "Good evening, Mrs. Melbourne." the brunette greeted as politely as possible.

"Doesn't feel like one." she mumbled. "You're not going to go away, are you?"

"I hadn't planned on it. I love Helen, and I want to be with her."

"And she has agreed to marry you?"

"Yes. Apparently she wants to be with me as much as I do her."

"Well, I don't like it."

"I'm aware of that, and I'm sorry that's the way you feel."

"I want my daughter back, Torrance."

"And I want you to have your daughter back, Mrs. Melbourne, but I want you to have the real her, not the one you want her to be."

"Torrance, regardless of what you might believe, I've always had the real Helen. Whatever this phase is, she'll get over it. I'm upset that she's choosing to do something that I disagree with so immensely, and marrying you, whether it's for your money or not, is wrong."

"It's her choice, Mrs. Melbourne. It's her life, and I just feel blessed that she has decided to spend it with me. I want her to have her family too, but she's made it clear that she'd rather have me than anyone else. It's your choice whether or not you want to be in her life. I wish that you would, but I'll comfort her if you're not. She wants her mother back but with an apology for the way she was treated, and she also wants you to show your support. Maybe in time you can come to accept us as a couple, but even if you don't, that's not going to stop her from fulfilling her own dreams. She will do as she pleases, but there will always be a hole in her heart where you are supposed to be. I wish that you would fill that void before it's too late." Torrance stated as she looked up to see Helen watching them. "Excuse me. I need to get back to Helen now."

Heading back to the table, the brunette set Helen's wine down in front of her. "What were you talking to my mother about?"

"You. She's just voicing her opinion on this latest news, but don't give her another thought. How about a dance?"

"Sure. That sounds great."

Helen and Torrance took to the dance floor for the next hour, but after awhile, John asked to cut in and dance with the blonde, leaving Diane and Torrance standing there. Putting on a confident face, Torrance looked down at the older version of her beloved. "Mrs. Melbourne, would you like to dance, or should I escort you from the floor?"

"I'm not finished talking to you, Torrance." she stated.

"Very well. We could dance and talk or maybe find a quiet place over by the bar." she suggested. "Whatever you would like would be fine."

A moment that seemed to last forever passed before she answered, "I want to stay right here."

Surprised by the response, Torrance experimentally extended her hand for the older woman to take. Diane Melbourne stared at the outstretched hand for several moments before putting her hand into the larger one. Swallowing her nerves, Torrance stepped to Helen's mother and put a tentative hand around the older woman's back. Just as indecisively Diane's hand came up to the photographer's shoulder. Torrance began to slowly move the two of them to the music, and there was silence between them for a few minutes. The brunette's thought were running wild as she held the woman who had caused Helen so much pain. It felt strange to her that a woman that felt so much like her beloved could have open hostility for her.

Helen danced with her father as she watched what was happening with Torrance and her mother. "Oh my God. They're actually dancing together." she whispered in complete shock.

John looked over his shoulder at his wife and Torrance. "Good. I was hoping that Torrance would turn on the charm. It's only a matter of time now before your mother comes around, Helen. I promise you that she will."

After a few songs passed, Diane stated, "This is a strange sensation, Torrance. I've never danced with a woman before. You're so much larger than my husband that it's almost like dancing with another man."

"Well, I am usually tall. That much is true." nervously she replied, unsure of how to proceed in conversation.

"Torrance, after what you said to me earlier, I feel like I should be honest with you about my objections. I know with complete certainty that Helen is the type of girl to do as she pleases regardless of what I think. She always has been that way, and I don't want to lose her. She's my daughter."

"I don't want you to lose her either. Children always need their mothers regardless of their age."

"Torrance, I just have a real moral objection to you and Helen being together."

"You don't like the fact that I am a woman. Mrs. Melbourne, notwithstanding that one point, do you have any problems with me?"

"Well, I think you're haughty. You have too much money for a person of your age."

"I do work hard for a living, Mrs. Melbourne, but most of my money I was born into. There is nothing I can do about that. Don't you want Helen to be taken care of? I can give her anything and everything she wants."

"I don't think that is always best. I don't want her to become spoiled. Helen has had a nice upbringing. She's always had what she needed and a lot of what she wanted as well, but I think moderation is good for everyone. I mean that dress she's wearing tonight is not something you just buy off the rack. I know you had to have bought it for her. I don't want her to become arrogant because of your status."

"I don't think she will. Helen has made it clear to me that she wants nothing to do with my money. It makes her uncomfortable. Mrs. Melbourne, I don't want to change Helen in anyway, because I love her as she is. The reality of the situation is that the money is there, but I don't think either of us has the intention of abusing it. What else about me bothers you?"

"You have an ego problem."

"What makes you say that?"

"That night we went to dinner with you and your parents you were introducing Helen to everyone like she was some sort of trophy. There is more to her than her looks, Torrance, but the way you kept touching and ogling her made me uncomfortable."

"I'm terribly sorry. I wasn't aware that I was doing that. I just want everyone to know who Helen is, because I'm so proud of her. She's an amazing, special woman, Mrs. Melbourne, and I want the world to know it."

"She is special." Diane conceded.

"See. We can agree on something. If I were a wealthy, haughty, egotistical man instead of a woman, would this bother you as much, or do all those things about me truly irritate you?" gently Torrance inquired, hoping not to sever the wavering connection they were sharing.

"They would still upset me, Torrance, but to answer your unspoken question, the fact that you are a woman is the key issue."

"Good." the photographer mumbled.

"Good? Why is that good?"

"Because I only have one real issue to deal with. I wasn't sure I'd be able to change your mind about all of those things."

"And you think you can change my mind about how I feel?" Diane challenged.


"Why do you think that?"

"Two reasons really. Number one you came to talk to me twice this evening. If you were truly set in your ways, you wouldn't have given me the time of day. Secondly, but more importantly in my eyes though, is the fact that you are dancing with me. If you really objected to two women being together, you wouldn't be here allowing me to lead you around this dance floor. You'd be off in the corner cursing my very existence, but instead you are out on a limb trying to resolve this issue with me. That says a lot about you, Mrs. Melbourne. It proves what I've always thought to be true. You do love Helen, and you want what is best for her. Hopefully in time you will come to realize that she thinks I am what's best for her."

"Dancing with you is one thing. Two women being intimate is quite another, Torrance. That's not something I agree with."

"Well, you'd probably be uncomfortable with that idea regardless of who was with Helen. She is your baby after all. It's hard to see her as an adult, but she's twenty-nine. Intimacy is only a portion of a relationship. It's not everything. If you can just focus on her happiness, I think that maybe you'll see that she is content. Isn't that what matters most, her happiness?"

Diane didn't answer the posed question. Instead she withdrew from Torrance's arms. "I think I need to go socialize some more now." she said, her tone of voice relaying her newfound openness in discussing the topic.

"Sure. I understand. You are the hostess after all. Thank you for taking the time with me this evening, Mrs. Melbourne."

Helen's mother gave a nod. "Call me Diane." she stated as she turned to go, leaving Torrance standing there alone on the floor.

It was only a moment before her fiancee came to her. "Well, that certainly was interesting to watch. I never thought I'd see the two of you dancing together. What did she say?"

"That she doesn't want to lose you. I think things are going to get better now. We had a good talk."

That evening as they were leaving the party, John and Diane escorted them to the door. "Thank you for making this night." John said to both of them as he gave them each a hug.

"Thanks for inviting me, John. I had a great time. It was a pleasure to see you again, Diane."

The older woman just gave a nod in the brunette's direction but then asked to speak with Helen alone. Helen followed her mother a few steps out of earshot and looked at her expectantly. Her mother shifted nervously on her feet for a moment. "Helen, I just wanted you to know that I'm sorry for what I said in New York. That's not the way I really feel about the situation."

"How do you feel?"

"I still don't like it, but it's obvious that you are going to marry this woman whether or not I approve."

"That's true, Mother. I am."

"Well, if it means anything to you, I like her more than I ever liked Richard." Helen nodded knowing that was a difficult admission for her mother to make. "Tomorrow all the family is coming over for brunch. I think you and Torrance should be there." she stated.

"Okay. I'll have to run it by Torrance."

"All right. Then just give us a call."

Helen looked at her mother for a second before moving to hug her. The embrace was returned without hesitation. "Thank you for at least understanding, Mom, even if you don't agree. I love you."

"I love you too, Helen."

Pulling away Helen went back to Torrance's side and curved her arm around the taller woman's waist. "We'll call you tomorrow about brunch. Happy birthday, Dad."

"Hope to see you in the morning. Congratulations again." he said as they turned to go.

"Well, you hugged your mother. Things must be looking up." Torrance mentioned as they went out to the car.

Helen smiled. "I think so. She invited us to the house for brunch tomorrow."

"Are we going?"

"That depends on you. I don't know what you had in mind."

"Well, I'm up for it if you are."

"Great. Thanks, but enough about my mother. I feel like celebrating our own event tonight."

"What did you have in mind?" curiously the older woman inquired.

Cracking a rakish grin, Helen whispered, "Take me back to our place, and you'll find out."

The next day they arrived at the model's parents' home just after eleven. After greeting everyone Helen said that she wanted to show Torrance around since the food wasn't ready yet. Helen gave the brunette a tour of the house before taking her outside down to their own private beach. "This is a beautiful place." Torrance mentioned as they stood and cuddled together up on the deck.

"My dad designed the house."

"It's fantastic. He's quite a talented architect. The use of space is just incredible, and of course this view is wonderful too. It's a lot better than looking at downtown New York."

"Speaking of New York, I think we need to talk about our living situation."

"Yeah, I know. You don't necessarily want to live in New York."

"But you can't move to Philly either. You need to be in New York for your career."

"Helen, I told you. I don't care about that anymore. I just want to be with you."

"I know, but I can't let you give up on your dreams for me. That wouldn't be loving you as you are. There has to be some amiable compromise. Can't we live in the suburbs of New York? I mean isn't there a place far enough from the city that suits my needs but that is close enough to meet yours?"

"We could always move to Long Island. It's not that far from the city, and it would make my family happy for me to be closer to the family estate. I still don't want to move in there. My parents have a place out there. I don't see why we couldn't get one too."

"You see? That sounds like a great idea. Why don't we start looking there? We have so much to discuss concerning the wedding, but if we can find a place to live, that would be a load off my mind."


"It's going to be a shame to have to resign from my position however. I truly love it there." Helen mentioned.

"Well, you can always find a school out on Long Island. There are many prestigious private schools there. I'm sure they would benefit from your talents as a teacher."

"I know, but I was actually thinking that I might resign before the school year is over, and I know I won't get hired for this year with only a few months left."

"Why would you do that?"

"Because we have a wedding to plan. That's going to take time, and I think it will be especially difficult to do when we're in two different cities. I thought it might be easier if we lived together at the loft until then. Besides when Kelly and Mark get married in two weeks, I'm going to have to move anyway. It doesn't make sense to get another apartment for a few months just to have to move again when the summer starts. Come summer time I'll be in New York for modeling, and I figure we'd probably want to get married sometime within the next six months or so."

Torrance nodded. "I can understand your thought process on that. I just hate the idea of having you quit your job for me."

"It's for us. Besides being in New York, I can pick up a few modeling jobs here and there to give me something to do. I won't just be sitting around our house."

The photographer smiled as she pulled the petite woman closer. "Our house. I like the sound of that."

"So do I. Torrance, there is one other thing I wanted to talk to you about."

"What's that?"

"When we talked about having a baby that night, I was completely serious. I want to have a baby with you."

"As I do with you. Why is this an issue for you? Are you saying you want to have one now?"

Helen nodded. "I'd like to get pregnant as soon as possible."

"How soon? Before we even get married?" the older woman asked turning her fiancee in her arms to look at her.

"If I could be pregnant now, I would, Torrance. The thought of our baby growing inside of me makes me ache for it all the more. I want to have your baby now."

Torrance smiled down at her. "Well, I guess I'm going to have to get you pregnant then." she teased lightly.

"You mean it?" hopefully the blonde asked.

"Yes. I want to give you everything, Helen, and I want to have children with you. If you're ready, then so am I."

"Oh, thank you, Torrance." Helen exclaimed pulling the taller woman down into a kiss.

Several minutes passed with them sharing their intimate moment when Diane's voice called out to them. "Brunch is ready."

The both looked over at her seeing that she was nervous about what she had seen, but neither of them said anything, deciding that the older woman needed time to adjust. "Come on. Let's go spend some quality time with your family." the photographer stated taking Helen by the hand.

