Impulse: Book One

AFTER ALL IS SAID

"Impulse: A sudden inclination or urge"
The American Heritage dictionary

By Mezzo

 

DISCLAIMERS

Copyright: All characters in this story are from my own imagination. Any resemblance to characters living or deceased is purely coincidental. Copyright 2002 by Mezzo. All Rights Reserved.

Sexual Content: This story involves intimate loving relationships between two women as well as other kinds of loving relationships. At times, these relationships can be rather explicit in nature so if you are under 18 or this kind of fiction is illegal where you live, please find another story for your reading pleasure.

Violence: There is a little bit of violence scattered throughout the story. Although it deals with various issues whether domestic battering, sexual in nature, etc, I have tried to use them sparingly.

Language: I don't really swear a whole lot in my own life, so my characters tend not to also. But a slip here and there is very possible as well as use of words that may come out in describing many intimate situations. So please be warned and I won't blush if you don't.

Hurt/Comforter: Oh yeah, there is definitely that. Life situations that pull at the heartstrings. But please be patient. All will definitely be well. The opening scene is a big one dealing with a loss of a parent.

Special Thanks: I would especially like to thank my soulmate , K.J. For without your love, I would truly never know what it is like to spread my wings. I have loved you from the first time you held my hand and will continue to walk with you in this life and the next.

Comments/Feedback: This is my first attempt at writing so any comments and positive feedback are welcome. I hope my work entertains and my characters give you as much pleasure as they have given me.

I am truly thankful that they allow me to peak into their lives on a regular basis. I myself never know what is going to come next until it truly happens. This is going to be a series of parts and I hope to submit my installments on a regular basis. Thanks again and I hope you continue to join me through the melodrama.

Visit and join http://www.msnusers.com/MezzosMelodramas for story updates & downloads.

Email me at mezzosmelodramas@msn.com or post your comments and feedback at the site.

Sincerely,

Mezzo

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Installment One

The Hull family consisted of Richard and Dominique Hull, their eldest son Ian, daughter Victoria (Tori for short), son Stephan, and youngest daughter Jessica. They lived a fairy tale life and they spent their days making the most of every minute they had together. Young Victoria was a beautiful girl. She had long black hair and vibrant blue eyes that always seemed to have wisdom beyond her years. She idolized her parents and would watch as the two lovingly carried on at times when they thought no one was watching them. They were the prince and princess of their castle. She made a silent wish that, someday, she would find a love like that.

When Victoria was nine years old, Dominique became very ill and was rushed to the hospital. She was diagnosed with a rapidly spreading cancer in her liver. The doctors tried desperately to fight the disease. Unfortunately, they were fighting a losing battle. When Dominique's prognosis was bleak, she asked Richard to bring the children to the hospital before she was too incapacitated to speak.

The children gathered around Dominique's bed, a little frightened by their mother's appearance. Dominique was having a hard time breathing. Nevertheless, she desperately needed to say goodbye to her babies.

"KidsMommy has something to tell you." She motioned them to come closer while Richard stood behind them.

"I'm going to have to go away for a very long time " , she said stopping for a moment to catch her breath and hold back her tears.

"I know that this is a lot for you to understand. I don't want you to be sad or scared because everything is going to be okay."

She gave them a smile and then continued. "You know Mommy loves you very, very much and I have been so sed to have you as my kids."

Her eyes were now filling and it was getting very hard for her to breathe much less speak . Nevertheless, she went on. "There will be times when you wish that Mommy was with you. When you need me to help you with your homework or there is something you want me to see sadly I will not be able to be there. It will be hard not to have me there to see your baseball games, Ian and Stephan." She gasped for breath. "Or your recitals, Tori and Jessie. But believe me when I tell you that it will be hard for me as well."

The children ran to her and she gathered them in her arms. Placing kisses on each of their precious faces she confessed, "I think this is what I will miss most of all." She looked up to see her husband's sad face. The kids were shaking with tears. Richard went to the bed and picked up Jessie as she cried uncontrollably holding tightly to his neck.

Dominique knew that this was upsetting her children but she knew that they needed to hear what she had to say. Maybe, not now, but someday, they would remember this moment when they were older.

Dominique tried to lighten her tone and gather enough strength to continue. "But you know what? I'm gonna make you all a promise. And you know that Mommy never breaks her promises." The kids looked up at her and she saw all the love they had for her in their eyes. "Whenever you have something you want to share with me or even if you just want to talk I want you to close your eyes and imagine me wrapping my armsjust like this. around you." She wrapped her kids in an even tighter embrace. "Even though you won't be able to see me..I promise you. I will be there."

Victoria sat up on the bed. "Mommy? I heard Daddy talking to Uncle Gordon and Auntie Janice. They said that you were dying. Is that true?"

"Oh my Victoria . No one can ever pull the wool over your eyes, now can they?"

Dominique beamed with pride as she motioned her eldest daughter to come closer to her. Ian sat on the edge of the bed. Stephan was perched on her right side while Tori sat on her left. Jessica was still secure in her father's arms. However, she still listened to what her Mommy was saying.

"Yes, sweetheart. Mommy is dying. I'm very sick and unfortunately there is nothing that the doctors can.do. to help me." Swallowing hard, she tried to get her voice back.

"Is there anything that we can do? We don't like to see you sick Mommy." A tear continued to roll down Tori's cheek, the other children sobbing along with her.

"Yes, there is baby." She placed a kiss on Tori's head. "You can be Mommy's brave little girl just as you've always been. I need you to be strong for Daddy and your sister and brothers. I know that it's going to be hard, but they're gonna need you." She gave Tori a wink.  

 

Tori had always been such a wonderful child. Each of her kids were but they all had very distinctive personalities. Tori had always been so much wiser for her age and always so considerate of others' needs. She knew that her eldest would grow up to be an amazing person. She hoped that wherever she was, she would be able to watch in wonder as Victoria blossomed into the beauty that Dominique knew she would be.

Looking at the rest of her family, Dominique knew they would all be incredible people one day.

"Now I want you all to make a promise to me, okay?" The kids sniffled and nodded their heads. " I want you to promise me that you'll always watch out for one another. You will always have many friends, but you will only have each other as brothers and sisters. No matter how bad you fight. and I KNOW you do. You have to promise me that you'll always make up and love one another, okay?"

