A Little Piece of Paradise
Extra boredom disclaimer. This section includes the tour of Bath. If you`re
not really into history and stuff you might want to skip some parts of this
Tori`s first sensation was a pain in her back. She shifted on the hard floor, trying to comprehend what was keeping her pinned in place.
Then she remembered.
Her right arm was curled round the warm body which lay half on her, warm breath fanning her breast. Her right cheek rested against soft golden hair and one arm and one leg of her companion, her lover, was keeping her rooted to the floor.
She cupped the back of the fair head with her left hand and gently eased her arm out from its place as the younger woman`s pillow. Then she untangled her body and, wrapping the blonde again in the quilt, sat on the couch. She sat for a while, watching the woman sleep, before standing and going upstairs to her bedroom to find the case that held her towelling dressing gown.
After she`d put it on she went into the window. She stood for a moment, looking out into the night.
The moon was full, the sky clear and the snow that had fallen during the evening glowed with the moon`s light. She pulled the robe tighter around her body. It wasn`t too late, just after 11pm, and the heating still warmed the small cottage.
Tori turned and made her way down to the lounge again.
The tv was still on, the sound muted. The fire was burning low so she carefully stepped over the sleeping form on the floor and threw a few more logs on.
Then she crouched beside Eden and took hold of a slim arm. "Hey, sleepyhead."
"Mmm?" Came the muffled reply.
Bleary green eyes opened and regarded her sleepily. "What?"
"Come up here, you`ll be more comfy." She said as she sat on the couch and patted the cushion beside her.
"Comfy here." And the green eyes closed again.
"Not for much longer." Said Tori and reached down pulling a complaining blonde up to sit on the couch beside her. The she wrapped her in the quilt again and pulled her into her arms. Eden snuggled into the embrace, pulling her feet up onto the couch. "There, that`s better isn`t it?"
No reply, Eden was already asleep again.
So Tori held the girl and wondered. Wondered how long it would be before Eden walked away. Like Jodie, like the others. But Eden would take something with her the others didn`t have. A little part of her. Something she`d never allowed anyone else to see. She`d known her what, four days? And in those four days she`d seen the possibility of something she`d always denied herself. A shot at happiness. But who was she to expect something she`d never give anyone else?
She found herself crying, something she`d done more in the last couple of days than in the last thirty years. When was the last time she cried? Not at Rory`s funeral. Not when she walked away from Jodie. Not when her parents didn`t show up to collect a twelve year old for the school holidays. Not when her mother told her she would never be anything, had been a mistake and had almost caused her father to divorce her. They had the son they wanted, a daughter was surplus to requirements. She hadn`t cried when they refused to take her on a vacation. She remembered Rory`s smug face peering at her from the back window of the car as they left.
She`d dealt with that.
She couldn`t handle this.
Did she really want the responsibility of another person? She`d always been alone. Always managed. Didn`t need anyone.
Tori looked down. Eden`s head had fallen back onto the taller woman`s forearm. Her face was open and relaxed. Tori bent her head forward and pressed her lips to the soft skin.
"Could you love me?" She whispered in wonder and closed her eyes against the tears.
"Let me try." Came a small voice and she opened her eyes to see a gentle smile on the fair face below her.
"You don`t realise Eden. This.................." She took a deep breath. "..................scares me."
Tori shook her head. "I want you." She whispered. "So badly. I`ve never wanted anything before, never needed to. Anything I wanted, I had. Anyone I wanted." She traced a soft cheek. "But you.....I..can`t explain." Another deep breath. " I don`t want you to go in the morning."
"I won`t, I.................." Eden began, but was stopped by a gentle finger on her lips.
"Sshh. No more words. Words complicate things. Don`t say anything you don`t mean."
"Tori, I`m here because I want to be. There`s nowhere else I`d rather be at this moment." Eden smiled at the confused look on the dark woman`s face. "Why can`t you understand that?"
Another deep sigh from Tori. "Because it`s never happened before."
"Well, you`d better get used to it. I`m not going anywhere." She snuggled closer into Tori`s gentle embrace and felt the long arms tighten around her.
From above Eden`s head she heard the smokey voice. "Let`s go to bed."
"Good idea." Said Eden and stood, pulling the quilt around her and
making her way towards the stairs.
It was late in the morning when Tori awakened next.