That afternoon after spending part of the day with Helen's family, they left to drive up to the Poconos to see Torrance's family. Upon their arrival the photographer's parents rushed to them, and Maria grabbed the blonde's hand to check for the ring. "Apparently your mother knew too." Helen teased. "Was I the only one out of the loop?"

"Well, I didn't know until today." Thomas stated. "This is fabulous news. I'm so glad that the two of you are finally tying the knot."

"Have you even started talking about the wedding yet?" Maria inquired as they moved to sit in the living room.

"Not yet. It's just been a whirlwind between this and John's birthday that we haven't even talked about it yet. We've just discussed our future living situation, but nothing has been decided about a date."

"Oh? And what about the living situation? Where have you two decided to reside?"

Torrance smiled at Helen as she brought her in closer into her embrace. "Well, we've decided that a compromise was in order. Helen isn't thrilled on the idea of living in the city, but I need to be close by for work, so we thought we'd move to Long Island. That way we'd be closer to you all as well as Grandmother. Helen gets to keep the suburbs, and I get easy access to New York."

"That's a wonderful idea, but what about the wedding? Do you even have an idea of when you'd like to have it?"

"We were thinking within the next six months or so, but we haven't set a date yet, Maria. We have so much to talk about."

"Well, you must allow me to get you a wedding planner. That is the only way to go, especially on such short notice and with your being in separate cities."

"Actually, Mother, Helen and I have decided that she should move into the loft with me. She's going to resign from her position at the school." Torrance informed her.

"Oh? You're okay with that, Helen?" Maria inquired curiously.

"It was my idea. I just think it will be easier. I'm supposed to be moving out of my apartment in a few weeks anyway, because my roommates are getting married. It just makes more sense to do it this way. Torrance and I have so much to do, and I can still work in New York doing modeling, so I'm not too worried about it."

"Sounds like you two are well on your way to getting things resolved, but I'd like to give you some input if you two are up for it."

"What's that, Mama?" the brunette asked.

"I think you should have the reception at the Waldorf. It's the perfect place, elegant and large enough to fit everyone."

"We'll consider it. We have to decide what kind of service we want to have first, and where to have it is also going to be an issue, because we have so many options."

"Well, you know that anything you need you can just ask us for. We'd be happy to help." Maria said for she and her husband.

"We know. Thank you for your generosity, Maria."

Later that night as they began to change for bed, Torrance asked, "Helen, what would you like to do for our wedding? Do you have any ideas?"

The blonde pondered the question for a moment as she put on her pajamas. "I don't know. I've always kind of wanted to be married outside maybe by the water somewhere. What do you want?"

"Honestly I've never thought about it, because I never considered the fact that I might someday do this. Outside sounds nice, especially if we decide on something in the summer. I can think of two places off the top of my head to do that, at my family's estate or at your parents' house. We'd have water and beaches in both places."

"I'd have to see the grounds at the estate since I didn't last time I was there. I remember you telling me how beautiful they were. As for my parents' house, it's great, but it doesn't hold a special meaning for me or anything. I didn't grow up there, so to me it's just a house. I kind of think the place we marry should hold meaning to at least one of us, and I know you have fond memories of your grandparents' house from your childhood. However I could possibly forego the water if we decided to do it right here though."

"We'll think about it. I need to take you back out to the estate, so you can see it. I think you'll like the set up. I can already see it in my mind. Besides all of the family can just stay at the house. That would save everyone money on hotels and stuff. My grandmother would love to have everybody there."

"Then I guess that will be the first thing we need to decide. We'll figure out the place, and then work on the date. I think late August or early September will probably be best. That gives us time to plan."

Giving her fiancee a sexy grin, the photographer growled playfully, "Also gives me almost seven months to knock you up. That's what's going to take the most time I think."

"And that would be bad?" Helen joked coming to kiss the taller woman.

On Sunday evening Helen and Torrance got back to the blonde's apartment around eight. Kelly and Mark were sitting on the couch engrossed in the tv when they walked in. "Helen, am I glad you're back. This last minute wedding stuff has been a bear without you." Kelly stated. "I'll be glad when this is over."

Helen smiled at her roommates. "Well, don't get too used to it, because you're going to have to help with another wedding this year."

"Another wedding? Who's getting married?" Mark asked.

However Kelly screamed excitedly understanding what Helen was saying. "I can't believe it! Are you really?" she asked rushing to them.

"Yes, Helen's agreed to put up with me for the rest of our lives. How I managed that I don't know." Torrance quipped.

"Let me see your ring." Kelly took the teacher's hand. Studying the diamond and emerald stones, she stated, "Torrance, this is absolutely beautiful."

"Anything for my Helen."

"Congratulations, you two." Mark said as he got off the couch to hug them. "This is great. Kelly and I always hoped you would do this."

"So, when's the date?"

"We haven't set one yet, but we're thinking at the end of the summer. We have so much to do before then."

"Well, have you decided where it's going to be?"

"Not yet, Kelly. Helen is being gracious enough to entertain the idea of having it at my grandparents' house out on Long Island, because I love it there. We wanted something outside, and that would be a nice place, but we haven't made a final decision."

"Well, have you even talked about where you're going to live?" Kelly inquired.

Helen nodded. "Sadly I'm going to be leaving Philly, but Torrance has agreed to leave New York City as well. We're going to live on Long Island, but that means we have to go house hunting. There is so much we have to do."

"Well, when do you think you'll be moving up to New York? Are you at least waiting until the end of the school year?" Mark asked as they all sat.

The model shook her head. "I don't foresee a need to wait. After you two get married, I'd be moving out anyway, so we thought it might be best if I just moved up to New York right away. It will be easier if I was there."

Kelly clutched the blonde's hand as she clarified, "You mean you're going to move to New York in less than three weeks? What about your job?"

"Yeah. I hope to be there by the time you get back from your honeymoon. I'm going to hand in my resignation tomorrow."

"Helen, this is so sudden. I don't know what I'm going to do without you." Kelly said putting her arms around her friend.

"I'll only be a short drive away. You and Mark can come up anytime."

"Promise not to forget about us once you become a high society wife?" her roommate asked partly in jest.

"I could never forget you, Kelly. In fact I want you to be my maid of honor."

Squealing with delight, the two women hugged. "I'd love to."


Three months later found Helen and Torrance in an easy routine around the loft. Having taken Maria's advice, they hired a wedding planner to assist them with the details of their ceremony, leaving them much more time to focus on other issues such as their living situation. Since they were in agreement about the area in which they should live, they thought it would be rather easy to find a place to accommodate their needs, but as they began their house hunt, it became obvious that they had a difference of opinion of what constituted an acceptable house, leaving them no closer to reaching their goal.

One morning Torrance was up intently studying some photographs that she had taken at a shoot a few days before while Helen was up in the bedroom dressing for the day when there was a knock on their door. Before Torrance could even rise from the table, the blonde came rushing down the stairs to answer it, peaking the brunette's interest. She heard faint talking in the foyer before her fiancee came back to the kitchen.

"Torrance, honey, are you busy right now?" she asked.

Hearing the hope in the model's voice, the older woman looked up at her and smiled. "Well, it depends on what you want is to how busy I am."

"Well, I was just wondering if you had time to come upstairs and try to get me pregnant." she stated holding up the delivery for Torrance to see.

The photographer recognized the package from the fertility clinic. "Right now? We have to leave to meet the realtor soon."

"No, we don't. I pushed our appointment back a few hours, because I'm ovulating right now. Are you going to help me with this, or am I going to have to go it alone?" she teased.

"Um, let's see. Either I can stay here and work, or I can take you upstairs and make love to you. Tough decision there." Torrance joked as she rose from her chair. Taking the package from her fiancee's hands, she said, "You go on up and try to create some romantic ambiance. I'll bring this up with the rest of the equipment in a minute."

Helen smiled and stood on her tiptoes to kiss her lover. "Okay. See you in a minute."

By the time the older woman made her way upstairs with all the equipment in tow, she found her blonde fiancee lounging provocatively on the bed wearing only her beaming smile. "Now that's what I call a welcome." Torrance growled sexily as she made her way over to the bed to kiss Helen's mouth slowly.

"Come on, Torrance. Let's make the conception of our child memorable. This time is going to work. I can feel it." the blonde whispered already beginning to help the photographer out of her clothes.

Later that afternoon they arrived for their appointment with the realtor. As the three of them drove to the house they were viewing that day, the older woman couldn't help but notice how radiant her fiancee appeared. The blonde was permanently wearing a content smile whenever their gaze met, assuring the brunette that if nothing else, she had satisfied her lover earlier that day.

"Now the house we're seeing today I think will be a compromise for the two of you. It's not too large as you like, Helen, but I think it's large enough to suit your taste, Torrance. Not only that it's on the water as you both liked with lovely grounds." their realtor mentioned from the backseat giving Torrance directions to the house. The first thing that the photographer noticed as they pulled into the drive was that it was only a few miles from her parents' house as well as the family estate. Slowly driving up the long winding drive, Torrance enjoyed the scenery of the grounds. As the house came into view, she noted that even though it was still smaller than those they had seen previously, she could see them living there. "Well, why don't we start with a tour inside?" the realtor suggested as the car came to a stop.

Helen and Torrance followed her through the entire house taking in every detail. The blonde asked most of the questions as the brunette meticulously inspected every inch of every room. Once the inside was complete, they strolled on the lawn and through the garden down to the water. "Could we have a moment alone?" the model finally inquired after the extended tour. Once it was just the two of them, Helen looked up at Torrance. "Well, what do you think?"

"It's nice. What do you think?"

"I love it."

"Really? It's not too big for you?"

"Well, big is a relative term. It's rather large, larger than any other house I've ever lived in, but I know size is important to you. Don't you think this is a good compromise? I mean I think ten bedrooms is more than enough. We could have all of both our families here at the same time and still have space. The master bedroom overlooks the water, and there is a fireplace in there."

Embracing Helen around the waist, Torrance smiled down at her. "Who is trying to sell me here? Do you really like it that much?"

"Yeah, but if you don't we'll keep looking."

"Can you see us raising our family here?" Torrance inquired. Helen nodded. "Well, I guess we'll have to buy it then."

"Really? You're not just saying that because I like it, are you? I want you to love it too."

"I do, Helen. It's going to need some work, and we'll have to get the place repainted and decorated top to bottom, but I do like the way it's set up, and I especially like the master bedroom and bath. It has some of the same elements as my grandparents' villa. I like that."

"I figured you might. So, are we really going to buy it then?"

"I think so. We should go tell her of our decision. However buying it is the easy part. I don't know when we'll have time to get this place decorated. I guess we'll have to hire someone for that too."

"Well, we can always stay at the loft if it isn't finished by the time we get married. I'm not adverse to a little more city living. I just don't want it to be a permanent situation."

That evening after their meeting they met Torrance's parents for dinner out at their house on the island. Sitting down to their meal, Torrance announced, "Well, you should be happy to know that we found a house today."

"Really? Where?" Thomas asked as he poured wine for he and his wife.

"Actually it's not far from here, just a few miles." the photographer replied taking the wine bottle from her father and pouring herself a glass before offering some to Helen, but the blonde declined.

"Helen, dear, wouldn't you like some wine with dinner?" Maria inquired.

"No thank you. I've stopped drinking for the time being."

"Why's that? Are you pregnant?" Thomas teased lightly.

Helen cast a glance at Torrance before deciding just to tell her future in laws what she and her beloved had been planning. "No, not yet but we're trying to get pregnant, so I just decided it was best not to drink for awhile."

"So soon? You're not even married yet. What's the rush?" Maria asked.

"Mother, we want to have a baby as soon as possible. We talked about this a lot, and the sooner we can make it happen, the happier we'll be. We're both at an age where we'd like kids. The fact that we aren't married yet is just a technicality."

"Well, this is a surprise, but you know that we support you in whatever you want. I've always hoped I'd be a grandfather."

"You will be, Dad."

"Well, how are the wedding plans coming along?"

"Great. Grandmother is thrilled that it's going to be at the estate, but we decided to have it in the garden instead of on the beach. Things will be neater that way, but the water will be in the background. The guest list is getting out of hand though. We never planned on having so many people. We wanted something a little more intimate." Torrance mentioned.

"Well, maybe we can cut back on the number of people. The people we wanted to invite are just suggestions." Thomas stated.

"Well, the list if already over three hundred people, two hundred of which are on your list. We have to do something about it before invitations go out. I don't want three hundred people at the wedding. I wanted one hundred to one fifty tops. Helen and I have decided that if we don't know then personally they are automatically coming off the list. Even then we'll have to do some rearranging." complained the photographer.