"Yes Mommy." They said in unison.

"Good. That makes me very happy. I also want you to promise me something else?" This time the kids perked up. They always wanted to make their parents proud of them. "Daddy is going to be very sad and I want you to make sure that he gets all the hugs and kisses that you can give him everyday. I want you to listen to Daddy and Maggie. When they tell you to do something, I don't want you to give them a hard time. Because I know that they love you very much and they only want what's best for you, okay?" This time the kids promised making a cross over their hearts.

Dominique laughed as this gesture sent a flood of happy memories washing over her. Memories of days spent with her husband and children.

Richard knew that Dominique was tiring and would need to rest. Although he did not want to end the kid's time with their mom, he knew his wife could not take much more. "Okay my loves. Mommy is getting very tired and she needs to get some sleep. So all of you give Mommy the biggest hug and kiss you possibly can. Then you are going to go home with Maggie. She has milkshakes and cookies planned for you."

Richard's eyes met with Dominique to make sure that this was all right. He saw the glimmer of tears in her eyes that soon would not be held back. With a nod, Dominique opened her arms to hugs and kisses from each of her children. Trying to convey in that last moment a love she hoped they would carry with them through the rest of their lives.

Richard went over to the bed, "I'll be right back sweetheart. I'm just gonna get the kids settled and then send them home with Maggie." He placed a tender kiss on his wife's forehead and then led their children out of the room. When Dominique thought they had all left, she finally lost all control of the pain that she had been holding back. So lost in her grief, she did not notice that little Victoria had run back to her room.

Victoria jumped onto the bed and held her Mommy. "Please Mommyplease don't cryI promise to take care of everyone. Youyou don't have to worry. You have to get some sleep so you won't feel so bad anymore, okay Mommy?"

"Oh my girl. You will never know how precious you are to me. I don't know what I did to have you as a daughter. But there is no doubt in my mind it must have been very good. I love you so very much." Dominique held Victoria tightly to her. Both cried with pain over the days that they spent together and the ones they would never have again.

Richard had seen his daughter run back into Dominique's room and stood at the doorway watching the scene before him. Walking over to the bed he gathered Victoria in his arms and told her it was time to go home.

With tears running down her face and one hand reaching out to her Mommy, she looked over her Daddy's shoulder as he carried her out. In a voice that would break ones heart, she said one last time, "I love you MommyI love you."

*****

Richard comforted his children and wiped away their tears. When he was positive that they would be okay, he had Maggie, the children's nanny, take them home while he stayed with his beloved Dominique.

Taking a moment in the men's bathroom, he tried to compose himself as best as he could. He did not want to waste a moment of what little time he had left with the love of his life.

When he entered Dominique's hospital room, the sight before him broke his heart. His wife was both mentally distraught and physically in pain. He went to the bed and scooped her frail body in his arms. Rocking and loving her, trying to give her the strength she needed to face what they both knew lay ahead.

******

As the weeks went by and Dominique's health got progressively worse, Richard and Dominique talked whenever her health would allow.

As time escaped them Richard lovingly listened as Dominique slowly came to terms with her fate. They spent the last days reliving memories and conveying last requests. "Richard We've lived a charmed life, haven't we?"

"Yes .. yes we have.. my love." He kissed her tenderly. Though she was very ill, she was still so beautiful in his eyes.

"Will you promise me that when I'm gone you won't be sad too long? When you think of me, will you always remember how happy we were?"

"I will try, my love. But you can't blame for being so in love with you that it takes me time to gather the strength to face my life without you." Smiling, he looked into Dominique's eyes. " But I will try. Because there has never been and never will be anything that I can deny you." The look in his eyes showed all the love he held for her.

"I know, Richard. You have been the best thing in my life. The one shining light that led me to all my joys." They shared a tender kiss.

When the kiss ended, she began again. "Richard promise me that you will show our children every day how much you love them. When they grow up, promise that you will try to accept the choices that they make. Be a father that they can come to, who will listen to their problems no matter how hard it is for you to hear them. And whenever possible, guide them when you can. But also give them room to make their own mistakes."

He gathered Dominique in his arms and tried to hide the tears that threatened to escape.   This wasn't how it was so supposed to end. We were supposed to watch them grow up together. " Yes my love, how can I not be good to them. They are a part of you and living proof of the love we share. I will always cherish them as much as I cherish you."

"Oh Richard. These past few years that we've shared together have been the most incredible time of my life. I want you to know that I would never give up what little time we've had for anything in this world. I would rather have twelve wonderful years with you than a whole lifetime without you. I love you Richard Hull. And I always will."

"I love you too, Mrs. Hull. I never knew what love was until you. I promise that it will always be you that holds my heart." Richard buried his face in Dominique's hair and held her tightly until she fell asleep again.

*****

Richard stayed with Dominique through the night never wanting to leave her side for a minute. Just as the sun peaked across the eastern sky. A quiet calm seemed to radiate that morning. Richard held Dominique lovingly and caressed her hair. Giving her a look of love and acceptance, he let his beloved wife go.

"Oh my, Dominique As long as I live there will be no other like you." Richard let out a painful cry for the loss of the other half of his soul. He bent down and kissed his wife's still sweet lips one last time. Though his heart was breaking, he promised he would carry on for their children. Even if it killed him, he would keep his promise to his wife. He would carry on because his family needed him.

 ***************************

 

Malcolm Hull was the founder of Hull Enterprises. In the beginning, Malcolm worked endlessly to give his family the American dream. After years of working diligently, cutting corners and tirelessly striving to make his mark, Malcolm was able to buy a second hand cargo ship. He used the ship to carry anything and everything for a price. Sometimes his cargo would be questionable, but discretion was his middle name. By the time Malcolm was ready to retire, he had amassed quite a fortune and had turned one-secondhand cargo ship into one of many. Though he worked many long hours, he and his wife raised a very loving family. Malcolm loved his work, but even more, he loved his wife and son. He always told his son Ethan that two things mattered most in life: (1) was "that family always came first" and, (2) was that "no matter how hard it was, you had to treat people the way you would like to be treated". Words that Ethan passed on to his son, Richard, and, in turn, Richard would pass on to his own children.