They`d made love again after going to bed and then talked long into the night. She`d told Eden a lot of her inner pain. The lonely childhood she`d pushed to the back of her memories, but which suddenly was re-emerging to haunt her.
She held the blonde fiercly. Pulling her back against her own body, feeling Eden`s smooth back against her stomach and breasts. She nuzzled into the golden hair and revelled in the softness against her face.
Tori felt the smaller woman take a deep breath and squirm in her embrace.
"Good morning." She said, her voice muffled by the blonde hair.
"It is." Said Eden simply, turning in the long arms to face her lover.
Tori brushed the sleep tousled hair out of green eyes and tucked a few errant strands behind Eden`s ear. "How`s the hand?"
"A little painful, but not as bad as yesterday." She pulled her hand out from beneath the quilt and regarded the tips of her fingers showing above the bandage. "What do I have to do about this?"
"The nurse said to see your doctor. Make an appointment later and we`ll find out how long before you have the stitches out."
"Don`t!" Cried Eden. "Just thinking about it makes me queasy."
"Really?" A mischievous grin crossed Tori`s face. "You mean you don`t like the idea of tweezers, pulling the catgut through you skin. Slowly."
"No!" Eden swiped her with her good hand. "Anyway, do they still use catgut? And I`m not sure I even have to have them taken out. Don`t they dissolve or something?"
Tpri pulled her in for a hug. "No Idea." She said. "But we`ll make an appointment anyway, just to make sure it`s all ok. What else d`you want to do today?"
"How about the tour?"
Eden sighed. "The tour of Bath I was going to take you on on saturday."
"Oh..... right. Yeah I`d like that. Isn`t it a little cold though?"
"Nah. Well, it`s too cold to do the bus tour. I have a friend who works for the bus company, I can get tickets for that. I have to go to Bog Island and see John the ticket seller."
"Bog Island?" Tori looked horrified.
"Oh yeah, sounds wierd right? Well, it`s actually called Terrace Walk. It`s a small area of pavement where the open top buses stop. There used to be underground public toilets there and it became known as bog island. Sometimes, in these parts, the loo is called the bog."
"Eden, you`re a mine of information." Tori said, and kissed the cute nose.
"Anyway." She said after returning the kiss. "One of the Bath rugby players turned it into a nightclub."
"They turned underground toilets into a nightclub?"
"Yeah, I went there once when I was younger." She shook her head. "Could never get the thought that it was a loo out of my head though."
Tori rolled onto her back and Eden went with her, ending up with her chin resting on the taller womans breast bone.
"So, d`you fancy that?" Said Eden, her breath warm on Tori`s chin.
"Sure, we`ll have lunch first. Anywhere you`d like to go?"
Tori thought for a while. "I saw that, where was it?"
"It`s just down the road, but not as far as The George."
"That`s right, come on, let`s get dressed."
And they did get dressed, eventually.
They parked the car in the Park and Ride car park on Odd Down once they`d had their lunch and took a bumpy ride into Bath. As the car population grew a large number of towns and cities across the country adopted Park and Ride schemes. Large carparks were built on the outskirts of cities and passengers bussed in, cutting down on pollution and congestion.
Once in Bath they walked through the city centre until they came to Victoria Park.
A small amount of snow covered the ground as they walked along the narrow road that bisected the park.
Eden stopped and looked to her right.
"There`s the Royal Crescent." She said, pointing to the long elegant semicircular Georgian Terrace."Over there." She pointed to the left hand end of the crescent. "Is Marlborough Buildings, which was apparently built as a wind break for the Crescent."
Tori looked at the three storey buildings that made up Marlborough Buildings. "Some windbreak." She said.
As they walked along the cobbled road infront of the Royal Crescent Eden pointed out one of the houses. "The elderly lady who lived in this house objected to being ordered to paint her front door either white or black, so she painted it yellow. The whole of Bath is a National Heritage site. It`s the only City that has that honour. There are a lot of buildings and areas that are site`s, but no other city. And as it`s protected none of the buildings can be altered in any way. The windows have to be kept the same and the doors have to be painted the right colour. So this old girl painted the door yellow. She wouldn`t back down either. She was someone`s grand-daughter, can`t remember who."
Tori stopped in front of the door. "It`s a very pale yellow."
"It is now. She died, but put in the deeds of the house that anyone who bought it must keep the doors yellow." Eden waved her hand at the door. "It`s the palest yellow the current owners could find."