"We'll help you, dear. We didn't mean to be overbearing about the guest list. We just have a lot of friends, but I'll help you weed people out if you'd like."

"That would be wonderful, Maria. We don't want to alienate your friends if they are close to you. I'm going to have to do the same thing with my parents. It's not just you."

"How are your parents by the way? Is your mother coming around?"

Helen shrugged. "She's agreed to come to the ceremony, so I guess there have been improvements. I think she might have a breakdown though when we tell her we're having a baby. That subject has never been broached, and I don't think it will go over well."

"It's your life, dear. We, parents, can only do so much, and then the rest is up to you. I'm sure the fact that she'll have a grandchild will give her happiness."

After dinner that night, Maria and Torrance left Helen and Thomas alone for a moment, making the excuse that Maria wanted to ask Torrance about something. Going out onto the patio, Torrance looked at her mother. Seeing the seriousness on her face, she asked, "What is it, Mother? Is something wrong?"

Maria glanced back toward the house before taking a step toward her daughter. "Torrance, I wanted to talk to you about something serious, but I don't want this to sound how it's going to come out."

"All right. What's on your mind?"

"Torrance, I know you're in love and blissfully happy, and your father and I are extremely happy for you as well. However he and I think that you need to think about your future. I know you think that you and Helen will last forever, and we hope that you do, but the rate of divorce is so high. In the event that you two don't work out, we don't want you to suffer financially as well as emotionally. We think you should consider a prenuptial agreement." tentatively she proposed.

Torrance frowned at her. "Are you two crazy? There is no way I'm going to ask Helen to sign a prenup. That's like asking for our marriage to go bad. It's like saying to her that I only half believe we have what it takes to make it. No way." she growled irritably moving away.

Her mother held her back by the arm. "Torrance, I knew you would feel this way, but try to think about it logically. You have a lot of money, a lot of which you worked hard for. I would hate to see that go to waste if for some reason Helen decided the marriage wasn't what she wanted."

"Are you saying you think she doesn't love me?" challenged the brunette.

"Not at all, sweetie. I believe that she does. We're just concerned. I mean you two aren't even married yet, and you're already trying to have children. As your parents we don't want to see you get hurt if something were to happen. Does she even know how much you're worth?"

"No. I didn't tell her, because she doesn't like my money. She says it makes her uncomfortable, so I don't think a prenup will make her feel any better. That's just making money an issue between us."

"Torrance, a lot of people say that, but when a marriage goes bad, you'd be surprised how much that money begins to mean when someone's lifestyle becomes threatened. What if she leaves you? What if you leave her? Don't you think you should have a plan of some sort?"

"I don't like it. I asked her to marry me, Mama. That's forever, and I fully intend on staying with her that long."

"Please just consider it."

"No. Why should I? You and Dad don't have one. Why should this be any different?"

"Actually your father and I do have one, Torrance."

"But you both came from money. It's different. Helen doesn't have money, not like we do."

"Even more of a reason to protect yourself. Please, I'm just asking that you seek some legal advice on this matter."

"This discussion isn't going to end until I agree, is it?" the younger brunette inquired. Her mother shook her head. "Fine. I'll talk to my attorney. Are you happy now?"

"Thank you."

That night as the couple drove back to the city, Helen could tell something was bothering her fiancee. Torrance hadn't been her congenial self since she had returned from the talk with her mother, making the blonde wonder what was said between them. "Are you all right?" she asked.

"No. I'm irritated with my parents right now. My mother cornered me about my intentions regarding a prenuptial agreement, and she was surprised when I said I had no intention of getting one."

"Oh. Why not? Don't most people of your economic status have one?" curiously the blonde inquired, hoping not to agitate the older woman further.

"Apparently but I didn't know that. I think it's ridiculous though. Why would we have one? That's like asking for trouble."

"Your parents are just concerned about you, Torrance. If it would make them feel better, maybe we should consider one."

"Not you too. Can't people think of anything besides money? Why would you want one?"

"To prove to them and you one final time that I have no interest in your money. If you want one, I'll sign it. You don't have to give me anything either. The only thing I would ever ask for would be support for the children, but I wouldn't want your money for my personal use."

Looking over at her fiancee, Torrance smiled as she took the younger woman's hand. "Helen, you're so good to me. You're dealing with this better than I did when she proposed it. God forbid something ever happen, I wouldn't want you to walk away with nothing. I intend to love you for the rest of my life, whether you're with me or not."

"I feel the same way, Torrance. It's just a piece of paper, and if it makes them feel better, I'll do it."

"It would make them feel better, but I just don't like the idea of it."

"Then we won't deal with it. Just let our attorney do her thing. She can deal with this just like she's dealing with my legal name change. It'll be simple. All we have to do is sign something that says I get nothing, and it's done. It's no big deal."

"All right but you're not getting nothing. I won't stand for that."

"Fine. You decide, and I'll sign it."

"Je t'aime, Helen." the photographer whispered kissing the back of the blonde's hand affectionately.

Six weeks later the prenuptial papers were finished for them, and Torrance picked them up before meeting Helen at the loft after a long day. Reviewing them to make sure they were just as she instructed, she was pleased to find them just as she wanted. When she walked into the apartment, she could smell dinner from the foyer. Setting her briefcase down, she took the papers into the kitchen to find her bride putting the last touches of their meal on the table.

"Hey there. Welcome home." Helen stated with a large smile as she came to kiss the photographer. "What do you have there?"

"The prenup. I picked it up from the attorney's office today."

"Great. Let's sign it, so we never have to bring it up again." the blonde suggested going to get a pen out of one of the kitchen drawers. Deciding to just get it over with, Torrance placed two copies on the kitchen bar. Helen reached for the first document and began to read it when she noticed things were drastically different than she expected them to be. "Uh, Torrance, I thought we agreed that I wasn't supposed to get anything."

"No. We agreed that you would allow me to think of an appropriate figure, and after thinking about it for a long time, that's what I decided upon."

"And exactly how did you come up with ten million dollars as the appropriate figure?" Helen asked in shock.

"Well, I was trying to figure out what I might be worth later in life, but that was getting too complicated, because I'm the sole inheritant of both my parents' separate estates as well as their joint one. Then I have a trust from my father's side and some property in Italy, so it was just getting too messy. I finally decided just to go with half of my present worth, real estate not included, because that gets too hard to value. You're one half of this relationship, so you should have half of the worth. Thinking about it that way made things much easier. I hope that's okay. If you want more, you can have it. I made the provision for financial support of any children as you requested. If you want to make changes, please let me know, and I'll see to them."

"Are you kidding? I should be asking you if you're sure about this."

"Helen, I believe in us so deeply that I would give you everything if you wanted it."

"Torrance, I don't want any of this, but if this is what you want, I'll sign it."

Torrance nodded. "We better sign these before I call the whole thing off. It makes me feel weird to do this."

"All right. We'll both sign, and then we'll never have to look at them again. They will get old and dusty in some lawyer's filing cabinet, never to see the light of day again."

"Agreed." the photographer stated, quickly signing the documents after her fiancee. Putting them back in their folder, she said, "There. Now onto better things. This dinner looks great."

"Come sit down. We have a lot to discuss tonight."

"Such as?" the brunette inquired as she took her seat.

"In time. Let me serve the plates first at least."

Torrance saw that Helen truly had something on her mind, so she respected her lover's wishes. However once the plates were served, she asked again, "Well, what's up?"

"Well, you know how we're supposed to go on safari in Africa for our honeymoon?"

"Yes." hesitantly the older woman stated.

The younger woman chewed on her lip a moment before suggesting, "What if we didn't go and went somewhere else?"

"Helen, we're getting married in six weeks. The trip is already planned. I thought you wanted to go. Have you changed your mind?"

"No, not at all. I really would love to go, but I don't think this is the best time for a trip like that."

"Why not?"

The model reached across the table to take the photographer's hand. "Well, I just think going to a third world nation right now wouldn't be wise. I mean it's not necessarily the safest place for..."

"For?" Torrance prompted. The older woman saw the smile that transformed her lover's face. It was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen, and for a moment her heart stopped at the loveliness of the creature sitting across the table from her.

"Well, for an expectant mother." Helen stated with nervous excitement.

"What? You're pregnant?" Torrance inquired in surprise.

"Six weeks. I wasn't sure, so I went to the doctor. She confirmed it."

"Oh my God! This is great! I can't believe it!" Torrance exclaimed coming to Helen's side of the table and kneeling to kiss her thoroughly.

After a few minutes, Helen backed away a little to continue the conversation. "Anyway, I thought since it's so early in the pregnancy that it might not be the best idea for us to go to Africa. It's a little too rough I think. I wouldn't want anything to jeopardize this baby."

"I understand, and I agree. We shouldn't go. We'll go somewhere nice and safe. Did you have a place in mind?"

"Would you take me to Paris? I've never been there."

Torrance gave a grin. "Qui, Madame Whitfield."

"Thank you. I promise that we'll take that trip to Africa, just not within the next nine months."

"All right. We'll do it next year. I'll take you to Paris instead. You'll have a great time there. I'll call the travel agent to book it for us."

"Thank you, Torrance. You're so good to me."

"It's the least I could do for the mother of my children." Torrance said with a smile. Leaning in she placed a soft kiss against the blonde's flat stomach in affection.

"Now that you know I was thinking that we could keep this to ourselves for awhile just to make sure everything is fine before saying anything. I thought maybe if things were still good come the wedding that we might be able to announce it there." the younger woman suggested.

"That's a wonderful idea. That way everyone can be a part of it. We'll do that."

"I love you, Torrance. You make me so happy."

"I love you too, Helen, and I am going to spend the rest of my life making sure you and our child have everything you ever want." Torrance whispered standing to take her seat again.

The meal continued with the talking about wedding plans, but then the model mentioned, "I heard from Kelly today. She wants to throw me a bachelorette party in Philly with all our friends from there."

"That sounds like fun. When is that supposed to be?"

"Well, I wanted to check with you first before committing to do it. I mean I wasn't sure how you would feel about me going all the way down there before the wedding."

"It's not like it's that far. If Kelly wants to throw you a party, and you want to go, I think you should. It will be your last bash before becoming a married woman. You know it'll be your last chance to sneak kisses from available women." she teased.

Helen chuckled. "Like I would ever do that. I just thought it might not be a good idea, because I'll have to spend the night down there with Kelly and Mark."

"Hey, as long as you're not sharing their bed, I don't care. You and Kelly do what you want. Just leave Mark out of it. He's got a thing about you, even though he doesn't admit it, so no fulfilling his lesbian fantasies, but if the two of you want to get wild and crazy, go for it. Just remember to take video, so I can watch." the photographer playfully quipped.

"I think it's you that has a thing about Kelly that you won't admit to, you pervert, but I can assure you that I won't be sleeping with my best friend. You can just keep that fantasy in your sick little mind." she bantered with a grin.

"Seriously I think you should go if you want. It's only for two days. I can handle things."

"Maybe Morgan will throw you a party that weekend as well, so you won't be alone." Helen suggested.

"She's mentioned it, but somehow I foresee Morgan's idea of a bachelorette party being a little more wild than Kelly's. I can already see strippers in the arrangement, and I'm not sure I'm up for that."

"Why not? It'll be your last chance to see some hot naked women, because after I start showing who knows what is going to happen to my body."

Torrance shrugged. "I'll always love you, Helen, regardless of what you look like. You're carrying my child. That's the most beautiful thing there is. A few pounds are not going to sway my opinion of how attractive I think you are."

"We'll see." the blonde joked.

The weekend before the wedding Helen left for Philadelphia to attend party Kelly was giving for her, leaving Torrance in Morgan's hands for a party of her own. By the time the blonde arrived at her old apartment, most of her female friends were already there waiting on her.

"Well, if it isn't the future Mrs. Torrance Whitfield." Kelly greeted with a tight hug. "Only a week left. Change your mind yet?" playfully she asked.

"Not a chance. I'm really excited actually." Helen replied as she came inside.

After greeting all her friends with hugs, Kelly stated, "Well, it's just us girls tonight. We were trying to figure out if we should have strippers or not, but then there was the big question of whether or not it should be a woman or man, so we decided to forgo that. I figured you wouldn't mind."

"Not at all. I'm relieved actually. I didn't want to be put through that torture anyway." the model answered.

"So, that left us with the idea of dinner and then getting you smashed, which is never a bad back up plan. I've even agreed to be the designated driver."

"That's awfully big of you, Kelly." Helen said, wondering how she was going to get out of drinking for the night without telling them of her situation. As a glass of champagne was pressed into her hand, she weighed her options.