Although Richard Hull's responsibilities at Hull Enterprises increased and his father eventually handed the reigns to him, he always remembered his promise to Dominique. With the help of Maggie, her husband Gaston, and their son Gibeau , they did everything in their power to provide a stable home for the kids. Whenever Richard's work called for him to travel, he would bring the children with him. He hired the best tutors and made sure that they spent ample time with their friends. Richard and the children continued to live in the childhood home he had grown up in and had shared with Dominique in South Hampton . The kids grew up having many friends. Many who were kids of kids that Richard had grown up with. One of the families they were close to was Richard's childhood friends, Gordon Montgomery and his wife Janice. They had five kids: Eric, Lauren, daughter Brett, Scott, and youngest daughter Erin. They were a close knit family and Richard's kids had grown up thinking of the Montgomery 's house as a second home.

Gordon came from a successful family of lawyers and was a partner with the law firm Montgomery, Montgomery and Locke. The firm was one of the most prestigious in the country. Gordon was well on his way to making a name for himself and he would be known for many landmark decisions under his clever mind.

Other close friends were Cole and Pamela Crawford, Adrian Arden, and Alexi Filenni also children of Richard's childhood friends. They became an inseparable gang with Maggie's son, Gibeau , watching over them.

Year after year, the kids built bonds that would carry them through for the rest of their lives. One bond that was incredibly strong was one shared between young Victoria Hull and Brett Montgomery. The day Gordon and Janice Montgomery brought Brett home, a three-year-old Victoria stood by the crib in wonder. With blue eyes the size of saucers, Tori begged to get a better look. Getting Janice's approval, Dominique Hull, who was still alive at the time, led her daughter to a large comfortable chair that was in the nursery. Gordon, Richard, and their older kids watched as Dominique sat down on the chair with Victoria sitting beside her. Janice came over and motioned Victoria to get ready as she placed Brett in her lap.

"Now honey. You have to be very careful. Hold Brett just like you hold your brother Stephan." Dominique watched with pride as Tori readied herself for the privilege she had been given.

Tori held open her arms and skooched back into her chair, "Okay, Auntie Janice I'm ready."

The look on Victoria and Brett's face that day was one everyone would remember. Tears came to Tori's eyes when she looked at the baby in her arms. She took in Brett's short light hair and soft cheeks. When the baby opened her eyes, </span> Tori was given a big beautiful smile from a happy baby with laughing green eyes. She caressed the top of Brett's head with her little hands and planted a tender kiss on the baby's cheek.

Everyone was speechless. The tenderness of this scene was indescribable. It was as if the two children were old friends and were meeting again.

Dominique watched in wonder as her three year old daughter lavished baby Brett with more love than she had ever witnessed from a child or adult.

"Honey are you okay?" Dominique asked Tori, pushing the hair back from her daughter's eyes.

"Yes Mommy. Isn't she beautiful?" Tori had a very thoughtful look on her face. It was as if the most important thought in the world rested in her mind. Looking once more at her mother and leaning in close so her mother could hear her clearly she asked, "Do you think Uncle Gordon and Auntie Janice would let me keep her?" She stated in all seriousness.

With that, all the adults in the room burst into laughter. They all knew that what they had witnessed was something very special. No one was ready to elaborate. However, something told them that what Victoria and Brett shared was going to be something very special indeed. What that was exactly, no one dared to speak.

<   Janice came over to the chair and knelt down beside them. She took Tori's hand in hers. "Well, sweetie, I know that you're Mommy's little helper. But anytime she let's you, I'd be glad to have you help me take care of our little Brett, okay?"

A smile lit up Tori's face and she nodded, "Oh yes Auntie Janice! I would like that very much!"

Janice shook her head and planted a kiss on Tori's and Brett's face. "I don't know you guys", as she looked at Dominique and then Richard. "I know you told us that Tori's three, but I think there's an adult trapped in that little body."

Dominique smiled and patted Tori on the head motioning Tori to give her the baby. "Okay sweetie, I think it's time for the baby's nap. She's had a long day and she's going to need to get some sleep."

"Okay Mommy." Tori gingerly gave the baby to Dominique. But before she did, she gave Brett another kiss, "I'm going to go now baby so you can get some sleep. I will come back when you're awakeokay? I love you." The baby kicked her legs and gave Tori another heart stopping smile.

Tori got up and went to her father. "Daddy I'd like to go home now. I think I want to take a nap, too." Taking her Daddy's hand, she led him towards the door.

Richard threw his hands up in the air totally at a loss . This child is making parenting just too easy. I think it is time we get her I.Q. tested. I want to make sure she gets the best education she can get. I sure wasn't talking in complete sentences when I was three. We had better do our research so her skills are nurtured and she doesn't get frustrated when she gets older. I am going to have to talk to Dominique about this.  

*****

So it began. From that day on, Victoria and Brett were inseparable. Dominique and Richard had Tori's I.Q. tested and she was off the scale. Dominique and Richard agreed that Tori would have the best teachers to stimulate her need for learning. However, they were adamant about giving Tori a happy and balanced childhood. The teachers that they chose had to understand this. She was allowed to go to school with the rest of the kids but she also had private tutors. This helped to give her a well-rounded education. And one that allowed her to have some semblance of a normal childhood.

During the summers all the kids would go biking, swimming, etc. If it kept them active, they did it. When Brett was old enough, she tried to play with the bigger kids. However, Brett's tiny little legs would always fail her. Even the kids closest to her age were taller. No matter how she tried, she was unable to keep up. Her tiny legs would tangle up beneath her and she would be reduced to tears.

On one such day, her longhaired blue eyed guardian angel came to her rescue. "Hey there little one. What are you doing sitting by yourself on this rock?" Brett looked up and jumped into Tori's waiting arms.

"Oh Tori. Why can't I play like you and the other kids? I feel so bad. Why?" Tears rolled down Brett's face and she was hiccuping now. She was working herself into a tizzy. Seeing Brett so upset always made Tori upset as well. She would do anything to make sure that Brett's beautiful smile would always quickly return.