Eden took Tori`s hand and pulled her towards another of the Crescent`s houses. "This is The Royal Crescent Hotel. It`s one of the most exclusive hotels in the world. There`s not to be any sign of it being a hotel on the outside, apart from the doorman."
Tori realised her hand was still tightly held. "So how would anyone know it was here?"
"They know it`s here." Said Eden. "They don`t advertise, but they`re fully booked for the next seven years."
They walked on to the end of the Crescent. "Number one is a museum, still as it was in Georgian times, we`ll go in one day."
"Not today?" Asked Tori.
"No, we`ll just have a slow wander round today." They turned round and looked back along the Crescent. "This was designed and built by John Wood the Younger."
"Oh yeah? What did the Elder build?"
"I`ll show you."
They walked along a small street of now familiar high Goergian town houses called Brock Street until it opened out into the magnificent Circus. Three small crescents formed The Circus, so that which ever entrance you entered by you were faced by a solid wall of buildings. The three crescents formed a perfect circle.
"This is the work of John Wood the Elder. Engraved into the brickwork above the doors are symbols of industry, no house has the same symbols." She pointed to a circular area in the centre, which was covered in grass and had a number of large mature trees. "There used to be a well there, which was for the use of the occupants of the circus. When the houses were designed, they didn`t have indoor plumbing. John Wood said indoor toilets would never catch on. During Victorian times they filled the well in and added plumbing to the houses. The trees were planted and have been there ever since."
They walked down from the Circus and along George Street. Then they turned left into Milsom Street. "D`you know you could walk from one end of Milsom Street to the other underground? Apparently all the cellars are linked."
Tori stopped, looking into the pub.
Eden reached and took her hand again. "Not yet, come on."
A horn blared behind them and Eden turned and waved. A double decker bus was stopped at a pedestrian crossing, thirty or forty screaming French students crossing as slowly as they could in front of it. The female bus driver waved back at the blonde and then put her fingers to her temple, imitating a gun to her head.
"Looks like Annie`s having a good day." Said Eden who stood and watched the bus as it passed.
"A friend. Something of an agony aunt at the Tap. She`s helped me a lot in the past." Eden turned and continued to walk down Milsom Street.
Tori jogged a short distance and caught up with her. "So what did she help you with?"
The blonde looked up at the taller woman. "You don`t want to hear my problems."
"You heard mine. It helped me."
Eden nodded. "Ok. I asked her if I was searching for perfection too much. I couldn`t seem to find what I was looking for. I asked her if I should make do."
"And what did she say?" Tori asked, but already knew the answer.
"She said I should wait for you."
"I think it must be you." Eden stopped and turned towards Tori. "I`ve never felt like this before, so I think I found it. I`m glad I listened to her."
Tori placed her hands on the shorter woman`s shoulders. "Eden, I don`t want you thinking I`m something I`m not."
Eden shrugged out of her grasp. "There you go again." She turned away from Tori and walked back the way they`d come.
"Where are you going?" Tori called after her.
"To have a drink." Eden threw over her shoulder and disappeared into the pub they`d passed moments before.
Tori sighed and followed her friend into the pub.
The pub was almost empty and Eden had already got two drinks and was making her way to a small table in the corner.
She put Tori`s rum and coke down and took a long shot of her vodka. Tori waited, her hands folded around the cool glass that held her drink.
"Why are you still fighting me Tori?" Eden finally asked.
Tori shook her head. "I don`t know." She took a drink. "Tell me what you told Annie."
Eden thought for a long moment. "Ok. Just over two years ago I finally stopped fighting the feelings I`d been having. I finally accepted I was gay." She watched as Tori`s eyes closed, and the dark woman smiled softly. "Well, I thought that was the end of my problems. I took myself down to the Bath Tap and thought I`d find someone there and my life would be simpler." She shook her head. "It didn`t work out like that. No-one I met struck that chord. I tried. God I tried." She remembered the dates, frowning when she recalled the morning after some of them. "I knew what I was looking for. But I decided it didn`t exist. It couldn`t. Life couldn`t be that perfect. I knew Karen wanted me, so I was going to let her have me. Then I spoke to Annie."
"And Annie told you not to do what I did." Said Tori, finally bringing her glass to her lips.
"If you want me to condemn you Tori, I`m not going to do it. I did some dumb things. I slept with some women just for the hell of it. I told Annie that Karen wanted to start seeing me." Eden shrugged. "She`d have looked after me, she`s an ok person, I liked her. But there was something missing. I hoped there was someone out there, hoped there was someone who would walk into my life one day and change it. And the day you walked into the office, I knew it was you."