"A toast to Helen and Torrance." Kelly stated raising her glass. All their friends did the same before taking a sip, but Helen just held hers. "Why aren't you drinking?" Kelly asked curiously.

"Because I can't." the blonde said, deciding it would be easier just to tell them the truth.

"Why not? Torrance knock you up already?" her maid of honor teased, making the whole group laugh.

"Actually, yeah." plainly Helen replied.

"What? You're joking, right? I mean I know Torrance has a lot going for her, but she's not a superwoman. You're kidding, aren't you?"

"I'm not, Kelly. I'm almost three months pregnant."

"You're serious?" she asked in disbelief. Helen nodded. "Wow. Why didn't you say anything?"

"Because we haven't even told our families yet. We were waiting until the wedding, so nobody can say anything. You all have to promise not to say a word, not even to your boyfriends or husbands and especially not to Torrance."

"Fine. We won't. I can't believe this. This is great news." Kelly said putting her arm around the blonde.

The evening progressed with a long dinner at one of their favorite restaurant before going to their favorite old bar where they all used to hang out before Helen left Philadelphia. As the women made their way up to the bar, Kelly put her arm around the blonde's shoulders. "I can't believe this is the last time we're probably going to do this. Not only did you move to New York and decide to get married, you're going to be a mother in half a year. It all just seems so fast."

"I know, but it was time. We all have to grow up at some point. I'm not really into the bar scene any longer. Torrance and I spend most of our nights at home, and I'm fine with that. It's the life I want."

When the bartender approached and asked for their order, Kelly said teasingly, "I'll have a Sam Adams, and get the not so virgin bride to be a virgin daiquiri."

"You're not going to let that go, are you? You really can't believe that Torrance got me pregnant."

Her matron of honor shrugged and smiled. "Hey, I knew she was one of a kind, but I never knew she could do it all. I assume she's thrilled about this."

"Yeah. That's why we started early. We both want children so badly, and I'm not getting any younger. I'll be thirty this year, and she's thirty five. The time is right for us."

"Well if it's really what you want, I'm excited for you." her ex-roommate said as the drinks were set in front of them. After a few minutes of chatting with the rest of their company, Kelly leaned over and whispered, "Don't look now, but we've got some uninvited company coming our way. I should've known better than to bring you here, but I was trying to be nostalgic."

The model looked up to see her ex-boyfriend Richard and ex-friend, Tom making their way across the room obviously coming right toward them.

"Don't worry about it. I refuse to let anyone ruin our party."

"Ladies, how is everyone this evening?" Tom greeted. "Helen, it's especially good to see you."

"Hi, Helen." Richard said.

"Hi, Richard, Tom. How are you?"

"Good now that I've seen you." Tom answered.

"I'm fine. I haven't seen you since Kelly and Tom's wedding. How are you?" Richard inquired.

"I'm fabulous."

Taking a nervous sip from his beer, her ex asked, "What brings you here? I heard through the grapevine that you had moved to New York."

"Actually I did. I'm just back for this wonderful bachelorette party Kelly is throwing me."

"You're getting married?" Tom questioned in obvious surprise and irritation.

However Richard gave a pleasant smile. "Well, congratulations. Who's the lucky fellow? I didn't see him at the wedding."

"Actually, she was at the wedding. I introduced you."

"No way! You're not actually marrying that dyke, Torrance Whitfield, are you?" Tom shouted.

"Yes, I am marrying Torrance, and I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't call her a dyke. She's a wonderful person, and I love her."

"Really?" Richard inquired. "You sure did switch teams awfully quickly."

Helen shrugged. "What can I say? I fell in love. I never expected it either, but it happened, and I've never been happier."

"I can't believe you've become one of them!" Tom carried on.

Shooting him a scowl, Richard admonished, "Cut it out, Tom. You're way out of line."

Tom glowered at him. "I can't believe you either. Your ex, the woman you thought you were going to marry and spend the rest of your life with, is telling you she's a lesbian. How can you be okay with that?"

Richard grimaced slightly, but he recovered quickly. Turning to Helen he gave a soft, supportive smile. "As long as your happy, Helen, that's all that matters. I wish you and Torrance all the happiness in the world. Now please excuse me. I didn't mean to intrude on your party. I just wanted to say hello. Come on, Tom." he stated yanking the other man away from the blonde.

As Helen watched her ex's retreating form, she heard Kelly mention, "Can you believe the nerve of him? Man, I'm glad we don't hang out with him any more."

"Yeah. Tom's a real asshole, but Richard... he looked sad."

"Because he realizes what he lost too late."

"I'm not so sure that's it. I'm going to go talk to him a minute. Be right back."

"Helen, be careful." Kelly warned in concern. "Don't be getting any ideas now. Leave the past alone."

"I just want to talk to him." the blonde stated moving off her stool. Going over to him, she asked if he wanted to go somewhere a little more private to talk. Finding an empty booth in the back of the bar, she said, "You didn't have to rush off."

"No. I was interrupting, and Tom was being a jerk. You shouldn't have to put up with that." After an awkward pause, he asked, "Are you really marrying that woman you introduced me to, the really tall, sort of androgynous looking one?"

"Well, I wouldn't call her androgynous. You can tell by her face that she's a woman."

"But the rest of her body isn't that defined as female. You have to admit that."

Helen conceded with a nod. "Yes, I am, Richard. We've known each other over three years, and I've loved her every moment of it. I never imagined I'd feel this way about a woman, but it happened. I'm so happy."

He nodded. "Then I'm happy for you, truly I am, because you deserve everything you want. It's just difficult to think about, because when we broke up, in the back of my mind, I thought we might have a shot later on down the road. I mean we didn't want the same things then, but we do now. I always imagined being with you in my older age, so it's hard to accept that the fantasy will never be. If Torrance can give you everything you want, the more power to her. She better make you happy too, or else she'll have to answer to me personally." he tried to joke, but Helen could see in his eyes the sadness.

"Well, thank you for at least understanding. I appreciate that you aren't judging me."

"Never. Torrance seemed really nice when we met. I guess I was just too dense to put it together. Maybe sometime when I'm in New York, the three of us could go out or something if Torrance would be comfortable with that. Maybe the two of you could find me a nice girl who's into guys that is." he joked.

Helen smiled. "Sure. I think she'd be fine with that. Thanks for what you said, Richard."

"You're welcome." After a brief pause, he inquired hesitantly, "I don't know if you even consider dancing with men any more, but would you like to, you know for old times?"

"Sure. That would be nice." Helen answered.

With her consent he held out his hand for her to take. He led them to the floor before shyly encircling her waist with his arm. They danced in silence for a song before he asked, "Do you remember the first time you came to Philly to see me when you were still in school? We came to this very bar."

"I remember. It was the first time you told me you loved me." the blonde teased. "Here on this dance floor."

He nodded. "Yes and that night was the first time we ever..." he stated, letting his sentence trail off before he mentioned their first intimate encounter. "It seems so long ago and yet like it was just yesterday. I remember thinking about how beautiful I thought you looked that night with your long blonde hair and that black dress." he said unconsciously fingering her short tresses. Helen shifted uncomfortably at the touch as things suddenly began to feel more intimate. Looking up into his eyes, he saw the way he was gazing at her. It was the way he had so many times in their relationship when his eyes told of his adoration. "You've only grown more beautiful through the years, Helen."

"Richard, please..." she admonished lightly.

"Helen, please let me say this. I may very well never you again after tonight. We both know that. I'll regret it the rest of my life if I don't say this." He waited until she nodded before continuing. "You really have only gotten more beautiful with age, Helen. I didn't stop loving you simply, because we were no longer together. In fact I loved you from afar, hoping that one day you'd want to try again. I still feel that way, Helen. I still love you." he confessed as his hand came off her shoulder and cupped her face in his hand.

"Richard, I belong to someone else." she whispered even though her heart hammered wildly at his touch much to her confusion.

"I know, and she's the luckiest woman in the world. I just wish things had worked out differently. I wish that I had gotten that second chance. In fact if I thought I could get away with it, I'd try to take it now. Just one chance, Helen." he whispered as his arms pulled her closer. Her breathing became erratic as she realized he was about to try to kiss her.

That evening Torrance went out with a bunch of her single lesbian friends her a party of her own. After hitting the usual bars, they all went back to Morgan's place for more drinking. Of course being mischievous, Morgan did invite strippers to the festivity. As Torrance sat in a chair in the middle of the room with two scantily clad women thrusting and grinding against her, she tried to keep her thoughts on Helen instead of all the toned flesh surrounding her. However even as much as she tried, she could feel herself becoming aroused at the sight of the attractive women shaking everything they had to offer in her face.

Suddenly the music stopped. "We've got a surprise for you, Torrance." Morgan announced with a drunken smile.

"What's that?" the photographer inquired trying desperately to ignore the fact that the strippers were both leaning their mostly bare bodies into her.

"Well, these fine women aren't just dancers, Torrance." she mentioned with a smile. "One of you girls better tell her what I mean."

Before the brunette could even respond the blonde stripper straddled her and took a seat in her lap, so they were face to face. Leaning in to the photographer's ear, she nibbled it playfully as her arms came around her. Torrance's heart leapt into her throat at the feeling of the hot little woman's body pressing into her own, but her hands remained at her sides at first. After a moment however the stripper took the brunette's hands and place them on her bare hips.

"Don't be shy." the dancer whispered. "Your friends told me you were a real tiger."

Torrance said nothing initially but moaned when the blonde started to kiss the right side of her neck. Then just as suddenly their were two mouths on her as the other one took in her opposite ear. Instinctively the brunette's eyes closed, but as soon as they did, Helen flashed through her mind. "Oh God, wait." she protested taking her hands off the woman in her lap.

"Maybe you'd like some privacy." Morgan suggested jokingly. "You can use my room. Just leave one of them for us."

Before Torrance could even try to explain herself, the blonde dancer grabbed her by the hand to led her in the direction that Morgan had pointed. As they went into the bedroom, the little woman closed the door before turning to the photographer. "This is better. I don't actually like doing that stuff with an audience."

"Doing what exactly?" Torrance inquired as the petite blonde came to encircle her waist.

"Satisfying my customers."

Nervously Torrance backed away saying, "I'm already satisfied. There's no need to continue."

"But I know when someone wants me. It's okay. My services have already been paid for. Why not enjoy your present?" she asked moving in to the photographer's space again. Unceremoniously the blonde slipped her g-string off her hips and let it drop to the floor, leaving her naked.

"I'm okay. Really. I've enjoyed my present enough. I don't need the full treatment." she insisted trying desperately not to look at the naked woman standing before her.

"You want me, Torrance. I can tell. You don't have to play this game. I'm a sure thing. Just touch me." she instructed taking the brunette's hands and bringing the up to her large breasts.

The skin under her hands felt soft, but Torrance refused to give in to the temptation. Backing away more forcefully, she stated, "No. I can't. I'm engaged."

"So? Who has to know?"

The blonde moved in a third time, but this time Torrance took her by the shoulders to stop her. "I'm completely serious. I'm getting married in a week, and my bride is pregnant with my baby. There is no way I can do this. I can't betray her. I'm sure you're a nice woman, and under different circumstances this would be something I would've done, but I truly can't."

The little blonde gave a smile. "All right. I won't try to force the issue. Morgan just thought for sure you'd find me attractive."

"She's right about that, because I do. You actually look a lot like my fiancee, but my heart is hers alone, and I could never be with anyone else."

Giving a laugh the dancer asked, "You want to know something, Torrance? I do these kind of parties all the time for men and women, and the host or hostess always pays for whatever the guest of honor might want, but more people turn me down than take me up on my offer."

"Really? How many people turn you down?"

"Most, I'd say thirty or so for every one that wants to screw me. It's kind of nice to know most people still have morals." she stated leaning down to pick up her thong. "Would you at least like a souvenir?" she joked twirling it around lightly. "You can at least show it to your friends after we leave to save your reputation."


"We should hang out for awhile at least before going back out there. Want to watch tv or something?"

"How about we just talk?" Torrance suggested gesturing over to the bed, being that it was the only place other than the floor to sit. Taking her button down shirt off so she was only in her t-shirt, Torrance said, "Here. Put this on."

"Thanks." the blonde whispered slipping it over her shoulders.

"So, what's your real name? How old are you?"

"Kristina. I'm twenty."

"And how did you get into this profession?"

The young woman shrugged. "I just sort of fell into it. I moved to New York in hopes of becoming an actress or model. I couldn't get a lot of work, and I had to pay my bills somehow. I started making porn, and after that, this seemed a step up. Stripping isn't that bad. The money is good, and it's not often that I have to have sex with someone unless I want to."