"You know Brett? My mom used to tell me that everyone has a gift. That gift makes a person very special. Some kids can climb trees or run fast. Some skip rocks on the water or even hold their breath long. But you .. You my little Brett have an even better gift."

Brett looked at Tori inquisitively. Very eager to know what her gift was, "What Tori, what is my gift?"

"Your gift my little Brett is very, very special. You have this big beautiful smile and heart that can make sad people happy. When my Mommy died, I didn't think I would ever be happy again.But you did everything you could to make me smile. You stayed with me everyday when all I could do was cry. And you fed me all that ice cream cause you said it that always made you feel better. You kept it up until one day, I couldn't help but be happy that I had you for a friend. That is a gift Brett. A very special gift." Tori was given a bright shining example of that very gift.

Brett hugged Tori again, "Oh Tori. You have a gift also."

"Oh yeah what's that?" Tori smiled at her precious friend.

"Whenever I'm sad, only you can make me happy. I love you.   < You're my best friend." Brett hugged Tori so tight she had to loosen Brett's grip a little.

"You're my best friend too and you always will be." Tori wiped the hair out of Brett's face. "Come on little one. I know if you use that smile of yours, we can get Maggie to give us some ice cream." As they made their way from the beach to the Hull home, Brett's infectious laughter carried across the wind. Another crisis was defused that day. As was many more throughout the coming years.      

*******

As years went by and the older kids hit their teens, hormones reared its ugly head. A fifteen-year-old Cole Crawford developed a crush on thirteen-year-old Victoria Hull and Ian Hull was falling head over heels for Pamela Crawford. Every day Cole would visit the Hull home.   < He pretended to want to see Ian.   < The truth was he wanted to see Victoria . Every time he was around her, his palms would get all sweaty and his heart would race a mile a minute. He had it bad and tried hard to get Tori's attention.

One day, Tori ran to the door to answer thinking it was Brett. They were going to collect shells on the beach. Always excited to spend time with her childhood mate, she was a little disappointed to find Cole standing there fidgeting nervously.

"Ahuh Hi Tori"

"Hey Cole. Come on in. I'll go get Ian", Tori turned and was about to yell up the stairs to get her brother.

Cole quickly stopped her. "No Tori. I'm here to see you. IahI ah.. was wondering if you would like to uh you know uhmaybego out with me. sometime?"

Tori went over to where Cole was standing. With a confused look on her face, she stared at Cole not quite understanding why he was acting so weird. They had always been friends but never had they gone out alone. Usually they were with their whole pack of friends. Why was he asking her to go out with him alone? The only one that she spent time alone with beside her sister and brothers was Brett. She always had time for them. Especially Brett.

"What do you mean, Cole?"

"Well I like you Tori. And I ..would like to go out with you." Cole looked like he was going to run any minute.

"Go out? Like in boyfriend and girlfriend?" Tori was beside herself. She had friends in school that had boyfriends but she didn't understand what the big deal was.

"Yeah. Just like that." Cole was beginning to think it was a big mistake asking Tori out. He really liked her and there was no one else he even remotely felt the same about except her.

"Um thanks, buddy But I don't think I want to be your girlfriend." Tori didn't know what else to say. She hoped that she didn't hurt Cole. But she saw how her friends acted with their boyfriends and it really didn't appeal to her.

"Ah okay, I guess. Well if you change your mind, will you let me know?" Cole felt very small just then and wanted to cry but wouldn't. Not in front of Tori. With slumped shoulders, he walked over to the door.

Brett was now standing there. "Hey Cole. Where you going? You gonna collect shells with us?"

Cole walked past and replied. "No thanks. I'm going homeSee you later Brett."

Brett was baffled. Cole was always so happy. He always kidded around with her and Brett thought he was very special. They all seemed to have a bond. They were all as close as their own brothers and sisters. However, today Cole just wasn't himself. "Hey Tori? What's goin ' on with Cole?"

"I think I hurt his feelings. He asked me to go out with him and I said no." Tori didn't like making their friend unhappy but she just wasn't interested. At the moment, the only thing she wanted to do was spend the day with Brett collecting shells on the beach.

"You think he'll be alright?" Brett was always very thoughtful when it came to her friends. She didn't want any of them to be unhappy and always went out of her way to try and cheer them up when they were sad.

"Yeah Hey, I thought we were going to the beach? I was thinking I could show you how to skip rocks. What d ya say?" Eager to see the smile that she was sure to find on Brett's face , Tori held out her hand so she could lead them to the beach.

"Yeah? Do you really think I could learn to skip rocks?" Brett's eyes lit up. It was so obvious that young Victoria held all the answers for Brett. She loved Tori with every bit of her heart and if Tori said she could do something, there was no doubt that it was so.

"You stick with me kiddo and you'll be a pro by the end of the day. I promise." Tori flashed Brett a smile. The same light that covered Brett's eyes was mirrored in Tori's when they were together. They were inseparable and that was how they wanted it to be. Tori squeezed Brett's hand and smiled down at her little friend. With all certainty she captured Brett's eyes, she continued, ".and you know I always keep my promises.

Brett's heart filled to overflowing. Tori believed in her and gave her the confidence to do anything she set her mind to. Standing at the edge of the beach, Tori picked up a flat piece of slate and placed it between Brett's tiny fingers. Covering Brett's hand with her own, she pulled Brett's arm back with her's and with a quick motion set the rock skidding over the ocean tide. By the end of the day, Brett was skipping rocks longer and further than even Tori could. As the sun set, Tori's face was filled with one of admiration and love for the little imp that sat happily beside her. She would do anything to make sure that Brett would always be happy.

Brett turned to look at her friend as the orange hue of the setting sun cast its glow over Tori's face. Taking Tori's hand in hers, she lay her head on Tori's shoulder and let out a contented sigh. In a voice that could barely be heard, Brett whispered,

"Thank you Tori. I never thought I'd be able to skip rocks. But as long as you're with me, I can do anything. I love you Tori. You're my best friend."

Tori placed an arm around the small blond and pulled her tightly to her side.

"I love you too little one. I love you too. I always knew you could do it. And you are and always will be my best friend." The two sat there on the cooling sand as the ocean swallowed up the last rays of the setting sun.

