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Richard could not help but
gasp when he saw
"Father. Please come in." Tori voice was flat and without inflection.
"Tori, honey. You know you
will always be beautiful in my eyes. But even I have to admit, you're not
looking well sweetheart." He was surprised that
"I'm fine. Really. I-I just got in late and was--a little rattled when you called this morning. But everything is fine."
Richard thought it was best to let it go. He would be well on his way to getting his little girl back soon enough.
"So what brings you here? If I had known you were coming, I would have made arrangements for you."
"Don't worry about that." Richard replied. "Come on- It looks like we could both use a cup of coffee." He proceeded to lead her into the kitchen.
Richard had gone up to put
away his things in the guestroom and freshened up leaving
A half hour later, he took a sit beside her on the couch. Then, taking her hand in his, he started, "Well Tori-. I know that you're probably wondering why I popped in on you like this. And there is a reason. You see-. I've decided. It's time for me to step down and let you officially take over the reigns-.so to speak."
"What? This is why of you came
flying over to
"No. No. I'm in perfect health. But I'm ready. I have been ready for awhile now. I just wanted to make sure you understood me completely when I spoke with you."
"What do you mean?" She was really concerned at the abruptness with which her father was handling this.
"Tori- I want you to come home."
"What? Why? I can just as easily run things from here. I don't need to be stateside to do this!"
"Tori- I commend everything
that you have done here. However, before the board approves this transfer,
they need to know you are securely at the helm of the New York Headquarters.
You do not have to be here Tori. You've hired the best people to oversee things
here. And as far as the other offices are concerned, you're just as close
to them in
"What if I told you I didn't
want to go back?",
If Richard looked very close, he could almost see that vulnerable girl that he once knew. " Tori-..why? You used to love home. What are you hiding from? I love you sweetie-You know you can tell me anything."
Slowly Richard inched closer to his daughter and wrapped her in his arms. "Honey-Please- I miss my little girl. There is nothing you could tell me that will ever change how I feel about you."
"Oh, Daddy-" she sobbed. "I feel so lost- so empty. I'm afraid if I tell what I've done, and who I've become, you couldn't possibly want me or love me anymore."
"Sweetheart-. that is not true. I made a promise a long time ago to your mother that I would always respect my children's choices in life. Although I have learned, sometimes you have to step in. Especially when the choices your children make may endanger them in some way. Please Tori? Please tell me what it is--this burden that you've been carrying for so long?" Richard begged. "I promise. I will not judge you. I will even try to help you if I can. If you'll let me."
However, every night she would go to bed and pray that when she woke up she would not feel the way she did about Brett. Sometimes she prayed she would go to bed and wake up being a boy. Then she could be able to love Brett the way that she had desperately wanted.
She tried to deny her feelings, as best as she could. Nevertheless, they always stayed too close to the surface.
Finally, given no other choice, she purposely stayed away from Brett. Even tried to convince herself that she was just confused and just needed to find the right boy.
When Cole Crawford asked her out, she tried to shut Brett out of her mind and concentrated on going out with Cole instead.
The new feelings that she discovered with Cole were very enjoyable. They even developed into a very close relationship over the years. They confided in one another through so many events in their lives. They counted on one another for not only a physical relationship, but also for support whenever the situation called for it. However, no matter how Tori tried, she just could not see Cole as more than what they were: Very close, loving friends that sometimes slept with each other.
She told her father of her first experience with Erika Breslin. How after being with her, the pieces of her sexuality fell into place.
Even after all of that and a few other liaisons, Brett continued to remain ever present in the back of her mind.
She told her father what had
happened that fateful night six years ago in
After that night, she was determined to shut out any memories of Brett Montgomery. She worked her mind and body to complete exhaustion hoping to forget Brett and the love that she would never have. If she couldn't have Brett, she would use whomever and whatever she had to satisfy her needs. Even if it lasted for only a moment.
Unfortunately, it was never enough. No matter where she went. No matter how she tried, Brett's face would be there. She saw her in her dreams at night. She appeared whenever she achieved release with her countless lovers.
She ruthlessly had slain her enemies in the boardroom. Gathering the anger and loneliness she felt to achieve her climb to the top of the corporate world.
However, nothing ever helped. Tori sank lower and lower. So low in fact that, if by some miracle Brett was available, why would Brett want her? The darkness and filth were now deeply embedded in her soul leaving her feeling empty and worthless.
Her father held onto her throughout every painful admission letting her cry for what seemed like hours. She still had yet to look her father in the eyes. She was sure that if their eyes met, she would see the disgust and disappointment there. This would be the last push that would send her into the darkness, never seeing the light again.
She felt a hand lift her chin up and met eyes that held only love.
TO BE CONTINUED. Installment Eight