"But if you could, you'd rather model or act?" the brunette inquired.

"Yeah but enough about me. What about you? What do you do?"

"Actually I'm a photographer. Why couldn't you get work? Did you have an agent?"

"Well, sort of but he didn't do much for me, and then charged me more than what was fair. I didn't know it at the time though."

"That's a hard way to learn the business. What about now? Do you do any modeling?"

"Not really. I fired him, but I haven't found any one else."

Torrance nodded. "You know I might be able to help you. I know several modeling agents. I'd have to be honest with you. You don't have a long term career in modeling. As attractive as you might be, you're too short to make it permanently. I hope that doesn't come as a surprise or sound harsh."

"No. I've been told." she mumbled.

"But that's not to say you can't get decent work that would be better than this. Did you graduate high school?"


"Did you go to college?"

"No. I left right after graduation to come here."

"Would you be offended if I gave you some advice?"

"I know what you're already going to say. I need to go back to school. I need to be able to support myself while I'm school though. That's the problem."

"I understand. You feel like you're stuck, but if you had enough money to support yourself while you were in school, would you go back? The reason I ask is because someday you're going to need something to fall back on other than modeling. The industry is fickle."

"I know, and if I had to do over again, I don't think I would've done things this way. I know I would've been better off going to college, but I can't go back. My family wouldn't help me. I'd have to do it myself, and I can't."

"You can with help, and I think I can help you. As I said I know several agents. Why don't you give me your information? Do you have any photos with you that I can have? I'll pass them around."

"Why would you do that?"

"Why not?" Torrance responded.

Looking at her skeptically, Kristina asked, "And what do you want in return?"

Torrance grinned. "Spoken like a true New Yorker. Actually there is something I want from you."

"What's that?"

"An invitation to your college graduation."

"That's it?" she inquired in disbelief.

"I don't need anything from you, Kristina. If I can help you, I will. No strings as long as you give me your word to go back to school." the older woman stated leaning back against the headboard to make herself more comfortable.

A moment passed before Kristina crawled over to her and straddled her stomach. Their eyes met for a moment before the young blonde whispered in the brunette's ear, "Can I tell you something?"

"What?" Torrance inquired softly, not trusting her voice as the feeling of the young woman on top of her sparked her sexual appetite again. She felt the stripper's hands edging up the hem of her t-shirt to expose her abdomen. The photographer groaned at the feeling of the dancer's arousal against her stomach.

"You know I almost never get turned on by a customer when I dance for them, but there was something that drew me to you. You are the sexiest woman I have ever danced for. The truth is Morgan didn't ask me to try to seduce you, and she didn't pay me to sleep with you. I just want to, because you were making me so hot with the way you were watching me." she murmured as her lips kissed along the photographer's jaw until their mouths brushed.

Torrance moaned but pulled back against her body's wishes. "I said no strings, Kristina. I meant it."

"I know. This is just because I want to." the blonde stated slipping the button down shirt off her shoulders, so she was naked again.

Late the following morning Helen arrived back in New York. Even though she had fun in Philadelphia, she had missed Torrance terribly, so after breakfast with Kelly and Mark, she headed for home. Coming into the loft, she noticed that all was quite, which was unusual since Torrance almost always was up early. Wondering if her fiancee was still in bed from her own party, she headed up the stairs to the master bedroom. She could smell the alcohol before she even opened the door, but nevertheless she cracked it just to see if her lover was still sleeping.

The room was dark, and the model could hear the signature snore of the photographer when she was truly exhausted before she could even see her. However as she opened the door a little further, she noticed a blonde head against her soon to be wife's shoulder. Helen could feel her breathing stop as she just stared at the bed in what was obviously two people, and mentally she scrolled through all their friends as she thought of which of them had blonde hair, but since most of them all had dark hair, her heart began to stop beating in anxious anticipation.

Never in her life did she think Torrance would be unfaithful, but there was no denying that someone was in bed with her. Coming to the bedside, Helen quickly yanked the covers down to the floor. Neither body moved. The photographer was dressed in a t-shirt and khaki pants that were open revealing her boxers, but the unfamiliar blonde was in one of Torrance's dress shirts, her body curled tightly into the brunette's side with one hand resting on the brunette's stomach.

Helen just stood there for a moment refusing to accept that her fiancee was in bed with another woman as emotions whirled through her. The anger struck first, especially when she saw a woman's thong on the bedside table. Going to Torrance's side of the bed, she clicked on the light as she screamed, "Torrance Whitfield, how could you do this to me?"

Torrance groggily opened her eyes at the sound of yelling. Focusing on its source, she saw Helen standing over her ranting. "Helen, what's wrong?" she asked in concern jumping from the bed to hold her fiancee.

"Don't touch me!" the model screamed pushing her away. "How could you? I leave for one night, and I come home to you in bed with another woman!"

Torrance looked toward the bed to see the stripper from last night starting to come to as Helen's raving continued. Torrance tried to remember everything that had happened the prior evening, but for the life of her she didn't know how she and the dancer had gotten back to her place or in bed together. "Wait, Helen. I can explain. Don't get upset. It's not good for the baby."

"Explain? What's there to explain, Torrance? You're in bed with a stranger a week before our wedding! Was she worth it, Torrance? Was she worth ten million to you?" the teacher yelled.

Torrance looked at her incredulously. "How can you say that? You do care about the money! My mother was right!"

"No, I don't are about your money! Keep it for all I care!" she shouted before turning to leave.

"Helen, wait. Please don't go. Please listen to reason. This isn't what it looks like." Torrance exclaimed starting to come after her.

"Don't you dare leave her alone up here! It's bad enough she's here, but I don't want stuff going missing too! You get her out of our house right now! Then you and I have to talk! If you wanted out, you could've just told me instead of hurting me like this!"

"I don't want out!" the photographer screamed to her retreating form. Turning to the bed, she just stared at the woman wearing her shirt. "Um, is this what it looks like?" she inquired.

"No, Torrance. It's not, and I'll tell your fiancee as much if you want."

"How did we get here, and how did you get in my bed?"

"I brought you home, because everyone else was too drunk. Last night I tried to seduce you several times at Morgan's and even once we got back here, but you refused me every time. You passed out, and I didn't know how to lock up. I only intended to stay until you woke, but I guess I fell asleep too. I swear to God, Torrance, I didn't mean for this to happen. You were so nice to me, and I would hate to cause you problems after what you said you would do for me."

"What I said I would do?" she questioned as she thought about any promises she might've made. "Oh, you mean the modeling thing?"

"Yeah. Please. I'll go downstairs and tell your fiancee anything you want if you just promise not to take that away from me." she begged.

"My word is good, Kristina. I'm not going to take it back, but I could use your help with my fiancee. She's about to leave me if I don't come up with one hell of a story."

"I'll explain. Just give me one minute to get my clothes on."

"Come down when you're ready." Torrance said before rushing downstairs to find the model.

Helen was standing in the kitchen looking out the window when Torrance came in. She turned and scowled at the brunette. "Tell me the truth, Torrance. I don't care what it is. I just want to know." firmly she stated.

Torrance looked at the woman she loved. "The truth?" she questioned. "The truth is I love you, Helen. You and the baby mean more to me than anything. The truth is last night I was more drunk than I have ever been except when I was a kid, and I have the worst hangover ever because of it. I don't know all the details of what went on. However I do know this. I would never have sex with someone else. You're the only one I want to be with that way."

"But I found you in bed with another woman! Both of you were half naked! How can you stand there and tell me nothing happened, especially when admitting that you don't remember?" she asked loudly.

The taller woman dropped her head forward. "Helen, I know it in my heart, and I would hope you do as well. I need you to believe me just because I said so. Can you do that?"

Before the model could answer they heard movement on the staircase. Kristina came into the kitchen and looked at Torrance before turning to Helen. "Lady, you have no idea what you have."

"I don't want to hear anything you might have to say! I want you out of my house!" the blonde yelled.

"Well, you're going to listen! You don't deserve a woman like Torrance! You're nothing but a high society bitch! Well, let me tell you something! It's women like you that drive people like Torrance into my arms! Torrance is the perfect example of fidelity! I didn't even know people like her still existed! She had the perfect opportunity to be sleep with someone else, but she didn't! She didn't put a hand on me, even as much as I tried to get her to! She refused time and again but for what? So she could be harassed by you for supposed unfaithfulness! Get it through your head! She didn't sleep with me or anyone else! I brought her home, because everyone else was too drunk, and she couldn't go alone! I helped her to bed, and tried to change her into pajamas, but she was too heavy, so I just left her as she was! Nothing happened!" Kristina shouted. Turning to Torrance she said more softly, "Torrance, I'm sorry for the trouble I caused you. I was only trying to help."

"I know, and thanks for getting me home safely."

Looking back at Helen, Kristina mentioned, "And just one more thing, blondie! I might be poor, but that doesn't mean I don't have morals! I might be just a stripper and a whore, but I'm not a thief! I'm offended that you would even suggest such a thing about me! You're not good enough for Torrance, and I hope she realizes that before it's too late! Now if that's all, I'm leaving!"

"I'll walk you out." Torrance mumbled as the dancer turned to go. The brunette looked at her beloved in silence for a moment before following Kristina to the door. They walked down to the street quietly.

"I really am sorry, Torrance." the young blonde apologized.

"Don't be. Thank you for bringing me home and for defending me just now."

"Well, I know you love her. Personally I don't think she's the right woman for you acting like that, but it's your life. You deserve happiness, and if she's what you want, then I wish you the best."

"Thank you. She is what I want. She's not usually like that. I think she's just being weird, because of the hormones with the baby. I hope so anyway."

Kristina shrugged. "Well, I should go. Promise to call me about some modeling gigs?"

"I'll try. I'll definitely pass your information along, but I'm getting married in a week and then going on my honeymoon, so it might be a few weeks before you hear anything. Don't think I forgot about you."


After a moment of just standing awkwardly, Torrance asked, "Can you tell me what really happened last night now that we're alone? I need to know."


"I don't believe that. I don't remember what happened when we got back to my place, but I do remember a lot of what happened at Morgan's. Something did happen between us in the bedroom, didn't it?"

Kristina touched her arm lightly. "Torrance, you didn't do anything wrong."

"I don't remember it that way. I remember you sitting naked on top of me touching yourself. Didn't I put my arms around you and help things along a bit?" she inquired as she recalled her actions of the previous night. When the dancer had taken off the shirt and started exploring herself as she sat straddled across Torrance stomach, the photographer's willpower began to crumble. Before she knew it, her arms were around the tiny woman guiding the stripper's hips, and she was whispering words of encouragement as the blonde brought herself to peak.

Kristina shrugged. "Torrance, had you come into my strip club and asked me for a private performance, you would've gotten the same thing. You never kissed me. You never touched anything but my hips. That's hardly infidelity. Had we danced together, you would've touched me more. Basically you just watched. There's nothing wrong with that. It's like watching a porn."

"Somehow I don't think she's going to see it that way."

"Don't tell her, Torrance. It's not worth it. You didn't do anything wrong. It's not worth what it will do to your marriage."

"I need to be honest with Helen."

"Well, good luck then. You know where to find me if things go horribly wrong. I'll be there for you with open arms any time you need someone."

"Thank you for the offer, and if I wasn't already with someone, I'd take you up on it, Kristina. You're amazing, and you have a lot to offer other than your body. Please try to use those other things."

The blonde nodded. "I'll see you around then. Take care of yourself."

When Torrance returned back to the loft, Helen was still in the kitchen standing in the same place she had left her. "Well, I got the whole story from Kristina." Torrance mentioned. "Seems that I did do something that you should know about."

"What's that?" hesitantly Helen inquired suddenly afraid of what Torrance might say.

"Apparently I let her sit on my lap naked and watched her as she brought herself to orgasm." plainly the older woman stated. Helen's heart sunk a little at the idea of Torrance being that close to another woman, but looking into the photographer's face, she could tell that the older woman was being truthful. However before she could even offer any sort of response, Torrance asked, "Is there anything that happened to you on your adventure that I should know about?"

The blonde shook her head. "Nothing nearly as exciting, but I saw Richard. He tried to kiss me."

"Did he succeed?" the photographer inquired stoically.

"No. We were dancing, and he leaned down to kiss me, but I stepped away. He told me he still loved me."

"He's not the only one." the tall woman mumbled. "If you'll excuse me now, I'm going to go upstairs and shower."

"We're not finished talking about us." the blonde mentioned.