**********************

As Tori went through her thirteenth year and entered age fourteen, her need to spend time with Brett was becoming overwhelming. When Tori was around Brett, she always seemed to reach for Brett's hand. When Brett stayed over at Tori's house, she would find herself waking up early so she could watch Brett sleep. During the school week, she would quickly finish her homework so she could play with Brett after dinner. The feelings she had for Brett were confusing her and she was beginning to think she was suffering from some sort of sickness. She was afraid that one day she would scare Brett with the way she was acting.

It was just after Tori had turned fourteen that Brett and Tori had spent the day on the beach. Tori was chasing Brett around. Catching up to her, Tori climbed on top of her and tickled her furiously. When Tori stopped all she could do was look at Brett's beautiful face. Brett made Tori feel so happy. Waves of emotions went through Tori's head and she didn't understand what was happening to her. Getting up quickly she ran home leaving a confused Brett behind on the beach.

Tori ran up the stairs to her bedroom. Locked the door. And collapsed to the floor in a flood of tears.

"NoNo No what is happening to me. I almost kissed Brett. I can't do thatI'm sick. I am really sick. Nobody feels like this. Only boys kiss girls. In health class, they explained about girls and boys. They didn't say anything about this." Tears rapidly fell down Tori's face and she crawled up in a ball on the floor.

A soft knock at the door startled Tori. She knew it was Brett. How am I going to explain this to her? It was breaking her heart not to share her feelings with Brett. But she was certain that her little friend would never understand.

"Tori .. Are you in there? Let me in. Are you okay?" Brett's little hand tried the doorknob and was disappointed when the knob didn't move. Brett had figured that Tori needed to go to the bathroom or something. She was confused when she found the door was locked. Tori never shut her out before.

"Yeah, I'm okay." Came the whisper through the door. "I think I just have an upset stomach. I'm just going to go to sleep and maybe it will go away."    Tori hoped that Brett would leave and let her sort out her feelings by herself.

"I can get Maggie if you want? Maybe she can give you something." Brett leaned her head against the door trying to get closer to Victoria .

"No No Please don'tI really just need to be alone, Brett. I'll see you tomorrow okay?"

Brett didn't like this but Tori hardly ever asked her for anything. So she would let her friend be alone for now.

"Okay Tori, I'll come by tomorrow. I love you." With one more glance at the door Brett hoped that the door would suddenly open and she could once again see the face of her friend. When silence was all she was given, she lowered her head and sadly descended the stairs. She didn't know what was going on and surely was unaware that her world was about to hit bumpy waters.

"I love you too Brett. More than you'll ever know." Tori knew that Brett wasn't at the door anymore but it didn't stop her from saying the words just the same. Tori felt the tears sting her eyes as her heart begged for mercy.

******

Tori crawled into bed and fell into a deep sleep. In her dreams, she saw herself kissing Brett and feeling emotions she had never known. When the kiss ended ,</span> , she looked at Brett's face and saw tears streaming down. Brett pushed her away.

"What are you doing? You're not my friend." Brett's face was red with anger and fear.

"Brett, I'm sorry I didn't mean to kiss you." Tori desperately tried to reach for Brett but she just kept moving farther and farther away from her.

"How could you? I trusted you and you hurt me. You are not my friend anymore. You're a monster." Standing behind Brett was all of their friends and family. They all laughed at her. Taunting her and calling her a monster and a freak.

Tori woke from her sleep shaking and draped in sweat.

She got up to go to the bathroom. Looking in the mirror, she looked broken and sad. In her heart, she knew what she had to do. However, the thought of not seeing Brett's face everyday broke her heart. What choice did she have? She knew that Brett would hate her.

She knew she had to distance herself from Brett. Remembering Cole's offer to go out with him, a decision was made that night.

"At least this way, Brett will think you're just interested in boys. It's better than showing her the sick, misfit that you are." Tori's reflection said with tears cascading down her face and an intense pain in her heart. Nothing would ever be the same again and a light that had always shone so brightly in Tori's blue eyes blew out with the thought of what she was about to do.      

*****

Brett had tried to call Tori and see her all week. But Tori was always out. Brett searched for her all over and finally found her at the local ice cream parlor. There in the back of a booth was Tori, Cole, Ian, and Pamela. Brett went over to the booth and saw Cole and Tori kissing. Tears filled Brett's eyes, not understanding what they were doing, but something told her she didn't like it one bit. Tori and Cole finally detached themselves and Brett stood their unable to speak.

Tori looked at Brett and wanted to die right there. You can do this. You have to. "Brett what are you doing here?" Tori asked.

"I was looking for you. I haven't seen you all week and didn't know what happened." Brett wiped the tears that were falling down her face.

The rest of the group sat in the booth quietly. They knew Brett was upset and they didn't know what to do. Tori and Brett were always together and were a little surprised when Tori didn't invite Brett to join them.

"Well I kind of wanted to spend time with Cole. I'm sorry but I can't be playing with you all the time." Tori tried to keep her face as emotionless as possible but deep down she was hating herself for causing her little one such pain. Pleaseplease help me get through this. Tori had been avoiding Brett all week not wanting to confront her friend. But she couldn't put it off any longer.

Brett felt her heart break into pieces. "So you don't want to be my friend anymore?"

Tori thought about her next move. She could totally annihilate Brett right their in front of their friends or she could find a better way. Thinking better of the latter, she excused herself from the table, got up, and led Brett outside.

Taking a deep breathe, Tori steeled herself for the task at hand and looked Brett in the eyes. This of course was almost her undoing. Brett's eyes held such pain and at the same time so much love and trust for Tori that she truly just wanted to toss all reason to the wayside and take Brett in her arms and beg for forgiveness. You have to do this not for yourself, but for her. She'll hate you in the end. You have to protect her from the monster that you are. She'll get over this. Now stop being a whimp and do it now !!

 

"Brett, you may not understand this right now. But when you're older, you will. When a girl and a boy like each other, they want to spend time together." Tori took a deep swallow and could feel the acid burning a hole into her stomach lining.

"But you and I like each other. Why can't we spend time together?" Brett was really hurting and she just didn't understand what was happening. She did not understand why Tori was trying to hurt her. Did she do something to make Tori mad?