Eden held up her hand as Tori started to protest. "No, don`t say anything. You asked, I told you. I`m in love with you Tori and you`re going to have to deal with it."
Tori stared, dumbfounded. Then she smiled and reached across the table, encircling the small hand in her own. "Thank you."
"For what?" Asked Eden staring at their hands then across at the bar tender who was busy stacking glasses.
"For waiting for me."
Eden smiled. "No more fighting then?"
"No more fighting." Tori emptied her glass. "Let`s finish this tour."
They walked down Milsom Street after leaving the pub and made their way to the Roman Baths. As they reached the pillars that marked the entrance to the museum Tori felt a prickling on the back of her neck. She stopped abruptly, rubbing a hand on the back of her head.
"What is it?" Asked Eden walking back towards her.
"Not sure, just a funny feeling. Deja Vu. You know?"
"D`you know I had that feeling. But I felt sick as a dog. I was out for a sunday drive with my parents and I suddenly felt sick. And I felt like I`d been there before, but we never had. I was about ten."
"Where were you?" Asked Tori.
"Stonehenge. Couldn`t understand it. Never went there again though. I had nightmares for weeks."
Tori frowned. "Wonder what caused that?"
Eden shook her head. "Don`t know. Hey, do you want to do the tour of the Baths?"
"Not today, maybe later in the week."
"Ok, we`ll walk around the Abbey then."
They walked along the side of the Baths and into the abbey courtyard. "The first King of England, King Edgar, was crowned here in nine hundred and something, I always forget the exact date."
"Really?" Said Tori. "I thought Arthur was the first King."
"Nah, Arthur was probably just a warlord. There`s no real proof that he actually existed, but there is a stone at Glastonbury Cathedral that says `Here lies Arthur, the once and future King.`"
Tori turned and viewed the tops of the statues that she could see that surrounded the baths. They could also see the people walking around inside the walled off museum. "So who discovered the hot springs?"
Eden lead them over to some benches that bordered the Abbey churchyard. "This is a bit of a legend." She began, and Tori lost herself in the melodic voice of the blonde woman. "It`s said that there was a Celtic prince called Bladud. Unfortunately he contracted leprosy. He was banished from court and became a swineherd. One day his pigs roamed into the marshy area and he had to lay a trail of acorns to entice the pigs out of the bog. When they were out he saw how healthy and soft their skin was, for a pig that is. Well, he went into the marshland and found that there was a warm spring. He bathed in it and was cured. He returned to court and was accepted back into his rightful positioned. He returned later and erected a shrine to the water god Sulis. Years later the Romans discovered the hot springs and built complex and beautiful baths on the site. After the Romans left, the Baths sank, once again, into the bog, the people of Aquae Sulis being unable or unwilling to maintain the Baths. They were rediscovered in the seveteen hundreds, and the city of Bath once again became a popular resort. It did become a lttle decadent though. And the healing waters were used more to treat gout and other drink related illenesses than anything else." Eden stopped, looking up at the closed eyes of her companion. "Am I boring you?"
Tori shook her head. "Go on. I`m enjoying it."
"Ok. Well, they started to build. You`ve seen The Crescent and The Circus. Then they started to expand. Up towards Camden and up Bathwick. Ralph Allen built Prior Park and a number of huge mansions were built. One of the largest is Claverton Manor, which is now the American Museum. The Victorians built too, but smaller more individual houses.Queen Victoria hated Bath though. One of her uncles had a mistress here. A Mrs. Jordan. She bore him quite a few children and the surname Jordan is still quite comman in Bath. Everytime she travelled through Bath she would pull down the curtains of the carriage."
"This Victoria doesn`t hate Bath, and is very taken by one of its inhabitants."
"You know," said Tori. "You must tell me stories more often, it`s very relaxing."
Eden pouted. "It isn`t a story, it`s true. Well, mostly. Some of my dates might be wrong."
"Doesn`t matter. I enjoyed listening." Tori reached around Eden`s shoulders and pulled her close.
"Tori, there are people looking." Said Eden, though no-one seemed to be taking any notice.
"Don`t care." Said Tori, and kissed her lover on the cheek. "Let`s go home."
Eden snuggled into the woman`s embrace. "Ok."