"Yes, we are. I love you, and I want to marry you. If you can't accept my explanation of what happened, you have doubts about us getting married. I can't marry you if you have doubts. It wouldn't be fair to either of us. I told you what I did, and that's all that I did. You need time to decide if you believe me." quietly the brunette explained before turning to go up the stairs.

Heading into the master bath, Torrance stripped off her clothes and headed into the shower. She let the warm water cascade over her as she thought about the woman downstairs. She felt for sure that things were going to work with Helen, but suddenly she was filled with her own doubts. When Helen didn't immediately believe her, Torrance wondered how they could possibly have a marriage with a lack of trust. As the possibility of their relationship coming to an abrupt end again struck her, Torrance felt herself becoming weak. She sunk down on the stone shower seat as her whole body trembled, and she suddenly began to sob. The life that she wanted flashed before her mind, she and Helen being married and having children, and the thought of never knowing the baby the blonde was carrying was more than she could take.

Helen stood in the kitchen long after Torrance had gone upstairs as she thought about all that had occurred since she had arrived home. Even with all the evidence leading toward Torrance's unfaithfulness, she knew in her heart that the photographer had told her the absolute truth. She wished Torrance had not allowed the events of the previous night take place, but she recognized that she couldn't let that one incident stand between her and the marriage she wanted. Helen knew with certainty that Torrance loved her as much as she claimed, and through all the years they had known each other, the brunette had never given her reason to doubt her unwavering loyalty and faithfulness, making it easier to decide to accept the photographer's actions as one last drunkenly wild night of fun. Resolved to forget about the whole event, she went upstairs to try to smooth things over with her lover.

As she went into the bedroom, she heard wailing coming from the bathroom over the sound of the shower. Concerned Helen rushed in there to find Torrance crumpled on the slate floor of the shower sobbing. Instantly the only thoughts the blonde had were to comfort her beloved, and she opened the glass door to step in, forgetting that she was fully clothed. Dropping to her knees, she pulled the taller woman into her arms. "I'm sorry, Torrance." she softly stated. "I believe you completely."

"You do?" the green-eyed photographer inquired hesitantly.

"Yes. I know in my heart you would never be with someone else."

"So you're not leaving?"

"Never. You just had one last night of being single, and I'm going to forget it even happened. It's not worth giving up all that we have to look forward to, especially when it was my idea in the first place."

"What do you mean?" Torrance asked in confusion.

"I'm the one who said it was your last chance to see some hot naked women, and you told me Morgan would probably hire a stripper. It was all in drunk fun. I know it won't happen again, because I know you would never be with someone other than me."

Sighing in relief Torrance whispered, "Thank you for believing me, Helen. I thought for sure I had lost you."

"I'm not going anywhere, Torrance. You're stuck with me for life." she teased lightly as she brushed back the brunette's short wet locks away from her face.

Torrance gave a tentative smile before noticing that her fiancee was fully dressed. "You're all wet." she stated.

Helen looked at herself and realized she was soaked from the spray of the shower. However giving Torrance a sexy smile, she said seductively, "Not yet but I could be getting there. Maybe you'd like to finish up in here, and then I could give you a real show, not one Morgan has to pay for. That is if you think you can handle it in your hung over state."

"I'm feeling better already." Torrance replied playfully as they both got to their feet. Helen turned to leave, but the brunette slipped her arms around the petite woman's waist. "Don't go yet. Stay awhile. You're already wet." she suggested as her fingers began to open the blonde's drenched top.

Feeling the taller woman's mouth against the nape of her neck, Helen moaned as her hand came up to cradle Torrance's head. "I can never say no to you." she whispered.

The following Saturday morning Torrance awoke early too excited to sleep any longer. Even though the previous evening had been a late festive one with a large reception in Torrance and Helen's honor in town, the photographer was too anxious about her wedding day to stay in bed. As she got out of bed, she walked over to the window that looked over the guesthouse on her grandmother's property and thought of her bride. Maria had made such an issue of them not being able to see each other before the wedding, that they agreed to sleep apart to pacify her. Torrance had spent the night with the rest of her family up at the house while the blonde stayed with hers in the guesthouse.

Feeling the need to do something to rid herself of her nervous energy, she decided to go for a long run in the neighborhood, so she changed clothes and headed outside. However she ran into her mother on the back porch.

"Too excited to sleep?" her mother asked playfully.

"Yeah. I can't believe it. Today I'm actually going to marry Helen. This has been such a long wait."

"But now it's over. Run along. Work all your nerves out. We'll see you in a bit for breakfast."

When Helen awoke that morning she felt terrible. Her stomach was churning making her nauseated, and she barely made it to the bathroom before relieving her stomach of its contents. Sinking down onto the tile bathroom floor, she moaned miserably as waves of dizziness hit her. After a few minutes she heard a soft knock on the door before Kelly called, "Helen, are you okay?"

"No." she mumbled.

"What's wrong? May I come in?"


Her matron of honor entered the bathroom. "What's wrong, sweetie?" the married woman inquired coming to kneel next to her friend.

"I don't know. I just feel so sick. I want Torrance." she pouted pitifully.

"You can't see Torrance before the ceremony. Now what are your symptoms?"

"I just feel nauseated and sick to my stomach. I'm sweating but cold at the same time." she mumbled brushing back her matted wet fair hair.

Kelly gave a sympathetic smile. "It's probably just nervousness and morning sickness." she replied.

"I don't care. I want Torrance here now. Go get her, Kelly." she whined.

"No. Her mother will pitch a fit. You know that. I'll tell you what though. I'll go call up to the house and get her on the phone. You can talk to her for a few minutes, but then we have to start getting ready. Morgan is going to be by soon to do your make up and hair. Why don't you get back in bed for a little bit while I make the call?" she suggested helping her friend to her feet. She escorted the blonde back to bed and tucked her in before taking a seat next to her. Picking up the phone, she made the call up to the house and got Torrance on the phone.

"What's up, Kelly? You need something?" the brunette inquired.

"I have someone here who desperately wants to speak to you." she replied before handing the phone over to Helen.

"Torrance." the model stated softly.

"Helen, what's wrong, honey?"

"I'm sick, and I want you to come over here to hold me."

Torrance chuckled lightly. "I wish I could. I'm sorry that you're not feeling well. What's wrong?"

"Morning sickness decided to start today. I feel awful."

"I'm sorry, baby."

The conversation last a few more minutes before Kelly took the phone away. "Sorry, Torrance, but Morgan will be here any minute, and I have to get your wife in the shower."

"Okay. Take care of her, will you?"

"Of course. Just because you're marrying her doesn't mean she's not still my best friend. We'll see you soon."

A few hours later everyone was lining up for the service procession. There had been many discussions about who would be standing up next to the couple, and after long talks, the two of them decided to have Kelly stand with Helen and Mark with Torrance, being that they were instrumental in bringing them together but not having anyone else up there with them, because their list of choices had gotten too overwhelming. Torrance processed first and alone since Helen wanted to walk alone as well, but as she stood at the end of the aisle awaiting her cue, her legs felt impossibly heavy. However when the music began, she focused on the minister who was waiting on her at the other end, hardly even seeing the guests in attendance. Getting to the end, she turned to watch the rest of her group, beginning with her parents and then Helen's parents. Meeting eyes with Diane Melbourne for a moment, she could see the discomfort in her future mother-in-law's eyes, but Torrance took consolation in the fact that she was still in attendance. Kelly and Mark were the next to walk, both of them smiling brightly at her as they moved to their places. Helen's two nieces played the parts of the flower girls before there was a momentary pause before Helen's music began. Torrance took a shaky breath as Helen came into view. She had never seen the blonde more beautiful as she was in her wedding gown carrying her simple bouquet of flowers and slowly gliding down the aisle toward her. The model's elegance made her weak, and she could feel herself almost dizzy at the sight before her. Meeting eyes the older woman saw her bride blush slightly as she graced her with a smile.

Helen only had eyes for her beloved as she came down the aisle. Torrance was dressed in an expensive black suit, looking sexier than she had ever seen her, and the thought gave her a sudden rush of arousal. Without even realizing it, her thoughts strayed to taking the suit off her lover, but she had the grace to flush when she noticed where her thoughts had strayed. She observed that Mark hastily put a hand on Torrance's back to steady her, making her realize she was having the same effect on the tall woman that the photographer was having to her. Finally she arrived next to her beloved and took the offered hand.

"You are so beautiful." Torrance whispered in obvious awe. "I love you."

"I love you too, Torrance." she replied giving her lover an adoring gaze.

The rest of the ceremony passed quickly, and soon they were socializing with all their guests at the reception. As the evening wore on, Torrance and Helen decided that as they were leaving was time they make their big announcement. Just before they were getting ready to take off in their limo, the two of them asked everyone to settle down for one final toast. Curving an arm around Helen's waist, Torrance stated, "Helen and I just want you all to know how glad we are you came today. You have helped make this a special day for us, and we will never forget it."

"And because you have made it so wonderful, we've decided to share a secret with all of you." Helen said. "As some of you know, Torrance and I have been planning an African safari for our honeymoon, but we had to cancel those plans. I'm making her take me to Paris instead."

Torrance smiled down at her as she teasingly continued, "It seems that Helen and I got ourselves into a little trouble by starting our honeymoon early, and we're actually expecting our first child now because of it, so we had to decide on someplace more civilized." A chorus of yelling and hollering could be heard as the couple glowed under the support of the closest friends and relatives.

Breaking their gaze Helen looked back at all their friends and family. "Anyway, thank you for making this day the best of our lives, and we look forward to seeing you when we get back from our trip to Paris."

Slowly making their way toward their limousine, they bid farewell to everyone as they passed. Getting to their parents however, they stopped to receive hugs from the four of them. John was the first to speak as he affectionately laid his hand against his daughter's mid-section. "I can't believe it. I'm going to be a grandfather again."

"Yes, Daddy, and maybe with some luck we might have a son. I know you've been dying for a grandson."

"I don't care. I'm just thrilled for the two of you." he said hugging them both before Maria came to embrace them as well.

"Well, Torrance, I guess all your dreams really have come true now." she said.

"They sure have, Mama."

Breaking in to the conversation, Thomas asked, "When are you two planning on coming back from Paris?"

"We're scheduled to arrive back on September 10th. Why?"

"Then you and I need to have breakfast on the 11th. I want all the details." he said with a smile.

Torrance gave a nod. "I think I can manage that. Now you have to excuse us. We have somewhere we're supposed to be." the photographer teased.

"Not anywhere that you haven't been before." John joked.

"Daddy!" Helen exclaimed as she flushed deeply at his inference, but Torrance laughed.

"I was just kidding, sweetie. You kids get out of here. I think Torrance would rather be alone with you right now." he mentioned with a smile.

"We'll talk to all of you when we get back." the tall woman said before taking her wife's arm and leading her to the waiting car.

Torrance's grandmother's driver was standing at the back door of the limo waiting for them. "Ms. and Mrs. Whitfield." he said with a nod as he opened their door. Once they were settled, he moved to the driver's seat. "Mrs. Whitfield, are we still going to the Waldorf?"

Torrance smiled at the fact that James addressed Helen that way. However when the blonde didn't respond, she said, "You know, honey, James just asked you a question."

"Oh, I'm sorry, James. I thought you were talking to Torrance. Yes, we are still going to the Waldorf."

"Very good, Mrs. Whitfield." he replied with a small smile before putting the divider up between them to give them privacy.

The model grinned at the photographer. "It's going to take me a little while to get used to being called that."

"James will call you whatever you would like for him to. If you'd prefer he call you Helen, he will."

"No. I like Mrs. Whitfield. I like everyone knowing that I belong to you."

Torrance gently caressed her wife's stomach. "We belong to each other, all three of us. Thank you for making me whole, Helen." she whispered before leaning to kiss her bride.


******(The following section deals with September 11, 2001. If you are uncomfortable reading about that subject, please stop at this point. Thank you, Alex Tryst)******

Two weeks later the couple returned from their trip to Paris. Since Thomas wanted to have breakfast the following morning, Torrance made a quick call to her parents to confirm the time with him, but Maria asked to speak to Helen to invite her to go shopping the next morning as well. What the brunette had intended to be a ten minute conversation turned into an hour, but finally she forced them to hang up.

As she and Helen stood in the kitchen of their loft after the call, Torrance chuckled. "Man, I have nosey parents." she joked.

Helen came to embrace her around the waist. "They just love you and want to be involved in your life. I hope that we are parents just like them."

The photographer nodded. "We will be. You are like my mother in many ways, Helen."