"Brett, what I do with Cole, I can't do with you and right now I like what Cole and I do together. I am sorrybut this is what I want. Please Brett Please understand? We can still do things together. Just not all the time like we used to."

Brett was crying uncontrollably and she just wanted her Tori back. She didn't like this game and she just wanted it to end.

Unable to hold back any longer, Tori took Brett in her arms and kissed her on the top of her head. She just wanted to tell Brett it was all right. That they would go back to the way things were. But she just couldn't. No matter how much she wanted to, </span> this was the best thing for Brett. Someday they would be friends again. But not until Tori could get rid of this sickness inside of her.

Tori lifted Brett's face to meet her eyes and ran her thumb across Brett's cheek. "Go home Brett. I promise we'll do something soon."

Brett nodded her head and cried all the way home. Tori stood in front of the parlor until she couldn't see Brett anymore. She had never hurt Brett before and this moment left her wishing that she never had.

*******

Brett watched as the older kids held hands and giggled as if they knew something that the younger ones didn't .

Brett cried herself to sleep every night feeling like she was left behind again. This time there was no Victoria to help her along when she felt lost. No guardian angel to make the sadness go away.

Janice Montgomery noticed the sadness that had taken residence on her daughter Brett's face and decided it was time it was resolved. She knew that Victoria and Cole had started going out and she had a feeling that this was why Brett was so unhappy. But this kind of thing was bound to happen. She knew that Brett and Tori were incredibly close and this development with Tori and Cole had to be very confusing for her daughter. This phase happened in every child's life. How many friendships were lost due to a boyfriend or girlfriend appearing. She hoped Brett and Tori would find their way to each other again. Something told her that there was something between them that would not be denied . Janice prayed that she would have the strength to accept it when it happened.

Going to Brett's bedroom, she knocked on the door. Opening it, she found Brett lying on the bed trying not to let her mom see she was crying.

"Hey sweetheart How's my little girl doing?" She placed a hand on Brett's back.

Brett didn't look at her mom but answered, "I'm okay. Just doing my homework."

"That's good honey. But I'm surprised that Tori isn't doing her homework here with you". She felt Brett flinch at the mention of Tori's name.

"She's doing her homework somewhere else. She probably won't be doing her homework here ever again." Brett burst into tears and threw herself into her mom's waiting arms.

"Oh my Brett I heard that Tori is going out with Cole. This must be very hard for you to understand." She felt Brett nod into her neck.

"Brett. you know I was about Tori's age when I first started going out with boys. It's what happens when you get to a certain age. I know you think that Tori is trying to hurt you. But she really isn't. Someday you will like a boy and you will understand what Tori is experiencing right now." Janice thought about the situation and tried to come up with a way to describe dating in terms that Brett could understand. " You know how last summer you wanted to try every flavor of ice cream that the parlor had?" She looked down at her daughter. She saw Brett nod. " Well ..some flavors you liked and some you didn't. But how would you know if you liked them if you hadn't tried different ones?" Brett gave her mom a look, trying to understand what she was saying. "You didn't like mint ice cream, remember?"

" Ew , that was really yucky, Mommy." Brett face got all scrunched up.

Janice laughed at the look Brett gave her. "I know sweetie. However my point isyou wouldn't know that unless you tried it. You and Tori have been friends for so long that she knows you well. But there comes a time, when you have to make other friends." Pausing to see if Brett understood what she was saying. " Now that you've tried all the flavors of ice cream, you have some that you like a lot and some you don't like at all. But I know that you have one that is your favorite."

"Yes Mommy I like Rocky Road ice cream a lot."

"I know" Janice had to laugh at the way Brett's face lit up at the mention of ice cream. "Right now Tori is trying to find out what kind of boys she likes. Until she finds one that is her favorite. Just like Mommy and Daddy."

Someday you'll want to find out what kind of boys you like. When that happens sweetie, I want you to come to me and we'll talk and sort out all your feelings together." Janice moved Brett back so she could see her face. "You are very important to Tori and she will always care for you. Just try to be patient with her, okay? Right now, she's going through a hard time also. She just isn't sharing this time with you. But someday I know she will."

"But Mommy I love Tori. I don't think I could love a boy like I love Tori. She has always been my friend. Why can't a girl just have a girlfriend?"

Oh boy, I think I'm in trouble here Janice thought. Where's Gordon when I need him.

"Honey we can have girls that are friends and we can have boys that are friends. Right now, Tori wants to have boys that are friends. Someday when she has had many girl and boy friends, she'll decide which one is her favorite."    Janice hoped that she had sufficiently explained things for now. She felt she was digging herself into a hole. She knew this conversation would be revisited again. Hopefully not too soon.   I think I need to do some research on this subject. I think I had better prepare Gordon as well. Janice thought.

"Mommy?"

"Yes, sweetie?" Oh God what now .

"I hope when Tori decides what flavors she likes I'll still be her favorite." Brett kind of understood what her mommy was trying to say. But it didn't stop her from missing Tori just the same.

"Well my love, we'll just have to see." Janice gave her daughter a kiss and hoped this conversation was over for now.

"Well young lady. You go change into your pajamas and get ready for bed. I'll wait here and we can do our prayers together."

Janice thought about other ways to help her daughter understand her feelings and decided it might be a good idea if Brett had a diary. Going to the local bookstore, she found a beautiful leather bond one with two angels on the cover. She gave Brett the diary for her eleventh birthday. It proved to be a very good idea. Brett would write down everything she felt and did everyday. This was a catalyst to expose Brett's hidden talent. Her teacher informed Gordon and Janice that Brett was accepted into the gifted and talented program for her writing skills. Brett had written a story entitled "The Unexpected Knight." It was very well written for being created by an eleven-year-old and the teacher believed that Brett could be a very a successful writer someday if given the proper training.

*******************************

True to her word, Tori did things with Brett. However, she always made sure they were with the rest of their friends. Being with Brett was easier this way because Cole would always be there to be a buffer. Tori felt guilty for using Cole as she was. But in time she really grew to like Cole very much.