"That's a real compliment ." the blonde replied snuggling into her wife's chest.

"Well, do you want to call your parents as well and let them know we're home?"

"No. I'll wait until tomorrow. Right now I just want to go to bed." the little blonde whispered leaning up to kiss her beloved under the jaw.

"Bed or sleep?" the dark-haired woman asked softly with a seductive raise of her brow.

"Follow me upstairs, and you'll find out." Helen answered moving away. Turning to go she pulled her blouse off and tossed it over her shoulder at her lover. "And turn on the air conditioning, will you? It's hot in here."

Torrance did as she was told, moving to the thermostat before going up the stairs. However finding the blonde's clothing creating a path for her to follow up the staircase, she smiled to herself, knowing that sleeping was the last thing on her lover's mind. Torrance picked up each piece as she slowly made her way toward what was sure to be an amorous encounter. Coming to the bedroom door, she paused to look at her wife who was pulling down the covers on their bed. As she studied her, Torrance could see that where the blonde's flat abdomen used to be there was a slight curvature where their child was growing inside of her. The photographer's heart fluttered at the beauty of her bride. Moving into the room, she came up behind the teacher and put her arms around her bare waist.

"I love you, Helen." she whispered.

"I love you too, Torrance."

"You're starting to show a little." the brunette mentioned resting her hand along the soft skin of her lover's stomach.

"I know. It's a good thing your mother and I are going shopping actually. My clothes are beginning to be too small."

Absently Torrance nodded in response as she kissed along her wife's shoulder. "You're so beautiful, Helen."

"Thank you, even though I don't feel like it when I'm bent over the toilet every morning." she joked lightly.

"Even then you're still the most beautiful woman in the world to me, because you are voluntarily putting your body through that to bring our baby into this world. That's a gift I will always treasure. The fact that you love me enough to have a baby with me is beyond anything I can comprehend. I'm just feel blessed that you chose me."

Helen turned in the photographer's arms and gazed up at the tall woman. "And I feel blessed that you found me, Torrance. Now enough talk. I feel bad about being sick most of our trip, but it's time to make up for that. I want you to love me tonight like you would have if I had given you more chances on our honeymoon."

"Helen, it would be my pleasure, but only if you stop worrying about trying to fulfill my desires. I'm content. You're having terrible morning sickness, and I want to be understanding to your needs. I have the rest of my life to love you when you're feeling a little better."

"Right now I need your love, Torrance. I have a feeling that your hands will work wonders as far as curing my nausea." Helen stated beginning to work open her lover's shirt.

Torrance allowed the blonde to remove her clothes before gently guiding the smaller woman onto the bed. Careful not to put all her weight on the teacher's body, Torrance propped herself up on her arms as she laid in the cradle of her wife's thighs. Fondly she gazed into the green eyes she loved as she softly traced the contours of her blonde's face with her thumbs. Stroking the fair brows, Torrance faintly kissed along the blonde's forehead, down her nose, before planting a delicate kiss on her full supple lips. "Thank you for letting me love you, Helen." she whispered before leisurely beginning to explore every inch of her lover's bare frame. Torrance took extra time along the model's mid-section, lightly dusting it with kisses of adoration before moving lower to the place she knew would bring her wife the most pleasure. Long into the night Torrance and Helen loved each other before falling asleep in each others arms.

Early the next morning Torrance got up to dress for her breakfast with her father. Even though Helen was awake, her nausea kept her in bed as she fought the urge to regurgitate all that she had eaten the night before. When Torrance was finally ready to go, she moved to the bed and took a seat next to her wife. She gave a sympathetic smile as the green-eyed model looked up at her pitifully.

"I don't want you to go today. Stay here." Helen requested.

"I can't. I already told Dad I would meet him at the World Trade Center at nine. It's just after eight now. I have to go. Besides my mother will be here any minute to pick you up."

"I know. I just wish you would stay here in bed with me and hold me. I'm tired of this morning sickness. I feel terrible and look even worse."

Giving a laugh Torrance affectionately smoothed the matter blonde hair away from her lover's face. "You're always beautiful in my eyes, Helen."

"You have to say that, because you're married to me."

"Listen to me, honey." the photographer said taking the model's hand in her own. "You are beautiful inside and out, and you are the best thing that has ever happened to me. You're a gift from God, and everyday I thank him for giving me the blessing of your love. If I died today, I would die a happy woman, because you have made all my dreams come true."

Helen sat up and pulled her wife into a hug. "I love you so much, Torrance. You're my life."

"As you are mine."

"Do me a favor, will you?" Helen inquired with a smile.

"Anything. What is it?"

"Don't die today. I'm planning on having you around for at least fifty years or more. Okay?" she teased lightly.

"No problem. I promise you no dying today or any other day in the near future. We have years of living to do with each other first." Just then the doorbell interrupted them. "That's Mother. I have to go now. Call me on my cell phone if you need anything. I'll see you later."

Helen nodded before leaning in to receive a kiss. "I love you, Torrance."

"I love you too." she replied heading off to answer the door. Opening it she saw her mother standing there.

"Welcome home, newlywed." Maria said with a smile as they hugged.

"Thanks. Helen is still upstairs in bed. Her morning sickness is really bad. Do you think maybe you could help her through it? I don't know what to do for her."

"Sure. I'll go see if I can do anything. You take care of yourself today and no getting into trouble." she joked.

"Me? Never." Torrance answered with a smile.

"Run along now. I'm sure your father is anxious to see you."

"All right. I love you. You and Helen call me if you need anything."

"Love you too. See you later."

Helen was lying in bed when she heard the knock on the open bedroom door. Looking over she saw Maria standing there looking concerned. "Hi there. Torrance says you're not feeling well."

Helen shook her head. "I didn't know morning sickness was this bad. I've felt terrible everyday since the wedding." she said as her mother-in-law came to take a seat on the bed. "I feel bad for Torrance actually. It wasn't the kind of honeymoon that either of us wanted. It's hard to be romantic when you're retching all morning long for two weeks."

"Don't even worry about that. I'm sure Torrance hasn't given it another thought. That woman is so deeply in love with you that there is nothing you could do in her eyes to diminish her feelings for you. She truly believes you walk on water. Don't concern yourself with something you can't control. Now is there anything I can do to help you?"

Helen shook her head. "No. I just have to deal with it the best that I can. I'm going to get up now and try to get dressed."

"All right. Take your time. We aren't on a schedule. Just take it easy. I'll just wait downstairs for you. Call me if you need anything."

"Thanks, Maria."

Once her mother-in-law left the room, Helen eased herself out of bed. Fighting the dizziness she felt, she made her way into the master bath. She began with her new ritual of relieving her stomach before going about dressing for the day. After a long shower, most of which was spent seated on their shower bench trying not to faint, the teacher moved to dry her hair and put on her clothes. She was just finishing her make up as she thought of her wife when she heard a wail come from downstairs. Instantly curious and concerned, Helen headed out to the second story landing as she called, "Maria, are you all right?" Looking over the railing, she saw her mother-in-law crumpled on the floor in front of the television. Rushing down the spiral staircase, Helen asked, "Maria, what is it?"

The older woman didn't answer at first instead mumbling through tears, "Oh dear God."

Sinking to her knees, Helen embraced Maria as she looked to the tv. Her own heart stopped as she saw the city of New York enveloped in a white cloud as the correspondent said something about the World Trade Center collapsing. "Torrance." the blonde whispered in fear.

"Thomas." Maria whimpered.

"Oh God. What happened, Maria?" the teacher inquired clutching the older woman tighter. Maria didn't have to answer as CNN just then began to replay the video of the second tower being struck by an airplane. Both women sat glued to the television as the buildings came crumbling to the ground. "Oh God. I have to call Torrance." the model stammered racing to the phone. Hurriedly she dialed her wife's cell number but couldn't get through, because all the circuits were busy. Frantically she tried Thomas with the same result. "Come on. Please God. Let me get through." she begged out loud repeatedly trying each number several times.

Having no success she moved back into the living room to find Maria sitting on the couch rocking back and forth as she sobbed and stared at the tv. Coming to the older woman, Helen fell onto the sofa as well. Instinctively they embraced. Neither said anything for a long time as they just watched the drama unfold on television. Every few minutes the teacher tried her lover and father-in-law's numbers, but she never could get through to either of them.

"Oh God, Helen. I can't lose Thomas. He's my life." Maria admitted. "And Torrance is my baby."

The model nodded. "I know. I'm sure they're fine. I bet they just can't call to tell us so, because everyone is trying to call people." she stated, trying to justify why they couldn't reach their loved ones. Helen didn't even dare voice her own fears that something had happened to Torrance.

Hours passed and shopping was forgotten was the two women sat preoccupied with each new piece of information that came on the tv. Finally around noon the phone rang. Instantly Helen grabbed it. "Torrance?" quickly she asked.

"No. It's me, sweetie." her father stated. "I've been trying to get through all morning long. Are you all right?"

"Oh, Daddy, Torrance and Thomas were in the towers." she whispered as she began to get choked up on her own tears.

"Oh, baby girl." he replied. "Have you heard anything at all?"

"No. I keep trying their numbers but can't get through to either of them."

"All right. Maybe I shouldn't tie up this line in case they try to call. Are you okay, though? Are you alone?"

"Maria is here with me. Daddy, Torrance was there." she sobbed suddenly not being able to control her emotions any longer.

"I'm sure she's fine, honey. You just have to have faith. Believe that she's safe, Helen. Pray that she is."

"If I lost her, I couldn't go on." she confessed weeping into the phone.

"Helen, don't think that way. Torrance is fine. She made it out." he stated.

"Then why hasn't she called?" she rhetorically inquired.

There was silence a moment before John asked, "Do you want me to stay on the line with you for awhile?"

"No. I need to see if I can get through to either one of them."

"Do you want me to come up there? I'll get in the car right now." he proposed.

"No, Daddy, but thank you. Maria is here. I should go now and see if I can reach one of them."

"All right. Call me in a little bit and let me know what's going on?"

"Sure." Helen replied.

"Helen, have faith. Try to stay positive." he stated softly.

"I'll call you later." the blonde mumbled. "I love you, Daddy."

"I love you too, sweetie. I have to go call your siblings and tell them what's going on now. I'll talk to you in a bit."

Once she had hung up with her father, Helen dialed the two numbers she had been trying all morning but still couldn't get through. Both women looked at each other. Easily they could read the other's thoughts and fears, but neither said a thing as they sat clutching to each other on the sofa. Hours passed like days. By early afternoon Helen began to fear the worst for her beloved and father-in-law. Neither of them had called nor could the blonde get through to them live.

As the possible reality of never seeing the woman she loved again, Helen began to lose the grip she had on her fear. Suddenly the idea of being a widow after only two weeks of marriage and carrying her lover's child made the blonde start wailing inconsolably. "This can't be happening!" she screamed as her mother-in-law wrapped her in consoling arms.

Just then there was a faint knock on the door. Both women jumped startled at the sound but raced to answer it. As Helen flung open the door, they saw Thomas standing there leaning against the doorframe and looking extremely exhausted. Maria instantly flung herself at him. "Oh thank God you're all right!" she exclaimed clinging to him tightly.

"I'm all right, just tired. I had to walk all the way here. I tried to call but couldn't get through." he explained holding Maria in a strong embrace. "Where's Torrance?" he asked Helen. Neither woman answered at first. "Have you heard from her?" Thomas questioned.

"No. We can't get through to her phone." Helen stated. "Did you see her this morning?"

"No. I was waiting on her when the first building was hit. I evacuated as soon as the fire department got there. I called her and got her voice mail when it first happened. I wanted to tell her not to come."

"She left just after eight to meet you." Helen explained.

Giving a nod Thomas put his arms around his daughter-in-law. "I'm sure she's fine, Helen. She probably just can't get through on the phone."

The blonde gave a feeble nod, wanting desperately to believe his words, but the nagging doubt began to overwhelm her again. As tears cascaded down her face, her in-laws guided her to the kitchen table. "You know, you haven't eaten all day, Helen. I should fix you something." Maria suggested.

"I'm not hungry. I can't eat right now. I feel sick."

"I know, but you have to think about your child. Torrance would want you to think about the baby right now, not her." Maria gently stated. "I'm going to fix all of us something."

Thomas nodded as he took a seat next to Helen at the table. Silence prevailed each of them off in their own thoughts until the phone rang again. Helen leapt for it, answering anxiously. However it was her father again instead of her wife. Unable to update him on the situation, she handed the phone over to Thomas, taking a seat at the table once again and staring blankly out the window. Thomas talked to John for several minutes, but once he had hung up, Helen mumbled, "Other people are getting through. Why hasn't she called?"