The two were just discovering their sexuality. Though Tori loved Brett, her feelings were wreaking havoc with her changing body. Luckily, Cole was a very special boy and never pressured her to do anything she wasn't ready to do.

Cole Crawford was the only son of Paul and Diane Crawford. He was the All-American boy with his dashing good looks and a smile that would make girls melt. At sixteen, he was well over six-feet tall. He was captain of the Varsity swim team and tied with Victoria for valedictorian of their class. His father was a Yale graduate, as was his father's father, and after his senior year next year, he would be on his way to being one also. Although he came from a rich family, he didn't have the air of being from one. He was so personable and friendly everyone in school loved him.

The girls of course were all clamoring to be his girlfriend. When they found out that Cole was dating Tori, the fourteen-year old school genius,  t hey were devastated. When asked why Cole was dating the young Victoria, who'd be graduating next year with them, he would simply reply that Tori was too special to let get away.

For the next two years, the two built a very close friendship. A friendship they would come to depend on long into their adult lives. Cole's humor and good nature was infectious and never failed to make Tori smile. They made a cute couple. Cole had straight dirty blond hair that was constantly in his face and warm hazel eyes. Contrasting with Tori's dark hair and piercing blue eyes, the two complimented each other. Cole's parents loved Tori and Cole's sister Pamela got along fabulously with her. Pamela was dating Tori's older brother Ian. They were inseparable. Everyone was sure they would be married someday and the same hopes were cast upon Victoria and Cole. For a time, Victoria thought she might have come to a point where she finally got over her feelings for Brett. Even convinced herself into believing she was in love with Cole. By the time their senior year was close to an end, Victoria had come to the decision that she was ready to take the next step and go to bed with Cole.

After their senior prom, Cole and Victoria went to his parents' cabin in upstate New York for the weekend. Cole did everything he could to make it special for Tori. He bought her flowers and had the cook prepare enough food for the weekend   t aking care of every detail. Right down to the protection.

The prom had ended at ten o'clock and the trip would take about four hours. They had packed before they left for the prom and told their parents ahead of time that they wanted to spend some time together before they went off to college. Cole's parents, trusting the kids completely, gave them permission and sound advice. Richard on the other hand was more than a little protective of his girl. But since Tori was going off to college, he felt he would have to learn to trust her judgment. This was one of those times he wished Dominique was with him so he could discuss this with her face to face. Having no other choice, he did what he could. Pulling Cole aside, he told him he had better be careful with his daughter or he would not live to see Yale.

"Yes Mr. Hull. Your daughter is very important to me and I would never do anything to hurt her. I would like to thank you for trusting me with her and I promise to take very good care of her. I would never ask her to do anything she didn't want to do. Her happiness is very important to me."

Richard looked at Cole and tried to find any signs of insincerity. To Richard's relief there wasn't any. He shook young Cole's hand, "Okay son. I'm taking your word for it because I know you're a good boy. But most of all I trust my daughter."

Looking at his daughter, he could see she had already made a decision. Being a teenager once himself, he knew he could do little to stop them. Therefore, he decided to support his daughter. He wanted her to remember her first time as a wonderful experience instead of one of regret. This was one time when Richard had fought tooth and nail with himself. He had promised his wife that he would allow their children to make their own mistakes. He hoped with all his heart that this was not one of them.

They arrived very early in the morning. The time of night where the morning and evening are one.

"Okay Tori wait hereI'll be right back." Cole sat Tori on a lounge chair that was on the porch of the cabin. When he was sure she was comfortable, he unlocked the door to the cabin and turned on the lights.

The cabin was beautiful. It had four bedrooms and a master suite w </span> ith a large stone fireplace running through the center of it. It overlooked the lake and with the moon so bright you could see the silhouette of the mountains. The hoot of an owl and the sounds of the crickets filled the air. It was still a little cool to have too many mosquitoes and Tori watched as a moth bounced against the screen of the front door trying to get to the light in the living room. Cole had finally returned. Tori could tell that Cole was just as nervous as she was. As soon as Cole reached to take Tori's hand they both seemed to calm down. Cole led Tori through the front door and gave her a quick tour of the cabin. Once they reached the master suite, Cole motioned her to go in. Once inside the room Tori let out a little gasp. Cole had lit the fireplace and turned down the bed. On the bed lay a red rose and a note tied to it. Going to the bed Tori picked up the rose and untied the note:

To my dear Tori,

These last two years have been the most amazing two years I have ever had. I know that we are going away to college and it will be very difficult not to see your beautiful face everyday. Nevertheless, we have to be realistic and accept the fact that there is a chance that we may grow apart. Possibly meet other people. We are so young and have hardly seen much of the world.

When we both agreed to share this moment together, I was in shock. I did not know how I was so lucky to have such a beautiful girlfriend. I have loved you since the moment we went on our first date and have been unable to be away from you since.

Knowing all that, I want you to know that if all we do this weekend is enjoy each other's company, I will have been truly lucky indeed.

You have helped me to be a better person and have taught me the importance of being thankful for what we have in life. Know that no matter where we go or what we do, I will always know that at least once in my life I was truly sad.

I love you,

Tori carefully rolled up the note then placed the note and the rose on the nightstand next to the bed. She looked up at Cole and saw the look of love in his eyes. With absolute certainty, she held up a hand inviting him to come to the bed. That night Cole and Tori shared their innocence and without regret, shared a moment that would always be theirs to remember.

So the age of innocence came to an end.

********************************

Victoria left for Harvard business school at sixteen. She breezed through the bachelors and masters program in three years. She was skillfully sharpening her mind to become a force to be reckoned with . At 19, she was accepted to Cambridge Law School and graduated at 22 with honors . With a law and business degree under her belt, Tori had more offers from corporations and law firms than she could keep up with . She could write her own ticket to almost any situation but the next step had already been made . She was going to do what she had dreamt of her whole life which was to work along side her father at Hull Enterprises. The day of her graduation, Tori was called to the Dean's office. When she arrived, she was met with a very proud Richard Hull and an equally proud Gordon Montgomery. Richard wrapped his strong arms around his daughter. Conveying all his love, just as he had done countless times throughout her life, "Tori. Uncle Gordon is here to make you an offer."