"I don't know." softly Thomas replied giving a long sigh.

"Here, Helen. Try to eat something. This will help your stomach." Maria said putting the soup and bread in front of the model.

"I can't take this waiting. God, where is she?" the young petite woman questioned aloud.

Since neither Thomas or Maria had the answer, they both just remained quiet as they all sat around the small table. After several minutes of just watching the teacher play with her food, Thomas said, "I'll try her phone again." Making the call he didn't reach her live. "Voicemail." he stated after several rings before proceeding to leave a message.

As the afternoon passed into evening, the three of them remained thoughtfully quiet as they watched tv. With each call from family and friends, Helen became more distraught, because it was clear that others were getting through on the phone, but Torrance still hadn't called. Even though no one voiced their own fears, Helen silently admitted to herself that something had happened to Torrance. She knew for a fact that if her wife had been able to call, she would have already. Torrance would have kept trying until she got through regardless of how long it took.

"Maybe we should try to call the hospitals." Maria finally proposed.

"Yeah, let's do that. There is a possibility she was injured. I'll use my cell phone. You use the land line, Maria." Thomas said. Flipping open his phone, he noticed that he had a new message. "Wait a minute. I have a message that wasn't here earlier." he mentioned.

Helen watched nervously as her father-in-law dialed in to retrieve his message. Seeing the slight smile grace his face, she knew that it was Torrance. However as the moments passed, his face grew more and more serious making the model's heart stop. Thomas became unusually still before bowing his head and taking a deep breath.

"Thomas?" Maria called going to put her arms around him.

"I think you better listen to this, Maria." he whispered as tears freely streamed down his cheeks.

Helen sat on the sofa and watched as her wife's mother listened to the message. When the older woman had the same reaction, the model knew with certainty that something was horribly wrong. "What is it? Is she...?" She couldn't even bring herself to finish her sentence.

Maria came to the couch and took a tentative seat next to her. Extending the phone to the blonde, she softly stated, "I think Torrance would've wanted you to hear this."

Even though Helen was afraid of what she was about to hear, she took the cell phone from her mother-in-law and replayed the message. She smiled as she heard her wife's voice. "Hey, Dad. It's me. It's almost nine, and I'm just getting out of the subway right now. Sorry I'm running late, but Helen felt terrible this morning, so I stayed with her a little later than I should have. She's having awful morning sickness and has since the wedding. Poor thing could barely make it through the day without throwing up while we were in Paris, but believe it or not, I didn't mind one bit. I can't help it. I just love that woman more than anything else in this world. Sick or not she's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. Anyway I'm in the lobby now, and something's going on. People are everywhere. The fire department is here, and I just heard someone saying something about the building being on fire. They are trying to evacuate. I hope you've left the building, Dad. This seems serious. I guess I'm going to have to go outside and wait for you to call me. Give me a call as soon as you get this, and we'll have that breakfast." Just then a thunderous sound could be heard in the background. "What the hell is that noise?" Torrance inquired into the phone absently before there was only terrified screaming and then the line was lost.

Helen dropped the cell phone from as she began to weep. "She's dead! Oh God! If only I hadn't made her stay with me this morning, she'd be alive! She promised me!" she wailed.

Both Thomas and Maria embraced her as the petite blonde sobbed. "She may have gotten out." Thomas said.

Helen adamantly shook her head. "If she had we would've heard from her! My life is over!" the teacher bawled.

"Helen, you have to try to stay calm. You have a child to think about." Maria said softly trying to settle the woman in her arms.

"A child that will never know it's mother! It will never know Torrance's gentleness or compassion! It will never see her green eyes gazing at her in adoration and love! Oh, why did this happen? Why, God?" she screamed turning her eyes heavenward. Picking up the phone again, the teacher replayed the message of her lover's final moments. "Oh, Torrance." she mumbled.

Maria and Thomas just sat next to her silently as the blonde kept playing the message repeatedly. They exchanged helpless glances over the young women's head as they held her. Helen was obsessed with the sound of her beloved's voice, the gentleness of her tone when the message began, the tender words she spoke of her, and even the piercing shriek of fear of her wife over all the other screams as the building collapsed around the photographer. Each time she heard it, Helen became more despondent as the reality that she was now alone struck with a force she had never felt, and yet she felt as long as she kept hearing Torrance's voice, the brunette was still with her.

Finally Thomas put his hand on the blonde's. "I think that's enough for now, Helen." he said reaching for the phone

"No! I can't hang up on her! She'll be gone!" Helen yelled.

"You can listen later. I won't erase it. I swear. I'll even make you a copy of the message if you want, so you can listen to it whenever you want." he suggested trying to keep the young woman as calm as possible.

"You'd do that for me?"

"Of course. I'll do it now. I'm sure Torrance has the equipment, but you have to give me the phone first."

Reluctantly the teacher relinquished her hold on the cell phone. Getting up from the sofa, Thomas went off in search of something to copy the message onto for Helen, leaving her and his wife alone together. Maria looked at her watch and noted that it was after eight that night. "It's been a long day, Helen. Perhaps you'd be more comfortable in bed. You've had a rough day, and you have to keep your strength for the baby."

Helen shook her head. "I don't want to be alone." she whispered.

"Thomas and I will stay with you." she assured the younger woman. "Come on. Let me take you upstairs."

"I can't go to sleep without her." insistently the model stated, but she stood when Maria tried to assist her to her feet.

"All right. We'll just lay down for awhile." Maria took her by the hand up to the bedroom. "Let's get you into your pajamas." she suggested beginning to help the blonde out of her clothes. Helen allowed herself to be undressed by her mother-in-law like a compliant child. In fact Helen had no energy to fight the older woman. All her strength was suddenly gone, and as soon as her pajamas were on her body, she collapsed onto the bed as her tears began anew. Maria climbed onto the bed next to her and wrapped her arms around the distraught woman.

"She promised me." the teacher mumbled. "She promised she wouldn't die today. How could she do this to me?"

"What do you mean?" Maria questioned in confusion.

"This morning before she left she said that if she died today she would die a happy woman because of me, but I made her promise she wouldn't die. She promised." Helen explained through her distress.

Quietness reigned as Thomas came into the bedroom and slid onto the king sized bed to cradled the young woman in his arms. "I put the message on a tape for you, Helen. She'll never be gone now." he whispered. Helen simply nodded clinging tighter to the two people who had brought her beloved into the world, and the three of the wept themselves into an exhausted sleep.

The following morning as Helen began to wake, she instinctively reached out for her lover to cuddle against her, but as her head landed on the chest of the body next to her, she realized that the hardness of the photographer's frame had been replaced with a smaller softer form, making the blonde open her eyes. Lifting her head she noted that she was curled into Maria and sandwiched between her in-laws as they both held her. Suddenly she realized that the previous day had not been a horrible nightmare but a brutal reality and that her wife was gone. Just then the phone rang. She quickly picked up the cordless that Thomas had brought upstairs, so that they could sleep longer. Sliding out of bed, she greeted the caller emotionlessly.

"Helen, you never called me back yesterday. I've been worried." Kelly stated in concern.

"Sorry." the blonde mumbled moving out of the bedroom and toward the staircase to go downstairs.

"Did Torrance finally make it home?" her best friend asked.

"No." Helen replied slowly moving through the living room out to the balcony.

"What do you mean? Did you even hear from her?"

Helen stood on her balcony looking over downtown New York and seeing the gapping hole where the World Trade Center had been. Smoke still billowed where the institution once stood. Trying to remain strong, she answered, "We heard from her. Actually she was leaving a message for her Dad when the towers collapsed. She was in the lobby."

There was a long silence between them before Kelly quietly inquired, "Are you sure she didn't make it out?"

"Kelly, I listened to that message more times than I can count. I heard everything. I even heard her scream as it collapsed. She was inside when the building fell. My life is over, Kelly."

"Oh, Helen, I'm so sorry." the auburn-haired woman whispered obviously beginning to cry by her wavering voice.

"I don't know what to do, Kelly. I don't know where to go."

"Come here. As soon as you can, get out of that city. It's not good for you to be alone right now. Mark and I want you to come stay with us."

"Thanks. I couldn't exactly go home with the way things are with my mom and the baby, and I just can't bear the idea of staying here alone or with Torrance's parents."

"I understand. Come here and stay with us for awhile. We'll help you decide what to do. Did Torrance leave some sort of will concerning you and the baby?"

"Yeah. I get everything, but what's the point of that? I want Torrance, not money." the blonde cried.

"I know, but I was just checking to see if you and the baby would be taken care of financially."

"Yeah." the teacher mumbled. Turning away from the skyline, she went back into the loft. Moving toward the kitchen, a incongruency on the table caught her attention. She went to it and picked up the mangled article covered in white powder. "Oh my God." she gasped. "How did this get here?" she asked aloud staring down at the photograph. It was from the shoot where she and Torrance met, and she recognized it as coming from the brunette's wallet.

"What is it, Helen?" Kelly anxiously inquired.

"A picture from Torrance's wallet. She always carried it, and it's on the kitchen table." she explained as her eyes hastily scanned the kitchen. A trail of white footprints tracked over the floor, and the photographer's wallet rested on the bar. Helen's heart froze. "Torrance?" she called out cautiously.

"Helen, what's going on?" her best friend asked in concern.

"I don't know, but I have to call you back. I think Torrance is here. I'll call you later." she rushed before hanging up the phone. Running in the direction of the footprints, she called again, "Torrance?" Coming into the entry way, her steps halted as she saw the photographer's body lying stretched out across the floor. She was covered from head to toe in dust, debris, and blood from a head wound that had dried and caked to the brunette's hair and clothing. "Torrance!" the blonde screamed running over and dropping to the floor next to her. The tall woman was unresponsive at first. Unsure of other possible injuries, Helen touched her lightly on the shoulder. "Torrance, baby?" gently she whispered.

The photographer's face twitched before a strangled voice replied, "Helen?"

The blonde's tears began anew hearing her lover's response. "Yes, sweetie, I'm here." she assured her.

"I promised." the photographer mumbled as her eyes slowly opened.

"I know." the teacher answered. Seeing the older woman trying to move, she instructed, "Don't try to move, Torrance. You're hurt."

"No." the brunette argued trying to roll onto her side. With the petite woman's assistance, she made it and looked up into the green-eyes she loved shining with wetness. "Je t'aime, mon petite chou. (I love you, sweetheart)" she confessed.

"I love you too, Torrance, so much." the blonde replied. "How did you survive? How did you get here? Why didn't you call? I was so worried."

Closing her eyes the photographer took a deep breath. "I was on the phone walking out when the building fell. I saw it. I tried to run, but there were so many people. I don't know what happened."

"You were hurt. How did you get home?"

"Don't know. The last thing I remember was running, and then waking up just now. What happened?"

"Terrorists attacked us. They flew two hijacked planes into The World Trade Center. They also hit the Pentagon with one, and they had a fourth, but the passengers brought it down before anything else was hit." Unable to control herself any longer, Helen pulled the older woman to her and held her tightly. Torrance responded in kind, wrapping her strong arms around the woman she adored. "I thought I had lost you." the blonde whispered.

"No. I said I'd come back. I promised you."

"Thank you for keeping it." the teacher sobbed in relief.

"Always, love. I'll never leave you." Torrance stated softly.

Helen wept into Torrance's shoulder, the journey of the last day finally coming to its conclusion. There would be time to try to understand what had taken place, but all she cared about at the moment was the woman who held her heart was safe in her arms. The mother of her child and her wife was home where she belonged. "I love you, Torrance." she said as the two of them laid on the floor of their foyer, clinging to each other as if their very existence depended on it.

"I love you too, Helen." Torrance replied as she sighed. Even though their world had been shaken to the core, they had survived, and all that really counted to her was that she was home where she belonged. "I love you too."


Author's Note: I've been hesitant to write about the subject of September 11 since it happened, because of the profound impact it had on my life. Living only a few miles from the Pentagon and having worked at The Trade Center in the recent past, I was filled with a sense of dread that day, as many of my friends were, because we all knew of people in both places. The waiting for that phone call or lack thereof was enough to test the faith of even the strongest person, and the idea that you may simply never know what happened in the final moments in the life of someone you cared about was too much to bear for some time. However now that some time has passed, I wanted to try to put onto paper the feelings of that fateful day that forever changed so many lives. It is a delicate subject matter for many still, and even I still struggle with it, so if you have any negative commentary in regards to the final chapter of this book, please know that this is only my perspective of what happened to me and my feelings of that day.

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