Tori took a deep breath as she waited for Gordon to speak, " Well it is so good to see you, Victoria." He went over to her and gave her a big hug. He always had a soft spot for her. He had watched her grow up with his kids and she had won him over from the get go. "I know that your father is very eager to get you working at Hull Enterprises. But I have convinced him to let you do your associates with me at the firm once you pass the bar. Eric just passed his and Lauren will be finished law school next year. Once she has passed, she'll be on board as well. You are one of this year's top sought after graduates. Not only here in Europe , but also in the States. That is very impressive. We would like to offer you a very competitive package and would be honored if you came on board with us."

Victoria was floored . She had always admired Gordon Montgomery. Heck, she did her thesis on him. She studied and analyzed all of his cases. One of the main reasons she was as good as she was, was because of what she learned from him. But how could she accept his offer? She didn't want to let her father down. Ian had just announced that he and Pamela would be getting married and most likely start a family soon. As hard as it was to admit, her brother just didn't have what was needed to be the next CEO of Hull Enterprises. Hull was not only a Fortune 500 Company, but also one of the most successful companies in the world.   

It was evident at an early age that Tori would be perfect for the seat of distinction. She was the one who would sneak into the boardroom and watch her father negotiate deal after deal, wielding his magic over every contract negotiation and every acquisition. That brilliance was not passed on to his eldest son, but to his eldest daughter.

It was Spring Break and Tori had come home from college.

"Hey big guy." Tori went over to Ian.

They had always been close. Especially after their mother had passed away. Though Ian was the eldest, it was Tori that held the family together. She made sure that they took care of one another and never took each other for granted. Ian and Tori were a tremendous help to their father. They always watched over the younger kids and together they helped keep the family close.

"What's going on? ", Tori was happy to see her brother. He was finishing up his last year in Princeton and would be working at Hull at the end of the year.

"Nothing. I'm just sitting here looking at this place." They were standing outside of the Hull Estate on the veranda.

"Yeah? Why you doing that?" ,, ,,,

, Tori asked.

"I'm just trying to understand what our Great Grandfather and Grand Father had to do to buy all this." He made a show of the vast property. "They worked really hard and they did whatever it took to make Hull what it is today."

Tori listened intently to what her brother was trying to say, c oncerned by the worry lines that were evident around her brother's eyes.

"You know, Tori. They were able to raise their families and go to work everyday. Working long hours and for a long time had nothing to show for it. Yet, looking at Grandpa Ethan and listening to stories about our Great Grandpa Malcolm, you could hardly tell that they worked so hard. They always seemed so happy." Ian paused for a minute to gather his thoughts. "Do you know why I think that was?" He waited for Tori to respond.

"I have an idea, pal. But why don't you tell me what you think?"

"Well Tori, I think they loved what they did. Hull Enterprises was in their blood. They saw the possibilities and went after them. I've watched Daddy all these years and wondered why is it that he never remarried. I think I understand why he hasn't . He loves Hull Enterprises just as much as they did. I think if Mom had not come along, we probably wouldn't be here today. He would have been satisfied to live his days running Hull and enjoying every minute of it."

"So what are you trying to say Ian?" Victoria could see that Ian was working out a problem in his head and was on the verge of coming to some kind of conclusion.

"What I'm trying to say is Though I like Hull Enterprises, I don't love it. I can't see the possibilities. I never could. Give me a project and I will get it done. But ask me to create a project and I fall short. I'm graduating this year Tori and all eyes are on me to take over someday. But I'm afraid. I just don't want the job." He looked at his sister hoping that she would understand. They had always been able to communicate with very little words and Ian hoped with all his might that his younger sister would understand him even now.

"So Ian, what is it that you see yourself doing? ", Tori asked, concerned that her brother was feeling so much stress from this.

"I see myself getting married to Pamela and having a couple of kids. Going to work at Hull everyday. But not the one giving the orders."

"Well then. Who do you see taking over after Daddy retires?" Tori knew that the decision was not one to be taken lightly and had an idea as to where this conversation was headed.

"I see you, Tori. I see you taking over. I have seen how natural things at Hull come to you. How excited you get when Daddy talks about his work. I guess I want you to know that if Dad someday offers you the job of CEO its okay with me."

Tori thought about what her brother had said and for some reason it felt right to her. The company was in her blood. She could see all kinds of possibilities for the family business and was eager someday to achieve those goals. Hearing that her brother supported her and wouldn't have any hard feelings somehow made Victoria feel a lot better about running Hull Enterprises someday.

"Okay Ian. If someday .. Daddy offers me the position of CEO , I promise to accept. But only on two conditions?"

Ian looked at her and gave her a questioning look.

"Condition one: I'll take the position only if you are at my side. And Two is an important one. You have to name your first child Victoria. Whether it's a boy or a girl." Tori raised an eyebrow daring her brother to deny her.

"You know Tori I would be happy to do that. But I'm going to make you explain to my son why his name is Victoria the first time he gets beat up at school."

The two laughed hysterically that day on the veranda. Planning their futures and the deals they would make together. To say that Tori was torn between a rock and a hard place was an understatement. She dreamt of working side by side with her father and brother taking on the world with them. She did not want to keep them waiting. Her father especially had done so much through the years and always put his children first. But a chance to actually work for one of her mentors and heroes, even if it was a temporary position, was still a chance of a lifetime.

Knowing his daughter all to well and seeing the battle that was raging inside her, Richard took Tori aside. "Listen to me sweetie. I know that this offer means a lot to you and I really think it is something that you need to do. If you are going to oversee the legal division of Hull someday and of course take your seat as CEO, this will give you the experience and credibility you will need. Besides I'm still a pretty young guy and I'm not quite ready be set out to pasture."

A tear slowly rolled down Tori's cheek as her father amazed her yet again. "Daddy, I don't know what I ever did to deserve you but I'll never ever be ready to see you out to pasture. I love you so much." Kissing her Dad on the cheek and sharing a father and daughter hug, she turned to Gordon. Offering him her hand, she accepted his offer. Determined to be the best damned lawyer she could be i f only to make her father proud of her yet again.

TO BE CONTINUED. Installment Two

Impulse: Book One

AFTER ALL IS SAID

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